General Tips and Treasures

home ownership middle age

So you have hit 40. You have yet to buy a property for yourself to live in and you think your long term financial position is in financial ruin, right?


There are a number of ways you can accumulate wealth that doesn’t rely on property. And there are also strategies you can consider in the property market that you may have never considered.

As a mortgage broker, I am unable to give advice on financial strategies, but in general, other wealth creation tools would be shares (whilst volatile over the last 20 years, for every $1 that you had invested in 1996 would be now $3.13 today). Check out this website which goes through the history of shares and what your dollar would be worth now had you invested previously.

1.  Saving and Investing your Spare Change

It’s often asked “how much money do I need to get into shares”. Usually, you would need to have at least a couple of thousand to get you started. Enter Acorns:  a new concept in America coming to Australia.  This is a novel approach to building up a little more savings which you can then use to purchase a bigger share portfolio.

2.  Extra Superannuation Payments

Paying extra into superannuation can have some added tax benefits which the MoneySmart website explains really well.  this can be an effective way to build up your superannuation as part of your overall strategy.

3.  Self Managed Super Funds

Depending on how much you have in superannuation, you may also be able to buy property in your Self Managed Super Fund (SMSF.) Your SMSF would buy the property and you can obtain a loan to cover the difference between your savings (super) and purchase price. This is not for everyone but can be a way to accumulate property with no cash out lay from your savings (as the deposit is your superannuation balance!) There are some pros and cons with a SMSF and it can be costly. Your financial advisor will give you information to see if this strategy is suitable for you.

However I ask you to consider a couple of other strategies that recent clients of mine did providing great outcomes.

4. Collaborate!

Kate (not real name) couldn’t afford to buy in Sydney on her own. She was keen on property. Her flatmate of 6 years felt the same. They felt that they had the ability to create a good business relationship and purchase an investment unit together. They needed $20,000 each to get in to cover the purchase. The did some very minor improvements themselves (paint, new curtains and carpet) and they now have a sense of ownership that they are helping each other to pay off this property. The thought of doing this on their own was too overwhelming, but this strategy was very motivating to each other and has been a really positive experience.

5. Investment Property into Your Retirement Plan

Another consideration, think about where you want to live in retirement. Perhaps your investment property could be your retirement property. Having any old investment property can be uninspiring. But having someone else pay off the mortgage for your retirement plan could be that motivating factor to get you to “tick”. Clients Philip and Jane did exactly that. They have bought up on the Tweed River near Byron Bay. 3BR house under $400,000 right by the river. This is rented and for a small deposit they have a property where they will live in about 20 years time.

Sometimes purchasing in your immediate circles may not be feasible and purchasing an investment property “just because” can be uninspiring. But if the purpose of the property purchase like the scenarios above tick your values and motivates you it can be that way of getting some wealth in a way you may have never considered before.

By Nicole Cannon
A mortgage broker with a difference having won awards for ethics, social responsibility and community engagement.  Find out more about her, here.

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Financial Goals

‘Your first task for the year should be to review your finances.’ Lesley Parker, Sydney Morning Herald  


Here are top 10 to-dos if you are seeking to overhaul your finances this year.


Your first task for the year should be to review your finances. ”Firstly, understand your current situation,” says a Dun & Bradstreet spokesman, Damian Karmelich. ”Secondly, have a budget and, thirdly, have some goals. If you only have the budget, you can end up feeling like it’s all about cutting back and it will wear you down. Having some goals gives you a reason to keep going.”

To do: The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has a budget planner at its consumer website.


When it comes to savings and investments, time is your friend. ”Compounding is a powerful investment principle that means the earlier you start to save the more your savings will grow,’‘ Louise Biti of advisory group Strategy Steps says. ‘‘Over time, interest is earned on not only your money but on the interest on that money.’‘ In superannuation, she gives the example of a 30-year-old earning $70,000 a year who has $25,000 in super already.

Making a few assumptions, including an 8 per cent return, their balance at age 65 would be $435,000 in today’s dollars if they relied on compulsory super alone. If at age 50 they started to also salary sacrifice 5 per cent, the outcome would be $513,000. But if they started salary sacrificing 5 per cent at age 30 they could retire with the equivalent of $632,000.

To do: AustralianSuper has a super calculator that estimates your final benefit.  Change the contribution level to see the impact.


It’s easy to be an optimist when investment returns are high or interest rates low. But it doesn’t pay to base your decisions on the unrealistic expectation that returns and rates will move only one way.

For any financial decision this year, consider the worst-case scenario – no matter how unlikely it may seem at the time.

To do: Stress test your mortgage by seeing if you could afford the repayments if rates were 2 percentage points to 3 percentage points higher (some lenders do this when assessing applications). MoneySmart has a good calculator


Fixed-rate loans surged in popularity in the last couple of years as mortgage rates rose.  But do your sums. By the time most people think about locking in, fixed rates are so much higher than variable rates it’s not worth the switch.

In any case, the conventional wisdom is that you’ll be better off over the life of a loan if you can afford to ride the swings and roundabouts of a variable rate. According to RateCity, the benchmark three-year fixed rate over the past eight years was 7.08 per cent, while the benchmark standard variable rate averaged 6.76 per cent. Of course, peace of mind is priceless. If you think another rate rise will threaten your ability to make your repayments, fix at least part of your loan.

To do: ASIC has a new mortgage-switching calculator where you can check whether a new loan will save you money, after costs such as fees. Go to


By not spending a dollar you not only have that money in your hand but also the potential to turn it into more.

Financial planner, Tony Clark of Multiforte Financial Services, tells the story of a client who planned to roll over his car lease, in all likelihood to drive away something worth $40,000 or $50,000. Clark pointed out that, by lowering his taxable income, the novated lease reduced the amount of super his employer paid on his behalf by $2500 a year. He suggested the client use the $20,000 equity he’d built up in his existing car to buy a car outright, regaining his full super contribution while also diverting into super the money he’d have spent on the lease of an expensive vehicle. Clark estimated the man could be $150,000 better off in five years’ time as his tax-effective super grew.

To do: As a first step, consider diverting part of your pay packet to a high-interest online savings account. Check rates at or


Debt collector Dun & Bradstreet sees it all the time: people going to the wall not for a $500,000 mortgage but over relatively small credit card or mobile phone debt.

”What we tend to find is that people are getting into trouble for those smaller amounts of debt – for $1000 on a credit card or for using their mobile phones in ways that cost them money,” spokesman Damian Karmelich says.

To do: Check your credit report not just for blemishes but for accuracy. You can obtain your credit report online, here. An express report costs $30 but the standard service, which takes up to 10 days, is free.


If you do have credit card debt, don’t be lulled into a sense of complacency by the minimum repayment specified on your credit card statement. Pay that tiny percentage – about 2.5 per cent of the balance – and you could condemn yourself to credit card limbo.

Financial analyst David Lalich of researcher InfoChoice did the sums on a credit card charging 20 per cent interest and an annual fee of $150, on which $5000 was owed. Paying only the minimum amount each month, it would take six years and seven months to clear that sum, at the cost of a whopping $4062 in interest.

Pay just an extra $100 a month and you’d clear the debt four years earlier, paying $2600 less interest. Or you could follow your new budget (see rule No.1) and clear your card every month, paying no interest at all.

To do: Work out how long it would take to pay off your credit card paying only the minimum, here. Then nominate a higher payment to see the change.


”Beware the dreaded ‘capped’ plan,” says Elise Davidson, spokeswoman for the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). A survey by the Australian Communication and Media Authority recently found that three out of five people had exceeded their mobile phone cap in the previous 12 months.

”Remember that a cap is a minimum rather than a maximum spend,” Davidson says. ”Make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in your cap and if you use a smartphone, monitor your data usage closely, as excess data charges are notoriously high.” To control your spending, consider a prepaid plan – they’re much more generous than they used to be, she says.

To do: Comparison service can filter plans for you. If you suffer ”bill shock” in 2011, ACCAN has a tip sheet on how to make a complaint, at


Insurance should be part of the picture when your review your finances. But whether it’s income protection, life, health or even car and travel insurance, don’t select a policy just because it’s the cheapest.

”The first thing a consumer needs to look at is the benefits – then only the price,” says risk specialist Roy Agranat of Centric Wealth Advisers. ‘‘A cheap price is long forgotten after a bad claims experience.”

Disability insurance that has an ”own occupation” definition is more expensive, for instance, but you’ll receive a payout if you can’t do your job – a definition that’s easier to meet than not being able to do ”any” job. A cheap travel policy may seem a bargain until you find that you can’t claim for stolen cash or the full value of your camera.

To do: Do you need more insurance this year to cover increasing liabilities or perhaps less because you’ve paid off the mortgage and the kids are gone? The insurance industry’s Lifewise website has a calculator at


Why have an emergency fund when you’ve got a credit card? Because if you use the plastic all you’re doing is putting the problem off for 55 days – when you’ll have to pay off the credit card or start accruing interest at a rate as high as 21 per cent.

Financial advisers suggest having at least three months’ living expenses set aside somewhere such as the offset account attached to your mortgage – where the sum can do some work in the meantime lowering your interest charges – or in a high-interest, at-call account. If job security is an issue, aim to have 12 months’ expenses set aside.

To do: A year’s expenses is a lot of money, so set a smaller goal such as saving 10 per cent of each pay packet for a rainy day.


This article adapted from

Publication: SMH Money
By: Lesley Parker

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Getting started in the share market

Are you thinking you might be ready to explore the share market but not quite sure where to start?  Watch the video below!

Founder of 10thousandgirl, Zoe Lamont, shares with us how to find out how much you need to get started, who should invest, where you go to get cracking, knowing the different products and what you should be buying as a first timer.

get out of bad debt

What is the Difference between Good Debt and Bad Debt?

You may have heard there’s good debt and bad debt.   So what is the difference?

Good debt helps you earn money, increase your future income or improve your net worth. For example, a loan to fund a certification course can result in higher earnings. A mortgage allows you to benefit from the appreciation in home prices.

But there’s also bad debt.

Bad debt includes any debt taken on when you buy something without lasting value, or that doesn’t help you improve your income or net worth. Credit cards due to shopping bills, or personal loans that fund holidays. So if bad debt is so bad, how can a person get rid of it?

Get Rid of Bad Debt

  1. Start by understanding. Make an accurate list of all debt, good and bad, by using your monthly statements. Include both the balance you owe, and the monthly payment you’re making. Then set a budget for your monthly payments. Bad debt often comes with very high interest rates. Target everything you can toward the bad debt. It’s important to be as disciplined as possible to pay down bad debt, faster than the minimum if you can.
  2. Once you’ve pulled together your list, the next step is to look for other ways that bad debt can be reduced. Sometimes bad debt can be converted to good debt. It might be possible to increase your mortgage at a lower rate and pay down a person loan at a higher rate.
  3. Or it may be possible to sell an asset such as shares to pay down bad debt. It’s important to consult a financial advisor or tax advisor as you think about the possibilities to make sure your plan doesn’t trigger any problems.

Once you have your plan, it’s a good habit to do a debt check every few months to stay on track. As bad debt goes down, you’ll be building a much higher level of financial confidence!

Want to create a solid plan and not only get out of debt but start planning for the future?

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money mindset

When it comes to money having a healthy mindset around how we treat our hard-earned can have a huge impact on our peace of mind and quality of life; not to mention feeling fabulous about being on our way to achieving our goals!

Two different money mindset profiles: healthy vs unhealthy.  Which one are you?

Unhealthy Money Mindset Healthy Money Mindset
 Blame others Take action. Do something about situation
Make decisions to avoid losing Make decisions to create value
Wish they had wealth Make a commitment to wealth and do what it takes
Focus on problems with things Focus on opportunities in problems
Resent wealthy people Learn from wealthy people
Hide their value so that others are not threatened Advertise their value
Feel smaller than their problems Grow so they are bigger than their problems
Have trouble receiving gracefully Receive with ease and gratitude
Get paid for their time Get paid for their results
Think there is not enough to go around Create more to go around
Focus on income Focus on increasing net worth
Mismanage money and are managed by money Manage money well
Work for their money Make money work for them
Let fear stop them Act in spite of fear
Think they already know it all

Want to nurture a supremely healthy mindset
and transform your finances?

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setting money goals

A whole year has gone by and we’re now getting into 2016. Did you hit your financial goals for 2015? If not, it might be time to try a new approach this year.

Describe it in one sentence

The most important part may be picking the goal and describing it in just the right way. A good goal is one that you can explain in a sentence, with both the desired outcome and the reason why e.g.: “I’m cutting my weekly expenses by $50 to pay off my credit card by Christmas.” Keep it simple and realistic, and repeat that to yourself when you need to.


Then break it down into actions. HOW will you do it? You might be cutting expenses by packing your lunch each day. How will you do that? By doing a big shop on the weekend? By picking recipes and learning to cook them? Get specific enough that you feel like the steps are very clear and doable. It’s important to turn it into smaller steps so excuses don’t get in your way.

Hone In

A great way to stay on track is to create monthly goals out of your goal for the year. If you’re on track, what will you have completed by January? February? Will you have opened a new savings account or contacted an advisor? Signed up for an online course? Closed your credit card account?

Then measure yourself against those monthly goals. Be honest. If you’re on track, there’s nothing wrong with a small reward. Perhaps an afternoon off at the beach? Something small, but enjoyable. And if you’re not on track, don’t beat yourself up. Perfection often isn’t realistic. Just get back on track and keep going!

Ready to overhaul your money mindset and take control of your finances?
Take our 6 Week Online Money Makeover – starts Feb 2016


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financial priorities

A new survey conducted by 10thousandgirl (10TG), shows encouragingly that women are thinking about the bigger financial picture for 2016 and beyond, but lack the discipline and skills to start the financial journey.

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said that they set financial goals for the New Year however 60% went on to say they don’t actually create a budget for the year ahead.

When asked what held them back from pursuing their financial goals, almost two thirds (63%) put discipline at number one, knowledge at number two with 43%, and skills third, with 42%.

Womens’ Financial Priorities for 2016

  • To save money to go on a holiday with my mum.
  • To stop putting off preparing for retirement- while it seems a long ways off it’ll be longer away if I don’t do something now :)
  • Learn to budget so it becomes a habit Tracking expenses Saving for buying a house Investements Understanding insurance and superannuation
  • My goal is to reduce my mortgage by $70k & be more disciplined in week to week budgeting.
  • To start building for our future house deposit
  • 2016 will see me set goals to Save into my emergency fund. Reduce my home loan by more than the required monthly repayments & set up a plan to have a holiday in 2017.
  • Saving enough for a deposit to buy our first home. We need to be more disciplined and know more about what needs to be done to reach this goal quicker.
  • Make the most of being empty nesters. All of my husbands wages to go towards debt reduction and savings; Reduce (investment) debt by $2000 per month (in addition to normal repayment). Save $200 per fortnight towards holiday fund.
  • To have enough freelance work to allow me to travel for 2-3 months to volunteer overseas and escape Melbourne’s winter.
  • I would like to purchase an investment property
  • To have $10k invested in the sharemarket, and $70k in savings. To have successfully integrated my budget with my boyfriend’s! (Financial cohabitation for the first time!)
  • To reduce my spending and pay off more debt!
  • To be debt free
  • Take out the best value loan to build and begin paying off our house
  • Now that I am finally financially comfortable and debt-free, I want to have the confidence to make the leap of faith and invest in something worthwhile in 2016. My savings are currently languishing in a low-interest account – such a waste! So I need to increase my knowledge of financial options. This will start with my very first financial counselling session next week. I’m excited about finally making my money work for me, rather than the other way around.
  • To commit to regular monthly finance targets set within our forecast budget limits
  • Reduce mortgage to 0 and saving for next year’s school fees = set aside $60,000
  • My financial goal for 2016 is to review my expenditure of on line purchasing. On line purchasing has resulted in purchases of large products that are sometimes not exactly what I wanted and sometimes warranty with faults is difficult. Better planned purchases and comparing the benefit of shopping locally (which is rural) with warranty support vs cheaper on line prices will save me time and money on the long run.
  • Clear my debt and pay off my ivf treatment to freeze my eggs which has been an investment in my future
  • To get a handle on my financial position and begin to pay down debt
  • Pay double my minimum mortgage repayment (both interest and principle). Did it in 2015 so planning to nail it again!

The survey also showed that prudence rules as a priority among Aussie women, with 56% citing ‘general savings’ at the top of the list of financial goals, while specific ‘event saving’ (e.g. weddings, babies) at the bottom with just four per cent. Debt management / reduction comes in as the second most significant topic, with nearly 50% claiming it is a priority.

Property financial goals are a focus also for these women; more than one third has a goal relating to the home, either saving for a deposit or buying an investment property. Travel also features highly with nearly one third indicating an overseas stint is a focus of their financial goals.

“It’s all very well to have ambitions, but you need a strategy to get there – be it knowledge, discipline or practical support, and that’s what the 10thousandgirl initiative is all about,” said Zoe Lamont, Founder of 10thousandgirl. “Women have moved from thinking tactically to a more strategic review of their circumstances, and that’s wonderful but we still feel there’s more to learn, and certainly some discipline to introduce.”

When asked if they feel financially ahead or behind compared to last year, respondents were equally divided at 50% ahead, and 50% behind.

“The survey highlighted the need for people to tangibly set a budget to support their goals, given that one can support the other. Especially given nearly half said they were focusing on debt management/reduction – our spending plan tools can really help focus these efforts and we encourage people to apply for our 6 Week Money Makeover Program. The achievements we see just months later of those who have complete it, are really quite phenomenal,” she added.

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avoid the christmas credit hangover

With Christmas not so far away, take a minute to ensure all your finances are all in order.  Our new partners Credit Savvy have put together this quick list to help you avoid that post Christmas credit hangover.

Stick to your budget 

Christmas can often mean credit splurging on all the specials, and wanting to buy the latest and greatest for your family.  If you created a budget for yourself a little while back – stick to it and try not to get drawn in to the shopping craziness!

Check for credit card benefits

Credit card policies tend not to be the most riveting read but far more thrilling when they include benefits such as complimentary travel insurance, extended warranty and accidental damage insurance on your purchases, or the ability to earn bonus reward points by buying Christmas gifts through certain stores.

Set up direct debits while you’re on holidays 

If you’re going away this season have peace of mind knowing that all is paid for while you’re away.  Do this, by setting up direct debits wherever possible.

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About Credit Savvy

Do you know what your credit score is? And if not, how to find it?  Your credit score is a number that summarises the information contained in your credit file, and can be used by lenders to assess the risk of lending you money. Well, we are very happy to say we have now partnered with Credit Savvy, who aim to help Australians make savvy financial decisions by providing them with free access to their Experian credit score and an understanding of how their credit score matters to banks and other financial institutions.​


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get organised this xmas

Christmas can be frantic especially if you’re be hosting! Stay sane with smart planning.  Choose make-ahead holiday favourites and pace yourself to keep stress in check.

One of our favourite tips is to think carefully about the meals leading up to Christmas. This is a great time to keep it simple and minimise shopping and fridge space for every other meal. Cold meals such as salads or simple grilled meat will help manage the stress levels.

For the big feast, plan your grocery shopping well ahead of time, and get non-perishables in advance, watching for early-in-the-season sale prices (make sure to inventory the pantry to avoid doubling up!).

As Christmas approaches, do what you can to get ahead. Make-ahead salads are a great way to stay sane on the big day. Simple meals like Potato Salad can be finished up the night before. Antipasto platters are a great choice if you’d like to do all of the work ahead of time and have it ready to go in the fridge. Christmas Turkey can get its seasoning a day or two in advance which allows the flavours to really develop. And many sauces can be prepared ahead of time as well.

For the end of the meal, Cheats Christmas Puddings and Christmas Trifles are a great option. There are lots of ideas if you search online, including plenty that leave out some of the most expensive ingredients. Christmas pudding can be made well ahead of time, and trifle is made much easier if everything is measured and ready to go.

And don’t forget to delegate! Christmas is a time when everyone likes to do their share. So don’t be shy in handing out the assignments. You’ll find most people are more than happy to share the workload!

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women staying well at christmas

We’re well into the silly season and things can get out of control! Budgets and diets can both go out the window when we get caught up in the fun. But it doesn’t have to happen if you stick to a few simple guidelines and plan ahead.

Keep Hydrated!

Always important, staying hydrated is even more critical if you’ve increased your alcohol intake. A good rule of thumb is to alternate. One non-alcoholic drink for each one with alcohol. Mix it up to keep it interesting – sparkling water with fruit juice added is a great budget-friendly and diet-friendly choice.

Portion Control

If you have multiple events, learn to graze instead of filling up at each event. Share plates with friends if you’re ordering, or just sample from the buffet. Choose an entree instead of a main. One top tip is to eat something light before you head out to avoid impulse ordering.

Stay Stocked with the Good Stuff.

There’s lots of great seasonal produce to choose from at this time of year. Make sure you stock up at home with fresh fruits and veg, which are more affordable this time of year.

Choose Healthy Outings.

Rather than evenings at the pub, suggest a visit to a local market or outdoor carols instead. Even better, leave the car at home and walk to your event if possible.

Cut the Caffeine!

If you’re going out more in the evenings and spending at the pub, cut back in the mornings to compensate. Learn to live without the morning coffee and you’ll save money, and stay a little fitter as well!

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christmas budget recipe

Save money and make this big batch mince pie recipe so you have something ready to go if unexpected guests show up. Or, wrap up a little box of pies to take to party hosts and of course, for you to enjoy too!

Mince Pie Pastry Ingredients:

2 2/3 cup plain flour
250g butter
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar – optional
250 ml milk


  1. Whiz up the flour, butter and baking powder and sugar (optional) at this stage til the mix looks like bread crumbs and the butter is cut into very tiny pieces.
  2. Tip mix into a big bowl and add the milk. Mix into a dough. Add more flour if too sticky.
  3. Roll out in batches on a very well floured surface and cut out circles and stars for your pies.
  4. This quantity was enough to make 4 dozen pies (tartlets). I use the shallow “gem” style baking trays but you can easily use mini muffin tins.
  5. Make a big batch of homemade Mince Pies and keep in the freezer for unexpected guests or a lovely offering if you’re invited to someone’s place for dinner or a party.  This recipe makes about 5 litres of fruit mince so should do you for the entire Christmas season!

Fruit Mince Ingredients:

700g sultanas
500g raisins
250 g currants
50 g mixed peel
8 apples – no need to peel, but do remove the cores
4 more cups of sultanas
grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
2 cups of brown sugar
2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp all spice
5 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp salt
1 cup brandy (!!)


  1. First whiz up your dried fruit mix (do it in batches in the food processor).
  2. Then whiz up all the apples and mix everything else together in a huge bowl!
  3. Add the extra 4 cups of sultanas, citrus and spices and mix well.
  4. This year we ground up our spices on the day – such a difference! I am usually pretty heavy handed with the spices. Probably I put in a lot more than this.  Do what you like! It’s a pretty flexible beast, this year we used limes off our tree and whizzed up some mandarins from a neighbour’s tree. Previously I’ve had some dried figs to throw in – yum.
  5. Keep it in the fridge or freezer, the mixture matures beautifully! I’ve still got some in the fridge from last Christmas and it’s October. Still OK.

*Recipe courtesy of MamaBake

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Saving for Christmas

What you save now is less on the credit card at Christmas!

All of a sudden, just like that, Christmas is rearing its white whiskery head on us.  It’s not far away but let’s not panic just yet!  Here are some ideas to help you save for the mad Christmas period between now and then.

  1. Give up those coffees!  Take your own in to work – it’s really not that hard and can save you around $150 between now and Christmas.
  2. Do you really need that bottle of wine every other weeknight or so?  Limit yourself to one on the weekend only and save around $200 between now and Chrissie.
  3. Those nights out with the girls are sooo fun but boy they hurt the hip pocket too.  Have one between now and Christmas maybe and create fun nights at home instead and save the extra cash you would have spent.
  4. ATM fees are a blighter.  It might look not very much that $3 here and $2.50 there but do that 10 times a week that’s around $30 which could amount to another $120 odd that could go towards your Christmas shopping.
  5. Food waste: households are still pretty shocking when it comes to food waste.  Plan your meals for the week ahead. Seriously, do it.  You’ll be surprised how much you might save from that alone.  Groceries can really add up!
  6. Scan your expenses – go into a Saving for Christmas mindset – and consider which expenses can take a backseat for a little while.
  7. Set a realistic goal amount for yourself to save between now and then.

Remember whatever you do right now (‘cos it’s not too late!) your Christmas self will thank you for!

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“Each time a woman changes, she inspires another woman to change...”


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