7 Simple Ways to Not Break the Budget this Christmas

In a year that’s been financially tough for most Ausssies, the run up to December 25th can be a but stressful. Even at the best of times, Christmas can be expensive. The gifts, food and outings all add up, with the sum total equalling a gaping hole in your bank account. And often a financial hangover that lasts well into the new year.

It’s enough to bring out anyone’s inner Grinch, but there’s no reason to cancel Christmas! This year we need it more than ever! Instead, here’s seven simple ways to not break the budget this Christmas, and you’ll cruise through December with your savings (and your sanity!) intact.

1. Set a budget – and stick to it!

The first way to ensure you don’t break the budget is to actually SET a budget. It’s a simple first step, but it’s often overlooked. So, before you even spend your first festive farthing, sit down with a cup of tea (or wine!) and figure out exactly how much you can really afford to spend.

Once you’ve decided on the amounts you have up your sleeve for gifts, food and fun outings, don’t budge from your budget. No matter how ‘once in a lifetime’ the offer, or shiny the temptation!

2. Opt for a family Kris Kringle

Is it just us, or does the list of people you have to buy gifts for seem to multiply each Christmas? There’s family, friends, and partners to consider, as well and maybe workmates and favourite (and not-so-favourite) teachers. Then there’s the hostess gift for every drinks party, as well as a 6-pack for the postie… and that’s just the start!

One simple way to rein in the spending is to replace the endless gift swapping on the 25th with a family Kris Kringle (or Secret Santa). If you’re a newbie to this….the way it works is that each person attending is allocated ONE person to buy a gift for, and a gift budget is usually set. This means you might spend $50 on one thoughtful, well-chosen gift, rather than filling your trunk with a load of tatt and draining your dwindling bank account. You can get one family member to organise it and collect hints to pass on!

3.Shop early!

3. There is NOTHING that ruins Christmas Eve – and blows a holiday budget – like a last-minute dash to Westfield, trying to find a carpark with a shopping list as long as your arm. Gifts you had in mind might be sold out, and you’ll be left spending too much with over-budget purchases. So, make a list, check it twice, and shop for gifts and non-perishables well ahead….and chill out on Christmas eve instead!

4. Plan your Christmas menu and get everyone to pitch in

Playing hostess over the holidays? No need to do it all yourself! Plan the dishes you’d like to make, shop around for the best deals on ingredients, alcohol and snacks, then share the catering load. Delegate the remaining dishes to your guests, and don’t be afraid to make the proceedings BYO.

Everyone will be happy to lighten your financial (and work!) load and you’ll have more fun and less stress.

5. Be a deal detective

You DO want to shop early to alleviate eleventh-hour stress, but you also want to make sure the price is right. This means you’ll sometimes need to wait for an item to go on sale.

But won’t have to wait long! These days there are endless deals, two-for-one offers and discounts to be found throughout the year – and taking advantage of them will leave extra change in your pocket in December.

To make sure you don’t miss out, subscribe to the enewsletters for your favourite brands and stores, and follow them on social media for promotions like Black Friday and Pre-Christmas sales. Or for discounts and special offers on dining, hair and beauty, health and fitness, travel, entertainment and more? Take advantage of Shopa Docket.

You’ll find coupons on the back of dockets at Target, Kmart, Chemist Warehouse, Big W and Harris Farm nationally, as well as larger independent stores. You can also get these offers online, or when you’re on the go by using the Shopa Docket app ¬ making sure you play the app game to win extra vouchers!

6. Shop from your couch!

Shopping online really is a great way to ensure you get the best bang for your Christmas buck. It’s the easiest way to compare prices, and it can also give you bargaining power with bricks-and-mortar retailers that price match.

Playing digital Santa for gift and vouchers will also save you petrol money and aching legs. However, don’t forget about delivery fees and do take time to read up on each online return policy.

7. Give homemade gifts or experiences

All those new talents you honed during lockdown? Now’s the time to showcase them! Use your new watercolour skills to make your own wrapping paper or cards, treat Nanna to a loaf of banana bread, or give your cousin a voucher for a free guitar/cooking/tennis lesson from you! Handmade gifts or donations of your time are not only affordable, they’re thoughtful and memorable. So, don’t be afraid to think out of the box this Christmas!

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Ways you can support your local business community

It’s as important now, as ever, to support your local business community. COVID has created a shockwave through businesses, leaving many to rebuild or forced to let go. Businesses were unable to predict or prepare for the financial loss that has unfolded throughout 2020. Unfortunately, they will continue to suffer, but there is something we can all do to help and support our community. We’ve come up with 10 ways of how to support your local business community during and ongoing, in the new world of COVID normal.

What can you do?

1. Support local, means buy local.

For your next takeaway meal, re-think your order. Instead of ordering from a big chain pizza business, choose your independent pizza maker in your local area. What would be even one step better, is ordering directly through the restaurant for pick up. Whilst using a delivery service is convenient, unfortunately the restaurant takes a hit of the sale, providing a % to the courier.

2. Did you have a great experience with a business?

You may have purchased a new item of clothing from a local designer and the customer service was fantastic. Leave a review for that business, complementing on how wonderful their communication was and how you would highly recommend them. Online reviews do wonders for a small, independent business.

3. Use social media to help market a local business.

If you enjoyed your experience with a brand, use social media for the greater good! Use your Instagram story for sharing a product. Talk about what you love about it and link the business to your story. Not only are you supporting and sharing an independent business amongst your network, but you are letting a business know that they’re doing a great job!

4. Refer a friend!

Did you recently purchase something that was beautifully made or eat something from a restaurant that you would highly recommend? Let your friend, or a family member know that they should also try it! Spread the word …

5. Can you volunteer?

It may not be practical for many businesses, but do you offer a service that a local business may need short-term (or even long-term) help with? Can you help with their social media, marketing, letterbox drop or bookkeeping? Volunteering is extremely beneficial for both parties involved, it makes you feel good, whilst supporting someone who really needs the help!

6. Reschedule don’t cancel.

Consider rescheduling if you’ve made a booking that needs to be postponed due to COVID. Instead of asking for a refund, keep your booking and pencil in a new date.

7. Take a raincheck.

This also goes for holidays. Take a raincheck. You’ll be thankful you kept a booking when things return to ‘normal’. Alternatively, if restrictions have lifted, book some time away. Book local accommodation and stay, eat, and enjoy a country town which is home away from home.

8. The gift of giving.

8. Stuck for a birthday present for a friend, or would like to gift something to someone that is doing it tough? Purchase a gift card from a local business! This then allows the giftee to browse and choose their own item. This is especially useful if you’re buying for someone that is impossible to buy for! (we all have one of those people in our lives, right?).

9. Stick with them!

If your local gym was or is temporarily shut down, keep training through Zoom or one-on-one personal training sessions. Whilst not ideal it keeps your motivation high and your body moving. If your children’s dance/music/art lessons are closed find out if they are teaching online classes. It’s helping teachers keep their classes going and encourages children to socialise.

10. Shop locally

Shop for your groceries locally as often as you can. When buying food or household staples, consider visiting your local independent supermarket, bakery, greengrocer or butcher where you’re more likely to pick up items the big supermarkets may be running low on while also supporting your local community.

 

If you’re a small business, we hope that you will make it through this challenging time. If you’re someone that wants to support your local business community, we hope that you can find a way that best suits you and your family with our ten suggestions.

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Making your grocery budget go further

It’s amazing how you can stretch your grocery budget when you shop smart. Getting more in your trolley for spending the same amount (or less) is a fun challenge and it can easily be done! All it takes is a little planning to do some savvy shopping. Here’s our top ten Shopa tips for getting more for less.

Tip 1 – Do a weekly meal plan and shopping list (and stick to it!)

Clever marketers spend millions of dollars each year on tactics to try and get you to spend more. Supermarket managers also carefully place their product displays to try and get you to buy more. (Think lollies at children’s eye level!)

Have you ever wondered why the ‘staple’ grocery items are usually near the back of a supermarket and the ‘impulse’ items are near the checkout? We’ve all done it – Walked through the aisles to the back of the store where the milk is and grabbing unnecessary extras on the way through and then picking up chocolate and a magazine at the checkout.

But if you plan your meals for the week and do a shopping list (app lists are handy!) and stick to it, you’ll be in front. You’ll keep more money in your pocket and won’t buy anything that you don’t really need. Except maybe the chocolate.

Tip 2 – Do a checklist before you shop

You’ll often be surprised at what’s in your pantry, fridge or freezer that you’d forgotten about and can include in a meal. Check the perishable items for freshness and expiry dates so you’re not buying things you don’t need. Grab your reusable shopping bags and off you go!

Tip 3 – Look for specials

Keeping an eye out for specials is a sure-fire way to make your grocery dollars go further. Every supermarket has weekly specials and clearances that can help you save money. More expensive items like meat are often marked down the day before…..It’s a great idea to check the discounted products out online before you shop and plan your meals (and your shopping list) around them.

Tip 4 – Shop alone (if you can)

If you can avoid taking your kids with you when you shop, make sure you do. Kids can use ‘pester power’ and you’ll be out of cash and patience!

Tip 5 – Use supermarket rewards programs

Many supermarkets offer loyalty programs. The more you spend with them, the more points you earn. Once you reach are certain number of points, you’re entitled to a discount off your grocery bill. Some even offer other freebies. It’s also worth checking out if there’s a credit card that has a points loyalty program partnered with your supermarket. Every bit helps.

Tip 6 – Buy non-perishable items in bulk and store them

Buying non-perishable groceries in bulk and storing them can save you plenty of money (and time re-purchasing) in the long run. Things like toothpaste, kitchen towels, toilet paper (if you didn’t over buy during lockdown!), shampoo, washing detergent, handwash and soap, tinned food, rice, pasta, tea, coffee and soft drinks bought in bulk can often save you heaps! Keep an eye out for the best deals on your regular buys.

Tip 7 – Making meals from scratch

Home-made meals using natural ingredients will not only save you money, they’re usually better for you too. Fruit and vegetables that are ‘in season’ will usually be cheaper too! There’s plenty of recipes online based around seasonal buys.

Tip 8 – Cook to create leftovers

Cooking more than you and your family need for your nightly meal is a great way to get a cheap second meal the next day out of the leftovers. This is a really handy tip if you need work lunches – you could easily save $50 a week by bringing your own food to work.

Tip 9 – Try different (cheaper) brands

It’s good to try other brands – you might find a better option and a new ‘favourite’. Supermarket brands are also cheaper than ‘name’ brands and they’re worth checking out.

Tip 10 – Don’t shop when you’re hungry

This is a rookie error….If you do, you’ll end up buying more!

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