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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Teaching Kids About Money and Savings

One of the best things we can instil in our children is a healthy relationship with money. Kids learn about money spending habits by what they see their parents doing (good and bad!).

Here are some Shopa tips to teach your kids about money and savings:

1. Start Young.

If your child is showing an interest in money encourage them. When you’re out at the shops together – let them hand over the cash or card when you are paying at the checkout. Explain how Tap and Pay works. Going through the supermarket can turn into a lesson about money – you can point out which items are expensive, which ones are cheaper options and how much food costs each week for the family. Show them the receipt at the end – did you get any discounts? Talk about how you can be a smart shopper by looking for savings, deals and lower priced items that do the same job as the more expensive ones. These are all life lessons that your children will remember and for busy parents you’re multi-tasking (again!) Go you!

2. Set Up A Savings Account.

It’s never too early to set up a savings account for your child. Money boxes are great for young kids and encourage savings from day one. Get your child to put in any birthday and pocket money and take it into the bank together. The coin collection machines at the bank are great fun for kids! Show your child their bank statement – they’ll feel proud and enjoy watching the balance increase!

3. Talk About Budgeting.

Explain in simple terms how you earn the money and that you need to spend it on important things first, such as food, clothes, electricity, rates or bigger bills like paying rent or a mortgage and if there’s money left you may decide to save a bit and spend treat yourself to something! You can even do a basic budget together like how much a birthday party costs.

4. Good Spending Habits.

Your spending habits influence your children – are you a spender or saver? Show your child what you are spending money on and why. Is it because you got a great discount to bulk buy? Essentials for the house? Or paid a bill early to get a prompt payment discount? The more your child understands the better.

5. Let Kids Make their Own Money Mistakes.

No-one is perfect, and let’s be honest we’ve all spent money on things we didn’t really need. Explain about needs vs wants and encourage your child to think about this before they buy something. It’s good for children to understand if they spend all their money on something they don’t really need it will take longer to achieve another savings goal.

6. Pocket Money.

Show kids the value of money by setting chores for them to do in return for pocket money each week. This shows children that they have to work to earn. Maybe pay them on the same day each week – like a ‘payday’. Things like:

  • helping with the family laundry
  • meal preparation
  • mowing the lawn
  • car washing
  • walking the dog

Teen Money Tips:

1. Apply for a Credit Card.

Now that they’ve had a savings account for some years it’s time to test their skills with a credit card – they’ll be surprised at first that it’s not just free money! Paying this off will not only help instil good money habits but it contributes to their credit rating when it comes to taking out future loans. They can hunt around online for a low limit card so they can’t get into too much trouble and research the best interest rates on cards. Make sure you stay on top of their spending by linking the account to yours and teach the importance of not spending more than they can afford.

2. Part-Time Employment.

Teen years are a great time to get a part-time job. Start by helping them put together their CV. Their first job will give them confidence, some cash and valuable life skills like learning about payslips, super and tax. It also means they can start working out how to budget for bigger ticket items such as an overseas trip, car or to move out of home.

3. Get Teens to Contribute.

Once teens reach a certain age some parents ask them to contribute in the form of ‘board’ or ‘rent’. If this isn’t your style you can ask your child to chip in for educational expenses such as excursions, laptops or maybe lifestyle purchases like clothing, mobile phones and entertainment.

Want to stretch your dollar further?

10 Affordable and Fun Date Ideas for Couples

It’s fun to getting dressed up and head out on a date night but this can get expensive or maybe you and your partner are in a “dating rut” and doing the same things each time you go out together. Well, romance doesn’t have to be boring or cost the earth so here’s some date ideas to get you started:

1. Take a Day Trip Together.

Turn your mobiles off and go for a drive to an area you’ve been keen to explore. Maybe it’s a winery, art gallery or a food festival you’ve always wanted to check out? Or a hike in a national park? It’s also a great opportunity to support the local regions!

2. Try a New Restaurant.

There’s plenty of great deals around on quieter nights and some have great lunch deals too. You might find a new cuisine you love! Short on time? Make a date for a ‘coffee and cake deal’ before you do the weekend grocery shopping together.

3. Enjoy A Picnic Together.

Whether it’s stargazing in the backyard at night after the kids are in bed or going to the beach or local park. Grab a picnic blanket, some great food and a nice priced wine.

4. Couples Fitness.

There’s lots of introductory exercise and sport classes that are well priced and you might find a new interest together! Zen out with Yoga or Tai Chi or maybe sweat it out in a Spin class at your local gym. Are you a daring couple? Try Skydiving! Romantic? Maybe hot air ballooning. Fun couple? Paintball or Laser Tag anyone?

5. Cook At Home.

Wait! We don’t mean the everyday cook at home (yawn) routine. Have your own Masterchef experience! Since lockdown there’s plenty of chefs doing online cooking classes. Pick a cuisine you’ve never tried, grab the ingredients and your favourite tipple go gourmet at home. The best bit? No babysitter needed!

6. Check Out You Local Pubs.

Most pubs have mid-week meal deal nights. Find out if they have some fun activities like trivia, bingo or if you’re game you can try karaoke!

7. Learn a Language Together.

Maybe you’re both dreaming of planning an overseas trip in the future and would love to know a few basics? There’s lots of conversational language classes around and some offer ‘a taste of’ classes to trial for free.

8. Do an Ice Creamery Challenge.

Google local ice cream stores and try a new flavour together. Two scoops anyone?

9. Explore Your Creative Side.

There’s plenty of pottery classes, painting and life drawing classes around (some do the first one for free!) or buy a few cheap materials and do an online tutorial at home!

10. When In Doubt.

Last but not least, pizza and a movie never fails.

Want to save on your next date?

4 steps to start your family budget

Get your home team on board with saving! Starting a family budget is a great way to introduce everyone in your household to savvy shopping and saving. Try these four simple steps to kickstart your family planning budget planning: plan, check, act and track.

PLAN: Know what you want

The first step of planning your budget is knowing your why. Are you creating a budget to try and reach a savings goal like a holiday? To pay off high-interest debt? Or to make sure there’s enough of everything to go around for the family?

Get the whole family involved in setting money goals and sticking to a new budget might go down a little easier if there’s a common savings goal.

CHECK: Know what’s coming in and going out

The first step to starting any budget is getting a clear idea of what’s going on now – what is coming in from your job or other income, and what you need to survive.

It’s a good time to take stock of what you spend your money on. There’s some simple online tools and apps that can help you categorise your spending into sections like household bills, medical costs and school expenses. You can see at a glance where your unplanned luxuries – like those weekend takeaways – are eating away at your budget.

Shopa Tip: Have a complete picture of where your money is going:

  • Start by going through your bank statements, debts, bills and regular expenses
  • Check your account statements for monthly subscriptions or memberships you don’t use (like home entertainment subscriptions or apps)
  • Categorise what you spend and plug any obvious money leaks. Check your phone and internet provider, home and car insurance, gas, water and electricity bills as part of your audit.
  • Work out your Fixed expenses: (eg. rent, mortgage, rates, car etc), Debt expenses: (eg. personal loan, credit card and mortgage) and Unexpected expenses (car repairs, medical bills, extra school expenses)

Shopa Tip: Use comparison sites to see the best deals

When you know what’s coming in and out it’s time for some decisions. Let’s put your budget plan into action!

ACT: Cancel, cut back and set up direct debits

Start by cancelling any direct debits for services you don’t use – including checking on pre-approved payments and subscription renewals in tools like PayPal.

You can’t spend money you don’t see. Setting up automatic debits – on payday – for recurring bills and debts takes away the temptation to spend what you don’t have.

Shopa Tip: Add your direct debit dates to your calendar as a reminder to check your balance.

TRACK: Spending with a budget template

If you don’t track your spending, you won’t know where your money is going or whether you’ve stuck to a budget. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re trying to change your money ways. Declare an amnesty and put everything on the table from debts to direct debits. .

Shopa Tip: Download an online budget planner to use to help you see where you’re spending your money.

Looking to save money?

3 Ways you can save big with Shopa Docket

Let’s face it – who doesn’t love a great bargain? Well, there’s 3 ways you can save lots of cash with Shopa Docket!

1. Sign up to our website

Join as an exclusive member – 720,000+ Aussies have already! It’s free and you get access to the best deals from your local retailers. We’ll also email you exclusive Shopa Docket deals from your favourite brands like BWS, Adidas, Adairs, The Iconic, Hello Fresh, My Pet Warehouse, Oz Lotto, Bonds, Cotton on and More! You’ll also hear about hot deals on Black Friday, Click Frenzy and all the other big sales throughout the year. No spam! Promise!

2. Download our App

Great deals with a map locator and there’s a game to play! Every week we giveaway vouchers from big retailers like Woolworths, JB Hi Fi, Myer, Bunnings, Caltex, Visa and Mastercard Vouchers. We’ve had over 250,000 App downloads already!

3. Print Coupons

check the back of your docket at your local Big W, Kmart, Target Chemist Warehouse, Harris Farm Market and selected IGA’s for free coupons and deals in your local area.

Want to start saving more now?

Become a member for free at: shopadocket.com.au or download the Free ShopaDocket App to play the game to win gift cards!

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!

Looking to save money?