Just wanted to share with you that since purchasing a coffee pod machine I have honestly saved a couple of hundred dollars over the course of the year. Buying coffee at $4 each once, twice or three times daily really hits the pocket. All year since January I have used a pod machine both at home and at work which is amazing and a great money saving tip.
Coffee pod machines are the rave among coffee drinkers. You can even buy machines that have reusable pods that reduce packaging waste and can be filled with any grinds you like.
It got me thinking—not just about coffee—but about Christmas being around the corner and that a coffee pod machine would make a great gift for a latte loving relative—a gift that would save them money. Then I started brainstorming other money-saving gift ideas and here’s what I came up with:
- Coffee pod machine
- Bread maker machine
- Wine saver vacuum pump
- Crockpot/slow cooker
- Rechargeable batteries and recharger unit
- Reusable aluminium water bottle
- Water purifier for the kitchen tap
- SodaStream carbonated drink maker
- Home brewing kit
- Home pedicure kit
Gift cards are always a reliable money-saving idea, too.
Based on the average interest rate of 17.21 per cent, it would take about 12 years to repay $3,282 if making only the minimum monthly repayment. The situation is obviously even worse for those people with higher balances and/or interest rates. The key is to pay down your credit card balances as quickly as possible. Even small amounts above the minimum repayment will drastically reduce your exposure to time and interest charges.
A national study by H&R Block suggests that financial responsibility is really catching on. When 5,400 Australians were asked how they intend to spend their tax return, the most popular response was to put at least part of it in the bank.
Paying down bills and loans was also popular, as were holidays. Less popular were appliances, home renovations, car and education expenses.
Are you expecting a tax return this year? What are you planning to do with it?
Here are some little ways to cut everyday costs (or earn a bit of extra income) over the next eight weeks so you can enjoy a fun, debt-free festive season.
- Bring a packed lunch to work instead of buying it (potential saving: $320)
- Skip the daily cappuccino (potential saving: $160)
- Give up bottled water (potential saving: $80)
- No pubs, clubs or restaurants until December (potential saving: $400+)
- Cut your weekly food budget by $10 (potential saving: $80)
- Plan a week’s meals from food already in your pantry or freezer (potential saving: $80)
- Sell some of your unwanted stuff (potential income: $50)
- Take on seasonal work—baby/pet sitting, lawn mowing etc. (potential income: $300+)
- Suspend your gym or pay TV service for two months (potential saving: $50+)
- Swap to cheaper home, contents or car insurance (potential saving: $50+)
- Start planning early. The earlier you start planning, the longer you’ll have to save money and consider your options. (For last minute getaways, check online sites like LastMinute.com.au, Wotif.com.au and SocialLiving for discount deals.)
- Create a holiday budget. Don’t forget to factor in all of your costs: transport (airfares, petrol, car hire etc.), accommodation, meals, snacks and drinks, entertainment, tours and activities, shopping, travel insurance, costs of visas and/or vaccinations, and contingency money for unexpected expenses. (Think about an all-inclusive holiday package if you want to minimise surprises.)
- Get the kids involved. What can they do to help during the planning process? Save their pocket money? Do extra jobs to earn spending money?
- Get dedicated. Open a dedicated bank account for your holiday savings, and have a proportion of your pay deposited directly into the account by your employer, or set up an automatic transfer so that your holiday savings never touch your pocket.
- Think local. The cost of airfares or driving quickly adds up, especially when a family includes multiple children. The best part about a holiday is the change of scenery and break from routine, so even a local hotel with a pool can be fun for kids and relaxing for parents.
- Go off-peak. Some destinations offer amazing discounts during the off-season. Just be aware that the low and shoulder seasons at some destinations may come with the increased chance of bad weather or other undesirable conditions.
- Shop around. If you’re flying, it’s especially important to reserve your seats early. Don’t forget to check aggregator websites, such as Kayak.com, Webjet.com.au and Wotif.com.au to find the best price.
- Use cash not credit. That doesn’t mean carrying around big wads of money. Within Australia, it’s as simple as using a debit card. For overseas travellers, most banks now provide travel cards that are a cross between traveller’s cheques and a credit card. A travel card can be pre-loaded with your own funds in the currency of the country in which you’ll be travelling. It works just like a debit card for purchases and for cash withdrawals at ATMs.
- Spend smartly. Did you know that you can ask housekeeping to empty the hotel mini-bar? Once the fridge is empty, you can fill it with your own snacks and drinks from the local supermarket (much cheaper!) Pay for drinks and meals with cash rather than charging them to your room—cash makes it easier to keep track of your spending.
- Consider “staycationing”. Need a break but don’t have enough cash for a holiday? “Staycationing” involves holidaying in and around your own home. To get the most out of staycationing, treat it like a proper holiday—plan special treats and experiences for every family member.
So, I’m sitting on the couch with my kids and they’re both playing with their iPods. I’m simultaneously working on my laptop and browsing Facebook on my phone. There’s an iPad charging in the kitchen and a desktop computer in the home office. When exactly did the house become a computer laboratory?
My dad bought the kids iPhones (yes, iPhones for primary school-aged grandkids) for Christmas two years ago. I just about choked on my pavlova when the kids opened them. You can imagine the kids’ excitement, followed by utter dejection when I announced they couldn’t keep them. Poor Dad was confused—he meant to buy them iPods not iPhones, but didn’t know the difference. Crisis averted—we sold the iPhones and bought them each an iPod Touch instead.
Now, of course, we have the constant threat of keeping track of everything and avoiding mishaps along the way. I hope this list of ways to protect your portable devices helps you stay in control of your mobile technology, too.
- Cover it. It’s worth spending money on a shockproof, waterproof, (childproof!) case. A screen protector is also important because it can prevent the screen from shattering.
- Set a security passcode. A passcode to unlock the device protects your data and makes it less attractive to thieves.
- Put your name on it. You could mark the device with an ultraviolet pen (invisible to the naked eye) or tape an alternative contact number to it. If it’s found by an honest person (and I like to think most people are), they’ll know how to find you. Hey, it can’t hurt trying.
- Back up your data. I automatically backup my Apple devices to iCloud and manually backup my laptop once a month. I keep the backup hard drive at work. I have over 22,000 family photos on my laptop alone. It would break my heart to lose those memories.
- Install a device locator app. The Find My iPhone app allows you to locate, call or wipe Apple devices remotely. Are you an Android user? In August, Google launched its Android Device Manager app that can track an android device via the web. (You need to open a Google account to use it.)
- Write down the model and serial numbers. This will be important if you’re making a police report or insurance claim.
- Think about insuring it. Check with your insurance company to see if portable devices are covered in your home contents. Some insurers offer mobile device insurance policies—could be a worthwhile investment if you’re in the habit of losing things.
- Leave it at home. I don’t let my kids take their iPods to school. It’s too easy for portable devices to be lost, damaged or stolen—and I figure they should be concentrating on school work. Kids and adults alike also need to be mindful that they can be potential targets for theft and thuggery when using devices in public.