Tag Archives: Christmas

Making memories: Christmas gifts that keep giving

Doing stuff together is better than just giving stuffAs you’re planning your Christmas gift list this year, keep in mind that the most memorable gifts are not things, but experiences. Gifts of stuff get lost among the stuff we already have. On the other hand, we’re far more likely to remember shared experiences. Stuff is easily forgotten; experiences are long-remembered.

What are some ways you can give the gift of experience without breaking the bank? Continue reading

Christmas is coming! Tammy’s October video blog

Budgeting for ChristmasChristmas is less than 12 weeks away! If you’ve already created a Christmas budget, that’s awesome. If you haven’t, there’s still time to plan and make budget changes so you can enjoy (and afford) a fabulous festive season! Here are my video tips.

Tammy May’s October 2013 video blog

Eek! Only 12 weeks until Christmas!

Plan ahead for a relaxing ChristmasToday is the 24th of September, which means that in exactly three months’ time you could be running around like a headless chook, jostling other frenzied shoppers for last minute gifts, and generally pulling your hair out in preparation for Christmas Day. Alternatively, you could be utterly prepared and serene. Shopping done, gifts wrapped, kicking back and feeling relaxed. Let’s plan for that scenario!

If you haven’t already got a Christmas budget in place, this is the time to work on it. Some people also need to take income fluctuation into account at Christmas time. You might get more money from extra hours or leave loading; others might see a drop in pay due to a Christmas shutdown or unpaid leave.

If you’ll be travelling for Christmas, you’ll need to think about transportation costs, accommodation, and eating out. Perhaps you’ll also need to budget to get your car serviced or buy new tyres.

Here’s a Christmas budget checklist to get you started:

  • Extra food/drinks/groceries (on top of your usual shopping budget—don’t forget things like serviettes, paper plates etc.)
  • Extra phone costs
  • Extra petrol and possible car costs
  • Gifts
  • Christmas cards
  • Postage
  • Wrapping paper and supplies
  • Decorations (for the tree, house, table etc.)
  • Batteries (especially important if you have kids!)
  • Entertainment, events and social activities
  • Keeping the kids busy (you might go on more outings or rent extra DVDs)
  • Income fluctuation

When it comes to budgeting for gifts, do what Santa does and make yourself a detailed list that includes each person’s name, the budgeted amount for their gift and any gift ideas that come to mind. Start looking for presents now, especially when you see a sale. You can also start collecting non-perishable food and other items now (eg. custard powder, frozen vegetables, drinks, serviettes, and batteries.)

The most important thing is to budget for a Christmas you can afford. That might mean cutting back on gifts or asking family members to bring a dish to share for Christmas dinner. And who says that you have to have a big roast for Christmas? You could have a picnic at the beach or sandwiches at a local park.

Remember, MyBudget is always here to help. If you want to talk about your Christmas budget, please give us a call.

Cheap, thoughtful Christmas gift ideas

Budgeting for ChristmasThere’s exactly one week to Christmas and you might still be looking for some cheap and cheery last minute gifts. This list below comes from MyBudget clients who have been generously sharing their ideas on the MB Buzz online forum. All the ideas have been thoughtful, creative and fabulous—thank you! We’re sorry we can’t share everybody’s contribution.

I hope you find something on the list that inspires you.

Homemade goodies:

  • Recipe in a jar: Give someone all of the dry ingredients needed to make a recipe (such as biscuits, brownies or chili) layered in a jar along with instructions.
  • Homemade honeycomb (just like Crunchie bars!) and bags of caramel popcorn in noodle boxes with handmade gift tags.
  • Christmas pudding inside a terracotta pot, wrapped in cellophane.
  • Bag of homemade shortbread, almond bread, mini Christmas balls etc.
  • Rocky Road wrapped in cellophane and ribbon—a great one for kids to make.
  • Jams, sauces and relishes—because store-bought varieties don’t even compare!

Get crafty:

  • Photo jars: Place shells and sand in the bottom of a recycled clean glass jar; print out a photo to fit and place it in the jar before sealing with the lid.
  • Animal artwork: Paint your children’s feet or hands then press them onto a canvass or art paper so that the prints can be detailed into a butterfly, bee, spider, fish or farm animal. Place the canvass or paper into a frame.
  • Homemade bath bombs or soaps with some tea-lights and a book mark.
  • Rainy day box: Fill a box with ideas for what to do on a rainy day (craft accessories and other small gifts), along with a personalised note about what’s in the box and what to do with it. By buying things in bulk you can divide the item between multiple boxes and keep the cost down.
  • Recipe book: Collect your family’s favourite recipes; print the recipes with family photos and collate in a plastic presentation book.

It’s the thought that counts:

“I let our family know we are on a budget and we’ll be making homemade stuff for Christmas presents this year, like jams/relishes etc. To my surprise, everyone was thrilled because they then didn’t have to go to the huge expense of shop-bought pressies either. They are all making homemade presents, too.”

“We are doing stacked handprints of our family made with matching scrapbooking papers, framed with our names and the year on them. We live a long way away from our family so we wanted to give them something they can hang up all year to remember us!”

“What made the best Christmas you ever had? The chats you had with family down at the park Christmas arvo? Cracking up at your grandparents coz they look a treat in a bon-bon paper crown? Taking over a slot car set you got your kids while they sit there for 45 minutes “spectating”? I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas five years ago, but I remember the look on my son’s face when he hid my present and told me I had to find it. That cost nothing. Look hard enough and you’ll find not everything has a price tag.”

Time of year to reflect and appreciate (video blog)

Tammy May's December 2012 vlog: Reflect on your 2012 achievementsIn my December vlog I talk about reflecting on your achievements in 2012 and setting your sights towards new goals in 2013. Even if you’ve only recently joined MyBudget, that’s a huge achievement in itself. Deciding to take control of your money is an excellent accomplishment.

Tammy May’s December 2012 video log

 

 

 

Last minute Christmas tips

At MyBudget, we’re approaching some of our busiest months of the year. The New Year will bring with it hundreds of phone calls and emails every week from people asking for our help. Having stretched themselves too far, many of them will be experiencing the financial aftershock of Christmas.

The good news is that we can help most people get back on track quickly, but the best cure for financial stress is to avoid it in the first place. With that in mind, here are some last minute Christmas tips that might save you some grey hairs and a few dollars.

Leave your credit card at home. When you’re shopping for Christmas presents and groceries over the coming weeks, do it with cash. Cash is even better than your debit card because it’s a visual reminder of your budget. Try organising your money into separate envelopes — and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Don’t leave home without a list. Prepare your shopping list before you leave the house and stick to it. This includes shopping for Christmas presents — know how much you can afford, what you’re going to buy, and for who.

Get creative. Avoid overpriced glacé fruit, handkerchiefs and boring neckties. Why not make cheap, cheery and thoughtful gifts for your loved ones? Biscuits, cake, potted plants, photo books and framed photos are a few ideas.

Start storing and freezing. Now is the time to scour supermarket catalogues for discounts and specials. Some vegetable dishes can be made in advance, frozen and reheated for Christmas Day.

Don’t shop for yourself until after Christmas. It’s tempting to get festive by including a few little treats for yourself. Resist! Wait for the post-Christmas sales and to see what Santa brings you.

Tighten your belt. The festive season is hard on pockets for all sorts of reasons — gift-giving, Christmas parties, reduced hours at work, the kids on holidays etc. — which means that right now is the time to take a look at your spending habits and see if there are any areas you can cut back on over the coming weeks. The little things add up — take your lunch to work, stay at home on Saturday night, try a cheaper bottle of wine, cook at home instead of buying take-away or eating out.

Plan your special Christmas. Images of Christmas that include piles of presents, lavish decorations, and enough food to feed an army are largely advertising messages intended to make us to spend. Your Christmas doesn’t have to look like that to be special and wonderful. Why not take sandwiches to a local park? How about a picnic at the beach or a barbecue at home?

Making memories: Christmas experience gifts

As you’re planning your Christmas present list this year, keep in mind that the most memorable gifts are not things, but experiences. Gifts of stuff get lost among the stuff we already possess. On the other hand, people are far more likely to remember shared experiences. Stuff is easily forgotten, whereas experiences are long remembered.

What are some ways you can give the gift of experience without breaking the bank? Fortunately, experiences don’t need to include an adrenalin rush to be memorable. Think back to some of your favourite memories. I’m sure that many of your best experiences are simple and unrushed—good times with good people.

The ‘gift of experience’ ideas below come with that principle in mind. In each instance, I’ve also suggested a small symbolic present to place under the tree. The accompanying card will need to explain the experience that comes with the gift. For example, a set of cupcake foils could be accompanied with an invitation that reads: Cupcake baking at my house on Saturday 5 January at 1pm followed by afternoon tea.

Children love helping and making things. A cake tin or cupcake decorations could symbolize your gift of a shared baking session. A pair of safety glasses could include an invitation to build a wooden toy together. Some craft supplies could come with an afternoon craft session. A paintbrush and colour chart could represent the gift of repainting your child’s bedroom together.

Shared experiences in the great outdoors. Does someone you love need help in the garden? A pair of gardening gloves could symbolize a day or two spent gardening together or building a vegetable box. A map could represent an afternoon spent bike riding, hiking or driving together. A postcard could display a special place where you’ll take your friend for a picnic, morning tea, or a special meal.

An evening of entertainment. A bag of popcorn could represent shouting your friend to an evening at the cinema—movie of their choice. A selection of recipes could come with an invitation to choose a meal that you’ll cook for them. A bottle of massage oil could signify a special date night. A board game or deck of cards could come with an invitation to a games night.

There are lots of cheap and loving ways to give the gift of special experiences to the people you cherish. Keep it simple and focus on the things they enjoy.

More tinsel for your Christmas budget

Last week I posted an article about budgeting for Christmas. If you’ve worked out your Christmas budget and it’s looking leaner than you’d like, there are a number of ways you might be able to add more tinsel to your tree. With 12 weeks until the big day, there’s still time to tighten your belt and find some serious cash for the silly season.

  • Bring a packed lunch to work every day (potential saving $300-$600)
  • Skip the daily cappuccino (potential saving $180-$300)
  • Curb your partying and socialising until December (big potential savings, depending on your social habits)
  • Cut your weekly grocery budget by $10 (potential saving $120)
  • You might be able to save $100+ in a single week by shopping in your own kitchen instead of the supermarket. Try using the food you already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry for a week’s meal planning.
  • Sell some of your unwanted stuff.
  • Take on some extra seasonal/short-term work (baby sitting, lawn mowing etc.)

Christmas budget checklist

Today is the 25th of September, which means that it’s exactly three months until Christmas. Thirteen weeks to be precise! If you haven’t already created a budget for Christmas, this is the time to do it.

One of the biggest costs at Christmas time is gift giving, but other expenses add up quickly, too, even if you plan to spend Christmas at home.

Make sure that your Christmas budget takes into account things like extra groceries, extra petrol if you’ll be driving, cards and wrapping supplies, postage, decorations, entertaining and going out, and extra telephone costs if you have a number of friends and family to call.

Some people also need to take income fluctuation into account at Christmas time. You might get more money from extra hours or leave loading; others might see a drop in pay due to a Christmas shutdown or unpaid leave.

If you’ll be travelling for Christmas, you’ll need to think about transportation costs, accommodation, and eating out. Perhaps you’ll also need to budget to get your car serviced or buy new tyres before taking a long trip.

Here’s a Christmas budget checklist to get you started:

  • Extra food/drinks/groceries (on top of your usual shopping budget—don’t forget things like serviettes, paper plates etc.)
  • Extra phone costs
  • Extra petrol
  • Gifts
  • Christmas cards
  • Postage
  • Wrapping paper and supplies
  • Decorations (for the tree, house, table etc.)
  • Batteries (especially important if you have kids!)
  • Entertainment, events and social activities
  • Keeping the kids busy (you might go on more outings or rent extra DVDs)
  • Income fluctuation

When it comes to budgeting for gifts, do what Santa does and make yourself a detailed list that includes the person’s name, the budgeted amount for their gift, and any gift ideas that come to mind. Start looking for presents now, especially when you see a sale. You can also start collecting non-perishable food and other items now (eg. custard powder, frozen vegetables, drinks, serviettes, and batteries.)

The most important thing is to budget for a Christmas you can afford. That might mean cutting back on your gift budget or asking family members to bring a dish when they come for Christmas dinner. And who says that you have to have a big roast for Christmas? You could have a picnic at the beach or sandwiches at a local park.

Remember, MyBudget is always here to help. If you want to talk about your Christmas budget, please give us a call.

MyBudget embraces the season for giving

MyBudget Make a Difference Program Staff Photo

Ask MyBudget staff what they love most about their jobs, and you’ll repeatedly hear the phrase “helping people.” Helping people put their lives back together is both a responsibility and an honour. For that reason, we mindfully select people to work at MyBudget who put the company’s core values into practice every day.

Christmas is an especially important period for us. We understand that it puts people and their finances under pressure. It’s a time of year when we can really make a difference…

Make A Difference program

For the second year in a row, MyBudget’s Make A Difference program has distributed money to worthy clients in time for Christmas. $6,000 has been distributed in varying amounts between 13 MyBudget clients.

Their heart-wrenching stories tell of hardship and adversity, and situations which were beyond their control, including flood, illness and plain bad luck.

Tammy May read each entry personally and commented, “Make A Difference money won’t necessarily repair these people’s lives, but it will help towards a better Christmas.”

MyBudget Social Club focuses on clients in need

The MyBudget Social Club usually celebrates Christmas by exchanging Kris Kringle gifts with each other, but this year they decided to embrace the spirit of giving differently.

Social club members pooled their money to prepare Christmas gifts for 11 lucky clients. The clients were selected from remaining entries in the Make A Difference program.

Chantelle selected a client couple who, like her, are animal lovers. Unable to have children of their own, these clients are mum and dad to four “fur babies.” One of their babies has suffered a mystery illness throughout 2011 which has resulted in expensive vet costs and put them behind in their bills. Another of the babies ruined the family’s couch.

Helping Clients in Debt at Christmas

Chantelle used social club contributions and her own funds to make these clients a pet-friendly Christmas hamper, and she located a free couch on GumTree.com.au.

Tammy May commented, “I’m very proud of MyBudget staff for being such genuine and caring people. Our core values aren’t empty concepts. They’re actions we practice every day in big and small ways to make our clients’ lives better.”

 

By Kylie Hughes, guest writer