What Warlords and Scumbags can teach us about life

What Warlords and Scumbags can teach us about life

We can learn many lessons from the card game, Warlords and Scumbags. It is a climbing game known in other parts of the world as President, Landlord, Capitalism, Butthead, Root Beer, Trou du Cul (France), Einer ist immer der Arsch (Germany), and Hűbéres (Hungary).

If these unusual names don’t intrigue you enough to google the history or rules, I don’t know what would. Wardlords and Scumbags can bring out the best and the worst in people. It has the power to bring you to the top of the pecking order and then back down again in an instant.

As I played this game recently while holidaying with family, I was struck with the many analogies that I could draw from. Here are some life lessons about Wardlords and Scumbags that I pondered.

1.You can move up in the world.

What Warlords and Scumbags can teach us about life

Warlords and Scumbags is an unfair game. Get dealt a bad hand or make a poor decision and you can find yourself down in position of Scumbag. Although it can be extremely difficult and seem impossible at times, you can change your destiny and move up the ranks again.

Take time to consider your hand carefully and see where your winners could be. Figure out a strategy. Know that you won’t move up to Warlord straight away but if you keep plugging away, round by round, you’ll move up in status.

Despite where you start in life, you can make changes for the better. You may have been born into a poor family, disadvantaged neighbourhood, raised by a single parent or a foster home. You may have rented lots of houses and moved multiple times. You may have had limited or no family support. Any one of these factors can make life extra hard and it can feel like you can’t get a foot up.

RELATED : 9 ways to teach your children about contentment in a consumer-driven world

Struggling is always a way of life. Know that it doesn’t have to be like this. You can change your destiny and move up in the world. Reach out for some non-judgemental advice from a free financial counsellor on the National Debt Helpline. They will be able to give you some pointers in the right direction.

2. You can be dealt a bad hand.

In games like Warlords and Scumbags, sometimes you are just dealt a really bad hand. When the cards are passed around and you start flicking through them, it can become very obvious that it’s not a great hand. Terrible even. What on earth are you supposed to do with these? Sometimes the best thing you can do is realise that you won’t be winning this one. Aim to simply make it through without going down to Scumbag. Win what you can, forget about the rest.

What Warlords and Scumbags can teach us about life

In life we can also be dealt a bad hand. It may have been tough from the very start or perhaps circumstances have flipped our world on its head. You lost your job, had a relationship breakdown, had an accident or diagnosed with an illness. You may have a child with a disability that requires much of your time, energy and your ability to earn money. You may be physically isolated from those you love or feel lonely despite being in close proximity to people.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Try to make just one change at a time. Know that things might not change straight away for you. Although your problems won’t be immediately solved, focus on making wise decisions and gradually moving ahead. Reach out for help and find a few key people to get around you for support.

RELATED : 30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

3. The rich get richer.

Similar to games like Monopoly, in Warlords and Scumbags the rich tend to get richer, the poor get poorer. It can be so demoralising and cruel when you keep getting knocked down. It feels so unfair when you need to give your best cards to the Warlord. You virtually kiss goodbye your chance at winning the hand. You have to start from behind and watch them enjoy success.

What Warlords and Scumbags can teach us about life

It can feel so unfair in life too when life for us just feels tough. Finances are tight. Every decision affects how we can make the money stretch, and money also affects the choices that we make. When you can only afford to buy the cheap car but then it keeps breaking down, and you don’t have enough money to fix it up.

When you can’t get a home loan so instead you have to apply for rentals, put up with undesirable conditions, things needing fixing, rent going up and never knowing when you’ll have to move next. When you have a home and the hot water system breaks, followed by the washing machine, and salt damp means you need to waterproof the tiles in the shower.

Those who aren’t living week to week don’t have the same anxiety that comes with not being able to afford the basics, let alone the unexpected or unplanned. Those on minimum wage or living on one income are affected by the rising cost of living much more than those on a six figure one.

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Know that the poor can get richer too. We can be savvy with the money we have and make some simple changes to make it stretch further. We can start up a side hustle to make more cash. We can start saving up an emergency fund to make sure we’ll be okay. We can set up sinking funds for different categories to save up for big expenses, planned and unplanned.

4. You can stuff up the best hand.

Isn’t this true with Warlords and Scumbags. There have been a few times that I’ve looked at my hand and couldn’t believe my luck. So many winners. I’ve got this in the bag. I begin playing, trying not to let on how smug I feel.

Then all of a sudden, I’ve made a couple stupid decisions and now can’t get in the game. I don’t know how on earth I’m going to get rid of this 3. I ponder how I got to this point. How did I have so many good cards and still manage to stuff it up? I feel embarrassed at my playing skills. I should have done better. I should have won this hand.

What Warlords and Scumbags can teach us about life

It’s not dissimilar to real life. We can be blessed into being born into a wealthy country, to a middle class family. We have been given all the right education and opportunities. We have the world at our feet. Then in the blink of an eye and a handful of choices, we have lost it all, or so it seems.

It has turned our lives upside down. We can’t quite believe what has happened when everything was going so well. A lifetime of working hard and doing the right things can be undone with one wrong decision.

5. There can be pressure at the top.

When you earn the rank of Warlord, it feels good. You are finally at the top. You have the title and the perks that go along with it. However with this comes a responsibility to hold your position and there is pressure to do well.

This can take away some of the fun as you grip on for success. When you lose the hand and you move down, sometimes to Scumbag (depending on the rules you play by), this can hurt. It’s a long way to fall from Warlord. You feel like you should have done better and are hard on yourself for failing. You can also cop a bit of slack from those you’re playing with. They love nothing better than toppling the king from his throne and swapping seats with you. It’s not a nice feeling.

What Warlords and Scumbags can teach us about life

In life, we can also feel pressured to maintain a certain standard. If you are in a prestigious career, there is often pressure to stay in this profession and move up the ranks. This often includes having the flashy house to entertain from, the nice car, the luxury holidays, the esteemed private school to send your children, designer labels and the latest tech gadgets.

There can be pressure from family to do the same career as those gone before you. If your father and grandfather were lawyers, you should follow in their footsteps. If your mother and grandmother were surgeons, you should study medicine and specialise in surgery too. There can be pressure to take over a family business.

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It can feel like you have no other choice than to continue in a career because it is expected of you. It is worthwhile considering if this is really what you want to do. If you love it and it makes you happy, by all means, stay! If however, you do not enjoy this pathway, have no interest in it or it causes you stress, it might not be for you.

6. Decision making is hard.

Hobby to Hustle: how you can start earning cash starting today

In the midst of playing Warlords and Scumbags, it’s easy to struggle with decision making. There are different ways of playing your hand, and each option has a different outcome. Do you try to win rounds early or hold on to your winners? Do you play risky or keep it safe? Start low or play high? Play your singles, doubles or triples? How do you know who has what in their hand?

We can also become frozen in indecision in life. We can worry that we’ll stuff everything up if we make the wrong choices. We overthink everything. We struggle to move forward.

Do what you can to make wise decisions and then trust your instinct. You can only plan and prepare so much before you need to go with your gut and make a choice. Most of the time, these choices aren’t life or death. We can learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward. Progress over perfection.

7. You can move from Scumbag into second.

You can start off as Scumbag and work your way up to Warlord. You can be intentional, play a good hand, and turn things around. It often takes a few brave moves, sometimes risky, and can pay off. It is difficult but not impossible. It might be out of reach to go from Scumbag to Warlord immediately, but over the course of a few hands or the game, you might just have it in you.

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In life, we can feel like we start off behind. It feels like we won’t ever make it through school, getting into university, graduating and getting a job. Trying to work up the ranks and earn a higher wage can feel discouraging. If you play to your strengths, work hard and take some bold steps, you can be rewarded. It might be out of reach to go from Scumbag to Warlord immediately, but over time you can make a change.

8. You can upskill.

In the game of Warlord and Scumbags, you can learn how to play better. You can either do this by having lots of practice or learning from the best, or a combination of both. You can watch how others play their hands. Perhaps even ask to watch them play while standing behind to watch their decision making. You can read up on strategies to try.

In the real world, we can learn how to get better at our jobs. Our weaknesses don’t have to define us. We can actively work on improving some areas. We can strive to be better, do better. We can learn on the job and figure out things as we go or we can do some extra study or training. We can find a mentor in our field and one day return the favour to someone else.

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We can read books like Money School, Mindful Money, The Millionaire Next Door and The Barefoot Investor. Listen to podcasts like We Talk Cents, Sugar Mamma Fireplay, She’s on the Money, Captain Fi or The Broke Generation. Watch YouTube videos like Family Finance and Sugar Mamma.

9. Points to ponder.

Some final thoughts about Warlords and Scumbags and how it relates to real life.

Friends can betray you.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

You can have a good hand and lose, but not always have a good hand and win.

Sometimes you can teach someone and they might end up being better than you.

Taking risks can be scary. They can also pay off.

Make the right decisions and make friends.

It feels good moving up the world.

There are many ways to play the game of life.

A family that plays together stays together… unless they are very competitive.

Some people don’t know how to lose.

You are never too old to learn to play a new game.

Believe in yourself, trust your instincts, relax and have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

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Last thoughts

In closing, Warlords and Scumbags is a brilliantly fun card game to play. I love that it brings out a competitive spirit whilst evoking fits of laughter too. Warlords and Scumbags hold so many analogies for life. If you haven’t got the pack of cards out for a while, do yourself a favour. Organise a games night, grab some snacks and drinks, dust off the pack and have some laughs. You might just be glad that you did.

Hobby to Hustle: how you can start earning cash starting today

Hobby to Hustle: how you can start earning cash starting today

With the cost of living continuing to go up astronomically in 2022, I will show you how to go from hobby to hustle. I will give you some tips about turning a fun hobby into a side hustle that earns you extra cash.

For many of us right now, money is tight. It seems like everything is going up in price yet our pay rate virtually stays the same. When you’re trying to manage your money better, you can either spend less, earn more or a combination of both. There is a limit to how frugal you can be. Living on a very small budget can be incredibly stressful as you try to make every dollar stretch.

Many of us already have hobbies and interests that we do for fun. It keeps us occupied, engages our brains, develops our bodies and provides us with so much joy.

Hobbies can also cost us money. They can be expensive with registration fees, uniforms, equipment and lessons.

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That’s when we can pivot by turning a hobby into a hustle.

Starting a side hustle can not only be fun but rewarding too.

Some questions to ask before you come up with a side hustle are:

What do you love doing?

What are you good at?

What comes easily to you?

What is your capacity right now?

What skill can you teach others?

Consider what would suit you best

Depending on your stage of life and energy levels, it might suit you to do this person or do it online. The advantage of online is that it’s not affected by Covid and you can do any time of the day. As a busy mum of three, I can work on my side hustles while my toddler naps, when they go to bed at night and any other spot in the day that I find some spare time. It’s not always easy and I don’t always feel like it, but I am motivated to work hard now to build up my passive income for the future.

If you enjoy writing, why not start up a blog? You can monetise your site through ads and affiliate links.

If you enjoy being in front of a camera, why not start a YouTube channel? You can create videos on a topic that is meaningful to you and that you know a lot about.

If you enjoy talking, why not start a Podcast? You can grow your channel and help educate, entertain and engage your audience on your given topic.

If you enjoy photography, why not sell your photos online? Many sites pay every time someone downloads your image.

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If you enjoy arts and crafts, why not sell your creations on Etsy? It doesn’t just stop at creatives. You can list virtually anything on Etsy now.

If you enjoy teaching people, why not tutor people? You can join an agency or go off on your own.

If you enjoy gardening, why not start mowing lawns and completing yard work? Many people are time poor and looking for help with their gardening.

If you enjoy creating content, why not get paid to produce content for a company? This is a great opportunity for those who enjoy working online.

If you enjoy cleaning, why not start cleaning homes for cash? It feels good to see the transformation of mess to spotless.

If you enjoy growing plants, why not sell them (the legal ones of course 😉)? Plants like succulents are easy to grow and divide. Herbs, vegetable plants and fruit trees all sell well.

If you enjoy riding your bike, why not deliver food with Uber Eats? It’s a great way to keep fit and earn money,

If you enjoy finding a bargain, why not flip items for profit on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and eBay? You can find things on the side of the road, at garage sales, op shops and for free online.

If you enjoy driving, why not drive for Uber? You can sit down, get to know your city better and meet some interesting people.

If you enjoy organising, why not declutter and tidy people’s homes? More people are opting for help online so you could arrange video consults if in person isn’t suitable.

Hobby to Hustle: how you can start earning cash starting today

The options are virtually endless. Not all hobbies can turn into profitable side hustles so it is worth doing your research first. I suggest trying a few different ones to see which one works best for you. Avoid spending a lot of money upfront. Try your side hustle on the cheap and if it starts earning you cash, then you can pour some money into it to help it grow.

RELATED : 30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

Canna Campbell’s bestseller The $1000 Project is a wonderful guide to making money fast to put towards your financial goals, and one worth reading. I also have an extensive post on 30 side hustles that can earn you an extra $1000 per month. This guide is all you need to get started and earn decent cash.

All the best as you seek to turn your hobby into a hustle!

30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

30 Side hustle ideas to make an extra $1000/ month in 2022

Now more than ever, it’s easier to earn money from the comfort of home. The internet has made things accessible. We can sell physical items and ship them around the world. We can create digital products that someone can buy at the click of a button.

Although saving money is a wonderful tool for becoming financially independent, there is only so much that you can save. Frugality and resourcefulness only get you so far. It can feel restrictive and boring and feel like you’re missing out on things. Your earning potential, however, is unlimited.

Many of us spend time each day mindlessly scrolling on our devices. We play games, check social media and look at our emails. There is nothing wrong with this, but if we want to use our time more wisely, this can be an area to focus on. We can become more intentional.

Some of these are online and easier to manage during a global pandemic. Others will be more possible when this current season is over.

Here are 30 ways that you can earn money through side hustling.

I have included some links to companies or people worth following but these are not sponsored or affiliate links. I don’t get anything from recommending these but genuinely think they are worth looking into. This is not an exhaustive list of side hustles, but rather some options that might help you get started.

Side Hustle Idea #1. Selling household items

This can be a useful way to both declutter and make some handy cash. We all have things lying around our house, garage and shed that we don’t use or love anymore. I think it’s the easiest side hustle to start as all you need is a phone with a camera and the internet, and you can start posting. I’ve got some tips about how to sell items on Facebook and Marketplace or how to help your children declutter things that they don’t need.

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Side Hustle Idea #2. Reselling or flipping

Once you start selling, you realise how fun it can be. You might run out of items of your own to sell or want to make more money. You can find items by the side of the road, clean them up and sell them. You can buy items at op shops (thrift stores) and sell them for profit. Teaching Brave recently found a Louis Vuitton scarf for $3 and sold it for $420 online. Thrifty Pixie and Minimalist Mumthrifts source clothing bargains from op shops and resell them on eBay.

RELATED : 12 Tips for Selling Second hand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

Side Hustle Idea #3. Blogging 

Blogging is a great way to earn a side hustle income. Figure out what you’re interested in, skilled in or simply love doing. What are you an expert in or can’t stop talking about? Start writing and build from there. Once you have built it up with website traffic and people start subscribing, it can become monetised with ads and affiliate links. A wealth of information about blogging can be found on Arts and Budgets.

Side Hustle Idea #4. Surveys

Completing surveys is a way of making your phone time count, especially if you’re waiting for an appointment. They can be super short or up to an hour of your time. You can generally save up your points to cash out on a gift card of your choice or get money in your account via PayPal. I haven’t spent enough time completing them and felt frustrated with how long points took to accumulate. Some people like Aussie Debt Free Girl persevere and have done quite well with ones like Octopus).

Side Hustle Idea #5. Research panels 

This is one of my personal favourites. It can be hard to qualify for the research topics that come up, but they pay out well when you do. You get to have your say on interesting topics or speak about your experience in your field of expertise. Thanks to the pandemic, there are more opportunities online now that suit those with mobility restrictions, who have young children or would simply prefer to stay in their trackies on the couch rather than driving somewhere. I once got paid $250 for a three-hour zoom call, and I only had to actively participate for ten minutes of this time. Amazing! I’ve registered for a few but my favourite is the Research Network.

Side Hustle Idea #6. Tutoring

Tutoring might be right for you if you have a background in education and enjoy helping people. It can be a flexible job that fits your lifestyle. You can work after hours and on weekends. Covid has also made doing this remotely more possible too. This means you could see more people back to back without allowing for travel time.

Tutoring is a way to help people achieve their goals and improve themselves while making money. Depending on your skills and experience, you could charge a high amount per hour. This can be done freelance style (need to get your name out to people but you keep all the earnings) or through an agency (they do the paperwork, you get more work but they take a cut of your pay).

Side Hustle Idea #7. Content creating 

This is a growing area of opportunity in the tech space, particularly in social media. Businesses are realising the potential benefits of using influencers to create content for their audience. This can be posted on the company site, the influencer’s page or both. The bigger the influencer’s audience, generally the more they will be paid, so this is an incentive to work towards organic growth. Meaningful collaborations can occur when influencers sign up with companies that align with their values.

Side Hustle Idea #8. Write an e-Book

If there is a topic that you are both passionate about and experienced in, an eBook can be a great idea to hustle income. This is less daunting than writing an actual book and trying to get published. It can be a way of testing out the waters to see if you like writing and if you have much success with selling. I love that a digital copy can be purchased multiple times without you having to manage a physical copy. Many people have had great success, with The FI Couple being an example of this.

Side Hustle Idea #9. Uber Eats

This is a useful side hustle for those who have their own transport and live in the metro area. Some people cycle, others use electric bikes, scooters, motorbikes or cars. It can work around other employment and be a flexible job. I wouldn’t rate this as a high paying income, nor a dependable one. Having to maintain your own vehicle is often costly and time-consuming, and riding or driving to different neighbourhoods in traffic, nighttime and bad weather can be dangerous.

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Side Hustle Idea #10. Cleaning 

This is a good job for those who like to get out and about, who have high standards for cleanliness, who are self-motivated and work quickly. It is satisfying work and helps people who can’t keep up with cleaning themselves. It keeps you fit and you can listen to music or podcasts while you do it. It’s great for those who enjoy a break from other people. It can be strangely soothing. The only downsides are you have to physically travel to houses which means unpaid time, and won’t earn money when you are sick.

Side Hustle Idea #11. YouTube

If you don’t mind being in front of the camera and having something to say, YouTube might be the side hustle for you. Those who are successful usually find a niche area, plan their content, take time to edit and add graphics and produce high-quality content. Once you hit 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time, you can apply for YouTube’s Partner Program.

This allows creators to start monetising their channels through ads, subscriptions, and channel memberships. It can take some time to become monetised but for the right person, it can be an amazing money maker. Some of my favourite YouTubers are Family Finance, SugarMamma, The Minimal Mom, Hapa Family and Hidden Gem

Side Hustle Idea #12. Mowing lawns

If you love getting out in the fresh air, doing manual work and feeling productive, mowing lawns might be for you! It’s one of those love it or hates it jobs. You’ll need your own mower and line trimmer, and know-how to maintain and troubleshoot. Have your own transport and a trailer or big boot space. Satisfying work, except in poor weather.

Side Hustle Idea #13. Websites

This is a growing way to make some serious cash if you are tech-savvy and willing to learn some new skills. People buy websites on places like Flippa that have potential, spend some time doing them up and either get income each month or sell them for a profit. Matt and Liz sell courses about how to do this and while I haven’t yet taken any, I am definitely interested in doing this in the future. Captain Fi has done their courses and provides more information and reviews about this on this blog and podcast.

Side Hustle #14. Vending machines

Some people buy vending machines and make some handy cash through managing these and stocking them with products. This side hustle is appealing because you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment on a property, or thousands of dollars to invest. It is a business model that you can physically see where your money is going and is relatively easy to start. Marc at Better Wallet knows about this and can help to point you in the right direction.

Side Hustle #15. Babysitting 

This is a great side hustle if you like working with kids. It is often the first part-time job for young people who are asked to look after nieces and nephews or local neighbourhood families. It can be a good way to get some experience, gain a referee, earn some cash and develop skills in working with children. This often happens in the evenings so parents can enjoy a date night, so once the kids are in bed, the babysitter can help to clean up and then relax on the couch.

Side Hustle #16. Medical research

If you don’t mind injections and blood tests and are a fan of hospital food, this side hustle might be for you! Medical companies pay people to attend clinics and stay in hospitals to have medical procedures performed and have experimental drugs tested on them. Jobs range from a few hours to several days to several weeks at a time.

Personally, I am too much of a wuss to even contemplate this but had mates at uni who would do anything for extra cash. They were sometimes paid thousands of dollars to do these trials. It’s worth taking some time to check if this is safe for you and your body, and if so, find the right trial to apply for.

Side Hustle #17. Upwork

On Upwork, people pay for your expertise and you can hire those in the know. It’s a brilliant concept as it links up those wanting work with those who need work done. You can search for numerous skills and find the right person for the job.

It provides income to those who are struggling to find work locally and literally opens up the world to people to earn money doing what they are good at. I have hired a graphic designer and website technical support and have been extremely pleased with the work that they have done.

My recent hire on Upwork for Website Support : Gaurav Chaulagain

Side Hustle #18. Etsy

If you are creative or crafty, Etsy might be the platform for you to sell your items on. Things from knitwear and crochet, wall decor, jewellery and accessories, art and collectables, craft, clothing and shoes, wedding and party, and toys and entertainment.

Some people in the debt-free community sell printable and editable charts, planners and calculators to help you set goals and track your results. Like all Platforms, Etsy takes a cut so it might be a way to get started and build up your reputation before trying to go out on your own. The Digital Suite by Sandra Stewart is one example of an amazing site.

Side Hustle #19. Affiliate links

If you have a website or social media site which gets some traffic, having affiliate links can be a nice income generator. You can post links to sites that align with your values and would be of interest to your audience or customers.

For me, I have a few affiliate links which pay when anyone signs up, and also gives the person a small cash bonus. For example with Cash Rewards I get $20 and the person gets $10, ShopBack we both get $20 each and WeMoney we both get $5 (plus they plant a tree). It’s not a huge amount but I’m so grateful to any kind person who signs up via my link, and love that they can then start referring their family and friends to earn extra money too.

Some companies will approach you about collaborating with a nominated fee paid per sign up, or you can ask companies to consider you. Amazon have an affiliate marketing program that helps content creators, publishers and bloggers monetise their traffic and might be a good starting point for you.

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Side Hustle #20. Start a business

There are endless opportunities for business ideas these days, many of which start from the humble side hustle. It is worth testing out the water a bit and starting small to see if it is a viable option and makes economical sense. For example, some ideas are better kept to a hobby – you enjoy them but you don’t make enough money.

Others may be suited to a small side hustle but not your main income. Many entrepreneurs have started with big dreams, tried their luck and have become very successful. Find a mentor, read up on books from those who have made it, and see if there are any local courses available to you (for example run by your council or state government). There are many resources out there to help you become skilled and build relationships with those in the know.

RELATED : 7 tips to successfully winning competitions and prizes

Side Hustle #21. Sell stock photos

If you are good at photography and have a decent camera, selling photos on sites like Shutterstock might be worth your while. You can set up an account, upload high-quality images (eg. landscapes) and be paid a royalty every time someone downloads your photo. You retain the copyright to your images and it can be reasonably profitable. Note that not everyone can qualify and it may take some time to earn good money.

Side Hustle #22. Cans & Bottles 

If you care about the environment and live in a metro town, this might be a handy side hustle. Many local councils pay for every can and bottle brought to the recycling centre (where I live this is 10c each). By simply collecting your own recycling, you can earn decent cash. If you want to make more money, you can walk around your local streets and parks with a bag, and even collect them after footy matches or outdoor concerts. While it won’t make you rich, it can help you save up for something that you want or go towards a fun day out or holiday!

Side Hustle #23. Air BnB

If you own your place, consider whether you could make money from it with Airbnb. You might have a large house with a spare room, a multi-storey property like Frank on Fire, a granny flat or a converted garage that you could hire out. Alternatively, if you enjoy going on regular holidays or have somewhere else you can stay sometimes, you could list your residence for the days that the house is being vacated.

Airbnb can be a lucrative side hustle for the right people and can help pay off the mortgage a whole lot faster as well as enabling you to see more of the world. It also helps travellers have more of an authentic experience than simply checking in to a city hotel.

Side Hustle #24. Dog walker

For those who love exercising outdoors and like furry friends, dog walking could be a fun side hustle. There is a growing demand for dog walkers (alongside doggy daycare!) as pet owners are increasingly busy and don’t have enough hours in the day.

Wanting to be do the right thing and make sure their dogs get enough fresh air and exercise, owners are on the lookout for responsible, trustworthy people. This would suit those in metro and suburban areas who are looking for more work, who are fit and strong enough to wrangle the most enthusiastic or defiant of dogs.

Side Hustle #25. Declutter homes

If you consider yourself a neat freak or minimalist and enjoy decluttering, you might just love this job. Whilst there are businesses and agencies that employ professional organisers, the average Joe (or Mary) might just want someone to help them out and get on top of their stuff.

This may involve helping them make decisions about what to keep, donate, sell or throw, then packing up items to move out the house, listing things to sell and organising what is left. It is a satisfying and rewarding job for the hardworking, motivated, organised and for someone who likes to help others declutter.

RELATED : How to declutter your children’s toys for good

Side Hustle #26. Upcycling furniture

Do you ever drive past old furniture on the side of the road and spot gorgeous pieces that just need some TLC? Do you enjoy watching renovation and home improvement shows and feel inspired at what they can do with items that have seen better days? Perhaps upcycling furniture is theside hustle for you.

You’ll need some transport that can tow a trailer so you can pick up items from hard waste (destined for the dump), op shops or garage sales, and also a place to store and work on them (think large shed or garage). You’ll need some know-how, woodworking tools, paints and varnishes and a good camera to take photos to list online to sell. Not only is this good for the environment as it keeps items out of landfill, but it allows you to use your creative flair while earning a decent profit.

Side Hustle #27. Mystery shopping

If you are observant, enjoy providing feedback and like getting out and about, Mystery Shopping could be a fun side hustle. It involves going to different shops and businesses and posing as a customer.

You need to remember specific details about the person who serves you (their name, appearance, how tidy their uniform is etc) and note what level of customer service they provided (were they friendly, did they have good product knowledge, could they answer questions, did they try to upsell you, were they efficient, did they stop to answer the phone or chat to an employee, were they professional etc). You often have a specific item to buy or product to enquire after, and then fill in a long survey once you have left the store.

I have been on both ends of this role. I was once mystery shopped while working at a bakery, thankfully receiving a score of 100% and was given movie tickets as a reward. I have also worked as a mystery shopper and inspected fast food places, hardware stores, department stores and speciality shops. One time I even when to a retirement village and had to pretend that my parents needed to go into care.

The problem was, the lady recognised my parent’s names and was shocked that they had deteriorated this much since they last saw them. I had to come clean and tell them that I was a mystery shopper, and then let my employer know that my cover had been blown. It isn’t always high paying but sure is interesting work and can make some good stories!

Side Hustle #28. Copywriting

For those who are good with words, copywriting is a handy way to earn cash. It is perfect for those who are happy to write for someone else rather than create their own content, or as a way to curate their skills. Copywriters create work for brochures, catalogues, billboards, advertisements, scripts, social media posts and blog articles. The more experienced you are, generally the more money you can earn. The downside is that you don’t own your own content, so although you will earn money upfront, you won’t make ongoing money from website traffic or selling eBooks.

Side Hustle #29. Social media

Enjoy social media and find it easy to create and grow pages? Stop scrolling and start earning! Consider doing this as a side hustle. Many businesses have no idea about where to start with social media and it’s just another thing that they have to manage. They’d prefer to be focusing on what they’re good at – growing their business. You could approach a business directly and ask if they need a hand with their site, or post a job on a site like a Freelancer to find work. You’ll be taking a load off the shoulders of a hardworking small business owner whilst honing your skills and earning some nice cash for the privilege.

Side Hustle #30. Sell online resources

If you are knowledgeable on a particular topic, consider creating online resources to sell. I personally sell on a site called Teachers Pay Teachers and have made $3000 on one resource alone. This is a pretty good return for perhaps eight or nine hours of work. When I have more capacity I would love to create more resources like this one. For now though, at least this one is ticking away nicely and pays my phone bill (and sometimes a subscription) every month.

Final thoughts

In closing, side hustles are a wonderful way to earn cash and get ahead financially. It may be something temporarily that you do to pay off a credit card debt or save an emergency fund, or it may be something that you love and turns into an actual business. Whatever your reasons, give one or two a go and see what happens! You don’t have much to lose and potentially a lot to gain.

See my Insta post for which side hustles I have done in the past and which ones I do now. I’d love you to follow and join our awesome community on there, on Facebook & Twitter too

*Please note that the links provided are not affiliates and I do not receive anything for posting them. I simply thought it might be of some use to people.

5 gift ideas for children (that aren’t toys)

5 gift ideas for children (that aren’t toys)

Gift ideas for children

We all have children in our life who we need to buy presents for, whether they’re our own, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and when our children go to parties. Sometimes it is hard coming up with an idea, especially when the child seems to have enough stuff already.

When a child receives lots of toys for their birthday or at Christmas time, they are initially excited. Most kids love the thrill of opening up a present to find a new thing inside. Once the shine has come off a bit and the gift doesn’t seem so interesting anymore, the following two things tend to happen:

There is an increase in overwhelm for the child. They have too much choice about what to play with. They get distracted. They don’t delve into deep, meaningful play. There is too much mess to clean up.

Secondly there is overwhelm for the parents. This tends to affect the primary caregiver, the one that is home the most. They have to find a spot to store it, create systems for toy rotations, tidy it up, manage the pieces.

It’s a lot. When I’ve gently asked some family members to avoid buying toys or less of them, I have been told, “but they like it,” or “they’ll be so excited opening the box.” Yes, of course they would be but in the end, as a parent I have to manage all the stuff. We have so many more things and toys than a generation or two ago. This wears us down and can steal some of the joy of motherhood.

I have been on a journey of decluttering and it has made the world of difference in our family.

Here are some gift ideas for children that won’t add to the overwhelm, go to landfill or break the bank.

#1. Gift idea: Toy library voucher

Toy libraries are amazing. My local one has gift vouchers for purchase for just $35 a year or $20 for 6 months. It is a brilliant way to give the gift that keeps on giving without adding to the excess in the family home. This can be bought with another family to keep cost down or even put money in the card to go towards buying the membership.

#2. Gift idea: Op shop voucher

Money doesn’t go very far in department stores. When my son went to spend some pocket money, the $15 barely bought one Paw Patrol car. We went across the road to Savers (a large op shop / thrift store) and he was amazed with what he could purchase. There were less options but there was a range of different things he could buy.

You could offer to take the child shopping to spend it, and could go towards books, clothes, shoes, dress ups, or art supplies. If there was a particular toy they wanted they could get that too, and when they get bored with it, sell or donate and then buy a different one. This reduces the impact on the environment because you aren’t buying a new toy with packaging, and the child is choosing something that they really want.

RELATED : Creative ideas for surviving lockdown with kids

#3. Gift Idea: Books

Growing up we had an uncle who only ever gave books as gifts. This didn’t always seem very exciting, but I secretly loved having a new one of my own to read. I loved being able to write my name in the front and keep it in my bookshelf. I could reread it again and again. Books can be expensive but they don’t have to be bought new. You could buy a set of books from Marketplace or Gumtree, or from an op shop for a fraction of the price. It’s nice to check first with the child or parents that second hand is ok. If they say it’s fine, money will go further meaning more books for them!

#4. Gift Idea: Audiobooks

Listening to a story in the car can help to pass the time, especially on long trips. It can be a different option to screens during rest time at home. They can be a relaxing way to wind down at bedtime. These can be bought as a CD format (new or secondhand) or downloaded on a device to listen on a speaker. Apps like Libby and Borrowbox even let you borrow audiobooks from the library for free!

#5. Gift Idea: Buy an Experience

This is my personal favourite gift and love when my boys are given one of these. The options are endless but here are some that won’t break the bank. Some could be money towards an experience, or pay for themselves and the child to do together as a special outing.

> Movie voucher

> Bowling

> Pony ride

> Waterslide

> Swimming pool

> Roller skating

> Play cafe

> Farm visit

> Ice skating

> Animal sanctuary

> Zoo

> Aquarium

> Boat or ferry ride

> Trout farm or fishing off a jetty

> Strawberry or apple picking

> Theatre tickets

> High ropes course

> Mini golf

> Rock climbing

> Cooking course

> Drive in

> Circus

> Plaster fun house

RELATED : Parenting through a pandemic – how Covid has changed the way my kids play.

We have compiled a list of experiences and outings that our children have never done before. This is stuck on the fridge for ideas and inspiration for special weekends or if someone asks for a present idea. This helps our children to focus on less material things and helps us remember about the fun things we can do as a family.

Too much stuff can create stress in our lives, but meaningful experiences creates memories. I encourage you to be extra intentional with gift giving going forward. Toys themselves aren’t bad, but children can only play with so much. They only need so much. Less things to manage can help families feel happier too. 💕

12 Tips for Selling Secondhand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

12 Tips for Selling Second hand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

Selling secondhand items has never been easier, thanks to the many online platforms we have available. We can post virtually anything for sale and almost always find a buyer. Selling on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can be a brilliant way to both part with your excess stuff and make quick cash. What more could you want!

When I shared my financial story recently, I mentioned that I’ve always had a lot of stuff. I loved collecting things as a kid – feathers, rocks, shells, postage stamps and chocolate wrappers. As a teen, this turned into CDs, DVDs and books. I studied to become a teacher and began collecting resources. When I got married and moved into my hubby’s unit, I realised how much we both owned. 

Now as a mum of three, we own a lot of stuff. Some of it just comes with the territory. Kids have clothes, shoes, toys and books. They grow out of things fast. It just feels overwhelming.

I’ve been going through it all like a crazy person ever since I had my first baby. Reducing to one income meant that we needed to be a little savvy with the money we had, so any extra I could make would be super handy. 

One way I could do this was by decluttering our excess and listing it online. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t easy. It would be quicker to take it all to the op shop to donate. However, I know that it’s one way to earn good cash so I make the effort to do it.

Over the last five years, I have sold an estimated $10,000 worth of gear (I wasn’t joking when I said we had a lot of stuff!). One year I sold $1,300 alone with the motivation of surprising my hubby for his 40th birthday. I secretly arranged an AFL Grand Final experience. I didn’t want to use any money from our account so worked hard to sell dozens of items and kept the earnings aside. 

I’ve put together some tips to help other people have success with selling as I believe that if I can do it, anyone can! 

Selling Tip #1: Take Good Photos.

A good photo will grab the attention of an interested buyer. Find a good location to take the photos with as little distractions as possible. Make sure there is adequate light and the photo is clear. Take as many photos as you can to show different angles. If in doubt, take more photos.

As I write this, I realise that my phone camera is pretty terrible. It’s not ideal and needs replacing. However, I still do my best to take clear photos in well-lit places of my home to help the buyer decide if the item is right for them. It also reduces the amount of questions that I get asked. A little more time taken when posting can reduce frustrations later on. 

Selling Tip #2: Have a Long Title.

Include as much information as you can in your title. If you are listing clothing, include the type of garment, brand, size, gender and condition. If you are listing furniture, list the type, brand name, colour, condition. The longer the better and the more it will show up in searches. 

Selling Tip #3: Write a Detailed Description.

Take the time to write a detailed description in your ad. Include:

  • brand name
  • colour
  • material
  • size
  • features
  • condition
  • dimensions
  • if you are open to negotiation
  • pick up suburb with postcode or delivery and if there is a fee for this
  • smoke free / pet free home?
  • mention if it is listed elsewhere

I often copy and paste a description from a website if it provides detailed information, and would be helpful to a buyer.

Selling Tip #4: Try Listing Everything.

It is hard to know what will sell and what won’t, so I recommend giving everything a go! Sometimes the most random things sell and sell quickly, and those things that I presumed would go fast, end up sitting there for ages. It is worth taking some photos and listing your excess items and seeing what happens. 

Selling Tip #5: List in Multiple Places.

I normally list on Facebook Marketplace first, and list in other groups on there. I choose groups that are close by to me and target specific ones for things like baby items. This means that buyers looking for specifically baby items will be more likely to see your ad. Once I am satisfied that I have Facebook covered, I then copy and paste the listing into Gumtree as well. 

RELATED : 5 reasons why you need Connetix in your playroom

For higher end items of clothing or more valuable items, I sell on eBay instead. I find that it takes longer to list ads, they charge a fee and having to go to a post office takes time and effort. It can be a great way to earn money and reach a far bigger audience. I personally have had the most success selling locally on Marketplace and Gumtree and feel that it is easier to do. 

Selling Tip #6: Offer Delivery.

This doesn’t mean that you have to deliver it. It just means that your ad might appeal to a wider audience. For those who don’t have transport, it can be really difficult to purchase second hand items. You can charge extra for delivery (to areas you are happy to go), meet half-way or wait until you are going that direction. It can help make a sale if you are willing to be flexible.

Selling Tip #7: Price it Higher to start with.

It’s worth putting the price up a little higher than you think you might get for it. Sometimes people surprise you and buy items more than they are worth. Buyers don’t always do the research beforehand. I know I have overpaid on items before and didn’t realise how cheap things were knew. Other times buyers might just not care. They want something, you have it, they’ll make it work.

Selling Tip #8: Leave Items by your Door.

I don’t know about you, but I hate having to wait around for people to pick up things. It often messes around with our plans or ends up being in the middle of nap or bath time. This won’t work for everyone but for items lower than $50 in value, I offer to leave them by our front door for collection. If the buyer is happy upon inspection, they can leave money under our doormat or letterbox.

I’ve done this hundreds of times. I love not having to waste time waiting around. Only twice have people not left money, so I politely contacted them. They either transferred it or dropped it off apologetically. I’ve had multiple things sold on the same day, where people only took what was theirs and didn’t take the other money under the mat. Most people are very honest (otherwise give them a bad rating 😉).

If you’re worried about security, you could pretend you’re home but say the baby is asleep, hubby is busy studying, you’re in the backyard / resting after night shift etc.

Selling Tip #9: Be Prepared to Negotiate.

I don’t love negotiating but it is often part of the selling process. Being open and willing to negotiate can help you make a quick sale. If you are not open to negotiating, make sure you put that on the ad or reply to any offer with a reminder about this.

12 Tips for Selling Second hand goods on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree

I recently sold a breast pump. I first listed it at a high price, curious to see if it would sell. I then relisted it at a lower price ($200). I had someone ask if I’d accept $100. I replied that it’s worth over $500 plus accessories so I wouldn’t go lower. He replied with a sob story about how they couldn’t afford new so needed me to reduce it. I politely declined. 

Hours later he offered $130. I said that I could go as low as $180. He then offered $150, then $160. I wasn’t in a rush to sell so played hardball once more. This morning he asked for my address. He was happy to pay $180. 

I don’t mind negotiating if:

A) The buyer is polite and reasonable

B) I’m in a rush to sell

C) I’ve had no other offers 

On this occasion I knew it was an expensive pump so was happy to hold off if they weren’t going to pay enough. It was a good sale and I was pleased that I was able to negotiate without losing a huge amount. (I didn’t tell the guy that I had bought the pump on sale and then claimed it back on health insurance extras 😉 I may have just made money. 😆)

Selling Tip #10: Reduce the Price, Renew, Delete and Repost

Sometimes simply reducing the price can attract new buyers to your post. Even as little as $5 or $10 can be useful. The ad comes up higher on the grid, and appears like they are getting a bargain when they can see the original price. Every 7 days you are able to renew your listing for free on Marketplace. This bumps up the ad and helps you find a buyer.

If the ad has been up for a while with no hits, it can be a good idea to delete and repost. Facebook saves the ad for you so you don’t have to type all the details in again. Often by trying one of these three things, it can help get your listing seen by more people and hopefully have some inquiries about your item to get it sold.

RELATED : Not all bad news: one story of saving money during the pandemic

Selling Tip #11: Be Prepared for Stupid Questions.

If I got paid a dollar every time that someone did the following, I’d have a heavy piggy bank.

Asked, “is this available?” (Then never replied.)

Asked, “where are you located?” (When it’s in the description.)

Commented, “I’ll give you $10”, on an item that is listed for $50.

Asked for the dimensions when it’s in the description.

Asked for the size when it’s in the description.

Said they were going to collect and never showed up.

It can be incredibly annoying but hopefully if you have put some time and effort into your photos and description, it should reduce the amount of silly questions. By leaving items by the door, I save myself time and energy not having to wait around for people too. 

Selling Tip #12: Have Patience. 

One thing I’ve learnt from selling hundreds of items on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree is that it can be the right product, the right description, right photos, right price and you just haven’t found the right buyer yet! 

If you are patient and happy to wait a little, often the buyer just hasn’t seen it yet. Some items I’ve had put aside for a few weeks (even months) and out of the blue, someone will ask to buy it. It can be a little frustrating but it’s one way to ensure you get a good price.

Questions to ask yourself before selling:

  • Is this worth my time to list this? Is it worth at least $5?
  • Would it be better to bundle some items up and sell together?
  • Is my focus getting some of the money back that I spent on this or is it to get rid of it quickly?
  • How long am I prepared to hold onto this before getting rid of it?

You need to decide if you prefer to get things out of your house quickly or get the most money you can.

When you figure out your why, your what and how is easier to do.

Sometimes it is better to pass some items onto a friend, offer up in your local Buy Nothing group or just fill up your boot and take it to your nearest op shop for donating. If the focus is to get rid of the excess quickly or you don’t have room to store them, just get them out of your house. 

If the focus is to sell them to make some cash, do your best to sell them. If they either don’t sell fast enough or you have a sudden urge to get them gone, it’s okay to delete the listing and donate them on the spot. Sometimes you just don’t know until you try. 

Turning selling into a side hustle:

Learning how to sell on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can become a lucrative side hustle. You can turn an everyday hobby into a hustle that earns you big dollars. Canna Campbell has some more ideas about how you can earn quick cash to put towards your financial future in her book, The $1000 Project.

Last thoughts:

In the end, whatever you can do to keep items out of landfill is a win for the planet. The secondhand market really is amazing and someone is always looking to buy something. My advice is to always give selling a go – what a great way to both declutter your home and earn some cash at the same time!

There will never be a perfect time, so stop with the excuses.

There will never be a perfect time, so stop with the excuses

There will never be a ‘perfect’ time to save money, pay off debt, begin investing, give to others, get fit, lose weight etc. There may be times when it will be easier but you can still try and make changes in the season that you are in now.

At the moment, I’m so exhausted. My brain feels foggy most of the time from lack of sleep, toddler tantrums and limited alone time.

I’m not earning an income so don’t have much extra to throw around.

I try to make the most of the little snippets of time I have to work on this page (many of my posts are written during the 3am feed with one eye open). I do my best at little side hustles. I try to make our money stretch and use it to pay off the mortgage, build up our emergency fund and invest.

One day we will be able to do more with what we have and I’m okay with that.

Here are some of the common excuses I hear for why making changes to their finances are too hard.

“I’m too busy.”

Why not try a side hustle in the evening or weekends? Switch scrolling on social media or playing games on your phone and find a way to make some cash on the side. This might begin with reading some books or blogs to get ideas about where to start, selling items on marketplace, completing surveys, market research, writing an ebook etc. Just start something.

I earn a low wage.”

This can be so tough, especially with the rising cost of living. Can you ask for a raise, upskill, study, do night shift or weekend work with penalty rates, get a second job, begin a side hustle, start a business, invest to accrue dividends? Consider moving to a cheaper suburb or smaller house as another option.

“I’m so tired.”

If this is you right now, focus on rest and looking after yourself. Eat well, walk most days and try to get enough sleep. There are seasons where slowly down is more important than getting ahead. Jot down some ideas of what you can do when you are able to. Figure out where you want to be and work backwards from there. Write down some achievable steps you can take to reach your goals.

I’m only on one income.”

Can you find areas to save money, negotiate better deals, find a creative way to earn more money? Or perhaps you need to acknowledge that this might just be a season. There will be a chance to earn more money when you both are able to work, whether that means you have finished study, recovered from an injury or illness, or once the kids are at school. Do what you can with what you have now, and know that it won’t be forever.

I’m too young to worry about that.”

Actually now is the perfect time to start! Work hard to pay off any debt you have, including HELP. Compound interest is your friend. Contribute more to superannuation. Begin investing in shares or buying an investment property. Do what you can now to set yourself up for the future.

I’m too old now.”

You’re never too old! You have experience and wisdom behind you my friend. Use it to your advantage. Any steps you take now will help you in your retirement. Consider switching to part time work rather than retiring completely. This can help you adjust to a new stage of life while still having money come in. Our neighbours just turned eighty and they both still work part time. They use this money to eat and drink well, improve their garden and travel (at least pre-pandemic anyway!). They are inspiring with how they view retirement.

There are always excuses, many of them valid, but merely pointing them out will not help you reach financial freedom. Take some time to consider where you want to go in life. What practical steps could you take today to reach your goals?

Start with small, achievable goals and work towards them. The success you will gain will propel you forward, motivating you to keep on going. The hardest part is starting.

[Disclaimer: I’m not trained in finance so don’t take it from me. Feel free to grab ideas from this post but always see a professional for advice that is relevant and personal to your situation.]

I post regularly on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/moneysavvymamma/?hl=en and have a great community of like-minded people.

I have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/moneysavvymamma/.

Come say hi on Twitter at https://mobile.twitter.com/moneysavvymamma

Thanks so much for swinging by. I hope you’ll stick around and have a read, and connect with our wonderful community.

Investing with Pearler… why all the hype?

Investing with Pearler

If you’re wondering what all the talk around Pearler is, you’re not alone. It’s the new investing platform, born and bred in Australia. It’s rapidly growing though, with over fifty thousand members strong.

Pearler is an online broker. It all began a few years back in 2018 when some friends got together. They had limited options when showing their mates how to invest. They either had to use a complicated, boring platform or a costly, gimmicky micro investment app. Neither was very appealing.

They decided to develop their own platform and after a lot of hard work, Pearler was born.

  1. Simple.

I love that Pearler is simple to sign up for and easy to use. As a brand new investor, I haven’t found it overwhelming. There is not an information overload. Less options means less decisions.

2. Buy and hold.

Pearler is all about holding for the long term. There’s no shortcuts or get rich quick schemes here. Buy and hold is the way to go to become successful investors.

3. Local and International.

Pearler allows people to invest directly into shares and ETFs. They are able to dabble in both local and international markets. This helps to create a more diversified portfolio.

4. Set and forget.

Members can autoinvest to allow them to set and forget if that works for them, manually buy shares if that is easier, or a combo of both. This encourages people to stress less about the stock market and the rise and falls. If you wait to time the market, you will often miss out on the compound interest that works if you just continue to invest.

5. Relational.

The customer service team are quick to answer questions and don’t make you feel like you’re being annoying (even if you are!). They want to make sure you figure it all out and have a positive experience.

6. Community.

Members can join the community of like-minded individuals and see what other people are doing. This is a handy feature for the newbie investor as it can help to follow a similar approach or investing strategy. People can browse a number of Finfluencers on the platform to pick up some tips and tricks from those in the know.

7. Generous.

When you refer a friend to Pearler, you can choose whether you keep your credits or donate them to charity. They partner with First Nations Foundation to help create a wealthier world. In March 2022, Pearler doubled each contribution by donating to the Red Cross Ukraine cause.

8. Micro.

Microinvesting is here! This will help make investing accessible to virtually everybody. It’s a great way for people to dabble their toes in investing.

9. Low cost trades.

Pearler have competitive pricing at only $9.50 per trade. If you’d like to support an Aussie start up, you can get two free brokerage credits when you sign up.

In closing:

As a relatively newbie investor, I found the idea of buying shares intimidating. Now that I’ve started, I can honestly say that Pearler make it easy. They have removed many of the barriers to first time investing and work hard to make it a positive experience. I invited my mum to try it and even though she’s not tech savvy, she figured it out too. I love that Pearler is helping to enable people from all walks of life give investing a go.

It’s worth downloading the app and having a look. I think you might be pleasantly surprised with what you find and might just get hooked too. I’d love to see you over there and become a part of the investing community. It’s the place to be.

[Disclaimer: I’m not trained in finance so don’t take it from me. Feel free to grab ideas from this post but always see a professional for advice that is relevant and personal to your situation.]

WeMoney – the finance app that has it all

WeMoney - the finance app

Have you heard of WeMoney? It’s a free finance app which was only released to the public for download in 2020. It’s your one-stop shop for all things finance. They have so many features, it is worth signing up for and having a look.

Here are 14 reasons that I love WeMoney:

1. Free money to sign up.

Receive $5 from PayPal when you download the app and connect your accounts. It’s payable within the week, unlike some companies that take months to pay up, if at all.

2. Environmental.

They care about the environment. They plant a tree for every new person who signs up. It equates to 22kg of CO2 sequestered. Just one example of how WeMoney like to give back.

3. Budgeting.

You can create a budget. There are plenty of spreadsheets and apps out there to manage money, but I like that WeMoney it’s easy to set up and use. You can keep yourself on track and be kept accountable.

4. Track your spending.

You can link up any eligible bank accounts and cards to get a realistic view of where your money is going. You can compare to previous months and see it in graph form. It’s not about making you feel guilty, rather as a helpful tool to celebrate the wins and find areas of growth.

5. Check your credit score.

This is simple to do and you can watch it (hopefully!) go up over time! It’s a useful tool to make use of before applying for a home loan or starting a business.

6. Set goals.

With WeMoney you can set goals for your finances over the short and long term. You can make your dreams a reality by putting in some steps along the way. Things are possible when you have a plan!

7. Offers and deals.

See offers relevant to you. Perhaps you would like a better deal on your gas or electricity or need to take out a personal loan? Maybe you need a car loan or want a better interest rate on your home? Whatever it is, WeMoney have an offer for you that might save you hundreds or thousands.

8. Blog.

Read their blog. So many articles on a range of topics. Think saving money, side hustles, the FIRE movement, investing, crypto, you name it. Worth checking out!

9. Podcast.

Listen to the podcast, ‘We Talk Cents’. Hosted by Dan Jovevsli (CEO) and Blaize Pengilly, it’s all things money, budgeting and managing finance well. They break down the tricky topics and somehow make it fun! Subscribe today and leave a review if you love it.

10. Safe.

WeMoney is completely safe to use. Keeping your data and information protected is their highest priority. They use SHA-256bit secure encryption for all connections and transfer of data. There are additional levels of protection like fingerprint, FaceID and Pin to keep your account secure. You are in control of your data – WeMoney do not sell it to third parties. Bank account login details are not stored and you are not able to move money within the app. You can link your accounts with peace of mind, knowing it will be safe with bank-grade security.

11. Net Worth.

This app enables you to track your net worth. It includes as much as you want it to – bank accounts, equity in your house, super, investments and crypto. There is a place to connect your liabilities (think car loans, personal loans, credit cards, HELP debt and the mortgage). It’s a great way to see a snapshot of how you are doing financially, and where you can go from here,

12. Crypto.

If you have cryptocurrencies, you are now able to link these accounts and track your balances. This can be included in the net worth feature. It’s super handy that everything can be viewed and managed in the same place.

13. News.

One of the newer features of WeMoney is a News Digest. Bite sized, up to date information that are guaranteed to grab your attention and keep you informed. You can like, comment, share and save these for later.

14. Connect.

Connect and learn via the community feature. This is my favourite part. It’s a safe place to post about our money journey and learn from others. Here you will find out about bargains, money saving tips, ways to earn cash, grocery hacks, negotiating with banks and companies, learning how to invest and so much more. It’s the only newsfeed worth scrolling, in my opinion.

On a personal note

For me personally, I love that WeMoney provide amazing customer service. They go above and beyond for their members and there are no silly questions. They enjoy seeing people win with money and want to cheer you on!

The app is always being developed and improved, and you can give feedback if you have any bright ideas! They quickly iron out any kinks and work hard to make it a seamless experience for their users.

I like that this is a start up. I want to support the team that has great plans but hasn’t been around for years. Why not support small and Aussie made.

I downloaded the app last year and am still discovering so many of the features! It’s a wonderful community over there. There are thousands of posts from some amazing, knowledgable folk. Do yourself a favour and come and say hi!

Disclaimer: I’m not trained in finance so don’t take it from me. Feel free to grab ideas from this post but always see a professional for advice that is relevant and personal to your situation.]

Why you should consider becoming a member of your local toy library

member of your local toy library

You may regularly attend your local library, but have you heard about toy libraries?

There is often little known about them in the community and in parenting circles. If people do know of them, they aren’t always utilised or used regularly.

They are manned by wonderful, dedicated volunteers who are passionate about seeing families benefit from borrowing a variety of toys. Many council areas offer the service located in the library, although the cost, range, details and opening hours vary slightly.

Here are five reasons you should sign up for a toy library membership:

1. It is affordable. It only costs $35 a year for our local one. This allows you to borrow 3 items per child or infant and unlimited puzzles. Some are a little more or less, and others are free to join! When you consider how much a Fisher Price toy from Target or a lovely wooden one from Europe costs, it makes so much sense to borrow them.

At times I have had something on a wish list to buy, held off and found it at the toy library, and then realised it wasn’t something I wanted to purchase. It might have had too many loose parts, batteries always needed replacing, taken up lots of space, been noisy or simply kept the interest for a short period of time or stage of development. Rather than constantly buying new toys, or even second hand ones, you could buy a few favourites and borrow the rest. You could include this as part of your annual budget or even ask for it as a present idea for your child.

2. It is the ultimate toy rotation. Experts agree that regularly rotating toys at home is one of the best methods around. Children have a limited amount to see in their space and aren’t overwhelmed with options. One item in every cube or basket is there to play with. You can choose one from each category- puzzle, building blocks, duplo or lego, pretending, literacy or numeracy, music focus, etc.

Children make do with what they have, allowing their imagination and creativity to kick in. They rarely get bored with the toys out because they are swapped out for others every week or two. You can choose a few from your collection alongside some from the library. Regularly rotating toys keeps items fresh and kids excited about their play. You can choose items specific to their current interest, schema or stage of development and not have to spend huge amounts of money to do so. You can reborrow favourite toys throughout the year and watch your child delight in discovering it again.

3. The range is incredible. My first few experiences of the toy library was spent trying to convince my toddler to stop driving around in a little car so I barely went past the first lot of shelves. When I finally went kid free one night, I couldn’t believe how much stuff was there.

We can borrow from hundreds of puzzles, dress ups, puppets and sensory play. There are dolls houses, animals, musical instruments and cars. Board games, literacy and numeracy activities. Fine and gross motor, plastic and wooden, imaginative play. There are walkers, activity tables and jumperoos. Big items for parties can be reserved for a small fee like coloured balls, Little Tike cars, basketball rings, wobble boards, even jumpy castles! I have seen a small crate filled with reusable cups and plates. I love wandering the aisles slowly on the evening my local is open, browsing the hundreds of items free to borrow. It excites me about the possibilities of play awaiting my children.

4. You don’t need to own as much. Seriously, if you borrow every week or fortnight, there is no reason to keep as many. This saves money and space in your house. Downsize to keep the favourites.

For example, we had a Tupperware shape sorter in our collection for four years. We didn’t use it that often but I thought it was a useful one to own. One day it hit me- we could donate it, instead opting to borrow a range of shape sorters throughout the year that would stimulate our children’s interest and develop their skills. I realised how many items like this we had that I simply did not need to keep myself.

This has enabled me to get rid of dozens of toys recently and be fussy about the ways that I let into our house.

5. Reduces environmental impact. By utilising our local toy library, we buy less items and send less into landfill. We consume less. Right now, if humans stopped making and purchasing toys, instead relied on borrowing, donating and sharing the ones we have, I’m sure there would be plenty to go around. We just do not need to own it all ourselves. It’s crazy!

If not for the money saving or space saving reasons, please consider your carbon footprint and the impact on the environment when more toys get made. The plastic cost that takes so much to produce and thousands of years to break down in landfill. The trees that fell to produce beautiful wooden toys. The people who often work in terrible conditions factories to make items for children to play with. We can reduce this unnecessary burden on the environment by simply consuming less.

In closing, I wish I had known more about toy libraries when my eldest was a baby. I knew they existed but didn’t think I needed it. I simply didn’t know how much they stocked, the range for parties outdoor equipment, and for engaging older children too.

I now go there every week or two, sometimes with a baby, toddler and preschooler in tow, other times for some rare alone time to browse and borrow. Ours is open late one day a week and for this I am so grateful. I’m still in awe of how many items there are on the shelves. There is almost no reason to go out and buy toys or games when we have such wonderful resources at our fingertips.

If you haven’t signed up to become a member, I strongly encourage you to check it out! It has enabled us to save money, reduce our environmental impact and owning less stuff all at once. The more of us who can sign up, the better resourced these libraries can become.

Memberships can be purchased for a family member as a gift idea, especially when you’re running out of ideas. Grandparents can benefit from signing up too, rather than feeling pressure to own and store lots of toys themselves.

It has been a game changer for our family, and hope it can be for yours too.

12 money saving tips for parents

Not all bad news: one story of saving money during the pandemic

Children are expensive, no doubt about it, but they don’t have to be extravagantly so. I often read articles that attest to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it takes to raise a child from birth to eighteen. I believe that with intentionality, goal setting and some savvy habits, you can raise wonderful children at a fraction of the cost.

1. Stop before buying new.

When pregnant, it can be tempting to go out and buy all the things. These add up, especially if you want matching items, brands or colour schemes. It pays to ask around with family and friends to see if they are getting rid of baby gear (especially bassinets, cots, change tables, high chairs etc.). When we were expecting, we were kindly given lots of things. We gratefully took it all, and tried it out to see if it was ok before heading to the shops. After trying to manoeuvre a very stiff pram for six weeks, hubby and I agreed that we needed to invest in a new, easy push one. We did the same with a baby carrier as there had been lots of improvements in the ten years since the old one had come out.

While you need to take care with buying some second-hand things for safety (like carseats or cot mattress), other items like a baby bath can easily be found for free. Search Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or Pay it Forward sites to find things that others want to get rid of.

2. Opt for gender neutral.

It is popular these days to do the gender reveal party and buy specific items and colours ready for that baby. If you plan to have more children, try not to get too carried away buying one colour or type of item. Find things that can be used for both genders, with the exception of clothes.

I would recommend the same with ordering personalised products for your child. Doing so limits the life of the product and prevents it from being reused with their siblings or donating it later on. Do they need a backpack with their name printed on it, or a towel? Can you buy a set of labels to put on drink bottles and lunch boxes rather than buying a personalized set? This is as much an environmental consideration as a financial one.

3. Consider switching to cloth nappies and wipes.

This may be an unpopular suggestion but I’ve included it because I have used them since my eldest was one week old. I grew up with my mum using the old-style cloth nappies and remember helping her to fold them. Nowadays, modern cloth nappies are readily available. I spent money on a quality brand as I wanted them to last and be easy to use. I asked around for suggestions and was overwhelmed with all the options. My friend of three boys (including twins) used a particular brand and raved about them. I figured that if she could do it despite the craziness of raising three under three, then I could too!

They are still going strong after 4.5 years and I plan to use them with our third baby soon. It was a big upfront cost (around $600) but paid this while I was still working. I love not having to run to the shops weekly for nappies or to constantly fork out money for them. I am naturally home a lot more now so don’t mind putting on three extra loads a week. I don’t have problems with stains, and simply wash and line dry. Using cloth wipes at home save on buying baby wipes and are a lot softer on baby’s sensitive skin.

4. Op shopping.

I find buying new items for my children is expensive and limiting, especially for boys. Where I can, I try to check the op (thrift) store first before resorting to store bought. Almost all of my children’s shoes have come from op shops, and they wear branded ones for a fraction of the price that they would cost new. I do the same for clothes, books and toys. I love finding a bargain and am getting pickier with what I will bring home too.

Buying second hand reduces the impact on our planet and contributing to landfill. We can buy things off season and find unique items not sold in the stores. My kids enjoy browsing the racks and like to spend their pocket money sometimes. I love to donate regularly and keep a box by the door to put things we no longer want in.

5. Buy second hand and resell later.

One great way to save and even make money is to buy things second hand, and when you’re done, sell them on again. I often list things higher than what I purchased them for, especially if I feel like I got them for a bargain! Kids toys are brilliant for this. I regularly ask my four-year old if he has anything he’d like me to sell. He will round up a few things, I’ll take photos and list them, and he helps to collect the money from the person at the door or under the mat if we’ve been out. This is a great way to keep the clutter under control, only keep the toys that they really love and play with, and fund future toys. It is an easy way to teach kids about the value of money.

6. Swimming lessons.

Swimming is an important skill and one that we need to have, especially here in Australia. If you have a backyard pool, I would definitely recommend getting lessons for your child from a young age. However, if that is not the case, I feel like there can be pressure to enrol your child in lessons as a baby. Much of this is water familarisation. I took my baby for fortnightly casual swims at my local swim centre. This saved $10-15 each visit. Once he was older, I enrolled him in lessons with a qualified instructor. I don’t mind paying the term fees now that I feel like he is ready to learn and become independent in the water. Like much of parenting, this is a personal choice that noone else can make for you. It is worth considering whether there is an alternative to what seemingly everyone else is doing.

7. Reducing activities and classes.

Following on from swimming lessons, I feel that there is definitely pressure to keep your children busy and give them lots of opportunities to engage in activities from a young age. Many children and parents are tired from overscheduling. I would recommend waiting to enrol your child in organised sport until they show real interest or skill in a particular area. For most children, this will be once they have started school, some not until the age of seven.

Young children need time to play in their backyard, playgrounds and explore the local creek. They enjoy picnics, playdates and time at the beach. They want to climb trees, make cubbies and not be hurried or rushed. There is new popularity forming around creating a slower childhood. Not only is this good for children, it reduces time spent in the car and spending money on petrol, entry fees, registration, tuition fees, uniforms or costumes.

When you feel that your child is ready to start a sport or join a club, limit what they can do. They do not have to do swimming, tennis and basketball (and learn guitar) all at once. Decide how many nights a week you want to be at practice and games, and work back from there. Let them choose one sport or hobby, and you can always increase this. Schedule free time into their week that can be spent outside where possible. You don’t need to give them every opportunity that presents itself, and you are allowed to put boundaries in place to protect your time.

8. Find free, or cheap, activities.

Activities for young kids can definitely add up! With a little thought and planning, you can save money on the everyday activities and pick special occasions to splurge. I love meeting up other mums at the park. I’ll bring a thermos and coffee sachets to drink. We have play dates at each other’s houses. We go on little hikes and stop to look at the view together. We spend time at the library borrowing dozens of books, cds and dvds, and visit the toy library there too. I go to the beach and watch the kids chase seagulls, build sand castles, splash in the water and search for special shells. I look for discount vouchers (such as the Entertainment book) or special days advertised on social media (our local play café offers pay your age day which is great with young children!). Some churches have free play cafes too.

9. Lists for presents.

Create a list of ideas for your son or daughter’s upcoming birthday or Christmas. This could include ideas of clothing pieces and their current size, toys that you have wishlisted or seen in a store, money towards a bigger item (such as a trampoline) or an experience (to the movies, zoo, drive in, waterpark, bowling, etc). This doesn’t mean people must get something off the list and it won’t work for all families. However, if you have taken the time to put ideas together, and people insist of buying annoying plastic toys, I give you permission not to keep it. Quietly exchange it or regift to someone else. You get to choose what comes into your house. This saves you money on buying these items for your children.

10. Cap on present spending.

Once your child starts school, they will begin to get more invitations to birthday parties. While this is lovely, this also gets expensive. Decide on a limit for presents early on and stick to it, unless it is a close friend where you may want to spend more. I have a gift cupboard where I collect generic things throughout the year. They may be things on clearance or sale, or simply clever little ideas that kids would like to open for a present. Another idea is to have a standard idea for a girl and a boy that you give each time (eg a pencilcase filled with nice new stationery, a piece of sports equipment or a water pistol). Alternatively, a block of chocolate written with permanent marker (instead of a card) and a $10 note stapled to it.

This isn’t about being cheap, but rather acknowledging the huge amount of parties that kids are invited to these days, and putting a limit on how much it will cost you each time. As a parent hosting a birthday, you can make life easier for everyone by having a ‘fiver’ party. Each guest simply brings $5 in a card to put towards buying something bigger. It limits the stuff that comes into the house and takes the pressure off other parents to spend up big. I feel that either we can follow the lead of some people to spend huge amounts, or we can set a new standard of what is ok.

11. Public vs private.

Like everything else, paying for private is a personal choice. If you have certain preferences, paying extra is the way to go. However, if you are looking at ways to save money while bringing up children, this is an area to do it. We opted for public for birth. I wanted midwives through the group practice and was keen to have a student each time. The perks of staying in hospital longer were appealing for private but I couldn’t justify the money. I have had three public hospital births. Rather than staying in for four or five days afterwards, I have booked in nights away leading up to the birth so I am rested as much as possible. While there were some minor things that may have been different in private vs public, I do not regret my decision at all, and enjoyed coming home with a baby without a bill.

We have decided to enrol our children in public schooling for primary school for similar reasons. Whilst there are some amazing perks for private schooling, we deliberately moved into an area that has wonderful local schools. We are planning to move our children into a local private school once we have paid off the mortgage, and have their names down already. I don’t want the pressure to afford school fees and uniforms when I will be home looking after their younger siblings to start with. Once all children are at school, my capacity to work will increase and our income will go up. Our house requires more updates and renovations, so I am allowing some wriggle room to pay for that along the way. We know many families who are very selfless and put their children through private schooling from the start, and simply miss out on other things. I really admire this! We are going to do what feels right for our family and allows us to feel comfortable about our budget.

12. Choose inexpensive holidays.

Once you have children, it is not as easy to travel interstate and overseas. It is not impossible, and we have certainly done both, however it becomes a lot harder to do. Many families switch to camping while they have young children. Once you are set up with some gear, it is fairly inexpensive to do. We enjoy camping at caravan parks on powered sites, and also at national parks. Children love to ride their bikes around, meet other kids and roam the extra space. We have done easier holidays in cabins or AirBnb (the best one was with my parents – shared the cost and they kindly helped out with the kids!). We go away three or four times a year kid free once they are toddlers. This allows us precious time alone as a couple, lets us experience hotels again and helps grow resilience in our children to stay with other people.

In conclusion, I hope you’ve picked up a few tips to save money while raising young children. Whilst there can be pressure to provide your child with endless opportunities and experiences, know that this doesn’t have to be the case. Children want to spend time with you and know that you care, and don’t need all the things that we feel like we need to give them. Prioritise what your values are, align these with your goals and work to achieve them. Check in regularly with your partner or find a friend to be accountable with. Like everything in parenting, do what works for your family and you can make changes along the way as your situation grows and changes.

You’ve got this!

money savvy mamma

5 common money myths busted

common myths about money busted

I am writing today about the 5 common money myths. I often hear things said about money that simply aren’t true. Managing finances does not have to be complicated. We tend make it out to be far more difficult than it actually is. I am here to set the record straight on the five common myths about money.

Myth #1. I need to earn a lot to save a lot.

I hear this money myth a lot. You can save money regardless of how much you earn. Open a savings account or multiple ones if you can. Have money transferred automatically to these accounts every time you get paid. Every time you get a pay rise or come into more money, increase your savings rate.

I would recommend you set up a spending account each for you and your spouse. This gives you the freedom to spend it on what you like and allows some financial independence in your relationship. For me personally, we have $35 a fortnight go into my hubby and my account. It’s not a huge amount but it does grow over time. When I get payouts from Cash Rewards and ShopBack from referrals and cash back, I opt to transfer this into my spending account or top up the mortgage.

Pay more to your debt or mortgage than what you are required to (ie above the minimum repayments). Even small amounts extra will add up. You’ll get used to paying more, that soon it will feel normal.

Work hard to build up an emergency savings fund which you can tap into if and when you need to. This takes away the need for credit cards and personal loans. Chances are, if you have money aside, you probably won’t have to use it (Murphy’s law and all). Set yourself an initial goal of $1000, then $2000, $5000, $10,000 and then 3-6 months of expenses to keep you going in case you weren’t able to work. It’s a big amount but you can get there if you keep chipping away at it.

Myth #2. I need to be rich before I can be generous.

This money myth is common and to me, it sounds like an excuse. While yes, you might be able to afford to give more away later, you can start with what you have right now.

Practice being generous with little so you won’t find it hard to be generous with much. If you can’t part with $10 when you earn $100 a week, you’ll find giving $100 or $1000 away tough. Everyone can be generous in some way, even if it is a tiny amount of money and giving more of your time.

Perhaps you could sponsor a child from a developing country. You could write letters as well as contributing financially to build relationship with them. Alternatively you could support a child closer to home by helping them with school supplies, uniforms and fees. You could donate or volunteer at a school breakfast program or soup kitchen. Give money to a homeless shelter or animal rescue.

Marantha Health is a not for profit in Uganda helping to improve health outcomes, and they can always do with more support. Catherine Hamlin Fistula Foundation is another charity close to my heart. They help to save women suffering with preventable childbirth injuries.

Find the thing that makes you tick, makes your heart break or motivates you into action, and give what you can to it. Get in the habit of giving something in whatever season you are in, and increase the amount when you can. Generosity feels good and is good for us! Like gratitude, it is good for our health to practice and enormously benefits those who need it most.

Myth #3. Mortgages last for thirty years.

A big money myth is that mortgages need to last for 30 years. You can pay it off sooner! Change your mindset. Read books, follow inspiring people, listen to motivating podcasts. Get your partner on board and make a plan. I’m most passionate about this myth!

Find a mortgage broker who can help you find the deal best for you (and who understands all the confusing stuff). Look for the lowest interest rate, low fees, perks like offset accounts and the ability to make higher repayments without limits.

Ring up your bank and ask what they can do for you. Question whether they are offering you the best rate on your mortgage. If they play hard ball, threaten to go somewhere else, and follow through if they don’t seem to care (they often find a better deal if they think they will really lose too).

Make weekly or fortnightly repayments on your mortgage Pay more than the minimum. Throw extra at it when you can- tax returns, bonuses, payrises, side hustles, selling unwanted items from your house. Hustle hard and bank the earnings. Just imagine owning your house outright and the money it would free up each pay!

Myth #4. Kids are expensive.

The money myth that kids are expensive is not necessarily true. As parents, you choose how you raise them. I do cloth nappies and wipes, hand me downs, free gear from my local MOPS groups, op shopping, etc. Put your younger kids in the clothes that their older siblings wore. Do free things with them and limit scheduled activities. Let them share a room. Enrol in public school. Buy second hand toys or utilise the toy library.

Spend more time with them, rather than taking them places or buying them things. They just want your full attention and love. Choose experiences that create wonderful memories together.

My toddler loves pushing a little trolley at Bunnings, exploring the creek and sitting out the front watching the rubbish truck come. We don’t have to make it complicated.

As they get older, limit their extracurricular sporting activities, musical tuition and hobbies. They don’t have to go to every single birthday party that they are invited to. Set a budget for presents and stick to it. Buy generic gifts on sale or clearance and put them aside in a gift cupboard. Don’t invite the whole class to a party, instead let your child pick a few choice friends. Alternate a party year with a sleepover year with one close friend. You choose how busy and expensive your children’s life will be.

Myth #5. I don’t need to worry about retirement yet.

It is a big money myth that you don’t need to worry about retirement yet. It’s never too early to plan for retirement. In fact, compound interest is your friend! Start contributing more per pay. Gradually increase this every year or whenever you receive a pay rise.

Put your tax return onto your retirement in a lump sum. If your partner is not working while they raise children, consider putting money into their superannuation every year to claim at tax time and to help them catch up.

Ensure that your family is protected in case you have an accident or health issue. There are 4 things you can do to sleep better at night.

If you can learn to live on a little less now, you can live on a little more later. I for one don’t want to end up retired and broke, worrying about money, unable to have independence or choices or travel. I plan to live in a paid off house, with plenty of super to draw on, and dividends from shares to access. Figure out how you want to live in the future and work backwards with what you need to do to make that happen.

Have you heard any of these statements before? Did you believe them?

I challenge you to dare to do things differently. Go against the grain of our spend now, worry later culture. Be responsible and wise with your money, reduce your spending and live within your means. Surround yourself with like minded people. Feed your mind the good stuff to stay on track. Set high goals and work hard to achieve them.

You’ll thank yourself later.

10 ways to save money at Christmas, so you don’t go into debt 🎄❄️⛄️

It’s the most wonderful time of year, right? For many of us, this season is far from that. We may feel lonely or isolated, grieving those who are no longer with us, struggling with health issues or dread the awkward family gatherings. For some, the added financial pressure is extremely stressful. We often place high expectations on ourselves to perform and impress others or create an unforgettable time for our family.

There are some things you can do earlier in the year to help set you up for a less stressful Christmas season. Here are ten tips.

1. Have a sinking fund. Start saving early for Christmas. Figure out how much you’ll need: presents, food, travel etc, then work backwards about how much per week or pay cycle this equates to. Open up a separate savings fund and nominate a figure to be transferred into on a regular basis (eg. $50 every fortnight). Christmas can feel like it comes faster every year but it isn’t an emergency. Don’t let it creep up on you and stress you out! Make a plan and stick to it. Little amounts throughout the year add up!

2. Kris Kringle. This is popular in many work places and families. Rather than everybody buying a present for everybody, do a simple draw to figure out the one person that each person buys for. Set a limit (we do $30 in our family) and create a wish list of ideas for that person to choose from. This is a great idea for buying for children too – they really don’t need that many presents!

3. Set limits. Be realistic about what you can afford to spend and what you actually want to. Have a conversation with family earlier on in the year and put your concerns on the table if you feel the spending is too high. It is ok to have boundaries for presents throughout the year too. We have $30 for close family, $20 for other family, $20 for kids and $10 for children’s parties. Write down your budget, figure out what you can buy with this money and keep a record of what you buy throughout the year. It’s easy to forget things that you may have bought, and then overspend when you purchase more things closer to Christmas.

4. Write gift ideas. This is especially important for children. Most relatives want to be generous and buy an exciting gift for their child, and want the wow factor. To help avoid excess in your home, try creating a wishlist of ideas. This can be on a website like Amazon or simply a list emailed out with prices and links to the shop. Include a mixture of toys (focusing on open ended or good quality), clothes, books and experiences (eg cinema, bowling or swimming vouchers). See my post on How to declutter your children’s toys for good for more tips.

5. Buy second hand. I love op shopping (or thrifting). Most of my children’s clothes, shoes, books and toys are bought this way. I always encourage relatives to buy things on marketplace or from op shop if they want (eg get a bulk set of Fireman Sam toys for $30 rather than one new truck). I only buy second hand for others with their permission (eg. would you prefer five gorgeous dresses second hand or one new one for your two year old?). This not only reduces cost for people, or gets more for their money, but it also reduces the environmental impact.

6. Limit wastage. Writing lists and doing Kris Kringle can help limit excess presents but how about food? Discuss and plan meals with family, organise who brings what, try not to go crazy at the grocery store before hand. Make salads to go with leftover cold meats, cook veggies in a creamy cheese sauce, make yiros, soups or platters. Use it as a chance to have a few days off cooking. Jamie Oliver has some fabulous ideas for this in his book, ‘Save with Jamie.’

7. Choose your favourites. Covid has certainly changed the way way we live recently and for many of us, has forced us to slow down (see Why adjusting to isolation was hard, but why I’m not ready to come out of it just yet …). As mothers, we often feel pressure to create a magical Christmas experience.

Sit down and figure out what is most important to you and ask your kids what they love the most. Is it Christmas carol events, Christmas lights, visiting markets, sitting on Santa’s lap (or the socially distanced version), snuggling up watching Christmas movies, baking honey biscuits or decorating gingerbread houses? Pick your favourites, schedule them in and create times of rest and togetherness at home. We don’t and can’t do it all. ( The art of saying no.. )

8. Everyone contribute. Discuss with family what you can all bring to ease pressure on the host. Divide up meat, veggies, salads, dessert, drinks and snacks (even bonbons, serviettes and declarations can be brought by someone else if they come early to help set up. It shouldn’t be organised and paid for by one household (in my opinion).

Two years ago, I had a baby on Christmas Eve. I went home that night and made it for Christmas lunch at my parents and Boxing Day at in-laws. Whilst I don’t recommend doing this (😂😂), they made it simple for us. I pre-bought and packed drinks and nibbles, and contributed some money towards food.

9. Limit alcohol. This is one area that can add up really fast. If you enjoy drinking, especially at this time of year, look out for specials the month or two leading up to Christmas. Put some boxes aside (and try not to drink them!) to reduce costs closer to the festive season. Mix up drinking alcohol with water, soft drink, juice, soda stream, flavoured milk or hot drinks if you can.

10. Return or regift excess. People love to give women hand creams or bath lotions. It’s a lovely gesture but how much can you actually use? I regift these items unless I really love the scent. If I take the time to create a wishlist with my child (or on behalf of young children), and the relative chooses to buy a noisy plastic toy that will not last (or clothing that is the wrong size), I don’t feel bad about exchanging this or regifting (unless your children really love it or are old enough to make their own decisions).

This may be seen as ungrateful, but isn’t it worse to open the package, let the kids play with it a week before it breaks or put the clothing in a drawer never to use? It might seem harsh at the time but if you do it quietly, and buy something else with the money for your child, surely that is a better solution.

Ultimately I choose what comes into our house and stays there, as I am the one to pick up and organise all the things. Last year, our boys got so many toys for birthday and Christmas. I took some to my local department store and asked if they sold it and whether they would let me return it. One shop took most and gave me $120 in credit notes. I used this to buy clothing they needed and some toys they’d wanted for ages.

In closing, despite the expensive season that Christmas can be, you can have a say in how prepared you are and how much you choose to spend. Take some time to plan ahead, set your budget and gently communicate with those around you about these plans. Brainstorm together about some changes you can make that will honour the family traditions whilst respecting your financial situation. It’s ok and healthy to have boundaries. We don’t have to do what we have always done.

I hope that Christmas for you this year will be special and with those that you love. ❤️

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20 ways to pay off your mortgage faster

pay off your mortgage

A mortgage doesn’t have to be forever. In fact, many people are paying theirs off in record time. Just imagine what your life would look life if you had no debt, and true financial freedom!

Here are 20 tips to help pay off your mortgage earlier:

1. Interest rate.

Check to see that you are on a good interest rate. Banks are like electricity companies – they apply the lazy tax. They offer good deals to new customers but often not to existing ones. Look around at their competitors and see what they can offer you instead. Go back to your bank and say that you’ll move if they don’t match the other rate. In many cases, they’ll do anything to keep you.

2. Make more frequent repayments.

Pay weekly or fortnightly instead of monthly. I prefer weekly as it feels like less money, and I like to see results quickly! Paying weekly or fortnightly means that you make an extra payment each year without even realising, and this will save you thousands in interest.

3. Round up.

Round up accounts each night or whenever you check your balance. Transfer to the mortgage. Small amounts quickly add up!

4. Need vs Want.

Do you need to live close to the city, in a large house, with a swimming pool? Opt to buy a home in an area you can afford (even on one income- you could lose your job / get sick or injured / pregnant etc). You can always upgrade later. Live within your means. In saying that though, before you buy a house, consider the next 5 years. If you want to start a family, perhaps don’t buy a one bedroom apartment. Avoid moving more than you need to or you’ll just end up paying stamp duty unnecessarily.

5. Get insured.

Make sure you (and your spouse) are covered in the unlikely event of permanent disability, loss of income and death. It is important that the stay at home parent is also covered, so if something happened to them, the partner could pay off the mortgage and be able to stay home with the kids without worrying about money or work. Often superannuation policies cover for this but it may not be enough, or they may not cover for pre existing medical conditions. Insurance is one of those things that you will probably pay for and never use, but this is a good thing.

6. Live without payments.

Transfer any Centrelink (government assistance) payments that you can live without to the mortgage. This might be regular or annual amounts.

7. Live on one wage.

If you are on a double income, see if you can live on one wage (good preparation for having children). Have one persons wage pay the rent or mortgage, groceries, bills etc and the other put all or most on the mortgage (or savings to buy a house). Knock as much as you can off, as quickly as you can.

8. Side hustle.

Any extra money you come into (2nd job, selling things, overtime, tax return, inheritance etc), put on the mortgage. Enjoy watching those numbers go down.

9. Reduce all unnecessary spending.

Write down every person you buy presents for (it adds up). Do you need to buy everyone a present at Christmas or can you do Kris Kringle? Make a limit, say $30 adults for KK and $10-20 for kids. Do you even remember what you were given last year for Christmas?

10. Bring your own food.

Pack your lunch. Bring a coffee to work rather than buying one. Don’t drink calories if you can avoid it (soft drink, juice, energy drinks etc). They are expensive and often don’t fill you up. Opt for a filling meal instead and drink water.

11. Spend your own money.

Don’t use credit cards or afterpay. Live within your means. Use cash and debit cards instead, and keep a list in your phone of things you want to buy. Wait a few weeks and see if you still really want them.

12. Refinance.

Get a good mortgage broker. Check that your mortgage is with the best bank / consider fixing or making variable etc depending on advice.

13. Seek advice.

Consider paying to see a financial planner or advisor. It might set you back a couple of hundred dollars but will save you thousands over the long haul.

14. Learn from the experts.

There are many fabulous authors out there. I’d recommend Canna Campbell’s ‘Mindful Money,’ Scott Pape’s ‘Barefoot Investor’ and Lacey Filipich’s ‘Money School’ books. Read, watch YouTube clips or join one of their Facebook groups for inspiration and accountability. Free Podcasts are a great way to learn more and achieve your financial goals.

15. Budget.

Make a budget and try and stick to it. There are plenty of apps and spreadsheets for this, some that are free and others that cost a few dollars. Others prefer a book and pen. Do your research and find what works best for you and your family!

16. Cash.

Use cash where possible – it’s harder to spend than a card. It seems to feel more real and hurts when you spend.

17. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

If you can’t afford a new or newer car, don’t! Save up and buy with cash. Opt for older (but still reliable). When you can afford it, upgrade. We have a fortnightly direct debit into a savings account for this very purpose. When we need to upgrade, we can use these funds to partly or fully pay for it.

18. Pause unnecessary spending.

Consider putting a hold on luxuries like eating out, drinking alcohol regularly, overseas holidays and even private school fees until you have paid off your debts, and possibly even your mortgage (or at least make a dent in it).

19. Be on the same page.

Try to get your spouse on board too. Watching your mortgage go down can actually be fun (I must be getting old)! It definitely makes it easier if you are both on the same page.

20. Do whatever it takes.

The more you can pay down your mortgage now, the less interest you’ll end up paying. Just because you signed up for a 30 year loan doesn’t mean it has to take that long. Do you want to still be paying it off in your fifties or sixties? Make a plan to pay it off early, if you can. Every little extra you can spare will save you thousands in interest over the life of the loan.

Final thoughts

Paying off a mortgage early takes intentionality, hard work and sacrifice. It is a hard slog. I have never met someone who regretted paying it off though. The freedom that it brings is life changing. We are working towards getting ours gone.

Are you motivated to pay off your mortgage quickly? What strategies do you use? Feel free to comment below.