October is a happy time of year. People on the street are happy that the sun has come out, football fans are either happy that their team has performed really well or that they won’t have to suffer through watching them until next year, and parents are happy that the school holidays – enjoyable though they might have been – are coming to an end.
So, in amongst all of this happiness, what better time to get your finances in order?
(We know. It’s what you were all thinking.)
Here’s a helpful financial to-do list, to guide you through the month.
1. Do your tax
To those of you who sorted this out sometime in early August: Congratulations! We are happy for you, truly.
But, for the rest of us, it’s panic stations. October is the last month (unless you use a registered tax agent) in which you can file your tax return while guaranteeing that you avoid a ‘failure to lodge on time’ penalty from the ATO.
This year, filing your tax return is easier than ever before with the introduction of MyTax, a website through which most ‘ordinary’ tax returns (read: tax returns that don’t involve any peculiar offsets or claims) can be filed.
Set aside a romantic date with your group certificate and box of receipts and get it done. You might just get a lovely tax refund for your troubles.
2. Stop buying junk food
With the Christmas party season coming up, October is a great time to save a bit of cash by forgoing the chocolate at the servo.
If you need some extra help, Droptober is a national weight loss event organised to raise money for Variety Australia. Entry will cost you $20, but it comes with a range of cook books and other goodies.
3. Stop buying new things
Did you know that October is Buy Nothing New Month? An Australian idea that’s gaining a global following, Buy Nothing New Month pretty much does what it says on the tin: participants pledge to buy things second-hand (or not at all!) often while being sponsored for charity.
When a member of the Mozo team tried it two years ago, they saved $1000.
4. And while you’re at it… why not stop buying alcohol?
Just when you thought we’d run out of October events designed to curb your consumption…
Ocsober is an annual fundraiser organised by Life Education, who you might know as the people behind the Healthy Harold van, that visits primary school students across the country. Give up alcohol for the month to help provide health education to Australia’s kids (and almost certainly save yourself a few dollars at the pub).
5. Start to think about Christmas presents
Christmas might seem like a while away, but the department stores have already started to put up the tinsel, and with relatively good reason: once October is over, there are just two months until the most expensive time of the year.
The Australian National Retailers Association estimated that Australians spent $30 billion on Christmas shopping last year and, if you want to demonstrate your love for your friends and family by buying them a lot of useless stuff that they will probably have thrown out by March, October is an excellent time to put yourself in the financial position to do so.
So, how do you make the most of this calm before the consumeristic storm? By planning.
Draw up a Christmas present budget. Open up a savings account particularly for your present funds, or (if you know you can afford it) try a low-rate credit card.
Do what you have to do. but be sure not to spread yourself too thin.
6. … and your summer holiday!
Book your summer holiday now, when airfares are cheaper and your bank balance hasn’t been ravaged by the festive season (see point 5).
If you’re a casual or part-time worker, now is the time to start taking on those extra shifts to make sure you’re financially secure (and have your annual leave bank filled up) by the time your summer holiday rolls around.