December can be described in two words: quick and busy. But while we’re all rushing to complete last minute tasks before Christmas and the New Year, your finances are the one area that cannot be neglected. So as you’re tying ribbons and adjusting ornaments, here are 6 things to add to your December financial checklist.
Mail out Christmas gifts ASAP
If you’ve got family or friends in Australia and overseas and are planning to ship out some presents, we’ve got a couple of dates you need to mark on your calendar. The cut off day for on-time domestic delivery is the 22nd December, but you’ll need to move quickly if you’re sending gifts across international waters, as the international cut off is on the 8th December. It’s also a good idea to stash some money aside if you’re sending out multiple parcels with delivery costs ranging from $10 – $17 per gift with Australia Post.
Get your December ‘fun budget’ done
By the time December rolls around, even the most low-key Aussies become social butterflies with an event on every weekend. This is the month to let loose and have fun with dinners and other socials events, but this can start to burn a hole in your wallet over time. Before you make any plans, set aside some time to develop a ‘fun budget’ for December, which means working out what you have to spend – and how to stay in budget.
If you consider yourself to be a little bit of a fashionista but can’t afford to flaunt a new outfit for every event, try swapping clothes with friends – just remember to wear them within different social circles and no one will ever know! And if your friends are massive foodies, suggest that everyone take turns hosting a dinner party to cut the cost of frequently eating out. Another option is eating at a combination of cheap/expensive restaurants, because who doesn’t love a maccas run?
Ready cash for international waters
Some people enjoy scented candles for Christmas, others prefer a stack of cash. If someone overseas is expecting just that, a good way to get it to them is to set up an IMT account. You are able to do this through regular banks, but it’s common for IMT specialists to offer better rates. The option you choose will depend on the amount you plan to send, its destination and how quickly you need it transferred.
Having a forward contract is a great way to make sure your recipient gets more bang for their gifted buck as they allow you to lock in a great rate now and send the money when you’re ready. This way, if the exchange rate drops closer to Christmas, you won’t be stuck with it.
Give a little and get a little
This is the time of year to be thankful for all we have while showering your loved ones with gifts. But unfortunately, not all of us share the same privilege. Within the first week of December, set aside a generous donation to a charity of your choosing. And if the organisation has a deductible gift receipt (DGR), you may be able to claim it on your tax return.
Tie up any financial loose ends
Give yourself the opportunity to start afresh in the new year by tying up any financial loose ends. This could mean closing down an old bank account you no longer use, making any last minute adjustments to your home and contents insurance policy or redeeming any leftover rewards points you’ve accumulated over the year. And if you’d like to use points for something special, turn them into Christmas gifts through gift cards or even a surprise mystery flight for someone who deserves a holiday.
Draw up a new budget for 2018
No matter how you approach it, budgeting is that tedious task we know is essential to keeping our spending in check and a new year means a new budget. Take a look at your spending over the past year and identify the areas where you could have cut back. It’s also a good idea to jot down your new goals for 2018 or any big ticket items that need to be saved for, like a new TV or car. And if you need a little help with storing all this info, free apps like Pocketbook allow you to log everything into one place.
Need more money-savvy tips for a great 2018? Check out our Life & Money hub.