Tips & Resources

Ways to Save on Energy Costs: Shedding Light on Reducing Your Electricity Bill

Power bills. They’re about as popular as ants at a picnic.

For a lot of us, when a bill appears in our letterbox, we just pay it and put it out of our mind again until the next one shows up.

But have you ever stopped and looked at what you’re actually paying for? Better yet, have you ever tried to compare what you’re paying for against what other energy providers are offering?

If you’ve answered “no” to both of these questions, then keep reading, sit back and prepare to be enlightened!

  1. The price of turning on a lightbulb ain’t what it used to be

If you feel like your energy costs seem to go a little higher with every bill you pay, don’t worry, you’re not going crazy.

Residential energy prices have surged 63% in the last 10 years, which is bad enough, but the real problem is that energy costs now take up 26% more of the average Australian household budget than they did in 2010.

But it isn’t all bad news. There are things about the energy industry boom that you can use to your advantage (if you know what you’re doing).

For instance, in the last ten years the number of registered residential energy companies in Australia has almost doubled, going from 19 to 37 – and they all want your business!

More competition means better deals. Search around for who has the best rates and discounts and start talking to them today.

It’s actually a lot easier to switch your energy plan than most people think. Once you get started, your new provider will do pretty much all of the work for you and that includes ending your relationship with your current provider (just like getting your best-friend to break-up with someone for you in grade 4).

 

  1. How to be smarter about energy

In the average Aussie household, heating and cooling accounts for a whopping 40% of total energy use. 40 cents of every dollar you pay!

Now, we could give you the usual tips here about ‘rugging-up’ instead of turning on the heater (brilliant, right? If you’re cold, just put a jumper on!) but instead we thought we’d give you a few tips on how to make some more permanent climate control changes in your home.

First things first: there’s no point warming or cooling your home if all that lovely air-conditioned goodness is going to escape through every nook and cranny it can find. Insulation and draft-proofing ensures that every cent you spend will stay within the walls of your home.

Another option to look into is a split system air-conditioning, which is by far the most cost-effective option. If you live in a rental property this might seem out of your reach, but if you’re a long term renter, it’s still worth raising with your landlord. However, if your only option is using a plug-in heater, make sure you buy the right size to heat your space for the most energy and cost efficient results.

 

  1. It’s a lot easier being green these days

Fun fact: before 2010 the average solar panel took more energy to build than the amount of energy it could produce in its lifespan. Not the greatest tagline for sustainability.

But in 2018 that kind of technology is already considered a thing of the past. The amount of research and incentives that have gone into green power means that now the average time it takes for a solar system to pay for itself in Australia is under 6 years.

And, as a little added sweetener, if you install a solar system on your roof, there may be times of the year where you generate more solar power than you need. In most cases, this energy will be fed back into the grid, giving you an energy ‘credit’ on your next bill!

 

  1. Learning the jargon isn’t fun but it will help you get the best deal

There are a lot of numbers on your electricity bill, but the only one most of us bother looking at is the big one which tells us how much we have to pay.

Well, we’re here to tell you that digging a little deeper can go a long way to helping you figure out how to save. To start with, it is important to know that not all energy plans are set up the same. You could be charged in the following way:

  • A flat rate at all times.
  • A multi-flat or block tariff which involves pricing that decreases the more power you use.
  • A flexible or time-of-use tariff which is billing that involves different pricing based on when you use your power.

Depending on what your household’s energy use looks like, the type of rate you pay could have a real impact on that big number on your final bill.

But if that wasn’t already boring and confusing enough for you, there are also two separate types of charges involved with any power plan:

  • Set daily supply charge – covers connection to and the use of the electricity network
  • Usage charge – changes based on how much power you use

When you are looking at changing suppliers and evaluating their prices, make sure they apply their discounts to both charges and that the discounts are offered on an ongoing basis.

 

  1. ‘Vampire power’ can suck your bank balance dry

No, we’re not talking about their super fast speed, glistening skin or immortal life span… “Vampire power” is a name for the energy used by devices in your home while they plugged into the wall but are not being used.

Advances in technology mean most modern devices use less power on standby but ‘vampire power’  still accounts for 5.9% of residential power use in Australia. This is because more things in our homes use power in ‘standby mode’ than ever before.

Game consoles are big offenders as they automatically download content and do constant Wifi checks. Home entertainment systems and computers can also be expensive because they aren’t ever just one device but a combination of screens, set-top boxes, hard-drives and more.

Rounding off the ‘worst-of’ list are dishwashers and washing machines, which often sit in standby after a cycle, and your Wifi modem, which is technically ‘in use’ 24/7.

By knowing what your most demanding devices are, you can switch them off at the wall when they’re not in use and avoid the dreaded power bill suck of ‘vampire power’. Check out more vampire devices and how much they could be costing you here.

 

  1. Shooting for the stars can save you a bundle

When it comes to buying new appliances for your home it can be tempting to go for a cheaper model to save a few hundred bucks.

But if you’re thinking long-term, the energy efficiency rating is pretty important to consider.

You’re probably already familiar with the Australian government’s Energy Rating star-system that you see on appliances like air-conditioners and washing-machines. But do you really know what those ratings mean for your power bill?

The standard ratings run from one to six stars, with certain models allowed a ‘Super Efficiency Rating’ that goes up to ten. When it comes to their impact on your energy costs, the different ratings are worlds apart. A one-star fridge will cost you over $1,500 more to run than a similar sized six-star model over the course of a decade and if you can find a ten-star model the difference is around $1,850!

So, if you’re buying a new appliance, it’s worth doing research into the full-life costs. You can check out the Energy Rating website’s calculator for more comparisons.

 

Have you noticed your electricity bill rising over the last few years? Share your story with us in the comments below.

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

 

Short-Term Loan Terminology: “Finance Speak” Simplified

Applying for your short term loan but confused by all the finance-speak and jargon?

To help you better understand what it all means we’ve put together a comprehensive list of common terms and phrases, with some straightforward definitions in plain english.

Don’t see the word you’re looking for below? Leave us a comment below, keep it relevant of course, and we’ll add it to the list.

 

Annual percentage rate or APR

When we talk about an APR, we’re talking about the interest rate that’s charged to the borrower expressed as an annual rate. For a Nimble Small Loan of $2,000 or less, an APR doesn’t apply as these loans are fee based only. For more information see our FAQ.

 

Applicant

The person who is applying for the loan.

 

Direct debit

An arrangement setup to automatically transfer funds from your nominated bank account to a third party account (e.g. the Lender) , as a one-off or recurring  payment.

 

Bad credit

When we talk about bad credit, we’re referring to your credit history. This is also known as a “poor credit history” or a “black mark” against your credit file. It can be affected by a whole range of things including missed bill payments, defaulting on a loan or bankruptcy.

 

Borrower

A Borrower is the person who borrows money from a Lender and is responsible for repaying the loan.

 

Comparison Rate

The Comparison Rate reduces to a single percentage figure the interest rate plus most fees and charges relating to a loan. The comparison rate allows you to compare loans from different lenders to find out how much it will cost. But it is important to consider all of a loan’s features.

 

Credit contract

A document containing all the details of your loan, including the term, interest rate, fees, charges and repayments. This is also known as a loan contract.

 

Credit file

This is a file kept by credit reporting bodies that details your credit history. Lenders can access this information to help them decide whether to lend to you or not.

 

Credit guide

Anyone providing credit or credit assistance must give you a credit guide by law. Credit guides contain useful information about the lender, including license numbers, the lender’s complaints handling procedures and a description of the lender’s key obligations before entering into a credit contract with a borrower. The Nimble credit guide can be found here if you want to take a quick peek.

 

Credit rating

A rating based on your borrowing and repayment history which may be used by lenders to help work out whether you should or should not get credit. It is also known as a credit score.

 

Credit report

A credit report details your credit history, including a history of credit you have applied for, and any times you have defaulted on a payment.

 

Credit reporting body

A credit reporting body is an organisation that collects, holds, uses or discloses personal information about you for the purpose of providing an entity (such as a credit provider) with information about your creditworthiness. In Australia, the main credit reporting bodies include Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian.

 

Default listing

In Australia, if you’ve failed to make a payment under your loan contract within 60 days after the due date, then a default can be recorded on your credit report with a credit reporting body. This is known as a “default listing”. A default listing is different to an event of default.

 

Default fee

A fee you might be charged if you fail to make a repayment when it falls due. At Nimble, we believe in making things crystal clear. We’ll always show you the costs upfront, so there are no sneaky, hidden fees to worry about. Want to learn more? Check out our Fee Statement.

 

Dependant

A dependant generally refers to a person who relies on you for financial support.

 

Early repayment penalty

Some lenders will charge a penalty if you decide to pay off your loan early. Nimble does not charge an early repayment penalty.

 

Establishment fee

A one-off fee charged by a lender to cover the costs of the Lender setting up the loan.

 

Event of default

An event of default can occur when a borrower does not fulfil their obligations under a credit contract. Examples of events of default include not making payments on time, entering into bankruptcy and providing misleading or untrue information.

 

Fixed interest rate

This refers to when interest is charged at a fixed rate over the term of a loan.

 

Gross income

Your annual income before tax.

 

Interest rate

The proportion of a loan that is charged as interest to the Borrower, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the loan outstanding.

 

Lender

The bank, credit provider, financial institution or company who is giving you the loan.

 

Liability

Liability relates to the debt or money you owe on a loan or debt.

 

Loan

An amount of money you borrow from a Lender to assist with planned or unplanned events. Once a loan is accepted it then becomes a debt.

 

Minimum loan amount

This is the minimum amount that a Lender may offer you as a loan.

 

Maximum loan amount

The maximum amount that a Lender may offer you as a loan.

 

Minimum payment

The lowest amount that must be repaid by a certain date, which is often specified in your repayment schedule.

 

Net income

Your annual take home income after tax.

 

Personal loan

A personal loan is typically a loan obtained for predominantly personal, household or domestic use, such as buying a new car or going on a holiday. .

 

Principal

The principal amount is generally the original amount of money borrowed in a loan.

 

Product disclosure statement (PDS)

A PDS is a document that financial service providers provide when they offer or recommend a financial product to you. By law it must include the product’s key features, benefits, risks, commissions and a complaints handling procedure.

 

Repayment schedule

A repayment schedule details how and over what period of a time your loan must be repaid.

 

Secured loan

In a secured loan, the Borrower grants the Lender a security interest in an asset owned by the Borrower. If the Borrower defaults under the loan, the Lender may be able to exercise its security interest by selling the asset to help repay the loan.

 

Term

The period of time over which you must repay the loan.

 

Total amount repayable

The original amount you borrow plus all interest and fees. This is usually specified in your credit contract.

 

Transaction fee

Charges for transactions on your account. This includes things like, depositing funds, withdrawals and transfers.

 

Unsecured loan

A loan where there is no asset required to be used as security for your loan. Since personal loans are usually a smaller amount, they’re more likely to be unsecured.

 

Variable rate

This is an interest rate that can fluctuate during your loan repayment term.

 

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

12 Cheap Holiday Activities For You & Your Kids

With the school holidays just around the corner, you’re probably starting to wonder how you’re going to fill up all of your kids free time, and just how expensive each of these activities will be!

That’s why we’ve put together our list of easy and affordable holiday ideas to have fun with your kids, without breaking the bank! Keep them entertained for hours and maybe even teach them a thing or two whilst they’re not at school.

 

  1. Paper plane making contest

Start by grabbing some A4 sheets of paper from the printer or around the house and you’ve got a fun, creative holiday activity for your kids that will even get them outdoors.

Either keep it simple by seeing who can design the plane that goes the furthest or print out some more complicated guides from the internet to make planes that can twist, flip and do tricks.

Resources:

 

  1. DIY science experiments

Depending on the age of your little ones, science experiments can be the most exciting thing they do all day and can even have them working away for hours. Unlike the majority of adults who remember science as the boring old subject they had to endure through high school, a child’s mind can be full of weird and wondrous possibilities.

You can foster this interest with some simple experiments using ordinary household materials with a couple of these classics:

  • Make a bouncy egg: This one takes a little bit of time but it is a lot of fun:
    • Put a raw egg into a jar.
    • Fill the jar with vinegar.
    • Wait for about 24 hours.
      • Tell the kids to check on the egg in the jar periodically. They will see bubbles coming off the egg and the shell of the egg slowly dissolving.
    • Once that time has passed, take the egg out and rub off the remaining shell.
    • The part of the egg that’s left, will bounce just like a bouncy ball (providing you don’t drop it from too high)!
    • If you can get your hands on a black light, you can make it even more exciting for the kids my making their bouncing egg glow!
  • Make your own gooey slime: kids will love getting their hands dirty and playing with their own slime. All you need is to:
    • mix a little PVA glue, water and some borax (which can be found at most hardware stores).
    • Add food colouring, and you have a delightfully colourful gooey slime of your own making.

If you like these and want to discover more, just head to Hoopla Kidz Lab

 

  1. Family hikes

It can be easy to forget that there are things to do outside your home that won’t cost a thing. Make the most of the beautiful parks, beaches and nature we have in Australia these school holidays, and you might help to ignite life-long love affairs with the great outdoors.

Most national parks have trails with difficulties for all ages and there are plenty of different barbecue sites and playgrounds along the way.

 

Resources:

 

  1. Cupcake making and decorating

Get the kids started in the kitchen early and teach them the basics of baking with some easy cupcake recipes.

With a few ingredients you can show them how to measure, mix, stir, bake and most importantly taste their creation, before popping them in the oven.

Then, once the cupcakes are out (and cooled down!) the kids can decorate till their heart’s content. Theme the cupcakes with spooky decorations for Halloween, get festive with Christmas cupcakes, or just let them go wild with lollies and icing.

 

Resources:

 

  1. Teach your kids to sew

The key to getting your little ones interested in sewing, is finding something they actually want to make. Help them create something they will actually use like clothing for their toys or a protective case for their iPad. Keep the early projects simple so they don’t lose interest.

Start with the basics of a needle and thread and when they start to feel confident, you can move on to a sewing machine, if you have one that is! Not only will you have them designing new patterns from their imagination, but they will also be learning a pretty useful, lifelong skill.

 

  1. Local Council, Library and Shopping Centre Events

Most libraries, local councils and shopping centres have weekly free events and activities aimed at kids, especially during school holidays.

From concerts and movie screenings to access to community facilities, just check your council website and your local shopping centre to find a great day of free entertainment for you and the kids.

HOT TIP: Organisations that run these type of holiday activities often have email newsletters you can sign up to, which makes planning a lot easier.

 

  1. Op-shopping

Shopping with the kids is prime tantrum-time.

Kids will always manage to find something in a shop that they “NEED you to buy”. So why not hunt for some bargains amongst the many pre-loved items available?

Op-shops can not only save you money, but they also encourage recycling and the proceeds go towards people in need.

HOT TIP:

Donations are usually made by residents who live nearby, so traveling to wealthier areas will, more often than not, help you find better quality items.

 

  1. Fire Station open days and weekly fire safety displays

No kid would say no to being a firefighter for a day, right?

Well, fire stations all around Australia have open days where kids can see fire fighting equipment demonstrations and take fire truck rides.

Search your local station online and see what events they have, over the school holiday break. If you can’t find anything, just give them a call. You’ll soon be riding shotgun on a fire engine with the kids.

 

  1. Plan a treasure hunt

Keep the kids entertained by creating a treasure or scavenger hunt.

Hide a series of notes or clues around the house or close by in the street, then let the kids discover the clues in order, one by one, leading them to the ultimate treasure at the end.

HOT TIP:

You can get creative by making the clues math problems, word games or different types of cryptic riddles, and the hunts are a great way to encourage teamwork.

Resources

 

  1. Camping in the backyard/living room

You don’t need to go trekking for you and the kids to enjoy some quality camping time.

Pitch the tent in the living room or in the backyard and let your imaginations run wild. You can still do all the fun camping activities you would usually do, like belting out some campfire songs, preparing some classic camping food, and scaring the kids with some light-hearted ghost stories around the lantern.

Resources

 

  1. Make lemonade for a stall

Bring back an old-fashioned favourite and teach the kids about making their own money by setting up a lemonade stall.

You don’t have to stop at lemonade either. The kids could utilise their new skills in baking or sewing and add those products to the menu, or include any other drinks or snacks.

Sounds like a good day’s work!

Resources:

 

  1. Teach them magic tricks

There is nothing quite like the look on a kid’s face when they see a magic trick for the first time. The only thing better is giving them exclusive, insider knowledge as to how it actually works.

You can start simple by showing them some easy card tricks and making coins disappear. There are plenty of ideas online for cheap and simple tricks that kids can create and learn. Then once they master the basics you can buy them a few cheap magic kits or trick books for them to really get lost in.

Not only will they be impressed with your magic techniques, but they will love impressing their friends with these illusions, when they get back to school!

Resources

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

Cheap Textbooks & Other Back To Uni Cost Saving Tips

When the start of a new semester rolls around it can be a tricky time for student finances. Summer is over and, if you’re like most uni students, you’ve had way too much fun on your break and ‘back to uni’ has crept up on you, with not enough cash set aside for textbooks and supplies.

Whether you were travelling overseas or just making the most of the long holiday breaks, chilling at home, these costs were probably the furthest thing from your mind but now reality has kicked in and you’ve got a list of expenses to get sorted before your first class.

We totally get it, and have created this list of hints and tips to help you make the impact of back to uni costs as minimal as possible.

Textbooks

Textbooks are a major cost with the average student forking out around $600 a year. Unlike the old days where text books could be passed down through generations until the book disintegrates, things are changing at such a rapid rate that publishers often bring out new updated editions each year. So, we’ve come up with some great tips to help you spend less on your textbooks this year.

Do you really need it?

Now, we’re not trying to encourage you to slack off before the semester has even started but the truth is a lot of textbooks are bought only for them to sit on bookshelves in share houses unused. They might be listed as ‘required texts’ but once the actual unit starts you’ll sometimes find that they are barely used. Ask around to talk with people who did the unit last year, have a good read of the course guide and find units on Student VIP to get an idea of how crucial the text is.

Version control

Only buy the latest edition if you’re 100% sure you need to. Check for differences and see if most of the information is the same. The old version will usually be enough to get you through and you’ll be able to pick it up for a lot less money.

Make use of your library card

Check out if the library has the required texts (hint: university libraries usually will). You could grab the text for the start of the year and then gauge if you need to buy it. Sometimes you’ll only need a text for part of a unit, so see if you can grab it from the library for a few weeks and return it once you no longer need it.

Make money to spend money

Sell your previous years textbooks to give yourself a bit of extra cash for your new courses. Most online platforms like Student VIP, mentioned previously allow you to not only buy second hand textbooks, but sell them as well.

Another way to do it is to use the notice boards around campus. As there will be a new cohort of students coming through doing the same classes as you, this can be an easy and effective way of getting some money back on your old books. A great time to get a notice up, is just before O Week!

Don’t lug it around

Search the web for eBook versions of the text. These are usually much cheaper, and a whole lot lighter.

Get a bargain

If you think you’ll need the physical version of the exact textbook, then check out the online resources listed below where you can buy discounted texts (or even rent them, although that isn’t always that much cheaper).

You can also check local classified websites like Gumtree and of course the notice boards around the campus.

Websites to find second hand textbooks:

Laptops, computers and equipment

Face it. You can’t do anything without a computer these days. Whether you just need a basic laptop to do your web surfing and essay writing, or you need a set up with specialised features and software for your course, the costs can really hit hard.

What do you really need?

It’s tough to reduce the amount you spend on a computer or laptop while still getting something that you can trust not to fail when you’re in the middle of your final assignment.

The best way to ensure you don’t overspend is to do your research and buy a computer that is suited to the course you are studying. A creative writing course won’t need a powerful expensive computer, but a basic, cheap one won’t work for a film editing course. Consult your friends, tutors and those ‘in the know’ to make sure you know what you need.

Soften the software cost

In many cases part of your course will be learning how to use new types of software relevant to your future career. In these situations, don’t rush out to buy expensive full versions of the software as there will almost always be an avenue to get these programs through the university at a discounted price, or failing that, through the developer at a student price.

For other standard software programs check if freeware, or online versions are around. These exist for just about every type of program you could need. Check out this link for some of the most useful freeware programs.

Use your resources

Universities obviously have a huge amount of technology that you can access for free, in libraries and computer labs.

Spend a bit more time on campus using their computers and you’ll save money and rid yourself of some of the distractions you face at home. Courses that need more powerful technology like film, animation and design usually have appropriate computers available on campus, with all the latest software you need to succeed.

Non-tech

Don’t forget to apply the same rules with your non-technology equipment. If you are buying equipment that is required for your entire course, consider paying more and buying quality. Things like stethoscopes for medicine, drawing tools for architecture, and lab gear for science will be needed for a long time. It can be tempting to go budget and save but if you buy quality, they will last you well into your career.   

Spending Less Across the Semester

The initial costs of getting back to Uni are steep, but there are the everyday costs of being back on the books that can also drain your budget.

So we’ve listed a few simple and quick ways to tighten the budget while you’re still absorbing the back-to-school costs, and maybe if you stick to them, who knows, you’ll even have a bit put away by the time you do it all again next semester.

Transport

A 2012 study on student finances found that after tuition, transport is the biggest expense for people at uni. Consciously cutting down on the money we spend on transport can make a big difference.

Save on PT

Students will be able to receive concession or student public transport rates which will significantly cut the cost of travel. Don’t forget to crunch the costs of long term tickets on public transport and buy monthly or yearly passes if it is more economical.

Share it

Most universities offer carpool matching services, with some like the University of Newcastle even embracing apps like Liftango . Check to see if your university offers any carpooling services, or chat to your classmates and try to organise it yourself. It’s a great way of making new friends, reducing costs and saving the environment.

On ya bike

Buy a bike and ride. If you’re sticking to roads and bike paths, a decent bike can be bought for under $250 and will quickly pay for itself when saving on fuel or public transport. You’ll be able to exercise off those post lecture beers and reduce your carbon footprint as a bonus.

Student discounts on EVERYTHING

Most students are well aware of student discounts in the obvious places (public transport, movie tickets, etc) but there are plenty of other student discounts, companies offer that aren’t always taken advantage of. Check out myunidays for a constantly updated source of student discount offers.

And finally...Feeding Yourself!

We all know students who just moved out of home are very unlikely to cook for themselves, but the amount of money spent eating out can really hit the piggy bank hard. Cooking at home and packing your own meals and snacks can save you heaps and most universities will have student room facilities where you can warm up your food if necessary.

Check out our other blogs for delicious dishes that will help you save money.

Have you got your own student secrets for reducing the wallet burn while you learn? Let us know in the comments below.

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

8 Cheap Date Ideas to Impress Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we know what that means… romance, gifts of love and epic date nights!

If you’re looking for some inspiration to impress that special person in your life, or even get to know them that little bit more, without blowing the budget, we have some great ideas, just for you

Because let’s be honest – dinner and movie nights might be classic but you’re in risky territory with it becoming a little too ‘routine’, especially when you’re out to get to know someone better.

So we’ve put together our list of creative dating ideas that will not only deliver a wow factor but are also designed to help you break through the ordinary to really get to know someone. Maybe you’ve only been on a few dates or perhaps you’ve been with someone for years and just want to shake things up. Either way, this list will get your creative dating juices flowing for the big “V Day” reveal…

 

Create a new experience for both of you

Routine leads to boredom. There is no avoiding it.

So one of the best ways to make a date more memorable is to do something neither of you have ever done before. Learning something together is a unique way to bond and the atmosphere is instantly more relaxed. You can laugh at your own mistakes and compete to see who can get the hang of it first.

There are plenty of free or cheap unique activities in most cities that are catered to beginners. Anything from life drawings, modern dance classes, Tai Chi in the park, indoor rock-climbing, ice-skating and DIY workshops – the more out-there the idea, the better.

As long as you’re both open to giving it a crack, you can let your guard down and have some fun. And if it turns out that pottery making wasn’t for you, it’s ok, because neither of you were particularly invested in the idea in the first place.

Below is a list of classes and workshops available across your capital city:

 

The low-key “hang-out” date

When you get down to the basics, the real reason you go on a date with someone is to spend more time with them, right? The activity you actually do on your date is really just an excuse to make that ‘time together’ happen.

So, when you’re setting up a date don’t put as much emphasis on the ‘what’ of the date. Head to a playground with a swing-set, buy an ice-cream and take a walk along the beach, or find a park with a lake to feed the ducks or skip some stones.

The informal setting will relieve the pressure to ‘make small talk’ and your conversation will be allowed to develop naturally and organically. There is also something particularly romantic and sweet about spending time enjoying the simple things.

 

Trivia night at a bar

Meeting up with someone at a bar is a pretty common go-to for a date when you don’t know what else to do.

But you know what? It just isn’t that memorable or romantic. Great for a first or second date maybe, but after a while you really should be upping the stakes if you want to move past small talk.

Why not add a little bit of competition to the mix to create a more exciting night! Hit up your local trivia night and you’ll soon find all the social awkwardness drift away. You’ll be too busy racking your brain to remember the year ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ was released.

You may also find that people drop their guard a little more when their competitive streak kicks in and their true personalities shine through a little stronger (for better or worse), but let’s be honest, the quicker we get to the bottom of this sort of stuff, the better, when it comes to the dating game.

Check out this massive list of trivia nights for one near you.


Geocaching

If you really want your date to be unique and memorable, the world of geocaching gets our thumbs up!

Like a treasure hunt for grown ups, you hunt down a ‘geocache’ (usually a waterproof container full of various types of ‘swag’) based on a series of clues and GPS coordinates.

You’ll want to wait until you get past the initial stages of a relationship (you probably don’t want to be dragging someone into the woods on a first date!) but when it comes to sense of adventure it is a pretty hard idea to beat.

Sure, maybe it’s a little dorky. But if you’re worried about being a bit of a dork around the person you’re dating –  this will get you loosened up in no time!

You can find everything you need to know about geocaching at their official website.

 

Volunteering together

If the most important part of a date to you is getting to know someone, suggest the idea of volunteering with them for a night.

With the right mindset,  giving your time to a good cause is an amazing way to spend quality time with someone and you’ll get the chance to see a more kind and gentle side of their personality, even if you have been dating for years.

Finding opportunities to volunteer at the drop of a hat isn’t always simple, but the concept of micro-volunteering is a relatively new idea that lets you help out by doing small, short-term tasks.

Consider any of the following:

  • Take dogs at an animal shelter for a walk or a give them a bath
  • Work at a soup kitchen for the night
  • Spend time with someone in an aged-care facility

It might not be the right idea for everyone, but even if it doesn’t work out at least at the end of the day you’ll have done something to make the world a better place.

Check out this volunteering search engine for a cause that appeals to you or if you’re looking for help on how to pitch it to your prospective date – check out this website.

 

Be tourists in your own town

We’re usually so busy in our everyday lives that we don’t really explore the town we live in.

Once you look at your city through the eyes of a tourist, you’ll be amazed at how many hidden wonders your hometown has to offer. Find out whether your city does free walking tours or visit a landmark that you’ve never been to but always thought you’d end up visiting ‘one day’.

Walking around your own city and seeing it with new eyes is a great way to appreciate the things we can often take for granted. Not a bad reflection to have with someone you’re on a date with, huh?

Useful links

 

Try something different

When trying to keep your dating expenses low, sometimes simple really is best.

But simple doesn’t have to mean boring.

Telling someone that you want to meet up with them for a coffee or a sausage roll isn’t going to fill them with anticipation of what’s to come. But what if you tell them you’re going to try Melbourne’s only smurf latte with blue algae (which is actually a thing) or other superfood latte, or the 2017 winner of the best sausage roll in Sydney?

Sounds a little more enticing, huh?

To make the date even more intriguing, meet up at a common location and make the trip together. Extra points if it’s at the end of a train line, in some suburb or town you’ve never been before (although make sure you’re date knows what they’re in for before you start taking them too far off the beaten track).

 

Go out on a limb (and actually let them know a little about you)

The weird culture humans have built around dating means that we often try to impress our dates by doing things we wouldn’t generally do ourselves.

I mean, does taking someone to a fancy restaurant you would never usually go to tell them much about who you really are?

So, if you’re brave enough, why not deliberately turn that idea on its head?

Agree to meet up at a second hand bookshop before you go out for coffee. The mission is to find a book to buy for your date (and they do the same for you), based on what you already know about each other. When you get to the cafe, spend a little time flicking through the book, and explain to each other why you picked the one you did for them.

Not a bookworm? Substitute a book for music, or anything really. The point is, that you’re getting to know each other on a more personal level.

This is a great idea for early on in a relationship, once you’re past the 4th or 5th date and you know at least a little bit about them. It might seem a little out there but it’s better than going to multiple movies together before realising you’re not really that compatible.

 

What is your go-to awesome date idea when you want to get to know someone a little better on a budget? Let us know in the comments below?

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

10 Delicious Dinners to Keep You Satisfied ‘Til Payday

It’s happened to everyone at one stage or another. You’re faced with something unexpected and you suddenly have to tighten the purse strings until your next payday.

Cutting out things like a night out at the movies or your lunch-break latte is easy enough, but saving money on your “three-square-meals a day” can be a bit trickier.

Don’t head straight for the baked beans and two-minute noodles just yet – we have 10 delicious dinner ideas you can whip up on the cheap to keep you fed and satisfied until payday rolls around…

 

Fried Rice Without the Price

Rice doesn’t cost a lot, and with a few more extra ingredients and a bit of flavouring added, it doesn’t take much to turn it into a meal. With a bit of culinary creativity with what you’ve got around the kitchen, you can create an excellent meal for not much at all!

Using a base of rice and frozen mixed vegetables, you can quickly whip up a batch of meal portions that will last you the whole week. Anything goes in a fried rice, so you can also fill it out with whatever meat or veggies you already have in the fridge.

Check out these examples and fry away:

 

No meat but plenty of heat: Vegetarian chilli

Meat can bust a lean budget, so a few good meatless options are great to have in the repertoire. A vegetarian chilli is so delicious and rich, the local carnivores won’t even realise they’ve gone without!

Lentils or beans give the chilli it’s hearty and filling punch, plus throw in some tomato, capsicum, onion, garlic and chilli flakes to ensure a flavourful and spicy kick.

Get started with these great recipes:

 

Versatile pasta sauce with all your favourites

When it comes to an easy and delicious meal, a simple tomato based pasta sauce is king. Dried pasta is cheap and keeps for a long time so you can stock up on it when it is on special.

You can customise the sauce with any of your favourites; olives, anchovies, greens, vegetables, spices. Then throw in some left-over mince, bacon or sausages for that meaty bite. The pasta sauce is a great all-rounder and very tasty, so you can raid the back of the pantry and throw in anything that works.

Try out these ideas:

 

Put it between the sheets with cheesy lasagne

With similar ingredients from your pasta sauce you can make a cheap, simple and tasty lasagne. A pack of dry lasagne sheets is pretty inexpensive and it’s easy to load up your baking dish with all your delicious favourites.

Find some cheap mince for a classic lasagne, or for a vegetarian version try layers of eggplant, pumpkin and other roast vegies. These recipes make huge servings and stores great in the fridge or freezer, so you can enjoy it throughout the week.

Have a go at this one:

 

Creamy dreamy pumpkin soup

A good pumpkin is pretty much all you need to buy for a delicious pumpkin soup. Add some stock cubes, onion and garlic and you get a classic creamy soup.

You can throw in any other veggies you have in the house and play around with the flavours. Carrot, sweet potato, lentils and beans all add different elements, and with the addition of some toasted, buttered bread, you get a rich hearty meal that will really satisfy both your taste buds and your budget!

Mix it up a little with these suggestions:

 

Bake it ‘til you make it: Pasta bake

Back to the dry pasta – if you’re getting sick of having it with red sauce try a cheesy pasta bake. Just throw your favourite ingredients in an oven dish with pasta and some cheese and you’re ready to go.

It’s easy to make in large batches and is very filling. You can combine what you have around the pantry and fridge into a delicious and easy meal. For a cheap and delicious alternative, tinned tuna is a great filling that will keep you happy until payday.

Throw these in the oven:

 

Unleash the quiche

If you’ve got a few eggs, a frittata or quiche is a great meal to whip up on the cheap. Throw the eggs and all your spare meat and veg ingredients in an oven dish, and you’re all sorted with a  filling and tasty meal!

To create a quiche, simply put these ingredients into your own homemade pastry, or spend a few dollars on a store bought base. It’s a tasty meal to reheat and eat later and keeps well in the fridge.

Try whisking these up:

 

Curry without the worry

It’s not hard or expensive to whip up a delicious curry. You can cook up some simple ingredients with whatever meat or veggies you can get on the cheap and have a rich, delicious meal.

While curry pastes aren’t exactly expensive from the major chains, many international or specialty supermarkets sell affordable curry mixes for even less and are usually tastier. Starting with a base of rice, you can add lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and meat. As already mentioned, going vegetarian for a bit is a good way to tighten the purse strings, and with a good curry you won’t feel like you’re missing out!.

Try these recipes:

 

Prepay tuna mornay

Tinned tuna is a cheap and handy way of adding a large amount of protein to your meal and tuna mornay is a tasty comfort food that you can cook up quickly.

Tuna mornay is another recipe where you are likely to have all the ingredients at hand without having to go to the shop. Just throw the tuna into an oven dish, with cheese, breadcrumbs, flour and some milk and you’re away.

Check out these recipes:

 

Kick a goal with a casserole

Ok this one is kind of cheating…Casserole can really mean anything, but it usually involves creating combinations of food you have lying around to make delicious, easy and large meals.

The beauty is you can see what you have in the pantry and mix your different items to create a cheap and tasty meal. Go classic with a chicken and veggie casserole, or mix it up with vibrant nacho dishes, or a classic mac and cheese.

Here are a few to try:

 

Have you got your own go-to recipe for when things get a bit tight coming up to payday? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

7 New Year’s Resolutions to Shape Up Your Finances

Budgets! Ugh! Are we right?

But we’re well and truly into the new year so it’s a great time to start changing the way you handle your finances (and try to make them finally stick).

So we’ve come up with these 7 resolutions you can make to help shape up your finances in 2018 that might actually work!

 

Build a budget that you can actually stick to..

Budgets are a lot like diets. They’re tough to stick to and they usually don’t work unless you find one that suits you. And to get one that is the right fit you’ll have to put a bit of time looking into your 2017 spending habits.

First, use a budget planner to break your budget down, like this one. Now you have a clear map to assess what you spend money on and can start sorting them from most to least important.

What could you never live without? What are you willing to sacrifice? Place expenses alongside each other and battle them out..to the death!! For example, cinema tickets versus wine with the work colleagues. Perhaps you’ll realise that the movies help you relax and, to be honest, those weeknight hangovers are starting to take their toll.

Now everything’s in writing, you can shift things around feeling confident that it’s all accounted for. Tomorrow you might decide you really need a wine and you can cancel the cinema that month and suddenly you’ve got the skills of an organised accountant!

Our tip: don’t get down on yourself if your budget goes wrong initially. Instead, examine why it didn’t work and change your budget accordingly. Through this process you get to learn a lot about your values and priorities and you might just be surprised by how much of a self-awareness exercise this turns out to be.

 

Shape up your bills..

Bills are boring but they are a part of life. We don’t think about them until they are due and they just become a part of the slow routine of life that we rarely question.

But a shape up of your monthly bills can be a great way to get more out of your finances. Many people let things like their mobile plan, internet, electricity and other bills roll over without giving them much thought and they miss out on cheaper alternatives and huge discount opportunities.

Our tips will make you a haggle expert when it comes to your weekly bills:

  • Read the fine print and find a deal that suits you. There’s no point paying extra money if it is for things you’ll never use. For instance: how much internet do you actually use on a monthly basis? Do you actually need an unlimited plan or do you just feel like you do?
  • Do your research. Scan the cheapest options as well as what they offer. Find out what the competitors of your current provider are offering. Many competitors, particularly energy and internet providers, will offer a discount if you switch.
  • Most companies will offer incentives if you bundle your products, but make sure they’re offering enticements that you’ll actually take advantage of.
  • Before you agree to any deal, let your original provider know you’re thinking of leaving so they have the opportunity to price-match. We bet you’ll suddenly feel like the most popular kid in town!

 

Aim to have less stuff..

Everything we’re surrounded by creates the feeling that the more we have, the happier will be. From magazines to television and social media, we are in product heaven. But studies have proven that owning more stuff does not improve happiness and, in fact, it usually makes us miserable.

Enter minimalism, a new trend that has surfaced in response to the increasingly cluttered world we live in.

Courtney Carver, in her thought-provoking blog be more with less provides evidence to show that living with less creates space for more important things to enter your life. Next time you have the urge to buy something, question where that urge came from. Do you need it? Could you live without it?  

Minimalism is good for the heart, good for the apartment, and especially good for the savings!   

Money Money Money…Don’t just sing it, talk about it..

Over a quarter of Aussies have trouble talking about finances, according to a recent study. Money, like death, sex and Game of Thrones spoilers, has become a taboo subject that people shy away from. But conversing helps people learn as they talk through their problems and, also, discussing Game of Thrones theories is really fun!

When children aren’t exposed to conversations about finances it teaches them that it’s a subject to be avoided, and they end up being poorly educated on the topic or having to do double the amount of work to learn about the impact of managing money.

The more we talk about it, the more we learn about it, and the more we become motivated to find ways to improve our financial situation.

Be aware that money can be a source of shame for many people so approach the subject with sensitivity. Visit this site for some great tips on how to talk finances with the kids.

 

Money isn’t everything..

There’s nothing more annoying than being told to bring your lunch every day to save money. Thanks for the advice, “Jan from accounts”, but it’s not exactly rocket science. And you know what else, for some people going out for lunch with friends is the thing they look forward to most in a day.

Furthermore, we all have a tantrum-throwing inner child that does not respond well to discipline, especially when it comes to things like money. But what if you could increase your bargaining power by catering to your inner child’s deeper desires as well? For example, if you adopt some of the tips below you’re not only going to save money but you’re going to look great this summer. And Jan will be so jealous!

Get healthy, lose weight, improve your mental clarity and save money with the below ideas:

  • Ride your bike to work and save around $40 per week on public transport fees.
  • Cut back on booze, experience all of these benefits and save a fortune. 
  • Reduce processed sugar. If you need motivation, just read a list of all the reasons processed sugar is bad for you. If you traded a chocolate bar for an apple every day for a year you would save $547.50 (that’s not even including the dentist’s bills you avoided).
  • Replace coffee with tea. If you did this with one coffee per day, you’d save around $1642.50 per year.
  • Replace juice and soft drinks (see sugar-is-bad list) with water and lemon, make it fizzy if you have a Sodastream.

Other ideas that might help influence your inner child

  • If the weather’s nice invite friends who work nearby to eat lunch with you at the local park. Sure, you’re bringing lunch (don’t tell Jan), but you’re also socialising and it’s easy to pack something cheap and healthy.
  • Instead of purchasing a TV show or movie on iTunes, read a book. It’s better for the mind and costs less. Borrowing a book from the library costs you nothing! And before you ask..YES, libraries still exist!!
  • Instead of going out for dinner to see friends, suggest a picnic in the park.
  • If you have a friend that’s always keen to catch up for a weekly wine, suggest going for a seaside stroll together instead.

 

Find a hobby that will improve your finances..

Borrowing from the above idea of dual motivation, why not look to your passion to save or earn money? See! We told you budgeting could be fun!

Bake your own bread, brew your own beer, grow your own veggies, sew your own clothes, take on a DIY attitude and you’ll tune in to your creative flow while simultaneously saving loads.

This can be especially effective if you pair it with something that takes up a big part of your finances. If you’re a massive caffeine addict, then roasting your own beans will directly impact an area of your life you’re already spending money on.

But most importantly the savings involved are a byproduct of your hobby, instead of being the sole reason for it in the first place. It is much easy to keep up a New Year’s resolution if it’s something you enjoy doing.

 

Make happiness the most logical pursuit..

We humans are simple creatures. Strip us down to our bare essentials and you’ll find that we just want to be happy. As long as the basic things, like food, water, shelter, and security are looked after, the next thing on the list is usually just being happy.

Unfortunately, the modern world gives us confusing messages about what ‘being happy’ actually means. It seems strange to ask, but do you really know what the things are that make you happy?

Focussing on happiness over earning money or buying new things might not sound like a financial New Year’s resolution but it does a few things that impact the way you spend your resources:

  • It leads to higher levels of satisfaction, lowering the impulse to spend money on things we don’t need when we’re bored or unhappy.
  • It gives us greater perspective on what’s important in life, making it easier to follow through on some of the previous steps.

This is the hardest of our 7 tips to actually implement. ‘Finding happiness’ is not quite as straightforward as ‘building a budget’. But in our busy lives it is sometimes important to remember that the most effective changes we can make are sometimes the simplest.

Have you got any plans to change your finances in 2018? Let us know by posting in the comments below.

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

Nimble’s comprehensive list of 100 weekly spending hacks

How much we spend and save every week comes down to hundreds of small financial habits we repeat over and over again.

When it comes to real savings there is never going to be just one ‘silver-bullet’ solution. You have to find small ways to save in all areas of your life.

Each tip we’ve compiled below might not seem life changing on its own but collectively can help put more money back in your pocket for the important things in life.

 

Saving in the home

 

  1. Learn more recipes: Adding variety to your regular meal rotation will mean you look forward to eating at home and help to suppress the impulse to eat out.
  2. Meal plan to use every last scrap of everything you purchase: If a salad like this can sell in New York, you’ve got no excuse for throwing out anything.
  3. Switch off appliances at the source: Studies show you could save as much as $100 annually by flicking the switch on devices you aren’t using.
  4. Cut out Netflix and Foxtel: With platforms like ABC iView, SBS on demand and all the commercial stations streaming online there are plenty of things to watch for free.
  5. Grow your own vegetables, citrus fruits and herbs: Even if you live in an apartment, lemons and limes grow well in pots, and herbs will quite happily prosper on a sunny balcony or a light drenched windowsill.
  6. Don’t load your cupboards with specific-use products: Baking soda, vinegar and vaseline are just a few examples of products that can do the job of 100s of expensive cleaning, personal-care and conditioning products.
  7. Keep a list of foods you throw away: Do this for a while and you’ll begin to notice patterns and can change your buying habits.

Groceries

 

  1. Make a grocery list for the week. Work out your household’s needs and stick to them.
  2. Use unit-pricing: Knowing cost per 100g is the only way to get a true idea of value. This study showed that shoppers who checked unit pricing saved an average of 17-18% on their weekly shop.
  3. Don’t dismiss frozen fruit and vegetables: Compare prices with the cost of fresh vegetables. Berries in particular are hard to justify buying fresh on a tight budget.
  4. Buy direct from farmers markets: You will get fresher food, eat seasonally and save.
  5. Base your meals on items that are nutritious and stay fresh for a long time: Use grains, lentils, legumes and beans as your meal bases.
  6. Never grocery shop when you’re hungry. Studies show that you will buy more than you need.
  7. Stock up on long life staples when they’re on special: Items like baked beans, tuna, cooking oil, peanut butter all get the “Half-Price’ treatment regularly. Never buy them at full price.
  8. Shop at your local Asian, Indian or Middle Eastern supermarket: If you make stir-fries or curries at home you’ll pay much less for the basic ingredients.
  9. Check out items on top and lower shelves: Companies pay more to have their items stocked at eye level.
  10. Change which supermarket you shop at each week: Compare the prices of groceries in weekly sales catalogues and by using free services like Trolley Saver to decide.
  11. Have meat and alcohol free days every week.

Invest now, save later

 

  1. Buy the most energy efficient appliances.  They cost less to run and drain less energy when idle. You may also be entitled to government rebates when you purchase them, simply check with the supplier.
  2. Buy LED bulbs for every light fixture in your house: The extra amount you spend on these bulbs at the cash register will come back to you and then some. They are 5 times cheaper to run than regular globes and last 40 times longer.
  3. Buy a screen protector and phone case for your phone: A small investment when having a screen replaced can easily set you back well over $100.
  4. Every time you get a pay rise contribute more to your savings: It is very easy to just burn through the extra money. Save that money right from the start and you won’t have the chance to miss it.
  5. Buy a grinder for coffee beans and spices: This allows you to buy your beans and spices in bulk and grind them as you need, without having to worry about them going stale.
  6. If you can’t resist fizzy drinks – buy a Sodastream.
  7. Where possible, purchase your phone outright: The lure of the major phone companies is that they hand out new model smartphones when you sign a contract. However, bring-your-own phone plans can save you heaps on the monthly plan.
  8. Buy cordless headphones: The majority of headphones break when the cord comes loose from constantly getting caught and snagged through use. Eliminate this problem.
  9. Invest in Tupperware containers and ziplock bags: It makes it easier to store and keep leftovers so they stay good for longer.
  10. Get a quality reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere: Paying for bottled water is a bad use of your money when you can get water from almost anywhere for free if you have a drink bottle.

 

Save at work

 

  1. Pack your own lunch EVERY day: It isn’t the most original suggestion, but a study has shown that the Aussie worker still spends an average of $1,548 a year on buying lunch at work. Do your part to bring that average down and ‘brown-bag’ it!
  2. Cut down on coffee: Even if you limit yourself to just a single barista coffee per working day, you’re still spending $910 a year on caffeine. There are plenty of cheaper coffee options to get you up and going.
  3. Keep snacks at your desk: Your best laid plans of packed lunches can count for little when 3 o’clock comes around and you’re convinced to take a walk to the nearest cafe for a snack, coffee and a bit of a break from your desk. Keep supermarket bought snacks at your drawer to satisfy the hunger and just walk around the block when you need a break.

Technology

 

  1. Use Freeware: Expensive software like Microsoft Office almost always have open source alternatives that are completely free like Google Docs or Openoffice. Check online before paying for any program.
  2. Don’t buy into the ‘cutting-edge’ model: You don’t need the newest model every time you need to upgrade your phone or computer. New models usually have a 50% price-drop in under 24 months.
  3. Use smart online shopping tools: There are plenty out there but browser apps like Honey and The Camelizer can ensure you always get the best possible price for any product online.
  4. Automate your savings: You can make weekly direct deposits into your savings account or use apps like Acorns, which round up every purchase you make to the nearest dollar and invest it for you.
  5. Charge your equipment correctly: The battery is often the first thing to fail in equipment like phones and laptops, be sure to charge regularly and to do it in the right way – a full charge from 0 to 100% can actually reduce your batteries capacity when done too often.

Transportation and Travel Tips

 

  1. Cycle or walk to work if possible.
  2. Early bird & off-peak discounts: In Melbourne, train travel before 7am is free to lighten the load of peak hour transport. Most other major cities offer heavily discounted public transport fares when travelling before 7am or after 8.30pm.
  3. If you own two cars, consider switching to be a one car household: The money you can save on car insurance, fuel and maintenance can add up to thousands.
  4. Rent instead of buying: If you really only need wheels every now and then you can rent a car by the hour with services such as GoGet.
  5. Carpool with workmates or friends
  6. Give yourself the time to take public transport: When making a trip, plan enough time to get there via the train, tram or bus and save on fuel and parking.
  7. Download a petrol price tracking app.
  8. Never go to a travel agent again: Comparison sites, like Expedia and Skyscanner, have made travel agent fees redundant.
  9. Maximise travel points from credit cards: There is a whole online community based around finding the best credit card point deals so you can get flights for as little as possible. Read more about it here.
  10. Clear your browser history when buying flights: It has been suggested that airlines will change their prices based on your browser history.

Being healthy = a healthy bank balance

 

  1. Choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates: Things like wholemeal flour, whole grain bread, wholemeal pasta, basmati rice and brown rice cost roughly the same as their processed equivalents but make you feel fuller for longer.
  2. Swap gym memberships for exercising outside: Run, walk, cycle, swim and use your own bodyweight for resistance training.
  3. Combine your work commute with exercise: Run walk or cycle to work where possible,  and save on fuel, parking or public transport costs
  4. Make water your default beverage: Water is free and incredibly good for you (it’s kind of like you were made to drink it).

Shopping

 

  1. Only use cash when you’re shopping: The first stop in any shop should be the ATM. Many studies show we spend more conservatively when we are handing over cash than we do with plastic.
  2. Use a basket instead of a trolley: If you have to carry your items, you’ll be less inclined to load the basket up. Research shows that when we use trolley we are more likely to fill them up.
  3. Research the products you buy in depth: Spending more money on nicer things can save you in the long run. Many brands have a reputation for longevity, so they cost more upfront, but their lifetime cost is much cheaper.
  4. Before making an online purchase, leave your items in a website’s ‘cart’ for a week: Often stores will send automatic emails to prompt users who have abandoned their carts, offering discounts to seal the deal.
  5. Hack the prices of online retailers: There is a loophole with some online retailers that can give you cheaper prices based on the currency you pay in. Companies like ASOS adjust for the expectations of shoppers from different countries by altering the price of products across different currencies. However, there is nothing to stop you changing your order manually from Australian dollars to British pounds and knocking five or six dollars of your purchase price.  
  6. Buy used clothes: Buying at op-shops is thrifty and with a bit of patience you can uncover some genuine bargains. Hot-tip: travel to the swankiest areas when op-shopping and ask what days they put out their new donations.
  7. Have a cool-off wishlist: You rarely need the things right when you buy them. Give yourself 30 days before you actually make any purchase, then you’ll know if you really want it.
  8. Rent instead of buying: You can rent almost anything. From dresses or tuxedos for weddings to surfboards to power tools. If you won’t get enough use out of something to justify buying it outright, rent it instead.
  9. Buy items when they’re out of season: If you wait until winter to buy a jacket, you’ll be paying peak price. Anything seasonal is cheaper when it isn’t in demand (apart from food where the opposite often applies!).
  10. Ask yourself: “How will I feel about this tomorrow?”: It is a simple psychological test that works. Think you’ll feel happy? Buy it! Panicked? Skip it!
  11. Don’t buy items that you wouldn’t usually just because they’re on sale: Don’t get sucked in by sales that aren’t actually going to help your bottom line.

Finding the Discounts

 

  1. Start using the benefits you already have access to: Most energy, insurance and financial companies offer exclusive benefits to their customers.  
  2. Bookmark discount websites in your web browser: Websites like Scoopon and Catch of the Day update with deals daily and you’re bound to find products and experiences that appeal to you if you check it often enough.
  3. Set online alerts for products on your wishlist: Websites like eBay and Gumtree allow you to set emails alerts when postings with specific terms are posted. This gives you first chance at the ones with the best prices.
  4. Actually trial free trials: Many subscription-based services offer a free trial to get you to join. Instead of just letting it roll over to paid accounts, try them all. It will save money and you’ll end up picking the best one for the long run.
  5. Get cash back from online purchases: There are websites that will literally pay you for shopping online through their website. This is how it works: instead of going directly to an online store you find a link on a ‘cashback’ website to get there instead. The online store then tracks how much you spend and gives a commission to the cashback website for referring you. Finally, the cashback website kicks some of that commission back to you. Money for nothing!
  6. Look for coupons for everything you buy

Save on Services and Amenities

 

  1. Use professionals in training: From hairdressers, to masseuses, to physios, to dentists. Every profession has students that need to practice their craft. You can often ‘help them out’ for little to no cost.
  2. Do your own tax: The Government’s myTax program is free and suitable enough for most people with uncomplicated finances.
  3. Google anything before you ring a tradie: Many maintenance problems can be fixed with a simple Youtube video.
  4. Use less water with low flow shower heads and taps: These can save up to 40% of your water use.

Making what you’ve got last longer

 

  1. Getting further from a tank of petrol: There are many habits you can develop on the road so you don’t burn as much fuel. A study showed that the difference in fuel efficiency between driving 90km/h and 120km/h can be as much as 20%. Other tips include: always driving with properly inflated tyres and turning off the engine when you’ll be idling more than a minute.
  2. Cut your dishwashing sponges in half: Most sponges are thrown out because they get too dirty not because they break down.
  3. Water down your bathroom hand soap: You mix it with water in the sink anyway. Cut down on wastage by mixing it in an empty hand pump bottle first.
  4. Store salad with a paper towel in the fridge: Paper will absorb moisture and keep your salad from wilting for longer.
  5. Alternate between pairs of shoes: Swapping will give your shoes enough time to decompress and decrease wear and tear.
  6. Repair before you replace: Home repairs of clothing and even professional tailoring can double the lifespan of your garments. The same often applies to shoes.
  7. Replace the broken part, not the entire product: Sometimes your phone just needs a new battery, or your laptop needs added RAM. You may not always need an entirely new product so ask a professional before you replace.
  8. Make printer ink go further with an eco-font: Eco-fonts are fonts that have tiny holes throughout the body of the letters (here is an example). They minimise the amount of ink used when printing.
  9. Hang your sheets and clothing out to dry when possible: They will last longer and you will also save money on using a dryer.

Change your mindset and your habits

 

  1. Save up any ‘extra’ windfalls: Human beings have an instinct to treat money differently based on how they obtained it. Unexpected ‘extra cash’ is usually splurged and ends up adding no benefit to your financial situation.
  2. Save money just by asking for a better price: It won’t work every time, but particularly for bills, medical expenses, memberships and big purchases you can get the price knocked down just by asking.
  3. Catch up with friends at home: Real friends will be happy to catch up at your place or head somewhere cheap and cheerful, like a nearby beach or park.
  4. Save your change: Buy one of those big money tins that you can’t open without a can-opener and put all your coins into it. When you cash it in at the end of the year you’ll easily see upwards of $500 returns.
  5. Cut your own hair or where possible, find a hairdresser that operates out of their home, as they are often cheaper than retail salons with high overheads, such as rent.
  6. Don’t pay ATM fees EVER: Australians pay $787.8 million a year in completely unnecessary ATM fees. Plan your withdrawals and avoid them altogether.
  7. Actually save the money you get from specials: When you buy something that is marked down, don’t just use the extra cash on something else. Put it in a savings account.
  8. Save when things don’t go to plan: If you have plans to go to a movie and get cancelled on, put the money you would have spent into savings. You were prepared to spend that money anyway, so treat it like you have and put it towards the future.
  9. Don’t wait until you need something to buy it: When it comes to necessary items, if you wait until they break and are unusable, you won’t have time to find a good price.
  10. Find free hobbies: If you spend your time doing things like reading, hiking, playing chess or catching up with like minded people in meetup groups, then you can still enjoy your spare time without having to put your hand in your pocket.
  11. Join the library: Your local library is an untapped resource for books, magazines, comic books, DVDs and music.
  12. Hit back on hidden fees: When signing up to a new service explicitly ask them if there are any charges other than the ones discussed. If you pay hidden fees, dispute them and you will often get them reversed.
  13. Don’t be afraid to say when something you have bought has disappointed you: If you have paid for something, you have the right to request a refund. If your complaint is legitimate, you’ll often get a refund. On the flipside, writing to companies you like with compliments can also have awesome benefits.
  14. Learn the value of your time: Think about how many hours it took you to earn the equivalent amount of money before you think about parting with it.
  15. Save when you come in under budget: There is no point budgeting unless you take advantage of it when it works.

Keep the fun times rolling (for less):

 

  1. Take supermarket snacks to the cinemas: Movie popcorn is one of the biggest cons going around. Popcorn and soft-drink combos can see markups as high as 3,000% on cost price. Save by dropping into Coles or Woolworths on your way to the theatre.
  2. Eat out at BYO restaurants: If you like to have a drink with your meal, choosing restaurants that let you bring your own booze can save you a lot on the bill, even once corkage costs are factored in.
  3. Party at home before heading out: ‘Pre-drinks’ is a closely observed ritual of uni students all over the country for a very good reason. It can cut the cost of a night out in half.
  4. Tightarse Tuesdays (and other days): From movies, to bowling, to parmas, to yoga classes – so many businesses have a ‘cheap night’ to lure in the frugal crowd. Take advantage of them!
  5. Free events: Websites like What’s On and Timeout are a great way for keeping your finger on the pulse of upcoming free events, from live concerts to art galleries – there is plenty of stuff on, if you know where to look.

 

Got any other great ways to save and would like to share with the Nimble community, we’d love to hear from you!  Drop us a quick note in our comments section below.

 

You should read this bit: The above links belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in this blog post. The information in this blog post is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

Christmas Day Lunch on a Shoestring

So you’ve agreed to host Christmas lunch.

It seemed like a great idea at the time, but now as you’ve started to plan the big day, panic has set in and you’re contemplating fleeing the country just to get out of it.

Well, Christmas hostess with the “mostess” (or host with the most!), you can relax, because we’re here to assure you that it’s absolutely possible to host a fabulous Christmas lunch without a financial blowout.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to get you through the day:

 

For nibbles, go with the crowd favourites

If Christmas lunch were a gift, the nibbles would be the wrapping. In other words, you’ve got to have them but they’re not the main show.

There are plenty of amazing, festive options you could spend your time and money on, like cob loaf spinach dip or mini pizzas shaped like Christmas trees, but let’s be real – most people are just as happy with a healthy spread of chips and dips.

This also makes nibbles the perfect thing to allocate to your guests, as all they have to do is swing past a supermarket in the days leading up to Christmas.

NOTE: Asking guests to share the love (and the cost!) of your Christmas lunch is recommended later in this guide so if you’re worried about using up your ‘Christmas helper credits’, handle the nibbles yourself. Remember: keep it simple, keep it cheap. Chips and dips all the way!

 

The main star of Christmas lunch: The Main Course

This is the make-or-break element of your Christmas lunch…

If you nail this, everything else will fall into place. That’s why we’ve spent a long time making this section of our Christmas lunch guide as foolproof as possible.

The first few sections cover the meatier options and then later we have dished up some advice on meat-free alternatives (perfect not just for vegetarians but anyone looking for an extra area of Christmas lunch to bring costs down).

Let’s get started.

 

Choosing your meat

Meat will always be the most expensive part of Christmas lunch, so getting this decision right is super important!

Nowhere in the Australian constitution does it say that all Christmas-lunch hosts must serve prawns, lobster and a whole leg of ham. It’s much cheaper to stick to the basic meats and do them well.

Below is a handy price range for various meats to help you decide which one is right for you:

NOTE: These prices are taken from those listed on the major supermarket websites. But don’t take our word for it…shop around at the places listed below and grab yourself a bargain!

Approximate Prices:

  • Whole chicken – $4.50 – $8.20 per kg
  • Whole turkey (frozen) – $9 per kg
  • Whole turkey (fresh) -$10 per kg
  • Roast pork (shoulder) – $10 per kg
  • Roast lamb (shoulder) – $10 per kg
  • Leg ham – $13 – $22 per kg
  • Prawns – $27 – $30 per kg

 

Start looking for your meat earlier in the year for huge storage savings

Finding marked down meat is like a jackpot for a budget shopper, but you’re unlikely to strike gold in the lead up to Christmas. The type of meats you’ll be looking for will be in too high demand to stay on the shelves.

The solution…for next year? Simple. Don’t wait until December to buy your Christmas meat.

Meat can stay safe and delicious for ages when it is frozen. Be on the lookout for the type of meat you want before the holiday season and you will be able to massively bring down your Christmas lunch costs.

On top of that, buying your meat earlier in the year means you won’t be taking the full budget hit in December.

Listed below are the ‘safe’ zones for how long to leave different meats in your freezer. Meat will actually stay safe to eat for much longer but the quality won’t be as good when it comes time to eat.

Christmas meat freezing times:

  • Ham – 2 months – Start looking late October
  • Pork or lamb chops – 3 months – Start looking late September
  • Fish and other types of seafood – 3 months – Start looking late September
  • Pork or lamb roast – 4 months – Start looking late August
  • Whole chicken, turkey or any other poultry – 12 months – buy and freeze any time of year for Christmas
  • Game meats (rabbit or venison) – 8 months – start looking late April

 

Look in the right places for the right price

If you’re too late to buy your Christmas meat and freeze it, don’t worry. There are other ways to get your meat cheap, you just need to know where to look.

Exactly where to go will be different depending on where in Australia you are based, but use the below as a rough guide to finding the places with the cheapest prices.

Fresh produce markets

    • The beauty of shopping in the meat section at produce markets is that even during the busiest times of the years the stalls are all competing with each other. This keeps prices low. The bigger the market the better.
    • Avoid produce markets in affluent areas as they tend to be smaller and more boutique.
    • If you’re willing to roll the dice, waiting until the end of the day can lead to great deals on meat before it is thrown out (just be prepared for the fact you might miss out entirely)
  • HOT TIP: If possible, find a market in your city’s ‘Chinatown’ or equivalent area. The families that run these stores in these type of markets often come from cultures that don’t traditionally celebrate Christmas, so you are more likely to avoid the ‘festive tax’.

 

Meat Wholesalers

  • Meat wholesalers can be hit and miss in terms of lower prices, and the Christmas demand might mean you might not get exactly what you want, but if you’re willing to do the research, you can still grab prices that are well below the mainstream prices.

Budget supermarkets

    • Aldi and Costco are gaining momentum in Australia. If there is one near you it is worth checking out. Their prices are usually cheaper than the big two chains.
  • NOTE: Costco is a members-only supermarket so you will need to sign up or find a friend with a membership to shop there.

 

Buying seafood straight from the source

  • Fish and seafood is easy to buy right from the people that catch it.
  • Any fishing town will have their produce for sale down on the pier at wholesale prices.
  • Often in the days before Christmas these markets will stay open longer and offer great specials.

Options for vegetarian mains

Gone are the days where vegetarians should have to just fill up on sides at Christmas lunch.

There are plenty of ‘main-course’ style dishes that can be made for Christmas day, which are vego friendly but are also a pretty great way to downgrade the cost of your Christmas lunch.

 

Tofu Turkey

This is a classic vegetarian Christmas alternative that has been around since the 1980s and it is exactly what it sounds like: tofu shaped like a turkey.

They aren’t cheap to buy premade but it is straightforward enough to create one yourself instead. Ensure you buy your tofu from a specialist Asian grocery store as the prices will be much cheaper than at a supermarket. At these stores a kilogram of tofu will cost you between $5.50 and $8 per kilogram.

That may not sound significantly cheaper than real turkey meat, but remember when you’re buying tofu, 100% of it is edible. You’re not paying for bones, gristle or any other bits and pieces.

Check out this recipe for a comprehensive guide on how to make your own homemade tofurkey.

 

Nut Roast/Vegetable Wellingtons

The difference between a main course meal and a side dish, is that a main course is something that you can sit on the table and everyone will look at it and say, “What’s that?!”

That’s what you get with a nut roast.

The variety of delicious ingredients that can go into this dish makes it an awesome option for a meat-free main and is likely to sway more than a few committed meat-eaters too.

Check out this article for a good overview of the basics and if you’re looking for something particularly epic, check out this amazing creation (be warned though, it is not light on prep-time).

 

Quiche/Pies/Savoury Tarts

If you’re low on talent in the kitchen, it might be better to just keep your meat-free main simple. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still make it delicious. Check out selected recipes below for easy to make options:

 

The sides

To stay with our wrapped-gift metaphor, the vegetables and side dishes can be thought of as stocking stuffers: cheap and simple but often where you can find some of Christmas’ best surprises.

The right side dish is an opportunity to impress your guests with your creativity while using mostly low-cost ingredients. There are so many recipes online to choose from and you can put a range of flavours on the table.

Make some dishes cheesy, hearty and starchy and others fresh light and delicious. The general rule of thumb is one carbohydrate-rich / starchy dish to every two leafy salads. Click here for some sidespiration (warning: this link will elicit involuntary salivation).

 

Gravy

If you’re not exactly riding the gravy train right now, why not save a few bucks by making it from scratch instead?

Once you’ve got the dripping from your roast, making gravy is cheap, easy and a thousand times better than store bought. All you need to add is butter and flour and then whatever other flavourings take your fancy. Maybe some salt, a little red wine and don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang.

If you want to go a little more fancy here is a pretty serious recipe with only a handful more ingredients. But our advice is, as always, keep it simple!

Here are a few tips on what not to do when it comes to making gravy.

 

Drinks

Most people will BYO drinks to a Christmas lunch. However,  it’s not unusual to feel like you want to provide some champagne or something else special to get everyone in the right spirit.

Whilst this is a nice thought, if you’re struggling to stay within budget – it’s an unnecessary expense.

But, if you just can’t bear the thought of not providing some sort of refreshments, don’t leave it to the last minute. Shop the specials and do your research so you get the best quality for what you spend.

Or even better, start your own tradition and make your own special ‘Christmas Cheer’ from scratch.

Try this recipe out for size*:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of whisky (750ml)
  • 900ml of thickened cream
  • 3 cans of condensed milk
  • 3 tbsps of chocolate topping
  • Coconut essence – a few drops to taste

Steps:

  1. Whisk all together..bottle and refrigerate.

It may not sound budget friendly at first but this recipe makes three bottles. Having a ‘special’ Christmas drink is a nice touch for the day (and it will give you something to look forward to as a nightcap).

Dessert

Everyone always leaves room for dessert, right?

Well, Christmas lunch may be the one meal of the year where that isn’t quite so true but everyone will still find a way to fit it in.

Desserts can take just as much time to make as anything in the main meal but they have a couple of key advantages which make them the ideal part of your Christmas lunch to cash in your ‘helper’ credits.

  • Desserts can be made beforehand
  • Desserts can be easily transported from one place to another.

If your guests bring one dessert option per carload, that will be more than enough to finish off the amazing spread you’ve just put on.

So remember, when you first ‘decide’ Christmas lunch will be at your place, and the inevitable question “is there anything I can bring?” gets asked, don’t brush it off. Embrace it.

After all, you’re doing everything else.

 

General Tips for Christmas Lunch

Here are some more great tips, to not just save on the cost of your Christmas lunch, but also make sure it goes as smoothly as possible.

 

Don’t make more than necessary

Food wastage is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to hosting large meals. Sure, you want to impress your guests (and yes Christmas leftovers are the best) but if you’re really stretching every last dollar it is better to be realistic about how much food is necessary.

It’s worth doing some research by consulting a portion planner.

Remember: every Christmas lunch host worries about not cooking enough food and they’re rarely right.

 

Smart budgeting

Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean you should stop budgeting.

Set yourself a limit and stick to it. We get creative when we have to stay within limitations. But without restrictions, things can get out of hand especially when buying food for a much larger group of people than we are used to.

 

Be prepared before the day

Do as much preparation beforehand as you can. For example, plenty of sides can be made several nights before and stored in the fridge.

There are also heaps of products you can purchase weeks in advance such as table crackers, canned goods, dried fruit etc. You can order most of these things online, where it’s easy to compare prices and seek out a bargain.

 

Know your limits

Don’t try an extravagant meal for the very first time on Christmas day. No matter how many fingers and toes you cross, if things go wrong, you’ll end up serving baked beans to the table (unless you’re trying to avoid hosting Christmas ever again).  

 

Have something for everyone

Don’t forget to ask your guests for their dietary requirements well in advance. There’s nothing worse than forgetting about that one guest who just happens to be allergic to every food you’ve prepared or find you have nothing for your niece who has recently converted to a strict raw vegan diet.

Be warned: there will undoubtedly be at least one uncle who’ll tell you he’s on a “seafood diet (I see food and I eat it)”.

Enjoy yourself

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun. Sometimes it’s the things that don’t go as planned that make for the best stories. It’s Christmas. Have a laugh. Enjoy yourself.

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

*Nimble supports the responsible service of alcohol. Drink responsibly.

Christmas presents that mean MORE and cost LESS

Society places so much emphasis on what things are worth.

But in reality, price often has little to do with the personal value of an item. This is super important to remember as we rush towards Christmas, cringing as we take a peek at our latest credit card statements. Sometimes all it takes is a little imagination to find a gift that will make your friends and family beam with joy, without having to spend a small fortune.  

We’ve come up with five thoughtful Christmas present hacks to make your loved ones happy and your bank account even happier.

1)     Nailing the sentimental gift for anyone

We humans are social creatures. If there’s one constant about our nature, it’s that we love to be loved. There is nothing sweeter than receiving a gift that demonstrates how much someone knows and cares about us.  

Remember, the significance is all in the detail. There will be something unique and special about all your relationships but the key is to find a way to easily identify what that is…

So, how about this…list all your favourite memories involving them and use this list to enable you to come up with a way to turn them into sentimental present ideas.

Still struggling? We’ve put together some examples to to help get the creative juices flowing:

  • Is there a specific quote they often say that everyone loves? Get it printed on a set of tea towels or a cushion.
  • Were you always listening to music together during car trips? Make a Spotify playlist or CD with all the songs you both loved.
  • Do you have any in-jokes? Maybe a phrase you always text each other or something that references your group chat banter? Get it printed on a coffee cup or t-shirt.
  • Did you bond over a hobby or activity? Frame the scorecard from your first fun night out bowling or playing glow-in-the-dark mini golf, or get a personalised trophy engraved for a new annual tournament that you both love!

Once you start, the ideas will flow. If you’re stuck for ways to transform a memory into a gift, simply Google the sentimental word, e.g. “coffee” or “surfing”, and then “sentimental gifts”.

2)     The DIY gift

We know what you’re thinking…this section is for those creatives who can take a piece of paper, some sticky tape, paddle pop sticks and construct some wall art. But fear not my less-skilled friends, you don’t have to be a craftsman or woman to make a DIY gift. The only skills you really need to master, are a bit of creative thinking and the art of Googling.

Here’s how to get cracking:

  • Write a list of what they like to wear, eat, see or do for fun.
  • Then write a list of things you would buy them if money were no obstacle.
  • Google DIY gift ideas using this list to direct your search (Pinterest is crammed full of great ideas).

If you’re going down the crafty route you can get started right away. But another great way to DIY is ‘upcycling’. Take a drive to your local op shop and find some old things that can be made new with a little bit of handiwork.

You’ll be amazed how things that once seemed like junk, suddenly take on new potential once you’ve seen what can be done. Old jars are perfect for making candles, rustic furniture can be sanded down and painted in funky colours and photo frames can even be painted in pastel colours to match the rumpus room.

Or you could take a more traditional idea and turn it on its head. Instead of a standard gift basket…why not build your own. Get a basket and fill it with fishing gear or things for the BBQ. In fact you can take any gift idea and simply add a creative twist using your list.

Voila, Christmas shopping is done!

3)     The practical gift

The above ideas are great for anyone who loves imaginative gifts, but what about your more “sensible” friends and family members?

This is where the practical gift comes in handy. You’re probably thinking, “but I don’t want to just buy them socks and undies!”

Well, practicality and creativity don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Spend some time thinking about who you’re buying for and the things they use daily. This way you’re not only giving them something that won’t go to waste, but your gift will seem customised and thoughtful.

Put your detective hat on and discreetly take a look around their house (make sure they’re home first, obviously). What hairspray brand do they use? What magazines do they read? What tea do they drink? Do they need stationery?

Now, if that doesn’t scream: “I know you”, I don’t know what does!

4)     The gift of time

You’ve won TattsLotto and you can afford a full-time servant, what is the first thing you would get them to do? Clean those cobwebs? Fix that toilet? Massage your feet? (Do servants do that? Doesn’t hurt to ask, I guess).

Pretty nice fantasy, huh?

Well, perhaps your friends, family and loved ones would feel the same way. If, currently, you don’t have much in the way of money, why not offer another valuable resource you may be rich in…YOUR time! You can use a nifty gift certificate program, such as JukeBoxPrint to show you mean business.

Take advantage of the lists you created in the previous sections to think up ways to tailor your time specifically to what they’d like most.

If you know they’d just love to spend time with you, you could give them a voucher for a day of hiking, followed by their favourite treat, or a night watching movies of their choice, and you aren’t allowed to protest once!

Or combine your gift of time with your gift of practicality, and give them a voucher for X number of hours of your labour. It could go to helping them finally sort out their shed or spare room, paint their study, or weed their vege patch. Better yet, if you know there is a task they really want done, do it on Christmas Eve and the finished product can be your gift the next morning.

5)     The supportive gift

Check that list one more time. Is there anything they aspire to do but haven’t got around to it, due to a lack of resources, information or even confidence?

Why not give them a nudge with a gift that supports them in pursuing their dreams?

Perhaps they’ve always wanted to take up a new hobby such as sewing, fishing or learning a new language, but they’re not sure where to start. There’s a huge range of informative books available for these purposes. You could even spend time collating the most useful information online and printing out a DIY booklet yourself.

If they don’t lack the resources to follow their dreams but they need the confidence to take that next step, you could find them a book on how to face their fears. If they’re unhappy at work but not sure where to go next, you could buy them a book on how to find their purpose. If they complain about being bored on the weekends you could buy them a book on weekend adventures.

Books sound a bit too boring? There are a bunch of free university courses online. You could do the research for them, find the right course and register them for it. Remove self-doubt and time from the equation and give them the boost they need to pursue their aspirations!

If you use any of these tips this Christmas, we’d love to hear about it. Post in the comments section below about what tip you used, what gift you gave and how it was received on the day.

 

You should read this bit: Sometimes we use links in our blogs that belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website, meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in our blog posts. The information in our blog posts is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

12 tactics to bust your grocery bill

Do you feel like every trip to the supermarket ends up costing more than you expected?

Grocery bills are the number one area you can save on in your weekly budgets. All it takes is a little bit of planning and some great habits to start feeding you and your family for much less.

So, here are our top 12 supermarket saving tactics to make it happen.

 

1) Meal Plan Around Sales Catalogues

By planning your meals you can quickly get a handle on your grocery budgets.

A fixed list of items helps you know exactly what you need to buy for the week and keeps your budget from blowing out.

Sounds easy enough, right… but you can also take it a step further by shopping to weekly sales catalogues.

Meal planning around the best deals can make a huge difference and as an added bonus, you’ll get to try a variety of different foods!

 

2) Buy Home Brands

When buying products with plain packaging you can feel like you’re skimping out, but in many cases, home-brand products actually come from the same factories as popular name brands.

But not all home-brand products measure up in quality. So how do you find the hidden gems?

Why not try this:

Every shop, make a point of picking up one new home-branded item. If you don’t like the taste, putting up with it for a week isn’t the end of the world and you can go back to your old-faithful name-brand. But if you can’t tell the difference, you’ve found one more way to save!

 

3) Don’t Shop When Everyone Else Does!

Shopping at peak times equals more and more money spent!

Why?

Because trying to work your trolley around seven shoppers with prams to get a couple cans of crushed tomatoes makes you rush and decision-making tends to suffer.

Studies show that the quietest days at the supermarket are Monday and Tuesday.

However, it is worth considering Wednesday for the weekly shop, despite the fact it’s a bit busier. This is the day when supermarkets kick-off their new weekly specials.

Great specials sell fast, and missing out will throw your meal planning completely out of whack, so don’t wait!!

 

4) Buy Small for the Little Ones

When you buy fruit, it makes sense that you are drawn to the biggest and juiciest pieces.

Choosing one big apple instead of two smaller ones means you pay for less of the stuff you throw out and get more of the juicy fruit.

But if you’re buying for packed lunches and snacks, one apple is generally enough, no matter how big or small it is.

Look for the smaller fruit and you’ll get more individual pieces for the exact same price.

 

5) Only Buy Discounted Items if You Actually Need Them

Specials tempt us but you should always ask: “Do I need this and would I buy this if it wasn’t on sale?”

If a deal doesn’t contribute to your weekly meal plan, it’s just a waste of money dressed up as savings.

 

6) Stock Up on Specials

Great specials on long-life products don’t mean much if you only buy enough for the next week or so. By the next time you visit the supermarket, the deal will be over and you’ll be back to paying full price.

So why not buy a couple months’ worth? You bump up the savings and all you sacrifice in the long run is a bit of pantry space.

 

7) Use Unit Pricing

By checking the unit price (price per unit of measure) you can compare what you are actually getting for your money ‘pound-for-pound’.

Packaging is often designed to make it seem like you’re getting more than you actually are – especially with the more expensive name-brands.

A study showed that shoppers who were educated about unit pricing saved an average of 17-18% on their weekly shop, so start comparing and saving today.

 

8) Never Shop on an Empty Stomach

Research shows that shopping when you’re hungry means you buy more, even when it comes to non-food items.

Our hunger tells our brain that you need to buy something, and it doesn’t really care what.

Everything looks more delicious when you’re hungry, so you should always shop well-fed.

 

9) Make Meals from Scratch

Pre-prepared meals from the supermarket can be tempting for their convenience but they are usually less healthy and always significantly more expensive.

Instead, cook easy-freeze meals in large batches and store in single size portions. After a hard day at work, pulling a homemade meal out of the freezer is just as satisfying as eating a store bought one.

 

10) Create Seasonal Recipes

Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they’re in season.

  • Tomatoes can cost as little as $3 a kilo in January and as much as $7 in June.
  • Pink lady apples can be less than $2 a kilo in the winter but can spike above $4 in January
  • Depending on growing conditions lettuce has shown to increase in price by up to 500% in winter

Tailoring our meal plans to match produce that is currently in season is a natural and healthy way to save throughout the year.

 

11) Spot a Real Deal When You Know Where to Start!

Finding the best specials is a lot easier when you know what items usually cost.

Not every great deal is printed on a piece of yellow paper with big red capital letters.

While Coles and Woolworths rarely miss a chance to tell us when they’ve marked something down, the independents can have a less structured approach to pricing and if you’re not across normal pricing you can miss out on some great savings.

 

12) Shop Alone To Save

The tips above are great, but you will never nail them all unless you shop alone.

Whilst it might be fun to shop with your friends, it’s a surefire way to spend up a storm.

As soon as you add another person things get complicated. They will have different ideas of what ‘important purchases’ are. Even if you’re both trying to be frugal, it won’t be long until there are things in the trolley that weren’t on the list.

And that’s the first warning sign of ‘budget creep’.

 

Do you have any other great tips on how to get the most out of your weekly supermarket budget? We’d love to hear about them in the comment section below.

 

You should read this bit: The above links belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in this blog post. The information in this blog post is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.

2017 EOFY Tax Tips: Getting Your Finances in Order

As June 30th draws closer and the end of financial year looms on the calendar, now is once again the time to prepare for that annual meeting with your trusty accountant. Whilst you might think that tax deductions are the exclusive domain of high flyers and big business honchos, anyone who works for a living (i.e. salaried employees) is entitled to claim them. Whether it’s been a particularly busy or expensive year for you with work-related expenses galore, or just the regular course of events, it never hurts to collect those receipts you’ve been diligently stuffing away in a shoebox and get something back from the taxman. To help you get tax fit for FY 2017-18, we’ve put together two simple steps anyone can follow.

1. Collect Receipts & Track Your Expenses 

The first step for getting a handsome tax return at the end of financial year is to collect all relevant receipts and track all expenses relating to your work or source(s) of income. Since Australian tax law allows the deduction of any expenses incurred in generating an income, including taking your 9-5 work home with you, this is by far your best way to bring home the bacon after June 30! Thanks to the power of smartphones, collecting receipts and tracking your expenses has been made super-easy with these nifty apps:

  •  Concur (Desktop & Smartphone) – A handy tool allowing you to automate your travel and work-related expenses in addition to managing invoices. The ability to take a photo of a receipt to store for later is our favourite feature.
  •  Pocketbook (Smartphone)Pocketbook is a powerful personal budgeting app that allows you to track and categorise all of your spending.
  •  TrackMySpend (Smartphone) – Developed by ASIC, TrackMySpend does just that, helping you keep tabs on where your money goes for tax time.

2. Minimise Your Tax Liability (Legally of Course)! 

Having sorted out your shoebox of receipts, the next step is to book an appointment with a qualified tax accountant after June 30 so you can make the most out of any tax deductions you’re eligible for, whilst minimising the risk of landing on the wrong side of the ATO! In the meantime, here’s a few more things you can do before the end of financial year:

  • Bring forward any big work-related expenses before June 30

Big expenses like buying new work uniforms, laptops or equipment are all legitimate tax deductions, which can be instantly written-off up to the value of $20,000. Even enrolling into work-related courses or seminars can be tax deductible, meaning the possibility of extra cash in the bank!

  •  Claim all relevant tax deductions

Another thing to keep in mind is the large list of legitimate tax deductions available to all Australian employees, which the ATO details here. Many of these deductible expenses are generated during day-to-day employment and can include the following items:

  • Education expenses (attending industry conferences, seminars, enrollment fees etc)
  • Internet and mobile phone connections (a portion reflecting work-related usage)
  • Home office equipment costs (computers, printers, telephones etc)
  • Home office running expenses (heating, cooling, lighting, cleaning, carpet wear & tear etc)
  • Vehicle expenses (fuel, work-related travel etc) (a portion reflecting work-related usage)

Need a little extra help paying for that new laptop or seminar before EOFY 2017? Or how about bringing forward some of your other work-related expenses to keep your hard earned cash in your back pocket instead of handing it over to the taxman (and no, Jimmy Choo doesn’t make steel capped boots!)? Check out our smart little cash loans from Nimble!

 

You should read this bit: The above post contains links to a variety of application software (“App, Apps”) that is not affiliated or associated with Nimble. We do not have any control or responsibility over the content of the Apps. Use of the Apps may be subject to further terms and conditions imposed by the App provider, the owner of the mobile operating system and/or other related parties. The above links belong to a variety of websites and not Nimble, so clicking on, and using them, will take you away from Nimble’s website meaning we’ve got no control or responsibility over the content. Nimble does not endorse and is not affiliated or associated in any way whatsoever to the businesses named in this blog post. The information in this blog post is general information only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. For tax advice relating to your specific financial situation, Nimble recommends seeking the services of a qualified Australian tax accountant. The information contained in this blog is correct at the date of publication.