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Relationships and Money at Christmas

Christmas time has the highest divorce rate throughout the entire year and when you think about it, it is easy to understand why. We spend time driving to see people we don’t really like, we over spend on the smallest of things, worry about what we can and cannot afford and generally don’t want to disappoint anyone, and someone always ends up disappointed.

When asked, “what does money mean to you”, the common answers are freedom and happiness. But what does it really mean? Relationships and money are not always best friends. The perceived power of money often complicates things in relationships. Who earns more, who spends more and who wants more. The answers cause conflict and often end in divorce especially when compounded with other things.

As Tony Robbins once said, “Nothing in life has any meaning except the meaning you give it”, meaning, money has no meaning. So if that’s the case, why are relationships and money the basis of so much trouble?

So consider this, what does money mean to you? Does it mean love; expensive presents mean I am loved and I will love more. Does it mean self-worth; if I have an abundance of money I am someone. Does it mean survival; it pays for my food and pays for my roof and four walls around me.

When you truly understand what money means to you your current relationship with money will start to change and you can address the incongruence. Although, it is always easier to blame the lack of money, isn’t it?

Depression, divorce, suicide, terminal illnesses etc still catch up with those that have an abundance of money. No one person is singled out and those lucky enough to win the lotto are not all of a sudden sustainably happier. Research shows that those who win the lotto are almost miserable. Instant expectations and having to keep up with those Jones’ cause just as many problems.

So the next time you disagree on money with your loved ones, think about what money means to you and what the real disagreement is about. You might find it has nothing to do with money at all.

Tip #30: How I’m saving $25,000+ in 2015

Today, on this last post of the Challenge, I decided to write down some of the ways I’m saving money in 2015. Alone, each doesn’t seem like much. Together, they add up to a rough estimate of about $25,000 of savings in 2015 — a relatively high number.

Remember, these are tips that work for me. The key has been to take my lifestyle, then fit these tips into them — not try to force 153 changes in spending on day 1. Sure, I’ve changed my behaviour, but it’s been a slow process. If you’re just starting to save money, I encourage you to take your current behaviour and set small milestones…like optimizing what you’re currently doing, before you decide to change your entire financial behaviour.

 1. Whenever possible, I buy airfare for family and friends so I can earn significant amounts of points (usually they reimburse me).

2. Any time I purchase something over $100 (roughly), or any time I travel, I review the deals offered by my credit card company, insurer, workplace. In particular, when you’re travelling, the deal doesn’t end when you get to the check-in.

3. This seems like a minor point, but if you don’t have all your account information in one place, it’s a huge barrier to finding deals and among them. Personally, I hate having to search around for all my account logins.

4. Any time I buy something online, I take 20 seconds to search for a coupon, which usually saves me 10%-25% off.

5. I call all major service providers (cable, mobile phone, insurance, etc) and negotiate them down. They don’t like this! If you’re not comfortable with this, find a friend who might want to do this for you.

6. When I buy major purchases like mobiles, cars, or even coats, I buy the best and hold it for the long term. That sounds obvious, but most people who buy really nice stuff like to buy nice stuff all the time, meaning they never keep something for the long term. 

7. I work on entrepreneurial side projects that are fun and may someday be profitable. 8. I perform regular maintenance on my car. Extremely regular, with extreme documentation, so that when I sell the car, I’ll be able to show how strict I am with documentation for big purchases.

9. I just set up automatic withdrawal to my savings account. This is the simplest and most effective technique of all. If you set up $100/month to your savings account, you will save $100/month

Tip #29: Stop being silly and pay money to save money

Today’s tip is to spend money on things that will save you money in the long term.

Too many people think that “saving money” is about cutting costs relentlessly until they can cut no more. And then…what? Who wants to live like that?

I’ve been crystal clear that when you buy things you want, you should focus on the value, not the cost.

“Saving money,” as I’ve described in this Challenge, is about cutting costs, earning more, and optimizing your existing spending. Instead of constantly looking for ways to cut your spending, sometimes it’s ok to actually spend more in the short term if you’re saving in the long term. This is a bewildering and frightening thought to many people, most of whom don’t read personal-finance blogs.

A great example of this is something like the Entertainment Book (or any coupon book). They sell for around $40 however after one meal you can make that back again, with the amount you saved on the meal.

In this simple example, it’s easy to see that the money you spend will be directly made up. Still, many people don’t even want to spend for something where the ROI is so clear. For many people, buying something to save money down the road is unfathomable, confusing, and just plain weird. Those people are crazy and need to understand that long-term savings are still savings, even if you spend a little money right now.

Total savings $20 to $1,000

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Tip #28: Use price-protection guarantees to always get the lowest price

Today’s tip is to use a featured called “price protection” whenever possible, which lets you protect yourself from price drops. In plain terms: If you buy something and the price goes down, the company will refund you the difference.

Price protection is something you hardly ever hear about, but it tends to be applicable to very expensive purchases…meaning you can save a lot. Here’s how it works: When you make a purchase, occasionally the price will drop shortly thereafter. (For example, on flights, or if you bought the original iPhone and the new 3G iPhone came out a few days later.)

The trick is, many times you can often get refunded the difference. If you imagine a flight dropping $200 (which is very possible), or a new computer dropping $100, that can add up quickly.

Since I love making purchases on line I haven’t used the price protection offer yet. But one day, I have a bright dream that I will purchase something offline and avail myself of the generosity of the corporate automatons out there.

Note: Don’t do this for $20 purchases. Don’t waste your time. Just focus on the big 5-10 purchases you make per year and optimize those.

Total savings $20 to $100

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Tip #27: Use barriers to prevent yourself from spending money

Strategically put some barriers in your way to ensure you save money.

In my opinion there are two types of barriers; Active barriers, the kind that stop you from doing something, and passive barriers, whose absence actually stops you from getting things done.

 Active barriers are physical things like the plastic wrap on food, or someone telling me that it’ll never work, etc. These are hard to identify, but easy to fix. I usually just make them go away.

Passive barriers are things that don’t exist, so they make your job harder. A trivial example is not having a stapler at your desk; imagine how many times a day that gets frustrating. For me, these are harder to identify and also harder to fix. I might rearrange my room to be more productive, or get myself a better pen to write with, etc.

If you find yourself spending too much on shopping, make it harder for yourself to shop! Unsubscribe from all magazines and email lists you’re on. The simple fact is, if things are automatic, you will do them. You can determine whether these automatic things are good or bad.

Key point: Don’t just look for where you’re spending today. That’s surface-level. Look deeper to see what’s causing you to spend, and if you decide you don’t want to continue, then eliminate those causes.

Total savings $20 to $100

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Tip #26: Gardener? Cleaning lady? DIY instead

Get rid of one service provider you’re currently using (a house cleaner, dog groomer, lawn mower etc.) and learn to do it yourself instead. This is a small step to take, that can amount to huge savings over the long run. And yes, it’s targeted at people who may be using a cleaning lady, gardener, etc.

Perhaps asking the cleaning lady to clean on a fortnightly basis might be the first step. Getting your children involved and making it a family event to clean your own mess can be quite satisfying.

Cleaning can be fun for the kids. Making games up like, who can vacuuming the fastest, gets the job done quicker but also teaches them for their adult life that they need to do this for themselves.

To apply this tip, think about all of the things you’re paying someone else to do that you might be able to do on your own. For example, instead of paying to get your oil changed, learn some auto maintenance and do it yourself. Or:

  • Do your own nails.
  • Cook your own meals.
  • Get rid of your personal trainer or gym membership altogether – run or bike instead.

By the way, as a trick to make this actually work, I’d suggest just picking one provider and cutting costs deeply, rather than cutting costs 10% across a few different providers. This can be either quitting cold-turkey, or extending the time between visits.

Total savings $20 to $100

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Tip #25: Earn more money using your God-given skills

If there are no contractual conflicts with your place of employment then freelancing on the side could make you a little more money. It sounds harder than it actually is.

When it comes to your money you have two levers to control; Making more (revenue) and spending less (costs). Most of us only think about cutting costs, resulting in frugality websites that frantically try to out-do each other with the most inane and meaningless tips of all. Don’t eat out at all! Scrape foil off the sidewalk and use it to pack your lunch! Ok, I’m sure I’ll do that.

We forget about the lever of earning more money, which is the most powerful of all. You can do this in a bunch of ways:

  • Negotiate your salary at work
  • Start a second job (yes, about 4 billion people in the world do this…instead of reading blogs)
  • Freelance for something you’re very good at

And on and on.

The money is there, but it’s really hard to get the initiative to try to earn more money as we don’t usually know what we would do.

Email all of your friends and let them know you’re looking for a position. Tell them specifically what you’re (1) looking for, (2) what skills you have, and (3) put it in an email that they can just forward. A friend of mine does this and they receive a lot of writing jobs that usually fit in with their usual working week.

Total savings $100 to $1,000

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Tip #24: Cut your commute expenses by 40%

Today’s tip is to cut your commute expenses by 40% using two techniques: Carpooling and working from home.

#1: Carpool

We spend incredible amounts of money and time commuting when we could be spending the money on something more useful and spending the time doing something a little more beneficial. Telling you to leave the car at home and ride your bike is ridiculous! Most of us like driving to work because we like having our car handy. And who wants to sit on a smelly train in the middle of summer anyway.

So I propose you try something a different. Try carpooling a couple of days a week. If you work in a large office then the chances are you work with people that live in the same direction as yourself. If you go to the gym, then again, the chances are people live near you.

 This tip is also great to meet new people that share a similar interest as you (work, gym etc).

 #2: Work from home

Oh how I wish! Consider asking your boss to work from home.

The disciplined people amongst us can actually improve our productivity by working at home. We all know it’s quieter at home and we have less interruptions so why not squeeze more work into your already busy working day.

Imagine how impressed your Boss would be if you got more work done in the same amount of time.

Imagine how impressed you would be if you save a little as well.

Total savings $100 to $300

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Tip #23: Go cash-only for 15 to 30 days

Today’s challenge is to use cash during the 30 Day Challenge. “CREDIT CARDS ARE NOT ALWAYS BAD!!!!!” Most people who recommend using cash recommend using only cash, because they think that credit cards are evil. They are wrong.

 

Credit cards can be extremely useful because they offer consumer protection, tons of bonuses, financial automation, and they’re an interest-free loan if you pay them off in time. Most importantly, if you use them responsibly, you build your credit. And if you think credit doesn’t matter, take a look at how much it would cost you to get a home loan these days:

 

The trade-off with using credit cards, of course, is that it’s much easier to overspend. I wish I could quote you research on whether credit cards cause more spending, but the data is biased.

Using cash only means that you become a conscious spender about what you pay for and what you buy. There’s no delay with cash, it makes you think straight away about whether you actually need what you’re about to buy or not.

 

When you withdraw the cash from your account you only withdraw a limited amount and watch it dwindle. When it starts to decrease in your wallet, it’s a little painful to watch it go. Each dollar you physically spend will cause you pain…the good kind of pain.

 

Total savings $50 to $200

 

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Tip #22: Analyze your progress in the 30 Day Challenge & celebrate the small wins

We are almost at the end. Phew! Let’s look back to where we started and how far you have come.

It’s easy to get caught up in the details of any goal, so let’s step back and try to evaluate how we’re doing and what the positives have been.

What were your goals when you started the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge? Was it actually $1,000 or was it less/more?

So, let’s evaluate and ask yourselves;

  • How much have you saved?
  • Have you really tried your hardest? If not, could you double your efforts over the next few days to finish off the 30 Day Challenge?

 

To recap, here’s a full list of our challenges so far:
Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week

Tip #2: Turn your thermostat down 3 degrees – it’s not winter anymore!

Tip #3: Sell something on eBay today

Tip #4: Involve your family and friends in your challenge

Tip #5: Optimise your phone bill

Tip #6: Use petrol prices to become your own hedge fund

Tip #7: Create a “No Spending” day once a week

Tip #8: Minimise Subscriptions

Tip #9: Only buy new things when replacing something old

Tip #10: Use the free rewards from your credit card, car insurance

Tip #11: Never pay full retail price for clothes (or eyeglasses) again

Tip #12: Eating out can save you money

Tip #13: How to negotiate lower car insurance

Tip #14: Use self-persuasion to share how much you’ve saved so far

Tip #15: Forget going to a bar – ask people over for dinner

Tip #16: Cancel any large purchases this month

Tip #17: Buy generic for the stuff you don’t care about

Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year

Tip #19: Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in less than half an hour

Tip #20: Change the date of Christmas or school holidays

Tip #21: Save thousands by pre-paying your debt

 

My experience during the 30 Day Challenge
Finally, let me share how I’ve been doing.

 

Following Tip #1, I didn’t just pack for that week. I have packed since that day and what a difference it has made! I’m eating healthier, more regularly and saving a bucket load of money!

 

Tip #15 was my favourite. I have had people at my house every weekend and I have such a great time cooking for everyone.

 

What was your favourite tip?

 

So that’s how I’ve been doing during this Challenge. How about you?

Last thing to do

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Tip #21: Save thousands by pre-paying your debt

Who likes paying interest? Not me! So let’s try and save a little by paying extra off your loan each month. Because loans are usually large amounts spread out over many years, the savings can be significant. The longer the loan, the more you save.

Let’s say you have a $10,000 car loan, at a 6.8% interest rate and a 10-year repayment period. If you go with the standard monthly payment you’ll pay around $115 a month. But look at how much you’ll save in interest if you just pay $100 more each month:

Monthly Payments Total Interest Paid Potential Savings
$115 $3810 $0
$215 $1,640 $2,169
$315 $1,056 $2,754
$415 $782 $3,027

If you don’t think you can part with an extra $25 per week just remember, even $20 more per month can save you SIGNIFICANT amounts of money. Note: Remember one of our earlier challenges “You have $100 extra per month. Should you pay off your mortgage?” well, the answer is yes! The point is, if can contribute even a small amount per month — whether to investments or any loans — the benefits can be huge.

Total savings $500 to $2000 

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Tip #20: Change the date of Christmas or School Holidays

I really dislike travelling during the holidays. Packed airports, delayed or cancelled flights, bad weather, traffic jams on the highway and miserable attitudes — this isn’t a great start to the holidays, surely.

We all know when you get married the price of everything miraculously increases. Well, it does during the holidays too. Why does the same hotel room cost more during the holidays? What’s so different about the room? Nothing!

By changing the date of your holidays and travelling outside of peak times you can save yourself and your family a fortune! Suddenly that hotel room goes from $250 per night to $180 a night. Now if you’re staying somewhere for 7 nights that’s $490 worth of savings right there.

Surcharges at restaurants suddenly disappear and flight prices drop.

The additional luxury of travelling outside of peak dates is that there aren’t as many people. Standing in lines doesn’t take as long, finding a car park doesn’t take as long and the beach is free to run around on.

Now THAT is a great holiday!

Total savings $500 to $2000

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Tip #19: Save Money, Eat Well and Look Hot in Less Than an Hour

In the last 18 days we have given you tips to buy generics, stop large purchases, have people over to your home and go without Christmas gifts. Now we need to add some fun to this savings challenge!

So, how exactly do you indulge a champagne taste on a beer budget?

CLOTHES

Don’t waste your time in shops that sell their clothes at ridiculously expensive prices, similarly don’t go too cheap otherwise you will only get a couple of wears out of your clothes before you have to give them to a charity.

Shop on line and save your time and money. The best part is that you can flick through the images and chose exactly what you want without having to rush and buy something you didn’t want. Think of your time cost and what you will save. Think of the cost of clothing and what you will save if you shop in the sale item section.

FOOD AND HOME

Eating fresh these days has more advantages than just keeping up with the latest fad. Buying organic can be expensive especially if you have a large family. Think outside the square on this one and you could find some great solutions.

Use ebay or similar sites to purchase things around the home. Usually the only compromise is the price, not the quality. Products are often delivered straight to your door and in their original packaging.

Local farmers markets or even local farms have beautiful fresh fruit and veggies and they are half the price of supermarkets. If you don’t have time try ordering your fruit and veggies online. Again, straight to your door and the quality is nothing but fresh.

Total savings $100 to $500 per month

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Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year

If you can bear it, don’t buy Christmas gifts this year and instead give something more meaningful this year.

Christmas gifts: The things we love to complain about, but hate to be honest about.

Can you even imagine calling your parents, your significant other or talking to your children about how you can’t afford to buy something this year? Of course not! And that’s how we incur exorbitant debt, starting off each new year with debt. Instead of planning to get ahead, we’re already clawing back from debt.

The point to the festive season is to spend time with those you love, not to buy expensive gifts that will probably end up at the bottom of their wardrobe. In fact, I’m willing to bet they’ll respect you more if you look them in the eye and say, “Look, things are really tough this year. I can’t buy you a gift like I want to, but I’d love to help you out around the house or host a dinner so we can catch up.”

If you have Children ask them to make something. Grandparents love that sort of stuff and it usually doesn’t end up at the bottom of the cupboard.

I mean it when I say that money is only a very small part of being rich and it’s an even smaller part of the holidays.

Total savings $500 to $2000 per month

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Tip #17: Buy generic for the stuff you don’t care about

Today’s tip is to buy generics for the stuff you don’t care about — while continuing to buy brand-name for the stuff you do care about.

The cost difference between generics and brand-name goods can be significant when you add it up, but the differences in quality have been steadily dropping for years. Yet we tend to buy what we know. We buy our CK underwear and wear our Nike shoes. It’s what we know for the things that are important to us.

If you want to save $1,000 this month, you have to prioritise what is important and what is not important to you because you can’t have the best of everything when you’re trying to save. So buy brand-name for the stuff you care about, and cut costs mercilessly on commodities you don’t care about by buying generic.

If I were to ask which of your purchases you don’t care about, what would you say? Do you care about shampoo and conditioner, pet food, toilet paper, where you live? Maybe you don’t really care about your bread but buy the most expensive because you don’t know any other brand. Most of us think like this.

We’re also hesitant to experiment with downgrading. Maybe it will work for you maybe it won’t, but the point is, you won’t know until you try.

Total savings $50 to $200 per month

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Tip #16: Cancel any large purchases this month

Stop! Stop! Stop! Cancel or defer any large purchase(s) you were planning for this month. You’re basically using time as a strategic barrier against yourself. 

It’s very simple:

New lawn mower – wait

New TV – wait

New dishwasher – wait

New car – wait

You can set a calendar reminder to check on it in 30 days.

A couple things will probably happen when you do this: First, prices will probably drop. Second, chances are you will realise you didn’t need it. How much easier do you think it will be to save once you have $1,000, or $5,000, sitting in your savings account? It becomes addictive and competitive as the weeks and months go on.

Try getting your immediate family involved. The pay-off for them will be greater if they get on board. If you’re cancelling getting a new BBQ, get your family involved to show them why you’re doing it and what pay-off they can expect. Perhaps you take them to the beach or a local park for a BBQ. An outing can sometimes be more rewarding than staying at home.

 Total savings $50 to $500 per month

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Tip #15: Forget going to a bar — ask people over for dinner

Instead of going out for dinner or drinks why not invite your friends and family over.  

When I thought of this tip, the first thing I thought was, if you’re in your 20’s you may not even know what a dinner party is. Drinks no problem, but dinner? Early 30’s might pose the following problems, there’s not enough space, not enough furniture, and not enough dishes — not to mention that I don’t know how to cook worth a damn, kids are messy etc etc.

BUT…this is one of the most cost-effective things you can do this month — even if you only do it once or twice. Let’s assume you spent $150 each time you go out, including fuel, drinks, food, misc (taxi / lending money you’ll forget to get back / snacks afterwards). Changing your spending pattern for just one of those can save you hundreds per year, not to mention hundreds per month if you go out often.

When you go out, the point is to socialise with your friends. Think back to just a few years ago, when you would drink out of a decomposing milk bottle and live in a 75-square-foot box with another human being. I’m sure you can suck it up and sit on a folding chair. But we have a bunch of excuses in our head as to why we can’t invite people over.

One last thing to make your life easy: If you’re supplying the food, don’t try to be Jamie Oliver. Just buy some pre-packaged foods and take it one step at a time. On your fourth or fifth event, you can try cooking.

 Total savings $150 to $600 per month

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Tip #14: Use self-persuasion to share how much you’ve saved so far

Write down how much you’ve saved so far, AND how you would motivate others to save. If this doesn’t seem like an obvious savings tip, let me share an experiment that social psychologist Kurt Lewin did to change behaviour.

In World War II, the United States was facing a serious meat shortage. The Committee on Food Habits was charged with figuring out how to keep Americans healthy without the same meat they’d been accustomed to — and instead eating intestine and kidneys — so they asked Lewin to help.

Lewin’s approach was brilliant. As Eliot Aronson writes in Age of Propaganda, Lewin convened groups of housewives, who at that time were the chief decision makers about food. He then split them into two groups:

Group 1 received a 45-minute lecture, which “emphasized the importance of eating these meats for the war effort; it stressed the meats’ health and economic advantages…the lecture concluded with a testimonial from the speaker about her success in serving intestinal meats to her own family.”3% of the attendees ended up serving intestinal meats to their families.

Group 2, by contrast, spent the same amount of time discussing the problem of a meat shortage, but in this experimental condition, Lewin did something extraordinarily clever: He asked them, “Do you think that housewives like yourselves could be persuaded to participate in the intestinal meat program?” The women then discussed how that might happen. In this group, “32% of the housewives who had engaged in self-persuasion served their families intestinal meats.”

That’s an astonishing difference, so let’s apply it here. Tell me how much you’ve saved, and how, so that together, we can encourage other people to save money.

Tip #13 How to negotiate lower car insurance

Why not try to negotiate lower car insurance. Most of us pick a rate once, then never go back again. But if you do, you can save hundreds of dollars each year.

First, check to see if you have your car insured for the right amount. Nobody teaches us about this stuff, so when you bought car insurance, you may not have known which coverage options to choose.

Second, figure out what kind of coverage you currently have and how much you’re paying. If you don’t have your current info in front of you, how can you hope to save? Either call your car insurance company or use their website.

Third, it’s time to start shopping around. Use the phone as most reps will tell you about deals and options that their websites don’t usually mention.

Fourth, be an expert caller by asking some of these questions.

  • How much would I save if I insure my car and house with you?
  • What about renewal discounts?
  • How long have I been a member with you?
  • What can you offer me as a discount for long-term membership?
  • Can I save money by pre-paying my entire year up front?
  • Let’s check my car. I know other firms offer discounts for features like anti-lock brakes. What about you?
  • What kind of low-mileage discounts do you offer?
  • If I enrolled in a defensive-driving course, what kind of discount would you offer?
  • What about discounts for my employer? (Tell them the specific name of your employer?)
  • Some insurance companies offer discounts for low-risk occupations (engineers). What kind of competitive rates do you offer?
  • Am I paying for roadside assistance?
  • What other additional “benefits” am I paying for?

Total savings: $25 to $100 per month

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Tip #12: Eating out can save you money

Using some services that offer incredibly steep discounts could mean that you do save. I eat out a lot, so this one is saving me tons of money.

You can get big discounts on eating out if you plan ahead and are willing to use coupons at a restaurant. If you live in a city and restaurants tend to be more expensive, saving 10% or 25% or 50% per meal — even once a week — can add up quickly. Here are the tips I’ve started using for a huge drop in my monthly spending on eating out.

1. Scoopon, Groupon, Living Social, OurDeal

Have a look at what the savings are and for what cuisines. Some restaurants only advertise here to get their name out.

2. The Entertainment Book
Remember these? They were pretty popular. They used to cost $40 and seemed unreasonably expensive…until I started looking at what I was saving by using these vouchers. Get your friends to buy one!

Total saved: $50 to $500

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Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #11: Never pay full retail price for clothes (or eyeglasses)

Use some great websites to purchase new clothing or eye-wear and never pay retail prices again.

Have a think about how much you spend per year on clothes? Carefully think about that question — if you buy a $300 jacket, for example, you’re spending a minimum of $25/month on clothes. You may not buy clothes that often and you could easily spend over $1,000 on clothes last year.

Now, if you’re a mum or you are on a strict budget, having to save money on clothes is nothing new. While these tips are applicable to everyone, they get the most mileage if you’re buying expensive clothes. What you’ll see below is that you can actually get the same clothes you buy at Myer— or better clothes — for a lower price.

Retail stores: Shopping at places like DFO or Harbour Town can mean that you save over 50% of the original marked price. Even Target can have cool clothes. Spend money on the things you love, but cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t care about. Prioritise your purchases.

Buying abroad: Instead of walking the streets of Rajouri Garden in Delhi, you can do all of those things from your computer. Zenni Optical offers eyeglasses at $25 (and they’re not the only one — search for “cheap eyeglasses“). You can get custom suits made for $200, and a local tailor in your area will make the final adjustments.

Buy clothes online: Buying online could mean you save in excess of 75% off buying it at stores — making it worth the experimentation. Plus, every retailer understands your hesitation to buy clothes online, so they make it insanely easy to return clothes. Places like eBay and Overstock.com. Also try Shop It To Me, which lets you enter your size/style and you’ll get targeted emails about exactly the clothes you’re looking for. Frankly, I’d recommend trying buying clothes online at least once.

Total savings $50 to $500

Last thing to do

Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #10: Use the free rewards from your credit card, car insurance and workplace

Why not start using the perks offered by your car insurance, credit card and even your job — the ones most people ignore.

Think about the places you belong to as a member: your credit card, car insurance, Costco, or your job. Each of these offers perks that most people ignore or don’t even know they have. By simply being a member, you get perks that can add up to thousands of dollars each year. In fact, every time you make a major purchase, you should be checking these perks first. Here are some examples from my own memberships:

#1: Does your car insurance offers discounts on most major retailers. If you were planning to go to the movies or out for dinner, check to see if you receive loyalty points or discount vouchers on your car insurance.

#2: Does your Corporate Superannuation plan offer you a discount on anything? Check to see if it does as many corporate super plans offer their members something.

#3: Does your credit card offer discounts on major retailers or discounts on concert tickets and a “Make a Wish” service. Have a look to see what you can cash your points in on.

Total savings: $50 – $150

Last thing to do

Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #9: Only buy new things when replacing something old

Keep an “Item Budget” in your house — and before you buy something new, you must get rid of something old.

When buying things like clothes, set a rule for yourself that you can only buy something new, to replace something you already have. For example, from a practical point of view, let’s say you need to have 15 jumpers. Set a ‘budget’ of having 15 jumpers, and then when you want to buy one, first throw away (or give to charity) the worst of the other. If you can’t chose which one to throw out then the chances are you don’t actually need a jumper.

Before buying anything, think ‘how many of those do I need?’and ‘how many do I already have?’, then think again if you really need a new one. This tip also applies to electronics and all sorts of other stuff (want a Playstation 3? Sell the Wii / blueray player / old laptop / etc.)

By using this rule you will have two benefits: less drawers and cupboards of stuff you still want to keep but never use, and spending less money because you’re more conscious about what you already have.

Total savings: $50 – $150

Last thing to do

Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work. 

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #8: Implement the A La Carte Method

We all spend an enormous amount on subscriptions without realizing it. Not only are the payments automatically sent, but it takes active effort — and acknowledging that you’ve been paying for something you don’t need — to cancel a subscription…which means it’s easier to do nothing than to cancel the direct debit.

I’ll tell you guys about a subscription I had to a service (gym membership). I signed up for it about 4 months ago to get the free trial and see if it was worthwhile, and it was pretty good — but it cost $100/month. After about a month, I knew I wasn’t getting the value I needed out of it (meaning I wasn’t going to the gym) — but I couldn’t bring myself to cancel it. I put it in my calendar to cancel, but the day would come and go and I just didn’t do it. Then I would receive their monthly newsletters and figured I needed to do something about that, but never did. When I finally cancelled it I had spent over $600.

Today’s tip, the A La Carte Method, is a way to avoid just that:

The A La Carte Method takes advantage of psychology to cut our own spending….cancel all the discretionary subscriptions you can: your magazines, annual music plan, cable tv — even your gym.

* Instead of paying for a ton of channels you never watch on cable, buy only the episodes you watch for $1.99 each off iTunes

* Buy a day pass for the gym each time you go (around $5-$10)

* Buy songs as you want them for $0.99 each from Amazon or iTunes

Total savings: $50 – $150

Last thing to do

Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work. 

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #7: Create a “No Spending” day once a week

Today’s tip is to set at least one day per week on your calendar when you don’t spend one dollar.

Do you think you could do it? Technically, even if you don’t open your wallet, you’re still spending money on things like rent/mortgage, car insurance, subscriptions, and Christmas gifts — you just didn’t count them. But that’s even more of a reason to create a “No spending” day on the money in your wallet: because you can actively control it.

 

The idea is to only do this for one day a week and not double your spending the next day.

 

To make it real add a reminder to your calendar each week. You won’t forget then!

 

Total savings: $5 – $100

 

Last thing to do

Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #6: Use petrol prices to become your own hedge fund

Today is one of my favourite tips: To take the money you’re saving on petrol and automatically hedge against any future increase in petrol prices.

The term “petrol hedging” refers to airline companies’ tendency to try to protect themselves by estimating the price of jet fuel and locking in prices to protect themselves if prices go way up.

“Using some simple and some complex investment strategies, Southwest Airlines has for a decade locked in the prices it pays for large amounts of jet fuel months and even years ahead of time. Its success at that has protected it from run-ups in crude oil prices and dramatically cut its fuel expenses. Since 1998, it has saved $3.5 billion over what it would have spent if it had paid the industry’s average price for jet fuel. That’s equal to about 83% of the company’s profits over the last 9½ years.”

 

We can use a similar technique for our own finances — and my favourite part is, you can apply this to anything where the price is variable. Here’s how to do it.

How to use hedging for your personal finances

When petrol prices were at their highest in Brisbane, I was paying about $1.60/litre, which was costing me about $96/week. But now, with a combination of lower gas prices and working at home once a week, I’m saving about $15/week off the peak.

 

It’s really easy to ignore that and let the money stay in your wallet for “unexpected” lunches. Instead, because petrol prices have come down slightly all of us are saving money compared to a few months ago. Now, you can create an automatic transfer of the money you’re saving and put it in a “fuel hedge” account to protect you when prices increase.

 

1. Set up a high-interest savings account, which lets you set up automatic transfers.

2. You know that you will save about $15/week, so transfer that amount to your fuel hedge account.

3. If petrol prices go up, you’ll have this money saved to use to hedge against the new higher petrol prices. It will also give you time to either cut your costs or earn more to account for the higher prices.

4. Set a calendar reminder to re-evaluate the price of petrol and adjust your weekly savings amount.

The beauty of this is that you can apply this to anything you buy that fluctuates in price.

Total savings: $15 to $600 per month

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #5: Optimise your phone bill

Today’s tip is to optimise your phone bill. Many of us (including me) pick a phone plan, then never check to see if it’s the right one based on our usage. Because the average phone bill is about $100, that’s $1,200 per year of money you can optimise.

 

Optimising your phone bill — the easy way

First let me say, if you still have a landline, the easiest tip is to call your wireless company and bundle it all into one plan — or get rid of your landline altogether.

 

Anyway, when choosing the right phone for you, choose the unlimited everything plan — unlimited voice, unlimited data, unlimited text. Set a 3 month check-in on your calendar to go back and analyse your spending patterns so you can cut back on your plan if needed. This is a technique you could adopt in many areas of your life: With any usage-based services (e.g., web apps or phone plans). Pay a little more up front so you can monitor your usage, then downgrade a couple of months later.

It pays to look at your actual usage and switch to a plan that better fits your needs. If you’re only using 150 text messages, you can probably downgrade to the “200 text messages/month” plan. As you get used to the new limit, add a calendar reminder to check in on the 15th of each month and make sure you’re not wildly over for the first few months. 

 

Optimising your phone — the harder (but more rewarding) way

Phone companies have this wildly curious business model of acquiring tons of customers through very expensive means (e.g., national advertising), then churning through them by treating them horribly. Yet even they know that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. You can use this “customer acquisition cost” in your favour. Here’s how:

 

Shop around. Compare plans for your usage on other networks.

 

Use this technique on any subscription you’re paying for. Businesses want to keep customers and are willing to negotiate — but since most people don’t, they’re leaving money on the table.

 

Total savings: $100-$1,200

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving

Tip #4: Involve your family and friends in your challenge

It’s Saturday! Take a break. While you do though, involve your friends and family in your money saving. Without their support, you’ll have a tough time achieving your goals. For more people, the reason they fail to save money is not a lack of money-saving ideas — it’s themselves and their lack of discipline. By having some support, you eliminate that lack of discipline and give yourself automatic accountability and a built-in reason to win.

Why support matters

Getting support from your family and friends is important because your spending is based on your context. A lot of us like to think that we make our financial decisions individually, we don’t, our spending depends on those around us. For example, if you make $100,000 p.a., you probably hang out with others who make similar amounts and have similar spending patterns. If your family and friends shop a lot, and you’ve been accepted into that group, chances are you shop too. 

 

Take a second to think: When was the last time you spent money because of family or friends? For me, it was last weekend, when I bought a pair of shoes. It was fun, it was social — but it was also financial.

As you’ve noticed from my previous tips, the actual financial decisions are only a small part of your spending. A lot of it has to do with the psychology of spending. That’s why enlisting the help of your family and friends to achieve your goals this month is extremely important.

How to enlist your family and friends help to save money

We’ve already talked about why it’s important to enlist your family and friends to help  you save money. Without their help, you’ll still have the constant pressure to go out, buy new stuff and spend in whatever your current spending patterns are. In other words, it will be you against the world. To help change that, there are two approaches you can take:

 

1. Enlist your friends to join the Challenge (cooperative approach)

Here’s a link you can send them! http://www.one26.com.au/?p=1137

2. Bet your friends you can hit your goals (adversarial approach)

 

The result of getting your family and friends involved

For this challenge, my family and friends know I’m running this challenge, which means they’re open to hanging out at free places instead of expensive bars/restaurants this month. Plus, there’s the motivation: If you set a goal of saving $300, or $500, or $1,000 this month, and you bet your family and friends publicly, you are GOING to find a way to make it happen. Don’t do this alone. Get others to help you and you’ll be even more successful. 

 

Total savings: $100-$500

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #3: Sell something on eBay today

Today’s tip is to sell something from your house on eBay. But surprisingly, it doesn’t really matter what you sell.

If you’re already being frugal, the next step is to make money. I want you to succeed in this challenge, so today’s tip is designed to be a gradual step to earning more. It’s specifically intended for two purposes: To symbolize to yourself that you can sacrifice by selling something and to symbolize that you can make more money than your standard income. Once you do that, you will start to think of many other ways to generate additional income.

 

Everybody can sell something. Something you’ve wanted to get rid of or something you keep insisting you’ll use that always falls out of the cupboard when you open it, but you know you really won’t. This tip applies to everyone.

 

You probably won’t make very much from selling an item on eBay, and it’s frankly probably not worth your time to sell, pack, and ship a $10 item. But that’s not the point. The point is the symbolism of cleaning your life and generating even a small amount of money above and beyond what you usually earn.

 

Make sure you pick something that will sell for a decent amount — say, $30. No, nobody wants your grandma’s old jumper or used slippers.

Remember, the point of this is not to make money. It’s to psychologically commit yourself to saving money. It doesn’t matter if you make $30 or $300. Then do it a few more times this month.

Total savings: $40 to $100

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Tip #2: Turn your air con down 3 degrees – it’s not winter anymore!

Today’s tip is to reduce your thermostat 3 degrees colder starting right now. Below, I’ll show you some additional math / tips to show you the effect this will have on your finances.

How much will you save?

You can save approximately 3% on your electricity bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat.

To keep the math easy, let’s assume we can save 10% by cutting 3-4 degrees off the temperature. Here are some sample savings. Note: The actual numbers for the electricity bills were obtained very un-scientifically (too many variables to consider).

$10 off a $100 bill

How to make this tip actually work

The trick is this: First, turn your thermostat way down when you go to work or during usual peak hours. That’s free money. Second, think about what causes you to turn the heat up. When you come home from work, the first thing you notice is probably how cold it is and want to jump in for a hot shower…wrong, it’s not winter anymore!

If it is still cool at your place, keep warm slippers and a blanket conveniently near the door. No more thinking – it’s just a natural part of coming home and putting your bag down.

I did this at my house. As soon as I came home, there were slippers and a jumper right near the door.

Savings: $10-20

Be sure to leave a comment to tell me how much you’re saving by adopting this tip

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

One26 30 Day Challenge

financial stress tips money saving smart one2640% of Australian’s stress about their financial situation. We can all do with a little extra money at the end of the month, especially with Christmas coming up soon. The One26 30 Day Challenge, invites you to join us in finding simple ways to save money. We aim to save you $1000, just by following our simple daily tips.

Each day we will give you a tip on how to save money. We aren’t guaranteeing you’ll have an extra $1000 by tomorrow; however each tip will save you more and more, and most of you should be able to reach $1000 in savings in the next 30 Days. Even if you don’t reach the target, saving a couple hundred dollars will go a long way to boosting your financial position or at least give you some extra money to get through the holiday season.

save money one thousand dollars rich financial position

We will post the tips here everyday, use the sidebar to find them. The people that benefit the most will be the ones who actually implement them in their daily lives, so make sure you do. If you prefer we can also email our tips to you daily, or you can follow us on facebook to get the tips in your newsfeed.

Here’s the link to Tip #1!

Let us know how much you’re saving and share any tips you have. We may even include it in our next post. Good Luck!

Tip #2: Turn your air con down 3 degrees – it’s not winter anymore!
Tip #3: Sell something on eBay today

 

One26 30 Day Challenge Tip #1

Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week

Tip #1 of the 30 Day Challenge to save $1,000.

The first tip is to go to the grocery store today and pack lunches for you all week. Sounds obvious, but below I’ll include some specific methods and social-psychological techniques to make this actually work.

How much you’re currently spending

Let’s look how much NOT packing your lunch is costing you. Let’s assume you eat out 3 times a week for lunch only.

Current lunch spending: (Eat out 3x/week) * (4 weeks in a month) * ($12 each lunch) = $144 per month on eating out

New spending: (Eat out 1x/week) * (4 weeks) * ($12 each lunch) = $48 per month eating out

New spending to pack lunches: (Pack lunch once/week) * (4 weeks) * ($5 cost per packed lunch) = $20.

So $144 – $48 – $20 = $76 in savings.

Because you can play with the variables above (# of times you eat out vs. amount you spend on each lunch vs. cost of packing your own lunch), you can adjust each of them.

Total Savings: $68-96

Be sure to leave a comment to tell me how much you’re saving by adopting this tip.

Here’s how to achieve it

1. Decide how many lunches you’re going to pack each week. The more you pack the more you save money.

2. Go to the grocery store today.

3. If you purchase other items, that’s fine, you just need your lunches purchased. If you accomplish just that, you accomplished your goal.

4. Let’s say you decided to pack 3 lunches each week. Get 3 lunch bags and fill it with your grocery purchases. This takes advantage of your laziness to pack lunch each day. Instead, by doing it this way, you batch the unpleasantness of preparing lunch. Now, each morning, just open up the fridge, take your bag, and you’re done.
(Bonus tip: To psychologically commit yourself to actually taking the bag, write “Monday,” “Wednesday,” and “Thursday” on the bag.)

5. For the days you decided to go to lunch, GO! This month, I want you to be strategic about eating out, so it’s not just something you do because you forgot your lunch or just couldn’t be bothered doing it. If you decide you’re eating out on Tuesday and Friday, enjoy it — you planned for it.

6. If a co-worker invites you to lunch, be prepared to say no. Try this: Thanks, I’d love to go, but I’m taking this 30-day challenge to save $1,000, so I’m not eating out as much.

Check back tomorrow or subscribe to our daily challenge emails and SMS to get them in your inbox & let us know how much you’re saving.

Five tips leading up to the holidays

christmas_ball_700x400
Create a budget

Control your money by putting it on a budget! A budget will point out where you need to cut back and where you can spend the most. Control your money, don’t let your money control you. Then you can decide on how much to spend on auntie Jane and cousin Jack with having plenty left over to enjoy the holidays.

Check out our Holiday Budget Planner

Make a gift list

Before you hit the shops, think about who you want to purchase a gift for and write it down! Write down your budget per person and have a think about what they would really like. Having a list keeps you focused and stops you from overspending.

Shop smart

Not everyone likes the new package smell so have a think about buying something that isn’t new. Op-shopping is hilarious and you can pick up a bargain even at yard sales or flea markets as you can buy great items such as antiques, collectibles and vintage jewellery all below retail price.

Shopping online saves time and in some cases saves money. Comparing prices and products is easy and you could even be lucky enough to have free gift wrapping too.

Buy for one

If you have many in your family or social network, try having a Secret Santa. It’s not only very humorous but a great way to stick to your budget.

Cash is king

The holidays are only for a limited time, so don’t extend it throughout the year by paying your credit card still in July. Using cash will mean you spend less and is a good way to budget short term by seeing how much is in your wallet.

Have some ideas you would like to share? Join the conversation on our Facebook page

End of Financial Year Deductible Expenses for Individuals

Individual deductions for year end

Have you considered any of these deductions for End of Financial Year? Ask your Financial Adviser to get ready for next year because it will be upon us very quickly.

Dividend income

  • Have you included all dividend income in your assessable income?
  • Have your dividends been grossed-up to reflect any imputation credits attached?
  • Have you taken franking credit offsets into consideration or perhaps a refund?

Bonus income

  • Can you defer your bonus payment until next financial year?

Education expenses

During the last 12 months have you incurred any self-education expenses that relate to your current industry? These expenses could also include accommodation and meals if away from home overnight, student union fees, subscriptions to journals, equipment purchases, depreciation of computers, and course fees.

Donations

  • Did you make a donation this year or perhaps a deductible gift?

Work-related car expenses

Are you entitled to claim a deduction for work-related car expenses? These expenses could be claimed if you carried equipment in the car, attended conferences or meetings and travelling between two separate places of employment. If you did be sure to ask your Financial Adviser or Accountant on how you could claim this expense.

Tax offsets and levies

Have you thought of including any offsets or levies? These could include;

  • Dependent spouse tax offset (set to be abolished under Federal Budget measures from July 1, 2014)
  • Dependent (invalid and carer) tax offset
  • Senior and pensioner tax offset
  • Net medical expense tax offset (due to be phased out)
  • Medicare levy
  • Medicare levy surcharge
  • private health insurance rebate, and
  • HELP-HECS debt.


Superannuation guarantee charge

Have you considered how much you have been putting in super? Do you think you exceeded the contribution cap? Note: Changes to excess contributions apply in the 2013-14 financial year and later years. Under the proposed changes, you can elect to release an amount of excess concessional contributions from your superannuation interests.

Does you satisfy the 10% rule for the financial year? Consider whether it would be beneficial to make a deductible personal contribution (again, beware of the concessional contributions cap and note that a deduction is available when the contribution is received).

Have you spoken with your Financial Adviser about a superannuation salary sacrifice arrangement for 2014-15?

If you are 64 years of age or under on July 1 of the new financial year you can apply the “bring forward” rule to make non-concessional contributions of up to $540,000 over a three-year period if this rule is triggered from July 1, 2014. Prior to July 1, 2014, the contribution cap was $450,000 over a three-year period.

Have you spoken with your Financial Adviser about co-contributions and whether you are eligible or not? This is subject to income testing.

For contributions made in the 2013-14 financial year, the following amounts will apply:

If your personal super contribution is:
$1,000 $800 $500 $200
And your income is: Your super co-contribution will be:
$33,516 or less $500 $400 $250 $100
$36,516 $400 $400 $250 $100
$39,516 $300 $300 $250 $100
$42,516 $200 $200 $200 $100
$45,516 $100 $100 $200 $100
$48,516 or more $0 $0 $0 $0

 

End of Financial Year Deductible Expenses for Business Owners

Business deductions for year end tax planning

There are a number of legitimate strategies to minimise your business’s tax liability, with straightforward tax deductions that most businesses can make use of. Generally speaking, any expenses incurred while generating an income can be claimed as a deduction. Whilst there are many obvious deductions (supplies, rent, materials etc) some are never considered.

One for your staff!

Paying your “associate” employees a bonus can be claimed as a tax deduction. Even though it is paid in the next financial year, the accrued expense is a deduction.

Documenting the payment and qualifying the amount can also mean Directors can receive a bonus. Again, paid in the next financial year however the accrued expense is a deduction.

Check with your Financial Planner or Accountant to ensure you are maximising your deductions before the financial year runs out.

Interest on loans

If your business has borrowed money, whether it is via a business loan, overdraft or any other financial facility, you can deduct the interest charged on this money. However, there are aspects of this strategy that can be overlooked.

Check with your Financial Planner or Accountant to ensure you haven’t missed out.

CGT

Crystallising a capital loss before June 30 means that those losses can be offset against and therefore reduce taxable capital gains that you may make on selling other assets. If those sales will produce a capital gain, hold off on crystallising this gain until the next financial year.

Be sure to plan your CGT strategies well and Check with your Financial Planner or Accountant.

Bad Debts

We all have customers that don’t pay for their goods and services. You can take comfort in the fact that you can claim a tax deduction for the bad debt. You can genuinely write off any unpaid money prior to the end of the year.

Claiming GST back is also another clever strategy that could be overlooked.

Do you have any specific advice you would like to share? Let us know your tax time strategies. Comment, like or share this information on the links below.

Who Does Your Broker Work For?

As you may have already seen on Channel 7 Investigations, a large percentage of the mortgage broker industry is not as independent as they claim to be. The ownership of these brokers can skew their loan choices for their clients based on their ownership and quotas.

If your broker is owned by a bank, there’s a chance that your broker’s choice of loan for you was biased towards a certain lender. That’s not to say that the loan was unsuitable, but more that there may have been a more suitable loan for you.

So what can you do about it? 

The answer is simple. Look somewhere else for your brokers. Credit Unions, Mortgage Managers and Building Societies are your best bet to know what you are getting. Here you can find true value, great customer service, and you’ll be supporting the community around them. You are a person to these people, not a number and a profit unit.

Bendigo & Adelaide Bank; MyState; Bank of Queensland; Member’s Equity Bank (ME Bank); Suncorp; Credit Union Australia; Queensland Country Credit Union; these are all places where you can find good, old-fashioned service and personalised products.

We’re not saying their loans are unsuitable. Without seeing your personal circumstances or financial situation, we can’t make that claim. You need to ask your broker. Are you in your loan because it’s right for you? Or is it because it’s right for the broker?

Call One26 Financial Services on 1300 000 126 today to see if any of our loans are right for you… without the ownership bias.