Blog Post

Top 10 items to buy post Christmas

We’ve just made it past Black Friday and Cyber Monday! But before our bank accounts can catch up, Boxing Day is here and we’re bombarded with more deep discounts. 

As overwhelming as it can seem, if we’re strategic in our purchases now, this can be a really financially beneficial period. By buying what you already need/will need to purchase in the not-so-distant future, you can be prepared before the rush and reduce expenses for the coming year. 

INSIDER TIP: Keep the tabs open on your web browser and refresh them come Boxing Day. That way, you’ll see what discounts are available on the exact items you’re already looking for, rather than get overwhelmed by offers for stuff you don’t need. 

  1. Christmas decorations, cards and bon bons 

You know when the best time is to shop for Christmas paraphernalia? The day after Christmas. If you’ve got the storage space at home, the days and weeks that follow the festive season are the best time to pick yourself up a bargain on all things Christmas. Let’s be honest, those Christmas crackers can be $$$!!! 

  1. Calendars and diaries

Are you still a stickler for the paper diaries and calendars? Now’s your time to shine! As we edge closer to the New Year, these calendars start being massively discounted. There’s some great digital options on the market too that you can print at home to save yourself some money. 

  1. Valentines Day gifts 

Golly, that’s organised we hear you say. Well, the reality is Valentine’s Day is just 51 days after Christmas and it will be here before you know it. If you’re looking to get your loved one a present that doesn’t weigh too heavily on the purse strings, you’ll likely be able to pick up a good discount in the Boxing Day/New Year sales. From perfume, magazine subscriptions to unique experiences, if you have the capacity, now’s the time to buy to avoid the price hikes in February. 

  1. Gym membership and subscriptions 

Now, no-one is saying you should follow the New Years Resolution crowd and get a gym membership subscription that you may not really use. However, if you currently have a gym membership that you could be happier with, or are looking to get your foot back in the door, now might be the time to shop around and see if you can get a better deal. 

  1. Birthday presents 

Similar to Valentines Day presents, why not create a list of everyone you need to buy for in the coming year and see if you can’t nab a deal on the gift you’d like to buy them. 

Maybe you could pick up a few gender neutral presents too for those moments when there’s a birthday we forgot about (we’ve all been there) – sorted! 

  1. Tech and homegoods 

From kettles to laptops, a new washing machine or a couch, you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to be able to find yourself a saving on technology and home goods post-Christmas.  

If you wouldn’t have purchased at full price, it’s probably not essential. But if your family has outgrown your 8kg washing machine or the kids need new tech for school, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for a discount on what your family already needs. 

  1. Wardrobe staples  

Take an inventory of your wardrobe and see if there’s any key pieces you’re really on the hunt for. Do you need a new suit for work? A simple A-line skirt or some cotton/linen dresses to see you through the scorching summer ahead, you won’t have to look far to find retailers with unreal deals this season. 

Hot tip #1: Take your personal measurements whether you’re shopping online or in person. Having your measurements when shopping in-store can assist in avoiding crowded change room situations. 

Hot tip #2: On that note, check the returns policy on the store you’re shopping at. Sometimes super sales come with a ‘no returns’ policy. It pays to check the returns policy before purchasing. 

  1. Travel

We’ve all been living in our quarantine bubbles and travel has been a no-go zone. You can bet your bottom dollar there’s going to be some enticing travel deals in the suite of sales emails landing in your inbox. 

If you’re overdue for a holiday (we hear you), now might be the perfect time to book a discounted trip interstate or abroad (hopefully soon). 

  1. New car 

Look, it’s not going to be on everyone’s boxing day list, but if you’re in the market already – it’s a good time to look. The adage of out with the old and in with the new sees dealerships offering some pretty attractive deals to move older (new car) stock. 

  1. New house?

This is a big ticket item, but hear us out. December can be a really slow period for real estate and agents often pull houses for the market/sellers are too time poor with Christmas to prepare their homes for a new listing. 

In January, there’s a glut of new homes that hit the market which can often make real estate more affordable. 

If you’re on the hunt for a new house, you’re bound to find fresh inventory and you might find those houses that sat in the months prior listed for a more appealing price in the New Year. Who knows? Worth keeping an eye out.

Christmas travel guide – Australia edition

Looking for a Christmas holiday that won’t break the bank or, have a little more in the kitty to spend this year?

Whether your ideal holidays looks like the beach or the bush, there’s something for everyone in this roundup.

Plus, while you’re on holiday, why not consider putting your own house/ room or granny flat on Airbnb to save yourself a little extra on the trip.

Three steps to listing your home for short-term rentals:

(1) Take a few snaps of your home

(2) Add your listing price and minimum stay

(3) Welcome your first guest (yes to savings!).

Queensland

Treehouse in the Rainforest

La Boheme, Whitsundays

Rainforest cottage, Cooloolabin

New South Wales

Warramba, Glen Alice

The Enchanted Cave, Bilpin

Victoria

Eco Bush Retreat, Victoria

Western Australia

Heritage home in heart of city, Perth

Private & peaceful, Bandy Creek

South Australia

Camel Beach House, Venus Bay

The Sky House, Middle River

Northern Territory

Squeakywindmill Boutique Tent B&B, White Gums

Off the Beaten Track, Hale

Tasmania

Luxury by the bay, Falmouth

Save $700 on your energy bill, here’s how

The mercury is soaring and we see you reaching for that aircon remote.

Here’s your friendly reminder that every extra degree of cooling is adding a greater cost to your energy bill. 

What’s the recommended reading? Set your thermostat between 22 to 24 degrees celsius and ensure your aircon filter is clean. Use your aircon sparingly and if you can, run it to cool your house when you get home, or your bedroom before you go to sleep rather than blasting it 24/7.

According to a recent article by news.com.au, approximately 13% of Australians have already asked for, or were planning to ask for an extension on their energy bill. 

If you’re looking to reduce the cost of your next energy bill, here’s some fast facts from the Department of Energy to save you in other areas of your home.

  • Turning off, or ridding yourself of a second fridge could save you around $172 a year  
  • Switching off the game console when not in use could save you up to $193 a year (this goes for all appliances you’re not using) 
  • Using the clothesline once a week instead of using the dryer could save around $79 a year
  • Installing a water-efficient 4-star showerhead could save around $315 a year on water bills (you’ll also save on your energy bill as less water will need to be heated)
  • Shop around for the best deal from energy suppliers, don’t assume you’re automatically on the best plan. 

Fast five: holiday hacks to save you serious $$

1. Do a little (read: a lot) DIY

Last week we touched on the idea of DIY pot plants

Now we’ve planted the seed, we wanted to build upon it. The reality is, you can DIY pretty much anything for Christmas and save yourself some serious $$$. 

From your gift-wrap to your present tags, Christmas cards, the gift themselves and of course, who wouldn’t love a DIY baked good for Christmas

2. Don’t buy presents for yourself

We see you adding that extra item to the cart. A little something for the list, a little something for yourself can spiral out of control quite quickly and blow the budget. 

As tough as it is, resist the urge. It’s likely the item you’re chasing will be available in the New Year when your gift giving finances have had a little breather. 

3. Unsubscribe from marketing emails 

If you’re not in the market for something, you likely don’t need to be receiving marketing emails. If you are in the market for something, it’s easy enough to find a deal/ discount when you need it.  It’s amazing how often you find you “need” something just because it’s on sale. 

It might be time to do a quick little stocktake/cleanse of your inbox and determine which emails you need to be receiving and which ones are a little too tempting. 

4. Think out of the box for a holiday 

The international and potentially interstate borders where you live may not be open for Christmas and let’s be honest, there may be no room for travel in the budget this year.  

A little staycation can be a fun way to switch it up and feel like you’re had a break. Sometimes a little distance from the house, away from chores and whatnot is a holiday in itself. 

Perhaps go camping and explore a local National Park. Or, if you’re not up for roughing it, support a local business and book a few days at a nearby hotel or perhaps an Airbnb.

5. Bank the points 

If you pay your bills with the Sniip app, you can earn full points on your points earning bank card. 

While the international borders are closed right now, why not bank those precious loyalty points now. That way, when you’re ready to fly again, you can take off in style! 

Five tips for a financially savvy festive season

1. Get in early

Write a list of every person you have to buy for and add a rough idea of what you’d like to buy them. Now, it’s time to get in and start ticking each person (or pet) off. 

Set aside time in your diary to shop in person, or online and smash it out. Most importantly, start now and cross each person off as you get their gift. You’ll get a little burst of achievement with every person you tick off and will be ready to move onto the next. 

By getting in early, you’ll avoid the express shipping costs incurred when you’re scrambling to ensure the gift arrives in time for Christmas day. Plus, you’ll ensure your loved ones don’t end up in an episode of Friends with a gift from the local petrol station. We’ve all been there. 

2. Set a budget (and stick to it) 

Maybe you’ve got $10 to spend on Christmas, or maybe you’ve got $1,000. Perhaps there’s people you like to splurge on in your family/ friendship group and there’s others you want to give a token of your appreciation. Divvy up your list with a budget for each person and challenge yourself to stick to it. 

If $10/$20 seems unachievable, it might be time to get crafty. A terracotta pot from Bunnings can easily be jazzed up with some paint and a small plant. 

And keep in mind, an experience often costs less than a gift and could be as simple as a voucher for the recipient’s local coffee shop. Supporting small business, and on-budget is a double win. 

3. Trim the fat 

Are there monthly or recurring subscriptions you could pop on hold over the festive season?  

Maybe you’re planning to head away over Christmas and don’t intend on hitting up the gym. Perhaps you plan on doing some Christmas cooking and could probably put that weekly food subscription service on hold for a while to save some money. 

Not sure of what other subscriptions you have? Here’s how you can see mobile subscriptions on iOS and Android. You might be surprised to see what sneaky subscriptions you’re still forking out for. 

4. Group the gifting 

Are you from a big family, friendship group or workplace?

Cut down on the cost of individual gifts and suggest a Secret Santa this year and save yourself some serious gift money. The budget might be as simple as $10 or $150, it’s really up to you! 

There’s a bunch of online tools to make the process easier (we like Drawnames) and those in the group can make suggestions of what they’d like. Participants can add online links to make the process smooth, simple and cost effective for all involved.  

5. Avoid late fees 

Sometimes you might head away for Christmas and other times you’re just so focused on relaxing, spending time with family and having a bit of a digital detox that bills can creep up. 

Add your upcoming bills to the Sniip app now, select when you’d like them to be paid then set and forget, enjoy your Christmas and know your bill are sorted without any painful late fees. 

Stats show 90 per cent of bills paid using the Sniip app are paid on or before the due date (probably because it’s so fast and easy!). That means more money for Christmas and less money burnt on late fees. 

Are you still typing in the BPAY Biller Code?

Life’s too short to be manually typing in BPAY Biller Biller and Reference codes. Do you slice your own pizza?
Save yourself time by scanning your bills. All you need is your mobile phone’s camera and the Sniip app. 

Once you have scanned in your first bill, you will never go back to typing. But don’t just take our word for it, test it out for yourself!

The Sniip app auto-magically captures your bill’s BPAY Biller Code and Reference Code with a single scan. Then, all you need to do is confirm your details and choose your payment method.

Here’s how you do it. Simple!

1. Open the Sniip app on your phone

If you don’t have the Sniip app yet, no worries. download it from the Apple app store or the Google Play store.

 

2. Tap “+” to add your bill

 

3. Tap “Scan” 

 

4. Scan the BPAY Biller Code and Reference

Hover your phone camera over the BPAY Biller Code and Reference Code on your bill. The camera will automatically scan in the codes to your Sniip app.

 

5. Enter the amount you’re paying and your bill’s due date

 

6. Tap “Add Bill”

 

7. Tap “Pay” to pay now, or select the clock icon to schedule the payment for later

That’s right, you can schedule your bills for later payment when it suits you better.

 

8. Select/ Add payment type

Select a payment type you previously added or tap “+” to add a new payment type, like your debit card or credit card. And still get your reward points when using your credit card.

 

9. Review the details and tap “Confirm”

 

10. Enter your Sniip PIN or use your Face ID (for iPhones)

 

11. Tap “Pay”

 

12. All done 😉

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Sniip has so many amazing features to make your life easier. You’ll love the ability to set reminders for bills and to save your bill history for easy access later. 

 

Are you embarrassed by your late payment charges?

You’re not alone. Late fees are costing Australians around $286m a year according to research from one of the big four banks. 

Some energy bills can have late fees of up to 40 percent.

But despite this, 27 per cent of Australians pay at least one bill late each year.

In times like these, with unemployment up to 7.5 percent, we simply cannot afford to throw money away. 

So what’s the answer? 

Lining up at your local post office to pay your utilities bills is not only time consuming, with COVID-19, it’s less appealing than ever before.

Then there’s paying bills via internet banking. What should be easy enough tends to be a real chore. You start off your regular bill paying session with a coffee and a biscuit but after getting through a stack of bills and data-entry, you’re ready to drink something a little harder.

And let’s not forget to mention the bills you never even saw. Maybe the paper bill that never arrived, or got accidentally thrown into the bin with the latest wad of junkmail. 

Electronic bills sent by email definitely help. But why is it that most important bills end up in junk mail or spam? Or if you’re like us, you need someone to remind you to check your email regularly – both junk and spam too. 

Surely there’s a better way!? Well there is. 

There’s Sniip. 

Sniip is a Brisbane-based, Australian owned bill paying mobile app that makes bill payments super easy.

Better yet, Sniip’s bill scheduling feature helps you say goodbye to those late payments fees. 

Sniip’s m-billing (mobile billing) subscriptions means your regular bills can be sent straight to the app with push notification alerts for you when they arrive. This is in addition to any paper or electronic version you may wish to receive.

You can then pay your m-bill directly in the app with just a few clicks. Goodbye manual data entry and wrong digits! 

With Sniip, you can pay any BPAY bill. That’s right. Simply take a picture of the BPAY or Sniip code with your phone and let the Sniip app do the rest.

But our favourite feature? Bill scheduling of course! 

We’ve all paid a bill late because we’re waiting for our pay to come in, or wanted to push the bill into the next credit card cycle. There’s usually a good reason for not paying straight away, but then we often get distracted and completely forget about the damn bill.

With Sniip, you can schedule payment for when it best suits you. As soon as you get the bill, simply schedule the bill, and then forget about it. No worries!

But don’t just take our word for it. The results speak for themselves with 90 percent of bills paid using Sniip paid before the due date. 

That’s compared to our 63 per cent national average. 

It’s time for you to start getting back those late fees? You deserve to spend your money on what you want to spend it on, and we bet it’s not late fees. 

Sign up for Sniip today and together, we’ll make your life easier and less stressful.

A Sniippet of weekly news #20 – Sep 2020

Santa is thrilled to know that borders will likely be open by Christmas. The stock market was up again for another month and China is banning more Australian imports. 

The AUD continues to perform strongly with some economists tipping US80¢. We also had another record for the current account surplus.

The government passed JobKeeper 2.0 and a NSW Supreme Court ruling promises extended rent relief for small businesses.

In other news, Elon Musk is putting implants in pigs’ brains, Germany is getting tough on dog walking, and Domino is using AI to predict when you will order your next pizza.

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

What will happen to property this spring (AFR, 31 Aug)

  • Except for Sydney, the stock of houses for sale is well down
  • Potential sellers are waiting to see if the pandemic and the economy will improve
  • Demand has been persistent during the pandemic

Small business rent relief to last until April after court ruling (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • Retailers who received rent relief under the federal government’s COVID-19 mandatory code of conduct should continue to enjoy concessions for six months after the regulations expire in October according to the NSW Supreme Court
  • Retailers and landlords who fail to reach agreement will have to pursue mediation
  • The decision would affect all small and medium sized businesses (including retailers) in NSW and perhaps nationally

AI tells Domino’s when you will want a pizza with uncanny accuracy (AFR, 31 Aug)

  • Domino’s is trialing a new AI system to predict deliveries 3 weeks in advance
  • The goal is to make rosters more efficient to save on wage costs
  • The system takes the TV guide, sporting fixtures, and past sales into account

Afterpay, Sezzle hit as PayPal unveils US push (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • PayPal has unveiled plans to launch a buy-now pay-later product in the US
  • The announcement led to a sell off in the buy-now pay-later sector in Australia on Tuesday
  • PayPal can roll this out to its merchants very easily and has many more merchants and customers in the US than Afterpay

‘Sitting for just 90 minutes could be fatal’ – working from home (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • Sitting for just 90 minutes slows the blood flow behind the legs by 50 per cent. The slower the flow of blood, the more risk there is of it becoming ‘sticky’ and forming dangerous clots.
  • Anyone of any age can get a clot and if untreated, death can incur
  • In the UK, working from home has seen the number of people who sit at their desk for four and half hours a day increase by 22.5 per cent

Competition rises for low-cost rental housing (AFR, 1 Sep)

  • Rental supply has increased but demand for low-cost rentals has increased according to Anglicare
  • Middle-cost renters are moving to low-cost rentals to save costs
  • This has prevented rents falling in the low-cost category

QLD Premier cancels schoolies (AFR, 31 Aug)

  • Last week, Palaszczuk announced schoolies week was cancelled
  • QLD opened its borders to the rest of Australia (except Victoria) on July 10, but snapped them shut again three weeks later with the 2nd wave in Victoria
  • Palaszczuk said she would not be pressured to open the borders by the PM or anyone else

How Australia could become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy (The Guardian, 27 Aug )

  • A massive 5,000-megawatt renewable hydrogen export operation has been proposed for the small WA town of Kalbarri and could be a model going forward
  • Historically the production of hydrogen relied on fossil fuels 
  • But advances in renewable energy means hydrogen production can now be green
  • Countries such as Japan, Korea and Germany have already approached Australia for renewable hydrogen exports

A Sniippet of Finance advice

Why getting better with money starts with habits not spreadsheets (ABC)

  • Choose a medium to long-term goal to motivate you e.g. holiday, education, new car, etc
  • Break it down into small goals that take only one to three months to achieve
  • On a day-to-day basis, come up with steps you can take towards the small goals

A Sniippet of Brain food

Elon Musk showcases brain implant in pig (The Verge, 28 Aug)

  • Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface company Neuralink showcased a pig outfitted with the company’s brain implant
  • It’s “like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires,” Musk said
  • Merging human brains with AI is why Musk wants to create the devices 
  • The device hasn’t been tested in humans yet, though the USFDA has designated it a breakthrough device

A Sniippet of Trivia

Germans must walk their dogs twice a day, new law will say (The Guardian, 19 Aug)

  • Germany’s 9.4 million dogs are not getting enough exercise according to lawmakers
  • Owners will need to take them out daily for at least one hour in total
  • Doubts are being raised over enforcement

A Sniippet of weekly news #19 – Aug 2020

Last week, local politics was dominated by border-closure-wars and covid. Victoria continues to struggle. It was the only state not to see retail sales increase in July. Now QLD may host the AFL grand final. 

China has once again flexed its muscle on Australian exports with the wine industry now in its sights. Nothing like a Barossa red?

In the US ghost kitchens are replacing local restaurants as covid accelerates the delivery only category. Will we see this trend here?

In finance advice we look at the benefits of using an asset allocation for your portfolio. And in trivia we look at the dangers of riding Sydney ferries!

The one-minute weekly recap

A Sniippet for You

Is Australia’s ‘peak China’ moment here? (AFR, 19 Aug)

  • China’s move to put heavy import duties on Australian wines because of allegations of dumping could mark a big change in Australia’s economic relations with China
  • Has Australian exporters to China naively ignored the political risks?
  • What will Australia do when the Chinese iron-ore boom tapers?
  • Is the safer bet for investors to buy shares in Chinese companies?

Victoria’s stage four lockdown could last until end of September (AFR, 20 Aug)

  • Melbourne University epidemiologist Professor James McCaw, who is leading virus modelling for the Commonwealth, predicts that Victoria’s stage 4 restrictions will last until the end of September
  • Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng indicated “single digits, low double digits” are needed to lift restrictions
  • Business groups and medical experts have called for greater disclosure on Victoria’s contact tracing efforts amid concerns

How to covid-proof your holiday bookings (ABC, 24 Aug)

  • Pay with credit cards — they’re often protected by chargeback in case of cancellations 
  • Book last minute 
  • Drive rather than fly
  • Read cancellation policies carefully
  • Travel insurance will not generally cover trips booked after March 2020

Workers to lose $33k a year without reforms (AFR, 19 Aug)

  • NSW Productivity Commissioner has warned that people will be $33,000 a year worse off and living standards will slip, unless governments stop relying on the mining boom
  • The federal government had done “most of the heavy lifting” on productivity reforms in the 1980s and 1990s but now it is the states’ turn
  • He has made 55 recommendations in a green paper including best-practice teaching, smarter infrastructure, and a better mix of state and local taxes

CEOs back apprenticeship scheme to train IT workers (AFR, 19 Aug)

  •  6 CEOs have called for a formal IT apprenticeship scheme to address a labour shortage in the industry
  • The federal Employment Minister has given tentative support

Despite everything, being a landlord is still the best job (AFR, 21 Aug)

  • Landlords make more money than an average income earner – especially if they bought more than 10 years ago
  • In 16 of the 29 quarters leading up to June 2019, the median Sydney home earned more than the median full-time worker earned from wages
  • But according to the chief economist at AMP the good times could be ending, “There’s a high probability, particularly if immigration doesn’t return in strong numbers and we continue to see excess stock in the rental market, that prices and rent will fall and stay weak for a very long time”.

CBA is looking to help SMEs (AFR, 25 August )

  • CBA is looking at ways to increase their SME share this includes: 
    • allowing receivable and inventory as collateral
    • growing their SME digital loan channel BizExpress: under a pilot program, SMEs can get access to unsecured loans of up to $50,000 within 15 minutes
    • putting about 120 business bankers back into branches by December

Are ghost kitchens the future of restaurants? (Wired, 8 Aug)

  • Ghost or virtual kitchens are co-working spaces for restaurants who specialise in delivery only
  • There are 119 in the US but that is expected to double over the next 12 months
  • The coronavirus is playing a part with many traditional restaurants going delivery only
  • Ghost kitchens save restaurants money on rent, servers, and other dine-in costs
  • But is something lost when customers can’t dine in?

What happens to the markets if there’s a vaccine? (AFR, 20 Aug)

  • Scenario 1: Taper tantrum: as governments pull back from their enormous fiscal stimulus, investors get nervous, and markets become volatile
  • Scenario 2: The market jumps and expensive stocks get more expensive
  • Scenario 3: Big recoveries in airline, travel, and other covid affected stocks
  • Of course, a successful vaccine is not guaranteed

A Sniippet of Finance advice

Asset allocation as a guiding light (AFR, 24 August)

  • Choosing investments based on current market conditions is unlikely to be a winning strategy in the long run
  • Having an asset allocation rule based on diverse assets reduces return volatility
  • Choose asset classes that have little correlation between them
  • Within asset classes diversify between domestic and international
  • Having an asset allocation rule also takes emotions out of trading

A Sniippet of Brain food

3 Brain Hacks To Be More Decisive (Forbes, 6 Aug)

  • According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, only 20 percent of respondents said their organizations excelled at decision-making
  • Acknowledge that making NO decision IS a decision
  • Accept that the future is unknown. Our brains like certainty but we need to get over it.
  • Pursue growth not perfection. A great decision-maker isn’t hard on themselves when things don’t work out perfectly.

A Sniippet of Trivia

Low blow: Sydney’s new ferries won’t fit under bridges with passengers on top deck (The Guardian, 24 Aug)

  • 10 newly purchased ferries will not be able to safely pass under bridges along the Parramatta River if commuters are sitting on the top decks
  • Commuters may risk decapitation if they do not move below decks
  •  In 2018, the NSW government bought 55 new trains worth $2bn that were too wide to safely fit through some tunnels