Shed unwanted debts like the kilograms that are keeping you from putting your best foot froward this summer.

 

The end of spring usually means one thing: shedding winter comfort kilos and getting into the best shape possible before it’s suddenly beach weather. But what about all those unwanted debts, holiday expenses and Christmas blowouts hitting your finances? Summer is also the biggest expense period for most of us and in February that financial pain comes home to roost as the credit card bill arrives. By all means go on a summer health kick but do it in tandem with a financial diet. Here are some key tips to get and keep your finances in great shape over the summer months.

 

AVOID A BLOWOUT

 

Rather than a huge hit to your finances come December, shop over the next month and, ideally, the course of the year. Keep an eye out for sales, both in-store and online, and buy Christmas decorations, gifts and goodies over time. If you’re buying vouchers or gift cards though, double check the expiry date.

 

Just like eating too much Christmas pudding will leave you with a food hangover, spending spontaneously under the pressure of the clock will leave your finances in a sore and sorry state.

 

CONTROL SPENDING

 

Just like reducing carbs during a diet, keeping a lid on spending during Christmas is critical. It’s necessary, but it needs to be counted. Whether you have a big or small family, it can be tempting to go crazy with gifts.

 

The key here is to make a budget and stick to it. Have a Secret Santa where you go into a draw and buy a gift for just one person. No one misses out but it keeps costs down.

 

A handmade gift can be all the more special (whether it’s baked, knitted or crafted) so consider what you can make before you start trawling the aisles of department stores. Or give the gift of time and offer to babysit or be a gardener for a few hours. And don’t spend lots on wrapping paper. Brown craft paper and a ribbon works well.

 

PLAN AHEAD

Eating a packet of Tim Tams in one sitting can be avoided if you’ve made meal plans for the day. In the same way, the biggest blow to your budget will be last-minute buys.

 

This is easily solved when you’ve budgeted early, shopped ahead and made lists of things to buy, so don’t get caught gorging. Save $20 a week over the course of the year and there’s $1000 by the end of it, which should be more than enough to get through any unexpected silly season surprises. If it’s too difficult to save all year, even starting to save a few months before Christmas will be a good help.

 

If you’re hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner, plan what you’ll need and don’t be shy in asking guests to bring a bottle of wine or a dish to share.

 

HOLIDAY TIPS

 

If you do decide to hit the road or head overseas, holidays can be sneaky money zappers. Booking and planning it early should get you a decent price. Again, look out for sales. Small things such as paying for everything in the local currency, checking mobile phone international roaming rates and claiming GST refunds can save a lot of money.

 

SUMMER ENTERTAINMENT

 

Summer doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it’s the best time of year for cheap entertainment. Steering clear of shopping centres, especially those tempting online shops, will refresh your bank balance.

 

It can be difficult to avoid the madness of holiday sales, but make an effort to get outside, head to the beach or have a picnic in the park – your credit card will thank you for it. Lots of parks set up free or cheap outdoor cinemas over summer, which are a great way to entertain all ages, so pack some snacks and a bottle of wine, and you’re good to go.

 

For those who want to get active, and burn those pesky Christmas kilos in the process, there are some great coastal walks around (local councils or National Parks and Wildlife have the maps) and they don’t cost a cent. They say the best things in life are free. Keep this in mind over the summer months and you’ll avoid paying off your summer blowout.

 

DEPART WITH NO WORRIES

 

Australians took 8.4 million short trips overseas in the past financial year and that figure is growing. These trips can be a wonderful experience – unless something goes wrong. That’s why travel insurance is a vital but often forgotten necessity.

 

With summer holidays almost upon us, Canstar researchers completed a review to find the best travel policy providers. Individual policies vary, so start your research by deciding the level of cover and any extras.

 

– Do you have any particular items of value that require extra cover?

– Do you or anyone in the travelling party have any pre-existing medical conditions that could impact on your holiday?

– What dollar limits are you willing to accept on claims?

– What proof will you need in order to make a claim?

– What paperwork do you need to take with you on your holiday?

 

Canstar looked at a single person, a couple and a family of two adults and their two children. It found 1 Cover Travel Insurance and Southern Cross Travel Insurance to provide the best value.

 

For domestic insurance, the best-value providers are Insure And Go and Virgin Australia.

 

Source: News.com.au