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Christmas is just a matter of days away and for many Australians, they’re likely to be the most expensive days of the year.

According to the Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan Research, we’re expected to spend over $48 billion in the lead up to Christmas 2016, so the Christmas shopping frenzy is bound to put a dent in a few credit cards!

Nobody wants to be a scrooge at this time of year, but it doesn’t pay to throw all caution to the wind. Here’s five great tips that can help you apply some damage control to your Christmas spending spree without giving up the simple joy of giving.

1. Make a list and check it twice.

Impulse purchasing is one of the worst spending traps during the Christmas shopping season. And it can be a particular problem if you’re one of those shoppers who just can’t resist buying a present for yourself every time you buy one for someone else. Making a list is a great way to stay focused on buying only what you need. It can also help you avoid the temptation to shower yourself with gifts when you should be waiting to see what Santa brings you first.

Take a sensible approach by making a list of everyone you need to buy a present for and putting a budget for the gift next to each person. It may be a good idea to download a budgeting app like TrackMySpend from ASIC’s MoneySmart website or Christmas Gift List from Google Play. These apps will help you keep track of the gifts you’ve bought, how much you’ve spent and how much you have left in your budget for further purchases.

2. Online shopping is not naughty, but nice.

With your carefully prepared list in hand, it’s time to hit the shops, right? Not necessarily. Visiting the stores makes it much more difficult to resist the temptation of buying things you don’t really need. And a trip to the shops can often be an expensive exercise in itself – you’ll probably need to pay for car parking, festive season snacks, not to mention plenty of energy drinks to keep you going. Shopping online can be an excellent way to save!

In order to maximise your savings, try doing a web search for discounts or coupons that you can use for the specific gifts you want to purchase. If you Google the item itself, you can often find several vendors and choose the least expensive – but make sure you include shipping costs when you are comparing prices and check the delivery period.

Social media is also a good way to grab a bargain, as retailers will often offer exclusive discounts to loyal followers. Simply look up the social media sites for your favourite brands and see what they have on offer.

3. Collaborate with family and friends.

If you ask most people, they’ll tell you they prefer quality over quantity when it comes to receiving gifts. If you can’t afford to buy an expensive item, then why not consider pooling your resources with some other family members? This could potentially save you a lot of money and at the same time, ensure you give great gifts that are genuinely appreciated.

Many larger families choose to take the Secret Santa option to reduce costs at Christmas. Rather than spend a lot of money buying an inexpensive (and probably useless) gift for each and every family member, consider putting everyone’s name in a hat and drawing one each. This will allow you to spend your budget on one decent gift, rather than risk overspending by trying to get a little something for everyone.

4. Buy your gifts wholesale or in bulk.

Everyone wine connoisseur knows that buying one excellent bottle of wine from the local bottle shop can be a bit expensive, but a whole case of the same wine can bring the price down considerably, particularly if you go direct to the supplier. Great wine can make the perfect gift for some people, but of course if you have many people to buy for and would rather not give alcohol, there are many kinds of gifts you can buy wholesale direct from the supplier or discounted in bulk.

Some ideas could include scented candles, body lotions and bath oils, t-shirts and caps, diaries and stationery sets, jewellery, exotic tea or coffee beans, glasses and tableware, artwork and ornaments, chocolates and sweets, lipsticks and make-up, perfume and aftershave – the list is literally endless! Simply go online and search for bulk suppliers of the kind of items that will make great gifts for your particular friends and family members.

5. Save on interest for bigger gifts.

If you plan to use credit to purchase your Christmas gifts this year, take a close look at your credit card statement and check how much interest you’ll be paying on your purchases. If your credit card interest is high, consider looking for an alternative card that offers a lower interest rate. You may even be able to find a card that offers you an interest-free period on a balance transfer from your existing card, so you could end up saving yourself some money there too.

If your Christmas Shopping List includes some big ticket items this year – perhaps it’s a new jet ski, family boat, a new car or even an overseas holiday – then talk to us about the most cost-effective way to finance your purchases. There are many options that could end up costing you much less in interest than a credit card, with flexible repayment terms that could help to make your purchase more affordable. Our job is to help you find the most suitable option available considering your personal financial circumstances and goals, so give us a call today.

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Summer is here and Christmas is just around the corner. Our last newsletter for 2016 focuses on maximising those New Year car sales, investment loans and becoming a good landlord, and how you can apply some damage control to your Christmas spending.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has met for their final meeting for 2016, and announced the official cash rate will remain unchanged at 1.5 per cent. We last saw rates fall in May and August this year, which brought the official cash rate to its lowest level in Australian history. The RBA will not meet again until February 2017, so the cash rate will stay at this record breaking low level at least until then.

There is a great deal of speculation about what the RBA’s next move will be. Some forecasters anticipate that rates will now stay on hold until later in 2017 and then start to rise as inflation improves. Others are predicting continuing low inflation and soft wages growth may influence another RBA cash rate cut to as low as 1.0 per cent next year, with the first cut coming as early as February next year. Either way, we can expect to see these very competitive home loan rates in the market for some time.

Regardless of what the RBA decide to do, lenders have been varying their rates outside of the RBA’s rate movements. Over recent weeks we have seen quite a few lenders increase their fixed rates, so if you are considering fixing some or all of your loan, now might be a good time to talk to us.

We are also seeing a more noticeable variance in the rates that are being offered by different lenders in the market. So if you have a current home loan, it’s worthwhile getting in touch to determine if your loan product is still right for your needs.

2016 has been a fascinating year. Global economic influences and developments in the US, such as the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, have caused a bit of uncertainty in the market. But overall it has been a strong year for home values here in Australia. From January to October this year, capital city home values grew by 9.1 per cent. Perth and Darwin are the only cities where values have fallen slightly for the first 10 months of the year.

Compared to the same time last year, combined capital city home values have increased by 7.5 per cent. This is trending up from 6.1 per cent at the end of July this year, with house values growing slightly higher than unit values across the country.

Summer is usually a slower time for Australian property markets, with much activity coming to a standstill over the Christmas period. However, the market activity in most of our capital cities is still quite strong.

According to Australian Property Monitors (APM), Melbourne listed 1173 auctions on Saturday 3 December alone, with a clearance rate of 80 per cent. Sydney also had a strong clearance rate of 76 per cent from 874 auctions on the same day. Other cities with strong auction numbers included Adelaide (160 auctions), and Brisbane (148 auctions), and even Canberra (with 81 auctions).

2016 has been a positive year in our property markets, and this looks set to continue into 2017! With the low interest rates we are seeing at the moment, it’s a great time for those in the market to purchase property, whether you’re a first home buyer, investor or refinancing an existing loan.

As this is our last newsletter for 2016, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family Merry Christmas and a safe and happy festive season. Thank you for your support throughout 2016, it’s been a big year for everyone, and we’re sure you’re looking forward to the break as much as we are! Thank you once again for your ongoing support, and we look forward to connecting in the New Year.

Information sources:
Home values: www.corelogic.com.au
RBA: www.rba.gov.au

Christmas is in the AIR and so that means our BIGGEST giveaway ever is happening. We have a brand new iPad Air 2 64GB with wifi and cellular valued at $1,000 PLUS a $100 iTunes voucher here in the office ready to wrap for you. For your chance to get your name on the Christmas label, enter our competition with these 2 easy steps:

1. LIKE the Element Finance Facebook page right here
2. Visit the Element Finance page and comment on iPad image with the name of your favourite (or least favourite!) Christmas carol.

But hurry, competition closes on 18 December. Winner announced 19 December. For full T&Cs, please email mike@elementfinance.com.au


Copyright 2016