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7 places to find bonus cash this Christmas

Crumpled Christmas wrapping paper and boxes on a table next to a credit card bill, cheques, a calculator and pen
Avoid Christmas credit card debt and find your emergency stash of cash instead. (Source: Getty) (Getty Images)

This is part two of Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon’s two-part strategy for saving money this Christmas. Read part one: 5 easy tricks to cut your Christmas spend, here.

Times are super tight, with yet another rate rise rounding off the year.

It’s bad timing indeed for Christmas.

But aside from desperately thinking about where you can, if you like, trim the trimmings this year, you could instead look to boost your bottom line or available funds.

After all, that would take the pressure off and keep the celebrations on.

Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

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Here are five places you might be able to find extra or emergency cash, from the everyday to the extreme.

Cash boost 1: Milk your health fund

It’s possible that you are leaving money on the table that you could, literally, be putting on your (Christmas) table.

If you have private health, find out super quick if you can claim $200 each for kids swimming lessons or adults’ gym memberships (if they are a little injured and a GP signs off that it is important).

This is a new feature for many funds as part of a holistic philosophy to keep members happy, healthy and safe.

These claim opportunities might be grouped into a ‘bucket’ called Health Management or some such.

It may well top out at a possible $400 per policy per year, but if you could do with $400 right now, represents a great opportunity.

Cash boost 2: Put in a withholding variation with the ATO

Now let’s be clear: You’re not going to get this money immediately.

But if you wait months and months for a refund that is the same amount year after year because you have the same deductions, fill out what’s called a withholding variation on the ATO's website.

Very soon, you will be getting paid the relevant amount extra in each and every pay.

As opposed to giving the tax office an interest-free loan for more than a year.

Just be careful not to overestimate the refund you would get at the end of the year as you will find yourself in the unhappy position of having to pay money back.

Cash boost 3: Ask for a pay rise

In fact, even just ask for a bonus. Anything would take the pressure off right now.

But remember, having to cover higher costs does not justify you earning a higher wage; your employer is contending with them too.

What justifies a salary increase is a significant contribution to your company that hopefully makes you too valuable to lose.

Make your case clear, calm and compelling in a scheduled meeting about said case, rather than an ill-advised ambush.

Cash boost 4: Embrace your side hustle

Almost 300,000 new business have been incorporated in Australia since pandemic panic set in early in 2020.

As income became insecure and price pressures mounted, people clearly tried to turn their side hustle into their central thing. And that’s only picking up pace.

It might be time to think: Do you have a skill, hobby or idea you could convert to cash?

Cash boost 5: Join the mortgage exodus

A record tens of thousands of Aussies are ditching and switching their lender every month as they try and get out of harm’s way of the Reserve Bank.

With now eight rises in a row, totalling 300 basis points, that is probably the biggest pain point in your budget - to a $500,000 home loan, it’s added $834 to the monthly repayment since just May.

What you may not realise is there is such a fierce mortgage war happening in parallel that a refinance almost wipes the hikes.

Today’s best, quality home loans are as cheap as 4.09 per cent (G&C Mutual Bank’s Momentum Home Loan), versus an average in the market of 4.96 per cent (all loans considered, importantly, come with offset accounts).

How much would those rates save you?

On a fairly typical $600,000 mortgage, a switch from the average to the best value loan would put $297 a month back in your pocket.

Cash boost 6: Buy now pay later to a credit card

OK this is not usually something I would recommend. And I absolutely DON’T if you are of the debt disposition to spend more than you can pay back in three months.

But if you just want to kick the Christmas cost can down the road by 12 weeks, while your income catches up to your expenses, here’s the opportunity.

Sign up to a buy-now-pay-later service that possibly lets you delay-pay by up to eight weeks. But hook this up to a credit card with a long interest-free period.

This way you combine an eight-week ‘loan’ with another month of no interest, letting you spend someone else’s money for three months, for no extra cost.

As I say, DO NOT do this unless you are completely disciplined and calculate in advance exactly how much you can afford to repay over the fee and interest-free period.

Cash boost 7: Take out a no-interest loan

We finish on the extreme cash finding tip – and it’s only for emergencies.

Let’s say you face an urgent expense that you can’t cover at the very worst time this year, like a fridge blowing up or a massive car repair bill.

Do NOT approach a pay day lender – more accurately known as loan sharks – for short-term financial help. You will end up paying annualised interest of up to 400 per cent.

Instead, a thing called the no-interest loan scheme offers up to $2,000 for essential goods or services or $5,000 for a vehicle, yep, interest-free to low-income earners who qualify.

You can apply for both through the amazing financial counsellors you can find on the National Debt Helpline on 1300 007 007.

It doesn’t need to be a financially cruel Yule.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at www.nicolessmartmoney.com. Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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