Final Recessionista challenge: Save $300 in one week

By Melina Byrne

Christmas is a time of happiness and holidays. But it can also be a time of financial hardship for many. So for our final Recessionista challenge, we asked bargain shopper Melina Byrne to dig deep and save $300 in one week.

1. Organised Kris Kringle amongst friends

Determined not to get into debt this Christmas, I persuaded a group of my six closest friends to participate in a Kris Kringle (otherwise known as a Secret Santa). So instead of buying six presents, everyone in the group only gives and receives one gift.

We arranged our Kris Kringle the old fashioned way by drawing names out of a hat, but there is now a high-tech version: Manage My Kris Kringle, which electronically organises this process.

If you haven’t heard of a Kris Kringle, click here for an eHow step-by-step guide.

Savings: Approx. $25+ per present = $125. But the downside is I lose five gifts myself.

Top Tip: If funds are low this Christmas, why not cash in your loyalty points, from programs like Fly Buys or Virgin Blue’s Velocity Rewards? They both offer gift cards, movie vouchers and magazine subscriptions for members with enough points.

2. Used last year’s Christmas cards and wrap

I usually find my box of leftover xmas cards and wrapping paper the week after I buy more. But this year, I didn’t give up until I found my stash. Saving around $15 (I just have to be careful not to give my loved ones the same cards as last year.)

3. Avoided a gym’s $120 joining fee

I’ve been planning to join a cheaper gym for a while, but the expensive joining fees have always stopped me. This week however, I was feeling thrifty and decided to look for a way around the joining fees: I found someone willing to transfer their gym membership to me and also pay the $60 transfer fee. Saving me a huge $180.

To find people looking to transfer their gym memberships, I looked for advertisements on Gumtree, an Australian-wide community classifieds website. Sometimes you’ll also find advertisements on eBay.

Top Tip: If you are going away for the holidays, don’t forget to freeze your gym membership before the cut off point. Otherwise this is money down the drain.

I also repeated the saving strategies from the first Recessionista challenge:

4) Brought lunch to work from home for 4 days ($60)

5) Didn’t buy takeaway beverages ($12.50)

6) Sent 25 free SMSes using SMS Pup. ($5.50)

7) Shopped using Coles Online so I didn’t impulse buy (approx $30)


TOTAL SAVINGS for all three Recessionista challenges: $951.85 (enough for a nice holiday!!)

I also made $180 from selling 3 unwanted dresses on eBay.

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