What to do with THAT Christmas present

What to do with THAT Christmas present

Post-Christmas, more than a few of us will have been left with an unwanted gift from a well-meaning relative or friend that we just don’t need. Rather than letting it sit at the back of your cupboard for the rest of eternity here are some handy ways of moving it on that may even earn you some cash to put back into your depleted savings account.

Re-gifting

A time-honoured tradition that is often done with the greatest secrecy, re-gifting can be a painless process when done well. Crucial to the success of re-gifting is passing the item along to a person who has no contact with the original gift giver whatsoever. Make sure the person the gift is going to will enjoy whatever it is you’re passing on to avoid the creation of a re-gifting cycle. Finally, ensure you have a good story prepared for when grandma wants to know why the crochet doilies she gave you aren’t on display.

Selling online

If the risk of re-gifting to someone in your circle is just too high and you think you can make some money out of the unwanted gift then listing the item online is not a bad way of getting it off your hands. Websites like Gumtree and eBay allow you to list an item for free meaning that all the proceeds from the sale can go directly into your savings account which is sometimes the sweetest gift of all.

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Donation

If you’re feeling a little more generous this holiday season then you could consider passing the unwanted gift along to a charity of your choice. Your local op-shop may be grateful for the donation of your item and it would certainly be put to better use in the hands of someone who needs it as opposed to the darkest depths of your garage.

Swap meets

One of the less conventional ways of passing on an undesirable gift is participating in the fast growing swap meet trend. These events are designed as a way to exchange good quality but unwanted items in a market style setting with no money required. Clothing swap meets are now frequently available in Sydney and Melbourne through organisations such as The Clothing Exchange and can be a fun way of offloading a present that doesn’t fit well or suit your style.

Ask for the receipt

By far the riskiest and least popular option but if you know the gift giver well and don’t think they would take offence it’s worth a try. Chances are they would prefer you to have something that you need and want rather than having wasted money on a gift that will never be touched. Give it a go this year and you may end up exchanging or refunding the gift for something you’ve always wanted.  Some stores, such as Bunnings will actually exchange items without the receipt so it’s worth checking first before asking for the paper trail.

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Learn more about savings accounts

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can you set up direct debits from a savings account?

It’s not usually possible to set up a direct debit from your savings account to cover ongoing expenses or bills, as savings accounts are structured around growing your wealth by earning interest on regular deposits, and discouraging withdrawals.

Some transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits and also earn interest, though you may not enjoy as much flexibility as a dedicated transaction account, or get as high an interest rate as a dedicated savings account.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.