With less than two weeks until Christmas Day rolls around, you might feel like you’ve got a whole sled full of gifts to buy and a dwindling number of days left to buy them in. Fortunately, savvy saver, Kirsty Lamont from financial comparison site mozo.com.au, is here to reveal her top DO’s and DON’Ts to surviving the chaotic last couple of weeks before the shops close their doors on Christmas Eve.
Arm yourself with evidence
No matter how late you’re leaving it this year, there is always time to do your research and find the best deal on gifts that still need buying. My top tip, especially at this time of year is to head into the shops armed with evidence. You can check out a bunch of products on Aussie retail comparison sites like Shopbot and use your knowledge of the market to ask the store for a price match. If this doesn’t work, maybe try another nifty Christmas haggling technique from Mozo’s How to haggle at the shop’s guide.
Take advantage of free gift wrapping
Both a money and time-saver over this busy period, free gift wrapping is a godsend if you need to squeeze every last minute out of the pre-Christmas period. Apart from retailers – that usually offer the complimentary service at both online and in-store checkouts – some shopping centers will have free gift wrapping stations set up for you to take advantage of and the end product is usually better than what the average Aussie can muster during a frantic Christmas Eve. The best news is you won’t need to buy your own wrapping paper and ribbon, just make sure you’re not paying a sneaky fee for the “free” service.
Get rewarded for your spending
In the mad rush from one checkout to another, make sure you’re getting the most bang for your shopping buck by not only swiping store loyalty cards at the checkout but also paying for your goods with a rewards credit card. This way you’ll be earning two lots of points for the same purchase and that means more rewards for you down the track. If you’re interested in more ways to boost your points balance this Summer, we recently quizzed some of Australia’s top rewards points gurus for their top points blitzing tips.
Fall into the Christmas hamper trap
While a Christmas hamper might seem like a good-value gift solution for that friend you don’t really know what to get, it almost always isn’t. In fact, Mozo’s recent Christmas hamper price crunch found mark-ups of as much as 96% on these festive samplers, costing you as much as $94 more than if you bought the products yourself! So consider doing your own grocery run, grabbing a basket on the cheap and making your own or opting for another gift entirely.
Go overboard on gag gifts
Aussies love a gag gift, but it is important we don’t let our inner larrikin run us into unnecessary Christmas debt and get the last laugh. The reality is that these novelty gifts are often stuffed away after Christmas day, never to see the light of day again. So it is a good idea to keep them to a minimum and to avoid using a credit card for them or at least make sure these kinds of purchases are paid off immediately and not left to accrue costly interest well into the new year.
Pay for things twice
When splashing out the big bucks on a new purchase it might seem like a great idea to go the extra mile and pay extra for store-bought insurance or an extended warranty, but did you know that many credit cards have this built in? Actually, there are currently 114 credit and 8 debit cards in the Mozo database that come with purchase protection insurance which will typically cover your Chrissy gifts for loss, theft and accidental damage for 90 days from the purchase date. Just make sure you’re holding onto the receipt that matches your credit card statement so that you can activate your provider’s purchase protection cover if something is to happen before your gift makes it under the tree.
Kirsty Lamont is a money expert and director at financial comparison website mozo.com.au. She is passionate about helping Australians make better, more informed choices about their finances.