Christmas – and especially the lead-up to it – is a bit of a frenzy, with workers needing to tie up loose ends at work, rush to social engagements and make good on family commitments without appearing too hungover from the night before.
And then there’s the shopping that needs to be done – and Commbank research reveals that more than two million Australians (or 12 per cent of adults) do their Christmas purchasing at the last minute.
To help you keep worry levels at a minimum and shop smarter, consumer advocate group Choice has put out a guide full of tips to help you save money, time, and stress.
1. Get the gift of a gift card
If you’re really stuck on presents, you can always give someone a gift card to let them spend it on whatever their heart desires.
But be discerning. Know that a gift cards have a minimum three-year expiry period; pick a gift card that lets you use it for an unlimited amount of transactions until you’ve spent it all; and ensure that you get a gift card for a store that the recipient definitely shops at.
Cards for group stores (like Coles and Myer or Woolworths) or shopping centre cards are a safer bet.
2. Know where the cheapest groceries are
Choice crunched the numbers so you don’t have to: between three baskets of the same or similar 22 Christmas items among Aldi, Coles and Woolworths, Aldi came out the cheapest, saving you $47 than if you had shopped at Coles.
3. To shop online or in-store?
Shopping last-minute but want your delivery to arrive before Christmas? Be sure to check delivery times to avoid any disappointment.
Here’s the breakdown: Woolworths accepts orders until 6pm 23 December for pickup on Christmas Eve, or delivery by 11am on Christmas Eve in some areas.
For Coles you can order until December 23 for delivery or pick-up on Christmas Eve, but this is subject to available time slots for delivery, according to Choice.
Purchasing deli or sandwich platters from Coles or Woolies? Put your order in by 21 December.
4. Beware the temptation of extended warranties
According to Choice, the choice of an extended warranty you’re offered when you buy home appliances are usually not worth it.
There are questions you should ask, though, if you want to buy a warranty extension, which are:
How much will it cost?
Will I have to pay extra?
Is it the retailer or a third party offering the extended warranty? (Avoid it if it’s a third party)
When does the extended warranty start? (Sometimes the extended warranty doesn’t begin until the manufacturer’s warranty ends)
What does the extended warranty cover?
5. Ask for gift receipts
Not sure how much the recipient will love the gift you’re about to purchase? Ask for gift receipts, or get it emailed to you if you can. Many gift receipts will hide the price, so the amount of money you spent can stay discreet.
Store all your receipts in a safe place, or take a photo of them.
6. Know when and where to fuel up for cheap
There are plenty of apps such as Refueler or 7-Eleven that help you save money on petrol.
Getting a handle on petrol price cycles is not a bad idea, too, as waiting a few days can help you get more bang for your buck. Price comparison websites like comparethemarket.com.au, Fuel Check (NSW) or Petrol Spy can also help you find the cheapest petrol in your given area.
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