You don’t have to wait until Boxing Day to grab a bargain. There are plenty of pre-Christmas sales on offer before then for savvy buyers to take advantage of. So whether you shop before or after Christmas, here are some tips to make your money stretch a bit further.
Make a plan
Having a plan may stop you making impulse purchases, buying things you don’t really need just because they are on sale. It will also act as a guide for online research and help you decide where and if you need to go to a physical store.
Remember, you might save 40% off the recommended price of a sale item but you’ll save 100% if you don’t buy it at all.
Do your homework
Just because something is listed as ‘on sale’ doesn’t mean you can’t get it cheaper elsewhere. Go online and look at different prices for the same thing to get a feel for what’s a good price.
Doing your homework will help you in store if you’re prepared to haggle for a better deal. Many retailers will price match their competitors if it means getting the sale.
Sign up to newsletters
Signing up for newsletters from your favourite retailers alerts you when sales are on, and sometimes subscribers get access to sales before the general public, or receive coupon codes for further discounts.
You can always unsubscribe if you decide later on that you no longer wish to receive them.
Join a cashback program
There are a number of cashback websites that give you cash back on purchases from certain retailers, including well-known brand names, supermarkets and department stores. Some offer cash back for both online and in-store purchases.
They are free to join and could mean you get hundreds or thousands of dollars back each year on everyday purchases. Google ‘cashback programs Australia’ to find out what’s on offer.
Shopping online gives you access to ‘online only’ specials and sales. It’s easier to compare prices among retailers and you can search for discount coupons from your favourite brands.
You can shop online any time, from anywhere, so you can shop at a time that suits you rather than be restricted to store opening hours.
You also save money on petrol or transport costs, don’t have to drive around looking for a parking spot or walk from one end of the shopping centre to the other, and you won’t be accosted by pushy sales people.
If you are shopping in-store, and are you’re looking to buy big ticket items, like furniture, TVs, and large appliances, you can often get a better deal if you’re prepared to ask.
If you’ve done your homework you’ll know what other retailers are offering and whether you can actually get a better deal elsewhere. Some may be prepared to give you a further discount, even on sale items, if you pay with cash.
If you can’t get them to lower the price, you may be able to get them to throw in extras like accessories or delivery and installation, for free.
Treat it like a business transaction; smile, stay calm, keep it friendly, but let them know you’re there to strike a deal.
Returning gifts – consumer rights
Always keep receipts. We’ve all given or received gifts that haven’t quite hit the mark. If you want to return a purchase, you’ll need a receipt. Be aware that you are not entitled to a refund just because you’ve changed your mind, however many retailers may offer an exchange or refund in an effort to keep their customers happy.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, you must be offered a repair, replacement or refund if the product is faulty or not fit for purpose, but not if you bought the wrong item or a gift recipient doesn’t like it. It’s a good idea to ask about a store’s exchange or refund policy before you make a purchase.