10 of our best Christmas shopping hacks

Christmas can get expensive quickly, with many Aussies looking at their credit card statement in January wondering how they will pay it off. By having a plan and tweaking your shopping, you can easily have a fun, yet affordable Christmas.

1. Create a plan

As boring as it sounds, working out your Christmas budget and sticking to it is crucial to prevent your spending getting out of control. Determine who you need to buy gifts for, what you will buy them, what food you need to prepare, any travel arrangements you need to make and plan it all out.  Avoid leaving your shopping to the last minute as you’re less likely to find the perfect gift when rushed and may overspend to compensate.

2. Gather the freebies

So many businesses offer sign up bonuses and freebies to new customers. Check the website of everywhere you plan to shop. If they have a rewards program, sign up or look at the newsletter to see if they offer a discount if you join. We’ve seen discounts of $10 to $200 at some stores.

3. Make use of web browser extensions

There are many web browser extensions available now that can help you achieve real savings.  Some of our favourites include:

Cash Rewards  – Gives you an average 7% cash back on online purchases from over 1,200 stores, including Energy Australia, Virgin Australia, Booking.com, Apple, eBay and Amazon.

Honey – Scans the web for coupon codes when you’re at the check out of an online store.

Shoptagr – Monitors products you plan to buy online for price drops and will send you real-time alerts if the product you are after goes on sale.

4. Leave it in the cart

Various online stores offer a discount if items are placed in the cart and not checked out within a set period. Even supermarkets do it. Be sure to sign in when you do it or they can’t send you a discount to complete your shopping. Not all stores do it, but for those that do, it can save you some money.

5. Collect your rewards

When is the last time you checked how many points you have on your Flybuys or Everyday Rewards card? Check every reward program you’re a member of and cash out this Christmas to save you money.  Remember the points in some programs expire periodically so it’s worth checking in regularly.

6. Kris Kringle

Do you really need to buy for every adult in your life? Rather than buying a small token gift for everyone, see if you can get people on board with a Kris Kringle, Secret Santa or even a fun Dirty Santa option. Set an amount and buy one or two gifts instead of spending small amounts on lots of gifts. Most of those smaller, cheaper gifts get thrown away anyway.

7.  Be mindful when buying for children

Many families are now buying for their kids based on the principles of something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need. Doing this reduces the amount of stuff they get plus research has shown more presents doesn’t equal more happiness! Get the right gifts and let them enjoy it.

8. Plan for the future

If you have a newborn baby or really young children, they don’t need loads of gifts. Instead, considering setting them up financially by investing some of that gift money for them and encourage other family members to do the same. Add to it each year and you could easily have enough for your child to use as a house deposit or if you invest in shares they could have a tidy share portfolio when they are an adult.

9. Shop smart

You have to spend money, so be smart about it. Do it where you can get points, look out for bonus offers, and if you have a credit card with reward points, use it instead of cash. Just be sure to have the cash there to pay it off later so you’re not charged interest.

10. Prepare for next year now

Take note as you hear loved ones mention things they would like and buy them when they’re on sale throughout the year.  You could hit the Boxing Day sales or use Shoptagr to monitor for price drops of gifts you plan to buy online.  It will help spread your expenditure throughout the year and prevent any last minute stress too!

How will you save money this Christmas?