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5 ways to shop a little smarter this Christmas

If cash flow is looking a tad grim this year, here are some ideas to up the presents under the tree, noting it’s the presence around it that really counts.

If cash flow is looking a tad grim this year, here are some ideas to up the presents under the tree, noting it’s the presence around it that really counts.

We don’t need to list the events of 2020 to say it’s been a big one, particularly as we approach the festive season, where many common face-to-face interactions will be limited to a phone or video call.

As we grapple with a slightly different-looking Christmas, the good news is many of us will go into it with a new-found appreciation of the presence of loved ones over the presents of the material kind.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for some tips around managing the costs of gift giving, here are some ways you could potentially shop a little smarter, so your money goes a little further.

Create a plan and write yourself a list

While we might love the sound of ripping through wrapping paper, much of this generosity is unplanned, with nearly 75% of Aussies indicating they don’t budget for giftsi, which could lead to increased pressure on household budgets well into the new year.

While there’s much to be said for the spur-of-the-moment splurge, more of our generosity could be planned, with a bit of time being spent thinking about what you might buy before hitting the shops.

As many events, such as Christmas, anniversaries and birthdays fall on the same day each year, it may also be somewhat easier planning for these occasions in advance.

Buy in bulk and look at cheaper alternatives

Bulk buying multiple gifts that aren’t intended for a specific occasion is a growing trend, with one in three of us doing it, providing a way to save both time and moneyii.

Women (31%) are more likely than men (24%) to be wise to the blessings of bulk buying, however it’s an even more popular trend among young familiesiii.

Even taking advantage of a bargain pack of Christmas cards, rather than buying them individually from a newsagent, could save you quite a bit. Meanwhile, give some thought to resellers, such as Gumtree or eBay, as you may be able to buy the same products second hand and at a fraction of the price. In some instances, things may still be in brand new condition too, with people often needing to sell things unexpectedly.

It also goes without saying to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to sales. In the lead up to Christmas, there’s Click Frenzy, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday and Free Shipping Day, not to mention Boxing Day if you happen to be seeing someone after the 25thiv.

Give the gift of time or skill

There’s more to giving than things you can wrap – experiences matter too. Instead of another bottle of wine or a vanilla-scented candle, taking someone out for lunch, or providing a home-cooked meal, could be more up their alley.

In fact, given the choice, 61% of us would opt for quality time, with only 30% preferring cash or a tangible giftv. Intangible gifts are also particularly important for those aged 18 to 24, with more than half saying that an intangible gift such as time, an experience, or learning a new skill has had a more significant impact on shaping their lifevi.

On top of that, if you’re lucky enough to be going to someone else’s place this Christmas and you’ve got skills in cooking, decorating or manicuring lawns, offering these services to help with the prep work may be a highly valuable commodity for those taking on the job of hosting.

Pitch in as a group

Group giving can be a great way to reduce individual costs while harnessing the purchasing power of many to buy something that may be on the expensive side.

Whether it’s colleagues, friends or family, 73% of us get together to give giftsvii. It also gives people a chance to play to their strengths and take a different role, whether it be providing gift suggestions, collecting the cash, purchasing the present, wrapping it, or writing the card.

Other ways you could play to a group scenario this Christmas is Secret Santa. It may be an obvious one, but if in the past you’ve all bought each other a present, this provides a way for everyone to buy just one present for a member of the group, with the specifics of the arrangement up to you.

Regift it – nearly half of us do

Admit it, you’ve probably done it. About two in five Aussies have regifted at one point or another, with those aged 25 to 39 the second most serial regifters, only after young familiesviii.

It makes sense too. After all, why let a bottle of red go to waste if you don’t drink it, let alone un-worn clothes, or a box of chocolates, particularly when you’ve now got a stash of half a dozen.

Whether we don’t like what we’ve been given, or ethically choose to reduce waste and lengthen an item’s lifespan, regifting is an increasingly acceptable approach.

Remember, true Christmas cheer – the kind that’ll last into the new year – has rarely been accomplished on the back of riches of the financial kind. After all, the gift of time is your most precious resource.

i, ii, iii, v, vi, vii, viii Financial Planning Association of Australia – ‘Gifts that Give’ 2019 research report – pages 5, 11, 11, 9, 9, 12, 10
iv Finder – Australian sale events in 2020
©AWM Services Pty Ltd. First published November 2020

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