6 ways to save on your Christmas shopping

Woman carrying Christmas presents

As anyone who’s big on secret santas and festive dinners knows, Christmas celebrations don’t come cheap. But the good news is that tightening your budget this December doesn’t have to come at the expense of nice gifts. 

Whether you’re doing your shopping online or in-store, here are six tactics to help you cut the cost of Christmas and keep your savings account intact.

Missed out on Black Friday? Keep your eyes peeled

While some say to purchase all your gifts during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t worry if you’ve missed out this time round. Given that we’re three weeks away from Christmas Day, there are still windows of opportunity to snag your presents at a discount. 

The trick is to shop smarter, not harder:

  • Sign up with your loved ones’ favourite retailers, so you’ll be the first to hear about any price drops in the lead-up to Christmas, including any early Boxing Day sales. Some retailers may also email through vouchers like $10 off your first purchase, which you can take advantage of to shave off a few extra bucks. Hot tip: If you’re worried about flooding your existing inbox, create a separate email account just for those newsletters.
  • Go on discount sites like OzBargain, where a whole community of Australians are sharing the best discounts they spot online or in-store. In particular, look out for posts with more upvotes, as popularity is a good indicator of whether something is a noteworthy deal. But don’t take their word for it: do your own price comparison online before checking out.

Map out your spending

Ever fallen for the ‘buy two, get one free’ trap and bought an extra item you didn’t even need? While it can be hard to overlook what seems like a good deal, the golden rule to avoid overspending is - if you don’t need it, don’t buy it! Budgeting is a great way to keep yourself focused:

  • Set yourself a spending limit - make sure it fits with your existing budget
  • Write up your ‘nice’ list - whom you’re buying gifts for and what gifts you’re planning to buy
  • Allocate funds to each person.
Who?What?Budget
MumSkincare$45
DadWine$40
GrandmaFloral tea set
$50
Grandpa
Custom wallet
$50
SisterNecklace$45
JaneBoard game
$25
MarkNovel$25
Secret Santa
Office desk pot plant
$20


Total: $300

If you aren’t too savvy with pen and paper or spreadsheet budgeting, there are a range of free apps like Santa’s Bag (iOS) and Christmas Gift List (Android) that can help you plan and track all your gift purchases.

Cash in on the cashbacks

When it comes to saving money, every bit counts. On top of any discounts you’ve already found is the opportunity to put even more dollars back into your pocket with cashbacks. 

There are a few ways to earn cashback, and the method that suits you will depend on your shopping and payment preferences:

  • Cashback sites: Ever heard of CashRewards or ShopBack? By using these platforms you can get cash back from a range of different online retailers, which can then be withdrawn and deposited into your bank account. A few caveats though: the cashbacks could take up to three months to get approved, and you’ll usually need to hit a minimum amount (say, $10) before you can make a withdrawal.
  • Bank account with extra bang: Imagine a bank account that gives you money as you spend. That’s exactly what cards like HSBC’s Everyday Global Account do - customers can earn 2% cashback on all ‘tap and go’ purchases under $100 (capped at $50/month), given they also deposit at least $2,000 in their HSBC account every month.
  • Buy Now Pay Later: Or perhaps you’re one of the 30% of Australian adults who have a Buy Now Pay Later account. If that’s the case and you’re using BNPL service Zip Pay, then for a limited time you’ll receive a 3% cashback on all transactions (max. $30 per transaction) when you use ‘Tap and Zip’ at any online or physical store that accepts Visa.
  • Rewards credit card: Finally, if you love the flexibility of choosing how to redeem your rewards points - whether for cashback or something else like discounted domestic flights - a rewards credit card may be up your ally instead. Some offers like ANZ’s Frequent Flyer Black card and Westpac’s Low Rate card are even giving $200 back to new customers who sign up and spend a minimum amount during a certain period of time. Just be mindful that as with any credit card, it’s vital to keep your spending in check and make all your monthly repayments on time so you don’t get hit by late fees and high interest charges.

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  • American Express Qantas Ultimate Card

    Earn up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points* That’s 70,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply online by 3rd September 2024, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Plus, an additional 20,000 bonus Qantas Points in your second year upon fee renewal. Annual Card fee is $450. T&Cs apply. New Amex Card Members only.

    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $450
    90,000
    1.25 points up to 100,000 points/year, then
    1 point uncapped
    Details
  • G&C Mutual Bank Platinum Visa Credit Card

    Receive 50,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply, are approved, and spend $5,000 on eligible purchases on your new G&C Mutual Bank Platinum Visa Credit Card within 90 days. T&Cs apply. Available to new G&C Mutual Bank Card Members only. Earn 10,000 bonus Qantas Points annually. T&Cs apply. Access Platinum Visa Concierge. Add an additional cardholder at no extra cost.

    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $299
    30,000
    1 point up to 20,000 points/month
  • NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card

    70,000 Bonus Qantas Points. Offer applies to a new NAB Qantas Rewards Premium Card when you spend $2,000 on everyday purchases within 60 days.

    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $250 $150 in the first year
    70,000
    0.66 points up to $3,000/month, then
    0.33 points up to $6,000/month
  • American Express Qantas Premium Card

    Receive 20,000 bonus Qantas Points when you apply, are approved, and spend $3,000 on eligible purchases on your new Qantas American Express Premium Card within 3 months of Card Membership. T&C’s apply. Available to new American Express Card Members only.

    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    Qantas Frequent Flyer
    $249
    20,000
    1 point uncapped
  • NAB Rewards Signature Card

    Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on everyday purchases within the first 60 days of account opening and 40,000 bonus points when you keep your card for over 12 months (T&Cs apply). Enjoy a reduced annual card fee (from $295 to $195) for the first year. Up to 44 Interest free days on purchases (T&Cs apply). $15,000 minimum credit limit. 0% p.a. on standard balance transfer (BT) rate for 12 months (3% BT fee applies).

    Rewards program
    Annual fee
    Bonus points
    Earn rate per $1
    NAB Rewards
    $295 $145 in the first year
    160,000
    1.25 points uncapped

Make price match your pal

As any seasoned haggler would know, never settle for the first offer. For ‘big ticket’ gifts like a TV or a gaming console, price match is your best friend in helping you save potentially hundreds. 

Say, for instance, you spotted a laptop on sale for $1,500 at JB Hi Fi and the exact same model at Officeworks at a slightly more expensive price of $1,650. Just by asking an employee in-store or over the phone to beat JB Hi Fi’s price by 5% (as per Officeworks’ price match policy), you could snag that laptop for just $1,425 - or $225 less than if you’d just gone with Officeworks’ initial offer.

Ditch the FX fee

Like many other Aussies, you may be turning to online shopping this holiday season. But watch out for an additional charge that could be hurting your wallet more than you think: foreign exchange or FX fees.  

You may not realise this but for every present you purchase on an international website, your debit card or credit card may be charging you FX fees up to 3.65%. For a $120 pair of sneakers that’s a $4.38 surcharge. 

Luckily there are plenty of plastics in the market with absolutely zero FX fees - 12 debit cards and 28 credit cards in the Mozo database, to be exact. Check out a few of these low fee cards.

Go DIY

Did staying at home this year inspire the baker or artist inside of you? Well it’s time to get creative and put those quarantine hobbies to use! Rather than spending money, you could spend the day making cookies or origami and assembling them into DIY Christmas hampers for family and friends.

This concept could even be applied to your secret santas. Instead of going with a budget of say $30, everyone could chip in with something handmade, whether that’s a pencil drawing or a knitted scarf.

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