christmas present

Good news for last-minute shoppers; you could be dishing out less on Christmas gifts

The holiday period is chaotic to say the least, and it’s understandable that many of us leave our Christmas shopping to the last minute. While you may think leaving this errand to the last minute will see you footing a more expensive bill for your Christmas presents, the reverse is actually true.

A new survey unveiled shoppers who begin purchasing festive presents in October or earlier tend to pay more compared to those who start buying gifts in the last week before Christmas. That is, early-bird shoppers who get in early end up paying more than double, or 109% more, compared to those who leave it to the eleventh hour.

Those who start buying gifts in October, more than eight weeks out from Christmas, pay $716 for gifts, which is around 33% above the national average of $539. However, those buying four days prior to Christmas day will spend just $343 on gifts.

When you think about it, starting your shopping earlier means you have more time to spend so you may be more inclined to make impulse or unplanned purchases if you haven’t budgeted accordingly. It’s one of those “Oh, I’ll add that extra thing to go with it” kind of scenarios.

To trim your gift-buying, you can do the following:

1. Set yourself a cap on gifts.
Firstly, make a list of the people you’d like to buy for and set yourself a price cap for each person. It’s also sensible to have an idea of what you’d like to buy them before you begin shopping so you’re not swayed by marketing promotions or offers. This will give you greater structure when it comes to locating and narrowing down your options, and it will help you save time too. If you don’t know how much you can afford to spend on gifts, use a budgeting app or an online budgeting calculator to forecast your spend.

2. Don’t fall for excessive delivery costs.
If you’re thinking of doing the bulk of your Christmas shopping online, don’t pay excess charges for delivery/shipping if you’re purchasing from an overseas retailer. Some retailers charge as much as 10-15% for shipping if you don’t purchase more than a certain amount, so consider browsing retailer sites that offer free shipping/delivery to dodge this cost completely.

3. Be conscious of extending your debt.
When used correctly, credit cards and personal loans can be a useful way to manage the steep costs of the festive period. However, if you already have multiple credit cards or if you’re struggling to meet your debt repayments, be cautious of taking out further debt. One solution to cut down on interest charges is to sign up for a 0% purchase rate card which enables you to pay no interest for a promotional timeframe. With these cards, try to repay as much debt as you possibly can during the interest-free period to reduce your interest charges.

4. Leverage the sharing economy.
If you need to make some extra cash to help cover the cost of your festive gifts, make the most of the sharing economy. For instance, consider using your skills outside your workplace (e.g. photography, design, teaching) to create an additional income source through sites such as Air Tasker. On the other hand, renting out a spare room in your property could give your income a healthy boost. A recent study found that renting out a room could provide you with an additional $808 each month which could be used for your festive period budget.

5. Buy in bulk.
Like many supplies, it’s often cheaper when you purchase in larger quantities. If you’re buying wrapping paper, cards, decorations, or food and beverage, consider purchasing in bulk to score yourself a discount. Many stores will provide you with a 5-10% discount when you purchase over a certain amount or quantity so keep an eye out for these types of promotions.

Buying Christmas gifts is just one part of the equation when it comes to covering the cost of the holiday period, but if you want to keep your finances in order, try to cut costs so you don’t start 2017 with excessive debt. Setting yourself a budget for gifts, keeping an eye on delivery costs, and being creative about ways of making extra cash, are just a few ways you can reduce your expenses this festive season.