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Mybudget
Jump the Christmas queues—take your shopping online
By Tammy may


Jump the Christmas queuesHow is your Christmas shopping going? Too busy, too tired or too over it to hit the shops? There’s time and money to be saved by doing your Christmas shopping online. Here are some handy pointers.

1. Get the facts straight

Fifty-eight million people visited the Bunnings website last year even though it doesn’t have a transactional shopping site. I assume that’s because, like me, they wanted to know if an item was in stock before they fought for a park, ate a greasy sausage and trekked down all 43 aisles. These days, I do my trekking online before I hit the shops and I frequently call ahead to see if they’ll hold the item at the counter.

Another reason to research is to confirm if cheap is genuinely cheap. Example: Finish dishwasher tablets are regularly offered on deal-a-day sites like Groupon, but my online fact-checking revealed that they’re usually cheaper here.

Are you a member of a motoring organisation? Don’t forget to check your member benefits for discounts: RAA, NRMA, RACQ, RACV, RACT, RAC, AANT.

2. Bargaining power

Most bricks-and-mortar retailers guarantee to beat their competitors’ in-store prices, but did you know that more and more are promising to beat online offers, too? Here’s an excerpt from Officeworks’ ‘Lowest Price Guarantee’: … If the identical product can be purchased and delivered via an online store for a total price lower than the one we are offering, we will beat that total price by 5%. Use it to your advantage.

3. Factor in delivery

I try to look for free delivery offers or place my order as early as possible to avoid paying for expedited shipping. Coles, for example, does free home delivery on Wednesdays, but you’ve got to put your order in by Sunday or Monday to get the spot you want. Pick up is always free. Don’t forget to check the returns policy, too. (Have you run out of time for delivery? See ‘Instant Delivery’ below.)

4. Know the exchange rate

Most overseas sites display their prices in foreign currency, usually US Dollars (USD). For a while, the Aussie Dollar (AUD) was stronger than the USD, which helped to lower the cost of overseas shopping for us, but the AUD has recently fallen in value. Xe.com is one of the most popular currency exchange calculators.

5. Instant delivery

A number of retailers now sell digital gift cards (try Gifte.com.au) that can be printed or emailed directly to the recipient 365 days a year, which means it’s never too late to buy or send a present—even on Christmas morning! Some of the retailers offering instant gift card delivery include: Bunnings, JB Hi-Fi, Flight Centre, David Jones, iTunes, Ticketmaster, Rebel Sport and Dymocks. No queues, no waiting, plus instant delivery.

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