28 December 2008

I'm going on a shoe hunt....

Christmas is over, the food has been eaten, the drinks are all gone and the Christmas cake is slowly dwindling away. The kids have put their presents away and the recycle bin is full to overflowing with cardboard, wrapping paper, soft drink bottles and the like.

It's time to hit the Boxing Day sales. This year I am a little late, due to a family crisis, but I am ready and raring to go. I have looked over all the junk mail and pored over the websites to choose what I will buy and work out my plan of attack.

Tomorrow morning at 8:15am I will be leaving home, money tucked safely in my purse and water bottle at the bottom of my bag so I can go shoe shopping. I desperately need new black heels, new sandals and some smart but dressy courts. And perhaps some flats to wear this winter too. I am going to David Jones to do battle at the shoe sale and I intend to bring home everything on my list.

Hannah has her list made out too. She has her Christmas money divided up in her purse - some for clothes, some for stationery, a little put aside for new runners and enough for a couple of new CDs she has been waiting for.

Ok, if I am going to be up early and full of beans tomorrow I need to get to bed right now.

22 December 2008

After Christmas Sales – Shopping to Save

Being an avid bargain hunter the very best shopping day of the year is Boxing Day (or the day after Boxing Day, depending on which state you live) when the after Christmas sales begin and there are bargains galore to be had for the taking - or rather the buying.

Getting up early, eating a good breakfast, dressing in comfy clothes and shoes and packing bottles of chilled water and packets of munchies just adds to the excitement of the day. Checking my purse to make sure I have my Christmas money safely tucked inside is the last thing I do before I head out the door, ready to go straight to my shopping centre of choice (it varies from year to year, depending on what bargains I'm after) nice and early. I like to get an undercover carpark if I can ( this sale is during summer after all) and on the day the Boxing Day sales start I need to be early - really, really early.

It's all part of the fun of the bargain hunting. Hours have been spent poring over the junk mail and listening to the ads on TV. Lists have been made - things for the house, things for the children, gifts to be bought for during the year, even next year's Christmas gift list has been started.

Having a plan of attack (it really is like a bun fight sometimes) will help you get through the day in one piece and still sane. Use a list to know where you have to be first, you'll want to get the most important things on your list first so you don't miss out, then work through the other items you want to buy. If something is really important to you then don't hesitate, buy it straight away. Yes, it may be further reduced a few days later but you also run the risk of missing out. Can you live with that? Or would you rather buy it at the originally reduced price and run the risk of it being reduced again later on?

The after Christmas sales are the perfect time to buy Christmas specific things. Wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, fabrics, decorations, even food will be greatly reduced and could be worth buying. Remember, if you already have enough wrapping paper covered in reindeer and Santa and boxes of Christmas cards to last you the next 10 years I'd say you probably don't need any more. But if the wrapping paper comes in plain colours or less specific patterns it can be used for birthdays, weddings, new babies etc and buying it cheaply will save you money.

It's also a fantastic time to add to your collection of decorations, with items being up to 75% off the original retail price. Lights, lawn decorations, tinsels, wreaths, tree ornaments and craft items can be bought now and stored with your current decorations ready for next Christmas.

One mum I know buys each of her children a new tree ornament each year during the sales. She is putting them into a box, labelled with each of their names, so that when they leave home they'll have a set of decorations for their Christmas tree. I think this is a lovely idea and picking up the ornaments during the sales she is getting much nicer items at rock bottom prices.

Thinking outside the square can save you big bucks. Fairy lights can be used not just for Christmas but for birthdays, to light outdoor patios, to turn a little girl's bedroom into a fairy grotto, just use your imagination. After Christmas they can be reduced by up to 80%, a great saving.

The after Christmas sales can also impact your grocery budget. You'll find turkeys, hams, duck and chicken all reduced after Christmas. Chocolates, puddings, custards and lollies will be reduced as well and they can all be put away for birthdays, Easter and other celebrations through the year. Just check the best before and use by dates so they'll be in peak condition when you go to use them.

Hampers and gift packs are big business at Christmas time and after Christmas they are reduced by anything up to 90%, depending on what they are. I buy hampers, especially toiletries and cosmetics and break them up to use as teacher gifts and small thank-you gifts throughout the year.

It would be easy to go crazy during the after Christmas sales and buy everything that catches your eye. Be strong, don't go crazy and buy because it's there. Shop with a plan and a purpose and you'll be a happy shopper at the end of the day.

02 December 2008

The Six Worst Gift Ideas Ever

The busiest shopping time of the entire year has arrived. Australians are flocking to shopping centres, looking for just the right gift for Aunty Maud and little Johnny and everyone else on their gift list.

All of us have heard at one time or another the saying 'buyer (or seller) beware - but in this case, the saying now becomes 'gifter' beware. Many of us give with the best of intentions, but never realize that the gifts we are about to give are truly nightmares - or worse - in disguise. No one ever means to make such a mistake, but these do occur and we are here to help you avoid these mishaps. The following are the six worst gift ideas ever to cross our paths.

No. 1 The first and biggest of the six worst gift ideas ever to give is the item that tries to give a subtle hint for what you consider a needed change in this person's life. We think this is a polite way of doing it, but all in all we cause more pain and trouble than it is worth. Some examples of these types of gifts are things like books for losing weight, an audio book on helping someone with their memory, or even a book on finding the right guy or girl. For the recipient, all they experience is you calling them fat, stupid, and unable to meet good people for relationships. The gift causes pain and depression - the opposite of the intention you had for it.

No. 2 The second of the six worst gift ideas ever given is giving something that shows how little, if any, thought you put into your gift. This happens more often than people like to admit to, and this is why it is number two on our list. An example that springs to mind is the steel wool, wrapped roughly in used Christmas paper, and thrown under the tree, that a relative gave to my brother-in-law one year. It's hard to show thankfulness and gratitude for a gift like that. If you truly don't want to put your heart into giving gifts, then don't even bother - those you call friends will appreciate it.

No. 3 The third out of six worst gift ideas ever thought of would be the extremely large books often referred to as coffee table books. The typical thought when giving these books is that the large wrapped item will make the person so much more happy - but upon opening this tome of a book, almost always the person is anything but happy. Books can be a great gift, but remember that in this instance, regular sized or even pocket sized is better than extraordinarily huge, hard to handle and impossible to read curled up in a chair or bed, books!

No. 4 Fourth of the six worst gift ideas ever attempted is giving a gift that the person has no way to exchange or even be able to give away. We all want the recipient to love our gifts, but we can't get it right 100 percent of the time. So please, do not give a gift from a specialty shop that does not exist in the recipient's part of the country unless you know for sure they want this item in question. If you don't, the person has the potential to be disappointed in you and your gift and your money, time and energy will have been wasted.

No. 5 Of the six worst gift ideas ever to see the light of day, number five may appear harmless enough, but don't allow it to fool you. We all forget a holiday or special occasion and find ourselves desperate to come up with a gift. We know we don't have enough time to go out and purchase something, and making something is out of the question. So we look through what we own and give the special someone a gift we ourselves were given before, or even something we had bought for ourselves. The problem is the immense guilt you feel after the fact for doing so. Remember, even with items that at first appear free to give away - there is always a cost.

No. 6 Finally, the sixth worst gift idea ever is the one where you buy the item, actually wanting it for yourself, but you figure the recipient will not want it and will give it back to you to be returned or exchanged. Please know this: this type of plan will always backfire on you, and is horrible to attempt in the first place! If you want the item, buy it. Choose something you know the recipient wants, needs, likes and will enjoy and you will both be wearing smiles.

As you hit the shops with your gift list in hand, keep these six points in mind. It is easier to find the perfect gift than you think.