Stretching your dollar

Homemade christmas gift wraps. Picture: com

As much as we’d love to be pampered during Christmas with a bottle of Chardonnay from Victoria Wines or a new leather wallet on discount at a shop along Suva’s Renwick Road, considering the cost can be quite stressful.

When you tally up your shopping list, that’s when reality hits you don’t have enough or have just busted your budget.

Indeed, with all the expectations from loved ones and the line of planned festivities that come with it, x-mas can be an extremely expensive affair. But you need not worry.

There are still ways to enjoy the season, save money and stretch your hard-earned dollar. Below are five of my shopping tips which might help you.

  •   Plan with the internet

In today’s digitalised world, the internet provides a treasure trove of great shopping ideas and options. Since December 1, chain stores and supermarkets have started announcing their x-mas sale, most of them on their social media pages. While many of us still love the idea of window shopping along the long Victoria Parade stretch and interconnecting streets, the internet sometimes provide a cheaper option. If you have the means to order and make payment on the internet, then it would be wise to do so. If you do not have payment facility, then maybe you could look up specials on websites and social media pages to help you plan your Christmas shopping before actually making the physical trip downtown.

Tip: Don’t depend entirely on the internet to make your shopping decisions. While it should give you a fair idea of shops to visit and items on special, you still need to make the trip in person to verify the truth behind promotions you find.

  • Draw up a budget

Don’t ever feel that budgeting is for the low income earner or the cash-strapped mum. Think of it as a prudent exercise that will help you manage the home and save money, perhaps for the rainy day or so that you can buy something extra. For example, by drawing up a list of gifts to buy, you’ll have a fair idea of how much money you’ll spend on a single item and in total, although you still need to plan for price variations! If you’re the organised type who has saved throughout the year and already knows the amount in your account and will be able to pay cash for everything, making ends meet will not be your worry. Whatever your case, have a realistic budget and make sure your Christmas shopping does not affect your ability to pay for your family’s fixed and other expenses.

Tip: Avoid making impulse purchases and using a credit card that you know will take you a long time to settle. Remember it is always possible to make good buys without spending a fortune.

  • Look out for deals and discounts

Sometimes with money in the wallet, in the pocket, or from end of the year bonuses, you will be tempted to go on a shopping frenzy without considering its strain on your purse. Have you heard of the expression “one day rich?” That is what may happen to you if you just go out without considering the shopping deals on offer during this Christmas season. If you have the opportunity to use a voucher from your shoppers’ loyalty club, be sure to use it. If you can get a purchase on staff discount, why not make use of the opportunity. There are many items on sale and at very huge discounted prices. Make sure you carefully consider them. A few saves here and there can add up and you may be able to squeeze in a few other things during your Christmas shopping trip.

Tip: Be careful and make sure you are not fooled when you see sale and discount percentage and figures. Some shops will make you feel you are striking a good deal by putting “was” and “now” prices or huge discounts to lure you. Beware of discounts on inflated prices.

  • Recycle and reuse

Everyone wants to look good during the festive season. Families like to wear “kala vata”, workmates want to stage themed Christmas parties and there’s always an “all I want for Christmas” list at the back of everyone’s mind. Everyone also likes to buy new things, even if they are not necessary. It is important to think seriously about recycling items during Christmas. You can use Christmas trees and decorations over and over again, as long as these are kept away safely and securely after Christmas. Instead of buying new presents, gift items that have not been used once but still look very new. Get creative with Christmas crafts, ornaments and decorations made of materials around your home to make personal gifts. Gift wrappers and gift accessories can be used more than once. Christmas, is a perfect time to practise your green recycling habits.
Make sure it becomes a holiday tradition for your family.

Tip: Consider gifts made of durable materials or recycled content to minimise the impact on the natural  environment. Utilize re-usable shopping bags to reduce the number of plastic bags that are thrown in your garbage bin.

  • Don’t overspend on food

If there is one thing synonymous with the festive season, it is eating and drinking, which is fine. But when it reaches a stage when it becomes wasteful, then questions need to be raised. Traditionally, in Fijian homes Christmas is a period when families get together and relationships are rekindled. There’s always a cousin, grandma or uncle to accommodate at home and having weddings and other traditional gatherings are common. It is always wise to draw up a meal plan after considering the number of people you would be expecting during Christmas. Stick to your meal plan and don’t buy more than you need. Look out for good meat specials or buy in large quantities to keep costs down. Cook half your meat during your Christmas gatherings and keep aside the other half for New Year’s events. Carefully seal and store away leftovers in refrigerators.
Make use of the abundant fresh fruits available in the market this season, like pineapples, watermelon and mangoes. Use them for desserts, baking and salads instead of
buying off supermarket shelves.

Tip: Leave over spenders at home when doing your grocery shopping, such as your nagging grandchildren who will cry for toys and sweets at every shop you enter. Avoid buying your child junk because they add up. Instead, give local fruits and fresh juices during snack time.

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