22 December 2023

Summer $avings: Surviving the Boxing Day sales on a budget

| Keeli Royle
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Sale sign.

Boxing Day can be a great time to bag a bargain, but make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin! Photo: Unsplashed/Markus Spiske.

Australians are expected to once again spend billions of dollars in the post-Christmas sales as the excitement of ‘one-off’ slashed prices encourages consumers to splurge or risk missing out.

New data from Commonwealth Bank shows that nearly one in two people have made plans to shop the Boxing Day sales this year. The average planned spend this year is $475.70, making a total of $4.6 billion nationally.

But with the holiday season already an extremely expensive time of year, how can you enjoy the shopping event and still stick to your budget?

A spokesperson from the Salvos said that sales can be a great time to get ahead and start planning for future birthdays, foreseen needs throughout the year and even next Christmas but it is important to first work out what you can afford.

“Do this before spending any money on sales,” they said.

“How much do you have available to spend after you’ve taken account of all your normal living costs? Allow a buffer of about 10 per cent to account for emergencies, etc.”

READ ALSO Summer $avings: Dress to impress without blowing the budget

Creating a detailed spending plan and outlining the necessities from the desires can help you stay on track while in the shopping centre and not get tempted by other items.

“List down what you would like to spend, and for what purpose – make sure you include everything.”

“Work out what you really have to spend money on and what you would like to spend money on.”

“List some priorities and adjust your spending plan to fit into your budget.”

Once this plan is set comes the difficult task of actually sticking to it.

University of Wollongong consumer expert and senior lecturer Dr Nadia Zainuddin said understanding how marketers may be targeting you can prevent you from walking out of stores with unnecessary or expensive purchases.

“I just push people to engage in a more deliberate decision making process instead of a more automatic or reactive consumption choice,” Dr Zainuddin.

“I think being in that situation where you have that capacity to consider your decisions a little bit more can help to give consumers a bit more control and it can help to mitigate any unintended consequences like buyer’s remorse or overextending yourself by spending more than you can afford.”

She said the physical environment, social surroundings, the time you have to shop and your attitude going into the store can all impact your experience and how much you spend.

“Some people enjoy shopping, they find it therapeutic, they enjoy going to the stores, looking at all the things, touching the products and trying them out and because shopping is something they enjoy and look forward to, they’re in a positive mood and more likely to take liberties in the shopping and consumption decisions that you make.”

READ ALSO Summer $avings: 31 free (or cheap) things to do in the Illawarra these school holidays (16 December – 31 January)

Seeing a great deal could also target your impulse to buy, but it is important to be aware of the excitement and still assess your budget – and whether it is actually a bargain or could be that price again in a couple of months.

“I think another thing that a lot of businesses capitalise on is that fear of missing out, that FOMO, [some people will think] ‘this deal is never to be repeated’ but we know that’s not true and eventually there will be another deal,” Dr Zainuddin said.

“Promotions like one-day sales and click frenzies are designed to elicit a more behavioural response rather than get you to consider the decision.”

And when paying for your purchases, be aware that it’s not going to end up more expensive or putting you in a strained financial position.

That includes using techniques like buy now, pay later and ensuring that you have the finances for every repayment, not just the initial one.

“If you need to use a credit card to shop make sure you have a specific plan to pay it off in full before the due date,” the Salvos spokesperson said. “Cash, debit card, EFTPOS and layby can be better ways to go.”

“Don’t increase your credit card limit, get additional cards or resort to payday loans.”

And ultimately if something seems too good to be true, whether it be a deal or a special finance repayment or website you’ve come across on social media, it probably is.

So always consider all your options before diving right in and remember that there will always be another deal in the future.

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