We’re currently experiencing an interesting time in the economy, with the Australian Dollar losing around 20% value against the US Dollar after a sustained period of being close to parity. Big multinational businesses usually hedge money to smooth out small shifts, but the downturn has been persistent enough that many have moved to increase the prices of their products in response to the situation.
What’s unusual however, is companies giving the market an early warning that prices are about to increase drastically. Apple did it towards the beginning of the year, much to the annoyance of its otherwise fiercely loyal fans. But hey, it improved resale value for those who had already got theirs! Hence when somebody leaked an e-mail from Microsoft saying that the company was about bump the cost of their Surface tablets – along with a timely 10% off sale – the time was right to buy…
But why stop there? In spite of the situation there’s usually a better deal to be had, and by applying some basic techniques I managed to root out an extra-awesome deal. Let me share some of these with you so you can use them next time you’re after a bargain.
- Discount gift cards: these days you can’t throw a virtual rock without hitting a discounted gift card deal. For example, 5% discounts on Woolworths Group/WISH gift cards can be had through Entertainment Book, Pricepal, Cash Rewards, the occasional Groupon deal, etc.The trick here is, not only do these discounted gift cards apply to stores in the Woolworths Group (Big W, Masters, Dan Murphy’s, et al), but you can also use them to pay for other gift cards like JB Hifi, Rebel Sports, EB Games, Event Cinemas… and so on and so forth, effectively transferring the discount to those other places!
- Price matching: when you find a low price on an item, see if another place will beat it. If not, even getting them to match it is often worthwhile, for example: so you can buy from a store that accepts discounted gift vouchers (see previous point); maybe the business has a better returns policy; or the store accepts your preferred payment method (e.g. Amex, Paypal).If the sales rep refuses or tells you to buy it from the source, try telling them that you’re trying to remain loyal to their business, or you received some gift cards as a present that you have to spend at their store, or that you don’t like the service at the other store. Flattery will get you everywhere.
- Bundles: accessories tend have a high margin so there is much more scope for discounts. If you can’t negotiate a deal on the item that you want but you know you were going to buy certain accessories anyway, try asking for a deal on a bundle and you might find them more open to the idea.
- GST refund: one of the best times to buy is if you’re about to travel overseas, because you can claim back the 10% GST through the Tourist Refund Scheme. The basic rules for this are:
- The item has to be over $300;
- The purchase has to be within 60 days of travel;
- You have to have a tax invoice, and if the item was over $1,000 the invoice must include your address; and
- You have to bring the item with you as carry-on.
There is one caveat though: the scheme is obviously intended for goods leaving the country, so there is a possibility that you’ll be charged customs duty when you bring the item back at the end of your trip. So this method wouldn’t be good for gifts and other things where you want to keep the original packaging.
- Salary Sacrifice: this option depends on your employer and whether they offer it to employees. Generally speaking, you can package work-related cars, mobile phones and laptops and get back the GST and the tax on the value of your purchase at your marginal tax rate. But best to speak to your HR or financial advisor about this one.
With these techniques you’ll have managed to get the absolutely best possible price for your purchase. But that’s not all! In the next post, I’ll teach you how to milk every last little benefit out of your purchase.
Photo credit: Luc Galoppin on Flickr