Gemma Smart's tips for smarter shopping

Shopping extraordinaire Gemma Smart shares her top tips for making your shopping budget work harder for you.

You can’t buy taste, but you can have a perfectly wonderful time trying. Over the years I’ve trained myself to become something of a shopping expert - eye on the prize at all times.

At some point I realised conspicuous consumption or keeping up with the A-Listers was a hollow pursuit. However, I do believe in rewarding yourself for your hard work with something you really, really want. Because, in moderation, surrounding yourself with a little bit of lovely stuff will do wonders for quality of life.

It’s my hard-earned money I’m spending. I actually save a small amount from my salary every month for new-season pieces. My Gem Visa credit card is most useful here. That six month interest free offer on purchases over $2501 makes it my go-to credit card for smart shopping.

I chose to add Shopper’s Protection, so if what I’ve bought goes on sale within 6 months at the same store, I can get the difference back2 – that’s smart and very handy for Christmas shopping. It makes me feel like I have one over on a financial institution.

Gemma Smart's rules for shopping smarter:

  • Never shop with a frenemy. I did once and ended up in floral knickerbockers and a pirate shirt. Said frenemy convinced me I was a cross between a Little Lord Fauntleroy and Blackbeard’s lover. If you doubt your friend’s intentions, shop alone.

  • Repeat after me: never, ever buy anything online from a label you’re not intimately acquainted with (unless they have a detailed size guide and free returns). Sizes vary enormously.

  • When shopping for swimsuits, use fake tan seriously, but stop short of Donatella orange. It does make the cold, hard unforgiving light of the change rooms kinder on cellulite. Eliminate that horror and you’ll concentrate a lot better on how the swimsuit fits. A round of liposuction ahead of time is probably a step too far.

  • Instant gratification matters. Ms Smart’s Law specifically states that if I have to save for months for a New Year’s Eve outfit, it will have sold out. And layby is rarely satisfying. Which is why I whip my Gem Visa credit card out for moments like these. Just as long as that outfit is more than $250 because darling, Gem Visa gives me six month’s interest free credit1.

  • On no account should you buy something just because it’s fashionable. I mean pool slides and socks together? Style matters far more. Fortunately, mules are this season’s much-needed upgrade from the pool slide.

  • I’ll often wear my outrageously expensive jacket with my cheap-as-chips tee and stylish sunnies. Suddenly, my tee looks a million bucks. That is the transformative power of rubbing shoulders with the seriously well-cut. High-low, high-low; it’s how we work these days.

  • Why put yourself through the Christmas rush? Use your plastic fantastic online and take advantage of the gift wrapping service for even less effort.

Things you need to know

Gemma Smart is a fictitious person, used for illustrative purposes only.
1Gem Visa credit and lending criteria, and fees apply. Prevailing interest rate (currently 25.99% p.a.) applies after interest free period ends. Gem Visa is provided by Latitude Financial Services Limited.
2Shopper’s Protection Terms, conditions and some exclusions apply. Insurance issued by Hallmark Life Insurance Company Ltd. And Hallmark General Insurance Company Ltd. (incorporated in Australia and operating in New Zealand).