No need to wait till mid year for big savings at David Jones or Myer. Their “Mid-Season” sales is on until this Sunday 22nd April (and has even been extended!). You can get as much as 50% off some goods. Try $197.70 off the Le Creuset 28cm signature casserole dish (30% discount), hundreds of dollars off posh fridges; and some plush Sealy mattresses, anywhere up to $4,000 off the RRP. Myer, meanwhile, are discreetly following suit with special offers and online sale.

When is a Chanel deal the real deal?

Anyone who wears Chanel fragrances knows that unlike a lot of other perfumes, it’s hard to get a good deal because they’re only stocked in “authorised” outlets, e.g., department stores. And they never discount. Online perfume stores like Feeling Sexy and Perfumery only offer $4 off your 100ml Coco Eau De Parfum Spray (RRP $234) as an example. Even duty free it’s still expensive.

Imagine my excitement when I saw Deals Direct had a whole lot of discounted Chanel on offer, including the above-mentioned Coco spray for $189, which is $45 off!

But is it authentic? There are lots of fakes out there, and this blog sows you how to distinguish a real Coco bottle from a faker. For the record, the Deals Direct bottle looks legit, and a customer service team member assured me that: “You can be confident that all products sold on Deals Direct are authentic, we have taken every precaution to ensure that we have documentation tracing back to the brands themselves.”

Gift cards worth giving? (cont’d)

Last week we reported on some big retailers extending the expiry dates on their gift cards, and the NSW government now guaranteeing a minimum three-year expiry date (with a push for other states to follow). Australians spend around $2 billion a year on gift cards, with 10 to 27 percent of those never redeemed… that’s at least $200 million a year down the gurgler. Even with extended dates, research shows masses of cards still go unused.

One solution? In the US (where about $1 billion’s worth of gift cards go unspent annually) there’s a burgeoning unclaimed gift card market. Using apps and online exchanges you can buy someone else’s unwanted gift card for up to 25% off, with a small commission going to the site. Business Insider has a list of sites Australians might want to check out.

Can the government really help you buy property?

The federal government is currently putting lots of ad dollars behind its First Home Super Saver Scheme, which aims to help first home buyers save their home deposit up to 30 per cent faster. Basically you salary sacrifice extra funds into your super – building yourself a deposit inside your fund; and assuming you qualify, those extra dollars are released with less tax payable by you. How much will you save? Use the calculator to find out.

But say you have an income of $70,000 and put $10,000 into super. You could get a $25,800 deposit and save $6,210.

This tax expert writing for the Sydney Morning Herald says it will save you money if you do pay substantial tax. But Trish Power from SuperGuide reckons it’s bound to be a fizzer based on the results of a past scheme (First Home Saver Account, 2014), partly because the terms are complicated and because people are scared to lock away money in case they don’t qualify to withdraw it. So ask lots of questions before you commit.

Do free points equal real value for Qantas Assure Health?

For four years Qantas has been offering points if you switch to its Qantas Assure Health Insurance. At the moment the offer is “up to 110,000 Qantas Points” if you switch before 24 April. (FYI, Qantas Assure is an NIB product with Qantas branding.)

Finder says one point is worth an average of 0.7 cents. So 110,000 points could be worth $770 in travel/products, plus you earn 1 Qantas point per dollar you spend on your premium. But to get the full 110,000 points, you’ll need to apply as a family (not a single) and get top hospital as well as extras cover. Which ain’t cheap.

According to some savvy flyers on this Australian Business Traveller forum, when you do the sums Qantas Health Assure is much pricier: “I might as well just purchase my airfares,” says one traveller.

No to junk mail, yes to deals

You can stick the “no junk mail” sticker on your letterbox and still find out what’s on special by browsing e-catalogues at lasoo.com.au then clicking through to the retailer online. Retailers include Woolworths, Aldi, Liquorland, Toys R Us and Australia Post. At time of writing, products included a $199 Pendo 14” notebook (reduced by $50), and a Big Backyard Cedarbrook Play System, reduced by $500.