The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

Ways to be shrewd as you start Christ­mas shop­ping

Don’t let your spend­ing spi­ral out of con­trol on Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day, says Vicky Shaw

- Lifestyle · Shopping · Consumer Goods · Money Tips · Personal Finance · Lifehacks · Driving Advice · Business · Amazon · Black Friday & Cyber Monday

As Christ­mas draws closer, re­tail­ers are gear­ing up for huge shop­ping bo­nan­zas.

Dra­matic price re­duc­tions, “grab it quick” of­fers and tick­ing count­down clocks are all de­signed to make you spend, spend, spend.

Black Fri­day falls on Novem­ber 29, with on­line shop­ping event Cy­ber Mon­day fol­low­ing on De­cem­ber 2.

Here are some top tips for savvy sales shop­ping, and stick­ing to your in­tended bud­get as the sales fren­zies get un­der way.

1 Look out for bar­gains before Black Fri­day Thought Black Fri­day only lasted one day? The best bar­gains may not be on the day it­self.

And many stores will be slash­ing their prices before then as they bat­tle to en­cour­age you to part with your money.

For ex­am­ple, Ama­zon. co.uk’s Black Fri­day sale is stretch­ing over eight days – from Novem­ber 22 through to Novem­ber 29.

To keep up to date about stores’ sales and dis­count codes, you may also want to sign up for their news­let­ter emails. You could set up a sep­a­rate email ac­count to re­ceive th­ese to stop them clog­ging up your reg­u­lar in­box.

2 Check the re­turns pol­icy

It can be easy to just grab ev­ery­thing off the shelves – and just as­sume you can re­turn items later if you de­cide you don’t want them.

But if you sim­ply change your mind about some of your pur­chases, will you be able to re­turn them, or will you have wasted your money?

Mar­tyn James, spokesman for con­sumer help web­site Re­solver. co.uk, said: “Check out the re­turns pol­icy that the re­tailer has. You have a num­ber of statu­tory rights when it comes to re­turn­ing wonky goods or ser­vices.

“But if you just want to change some­thing or re­turn it you will need to re­fer to the guide on the re­tailer’s site.”

If you’re buy­ing Christ­mas gifts for loved ones on Black Fri­day, Mr James also rec­om­mends ask­ing for a gift re­ceipt at the till, so your loved one can take the item back if they need to. In ad­di­tion, he sug­gests that if you’re buy­ing gifts for Christ­mas, open the box care­fully to check ev­ery­thing’s cor­rect – rather than wait­ing un­til the big day. This could make it eas­ier to re­turn the pur­chase.

3 Be a cynic

Mr James says the rules cov­er­ing sales can be broad, so if you see some­thing that looks like a bar­gain, go to the man­u­fac­turer’s web­site and look at the rec­om­mended re­tail price. Bear in mind that items of­ten sell for less than this all year round. Some web­sites will give price com­par­isons if you do on­line searches for items.

4 Check the de­liv­ery charges

Mr James said: “If you’re buy­ing big items, make sure you’ve checked to see if there will be a de­liv­ery charge.”

He also cau­tions that costs can quickly add up if you are buy­ing items from over­seas – so what ini­tially looks like a “bar­gain” could be­come much more ex­pen­sive.

5 Fo­cus on the real deals When you’re be­ing bom­barded with mes­sages about “great of­fers”, it can be hard to stay fo­cused on what’s re­ally a great deal.

Sal­man Haqqi, a per­sonal fi­nance ex­pert at money.co.uk, said the prices of gad­gets such as TVs, tablets, lap­tops, kitchen ac­ces­sories, games con­soles and smart home de­vices of­ten plunge around Black Fri­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Money. co.uk, the steep­est dis­counts on TVs can of­ten be on the more “mid-range” op­tions. But the web­site also cau­tions against splash­ing out just be­cause there’s a big dis­count. While now could be a great time to up­grade your old tech­nol­ogy, if your ex­ist­ing gad­gets are still work­ing well, it’s prob­a­bly more cost-ef­fec­tive to stick with what you’ve got.

6 Use plas­tic wisely

It can be par­tic­u­larly tempt­ing in the sales to ramp up your credit card spend­ing – but this could cause a debt hang­over you’ll be pay­ing off well into 2020.

Credit check­ing ser­vice ClearScore, which an­a­lysed the spend­ing of its eight mil­lionusers,foundthat among those with a credit card, the av­er­age fi­nal bal­ance by the end of 2018 was £3,600 after fes­tive spend­ing. Those who don’t clear their credit card bal­ance in full each month could quickly see in­ter­est charges mount up. ClearScore cal­cu­lated that some­one mak­ing only the min­i­mum re­pay­ment each month could see a fur­ther £620 added to a Christ­mas bill dur­ing 2020 based on av­er­age card rates – or more than £1,000 if they’re on a higher-rate card.

Switch­ing to a card with an in­tro­duc­tory rate of 0% on pur­chases could help you avoid in­ter­est on your Black Fri­day and other Christ­mas spend­ing. That way you can make sure all your re­pay­ments go to­wards re­duc­ing the debt. But try to avoid any debt if you can.

“Check out the re­turns pol­icy that the re­tailer has”

 ??  ?? SPLASH­ING THE CASH: Avoid spend­ing with care­less aban­don when bar­gain bo­nan­zas like Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day come around
SPLASH­ING THE CASH: Avoid spend­ing with care­less aban­don when bar­gain bo­nan­zas like Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day come around

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