Sticking to a budget can be difficult, as retailers put out their most tempting deals.
Black Friday (November 26) will soon be here, although retailers often start bombarding customers with deals ahead of the shopping bonanza.
With household finances being squeezed by bill rises, and some concerns having been raised about potential shortages, it’s particularly important this year to stay focused and avoid overbuying.
To help you stick to a budget, here are some expert tips…
1. Write down your reasons for buying
Catherine Hiley, a Black Friday deals expert at Uswitch.com, says: “A great starting point to keep control of how much you spend on Black Friday is to list out the items you really need and the reasons for buying something.
“If you struggle with overspending, having a dedicated spreadsheet with your list of options, best places to buy and a reason for buying each can be really beneficial. This can also help you avoid buyer’s remorse and get the items for all the right reasons.”
2. Be ready
With some retailers potentially offering discounts ahead of Black Friday, it’s important to be ready to pounce.
Hiley suggests: “Keep an eye out for when deals start. If you’re buying something likely to sell out quickly, set up an account with the website to avoid a last minute dash to set up logins. This can help you get to the front of the queue when the offer goes live.”
3. Find out what other consumers think
Don’t just be swayed by the price tag – Hiley recommends seeking out customer reviews to get an idea of the quality of the product.
4. Check the seller
Smaller websites can offer great deals – but if you haven’t heard of them or used them before, make sure they’re legitimate.
Hiley suggests making sure the website is secure, the address is registered as a business and they have good reviews on independent websites.
5. Cut your household bills
Black Friday isn’t just a chance to save on gadgets, Hiley says, but it’s also an opportunity to cut your household bills. If your mobile phone contract has ended or is coming to an end, you might be able to find a discounted Sim-only deal while keeping the same handset.
6. Take advantage of cashback
Some credit cards or websites will reward you with cashback when you make purchases.
But Hiley says if paying by credit card, remember to clear the balance on time – otherwise you could face big APR rates. She also says avoid buying on credit if it will make you feel tempted to overspend.
7. Don’t buy items just because they are on sale
Elle McAtamney from TopCashback (topcashback.co.uk) says: “Don’t be tempted to impulse buy… Having an attitude that you will buy the item even if it doesn’t go in the sale can be helpful. That way you’ll look at any kind of discount as a bonus, and not feel disappointed.”
8. Ask yourself if it’s really a bargain
The prices of some products might be increased before being slashed for Black Friday.
McAtamney’s top piece of advice is to compare the cost and model across different retailers well before Black Friday.
9. No Black Friday reduction? Look for other ways to save
If what you wanted wasn’t discounted on November 26, there may be other ways to get it cheaper.
McAtamney says: “Perhaps the retailer will offer a percentage off if you download their app or sign up to a newsletter.”
10. Know your rights and be mindful of how you pay
Shoppers have an array of rights under the Consumer Rights Act, meaning goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. There are also certain rights to cancel when you buy items online.
McAtamney adds: “It can be a good idea to pay for items on your credit card because it can provide you with an extra layer of protection if things go wrong – but you should pay it off in full when payment is due. Don’t put yourself into debt.”
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, people can make a claim to their credit card company if something goes wrong with a purchase. The goods must have cost between £100 and £30,000. Cardholders can also try making a claim using chargeback, where they can ask the card provider to reverse a transaction.