Black Friday: In for a penny, in for a pound

An American shopping event that has taken the UK by storm, Black Friday is once again here to help us spend our money. 

Whether you’re after a new laptop, or a few bits for the kitchen, many of us will be seduced by the promise of knocked-down prices and better-than-half-price deals. Unfortunately, a proportion of shoppers may over indulge, leaving bank accounts depleted and savings drained.

It’s easy to be swept along by all the hype and excitement the shopping event brings. So what can you do to ensure you’re a sensible shopper? It’s simple: preparation, research and willpower. 

We’ve pulled together five top-tips to help you shop guilt free, safe in the knowledge you won’t wake up with a nasty debt hangover:

  1. Set yourself a budget and stick to it: Not only will this force you to pick and choose the products you want to buy; a budget will also give you a better understanding of how much you can afford to spend. Even if it’s an absolute bargain, don’t be tempted to splurge more than you realistically can afford to - you’ll be grateful for it later.
  2. Don’t panic buy: Don’t let the countdown clock daunt you, take your time to consider each purchase before you complete the final transaction. Alternatively, write a shopping list. Sounds simple but it’s the best way to focus on what you need, and not what you want to buy on impulse. 
  3. Ask yourself “Do I really need this?”:  It might sound like we’re sapping all the fun out of shopping, but if you’re tight for cash, be realistic with what you can spend. Do you really need another blender even though it’s 50% off, and is it essential to buy that cashmere jumper now? If you answer no to any of these questions then leave it for another day.  
  4. Compare and research prices before hitting the shops: According to consumer watchdog Which?, more than half of Black Friday deals in 2016 were cheaper or the same price at other times of the year. Avoid the same pitfall by conducting a little research before you hit the shops – focus on the actual price of the product rather than the saving. 
  5. Check the retailers’ returns policy: Just in case you end up purchasing something you may later regret, make sure you’re aware of the retailers’ returns policy. Is there a tighter time period to claim back? Or can you only return for other sale items only? 

Remember to treat Black Friday as a marathon, and not a sprint (contrary to belief). Make an effort to really consider your purchase before you part with your cash. By doing so, you can avoid any potential financial difficulties further down the line. 

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