January can be a difficult time for the high street warrior. On the one hand, there’s a good chance you spent more than you planned to over the festive period. On the other hand, for cost conscious shoppers, the January sales can be a great time to bag a bargain. What to do….
We’ve come up with an exclusive list of our top ten money-saving secrets, so you can navigate the January sales with confidence. Learn how to stay savvy and shop guilt-free.
1. Adopt the one hour rule
Before you make an impulse buy, try giving yourself a full 60 minutes to decide whether you really need that new jumper. If you move on and completely forget about it, then you know it wasn’t worth the spend and you can relax knowing your well earnt pounds are still safely in your pocket. But if you can’t get the jumper out of your head and you know it’s the jumper for you, then go for it – at least you’ll know that your purchase wasn’t made on impulse.
2. Sign up for loyalty cards
If you shop somewhere more than a couple of times a month, then make sure you’ve signed up for their company loyalty card. Each time you use your loyalty card, what you’re actually doing is building up points. We all know that points win prizes, and when you’ve built up enough they can usually be traded for things in store. It’s important to remember that you should never choose where you shop based on a loyalty scheme, but if you’re shopping there anyway it can feel like you’re getting something for nothing. What’s more, when you have earned enough points for that treat you wanted, you can enjoy it guilt free knowing you didn’t have to part with your hard earned cash to enjoy it!
3. Add things to your wish list throughout the year and then look for them in the sales
If you regularly browse online shopping sites, consider keeping wish lists. When you like something but you feel guilty over the price, add it to your wish list. When the next lot of sales role around, if you still want to buy that new watch, see if it’s being sold at a discounted price.
4. Establish a budget
Each time you’re due to go shopping, establish how much money you actually have and how much you want to spend. If you really want to stick to your budget, consider withdrawing a fixed budget amount from a cash machine and leaving your debit and credit cards at home. This way you won’t be tempted to buy any extras you don’t need.
5. Keep your credit card limit low
We all know how quickly credit card spending can get out of control. So to avoid getting yourself into any unnecessary debt, a handy tip is to keep your credit card limit as low as possible and condemn it to emergency use only (no, that new 65” widescreen TV doesn’t count as an emergency…). The easiest way to do this is to call up your credit company and ask them to reduce your credit card limit to something that you feel comfortable with. It only takes five minutes and the number is on the back of your card.
6. Stay strong when it comes to sales and discounts
Would you actually buy that new duvet set if it wasn’t on sale? Do you actually need it or will it just be forgotten about under a pile of other ones at home? Try not to get sucked in by heavy discounts on items you usually wouldn’t look at twice. This way you’ll have more money left in your pocket for things you actually want and/or need.
7. Calculate purchases by hours worked, rather than money spent
Sometimes it’s easy to forget how many hours we spend working to pay for things, especially when buying on impulse. For each new purchase you make, work out how many hours you spent working to be able to buy it. Is that new pair of shoes really worth two days at work?
8. Write a shopping list and stick to it
Making a shopping list is a great way to avoid overspending, especially when it comes to food. Before you hit the shops, sit down and establish what it is you actually need. Make sure you’re not hungry when you write the list or you’ll be tempted to put more on there than you actually need! And if you’re going to allow yourself a few treats, add these to your list upfront and make sure they’re within budget. This way you can still enjoy yourself without going too mad!
9. Bring your own shopping bags
Think how much money you could save on the cost of carrier bags over the years if you reuse them each time you shop. Rather than stuffing hoards of plastic bags under your sink until you’re forced to throw some away, try keeping a small selection in your car, or folded away in your handbag. That way you don’t have to worry about forgetting them when you go shopping. You may be surprised at how many bags you use each week, and with the current 5p charge this soon adds up over the course of a year. And just think of the wonders you’ll be doing for the environment!
10. Shop around, don’t just buy the first product you see
When it comes to pricier purchases e.g. electronics and furniture, it can be useful to not buy from the very first shop that you visit. Chances are, you’ll be able to get items from popular brands at a much cheaper price online. It’s also worth reading reviews before taking the leap; this way you know exactly what you’re getting, or if there might be an alternative that’s better value for money. Doing this research is a great way of ensuring you hold yourself to the one hour rule – as if you’re not interested in doing the research, the chances are you can probably live without the item for a little longer!
We all know there is no magic bullet for keeping the finances in good shape, but by making small changes to simple everyday habits you might be surprised at how quickly it all adds up.
Got any other tips? Then please email them to [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you.