Don’t get carried away by Black Friday

Last year police were called in to help high street retailers break up scuffles between shoppers on Black Friday.
This year the date falls on November 27, and some online retailers and high street chains, including Asda, have admitted that they won’t be going all out to capitalise on this annual consumer feeding frenzy.
On the one hand, retailers shift significantly more merchandise than usual – last year John Lewis revealed that the Black Friday week had been its biggest trading week on record.
However, some retailers are starting to question whether it is commercially viable to give so much emphasis and discount so heavily just on a single day. Given that sales at the end of November 2014 seemed to cannibalise Christmas spending, many sellers found they had simply sold Christmas goods at discounted prices.
What’s more, shoppers appeared to be more savvy – targeting retailers for a particular item and showing no evidence of being loyal to that shop or store in the future.
No wonder retailers are wondering whether it is all really worth it, especially with the fights that break out in the electronics sections and the high probability that their website will crash under the strain of trying to process thousands of extra transactions.
For the smart shopper, Black Friday may be an opportunity to buy a large or high-value item that you have coveted for some time.
If you are thinking of using the sales frenzy in a fortnight’s time to get your big-ticket item then here are my top tips:
1. Research your product now – not all sales offer better value and shopping around might save you the hassle of trying to buy on the day.
2. Think about how you are going to fund the purchase – depending on your credit card’s interest-free period, you may get hit by your first instalment just after you have spent heavily on the Christmas festivities.
3. Plan what you are going to buy, and don’t get carried away. Bargains are not really good value if you buy something you didn’t really want or need.
4. Be mindful of your own psychology. Just because everyone else seems to be spending freely without thought doesn’t mean you need to join in. Resist the impulse to join the frenzy.
5. Don’t get hung up on the date. There are plenty of good deals around at present – for example at Boots, Argos and Worldstores – which offer three for two or discounts. These may be just as useful if you start to buy your Christmas presents now.

How to have a financially smart Christmas

It’s a time of year that tests even the most strong-minded of money managers. it’s a time when people end up in debt, and wish they could escape debt in the New Year. Whether it’s a passion for gadgets (iPhone, iPad); a rush round the shops for a new Christmas dress; the temptation of lovely food; or the desire to make your childrens’ wildest gift dreams come true, it’s an expensive time.

But it doesn’t have to be a financial hangover in January if you plan ahead in December. Here’s how to budget for Christmas, and have a happy Christmas without breaking the bank. This is my checklist for handling the family finances to ensure that I can be generous with my gift-giving, but cool-headed with my purchases:

Stay out of debt this Chrismas
How to budget for Christmas

1. Decide on a budget. Calculate what you can afford for the whole of your Christmas that includes food and drink, eating out, party-going, new clothes, presents and hotel costs. Girls, that means you have to include the spray tan and manicure for the Christmas ball in the calculations, no cheating.

2. Set aside a portion of your budget for presents, and make a list of what your friends and family would like. Take this list shopping (or use it to shop on the internet). This saves time, stops you buying rubbish and panicking at the last minute and spending lots because you feel guilty.

4. Shop when you have plenty of time. Impulse purchases are often the most expensive, and the least appropriate.

5. Personalise your gifts. If you are on a really tight budget this year you can spend time instead making a gift that means something to you and the person who will receive it – maybe a framed photograph or something you have made yourself.

6. When you have bought all you need, STOP. It’s easy to get carried away in the last few days before Christmas, especially with the wall-to-wall ads of perfect, happy families. You probably already have more food and more presents than you need, so don’t be lured into buying more.

7. Use a smart credit card that gives you plenty of time to pay back your balance.

8.  Price comparison websites are an easy way of cutting the cost of household essentials.