Finances can feel pretty stretched after paying for gifts, decorations, food and drink over the festive period. But it's all too easy to be persuaded to part with your cash all over again in the January sales.
If you do decide to join the hoards heading to the high street for the January sales, the key is to be prepared, plan ahead, and shop sensibly. Fail to do this and you could end up with a big bill for items that simply aren’t of any use.
Here are our tips on shopping for bargain buys in the January sales:
Work out what you need
Before you hit the shops, set aside some time to go through your wardrobe and compile a list of the items you really need, such as a winter coat.
Make sure you take this list with you to avoid forgetting any goods once you’re caught up in the sales mayhem.
Do your research
Spend a bit of time researching the items you want to buy in advance, both in your favourite shops and online.
This can help you pay the right price once the sales have started.
Also look out for vouchers that you can print and use in-store, and remember to take these with you when you go shopping.
Beware the bargains when you go shopping
Plan your trip
As well as working out the things you want to buy and the price you’re prepared to pay, also think about which shops you want to visit. This will help you avoid wasting time browsing.
Set yourself a budget
Give yourself a clear budget, and try your hardest to stick to it.
But also bear in mind that this is the time when you can potentially pick up some real bargains, and bag items which might normally be out of your price range. In this case, consider carefully if you want everything else you've been tempted by, and try to choose between them rather than simply buying everything you see.
How to make your cash go further
Avoid impulse buying
If you’re afraid of buying goods you might later regret, leave your cards at home and take only cash, as it’s far harder to impulse buy with only notes and coins.
Also remember that while every cut-price item can seem like a steal, sales don’t always equate to bargains.
Don’t rush into a purchase
If you pick up an item of clothing or gadget you’re not convinced about, take a few moments to think before taking it to the till. Ask yourself whether you really like it – and need it – or whether you’re just wasting your hard-earned cash.
Perhaps walk around the shop with it for a while, whilst browsing other items; odds are you'll have noticed something about it that's not quite to your taste, and you'll change your mind before paying - though do try to put it back where you found it!
Tips for getting a good holiday deal in the January sales
Check the returns policy
Before parting with any money, ask about the returns policy, just in case the goods you end up buying turn out to be not quite right and you need to bring them back.
Also bear in mind that while most places will allow you to return sale items, some stores will have a shorter time-frame, or will only offer credit.
Getting refunds on unwanted Christmas gifts
Get great ideas for saving money, plus information on your consumer rights, pensions, tax and much more in our Money section.