The Office of Fair Trading is offering consumers the following advice for managing their money this Christmas and New Year.
Don’t forget everyday life
Christmas is a special time of year but it is important to remember it is just one day. Don’t forget all of the rest – rent, mortgage, utility bills and other debts still have to be paid and consequences can be harsh if they’re not. Get your priorities right.
Buy safe and be safe
Don’t be tempted to buy from traders you don’t trust or borrow from unregistered lenders, both can prove to be a false economy. Moneylenders in the Isle of Man are required to register with the OFT. If you do decide to use some form of loan, check for any hidden extras in the agreement. Work out the total amount payable. Ensure that monthly instalments are within your budget before signing. You can find out more about borrowing money on the OFT’s website, which also contains advice on avoiding buying counterfeit goods.
Compare prices in different shops. Buy what you want and not what other people say you need. If you, or one of your family, just want a mobile phone for calls and texts don’t be pressured into buying a smart phone just because they are the latest thing. It will be more costly and a waste of money if it won’t be used to its full potential.
Pre-Christmas is costliest shopping time so if you’re after a ‘big’ family present like a high end games console or TV then wait until the sales. If you can’t bear the idea of this at all – what about buying gift cards or vouchers for the item and using them towards it in the sales? Remember though, gift cards and vouchers should be treated like cash, so take care of them. Make sure you use them before they go out of date.
Don’t be a foolish foodie
Make a list of what you need and don’t be tempted by things you don’t. More often than not you don’t need the extras and you waste food and money. Special offers and “3 for 2’s” are great if you are shopping with like-minded friends or family and the food can be split between you. However, if not, the reality is often that you end up with lots of food you can’t eat before it goes out of date.
Start planning and saving for 2013
Research suggests we spend between £530 and £682 on the trappings of Christmas. This is around £44-57 a month over a year. Consider opening a regular savings account to help set aside this money for next year.