As we’ve reached the dreaded (by some!) back to school time, and then head into the run up to Christmas, there’s a few things you can do to take some of the pain out of shopping (and hopefully leave you with more left in your pocket or purse!)

As a starting point, know your rights and be aware of shop psychology. Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, as a consumer, you have the right that anything you buy should be of “merchantable quality”, that is, suitable for the purpose for which it was designed. So for example, if you buy a fridge and 15 months later it stops working properly, you have the right to have it rectified, by repair, replace or refund (usually in that order). If a shop tries to tell you that the warranty was only for one year, you should point out that the warranty is a manufacturer’s extra and that your contract is with the store, it does not affect your rights under the act. Keeping your receipt as proof of purchase is important. 

Shops will use various techniques to try and persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash. One of the main ones is to mark items with signs such as “RRP/NRP €199, Now only €99”. This does not mean that the item has been reduced or was ever on sale at the higher price. If an item is marked as reduced, such as “Sale – Was €199, now only €99”, it must have been on sale at the higher price for at least 28 consecutive days within the previous 3 months (some shops often get around this by doubling the price of something for 28 days in a low, out of the way shelf, and then reducing it back to the original price with a massive “Half Price” sign!) Even if something is marked as “20% off”, it does not mean it is not cheaper in a nearby store that has no sale. (I recently purchased a multi function printer for €159. I researched a number of options for the exact same printer and it was also on sale at various prices right up to €459!) Do your research.

TIPS

Putting some thought and planning into the Christmas season now, can also make things a lot easier. A few practical tips are:

Leave the credit card at home. If you have not got sufficient funds to buy what you need, going into debt at approximately 20% APR, is not a good idea.

Make a list of who you need to buy for and stick to a budget for each that is affordable.

Avoid the panic of last minute shopping. You are more likely to spend more to avoid running out of time.

Discuss with family and friends the idea of doing a Kris Kindle, where each draws one name and buys them a nice present instead of having to buy 20 different ones. You could be saving someone else a lot of pain this way.

Be realistic with food shopping Christmas week. The shops are only closed for 1-2 days, this should not equate to buying the equivalent of a month’s groceries. 

Overall, a little planning and research should leave you getting better bargains and having more money left over. Happy shopping!

Dave Kavanagh QFA has been advising people financially for over 25 years. For quotes or information (with no cost or obligation) he can be contacted by emailing info@financialcompanion.ie or use the contact form on www.financialcompanion.ie or phone 087-6414570. Combined with his previous role of gym/nutrition adviser, he regularly gives talks and workshops at seminars and events for groups, companies and government departments on financial wellbeing, positivity and motivation.  As heard on RTE 2FM and TV3.

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