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Life

09th Nov 2014

What You Need To Know About… Shopping For Christmas

A fancy festive period is no fun when you are looking into a new year full of debt.

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With Halloween done and dusted, there’s no denying it… Christmas is on the way.

As well as the celebrations and festive feeds, that also means presents and this can be a major source of stress for many in the weeks leading up to the big day.

Here’s what you need to know about making this Christmas as manageable as possible.

1) Know what you’re dealing with

Most things, especially financial issues, can seem insurmountable until you put it down on paper.

Take half an hour and list all the extra expenses that you are going to have over the festive period, from transport and food to presents and nights out. Be realistic with your estimates to get a true picture of what you’re dealing with. If the final total is more than you’ll be able to save, then look at different ways that you can cut down. Opting for a family Secret Santa instead of getting individual presents can be a great help and why not share Christmas Dinner duties with a sibling to save on that shopping bill?

2) Every little helps

No, we’re not suggesting that you do all of your shopping at a certain supermarket chain. Instead, start putting a few quid away now instead of panicking when that December paycheck comes in. Even if all you can afford is €50 a week, that will leave you with a nest-egg of €300 for gifts by mid-December. Alternatively, buy one or two presents a week and you’ll be well organised in time for Christmas.

3) Don’t panic

Many people panic in the run-up to Christmas and take out high-interest loans to cover the cost of a luxurious celebration but take it from us, a fancy festive period is no fun when you are looking into a new year full of debt. It’s the thought that counts so get your priorities straight and set aside any extras that you can’t afford. If you really need to borrow to get you over the occasion, talk to your local credit union about taking out a small loan that you can repay with manageable monthly instalments. There are some handy loan calculators on the National Consumer Agency website.

4) Do the math

Christmas is a very popular time for hire purchase schemes but as mentioned previously, the cost can be a lot higher than it initially appears. While it may seem the perfect solution for getting your hands on the flatscreen television or new laptop, the interest on these deals can be very high and there can also be a lot of hidden charges. Make sure to calculate the difference between buying outright and buying by hire purchase before making a decision (you could be shocked at the difference!) and ALWAYS read the small print.

5) Keep their options open

There is nothing worse than getting a ton of presents that you’ll never use and for this reason, vouchers are a great choice. One4All vouchers give people a wide variety of choice and most high-street retailers offer their own version. Just make sure to check the expiry date before you buy and have a read through the NCA guidelines here.

6) Know your rights

A lot of stores run sales ahead of the Christmas period but just because you bought something at a reduced rate does not mean that you have less rights. The goods still must be of a merchantable quality, as described and fit for purpose. If it is faulty, you are still entitled to a refund or replacement and if you bought the item at full price and can produce a receipt, you are entitled to a full refund – even if the item is on sale. However, if you changed your mind about an item, you are not automatically entitled to a refund and it is at the retailer’s discretion.

7) Ask for help

If you are struggling, log on to www.mabs.ie. This great service has some brilliant tips for budgeting and a helpline if you need some advice on your situation.