The January sales season is upon us. With everyone’s pockets stretched it is more important than ever that we get the most out of our money.  use cash reserves wisely. Follow our smart spending guide to this year’s January sales:

Avoid the impulse purchase

“Ten other people are looking at this product right now” or “only three left!”: many businesses use have clever messages to influence your behaviour.  It’s important to try and keep some perspective on what we really need versus what we want. Even if something appears to be a bargain, the first question to ask is whether you actually need it or is it just because it is on offer. This will help you resist buying on impulse. Compare the price and quality of the product in other stores or online. This is particularly important for higher-value products.

Stay wise

It’s vital that you are not swayed into a purchase by a sales pitch – especially if you are promised huge discounts. Be on guard that the product may actually be poor value or poor quality. At a time when sustainability is a major concern, investing in higher-quality and durable products that will last for longer is often the smarter choice.

Don’t be duped!

As the saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it usually is. Particularly if what you are buying is expensive, it is very important that you do your homework before you buy. Search online for the business’s web address and reviews. Keep an eye out for independent review websites. Is there an address and phone number on the site? There should be. Do they provide terms and conditions? If so, make sure to read them.

Check if the deal is right

Under new rules, if a business is advertising a sale price, they must also show the prior price. The prior price is the lowest price the product was on sale for in the 30 days before the sale. This means a business can’t hike up their prices a few days before a sale and claim a big discount. Make sure to check the prior price: does it look like the normal price you would pay?
The way to be really sure that you’re getting a good deal is to track the price of your chosen product to see if the end price represents a genuine, net reduction after tax and shipping. Finally, always look at the final price rather than the saving discount, and make sure that price comparison claims between competitors are based on like-for-like products or versions.

Be in the know

You might have noticed that sales on services have become much more popular. Watch out for deals on subscriptions and packages, particularly when advertised through free trials and low-cost introductory offers that you get by signing up to a long-term subscription. You will see these mostly online and on social media, for example: wellness programmes (low introductory club memberships), cosmetics and healthcare (free samples and low-cost trials), dating services (open-end subscriptions), and digital services (cloud-based and streaming subscriptions).

For online subscriptions you are required to provide your card details. In providing those details you are agreeing to your card being automatically charged at regular intervals. Cancelling these types of charges are difficult as your bank or financial institution cannot stop them unless you freeze or cancel your card. This means if you only intend in using a subscription for a certain time frame make sure to set a reminder to go in and cancel it before this time is up. If you need help cancelling a subscription visit our Subscription Cancellation help page.

Finally, be mindful when shopping on social media, particularly when live shopping. Online shopping is becoming a generic term nowadays. From websites to platforms, and then mobile apps and social media, what started as “e-commerce” evolved into “mobile commerce”, then “social commerce” and now “live shopping” (buying directly from and during a live stream on various channels). Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp or TikTok, in-app and live shopping is how younger consumers, in particular, like to shop these days. Remember, you only have consumer rights if you buy from a registered business and those rights are strongest if you buy within the EU.