Christmas Cheer not Christmas Fear
Each January the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading sees an increase in people approaching them for debt counselling help. Many have got carried away at Christmas and spent too much. With a little forward planning Christmas need not lead to distress in January.
At the time of writing there are only 27 days until Christmas.
To help people manage their Christmas spending better the OFT has produced a list of Top Tips. In addition the Office has a series of interactive money management tools on its website to help consumers.
Copies of the Top Tips can also be obtained from the OFT at its office in Lord Street Douglas, telephone 686500. Consumers can also obtain copies of budget sheets from the OFT to help them draw up and keep an eye on their budget this Christmas.
Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading’s Top Tips for Christmas Budgeting
- Tip one - Plan Christmas
Christmas is not an emergency! It comes at the same time every year. Don’t use it as an excuse to overspend and just buy things you can’t afford
- Tip Two – Make a Budget
Be realistic and budget accordingly. Work out how much you are going to spend on each person – and stick to it. Remember to include Christmas events and extra travel expenditure such as taxis. Total it up and this is your Christmas budget. . You can find out more about budgeting and fill in an inter-active budget sheet on the OFT’s website http://www.gov.im/youngconsumers/tools/budgeter.aspx
- Tip Three - Shop around
Try as many different places as possible to find the best price. Buy what you want and not what other people say you need. Be wary of extended warranties; the cost of a repair could be less than the cost of the warranty and remember you have consumer rights to reject goods that are faulty.
If you are going to use a credit card, shop around and compare terms. Some cards charge high interest rates, but provide interest free periods or discounts. Budget for all these costs and put the payment dates in your diary to make sure you pay on time, even if it’s only the minimum, or you will be faced with additional charges. You can find out more about managing your money on the OFT’s http://www.gov.im/youngconsumers/tools/
- Tip Four – Enjoy your family & friends
We’re lucky to have them and they’re important. As we all get busier this is a great time of year to catch up and time spent with friends and family can often mean more than things and money.
- Tip Five – Don’t throw away receipts
Keep the receipts for goods you have purchased. This will help you in establishing where the goods were bought and the price paid. Many stores have post Christmas sales and without a receipt you could find that you will only be reimbursed the sale price rather than the full price paid before Christmas.
- Tip Six – Returning unwanted gifts
Unfortunately you have no contract with the retailer which means that you cannot force them to accept the goods back. However bear in mind that the shop would be under no legal obligation to receive the goods back unless they had made this a term of the contract at sale. Some retailers will offer credit notes or an exchange if the goods are rejected in perfect condition and if proof of purchase can be provided. The law would not require them to do so unless they had made this specification at the time of sale, or their stated shop policy offers such extended provisions. You can find out more about your shopping rights on the OFT’s website http://www.gov.im/oft/consumers//
- And finally ……. Tip Seven - Start planning and saving for next Christmas
Once Christmas is over, it’s a good time to start saving for the next one. Work out how much you have spent and divide it by ten. Start saving this amount in February then you should have enough saved up by November. Open a savings account to help you to keep your savings separate from your regular income giving you less temptation to spend and earning you interest at the same time.