The countdown to Santa’s visit has begun and ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ are upon us having become customary on our side of the pond.

It’s not just these two days either. There are whole weeks of bargains and flash sales. Amazon’s ‘Black Friday’ campaign runs from 14th – 25th November. Then, in a bid to compete with this, Argos started their 13-day event on 18th November. Trumping both is Tesco, who are running their sale November 21st, all the way through to December 1st.

Be Careful

These events appear to be the perfect way of grabbing a bargain, particularly with Christmas shopping weighing heavily on people’s minds. However, if you aren’t on top of things, you could easily end up spending far more than you plan, or need to.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Spotting something on sale and thinking it’d be a great gift for your long-lost Uncle Donald, or even something you would like yourself. The golden rule is

If you hadn’t planned to buy it, you’re not actually saving money.

There is a more sensible way of shopping for Christmas amidst Black Friday extravaganza. Start by giving some thought to who you’re buying for and what kind of things they might like. Shopping blindly in a sale can be dangerous! Also, don’t forget to give yourself a rough budget for each person to prevent getting carried away.

It’s also important to research ‘bargains’ before you buy. There are sure to be some significant reductions available, but are you really getting such a great deal? Don’t get carried away and caught up in the hype – just because it says it’s on offer, don’t assume it’s the cheapest. Always compare prices. Per an investigation by independent consumer group Which?, a large number of Black Friday deals were actually cheaper either before or after the shopping event.

Watch Out For Fakes

When a price seems too good to be true it can mean the goods you’re buying are fake or faulty. Ensure you know the returns policy on what you’re buying. Especially on things like expensive electrical items. Top retailers and reputable sites will have no problem providing information about returns policies. So double check before making a commitment.

Overall, Black Friday can be a brilliant chance to get your hands on some great bargains if you know what you’re looking for. But don’t go crazy and blow your budget!