Resisting the temptation of the January Sales


As much as we all love to pick up a bargain, it is more than easy to go wild in the January sales. Year after year we see people bumping into one another, sometimes fighting with each other just to grab the best bargains. Before you know it you’ve bought a shed load of stuff that let’s be honest, you might not even wear. Could 2014 be a wise year to break the mold and consider putting up a resistance?

recent poll of about 3,600 people for homelessness charity Shelter suggests that more than a third of people in the UK are expecting to have problems paying their rent or mortgage this year and that those families with children are feeling the worst affected. Some 70% of these say they are already finding it difficult to keep up with payments or have already fallen behind. I would guess that in most cases people have finally exhausted their lines of credit and simply don’t have the money available.So what does this have to do with the January sales?

With the lure of cheap prices for cash strapped families the sales might seem like the perfect time to go shopping, buying up anything and everything while it’s cheap. While this ordinarily might seem like a good money saving ploy, common sense and the basic rules of spending still need to be employed. Rules like ‘Don’t spend money you don’t have’ and ‘It’s only a bargain if you can afford it’ may sound boring but resisting the temptation to shop in the sales could well prevent you from being unable to meet your household commitments in the coming difficult months. It might be wise to conserve your cash for the more important and unexpectedly expensive bills you may have dropping through your door over the next few months like energy bills or the ever increasing food shopping bill.

Even if you aren’t expecting to feel the pinch it’s good to keep in mind the raft of retailers and businesses who went bust in recent years after difficult holiday trading periods. Perhaps it would be a good idea to put any, or at least some of the cash you have left into an emergency fund to prepare for possible shocks to your own financial situation like an unexpected job loss.

Yes it sounds boring to just save your cash and miss the sales this year but do you really want to be kicking yourself in a months time when you’re short on a bill, all because you bought a few pairs of jeans that you didn’t really need and don’t even fit now that you’ve trimmed up after your holiday binge? Of course we all like a bit of a treat now and then so if you really can’t resist then maybe you could just limit your spending to buy one or two quality items rather than buying a trolley load of random things.

To sum up then, sometimes it can make sense to buy things while they’re cheap but it can also be a bit of a false economy if it means you can’t pay the bills and end up in financial trouble as a result, not to mention all the bank charges you’ll rack up if you start missing payments.

13 Responses to Resisting the temptation of the January Sales

  1. I often overhear a lot of colleagues talking about how much they saved on this and that, only it’s almost every day. So when you factor in how much they actually spent – they haven’t saved at all. And a lot of the January deals seem to come early in the month, before most credit bills have even arrived. So you’re definitely spot on about it creating a false economy.

  2. Although the best deals are in January, discretionary spending should be taken into account. I agree with the blog post “don’t spend if you don’t have it.”

  3. Ragnar says:

    I’d like to add to your rules of money, where you said, “it’s only a deal if you can afford it.” If you’re like me and trying to save a buck these days, then it’s “only a deal if I need it and was already going to buy it.” If it’s not something I need and will use, it’ll push me back from meeting my financial goals, even if I can technically afford it with cash in hand.

    Then again, being detrimental to financial goals could be argued as making it unaffordable, in which case your rule applies just fine. I don’t know if people really think about what “afford” means, though.

  4. I’m convinced all this spending is nothing to do with “cheap goods” and more about people feeling depressed after Christmas. Spending is a pick-me-up for many and after New Year’s Eve everyone is back to work. There’s no excitement to be had when you#ve used it all up in the few days over Christmas.

    There are a few things I need (curtains, a bed) and I’m debating whether or not to get these now or just wait. The thing about January sales is that it’s merely an extension of the classic marketing technique of a time limited offer.

    • Adam Buller says:

      There does seem to be less people on the high street for this years sales Darren, at least where I live anyway. Perhaps they’re all shopping online or as you say, maybe they’ve all spent up.

  5. Agree wholeheartedly with the article!

    If you are already in a hole cash wise spending money on anything isn’t going to pull you out, especially things like most of what is on offer in the January sales, which could be classed as wants or luxuries.

    If you are skint and really “need” something like a new washing machine or whatever as yours has just broken down, just get on freecycle – I’m sure there will be plenty of second hand ones (3 or 4 years old) coming on there pretty soon as the ones that have gone down to the sales get their new ones delivered!

  6. January is really a good time to buy the things you need because they are cheaper now than in any other month, but one should also think about his finances. If he can’t buy it with cash, then using credit to buy what he wants may not be a smart decision.

  7. There are some good bargains out there in January. I have always thought of going shopping to pick up a whole bunch of reduced stuff that is bound to increase in value around Christmas time next year e.g. buy a few winter coats at 50% off, then re-sell next year. Then I remind myself how much I hate shopping that this is never going to happen.

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