Life

Five Christmas shopping pitfalls we should try to avoid

Ask yourself, can I afford this right now?

ONLINE FRAUD

Over 15,000 shoppers across the UK were conned out of more than £11 million over the Christmas period last year. Mobile phones are a common item fraudsters use to hook victims in – with 'bargain' deals on some of the most popular models, only for the phone to never actually arrive. Tony Neate of Get Safe Online, says: "Really simple steps, such as paying via a credit card or only using reputable shopping sites, can make a big difference."

BUYING DANGEROUS GOODS

The charity Electrical Safety First warns that fake electrical items can be virtually impossible to spot. Look for the seller's contact details – and if they are not supplied in full, shoppers should be wary. Look out for packaging which could provide telltale signs that goods are fake – if there are spelling mistakes or it's flimsy quality, or if the printing is poor. If you suspect you have purchased a fake, stop using it immediately as it could be dangerous. For advice visit electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/spotthefake.

BEING TOO INFLUENCED BY 'INFLUENCERS'

A recent survey of 15-24-year-olds from Barclays found 30 per cent regularly look at celebrity or influencer social media accounts for shopping inspiration. While it's great to get ideas, just remember you may not have the bank balance to match the lifestyle you're trying to emulate. Clare Francis of Barclays suggests asking yourself: "Can I afford this right now?" If all else fails, consider turning social media notifications off for a while.

THINKING YOU ALWAYS NEED TO BUY NEW

Charity shops are full of children's toys, many of which have hardly been played with. Personal finance analyst Sarah Coles says: "Younger children aren't going to care whether it comes in the original packaging, so you can pick up second-hand toys for a fraction of the price. Adults, meanwhile, may well love a vintage gift."

FORGETTING WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY GOT

It's easy to get carried away when you're rushing around the shops with Christmas songs being blasted into your ears, while stores' special offers and bargain bins can also prove a distraction. To stay focused, try setting out with a shopping list – and only sticking to the items that are on it.

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