James Walker of Resolver: Christmas shopping hacks revealed

James Walker shares his Christmas shopping hacks. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

James Walker shares his Christmas shopping hacks. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

This week James Walker of Resolver talks to our readers about how to get the most out of their Christmas shopping.

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

- Be a cynic

The rules covering what constitutes a sale item are pretty vague and hard to understand.

If you see something that looks like a bargain, go to the manufacturer's website and look at the recommended retail price (RRP). Bear in mind that items often sell for less than this all year round.

Some websites have price comparisons if you google the items too. You can also find price 'trackers' that monitor how much an item has cost over the course of a year. Find a free one online or in an app store.

MORE: Martin Lewis reveals how to get a free £175 before Christmas - Have a masterplan

It's tempting to just browse the Black Friday sales, but that's a sure-fire way to end up buying a load of rubbish that you might not need or can afford.

Think about items you might actually want to buy - either as gifts, replacing items that are nearing the end of their useful lives, or a one-off luxury purchase that you've really wanted.

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Do your research beforehand so you know if you're getting a bargain and don't be tempted to deviate.

- You can't fight science

It doesn't matter if you're convinced you can beat the techniques retailers use to get you to cough up your hard-earned cash. The fact remains there's a huge amount of research, planning and science employed by the retailers to get to your impulse buy. Ticking clock timers, glossy images, discounted prices, item offers 'expiring' - they've thought of it all. Only buy what you've planned and budgeted for.

- Make a budget

Credit cards and interest-free deals can make us careless. Don't think of these credit sources as 'free money'. Think of them as bills outstanding.

So if you spend £1,000, you'll need to allow for paying that off each month. Imagine what that will cost over a year and see if it fits your budget.

- Check your right to return goods

Contrary to what some stores say, you can return sale items - but only if they're wonky in some way. Always open the delivery box and check the items - you've got 30 days to return them to get a refund.

- If you're buying big item make sure you've checked to see if there will be a delivery charge.

Some firms now offer assembly services for bit items too.

Be aware that you might get a local handyman to do the job much cheaper - and bear in mind that just because the assembly firm recommended by the retailer doesn't mean they'll replace the item if it's damaged by the workman.

- Buying abroad

Watch out for any charges for items purchased from other countries. The exchange rate will be applied when the retailer processes the transaction so bear in mind the 'estimates' on websites aren't guaranteed.

Bear in mind that international shipping charges have changed significantly in recent years.

Items that might seem a bargain in the USA will now have a hefty charge for UK delivery

- If you're buying for Christmas, add any expensive items to your home insurance

November and December are the peak times for burglaries, depressingly .

- Be ethical

You'd be amazed at what you can recycle these days. Sofas, household appliances and other items will be collected by some charities if they're in an okay condition.

If you're replacing something that isn't broken, have a quick check online to see if it's recyclable. Don't just bin it.