Black Friday: Will you really use what you buy?

If we curbed our impulse buying we might have a better chance to put a deposit together on a house

It’s Black Friday tomorrow and bargain hunters everywhere will be looking to snap up the latest cut-price deals in, well, just about everything. Time was, it was mainly a day to snap up that big telly you had always promised yourself or a cheap tablet, but now every type of retailer seems to have jumped on the bandwagon.

Here’s the thing – and I don’t wish to try to deprive you of a Shopper’s High – but you need to ask yourself: Do I really need what I’m buying? Will I really make good use of it? I’ll give you an example. Last year, I nabbed an Amazon Fire tablet. At this distance, I can’t remember the rational I applied which told me that I really needed it. But, I’m sure that, whatever my thinking was, the reality hasn’t matched up to the must-have “case” I put together mentally.

It has a bigger screen than my Huawei phone. But not that much bigger. Fact is, if you tied me down and stuck sharp, pointy things under my fingernails, I would almost certainly say that my phone is sufficient for most of my needs. The price of the Fire tablet wasn’t big. But, did I really need it? Probably not.

Of course, impulse buys are not restricted to Black Friday. A property portal called Share to Buy has been analysing where the average Brit spends his or her disposable income and found we make up to nine impulsive buys a month on ‘good deals’, spending almost £200.

Their findings don’t make pretty reading. The median annual income per household is around £29,400, with eating out, putting money away for a holiday and buying new clothes topping the list of things most likely to put a dent in our bank balance. Last year, average weekly household expenditure was £572.60 a week, or more than £29,700 a year – £300 in excess of what we bring in.

One in 10 people experience a ‘Shopper’s High’ during an impulse purchase, and these often go to waste, according to MyJar. One study of the high shoppers get when splurging revealed that up to £9,000 of the money we spend a year is wasted on items we don’t even use. That sounds high to me, but maybe I’m just in denial.

Top money wasters per year

 £628 – Rarely used TV packages

 £528 – Unused mobile phone credit

 £733 – Unworn clothes

As a nation, we love bargains so much that, these spontaneous sprees end up totalling around 6,500 impulse buys a lifetime – a whopping £144,000.

UK’s top 10 impulse purchases include:

1 Chocolate 6 Books
2 Clothes 7 Beauty Products
3 Takeaways 8 Shoes
4 Coffee 9 Magazines
5 Lunch 10 Underwear
  • Unwanted subscriptions: Around half the country has been caught out by free trial subscriptions according to YouGov, either by forgetting to cancel or being unable to, and it cost us around £800 in the past 12 months. One in eight people has paid for an unwanted subscription for more than four months before cancelling, with 23% paying for up to three months.
  • Mobile data: Most mobile users waste around 2GB of data a month, and 71% of mobile customers are overpaying for data they don’t use, at a total cost of £800m per year.
  • Clothing: A study commissioned by Vanish revealed that one in 10 Brits admits to throwing away clothing that doesn’t fit rather than returning it, while the average person throws away eight items a year, adding up to around £500 of wasted cash per person. One government report state that 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in household bins in the UK each year.

How to save money: Basic ways to boost your savings

  • Learn how to budget: To learn how to stop spending money, keep a list of debt and savings targets in your wallet to stay on track with a planned budget for the month. This is a good way to see how much you really spend on entertainment, travel and more.
  • Stick to a list: One of the simplest money-saving tips is to decide what to prioritise by creating a list before you go shopping. The trick is to stick to it to avoid impulse purchases like chocolate or clothes.
  • Prioritise spending: From health and beauty to takeaways and tech, prioritise spending habits from highest to lowest across each major category, and see where you can cut down. Try to spend money across just one of the categories each month.
  • Create a waiting list: Help to reduce impulse spending and increase disposable income savings by creating a two-week waiting list for bigger purchases to see if they really are worth the spend.
  • Use technology: Finance apps like Money Dashboard and Tandem can help you stay one step ahead of your finances by tracking how much you save and spend.
  • Recheck all your subscriptions: Stop wasting your disposable income through unused gym memberships (guilty!), magazines (guilty!), TV channels (no, this is getting worse!) and more. Do an audit of every group or service you belong to and cut everything you no longer engage with by using a helpful app like Emma.
  • Set short-term goals: Alter your spending habits by creating specific goals you can work towards, like cutting your entertainment budget from £300 a month to £200. If you’re looking to step onto the property ladder, use this mortgage comparison tool to discover what kind of mortgage you could afford to begin setting your goal. Whether you fall into the average disposable income in the UK or not, any amount of savings is a good start!

Nick Lieb, head of operations at Share to Buy, said: “In 2019, the average deposit put down by first-time buyers on the open market in London was an eye-watering £110,182. For those looking to buy their first home on the open market, spending less on subscriptions, clothes and food will go a long way to helping their savings balance increase, but even if millennials can save 20% of their wage each month, it will still take an average of eight years and four months for one person to save enough for a house deposit. In stark contrast, saving to buy a Shared Ownership home can prove to be much more achievable for first-time buyers. For example, if a couple are able to put aside £400 a month, then they could save for a deposit in a third of the time needed for a deposit on the open market.”

 About Share to Buy

Share to Buy is the UK’s leading online portal for shared ownership properties. Established in 2004 as the UK’s first specialist online mortgage broker for affordable home ownership products, the site has since developed into a one-stop shop for first-time buyers, offering the UK’s largest listing of shared ownership homes for sale.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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