I have rounded up all of the reader stories and questions I typically receive every January to produce my top consumer tips for January 2019. These are the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for the New Year:

Return unwanted Christmas gifts

If you’ve received a Christmas gift that you don’t want and wish to return it to the shop, act quickly before it’s too late. Every year people try to return gifts after January and are disappointed to learn that they are out of time. You will need a gift receipt or some other form of proof of purchase and note that not all shops accept returns. If the gift was purchased online you will be able to return it if it was delivered to the bearer of the gift within the last 14 days.

Gym memberships

More new gym memberships are taken out in January than any other time of the year. Statistics have also historically shown that those who take out a gym membership in January, tend to attend the gym for only three months. That’s fine, but the problem is that many of these people sign up to a year membership so end up paying for something they don’t use. If you feel the urge to take out a gym membership in the new year, join a gym where you can ‘pay as you go’.

January sales

Don’t get tempted to waste your money in the January sales unless you truly need the goods you are buying and you are certain you are getting a good deal. The reality is that you can pretty much bag a bargain at any time now if you search around the internet.

Scams

January is another time of year when scams are rife, especially online. You therefore need to be extra vigilant when shopping online.

New year clear out

Check all of your direct debits, standing orders and continuous payment authorities and make sure that: i) they are all genuine, and ii) they are all still relevant and accordingly that you should actually be paying each charge. I guarantee that most people will find at least one regular payment that they should have stopped months ago.

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