Sale Season

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For many years in the UK the sale season started on Boxing Day but in recent years the sale season has come early to the UK, with Black Friday triggering many pre-Christmas sales.

Spend

It used to be that people would use their Christmas money to snap up deals after Christmas and companies tried to encourage us to keep spending, even after all the money we had invested in Christmas. Now it seems that companies want us to spend more money before Christmas.

The thing I don’t like about pre-Christmas sales is that it encourages people to buy bigger gifts for others because they can get a certain item at a knock down price. Instead of buying something they want, it is all about getting them the highest value present whilst paying the least amount possible for it. The problem then comes is that if these pre-Christmas sales stop; the person you are buying for may still expect the same value gift as last year.

Do you really need it?

The other problem I have with sales is that it encourages us to buy things that we wouldn’t have dreamed of buying if they weren’t on sale. We think we are getting a bargain and making a great financial decision but in reality the best financial decision is to not buy it and keep your money in your wallet.

If you didn’t want a particular item before it was on sale you don’t need / want it now. You shouldn’t just want and buy things based on price. You should buy the things you want / need at the price you think they are worth. The price a shop puts on an item isn’t necessarily what you think it is worth or what it is worth to you. Always try and keep that figure in your head of what it is worth to you when you are going out to buy something, as just because it is on sale, it still might be more expensive than you think it is worth.

Turnover

Remember sales aren’t about the companies giving you a good offer; they are about the companies getting more money out of your pocket and shifting stock. The reason companies have sales is to get money out of you that they think they wouldn’t have if they didn’t have a sale, it is simply an exercise of them trying to increase their turnover and is not about them doing something nice for you.

I’m not against companies making money and I am not against people getting things at cheaper prices, I am just against the sale culture and how it feeds in to the material culture.

The Property Ladder

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Two years ago my wife and I purchased a 3-bed house. It needed a lot of work doing to it, but the price was right for us and we were willing to do the work. For our first home we wanted a house, which wouldn’t stretch our budget and would be of a size that we weren’t going to outgrow quickly.

In our first two years we have fully plastered, carpeted and decorated all the 3 bedrooms, installed a whole new bathroom suite and redecorated our lounge. On top of this we have fixed plumbing, electrical and lighting issues. On the outside we have gone about getting the gardens under control and this now just leaves us with the hallway and kitchen to update.

Adding value

It has been hard work but fun work. I think we have added some real value to the property in the process and should easily be able to sell it for higher than the price we purchased it for. Now we are getting to the end of the renovation period my wife and I are taking stock and looking at what the long-term future holds.

Through this process my thoughts on houses have changed. The types of properties I would be willing to live in have changed, as have the areas. I think being in the house ownership game really teaches you a lot and really gets you thinking about the type of property you want to live in.

Window-shopping

One thing I have become addicted to is checking websites like RightMove (http://www.rightmove.co.uk/) and Zoopla (http://www.zoopla.co.uk/) a lot to see what properties are out there. I spend a lot of time comparing the properties to what we have and seeing what we could afford. I feel sorry for the homeowners advertising their houses through these sites, as I must give their pages a lot of views but never arrange a viewing and I don’t think I am the only one who does this.

When looking at properties I have started looking at floor plans in greater detail as I think these are key. Not only has this changed, but my lists of what I consider to be pros and cons have changed also. Unless you build a house yourself I don’t think there are many, if any perfect houses out there for you, so its being able to know when a house ticks a lot of your wants and what negatives you can live with. If you are trying to search for a perfect house, you may be searching for some time.

You get what you pay for

With houses you get what you pay for in most cases. If a house seems cheap, there has to be a problem with it somewhere. My main word of advice would be, to take someone with you when you view a house your interested in, that knows about the building trade and whilst you are there be ready to take your time and check everything out thoroughly.

House ownership is a big responsibility, but I find it so rewarding and I am so glad to be on the property ladder, we may be on one of the lower rungs now but I am determined for our family to keep climbing up it.