The festive season has begun and so has the golden period for retailers in the country. After all, it’s the only time when Indians go on a binge-shopping spree. Industry estimates suggest that festive sales account for around 20-30 percent of annual revenue for apparel and lifestyle brands. While this is great for businesses, the last four months of the calendar is the costliest time for shoppers. Thanks to the carefully crafted marketing campaigns, most of us end up buying a lot of unnecessary things. And when the celebrations are finally over, we have to face the consequences like unusually high credit card balances, tighter finances and the added stress over the money spent. So what steps should you take to avoid this financial strain? Here are some simple tips to avoid overspending this festive season.
Set a budget
Even before the festivities kick off, draw up a budget. Allocating a realistic sum for festive shopping is the best way to prevent impulsive purchases. Create a shopping list and then divide your budget into various categories – clothes, shoes, gifts, home decor etc. If the numbers are not adding up, you may want to make some sacrifices. Before purchasing any item, ask yourself if it’d cause financial problems down the road. Refrain from spending on arbitrary stuff, even if they are available at discounted prices. Planning a budget is not enough; sticking to it is the key. In case, you are planning to buy an expensive item like an iPhone, you can opt for goal-based investing to save for it.
Don’t fall prey to retail tricks
Our purchases are often influenced by emotions rather than logic. Whether by offering products at ‘unbelievable prices’ or announcing ‘mega discounts’, brands use marketing gimmicks to lure customers into making unplanned purchases. Sample this, there is a ‘buy 2 get 1’ offer on shirts, you’ll probably think of it as a good deal. While it does sound lucrative, there is a catch. The retailer will bill you on shirts that are more expensive at MRP and give the lowest priced one to you for free. Apart from this, brands are known to inculcate a false sense of urgency in the mind of consumers through their ‘limited period offers’. If you’ve missed the Navaratri sale, there will always be a Dhanteras sale, Diwali bonanza and so on. The allure of these offers is hard to resist, but having some self-control will help you in the long run.
Prioritise your needs over wants
Prioritising your needs over wants is more difficult than it sounds. When you create a shopping list, make sure to include the items you really need. You can even divide the list into two different categories – ‘Must have’ and ‘Nice to have’. This will help you distinguish between what you need and what you want. You might even find out that half of the items you listed are not necessary. For example, the dress you have been eyeing for months may not have any use in the winter. Likewise, buying a phone/speaker just because it’s on discount is not a wise decision. An effective way of getting over impulses is not to rush into buying things. If you just wait it out, the initial impulse will die.
The first casualty of your shopping will be your monthly savings or investments. Try not to do that. Make your investments as soon as you get your pay cheque so that you are not tempted to spend it. Having your monthly SIP date close to your salary date is the best way to do this. Even if you can’t save the same amount in the festive months, save some amount at least so as to not let go of your investing habit. Try and make trade-offs elsewhere, for example spend less on eating outside and use that towards your shopping.
Thanks to a myriad of offers and festive discounts, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation and overspend. Hence, the importance of setting aside a budget and sticking to it cannot be overstated. Do some research, create a list of necessary items and finally take wise decisions. Don’t fall for offers that are too good to be true and make sure to carefully read the terms of conditions.
Ankur Choudhary is Co-Founder and CIO at Goalwise.com.