Today morning I got up to be greeted by yet another front page advertisement of the Amazon Indian festive sale. I go through the barrier of 3 more ads to finally get to the “festive” content of Bombay Times.
The cynic in me sees a million ideas in the supplement to make me open my wallet and splurge.
And sure, it is the perfect time to go crazy – everyone is in a festive mood, there are twinkling lights brightening up the streets, Diwali melas all around with the prettiest of things to buy, latest styles in apparel, card parties to attend and gifts to buy for friends and family. In short, it is the best time of the year.
But what about the time after this spendathon yesterday which gets you thinking, did I really need to buy this for my colleagues’ pet? Did you end up going overboard with a fancy caterer for a house party? Or it is now that you realized that the extravagant kurta pyjama endorsed by Virat Kohli, just to be worn for a night out of dandiya is something you could have done without?
Speaking to friends, family and colleagues will tell you, you are not the only one.Enough of us get swayed in this season of cheer, which also spills on to our spending habits. Click To Tweet
Taking just a few small well-planned steps could make this season of joy happier even after.
1. Book festive travel much in advance
If like me you travel on Diwali to be back at home, meaning a flight ticket on the most packed travel dates of the year, then ensure those tickets are on your radar at least 6-7 months before the date. I find fare tracker services like Skyscanner pretty useful, especially for their email alerts.
I also always do a quick check at the time of flight ticket sales and ensure I am booked a good 4-5 months in advance.
So, while I was able to get my tickets for my preferred time slot at about Rs. 6,600, a colleague who booked 3 weeks back ended up paying Rs. 18,500 for the same sector on the same dates!
2. Fix a festive budget and track it
While a budget for an everyday spending may not be possible for everyone, keeping an overall budget just for the festive season will help.
A blanket figure and the broad areas of spending will mean a world of clarity to the otherwise heady spending haze that is possible in this month-long period of festivities and cheer. Click To Tweet
Whenever you make a spend, just tally it with the plan that you made. There are multiple easy ways to do it be it a simple spreadsheet or one of the tracking apps like Spendee or Mint. This is a good guide to get you started on making and keeping a festive budget.
3. Got a Diwali bonus? Save some
While the Diwali bonus is called “Diwali” bonus, it is not created with the aim to be spent completely on Diwali. Ensure you save at least 50% of it to put into any unpaid debt or into a savings plan.
4. Say no to consumer credit
Do not throw financial caution to the wind by deciding that in case of your bank balance not matching up to your festive spending, it can be funded by your credit card or a Pay Day loan (it’s nothing like the chhota prepaid recharge). These loans not only impact your credit rating adversely (and scope of getting debt later on) but they are also bound to start a vicious circle which could very well suck you in.
In case you feel credit card spending is not under control, give your plastic a holiday this festive season. Click To Tweet
As this news report points out, even in India personal loans and credit card debt saw a spike of 35% during the festive season. Be wise and choose to stay away from these expensive loans during this festive season.
5. Every deal is not a bargain
This is a fact that you could use literally every time you see the red and white banners shouting SALE. It is not a myth that a lot of retailers hike up the original price to show a price benefit to bring it back to the original price.
A sale is a sale only if it ends up saving you money. Click To Tweet
It could end up worse if it just makes you spend more in the wrapping of price savings. So, buy something only if you really need it. A good test for it is to ask yourself if you would have still bought it if it was not on sale? You know what to do if your answer is no. Economic Times gave these 10 tips to ensure you get a good bargain this festive season.
6. Ruthlessly cut down on your gifting list
Check your gifting list. Does each and every one of them warrant a place on it? If yes, plan smartly around it. Recycling gifts is not a bad idea in a country where there are some timeless Diwali gifts like a box of dry fruits or chocolate or a simple crockery set. I have seen many people recycle these gifts and it works.
7. Some smart thinking
If you really make up your mind to limit your spending for the festive season, there are many small innovative tweaks that can come handy. Instead of dealing with the entire responsibility of food for a house party, why not make it a potluck? No better time to use up the 1000s of reward points stacked up on your credit card. A 10-minute search on Pinterest will have your mind buzzing with ideas like DIY gifts and party décor or themes.
Let’s turn the tide and ensure this festive season does not leave us harboring the blues after.
Is there any other way in which you ensure spending within your limits? Do let me know in the comments below.