7 Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes During Festive Shopping

7 Tips to avoid Common Mistakes during Festive Shopping

Come autumn and our shopping DNA wakes up and readies for the festive months ahead. The gifting and splurging fever matches the marketing and pricing temptations put out by brands and establishments.  Some of us may have already got most of our shopping done. From a personal finance perspective, the shopping season taxes your wallet. It is not uncommon, at the end of the season, when the boxes have all been disposed of, to feel a pinch of regret over things you could have done without, things that stop working, things you could have got cheaper, and things you have more than one of. In addition, you might also be left carrying quite a bit of debt to service over the next several months, perhaps even beyond the next festive season.

Mistakes are best avoided but, well, it rarely works that way. You can learn from the experiences of others though.  Here are a few tips to help you stay away from feeling foolish, as well as hopefully sugarcoat the dent in your pocket.

Have a plan

Think about what you intend to buy and why. Just because there are amazing discounts doesn’t mean you need to buy. This isn’t the stock market. Buy only what you need, for yourself and for others. Remember that consumption is the bane of our time.  That mobile phone has a larger footprint than you think.

Compare prices

Not only should you look high (online) and low (neighborhood showroom) to make sure you are getting the best price, you should also read the fine print. Products and services come with various levels of add-ons that are built into the price, which the seller can tweak to his advantage. A lower price does not always equal the best deal. Also compare online and retail outlet prices. Showrooms are coming up with innovative ways to beat the online pricing model. Use that to your advantage.

Avoid a new line of credit

Most stores are tied up with financing and credit card companies. Some of the offers are made to sound better if taken on their line of credit. The profit they sacrifice on the price of what you are buying is compensated by the much higher spending that is likely to follow on that line of credit. Use this option only if you really need to buy that product as you are committing future earnings.

Don’t neglect your credit card offers

Credit cards and online banking portals often have very attractive offers lined up for the festive season. Make sure you review all those ads, flyers and smses that you normally junk. It is also a good time to redeem the loyalty points on your cards.

Bills and warranties

Make sure you keep all bills carefully. If your warranty card has not been filled out and stamped by the dealer, your bill is a second line. Bills are also helpful for accounting purposes. If you are self employed, you might get tax breaks on several of your festive shopping expenses. If you buy equipment for work, you can also factor depreciation in as you go forward.

Defer your shopping

You don’t have to shop when everyone else is shopping. Sellers have a relatively lean season from spring to autumn. As a result, they do crazy things during shopping opportunities like holidays and long weekends. Like pay 1947 and take it home, and pay 1947 for the next 15 months if you buy it on Independence Day. End-of-season clearance sales have good bargains too.  Also look out for stores that are closing down; they often dispose of their stock at ridiculously low prices. Make sure you check your purchases for damages before paying for it.

See the big picture while buying

There are things that you will never use, wear or eat. Why buy one more of it? Also make sure what you buy is compatible with whatever else it needs to work with. If you cook in clay pots your domestic gas cylinder will run out ever few days. For digital purchases, make sure you review system and upgrades requirements.

If you have a big chunk of your festive shopping still left, we hope these tips will benefit you. Share your tips and experiences in a comment.

Subhorup Dasgupta is a Hyderabad-based writer. When he is not festive shopping, he writes about tea, music, films books and politics at his blog,  Subho’s Jejune Diet.