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With the festive season underway, expenditure can skyrocket. Here are 5 tips to plan the festive season budget and keep expenses in check.
By Manika Premsingh
The festive season in India is typically a no-holds-barred period, with much emphasis on food, décor, social visits and more. The annual festive season starts in October and goes on in some form till the end of the calendar year. While it is a time for great merriment and cheer, it can be draining on the pocket.
Often during such festive times it is possible to go overboard on spending, with so many goodies on the offer and families being out on shopping trips more often. Is there a way to keep this spending in check? We offer you 5 ways in which Indian women can enjoy this festive season without waking up with spender’s remorse the morning after.
Make sure that before you start shopping for this season you have planned a budget. While it is more convenient to make a rough estimate, chances are that the more detailed the budget the better your chances to sticking with it. This is because your chances of skimming over some potentially big expenditure items are less with a detailed budget, rather than just an estimate in your mind. Also, do keep in mind that that your income every month is divided into spending and saving. Since your income is the same, but you are now spending on the festive season along with your regular spending, you are effectively saving less than you would otherwise. This is another reason why you should try as far as possible to stick to your budget. Once you have outlined the budget, see if you can actually cut back for a short period of time on small expenses to ensure that part of the budget can actually be met through the already allotted consumption spending.
While the temptation of impulse buying during the festive season is high, with stores across the country geared to attract your attention with packaging and products, a little bit of restraint here could go a long way. Look out for sales on goods from clothes to gifts and décor items across stores in India. And if you feel that you are likely to shop more than what your original intention was, there is e-commerce to the rescue. There are a number of retail e-commerce portals these days that not only offer discounts on purchases like furniture, electronics, gift items among others, but are also a good way of keeping the budget in check. This is because you are more likely to look for products you already have in mind, and even if you do check other goods out, the actual physical distance could be naturally restraining. You can also look at making bulk purchases of gifts from wholesale markets, where you would normally not go. This can give you some good discounts and also some exclusive products at times.
While festive times can be hard on the pocket, they also represent a window of opportunity to generate some extra cash. If you have some special cooking, sewing or art related talents, this could be just the season for you. For instance, you could make sweets at home in bulk and sell them on order, or you could make artistic Diwali gifts. Not only can these generate extra income, these can also double up as items for your own use that slash your festival expenditure significantly. From the monetary perspective, this could be a good way to keep a balance. In fact, if your business does well, your festive budget could actually come from these extra earnings.
Before making your festive wish list, it can be a good idea to take stock of what you already have. Chances are, that with the Diwali season purchases being made every year you have at least some décor items that can be used for the house this year as well. Items like lights, diyas, furnishings and even personal clothing and jewellery items that have been purchased but rarely used. Add them up, and chances are that they could amount to an appreciable total expense. Taking stock of existing stuff is also a good way to prioritise on the list of things you want to buy. So if a must purchase is exceeding your planned budget, you easily know which purchases not to make to ensure that your spending stays in check.
Pre-Diwali parties are the order of the day during the season, and can entail quite an expense as well. But there are ways to be money-wise about them. For one, don’t head out for celebrations each time, have a few parties at home. Even the parties at home can be made contributory, with all the invitees responsible for different aspects of the party. This can actually make events at home not just budget-friendly, but also more engaging and less stressful for the person who is hosting the party.
These are some basic ideas on how you can keep your festive season budget in check. There are a number of other creative ways in which you can achieve the same results while spending far less money. The important thing is to have the intent to start with, and follow through with the plan that you have made for the season. With this in mind, it is quite likely that both you and your wallet will round off the festive season feeling very good!
*Photo credit: The Toad (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Manika is an entrepreneur and the founder of Orbis Economics, a research and content organisation
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