Shopping on a budget

May 15, 2016


I’m a shopaholic. I love to buy anything that pleases my eyes, be it a household item, apparel or edibles. That’s the reason I’m completely broke towards the end of the month. But lately, I’ve realised that it’s quite prudent for one to save more than to shop incessantly, for you never know what the future has in store for you. The only thing that can rescue you on a rainy day is money — after all, the world revolves around money.

I’ve been trying a few strategies to save a few rupees while shopping, and they have worked well. You can experiment with these too, to find a perfect solution to shop within a budget.

The ‘On Sale’ board

It was only last winter when I realised that clearance sales, product promotions and discount deals are ideal opportunities to purchase household items, groceries, clothes, footwear and even jewellery. Large supermarkets are the most appropriate places to shop on a budget because they offer good schemes and generous vouchers.

Otherwise, try shopping from wholesalers, who will undoubtedly give you the lowest and the best price. There will be a price difference of at least eight to 10 pc. The only downside is that you will need to visit different wholesale markets for different household items.

Similarly, apparel / accessories brands regularly organise a day’s or a week’s auction to clear last season’s merchandise before displaying the new stock. Usually, goods are marked down 20pc to 40pc during the sale season.

Go downtown

When it comes to wardrobe shopping for women, it’s best to invest in a trendy shirt on sale and pair it with non-branded trousers sold at busy road-side stalls at popular shopping places like Tariq Road, Bahadurabad, Liberty Market, Anarkali, etc. These stalls sell a variety of scarves, flat shoes, trousers and unstitched suits. You will have to ransack for garments / accessories that are worth purchasing and wearing. Spending a large amount of money on apparel / accessories, that you know you will wear only for a month or two is indeed an extravagance.

Alternatively, you can transform your (or your mom’s) old saris and beautifully embroidered dupattas into shirts.

A shopping list

Instead of stopping in every aisle if you need a certain product, a carefully crafted list will not only save your precious time but will also help you stick to the items you need, making the trip easier and fun. You can then devote your energy and concentration to get the best discounts in town. Try to buy meat / poultry products from one butcher so he can give you the best piece of meat at a reasonable rate, or ask the mart assistants to help you pick items on promotions.

Make a budget and look for little ways to save money; a little planning will pay off big time

Don’t fall prey to the sales representatives advocating new products. Similarly, don’t buy products kept at the check-out points if they are not in your shopping list. They’ve been strategically placed to make you spend money.

Differentiate between needs and wants

This is a psychological factor most of us have to struggle with at some point in our lives. If we discern between our wants and needs, we can safely conclude that we hardly have many costly needs. Buying a decent dress, a durable pair of shoes and a few accessories once in three months isn’t very heavy on the pocket. But the trouble begins when we try to fulfil our wants too. Owing to widespread, glossy advertisements, we tend to fall for things we don’t need and want to buy them with the money we don’t have.

Almost all main roads in the metropolises are swarming with lawn, jewellery, footwear, mobiles and car billboards. Who wouldn’t want to possess all these beautiful and seemingly important goods? After all, we are all subconsciously competing with one another when it comes to possessing worldly materials and wish to be better than everyone else — right?

The key is to break the vicious cycle of fulfilling all our wants.

Shop off season

Try to buy things off season to get the best price. For example, purchase warm clothes before the winters begin (during autumn) to get a reasonable and the lowest price. Similarly, you can stock up on edible items like dates, tea whiteners, evening beverages, etc before Ramazan begins to avoid the insane price hike. Winter is undoubtedly the best time to purchase air-conditioners and BBQ equipment since at this time the sales of these two appliances plummet. Also, try buying the last season’s model, since stores want to clear them on discounts.

Shopping on a budget is not an easy task, but planning and knowing what you ‘need’ will save you from wasting money.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine May 15th, 2016