In India the festive season commences starting September – Ganesh Chaturthi, followed by Diwali, followed by Dussehra, Christmas and finally New Year! Phew! These four months of the year are the most happening in terms of activities and joy, while also being the most draining financially.
While the world cherishes in the festive spirit, my anxiety and nervousness starts mounting from August and reaches its peak by Dusshera. I become worried. Combined with the stress of having to deal with the urge of giving in to the irresistible offers, deals, and discounts (on almost everything – from diapers to upholstery and from furniture to potatoes!), is the obligation to gift material stuff to friends and family. Somehow, it seems odd to gift “blessings” in a glitter packed box or “good wishes” in a sparkling jar! Phew! I am sure you get my point.
Despite caution and planning, every other year my budget, like unruly kids, runs haywire. This year has been different. I am more prepared. Planning has not only helped my bank account from going berserk but also not feel deprived of material indulgences. My checklist goes as follows.
- Make a budget (and stick to it): Allocate a stipulated fund towards festival related shopping, dining out, purchases for the home, gifts for family and friends and other indulgences. Making a budget makes it easier to prioritize spending, which is the next point in the series.
- Prioritize: From among the endless things that we may want, we need to prioritize the most important heads on which we must spend. Discuss with your family to come up with the three or four most important things, like maybe buying a washing machine, distempering the home or whatever it may be, all this within the set budget.
- Sell old things that you may not need: With OLX and Quikr, selling used stuff is a child’s play. It’s not a bad idea to do away with furniture, electronics, books etc. that you may no longer be using. I have put my twins’ baby slings and baby bather, in perfect condition, up for sale.
- Plan and buy gifts in advance: Festivals is a time when we buy new clothes and gifts for our family and friends. It’s a good idea to plan gifts in advance at a discount, stock clearance or end-of-season sale. I usually buy outfits that are a size larger for my children, during a discount sale and stock for the festival season. This also eases my budget during the festival time.
- Plan travel in advance: The air fares become unthinkable expensive just around the festival season. If you have a pilgrimage, or vacation on the mind and choose this time of the year because of the pleasantness in weather plan and school holidays, plan months in advance and book your air tickets and hotel bookings at best deals and additional offers.
- Check out for best bargains: Sometimes sellers outsmart buyers! Since they know that people tend to spend more around the time of festivals, they hold back on their best offers. It’s a good idea to hold your budget and wait for the right deal. Ex. I am to buy an AC for my kid’s room and am holding the budget in hand till I come across a really good deal which includes some freebies.
- Vow to stay away from the credit card: Plan your festival expenses at the beginning of the year and provision for it in the form of a recurring deposit that matures around the same time of the year. Make it a point not to purchase anything on credit or EMI just because peer, advertisers, and sellers have set the mood for a purchasing. Remember, credit never comes cheap.
The real fun in the festival season is to have fun without the burden of guilt or debt.
- Assess if your want is triggered by need or vanity: Many a time I have bought things that I didn’t need. These purchases are usually triggered by peer pressure or just the feeling that “I am buying thinking I will make money because I am getting it cheap”.
- Check local shops or flea market: Sometimes online buying may not be the smartest thing to do. Check at local shops and weekly flea markets for garments, crockery, souvenirs etc that you may get at cheaper rates.
- Upcycle! – Upcycling is the coolest thing to do! Watch DIY tutorials on YouTube or check out sites like Secondsguru.com to come up with quirky ideas to upcycle old stuff. Gifting upcycled things are not only pocket-friendly but also display a lot of personal touch and engagement. You can upcycle old cans into amazing pen stands, worn out chopping board into a picture frame, old bottles can be turned into planters, the list is endless. Put your thinking cap on and get as imaginative as you can.