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Want to save more money? Stop impulse buying!

Last updated on: July 6, 2012 19:30 IST

Want to save more money? Stop impulse buying!

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Bienu Vaghela, Chief Editor, Apnapaisa.com

Want to get rid of your shopping urges? Read how these friends got a lesson in controlling their shopping sprees!

Finally monsoons are here and so are the long-awaited sales/attractive discounts/tempting offers all over the town. And phone calls from shopaholic friends who want my precious time to accompany them to these sales.

Excitement is palpable. Invitation too tempting. Monsoons too enchanting!

So what should a reformed shopaholic like me do? Think of how to avoid suchtemptations which leave my bank account lighter by the thousands and my credit card bills heavier by the thousands?

Are you wondering why all of a sudden this enlightenment that money is not meant to be splurged on impulse shopping?

I owe my resurrection to my being part of Apna Paisa workshops where anchor Harsh Roongta hammers all along the importance of being better financially-planned and investment savvy. This has great impact on my thinking which was heavily tilted in favour of impulse shopping till few months ago.

No, he doesn't say that you don't indulge but explains how to shop in a way that you don't land in a financial mess and a debt trap in future.

Following in his footsteps, I took a session in my neighbourhood mall for my shopaholic friends over piping hot momos, a complete surprise for them.

I would like to share with you what happened on that great Sunday!

Apnapaisa is a price comparison engine that allows consumers in India the ability to compare the EMI, interest rates and other fees for home loans, car loans, personal loans, business loans, credit cards, compare online quotes and features of life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, travel insurance and other general insurance policies in India.


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

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As I started telling them that what damage impulse buying can do to their finances, my hyperactive shopper friend Ritu shot back: "what is impulse shopping? After all shopping is shopping."

I tried explaining.

"Impulse buying is an unplanned decision to buy a product, made just before a purchase," I said.

Some research findings suggest emotions and feelings play a decisive role in making an impulse purchase and marketers and retailers exploit these impulses leading to shoppers' instant gratification.

"Not only this," I told her, "your normal decision goes out of the window for window-shopping."

Ritu was convinced.


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: Ritu

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Now it was Meenu's turn.

She said, "Okay fine. Impulse shopping happens which leads to guilt sometimes besides scolding from husbands."

"But how can we avoid this?" she demanded an explanation.

I knew this was coming. I was prepared with my to-do list.

My suggestions list rolled.

"To begin with before stepping out for the shopping sojourn make a list of things to buy and sincerely follow it to the tee. By planning well and sticking to this shopping list (of course with 10-20 per cent variations) you'll visit those stores only from where you have to make the purchases. This will dramatically bring down your expenses," I put forth confidently.

We have noticed that even the most disciplined savers turn up buying unnecessary items when they are out shopping.


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: Meenu

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I know you all love shopping but you can cultivate some other equally satisfying hobby. Just ask yourself this: What could be the bigger pleasure? To enjoy with a group of friends or go out with them on a shopping spree?

It is important to know those friends who encourage you to shop for fancy things / fashionable stuff all the time. As a matter of fact all of us have such friends around who love to shop and with whom you end up spending lots of money. Instead you can try finding ways to spend time with these people -- like playing a game or indulging in some group activity.

If you do need to shop, take along a friend who will help you control your spending binges. This will help you avoid impulse buys and focus on what you really need.

By the way, my friends did not know about the reformist shopper that I have become when they invited me to accompany them for this shopping soiree!

Well taken", quipped Meenu.


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: Meenu

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Well all this activity is to control impulse buying but when we are out to shop what precautions should we take?" This was my friend Asmita.

"Here my simple advice would be you carry sufficient cash rather than taking along credit cards; particularly the ones with high credit limit. This will keep your shopping well within your budget and prevent you from spending more than you want. Don't even think that if I will need more cash, I will withdraw from the ATM in the mall. On the contrary think I have to manage my shopping in this amount only," I said sagaciously.

My friend Sheetal who was quietly listening to me till now countered, "Shopping is very much a reflection of our personality and not only has social & financial implications but psychological ones too."

"Well Sheetal, you very rightly said shopping has great impact on one's psychology as it is a great stress-buster, ego-booster and personality enhancer. So much so that it is therapeutic too and that is why there is a term dedicated to it: retail therapy. If you do it judiciously, it will have magical effect but if you don't, it can have very drastic effect on your finances," I countered bravely looking into her eyes.


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: ATM

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That is why it is important to examine your shopping habits. Do you tend to shop a lot when you're sad or depressed? Or do you always run straight to the mall on payday? Or say if you go to buy a gift for your friend and come loaded with gifts for yourself," I offered my piece of my mind to my friends.

"But now what has happened has happened. As a first step what should we do?" Anita was eager to know.

"Write down your goals on a sheet of paper and always keep those in mind before going for shopping. When you're out shopping, if you have the urge to buy, remember these goals and ask yourself whether these purchases will help you meet your goals or not," I said.

"It's always best to have a blueprint of where your money is going; you can invest this money for your better future," I suggested.

"Oh is that possible?" asked Reeta.

"Can we do it with our limited resources? I mean taking money out of our monthly budget?" Reeta continued.

Good question. "Why not? You can invest in term deposits, popularly known as FDs, recurring deposits, SIPs or debt mutual funds to meet your short-term goals whereas to meet your long-term goals you can invest in PPF, SIPs in equity mutual funds and gold funds. Once these dedicated investments are in place you can splurge on your long cherished watches, shoes, bags, dresses and what not as you have earmarked your money to take care of your future," I ratted in a single breath waiting for a huge applause from my friends.

That, however, did not materialise.

But then they were convinced that they would have more money in hand and more peace of mind when they come for their next shopping sojourn. They moved on with the promise to come up with their goals and investment amount they want to dedicate to fulfill their goals.

At least the promise was the first step in the direction, never mind their hesitation in praising me for what I taught them!


Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Tags: Reeta , PPF , Anita

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