The festive season is upon us. It’s that time of the year when we shop and spend in abundance to make the celebrations memorable. As you look forward to lavishing gifts on your loved ones, we present a step-wise guide on how to plan and execute the perfect shopping budget and have a splendid festive season. So here we go:

1. List down the expected expenses

First up, make a list of things you need to do. It could be buying new clothes for your family, gifts for friends and relatives, a fresh coat of paint for the house, perhaps some houseplants to line your balcony... the list can be endless, but it’s wise to at least start making one.

2. Decide on the shopping budget

You may have been saving up for the shopping season, in which case you will know exactly how much money you have at hand to spend. If you don’t, do some quick math – add up the money at your disposal and the credit card limits you are comfortable with. Or you may simply fix an amount based on gut feel, though a little caution is advisable.

3. Fix limits for various categories

Once you know how much you are allowed to spend, allocate the same across expenses. So it’s time to call up the gardener and the painter to get an estimate on the houseplants and the paint job. You will have guests coming over, so you will be distributing sweets or your homemade cupcakes that everyone loves. Then there are gifts to buy and sundry other expenses that you will face. Assign a budget for all such expenses.

4. List the items and their sources

Once you know the purchases you are going to make and the amount earmarked for each, you have to make a detailed list of the items and finalise the best source to buy them from. Looking to buy a pair of jeans? Will it be online or offline? Better deals or cashback? After researching all the sale offers and deals available, if you end up buying (say) a pair of Levi’s from a nearby brand store for Rs 3500, you know it’s the best deal at the moment.

5. Track the expenses made

If you see yourself paying a thousand rupees more on that pair of jeans we mentioned, you can rework your budget by deciding to buy one dress fewer than planned. By fixing a budget for all categories and tracking them while shopping, you can curb expenses whenever they threaten to overshoot. You don’t need to make painful sacrifices either; in fact, you may end up with a better-looking pair of jeans than what you hoped for, apart from not buying one dress too many!

6. Use cash and credit cards smartly

Although careless – or rather, carefree – use of credit cards can lead to unplanned expenses; they offer a lot of benefits too. Many credit cards offer shopping vouchers as joining perks, while others offer cashback and reward points. You get reward points every time you swipe your credit card for shopping, which you can redeem later. In fact, the reward points accumulated on credit cards can be redeemed for shopping vouchers too.But if you find it difficult to track your card usage, a ‘cash only’ approach will help you avoid spending beyond your means.

7. Start saving early

Lastly, one tip that will help you have an even better shopping experience next year would be to start saving early, well before the festive season! Setting aside even a couple of thousand rupees a month can contribute a significant sum to your shopping kitty by the end of the year.

By following this step wise guide you will have come full circle, starting with saving the money needed for shopping till the payments to be made for the same. We hope this guide helps you to buy all that your heart desires this festive season – without having to agonise about exceeding your budget.

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