• How many of us have had our budgets spiral out of control during the festive season? 
  • How many of us haven't been able to avail of even lucrative deals simply because we don't know if we can afford to splurge?
  • Haven't we cursed ourselves and our lack of financial planning then?
The festive season (October to December-end) is when people across the world shop maniacally. And we're Indian. We shop harder than anyone else.But the mistake most of us make is that we ignore the “shop“ part when we do our annual home budgets. We budget for groceries, vacations, we save for our children's education or for weddings but we forget to budget for festival-time shopping. There's a method to spending money during this period. Here's how to maximise benefits and minimise waste. 

GET READY TO SHOP Follow the rules 

  1. Be patient: If you want to take advantage of the most profitable deals during the festive season, you have to be patient for the rest of the year. By shopping during this season as opposed to any other time of the year, you can save money. Try and postpone purchases till the period before Diwali, because that's when the good deals happen.Almost all manufacturers and retailers come up with attractive discounts and great combo deals.
  2. Avoid impulsive shopping: It's quite likely that the coffee machine you bought during last season's `festive bonanza sale' is still in its packing box, unused. That could be because you didn't really need it but bought it only because of the tempting deal. To avoid this, first ascertain if you are an impulsive shopper or not. Check your credit card bills and ask yourself these questions: Did I really need those products? Wouldn't I be happier saving money instead of spending it?
  3. Do your research: It is very important to get the best of Diwali deals. Read up on the deals in newspapers, magazines and the Internet to zero in on the genuinely good bargains. Then pick something that most suits your budget.
  4. Prioritise: Yes, there are lots of deals in every category ­ clothes, electronics, jewellery etc.You are going to get confused. So you need to get your priorities right before you buy. If there's a great offer on a particular product but you don't need that product in the first place, don't buy it.For example, if shopping for your house, decide which of these you need most urgently: a bed, or a fridge or a TV. Buy one of these things. Similarly, choose between buying clothing and accessories.
  5. You can't avoid a list: Make a list before venturing out for your Diwali shopping. You could also make envelopes for your budgeted items, carrying just enough cash for the shopping list. If you see a `one-plus-one free' or `up to 50 per cent off' deal, remember that there are no free lunches.Check if there is a catch. And do you actually need any of the stuff on offer?
  6. Gift wisely: Make a list of the people you would like to give gifts to. Go over the list to make sure that it's the final one. Pick gifts within your budget.
  7. Think smart: Try to remember that your need for the latest gadget or those sexy shoes may be satiated with the purchase, but with every such purchase you are moving away from your long-term goal of wealth creation. Do not make your next impulse purchase at the cost of meeting your financial goals.

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