Thursday, June 25, 2009

Safe Shopping, Happy Shopping !

Although my Cheque book is heavily battered after a recent tax related splurge, July I hope would bring some solace - as sales galore! "Prices slashed here", "Liquidation" sales there and "Special Offers" abound... The temptations are enough to make even the most hardened miser rethink their ban on credit plastic. After spending the entire month of June throwing money at the Government, the prospect of a gift to oneself sounds pleasing and even well-deserved.

Many people fool themselves into thinking that if they buy something on sale they are saving money (as I always wanted to believe). The truth is that whether the item is discounted by 50% or offered at 25% you are still spending your money. Smart shoppers generally wait for the sales to stock up on items they need rather than what they want. Many of us (including me), however, do not practice self-control and buy merchandise at full price and then splurge on sale goods because the offers look so tempting. The problem with this type of shopping is that we end up with 15 white silk shirts, unworn Van Heusen socks and a very happy shopkeeper!

If we took some time to add up how much money we waste in a year by succumbing to these impulse buys, we would sink into despair (believe this man). Let’s face it; most of us (bloggers, that is) could survive for a year without buying a single thing (except groceries). Designer clothes, premium footwear, electronic gadgets and gizmo’s are not vital to our survival.

So to get the impulse shopping monster under control you have to devise a strategy that will make you think before you hand over your cash for that gold cufflink. You simply need to impose a 24-hour moratorium on all purchases, which are say, over Rs. 100. During this 24-hour period, the dialogue between "I need" and "I want" will go on in your head. This is when you should start to think about Japanese aesthetics (stay with me, this has relevance), in particular the Japanese concept of "Wabi". Wabi is about cultivating a simpler life, viewing excessive consumption as a burden that diminishes rather than enhances our existence. Giving yourself a night to think it over will take you away from the seduction of the retail environment.

If we take a step back from the lure of massive megamalls, designer labels, sublimely "buy that" mall music and persuasive shop assistants, we will recognize and realize when we have overstepped reasonable limits. I am not saying that you must survive on bread and live in a hut but rather ask yourself if that new LCD TV purchase is going to materially improve the quality of your life. You will find that 90% of the time the answer will be no (besides LED TVs are in/LCDs are passé). This awareness of the tricks and triggers that incite us into buying action is half the battle, the other half is a commitment to the goal of saving. So remember, when you go shopping, buy safe and spend safe. Extra cash in hand and the Bank is worth priceless when you have an emergency. Happy Shopping.

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  1. Haha excellent post! I know the feeling of straddling wants & needs. Where I live, they are infamous for the sales pitches like, "Oh, you're just $10 away from getting 15% off..your next purchase, that is :)".

    The few times I do give in, by the time the next purchase comes around, it's usually well pass the 'expiry date' of the 15%. Seriously, who does come back to the exact same shop literally 10 days after a binge shopping trip?

  2. Oh I wished that my mom read your post!!!!
    Its a really valid point that we buy impulsively and before we realize we have some heavy bags in our hands and a lighter pocket!!

  3. A very good read! We succumb to the temptation... all too often.

    But... of late, what "I need" and "I want" (rather, "we all need" and "we all want") is plain and simple.... "bijlee" and "paani"...


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