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Frugal Tips from a Shopaholic

This article was originally written for WomensWeb.in

“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again” Rebecca Bloomword in the movie Confessions of a Shopalcoholic.

Very soon we are going to have a Rebecca Bloomword phase.

The bedsheets will look faded. The cushion covers no longer match the interiors. The Anarkali worn for last Diwali bash will be outdated this season.

It’s the festival of lightening our purse strings, Gruhinis. This is the only time; we open them (purse strings or paytm wallets) wide otherwise how else will Goddess Lakshmi make her way into our house, no?

The way I had been celebrating this festival can be summed up like this “I will change the whole house”.

The way I had been celebrating this festival can be summed up like this “I will change the whole house”. Exhibition visits become more than just window shopping. To overcome the guilt of over-shopping I would share shopping notes with friends. This would make it worse as friends would say “you know that day I spent Rs 10000 at FabIndia in just 15 minutes”

Hopefully this Diwali of mine will be different. Hence you see this story. Let me give you a bit of spouse history first.

The typical Diwali conversation in my house is like this:

“Honey the shopping limit on this card is Rs 50,000 only” The spouse would tell me while parting away with his credit card.

“Isn’t it time you upgraded its limit as I hear it every year” In an offended tone, honey (that’s your Gruhini) would say.

“I can. But what are the chances of us keeping a record of how much we spend. We got to draw limits somewhere” the spouse would say.

For years I got away with spending without accounting, a persistent point of argument in an otherwise happy marriage.

For years I got away with spending without accounting, a persistent point of argument in an otherwise happy marriage.  I would often tell myself “how can I be a rupee pincher who records every purchase—the maids salary, the pencil or craft purchases, weekend junk food shopping and so on?”

Then one fine day, the spouse had a “Didn’t I tell you moment” when he shared an article about Cait Flanders, a personal finance blogger in Vancouver who didn’t shop for a year, paid her debts and now records her expenditure every week.

Cait Flander was like a spouse whisperer.  Her wonderful work on her budgeting skills totally inspired me. I have gradually got around to keeping a tab on how much I spend especially during the festival season when tempting offers have just begun. Well I am still far away from imposing a self-ban on shopping like her, but here are certain tricks that will help me control my spending urges this Diwali.

Clinch the shopping list in your fist

Too many options tend to confuse many of us. So whether you are going for a sale in the mall or a Diwali Mela, list down the things you ‘need’ to buy. Note it down mentally or with a pen on paper. Think of the stores you will find your stuff and directly hit them first. Your feet will give up by the time you finish your shopping as per the list. So you would rather head back home instead of checking the next store isn’t it?

Trust the mobile applications

If you want somebody to remind you whenever you spend, trust the Walnut app. The moment I swipe the card, the Walnut mobile application on my phone beeps and shows me the money I spent. A monthly bar chart of expenditure will surely make you think twice before you spend next time. This application collects information from your message records and also gives you the option to record purchases manually. Expense Tracker is another great application for matching income and expense, but you have to make manual entries.

Do let me know if following these tips helped you reduce your credit card bills next month.

Give me a shout at thegreatgruhini@gmail.com

About Rachna Monga Koppikar

Rachna aka your Great Gruhini is a finance writer with over a decade's experience in writing about personal finance matters with leading financial publications of India. As she studies to be a certified financial planner, she is also on a mission to make every woman a money savvy individual. So shed your inhibitions. Get over your money worries with The Great Gruhini. Write to her at thegreatgruhini@gmail.com

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