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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Beat the Recession with some Smart Shopping Do's

Are you the kind who shops till you drop? Then this recent recession must have dampened your spirits quite a bit. But don't worry, hope is around the corner and the economy is picking up steam. Read on to find some practical do's and don'ts of spending.

Shopping is what fuels the economies of the world but the current recession is not a good time to be a spendthrift. So, what does one do? No...shoplifting is illegal:) Instead shop and spend wisely. Almost everyone has probably begun to carpool and learnt to take the bus instead of cabs but that’s not all. Spending on essentials is where the money is now disappearing and here’s how to do that smartly.

# Check soap packaging. A snazzier new package always means an additional Rs 3 – Rs 5 to your wallet. So if you buy a dozen of these soaps, one lands up paying anywhere between Rs 36 to Rs 60 more. All for the fact that Katrina Kaif might just be wearing a different coloured gown on the new soap wrapper! Take the slightly older stock if available. .after all, it isn’t a perishable item.

# Similarly with shampoos. Reach for the stock at the back of the shelf because often that is where the older stock gets pushed and which also has the lower price tag, A Dabur Black Olive Shine shampoo costs Rs 89 for a 200 ml bottle but there was a time when it did cost Rs 82 and that bottle might just be within your reach right now! Bend over and grab it. Chances are that it will be still within an expiry limit.

Even better, go for those dinky sachets. For an entire month, even if you need to wash your hair every day, at Rs 2 a sachet, even the best brands work out to a reasonable Rs 60 (30×2). At 5 ml a sachet…for 30 days, it still works out to 150 ml for Rs 60. Let’s take this math a little further: to make it an even 200 ml..another 10 sachets of 5 ml will cost Rs 20. So, add Rs 60 + Rs 20 = Rs 80. It still works out cheaper than Rs 89..doesn’t it?

Here again brands differ…most of them have introduced sachets ranging from 5 ml, 7.5 ml, 8 ml and 10 ml, so these work out as even more economical, at the usual price of Rs 2 a sachet.

Let’s do the math with Vivel. The 200 ml and 100 ml bottles and 8 ml sachets are priced at Rs 89, Rs 49 and Rs 2, respectively. So, for an entire month, 30 sachets works out to 240 ml at Rs 60 only.

# This is where a woman’s expenses just can not be cut back on. So, make the most of freebies. Kaya and VLCC are forever offering packages to make one look gorgeous. So, go for the free patch tests and sessions wherever possible. I went to two different Kaya clinics for their free underarm laser sessions. So, it saved my waxing bill by a bit for more than a month! I wish they start offering freebies for the legs as well!

# Food products also have variable price tags. Brands cost more while the lesser known variety can be just as good and cheaper as well. For instance: the Garden brand of chips may cost Rs 25 for 150-200 gms but a brand called Mari chips will sell its chips for Rs 32 for 250 gms. So, in this case paying a little extra works because do a little a math and see that for the same 250 gms of Garden chips, one would land up paying Rs 40 for it.

Here's another eg: Take another much consumed item like cheese and there are three major brands available - Amul, Britannia and now Govardhan (Go). These come in packets of 5 and 10 slices and Amul has introduced super saver packs of 20 slices (Rs 130) and mega saver packs of 50 slices (Rs 186).

Let's do the math now:

Brand Price
Amul (10 slices) Rs 73

Britannia (10 slices) Rs 88

Govardhan (12 slices)* Rs 100

*(This has been introduced in 1 packet with 6 slices costing Rs 50 as of now and for convenience I've added two packets and 12 slices to fit with the other two in this comparison).

Anyway, what looks cheaper is obviously Amul but for 10 slices it works out to Rs 7.30 per slice. So for two additional slices at Rs 7.30X2 is Rs 14.60 (round off to Rs 15). Keeping this logic in mind, you would land up paying Rs 88 (73+15). That's Britannia's current price point and it's really a good deal but the problem is Amul doesn't sell 6 slices in a pack anyway. So in this instance, it's really Go which is the wise choice.

The focus shouldn't be only on saving money, it should be on extracting maximum value out of it as well.

# Using pre-paid cards or even switching to a lower value plan will help with cellphone bills.

# Most petrol pumps have ATMs and some even have convenience stores attached to them. Do all your shopping and withdrawing of cash etc while getting your fuel tank filled. So, repeat trips in your car can be avoided.

# Some people actually go to buy vegetables and fruits later in the evening because they know that they will get them cheaper. The vendors are desperate to sell their remaining stock and are amenable to bargaining.

# Sign up to fun services like Mginger.com because for all the advertising SMSes you agree to receive, you get paid 35 paisa and over time, you could accumulate money without giving it too much thought or effort. What's more, you can actually redeem them for 10% off coupons on a variety of services - travel packages, discounts at restaurants, beauty salons, book and movie websites etc. I recently redeemed just 1 point out of my account and got 10% off at Kareem's at Carter Road, Bandra. So, when the bill came to around Rs 320, I paid only around Rs 285 for a meal for two. I didn't skimp on the meal either! I had their famous chicken biryani, shikampuri cutlets and a large Sprite. So, you can get quality and quantity for the right price, if you know how. So, hook up with me at http://mGinger.com/index.jsp?inviteId=april4 on Mginger and you could avail of their mcoupons as well.

With money being a metaphor for power and protection, it is important to know the power of a few rupees saved - or for that matter spent wisely. I live with this motto: If you don't put money to good use - then it's of no use. You can borrow it as well!

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