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Binge On A Budget

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As the second millennium swings into its teens, much like a regular teenager, shopping is fairly high on the priority list. And, why not? Retail therapy, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, is “overwhelmingly beneficial, leading to mood boosts and no regrets or guilt”. 

Alas, that “no-guilt” scenario may not happen, with the phrase “economic slowdown” being screamed out from the rooftops, and inflation eating into our already small incomes. Guilt is directly proportional to the radius of the hole that is burnt in your wallet, pocket or account statement. But that need not be the case.

In 2013, get innovative with your shopping style, make thriftiness de rigueur. Track down all the flea markets around you, snip out all the discount coupons, and to help you out a little bit more, here are some options that even Sophie Kinsella’s The Girl In The Green Scarf would not fault.

Click 'n' Kaching!
We are in an age where our online presence defines our “very” existence. With due apologies to Descartes, in today’s context, even he would be tempted to say: I Facebook, therefore I am. So, since everything is in the virtual space, why should shoppers look elsewhere, especially since websites are falling over their https to cater to your every whim and fancy. Choose from Snapdeal, FashionAndYou, Jabong, HomeShop18, Flipkart, Yebhi, Groupon and many others for not only retail therapy but travel deals, spa experiences and what not. Many of these also let you try and return the goods should they not fit or suit your liking (much better than waiting for a free trial room during peak sale season).

If you are an avid shopper, you may consider creating an email ID just for the scores of websites that promise to deliver the “best deals” to your inbox.

For those looking at books, ThisYaThat is a great site to compare book prices across several e-tail sites; for the Kindle-holders, subscribe to the Book of the Day offered by sites like Amazon and WorldLiteraryCafe, where you can download popular titles for free on certain days.

Luxury For A Day
If you thought exclusives and designer wear were the right of the rich, think again. Jennifer Hudson sure thought so in Sex And The City 2. Make a splash at the next party sporting a Sabyasachi outfit with a slinky Jimmy Choo bag hanging from your arm, and rest easy in your head that you haven’t really shelled out your next month’s salary on getting them. Take your pick from the best of Indian and international designers and have them delivered to your doorstep through services like Secret Wardrobe and Dial A Dress (for clothes), and Bagsutra and Bag4ADay (for bags), which rent out designer products for just a couple of hundred a day. Because, like all fashionistas, you will just wear ’em once, so no one needs to know they are actually rented! And if you really love what you rent, you may get a good deal on a buy as well.

Follow The Sale Calendar
This is definitely the time when staying glued to your computer screens can get you some great deals, but look out the window as well. The age-old way of shopping is a good idea, provided it is done out of season. Yes, the sale season calendar actually kicks in a month after the actual season has passed. So save a bundle by following the sale calendar in your city. Keep your winter shopping for late-February as the sun starts marking its presence a bit more often, and your summer shopping for the beginning of the autumn months, around August. Most big stores around the country offer some great deals, but even if delayed, it’s the early birds that walk away with the goodies. So make sure you know exactly when the sale season kicks off. Your newspapers and accompanying fliers are a great way to “save the dates” in your shopping calendar.

If you are a foodie, then every year — usually around March and September — the fanciest restaurants in town, from Varq and Smoke House Grill in Delhi, and Baluchi and Bene in Bangalore, to Hakkasan and Saffron in Mumbai, lay out their lip-smacking, prix fixe, three-course meals for a week-long extravaganza at a throwaway price.

Next up, is March 2013. The tables are booked in a matter of minutes, so en guard!

Be A Social Prowler 
Now, if you think that the numerous websites are just vessels for mass production and distribution, take a moment to spy on the wonderful made-at-home creatives your friends’ friends are doing. Yes, over the past few years, many professionals (primarily with IT backgrounds) have started boutique stores, mostly from their own homes, and accessible through social networking sites like Facebook and Pinterest.

From quirky gifts and jewellery like those from Tapping TurtL to personalised nameplates, picture frames and figurines like those from Earthen Concepts by Nidhi Srivastava, who makes clay lookalikes based on her clients’ photographs. And, the best thing about these start-ups? You will usually get items that are one of a kind, all for a bargain.

Follow the Facebook pages and Twitter handles of your favourite brands, and you will be amazed at the number of fan offers and discounts that will come your way first.

Blog A Bargain
A rather unorthodox but fun way to get some great deals is to blog. Yes, blog. Various outfits like Indibloggers.com have teamed up with brands to kill three birds with a single shot: get publicity by having people blog about them, connect brands with their target audience/consumers (so these turn out to be a great platform for you to give your feedback on your favourite or even least favourite brands), while the bloggers walk away with some awesome gifts, which — other than the mundane shopping vouchers, gadgets and a plethora of other products — may even include your very own book deal or a trip to Melbourne! No kidding. So pick up your laptop, and start typing.

shruti(dot)chakraborty(at)abp(dot)in

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 14-01-2013)