Meet Simran (name changed). She is an artist, a mother of two and lives in Mumbai. Simran is waiting for the pandemic to ease, so that she could go back to her ‘normal’ life. She lives near a mall and yet hasn’t gone out shopping in months. Shopping and a nice dining experience with her friends is on top of the list.
It’s not easy to be cooped up in one place for weeks at a time. The pandemic has forced us to live in extreme isolation for long periods.
Now that the number of infected persons is decreasing, cities and states across India are beginning to open up, allowing people to move around and even shop for non-essentials. After being denied any indulgence other than essential goods and services for the last couple of months or so, with this unlocking, the temptation to splurge on entertainment or shopping that you missed out on might just come to the forefront.
Now, meet Imran (name changed). He held a great job selling luxury cars for a showroom in Mumbai. In February this year, he got laid off, thanks to the fall in demand. The showroom he worked for, shut down. He has since returned to his home town, but is struggling for regular income. Now that he contracted COVID-19 and is bed ridden, his family’s despair has only increased, given that he was the sole earning member. Imran is reaching out to those who he thinks can lend him some money and help out monetarily.
If the pandemic has taught us anything about money, it’s that saving some amount for a rainy day should be the priority. For that, you must try to rein in a bit of that temptation and not go overboard with spending once the lockdown is lifted. Here are a few ways you can do that.
Window shopping, at least initially
Try window-shopping during your first few visits to a mall or supermarket. It’s a good idea to leave your credit cards behind and go to malls with limited cash. Window shopping or browsing without any money will relieve you of the urge to indulge in spending. At the same time, you will not spend on things you don’t need.
Also read: Covid-19 crisis: 5 ways to trim your expenses and free up cash in your budget now
However, nowadays, you can even pay with your mobile phone. If you aren’t going alone, then hand your phone to family members. Every time you want to buy something, you will have to ask for your phone and this one extra step might help slow down any impulsive buying decision.
Change the activity
Coming out of a lockdown means you will be tempted to simply take your car and drive out to a market place. Once there, spending usually follows. It is an activity you miss and human nature is such that you will justify the over-indulgence with the fact that you have lived frugally for the last two months.
Give it some time. For the first few days, do something different. Avoid malls. A better way to spend your free time on an outing would be to indulge in physical activities such as walking, running or cycling. This will keep you away from the stores for a while. When you do finally visit those, the temptation will not be as strong and you will be in a better position to weigh your decision around spending.
Bump up your investments
All through the lock down, you have managed to live with buying only essentials and the things you needed. This would have helped you build your savings and also made you realise that you can do without many of your earlier frivolous spends.
Continue your systematic investment plans. If you have a large lump-sum lying idle in your savings bank account, invest it soon. That way, you won’t even have that extra amount readily available to over-indulge.