It’s the season to spend more to save more. Discounts offered in stores across the city means a wardrobe upgrade for many but what’s the best way to do it?

It’s that time of the year again. Come rain, shine or torrential downpour, both men and women can’t help but heed to those bright signs, calling out to them in varying shades of red, yellow, green and orange. Every store in the city is offering discounts ranging from 25 per cent to 75 per cent and retailers are eager to empty the shelves in time for the new collections. Weekends are spent in shopping malls, careless abandon and indiscriminate splurging are the dominant moods. Flat discounts on every item on the shelves on select days, ‘buy one get one free’ offer, free goodies; offers galore. But like most things that are too good to be true, it probably isn’t. So what’s the catch, if there is one?

According to Shruti Kohli, media entrepreneur and author of The Petticoat Journal: Money and the Indian Woman, the discount season demands that we be more particular with our mathematics. “A sale means nothing if you’re going to rack up unwanted stuff in your wardrobe,” she says. To those of you who have a weakness for bizarre buys, fashion blogger Karishma Rajani, who can relate all too well with that, says, “You need to allow yourself a few splurges,” she says adding that you still need to think about what your picking out at a store.

Understanding the ‘sale’ tag

Like with Fire and the Internet, discounts sales can be terrible masters. Through offers, retailers aim at breaking down a few key barriers of consumer behaviour. The first is the price of an item; there is never a bad time to buy anything for cheaper than it’s worth, is there? In fact, there isn’t enough time, because most offers last only for a limited period, a perfect setting for impulse buys.

Have a budget

While lower prices may negate the need for a budget, the resultant lack in rationality and self-control demand that you have one. To make sure that you stick to it, carry cash. Behavioural economist, Dan Ariely who coined the phrase ‘pain of paying’ says that increasing pain of paying is the best way to spend less. He also proved that the further we move away from actual money, the lesser the pain of paying. So carrying a card, especially a credit card which you have to pay off at the end of the month, is not the best idea.

Buy basics

Keeping in mind that most of the stuff on sale is the last season’s, it may be best not to go for anything too bizarre. “I’d advice people to stay away from ‘flash fashion’ items. They’ll be out of style in a few months or weeks,” says Shruti. “Don’t buy anything too expensive unless you’ve been eyeing it for a while,” says Karishma, “everyone is allowed one crazy item but sales are a good time to stack up on basics to team up with the crazies.” Even if you are being impulsive in picking up a basic black or white tee or a pair of denims, you can be assured they’ll be put to good use.

Take your time, ask a friend

Don’t let the ‘three days left’ sign scare you into buying everything you set your eyes on. Take time to think about it, try it on and maybe even think about five occasions you could wear it at. “Taking a cautious friend or relative who knows your style can help as they will prevent you from making unnecessary purchases,” advices Shruti. According to Karishma, sometimes the difference between Zara and Colaba lies in the fit. “If you are going to buy an expensive dress even if it’s not the right size, you might as well buy it off the streets,” she says.

Shop for stuff, not bargains

Most of us get carried away and tend to overstep our budgets and end up filling our cupboards with unwanted things. It’s best to have a clear cut idea of what you’re looking for. Maybe it’s time to get new jeans or maybe that tie you lusted after is now available cheaper. “One way to know if you really want the item or you’re just looking for a good bargain is to think back to whether or not you would consider buying it at its original price,” says Karishma.