IDEAS to deal with Inflation in India-Smart Shopping

  • Simple ideas, based on personal experience, to shop smartly and reduce your monthly household budget.

Increasing prices / inflation is a common conversation subject. Over breakfast, I was discussing inflation and approach to shopping with a fellow Chartered Accountant friend. After our chat he suggested I write an article sharing my thoughts. Read on for some ideas on how to save money whilst shopping.


At the outset must share my circumstances. I live in a metro city, have an area market, a co-operative store (in short CoopS) close by and buy online. I worked with Hindustan Levers so aware of the concepts of M.R.P (maximum retail price) and month packed in. My wife helps a lot with the shopping and loves deals.


Here are some personal experiences on how to shop smartly. 


First, what is the reason for current inflation? Simply put, it is mainly the Russian Ukranine War which has reduced sunflower oil supplies and increased crude oil prices. Increase in crude prices has resulted in higher prices of petroleum products in India, contributed to cost of production rise and given companies a reason to increase price.


1. A friend in Delhi is smart. The day the war started she did a Search on what was Ukranine’s big export. On knowing it was sunflower oil she bought the next six months need say about 15 litres. 


Learning - when there is a war or global crisis try to ascertain which items of your household purchases it shall affect? Just buy the next 4-6 month’s needs of key items.


2.  Next is deep freezing of peas. 


Prices of frozen peas increase as the year goes by. During season i.e. January we buy about 30 kgs of peas and deep freeze. This usually lasts till about September.


3.  Purchase of Sunflower Oil. 


We usually buy from the CoopS or D Mart store. Since prices are continuously increasing I search for old Packed and Price stock at the CoopS. That is invariably cheaper than newly produced stock. In oil it does not matter if stock was produced one or two months earlier.


During a visit to local Kirana store found that a not so popular Emami Sunflower Oil was cheaper than the more established names like Godrej. Emami is well known brand so quality must be good. Also, check out in-house brands of stores like Star Bazaar-they are likely to be cheaper because it is essentially a third party manufactured product.


Learning - look to buy newly launched brands or buy products of not so well known brands.


4.  Purchase of Toothpaste, Soap and Toothbrush. 


Patanjali increased their prices recently of natural toothpaste 200 gm from Rs 85 to Rs 95/ and of Mint Tulsi soap from Rs 25 to Rs 35/. I thought the price increase was steep so went to a kirana store and bought old stock that was available at the old price.


About a month after the price increase I saw an offer, buy 3 toothpaste 200 gm at Rs 215/ for M.R.P. of Rs 285/. Promptly bought. About 2 months later noticed the price for the same pack of 3 was Rs 230/.


So also Lever’s Ayush had a 2 ka pack though the price was not as attractive as Patanjali. I bought it nevertheless because money saved is money earned.


Learning - when a company takes a price increase they sometimes run a promo offer initially so volumes do not suffer and consumers do not downgrade. When the promo comes just buy.


Sensodyne Toothbrush is available in packs of 3 or 4. I bought 4 packs online at Rs 80/ (MRP Rs 100), price today is Rs 99/ (MRP 115).


My wife swears by D Mart so groceries come from there. I joke with a friend who stays close to a D Mart store that cost of groceries is less by atleast 10-15%. The closest in price-quality is the Cooperative Store. In the U.S. I would shop only from COSCO. The price-quality matrix is super.  


5.  Prices of Onions and Tomatoes fluctuate a lot. 


Prices in our area market are high. So I buy online from Jio amongst others, who have special prices on one day of the week.


On the given day I buy online. Jio has worked well. November 2021 to February 2022 I bought Red Carrot from Jio @ Rs 27-32/ per kg when the price in our area market was Rs 40-45/. Currently tomato prices are about Rs 90/ a kg. Jio is cheaper, not significantly though. 


While ordering online keep an eye on delivery charges.


Learning – buy online on Sab see Saasta Din (once a week discounted prices).


6.  Atta is an important part of our diet. 


For years consumed ITC M.P. atta. The purchase price is invariably at a good discount to M.R.P.


During the current price surge, wifey suggested we buy a not so known and advertised brand that also sold M.P. atta but was cheaper. As a consumer found quality was nearly the same. Always go for a 10 kg pack, works out cheaper.


Learning - sometimes it pays to buy not so heavily advertised brands which are cheaper and quality is nearly the same.


7.  Our area has 3 prices for fruits and vegetables. 


One is outside the gate of the gated community in which we live. Two, is a market i.e. at a five minute walk. Three is area market i.e. at a ten minute walk. Each market sells at different prices - you pay for convenience.


Buy seasonal vegetables in larger quantities. Off season-veggies invariably expensive.


Buy from one vendor-Loyalty might mean lower prices. I buy bananas and Ayurvedic items from one store for years.  


Learning - when buying something of value, go for a 10 minute walk. For e.g. Idli Atta in market is Rs 50/ per kg. Price in area market is Rs 40/.


8.  Always ask for a Discount. 


Last week I asked my Idli Atta vendor for a discount. He reduced price from Rs 40 to Rs 35/ a kg and said I never asked so he never reduced.


Next question – how was his atta cheaper than others. He said atta outlet was part of the kirana store so the rice and dal were provided by the store unlike other shops where the atta was supplied by third party vendors who bought rice and dal at market prices.


Masalas and spices can be ground at home if cheaper. So also if one knows and has the time make Tomato ketchup at home. My friends wife does both, for sake of purity more than cost.


9.  Medicines 


About six months ago a new medical shop opened that offers all medicines at a flat 18% discount. Now we buy only from here.


In March wifey read a newspaper report that said prices of select medicines to go up from April 1. We bought enough medicines to cover our needs for six months.


Learning - look for new shops who are looking to increase market share and at newspapers for price increase information.  


10.  Electricals and Consumer Durables


Whilst buying electricals I avoid shops that are on the main road and doing well. Search for a shop i.e. in one of the lanes. They are more likely to give you a good discount. (Note concept of MRP does not work in electricals).


For consumer durables I always visit CROMA to check out options because the store is well laid out. Once we agree on the brand and model, visit smaller stores or a local chain of stores to get the best deal.


For cell phones I prefer to buy from big stores like CROMA because of fake products. Here I reduce cost by redeeming credit card points.


A cousin buys virtually everything through his credit card, thus has accumulated huge points. On Twitter read of an entrepreneur who pays his monthly electricity bill of Rs 2 lakhs through credit card and uses the points for a family meal.  


11.  Always focus on building immunity and health. 


With this intent started having Ashwagandha. Suddenly Himalaya prices of the tablet went up. Immediately checked on Amazon and found the dealer was offering a very good discount on Himalaya. I bought stocks for six months. Plus bought Baidyanath who was offering an attractive price then.


Learning - always check prices online when price of an item goes up suddenly. Yoga and immunity builders keep the doctor away.


12.  Every city is known for something so whilst travelling buy what is made locally and cheap.


Based on my travels here are some tips:

1. Goa – Cashew nuts.

2. Mangalore and Kerala – spices.

3. Jaipur – When my wife visits Jaipur, she goes to Bombaywala and buys, like six at a time, lovely Jaipur style cotton short-sleeve shirts for app Rs 400/. They are comfortable and last a couple of years.

4. Maheshwar – Maheshwari saris and suit material. See album

5. Puri – shirts, kurtas, bed sheets, handicrafts, saris. See album

6. Udaipur – bed sheets, salwar suits, cushion covers. See album

7. Woollens made of Rabbit Wool at Munisyari, Kumaon. See album

8. Amritsar – Juttis (mojris). See album

9. Lucknow – Chikankari. See album

10. Raniket – organic food and woollens at Umang. See album

11. Aurangabad – Paithani saris. See album  

12. Mandvi, Kutch – Bedsheets, salwar suits etc. Vivekanand Rural Development Institute. See pics 38 onwards

13. Guwahati – Saris at Sualkuchi, 2 hours away. See album

14. Bhujodi Weaving village near Bhuj, Kutch. Super textiles. See album

15. Raghurajpur near Puri – Pattachitra Paintings. See album

16. Hyderbad – Pearls. Years before I got married I bought two pearl necklaces because a good friend’s wife knew the shop owner well, was getting genuine pearls and at a discount. My wife loves them. 


Learning - whilst travelling buy whatever is cheaper even if you do not need it immediately. 


Small amounts of money add up to a reasonable sum at the end of the month.


There is not much one can do about increasing petrol prices but home items there is a potential to save.


Wherever you shop ask for a discount or something free. Never hesitate or feel embarrassed about it even it is a 5 star hotel.

Am sure you have more ideas to reduce monthly budget. Please leave your suggestions in the Comments section. Thanks.  

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