Saturday, 6 May 2017

Have You Saved, Sister?

This week has seen me getting a bit 'ranty' about other people who are claiming to show me how to 'save' money. Admittedly I am an [extremely] old hand at this. When I was 8, I realised the ribbon from a chocolate box sewn to some thrifted elastic would make a new hairband [free] rather than buying one [using precious pocket money]
First up came "Save Money, Good Food" - which is ITV's take on the BBC's "Spend Less, Eat Well". Matt and Susanna sneak into people's homes and check their fridge, freezer and bin, and create meals with what they find there. We will ignore the fact that they always wink, and say "They don't know we are here". Let's face it, this is TV - of course they know. How else have the till receipts for the past month been saved so carefully? And why is the thrown away food still packaged and clean? No plate scrapings, or coffee grounds, besmirching that unopened pack of celery...
I am pleased about their encouragement to use all food, and not waste it. To be realistic about 'best before' dates. To try basics ranges from cheaper supermarkets rather than the DeLuxe products from upmarket stores.
BUT I wish they wouldn't fiddle the figures. "If you implemented all these changes, then in a year, you would have £2500 to spend on that holiday" they say, and put a wad of cash on the table ["Can we have that?" said smart child last week, and Susanna had to whip it away fast!] And they show you how these savings work - make your own tomato ketchup and it is a quarter of the price of the most popular brand. That saves you 20p for every squirt on your chips/sausages/etc. £100 a year for the average family of 4. But hold on a minute...we aren't comparing things fairly. I thought we were supposed to be buying budget brands - and according to the tests, they taste just as good. And they come readymade in a squeezy bottle [no need to make the kitchen a bloodbath of tomato juice as you prepare your own sauce] This programme is quite selective in how it demonstrates the savings you might make. The recipes are generally quite good, although I doubt I would shell out for the cookbook. And thus far we seem to have watched mostly middle-class families who are being wasteful, rather than any working class, and JAM homes, where parents are trying hard to be thrifty because they haven't got spare cash to waste on smoked salmon or asparagus which sits in the fridge then gets chucked away uneaten.
My second rant was at Waitrose. I like mooching round Waitrose, and I have a Waitrose card. They often sell random ingredients not easily found elsewhere. But I never do my 'normal' grocery shop there. If I go to Wimborne Market at 8am on a Friday[a good source of blooms, if my name is on the Church Flower Rota] then I will buy market veg, and pop into the nearby Waitrose for basics [eggs, milk, cheese, bread] from their price matched or "essentials" ranges. I will top up my basket with yellow stickered items - and thus spend my tenner, and get free parking and a free coffee. [Needed if it is a cold morning and my hands got cold, pulling my shopping trolley round the market] I also pick up the 'weekend' newspaper and the free magazine. The latter has excellent recipes in it. 
I do the same thing en route to Norfolk at the Waitrose Motorway Services. Usually late in the evening, there are fine offers to be picked up as the store is closing. This week I had an email explaining how much I had saved this year with MyWaitrose card. £34. But when I looked at the breakdown, more than half of that was free magazines [worth £1.20 an issue] and my coffees. Is it really a saving when I would not normally have purchased these things - I had simply availed myself of their free offers? I am not £34 richer.
Finally, I got a free Tesco mag on Thursday. "Save up to £111 by tonight" was the heading on p83. Here are their tips

  • Save by making a packed lunch, don't go and buy one. Av daily saving £5. Done that all my life
  • Share your commute. Av daily saving £4.80 [not possible, but I do try to cycle places when I can] 
  • Shop around for a cheaper broadband provider. Av annual saving £69 [we've sorted that already]
  • Split your streaming service costs with the family. Av monthly saving £3.50 [who needs Netflix?]
  • Switch to a no frills gym contract. Av monthly saving £20 [or ride our bike more]
  • Make coffee at home or at work, do not buy takeaways. Av daily saving £2.61 [we already have reusable cups, which get filed at breakfast time]
  • Meeting friends for after work meal? Sign up for meal deals- Typical one-off saving £7. This is not something I do. I prepare Alpha suppers at home, someone else brings the pud.
Tesco added up all those figures and make it £111 - but ignore the fact that some are daily, others are monthly, one-off, or annual amounts. You can only save £69 on Netflix once a year!
But if I am already being careful about buying budget range/market food
And taking free magazines, not buying glossies
And shunning the Gym and Amazon Prime, choosing instead my bicycle and Freeview
...then I have no wriggle room to make these 'savings'. And I suspect that many of the people waiting at the Foodbank, or queuing in Lidl, or preparing their daily packed lunches are in the same position. 
Somehow it feels as if Matt, Susanna, etc are saying "If you don't buy Bob a new motorbike for his birthday, then you could have a holiday in Venice" That option isn't on the table!
I think I have finished ranting now. I'd do better to spend my energies supporting Christians Against Poverty, The Trussell Trust, and the 'Foodbank Blessing Bin' at Church!


  1. Agree with everything you have said, especially re the programmes, which I find very irritating.

  2. Phew, that was a good read! Now breathe and have a good weekend!

  3. Yes, a lot of those things are really silly! I do waste money on some things such as yet more clothes and books which I don't need, and food does get chucked out when we are busy (which makes me cross with myself!) but I don't do most of those things they mention- I will drink one soft drink in the pub if we go after a concert, I will take tea on the train in the mornings in my reusable Cath Kidston travel mug, certainly don't have a gym membership, I walk everywhere, I have to get the train to work- no choice, we don't have a streaming service (or indeed a TV License!). xx

  4. You could probably teach them a thing or two when it comes to saving money, Angela!


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