We’ve all fallen victim to a good marketing ploy – in today’s increasingly consumerist society many of us are becoming more and more convinced that we ‘need’ material items that in reality bring little value to our lives. How, you might ask, can we get a bit more wise when it comes to ‘necessary’ buys? H&W investigates.
1. Own (brand) it
“When it comes to your weekly shop, if you choose supermarket own brands for food, drink and other household products over more well-known names, you could help cut the cost of your shopping by as much as 30 percent,” claims Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at Fidelity Personal Investing (fidelity.co.uk). “On a £100 bill, that’s a saving of over £1,500 a year, a significant sum which could be put to better use elsewhere – perhaps a family holiday, a treat for the kids or be used to top up your savings and investments.”
2. Go domestic
Although the blue hues of the Mediterranean sea crashing against a white sandy shore can seem an appealing place to whisk yourself to in your daydreams, you might be surprised at the wonders the UK has to offer. It’s natural to have wistful dreams of hotter climes , but with the summer we had last year, places such as Devon and Cornwall are set to be dreamy destinations too – without the hefty flight prices. So if you’re planning a family holiday this year, the Lake District may be calling. “Also, be sure to use handy websites like Airbnb (airbnb.co.uk) to get great value accommodation for the whole family,” advises money expert Megan Fife (ashleighmoneysaver.co.uk).
3. Beat the ‘bargain’
“We’ve all seen those end of the aisle ‘unmissable’ deals,” says Emma- Lou. “Offers such as ‘one for 75p or two for £1.50’, which many of us seem to be duped by every now and then, really need more careful consideration. Whenever you feel tempted to splash out, it’s worth doing a quick calculation to make sure it isn’t too good to be true and you’re not about to be caught out at the check-out. Next time you’re rushing around and think you’ve spotted a cracking deal, stop for a second and ask yourself two questions – do I really need to bulk buy this item and am I really making a saving here?”
4. Supermarket sweep
“Since their introduction in 2010, hand-held scanning devices have helped improve efficiency for shoppers and can prove particularly useful when your time is limited and the queues seem endless,” Emma-Lou tells us. “These ‘scan as you shop’ devices can also help make a game out of what could be a boring weekly activity and make budgeting more of an exciting incentive that the whole family can take part in. You’ll find getting the kids involved with the shop can be made far easier if you let them scan each item and tell you when you’re near your spending target. If your children are in a nonchalant teenager phase, why not incentivise? If they do the maths and keep you within budget, they can go and play football or have a friend over at the weekend. In addition, using these devices will make you far more aware of how much you’re spending as you go round, allowing you to see how little things can add up. It’s also a great way to teach your offspring some healthy money saving and spending habits. There’s even been talk of new supermarket technology being introduced, allowing you to scan your entire shopping basket in one go – planning your weekly shopping budget could be about to get even more streamlined.”
5. Unsubscribe the tribe
“It’s time for some spring cleaning and with that should come a clean bill of health for your finances,” says Dilpreet Bhagrath, mortgage expert at Trussle (trussle.com). “Go through your monthly statements and thin out your subscriptions. Think about how often you’re really going to the gym, watching Netflix or using online music platforms rather than the radio – ask yourself ‘does this truly enrich my life?’ If not, hit that ‘opt out’ button sooner rather than later.”
6. Liquid assets
“Reducing water use is a really handy avenue for budget-conscious families to explore,” explains Sarah Chadwick, head of marketing at Better Bathrooms (betterbathrooms.com). “We all know how difficult it can be to save water when there are so many bodies, clothing items and pots and pans to wash, but there are a couple of simple ways to make saving water that little bit simpler. Turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, re-using your pasta water for watering the plants and ensuring the dishwasher or washing machine is full before use are just a few watersaving tips. For more information on how to cut your bill, visit care2.com.
7. The low down
“When you’ve finished your shop and are heading to pay, you’ll often see sweets and cheaper items positioned close to the till to tempt you into a few last-minute purchases – this is a sneaky tactic supermarkets deploy on unwitting shoppers to maximise additional sales,” explains Emma-Lou. “In order to boost the chances of this happening there’s a tactical way in which the supermarket shelves are stacked – items that need selling are typically placed in the customer’s eye line or within reaching distance of the baskets. Next time, rather than grabbing the product that’s on the shelf straight in front of you, look down at the row below, the odds are the that real bargains will be found down there – just don’t put your back out while you’re squatting for them!”