It makes our hearts race, our skin flush, our pupils dilate, our brows sweaty…
You got it! It’s everyone’s favourite – Offers: FREE, BOGOF, 2 for 1, 50% off coupons – you name it, we love it.
Its hypnotic spell drags us under and we drown in the prospect of gaining something for nothing. We unwillingly enter such a hysteria that we take absolutely no notice of those sneaky terms and conditions. Regardless of who you are, whether you’re black, white, fat, thin, tall or small: EVERY single one of us is guilty of wanting to cut corners without thinking of the harm we’re doing to our bank accounts.
This week, I’ve taken on these brainwashing offers and uncovering just how much damage we’re inflicting on our savings as a nation:
1. Buy Three and Get the Cheapest One Free: This is quite popular as a ploy to get the nation eating healthy – that and it rhymes. When walking into a supermarket, you will find this offer in the fruit and veg aisle. The brightly coloured stickers and name tags on the shelves entice you into picking up three bags of mixed vegetables you think you will use – but you won’t. If you only need the one bag, stick to it – otherwise, you’ve just let anything up to £5 (supermarket prices vary) slip out of your fingers without thinking about it!
2. Couponing: Every Monday, I go to do the weekly food shop with my Nan. And every week, without fail, the cashier will give her a coupon and say “If you spend over X amount of money on your next shop, you get X amount of money off.” My Nan will thank them, go home and put the coupons in a drawer and forget all about them.
When it comes to the weekly shop, unless you’re buying for a family of 50 and need everything in bulk, there is no need to add £15 extra to your families weekly shop for the sake of getting £5.50 off. It not only leaves you £10 out of pocket, but it leaves you with supplies that you don’t really want or need in the first place.
2b. Petrol coupons: Handy link there. Big brand supermarkets promote petrol offers such as “spend £40 in store and get 2p off a litre.” What they don’t say is: The offer usually appeals more to those who live out-of-range and supermarkets would like to see some new custom being brought in. This is a no-brainer if you live down the road from a large supermarket it’s going to be worth it to fill up there. If you live out of the area you betcha it’s going to cost more to drive there, do your weekly shop and fill up. Petrol stations have started a loyalty card scheme whereby you fill up a certain amount each time and when you have a certain amount of points you get a certain amount of free petrol. Honestly, it’s not much of saving when you’re pumping £50 a time into your car only to get £10 off in 6 months time. This brings me to the next point!
3. Loyalty Cards: Most people have one. Most people use them as you’re asked for them at the till to collect your points, but what exactly are you getting? There are loyalty cards who don’t really give money off – just a free coffee/tea and a muffin. While that may be a nice incentive for some – that’s one very expensive beverage and muffin! Especially if you’ve used your loyalty card all year round and have nothing else to show for it.
4. Savings Accounts: When looking into opening a bank/savings account, the one thing people study is the interest rates. You pick the bank with the best interest rate, you have your meeting with an advisor to open your new account, they use technical and mathematical terms you and they both know you don’t understand and you sign on that dotted line thinking your savings will generate more money than you’ve had in your wildest dreams. April rolls around at the end/start of the tax year and there on your statement in interest generated is : £0.03 while you’ve been shelling out £12+ p/m to keep it open and your savings… well… safe.
5. Credit cards: Like the above, only we think that the lower the interest rate, the lower the bill will be at the end of the month. Lots of people I have asked with a credit card considered it to be ‘free money that I didn’t have to pay back’ until their monthly bill arrived and then they had to find a way to repay it. This is how getting into debt happens – it’s just that easy. You could end up paying back interest that rolls over multiple times in conjunction with how much you’ve spent. Unless you really, truly need a credit card – it’s a waste of hundreds of pounds. This also applies to store credit cards.
6. Designer Knock-offs: Shoes especially! I’m not talking about those Louboutin’s you/your wife or girlfriend has had their eye on. I’m talking about general day-to-day wear. It’s very unlikely that you will get the same amount of wear out of a cheap pair of running shoes, than you would out of Nike trainers. This also applies to electrical items too! The expensive one-off payment: think of it as an investment. By investing, you are making sure you get the most and more importantly efficient use out of your items. If you buy cheap, you will spend more money replacing everything and when added up, the bill will be far greater than if you’d have just forked out for the more expensive gear.
7. Store Membership: Signing up to a store member card won’t save you any money, especially if you’re undecided about shopping there in future. The subscription fees alone will see you out of pocket monthly – even if you think you can justify it by receiving their monthly magazine, telling your friends about the offers you’re never going to take up and which usually end up in the recycling bin with all the other cold-caller and advertiser mail.
8. Car Insurance: Even though it’s essential, people still waste money here. There are ways to bring premiums down so you’re not just throwing your invested money out of the window in case of the unfortunate event you need to make a claim. Interest rates are usually through the roof for first-time buyers regardless of wage package. When researching, I came across Co-Op’s car insurance which is especially tailored for first time drivers. By picking and choosing what they want on their insurance, the premium comes down so it doesn’t end up costing twice as much as the car.
With these essential areas of interest, you’ll be sure to look after the pennies while the pounds look after themselves, affording you the chance to spend your savvy-saved money on something you (and your family) will really enjoy!