You can hardly open a paper or look at a website these days without a section on moneysaving tips and tricks. But “moneysaving” doesn’t always save you money – and here’s why.
A restaurant voucher that gives you two meals for the price of one doesn’t save you money if you would otherwise have eaten at home. Likewise if you add extras such as puddings or drinks to a basic two course “deal”.
A store card offering 10% off your initial purchases doesn’t save you money if you otherwise wouldn’t have bought as much in that store. Or if you go on to pay interest on your bill because can’t afford to pay off the whole balance on the card.
A free printer with your computer doesn’t save you money if the printer is a poor brand and eats ink. A free printer with your computer doesn’t save you money if you buy an inferior computer in order to get the free printer and the computer goes wrong.
Travelling across town to fill up your car with petrol at a cheap filling station doesn’t save you money if you use extra fuel to get there.
£20 off a jacket at a fancy shop doesn’t save you money if you need to buy a skirt to go with it.
£10 off your shopping at an upmarket supermarket doesn’t save money if you end up paying more than your usual bill at a low cost outlet.
Anything reduced in price in the sales that isn’t your colour or doesn’t fit is a total waste of money, however much the reduction.
A cheap flight that takes off from a distant airport and lands three hours’ bus ride away from your destination doesn’t save you money if you need to pay for the extra travel and you lose part of your holiday in travelling time.
A bargain foreign exchange company that offers a fantastic rate for your travel money doesn’t save you money if it goes bust and leaves you out of pocket.
But don’t rule out convenience where time is at a premium. A supermarket ready meal could possibly save money for a highly paid executive pursuing a lucrative contract who needed to stay late at work, meaning they didn’t have time to shop for fresh food.
The exact same ready meal would be a total waste for anyone who spends a lot of time at home, who would do far better making efforts to cook more nutritious and cheaper food for themselves if they want to save money.
Low cost supermarkets keep their prices low by employing the minimum number of staff - so you can expect to queue at the checkout. They tend to cater for people for whom time is less important than those who use other supermarkets. If you want a guarantee that there will never be more than two people in front of you in the queue, choose another supermarket but also expect to pay more for your shopping.
By all means use vouchers and deals if you would have bought those particular goods or services anyway. But do remember that saving is not about “money off” and “two for one”. That’s a marketing ploy to suck you in and to encourage you to end up spending more. Saving is about meeting your needs in the most cost-effective way.
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