A recent poll from the Co-Operative Bank has shown that inflation is already beginning to kick in – and the public are changing their shopping patterns to suit. This is a classic example of how inflation can change society in unexpected ways. If there was a massive tropical storm and the banana crop was wiped out people would eat more apples rather than pay extra for bananas. This type of thinking is now being reflected at Supermarket checkouts up and down the UK. The interesting point to me is that the list of 20 luxury items being left on the shelves by shoppers shows nothing (absolutely nothing) that a frugal shopper would be buying anyhow. Here is the list, alongside my comments:
1. Flowers – available for free in every woodland and hedgerow in the UK.
2. Magazines – it's hard to find a magazine nowdays that does not have the same (or very similar) content available on the web for free.
3. CDs – rather than buy a new CD just listen to your current one, or adapt a "one in / one out" strategy – for every new CD you buy; you need to sell an old one on one of the online marketplaces.
4. Bottled Water – Evian backwards is Naïve. Enough said.
5. Hand wash – nothing beats good old fashioned soap.
6. Quilted toilet paper – "ownbrand" does the job.
7. Candles – these might look nice, but they have not served a valid purpose (outwith power cuts) since the days of Thomas Edison.
8. Branded washing up liquid – as per the toilet roll, "ownbrand" will do the job. Think about it this way, Tesco, Asda et al do not have their own brewery. The "ownbrand" cans of Lager on their shelves are being made somewhere. It may well be the case that Tesco's own lager is in fact very, very similar to the brand sold elsewhere on the shelves. The same applies to almost every other item in the store.
9. Organic produce – organic produce could be available for free every day of the year … In your own back garden.
10. Branded food – use the Credit Crunch as an excuse to go fresh. Lay off the macaroni and cheese and go for a homemade dish.
11. Fresh coffee – I'm not a coffee drinker so it would be unfair for me to comment too much on this one. I do know, however, that your body craves whatever you have to eat or drink a lot. If you drink a lot of Coke then your body will crave coke. If you drink a lot of wine then your body will crave wine. Taking things forward, if you drink a lot of low cost coffee your body will end up craving low cost coffee – problem solved (the knack of course is sticking to an inferior product while your body adapts).
12. Uncut bread – the best thing sliced bread is (wait for it) Sliced Bread! Do not mess around with bread; it all tastes the same after a couple of chews. If you are only using it for toast then it is really irrelevant which brand you go with.
13. Nail polish – like it or lump it, beauty products are going to have to take a back seat during the Credit Crunch. If the thought of doing without cosmetics makes you cringe then now might be the time to discover natural alternatives. Remember – less is more!
14. Fake tan – such self indulgence should be consigned to the waste bin of the 90s. The Dale Winton look is out!
15. Multi Vitamins – if you follow point 9 then there should be no need for extra vitamins.
16. Fabric Conditioner -I do not even know what this is!
17. Teeth whitening toothpaste – this is another area where a trip to your granny's can help. People had white teeth before the days of teeth whitening toothpaste. The secret is Bicarbonate of Soda. You will find that by looking, you can find alternatives to all of today's luxuries within easy reach.
18. Wine – I promote abstaining from alcohol completely but if you can not then seek alternatives. The theme through has been either eradaining, finding a cheap "ownbrand" alternative or making it at home. In my opinion I'd lean towards a cheap alternative. If I had a pound for every time I had hear people say that you can get an excellent bottle of wine at Tesco for a fiver I'd be a rich (er) man.
19. Desserts – if you fancy a dessert then why not have some jelly – another occasion when thinking back to what your granny would've done when times were tight.
20. Napkins – this list must have been written by a Lord! Without you are having candlelit dinners every night then I'm pretty sure that the average family will be able to live without these.
Now, why stop with the items listed in this survey. The next time you can back from the supermarket, take the chance to go through each item and spot where you could either abstain, "down-brand" or go home. Every little saving will roll-up into massive annual savings. Necessity is the mother of invention and there has never been a greater need to make savings than today.