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Saturday, 6 January 2018

Poor Martin

Hello. Martin Lewis came in for a lot of stick yesterday on Twitter, for daring to suggest that if you go into a supermarket for one or two items, you don't need a basket. Insults were throw his way from several offended trolls who were most indignant that his remarks were patronizing, and who did he think he was to tell people how they should do their shopping and spend their money. All he was trying to do was point out that holding a basket in your hand puts temptation in the way, and encourages picking up extra items that you didn't go in for.

Of course Martin was right. You only have to read the MSE forum to see that people do have a problem with impulse spending. They are addicted to buying stuff they don't need, and it is ruining their lives by digging them deeper into debt. So surely every little tip to control this willynilly spending, has to be a good thing.

Martin's tip is a great way of controlling how much you spend. I will not pick up a basket if I only want a couple of things. I go in several shops when I am in town, checking prices and looking for the special offers. My eyes just go to the shelves I am checking, I ignore everything else around me. I check Wilko for offers on cat food, more often than not there aren't any on the food my cats normally eat, so a basket is not needed. I have been caught out occasionally though and have had to juggle ten small packs of Sheba in my arms, sometimes balancing on top of three or four bags of dry food.

The same thing happens in all the shops I enter, no I don't need a basket, I walk straight to the section I need. Sometimes the price is right and I make my purchases, sometimes there is nothing I want, so I walk out empty handed.

The shops are not daft, they know that people pick up a basket automatically, they are hoping you find more than what you went in for, hoping that when the basket is full you go back to the beginning and get a trolley.

Some shops have now got plastic baskets which have two handles, a short one for carrying, and a longer one which you can pull along behind you because it also has wheels on, instantly turning a hand basket into a trolley, thus encouraging you to load more items into it. Items which you didn't know you needed until you saw them.

I hate those pull along things. You have to stoop because the handle isn't long enough, putting strain on the back. Ideal for someone of a smaller stature, but hopeless for those of a regular or taller height. You need a long arm to pull them, or else you bash yourself on the back of your heels. The handle collapses when you let go to reach something on the shelf, then you have to bend to pick it back up again. If you are not careful it is easy to trip over someone else's pull-along when they aren't paying attention to what they are doing. The small Asda has these clumsy things, I never use them. 

I know what I want to buy before I go in a shop, I make the choice between a real trolley or a basket. If I only want a couple of items, I don't need either. Next time you go in a shop ask yourself, do I really need a basket, or can I manage without one. I think it's a great money saving tip. Thanks Martin.

Thanks for popping in, enjoy your weekend, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

36 comments:

  1. Ilona, I couldn't agree more, unless you keep your wits about you the supermarkets will of course let you spend silly amounts of money on stuff that you don't really need. I know lots of people will also have realised, but perhaps worth repeating, I scan items at eye-level but never pick up automatically as a cheaper brand is usually at waist-height or on the bottom shelf; it only takes seconds to do this and can save pounds when added up. Amanda

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  2. The problem people do not see is, the supermarkets are not interested in what you need to buy, they just pile up stuff they need to sell. One you open your eyes to this, shopping us cheaper and less waste full.

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    1. You are so right. Now, at my supermarket, I find it hard to get loose chick peas because they are selling them tinned and miso which used to be sold in tubs is now only sold in single serve sachets.
      I was talking to a 93 year old friend yesterday who is really angry about the butchering done these days: nothing is left unwrapped long enough to develop flavour. She also said the fruit and veg sold is insipid compared to what you used to get..she still grows her own veg. The trouble is unless children are raised with the original tastes they believe food is as sold in supermarkets and do not know to try to get better.

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  3. Hullo, and.....Happy New year!! Yes, Martin Lewis is cool, and very savvy, which I like. As for baskets/trolleys, in Tescos/aldis, I always use a small push trolley, even for a few bits, I.E. any items over 3, just in case they are heavy items. Baskets can be dangerous in the wrong hands! You go in wilkos, & someone bends down with their baskets, and...WHACK! You can cop a hit!! Anyway, I am waffling. Please keep this site going, its great, you are great, and the photos are great too!! All the best for 2018, Deanoooo!!

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  4. I have a compact bag I keep in my purse. I put items in that if I start running out of arms.

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  5. I rarely go shopping more than once per week for essentials & a bigger shop once a month.Unless it's really important to me I've not bought it as December was a bit costly.Dog food was first to be bought of course & the rest I have been very sparing with-I'm so excited that I've done it .Thanks Ilona for your support & your friends here x

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    1. Flis, I'm having a similar experience this January. Because of the encouragement of Ilona and all you wonderful people on this blog, I've decided to try a moneyless January. I still get the pet food ...has to be on special now...and I was able to save enough in the first week to buy chicken food in bulk - so much cheaper. However, it has made me start looking for cheaper alternatives and i am using up everything in cupboards before I replace them. i used to replace when they are a quarter full...that way i avoided the anxiety of running out of food. I've started foraging as well. I've aso noticed if I walk to the grocery store, and therefore carry things home, i am only purchasing the real essentials. I also walk to work a lot more. My petrol bill has more than halved, I'm feeling stronger, buying less and enjoying my life more...so many benefits from this blog. Oh and now I've noticed a whole heap more about the traps of supermarket shopping. Thanks everyone (and my MARVELLOUS sister who introduced me to it!) Marigold

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    2. Oh and I meant to say the other wonderful thing happening: I keep checking my bank account and it's not changing down between checks! I feel quite incredulous still! Marigold

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  6. I don't follow Twitter so I missed the fray, but that totally makes sense to me. If I use a basket when running in for one or two things, I invariably add something to the must-haves. But that's just me - I also have no impulse control when it comes to eating pecans and watching Endeavour on DVD (preferably at the same time). I find the weather here helps curb the spending impulse. During the winter any expeditions to stock up on essentials have to be planned around the forecast. According to our national news, over Christmas it was colder where I live than at either the north or south poles. (We are a family who love our thermal socks.) Happy New Year to you! Hugs from Barbara (Canada)

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    1. Same here Barbara - it's freezing here in Toronto -22C so I have to really need something before I head out! I use a trolly because I walk with a cane and it's difficult carrying a basket - but - I do agree that it makes it much too easy to add 1 or 2 more items than I'd intended. Staying out of the shops entirely makes it much simpler. I picked up a few things last Wednesday and I'm determined to not buy anything else until Tuesday as I want to use up what I have on hand and stick to a very limited food budget this month. With it being so cold it's not too difficult to persuade myself to just stay home!

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  7. I agree with no basket and a couple of times turned things down because no room in the arms. I also think a great thing is to not go into the middle of the store where all the packaged and processed foods are located. If you have to enter it, dont look to the left or the right or up and down until you get to the item needed. The packaging and all the colors are meant to draw your attention and get you to buy. ps: love your blog. So sensible. ana usa

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    1. Thanks for pointing this out about position of goods in supermarket...yes...I see it now.

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  8. Very sensible advice as usual. Glad to hear that I am not the only person who leaves with more than they expected to when going to a supermarket - or any shop for that matter. Noticed recently that even in clothing shops now - eg Next they provide shopping baskets to enable you to buy more things more easily.

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  9. I tend to spend more when my hubby shops with me. I think I need to food shop without him. I realised many years ago that if he was with me I would buy clothing that he liked me to wear... and then didn't wear it. I now clothes shop on my own and buy the things I want.

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    1. That brings back fond memories. The other place not to shop with Hubby or the kids is the book store. We enabled each other, "If it looks interesting, get it!" The pile was limited to what you as an individual could care.

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  10. Sorry, I've just deleted a comment which went into the Spam box. Not concentrating clicked the wrong button. Think it was Hazel, said she had walked two miles today in blustery weather.

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  11. Sorry, don't agree with this one. The baskets are there so the checkout person can clearly see what you have to pay for. I always take one even if its just for a loaf of bread. If you can't stop yourself from picking stuff up ( and piling it in your arms) then write a list of what you want beforehand. Its safer too. You could drop something (cans ) on your foot or someone elses.

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    1. I agree with you Caz. You have a choice of whether you put items in it or not!

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    2. I think he thing about choice is that it happens because of knowledge and education. You can't choose unless you recognise you have a choice.

      This blog helps people to get information that helps to see where we are being unconsciously manipulated; eg supermarket baskets and shelving plans, the thought that we need cleanering products for different jobs etc..

      I'm beginning to think that when I say "I can't stop myself eating/impulse buy/making choices that defeat my overall goals etc" that that is when I need to stop and say "What's playing out here? A family message? a consumer manipulation? a limited world view?"

      New mental messages help me: "can't stop eating" - every time I eat it costs me - money, health and petrol; Do I need to comfort myself in a different way?; Am I eating because I was never allowed to have a drink without food?";

      "impulse buy": how come I need it now?; put it on my 30 day hold and see what happens;

      "making choices that defeat my overall goals": how come i am so tired i need to solve this problem by driving the car instead of walking?; Do i really need to drive to the store instead of waiting for the rain to stop and then walking?; If I drive I miss an opportunity to clock up some miles for the 1000 mile walk challenge.

      Change is a process and lots of challenging fun! Sorry about another rave. Marigold

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    3. Why not put your shopping straight into the recycleable bags you will carry it home in?

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    4. The point is that some people are addicted to shopping, just like any other addiction. They are in a zombie like state as they trawl the aisles, not fully aware of what they are putting in their basket. Supermarkets love these people, they are not making savvy choices, they see it, they want it, they have it.

      If someone has the cash to pay for these impulse purchases then fine, but a lot don't and are in debt. Their shopping habits drive them further into debt. People need to wake up and understand that supermarkets are not there to help you with your shopping, their only aim is to get your money. It's a business, they have staff costs, overheads, and shareholders that take a big cut of the profits.

      Use supermarkets for your shopping by all means, but be ruthless, don't buy what you WANT, buy what you NEED.

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    5. Thank you Marigold, for that useful comment.

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    6. Meanqueen you've done it again! I've never thought of supermarkets as just being out to get your money before...I guess I knew that unconsciously but when I think about the hidden "manipulating" message its something like; "We can provide for your basic need: food. We take care of you." It's seductive, comforting and perhaps explains why we go into a stupor there. Good to go back to basics: support local, buy organics and purchase from small traders to taste real food. Hard to buy a white cabbage once you've tasted a "green" one from the garden. Marigold

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  12. There are very clever people being paid copious amounts of money to design supermarket layouts that make it hard NOT to spend so anything that will help to resist this is surely a good thing! Good for Martin and I'm very sorry he got stick for such a sensible suggestion.
    J x

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  13. Sounds sensible to me! I turned down a lift to the shops today to get my fruit for the week as I know I'll just buy what I need if I walk there tomorrow and have to carry it home - it means I'll get more walking in too! Xx

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  14. Michael Pollan said that for a healthy diet shop the outer isles only and skip the middle isles filled with processed and sugary foods. I do just that and find I hardly ever need a basket and don't use one. I hold things in my arms or put them into my home made tote bags and that works just fine for me. I really don't understand why people who work hard to stay out of debt cop such harsh criticism. Its like the criteria for good citizenship is shop till you drop and pile up the debt until you drown in it. Crazy world we live in is all I can say.

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  15. Definitely worth thinking about these ways to continually avoid overspending and try and see how the supermarkets are brain washing us !

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  16. You make a very good point. Food shopping requires self discipline. Pauline.

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  17. Sorry Martin has got flak when he is only trying to help people. Personally I use a basket because of having arthritis in my fingers - I can't grip things well and couldn't carry much in my hands. I don't think using a basket makes me buy any more, but I can see it could encourage other people to do so. Having worked for years in retail, I'm quite savvy as to what shops are up to in order to get us to spend money. Supermarkets will place their more expensive choices at eye level, and a lot of people can't be bothered to look down - if they did they would find cheaper versions of the same items.

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  18. I always put my groceries in my own bag and empty it when i'm at the till. I don't like baskets. They are filthy and rarely cleaned. A few times a year they ask if they can look into my bag, no problem. I shop several times a week (no car)so i don't have a lot.

    misty

    misty

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  19. As someone who has mobility issues, I find it a lot easier to use a small trolley or a basket just for a few items, but I agree with the rationale of no basket = no space for impulse purchases. I think that a lot of people are so quick to be offended by anything, and it's really eyeroll worthy stuff.

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  20. This post amused me. I'm 73, live with my adult daughter, and have always tried to be frugal and careful without being "mean." However, like most of you, I had to reevaluate things this Jan. Living in the US, where the constant strain of trying to be aware of political happenings, and still keep the will to live (minor joke) is exhausting, it's tempting to buy an occasional "treat" (on the level of a very small carton of ice cream). However, the current turmoil here has us in ever more worrying financial difficulties, and we decided on a no-spend January.
    Especially for my ADHD daughter, the challenge is good...so far, we've agreed on no candles (not even from the dollar store). Luckily I have a small store of tea lights already bought, so in the cold and dark season we can both laugh at our miniature flames. No fizzy drinks, as little store-bought bread as we can manage (I like to bake bread when I can), no contributions to political forces that might actually do some good, every buy in the supermarket carefully thought about (a good buy isn't enough, we have to need it). What makes us both laugh (when we can) is that we thought we were already living at a bare-bones level!
    As for the supermarkets, it's become more and more difficult for me to shop for food here, as I don't have the mobility and energy to cruise around to about 5 different stores to find those bargains hidden on the bottom shelves. One thing I can do is to know a good price when I see one, which means I never get distracted and toss that wildly over-priced item into the cart with the bargains I've found (almost $5 for a normal sized jar of mayonnaise? Do they think I won't notice? And I can easily make mayo, but it's so good we tend to over-eat it.)
    At least in the US, I think consumer capitalism is totally out to fleece us all, but I try to be very careful not to criticize the under-paid workers who keep the whole mechanism going. I thank them when they are careful and efficient, and I can often find a little joke we can both enjoy. Yes, I'm going on, but it's been a hard few days and it helps me a lot to feel like I'm talking to kindred spirits. Thanks for creating this community Ilona, and keep that light shining!

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  21. I really don't like shopping so I usually pop into bargain Aldi with a list but it's flexible, ie. fresh veg or fruit , and I will look at what's on offer. I use the shallow trolleys with high hand bars designed for people with mobility issues. They are smaller but I try to buy as much as I need in one or two shops which I do on the same day. This uses a one day- all day bus ticket - much cheaper than other bus fares so I do as much as I can on the same day, I do not drive. Also I cannot carry everything I need at once so it's 2 trips. Other than that I avoid shops like the plague. I am having a no spending year - absolute essentials only this year.

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  22. i think it's a brilliant tip - so obvious! I go to Lidl's for cat food but always end up slipping a few extra items in the basket.I never thought of it before as a bit of a marketing ploy by the shops!

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