Thursday, 3 February 2011

Control your spending

I do despair sometimes. I've just been reading through a forum where members set a monthly budget for their food shopping, and try to stick to it. Going over is not so good, and coming under is great. It's good to see so many people making a genuine effort to curb their frivolous ways. The reason for joining in with this is to gain support from other members, which all adds to the success rate. However, there are quite a lot of people who seriously need to think about making lifestyle changes, if they are to make any progress in the management of their finances. Hence my despairing.

Little sayings and comments are jumping out at me, I'll try and explain what is bugging me. For instance, someone used the phrase, 'needed to get, had to get, two bags of ultra clumping cat litter'. It cost £8.19 from Sainsbugs. I don't understand why 'ultra clumping', is better that the ordinary clumping I get from Son of Morris for £1.50 a bag. Why did she have to get that particular brand, she had a choice, why did she go for the most expensive, I am confused.

Another member said she 'ended up in Tes&co again', and then declared 'she must stop doing that'. She spent £20 on, 'things they could do with'. How did she end up in there? Was she dragged in kicking and screaming? She didn't know about these things she could do with, untill she was in the store, they weren't on display by the front door saying come and get me. If you can't trust yourself to walk past 99% of the stuff in the shop and buy the 1% that you went in for, don't even step over the threshold. This woman should have her shoe laces tied together to stop her from walking into shops when she doesn't need anything.

Fancy sending a man to do the shopping without a list, madness. Most men haven't a clue. One woman ended up with a lot of cheap meatballs and fizzy pop and chocolate. Don't send him again love, untill you have given him a few lessons on what not to buy. Give him a list and the exact amount of money. If he can't be adult enough to make the right choices, treat him like a child.

Kids have been raiding the fridge, so what does one woman do, she pops off to the Co operative, and buys the little dears some more yogurts and bananas. Now fruit I believe in, you can give kids loads of fruit, it's good for them. But sweet comfort food that they can graze on at a whim, a big no. She shouldn't be a slave to her kids, I know, easier said than done and I haven't had any, but she should be leaving the fridge bare for a couple of days and giving them lessons on household expenses, and teaching them money doesn't grow on trees. Sorry, purse empty till Friday.

Oh dear, confession time, one member 'failed miserably in January, and doesn't really know what happened'. I dont think there is much hope there if her money is disappearing without her knowledge. Has she had her eyes closed for a whole month? If ever there was a case for writing down every penny spent, she would be the one to do it.

Spending money is not just about opening your purse and handing over your cash or swiping your card, it's the psychology behind it that's important. It's changing your mindset, weighing up all the options, using the choices you have to your advantage, not just blindly going with the flow.

I am sure some people think money has a mind of it's own the way they are dominated by it. If a shop is there they have to go in, if they have a few pounds dip in and spend. They have no idea how easily it slips through their hands, then look bewildered when there is a bit more month left before they get paid. They work long hours, get stressed, comfort buy, the bills and credit card statements come in, the pressure is on to earn more to keep up the lifestyle.

For goodness sake, there is only one answer........



  1. You should hire out as a personal coach!!

  2. £8.19 on cat litter!! our two cats have tesco value £1.56 a bag and like it! that way we get felix cat food, yes we could get cheaper but we throw most of the cheap stuff away so that ends up false economy.

    Josie x

  3. Is this the MSE forum, cos I do the grocery thing too, I managed to skim so much off our grocey budget last year and put it in a seperate account it paid for Christmas !!!
    My hubby always says to save money - don't spend it, to lose weight - don't eat it :)
    He could be a guru you know :)
    Twiggy x

  4. Your hubby is dead right, Twiggy. yes it is the MSE forum. For some it does work extremely well, but I can't believe some of the excuses people give for spending too much.

    Also some of them put down eating out as entertainment, and don't count it in with the food budget. I reckon that's a cop out, you might as well eat out every night of the week to put your grocery spend to zero. You still put the food in your mouth for goodness sake, where ever you buy it from.

  5. You are so right Ilona. I work with a (very nice) man who is, as he recently confessed, in SERIOUS debt. He is terrified of losing his job (we have had massive funding cuts and we all face losing our jobs) and has got wife, 2 kids, huge mortgage and the debt to service.
    BUT HE IS ALWAYS BUYING THINGS! The other day he went shopping in his lunch hour at Habitat (!) and does all his grocery shopping at Waitrose.
    The man really is worried about his debt but despite the threat of job losses, he still shops-on credit cards ??!!

  6. This is a great article. When I think about the amount of money I wasted in supermarkets before we started renovating a cottage, and money got tight, I could weep! I was a nightmare shopper - I couldn't understand how I could spend so much money on food shopping until I started to keep my receipts and review what I bought. Now I have trimmed our food bills right down. I shop a lot smarter and I make most of our food from scratch, which saves a fortune. I waste nothing. I won't be going back to my old ways when the renovation is finished!
    I certainly can't imagine ever spending over £8 on something your cat goes to the toilet in!

  7. This post made me laugh Ilona..'specially the bit about tying her shoelaces together :0)
    I can't read forums like that, they work me up too much...
    To feel supported about not spending money, I read your blog, and Frugal Queens.
    They both help me!..
    have a good weekend.

  8. Some people use shopping as a therapy session. They feel great while they spend, but soon find that it isn`t a massive feel good factor, when they run out of dosh before the month ends. I guess they get so addicted to what they do, they find stupid excuses for not being able to quit their habit. Some will never figure out the cause of their self inflicted predicament.

  9. Marketers spend a lot of money making people think that the more expensive things are the better they are. my rule is generic, generic generic. Over the years you can save a fortune. Vodka is a case in point. Odorless, colorless and tasteless there is NO Difference between the $4 bottle or the $60 bottle except fancy bottles (pence to make) and russian words on the side and a LOT of marketing.
    A lot of people just dont get it !

  10. I browse MSE on a regular basis, one group in particular was great for me, I have read the grocery challenge, but have never followed that.

    MSE helped me recognise my out of control spending, along with your good self, and I am now a changed person. I think a lot of people go there to try and re-educate themselves. Some succeed, some don't. To us, who are able to manage their money, it does seem as if some of these people are in denial, and no doubt some are, but there are others who need help and direction in order to change the habits of a lifetime, we are all being 'brainwashed' by the marketing tools in supermarkets, only the 'switched on' among us tune into this fact.

    I think that your post is great Ilona, but I do think that some on that thread deserve the benefit of the doubt. Love your blog, keep up the good work. xx

  11. One possible reason why some blokes are so poor at doing the shopping is that if they do it too well, they will end up being lumbered with the chore for ever.
    I don't think that it will surprise you that some of us actively under-perform when faced with tasks we want to avoid. When Mrs Wifey discovers that we've forgotten to buy toilet paper, bread, milk and bananas, but mysteriously spent the housekeeping on Coco-Pops, luncheon meat, an unripe pineapple and a "Craziest Motor Racing Accidents" DVD, she will usually come to the conclusion that it will be better to do the job herself.

    Unfortunately, my Dad never explained this to me, so I made the fundamental error of doing the shopping properly, so now I have to do the supermarket run on alternate weeks.

  12. I think that is not the MSE forum.....

    I decided to cut back last month, did a biggish shop once a week after planning the weeks meals. Only topped up with bread and milk. At the end of the month my spend was about 30% less than the average of the last 6 months (yes I do keep these records!).

    Needless to say I am doing it again this month. The money saved is going towards a nice holiday - bonus. And the whole family are in the swing of it now so no more moans about an empty fridge, there is always bread for toast with butter and jam or cheese :-))

  13. Glad you have seen the light, Dan.

    Spend money by all means, if you have actually got the cash, but to max out on credit cards is sheer lunacy when you don't have enough money coming in to pay them off. Your work colleague needs some therapy, Annabelle.

    samfan, I picked a few quotes that jumped off the page at me, comments where the solution is blindingly obvious. Some people are doing quite well on there, but it is difficult to know how much debt they are in, if any. Those who are trying to reduce their credit card debt or loan should be making more of an effort. Buying magazines is not a priority if you are using someone elses money to pay for them.

    You've got a valid point there, Sarina. I would agree that some people are addicted to shopping, it makes them feel good when other things in their life aren't going right. It's the cause they should be tackling.

    Cyberkim you are right as usual, thank you for explaining it. I had a similar problem when I worked for an agency. I always put everything into the job, and as a consequence the bosses of the crappiest jobs always asked for me when they wanted a driver, grrrrr. Happy shopping, ha ha.

  14. This made me laugh Ilona, whilst also making me think. I would probably be one of those people on that forum saying I went over etc etc, if i joined. The good thing is I guess is that it is a starting point and at least these folks are doing something. Awareness is the first step to change.

  15. I read your return comment and I definately agree with you on most of the points Ilona, I had a wee look at the grocery challenge out of curiosity.

    There will always be people who 'pretend' that they are being good because they are on a certain challenge or thread. But, the majority will pick up tips and learn that buying that magazine when they are using a credit card is not a good idea, it takes longer to take in for some than it does for others iyswim. Some folks think that they deserve a treat, never mind if it ends up costing you £20 for a magazine once the interest is added to the card!

    Jan is quite right, being made aware of these things is the first step to change, it certainly worked for me! I ended up figuring out how I never had any money................cause I ate out 6 nights a week, and not in the chippy either! ;-)


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