Friday, 22 June 2012

Frugal Friday

SatNav won't do you much good here...
For the most part, we try to live by some rather frugal rules when considering purchasing anything. These are:

Do I need it, or am I at least sure I want it and have the funds to pay for it?
If one of the above is true, can I get it, or something that will do the same job, for free?
If not free, can I get it at a discount?
Having decided what I'm going to pay for it, can I get cashback on that amount?

Only after having explored all the options do we go ahead and pay out for *stuff*  - and it's surprising how many ways there are savings to be made: Let's take as an example a product a lot of people have these days - a SatNav system. Useful little gadgets if you do a lot of driving for work or pleasure, particularly if you are often unaccompanied, with it's attendant problems of not being able to read the map and drive. A quick glance at a well known Electrical/Computer store's website shows that these start from around £100. Firstly, let's translate that into a simpler language shall we - for this example, we'll use "a month's food" as our "real terms" description. OK, so we've decided we either need it, or that we want it, and the money is sitting there ready for us to finance the purchase - how about getting it for free though? Surely you can't get an item of that value for free, anywhere? Well actually, you can - if you have an iPhone, for example, the excellent NavFree is available - as the name suggests - absolutely free. There are "add-ons" you can pay for, but the initial app, zero cost. Hurrah! I believe there are other options available for other smartphone users too, so well worth looking to see what's out there. Let's assume you don't have a Smartphone though - unless you get VERY lucky on your local FreeCycle, we're probably going to have to examine the "at a discount" option.  For our example, we will use the reasonably standard "TomTom Start 25 Europe" unit, which our well known electrical superstore are retailing online at £149.98 - the first thing to remember is that the online price and the instore price may differ. Many retailers will match their online prices if you ask, though. Next stop is to use the price comparison or "ShopBot" sites - Pricerunner is the one I've chosen for this, but the more you search, the more options you'll have - that immediately brings the price of our chosen SatNav down to £120.49 - a saving of nearly £30! (Or "one and a bit weeks food") Next - eBay - no saving to be found here on the price of a brand new product, but there are refurbished ones available from £99, and a quick "completed listings" search reveal that used ones sell for around £70 - £80 - that's a reduction of almost 50% on the original price we started with! I've done all that inside 5 minutes - 5 minutes which, if I were actually buying said SatNav, would have saved me in the region of £75 - a pretty good hourly rate, wouldn't you agree?

Shop frugally...for then you shall have enough left over for Tea & Cake

This kind of cost-saving isn't only for big ticket items either -  it's when you start translating these principles to everyday life that you really see the savings mounting up. Food for example - shop around - the MySupermarket website is great for comparing prices, and then there are all the bargain/discount stores - Home Bargains, B&M etc. For a long time now we have operated a "target price" of 10p per packet for buying crisps - we always try to buy as close to this price as possible - well and truly achieved today as B&M had 20 packets of Walkers for £1.59! There is also your local market which may well have food stalls worth checking, and of course good old Approved Food - every Frugalista's friend!  Car tyres - I always get prices from a couple of local places - although through choice will still use our local independant place - having said that, they are usually cheapest! Insurances, obviously always follow Martin Lewis's instructions on tracking down the best prices on - it is to be hoped that they stay neutral on such things! Printer ink is another good one - a bit of shopping around can make a good saving, and there are plenty of companies offering Cashback through TopCashBack too - I bought a set of Laser Toner Cartridges this morning for £96 (cheapest price I could find online, remanufactured cartridges, and utilising a 10% discount code I found for my chosen supplier) and £8.14 cashback has already tracked! Remember also that if both Quidco and TCB are offering the same Cashback, choose TCB as they don't charge an annual fee. Remember also never to make a purchase based on the cashback available as this is not guaranteed to track! If you're not a member of TCB and wish to join, then the following link is my referral link which I would be delighted for you to use - I earn an incentive from this, just so you are aware. >

You will rarely have to buy anything so urgently that shopping around a bit isn't possible, and of course it shouldn't be forgotten that the most frugal approach of all is to go without - but on the other side of the coin, life is for living, and we're only here once (other views on reincarnation are available) so we'd jolly well better enjoy it, don't you think?!



Pat Machin said...

Good advice. I don't call that frugal - just sensible. Why pay top price for ANYTHING?

Robyn said...

It amazes me the number of people who are happy just to walk in and buy stuff without any prior research Pat!