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Saving Money

Page 10: Living: Shopping and Clothes.

(Survival tactics)


Do you sometimes use shopping as a sort of retail therapy? When you're feeling low, going designer bag collecting around town makes you feel better, right? Wrong. Until your debts are cleared you must avoid all shops like the plague. Pretend that they are evil and that their sole purpose is to steal your money and undermine your wonderful new GET TOUGH regime. Don't ever try to JUST window shop. It does NOT work. Keep away at all times from the shopping centres. Confine yourself to local shops and the occasional supermarket. If you do have to venture into town to visit your friendly building society or to brush up on your queing skills at the Post Office, just get in, do it and get out. Like the trained fighter that you are. Out on maneouvres behind enemy lines.

Please read on.

Doorstep Sellers Shown The Door

(21:30 Friday 24th June 2005 news story)

We're fed up of the hassle caused by unwanted door-to-door salesmen, it seems, with the Trading Standards Institute promising to work with communities and the police to create no-go zones for unwanted cold callers. This could include a single street or a whole estate. Persistent offenders will be "reported" to the authorities.

This is the culmination of a 2-year campaign by TSI for action against unwanted doorstep callers. In a tell-tale pilot study done in parts of Cambridgeshire, there was a drop of 11% in distraction burglaries. The pilot scheme was prompted by surveys showing that 96% of us don't want people selling things turning up uninvited. Head of TSI, Ron Gainsford, says that people are sick and tired of uninvited doorstep sellers. "We are concerned about those who use it as a front for criminal activity", he said. Typical services offered include home maintenance and garden services. Unfortunately, the householder may be elderly and vulnerable. Indeed, it is Age Concern who have been particularly vocal regarding cold-callers.

In this nationwide scheme, householders will be given standard door stickers warning would-be sellers that they are unwelcome. Remember the techniques salespeople use for poor value products or services: If a product won't sell in a competitive market, thrust it in people's faces with a dash of hard-sell and smooth-talk. If it photographs well but is rather worse in reality, sell it in catalogues. Build-up a rapport for repeat orders...
Money Surgery hopes that the scheme is effective.

Don't be Ripped-Off by Britain

(14:00 Sunday 5th June 2005 news story)

The centre of Stratford-upon-Avon is a town full of two continents: Those from the American continent, and those of the grey-haired incontinent. And the business of taking advantage of these fleeting tourists in the nicest possible way seems to have evolved into the principal industry of the town. Where centuries ago, before "Shakespeare's birthplace" became the town's most treasured tourist trap, livestock was herded from barge to pen. Now the herding of groups of visitors, wearing identical blue and yellow backpacks instead of farmer's brandings, from birthplace to grave and from car-park to shop is synonymous with SuA.

These were the conclusions of a Patient who visited Stratford at the weekend. The church was charging £1 to look at Shakespeare's Grave. It could have cost nearly £10 to park. There were loads of shops but no bargains in Stratford - just the ubiquitous nougat bars, Bard paraphernalia, and craftgiftcrap. But in Stratford's defence it could have been worse, says our Patient. The place has at least three cracking theatres, and a pleasant canalside, and when it comes to parting dollars and "grey pounds" from tourists, Stratford isn't in London's league, by the sound of it.

When in debt, we have to be alert constantly to the likelihood of being overcharged for services or goods in the summertime, especially around visitor attractions, fairs, seaside, shops...

Don't give in. It is often easier to resist spending on tourist-trap-crap because a lot of the merchandise is tacky, but remember that taxis, hotels, meals and parking can be more expensive here too. As we said, be on your guard all the time.
In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare wrote, "Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage".
Maybe we can paraphrase him with, "Many a tight fist prevents a loose purchase".

Focus For Another Point of View

(09:00 Tuesday 17th May 2005 news story)

A Patient of Money Surgery has seen a leather jacket selling for £1,100, by D&G we think, in a regional store. At the same shop were T-shirts with price tags for £120, £75, and £60. Maintaining the philosophy suggested in our article Consider Things from Another Point of View of 12th May, buying clothes like this can on one hand be seen as aspirational, but on the other, as complete madness. To beat debt, wearing a jacket costing over a grand is in the completely wrong category.
Good buy? No, bad buy.

Another has seen hand-made hi-fi speakers for the home for £44,000, in a magazine. Sounds incredible in more ways than one.
Play the top-ten CDs by Tony Christie or Shakin' Stevens through them and your 44 grand-plus hi-fi still sounds horrific. We wonder how many audiophiles spend half of their net income on the latest Bang and Olufsen or Nakamichi, only to force-feed it hundreds of hours-worth of Queen or Elvis or Dire Straits or...
Good buy? No, bad buy, again.

On the other hand, one of our Surgeons has just spotted a suitcase in "havana leather" for 1,600 pounds. Does it come with a note inside saying "only winding you up" tied around a bundle of £1,500 cash? This may well be aspirational if you have no debts and piles of savings and a little taste for the good things in life, but if you want to beat debt, get rid of the baggage.
Good buy? No, bad buy, again.

Focus on the new personal aspirational spending. See hand-made, leather, designer-embossed, portable, electronic gadgets as wastes of precious money. Make that fiver last 5-days. Make that tenner last for ten. Then, if you can miraculously achieve that, each purchase will have truly been a good buy. Thank you and... Good Bye.

Overall, Debt-Busting's in Fashion

(20:00 Thursday 12th May 2005 news story)

Are you fed up of spending money on clothes? Not just the initial purchase, but the cost of washing, dry cleaning, plus the effort of ironing. We landed men on the moon 36 years ago but we still haven't invented one home ironing machine. Then let us introduce the Disposable Coverall from Screwfix Direct.

Costing £9.90 for a pack of 10, the one-size, one-piece white workwear, item number 17133-77, is "Breathable and comfortable. Protects against grease, paint splashes and non-hazardous dust". You could wear a new coverall each day, with maybe one for the whole weekend, that's just £300 per year. Come on, your Armani suit doesn't protect against grease, paint or dust. Blinking useless. Hey, Giorgio, prepare for an avalanche of complaining customers.
"I bought this Armani suit for £550 and it let in all this non-hazardous dust. Useless. I want a refund!"

If you sell all your other clothes except for underwear and a warm jacket and maybe a few ties, you could make a hundred pounds. Screwfix even do a Rain Suit for £3.35 each in any colour as long as its yellow, and this is - what's the word for non-disposable - durable? It comes in two pieces and is obviously an item to rival Armani in terms of quality, given that it is over three times more expensive than that disposable coverall. It comes in two generous sizes, the "large" is item number 33820-77.

Good.Not Bad.Bad.Not Good.


(Sunday 6th February 2005 news story)

On average, subscribers pay a little under £40 per month for their television package with a well-known company. With such a deal, of course, subscribers can view a range of channels, depending on the package chosen, including relatively recent movies and live football.

To someone paying-off debts as a matter of priority, paying for this sort of TV package is daft. Over ten years, the cost of the average package is probably £8,000, factoring-in future price rises and the loss of interest. That £40 per month is in addition to the cost of the tv license, and hardware/electricity costs.

Hang-on, they also show adverts on these channels and like the adverts on channels all over the world, their sponsors and commercials promote all sorts of products: Cars, beer, chocolate, holidays, insurance, processed food, national lottery, stain remover, internet gambling, and so on.

Get this: Subscribers forfeit £8,000 for ten year's worth of adverts for unhealthy food, alcoholic drink, gambling, and products that they may find expensive and inappropriate or unsuitable. "Yeah, I've got debts that I'm struggling with. Lets pay £8,000 to watch adverts so I can choose a junk food supplier while I invest some cash on the lottery and horse racing that I saw on a TV commercial. Don't worry, I've got beer: saw it on a TV commercial".

Cut out debt. Like a Surgeon.

Tips for Buying a PC

(Thursday 2nd September 2004 news story)


If you have debts, this is the last thing you should be considering. Maybe you are a patient of the Surgery or maybe your debts are giving you sleepless nights, if either is the case, act like a soldier, permanently out on maneouvres against debt until your debts have gone.

Think of a PC as your reward for shrugging off the last pound of debt. Don't look at the details, just have a hazy long-term reward in your mind for getting through the dark days of debt, which could be a PC, a car, a holiday, or something less expensive.

So when you get tempted, remember that this feeling will pass. It always does. One day you are convinced that you're going to the local computer store to look at that shiny new laptop that weighs a few grams, the next day the feeling isn't so strong and by the tenth day, you wonder why you even were tempted at all. So when you get tips for buying a PC, think "Don't".

We're Stopping Shopping

(Thursday 19th June 2003 news story)

We are not spending that much these days according to new retail spending figures, prompting hopes for another rate cut next month. Figures for May show a sharp drop over the previous month after economists had pencilled-in a modest rise. Experts fear that consumers are turning away from the shops, the very activity that is keeping our economy alive and kicking.

So what kept us away? Was it the wet weather or the warm weather? Was it the lack of price cuts or was it all simply a blip? At the Surgery, we enjoy spending money that we have saved. Many Patients have gone through hundreds of dark days, saving every penny to get rid of their debts. When their debt shackles have become loose the opportunity to spend a little of their own money is something that is savoured. Yeah, spend it, but only when it's your own money and not borrowed money. With the Surgery, you can discover ways to beat debt then enjoy your shopping sprees ...and your freedom.

We Waste £500 a Year on Clothes

(2001 news story)

Britons waste £500 a year on clothes, shoes and accessories that we don't even wear, according to a new survey by Cahoot. The online bank interviewed 200 men and women aged between 25 and 40 and found that most of the unnecessary spending went on so-called bargains and designer labels. Women were the worst, spending an average of £526 a year, while men squandered £474.

At the Surgery, we emphasise the need for control. When out shopping we think that we can't be tempted. We can control our money. But that pair of shoes or that designer jacket stays in our subconscious long after we've seen it in the shop window. If you want to save money, avoid shopping malls and city centres like the plaque. It is VERY difficult to resist.

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Saving Money: Switched on ways to keep hold of your precious cash.
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How a house, open a bank account...
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