Tag Archives: value for money

2011: Hope or Despair (part 2)

Are some people immune to the recession?

Not everyone is affected by the recession. Some people are lucky enough to be recession-proof. According to George Orwell, in his book “Animal Farm” “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

To single out Premiership footballers, I am sure Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez are smiling like Cheshire cats having recently signed new contracts after successfully holding their clubs to ransom over their intentions to leave.

Furthermore, I am sure we all remember the recent remark of Tory grandee, Lord Young, that most Britons “have never had it so good.”  Of course, there is no doubt about what side of the divide Lord Young happens to be perched on.

On a philosophical note, life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

Tips for getting value for money from expenditure during these desperate times

Don’t be afraid to haggle when you are out shopping. For most of us, haggling is something we only engage in when holidaying abroad – mostly in developing countries. However, given the current economic climate in the UK and retailers being at the mercy of the consumers, some retailers will extend discounts to customers on request.

Local markets are a good place to get value for money. You will save a significant amount of money doing your grocery and meat shopping at a local market compared to a big chain store. Don’t forget your haggling skills.

Utility bills are next. Remember to check your gas and electricity bills to make sure you are on the right tariff. If you are not sure of your tariff, call your provider to find out. Chances are that you are on the most expensive tariff, just like I was for the last six years before I changed it.

Try and get into a habit of reviewing your bank statements on a monthly basis. Apart from staying on top of your cash flow, it is important that you highlight and query any unexplained bank charges or transactions posted to your account.  Contrary to what some people think, the banks do get it wrong sometimes.

I wish you all a very prosperous 2011. God willing, we will all succeed in keeping the wolf from the door over the coming months.

2011: Hope or Despair (part 1)

As 2010 draws to a close some of us are busy thinking about New Year resolutions and hoping that we stick with them this time around. For my part, I am going to pass on the resolution thing for the simple reason that, even at the best of times, it falls by the way side after only two weeks.

What’s more, it will also be difficult for me to focus on keeping a resolution whilst thinking of the possible surprises the Nick Clegg and David Cameron show may spring on us Britons in 2011.

I agree Britain is not alone in this voyage to the doldrums of economic austerity. Recent public demonstrations-turned-riots in Spain, Belgium, Italy and Greece are testament to the far-reaching effects of this harsh wind of change. I also acknowledge  that the citizens of some African countries (Nigeria, Ghana, and Zambia) have only ever known a life of austerity measures. And yet they have gone on living, living and partly living.

Seemingly, some Economists believe that austerity measures run the risk of slowing down the stimulus needed for growth. Others are of the view that drastic measures are needed to curb the excessive public spending that has resulted in the huge national debts. I don’t intend to get into this debate as I am more concerned about how bad things are going to get before they begin to get better.

So what has 2011 got in store for us?

With VAT expected to raise from 17.5 to 20% in January 2011, rising rail fares, rising fuel costs and further job loses expected in 2011, it is hard to see anything but gloom on the horizons for many Britons.

Who knows what will happen to the NHS in 2011? Will citizens now be required to contribute towards treatment costs? Will the Bank of England put up interest rates? Will there be more policy U-turns from Mr. Clegg or even Mr. Cameron?  Have we heard the last of the University students? Would it be the Clinicians, Nurses and Teachers marching on London next? As if this is not enough worry, we are constantly reminded of the ever-present threat of al-Qaeda, cyber-terrorism and pedophilia.

How will all this gloom impact upon our health over the coming months? Whether it is in our forgoing healthy food for cheaper junk substitutes in our attempt to spread that pound a bit further, or the stress of all this negativity on our cardiovascular health, the bottom line is that something may just have to give in the end. Hopefully, it won’t be our poor hearts.

What about the survival of our marriages during these hard economic times? So far, there has been good news on this front. Contrary to predictions, the divorce rates for 2008 were the lowest in 29 years, according to the Office of National Statistics. Hopefully, the 2009 figures will echo the same theme when released in early 2011.

Are some people immune to the recession? Find out in part two of this article, which also provides tips for getting value for money from expenditure during these hard economic times.