Group buying, discount voucher codes, BOGOF offers… every day we’re bombarded with endless ways to save money and get things for ‘free’ – but do they save us money? Does it really pay to get things for free?
Brits are a nation of bargain hunters. Sales, discounts, big savings and loyalty schemes have become part of our consumer culture. And as times get tougher, we love the feeling of getting something for nothing.
A new survey from Halifax shows that discount vouchers, special offers and free deals are saving the average person £1,196 a year. That comes to £51 billion a year. Welcome to the new (horrible new buzzword alert) ‘freeconomy’.
Free isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
The survey found that 90% of adults used discount routes such as money-off vouchers, with eating out, holidays and flights being the three areas where we’re most likely to use discounts.
With prices on almost all everyday essentials heading north, the call of the coupon or voucher code is louder than ever – but is this really a good thing? Getting a bargain is one thing but buying something you didn’t need in the first place, just because it’s cheap, is the most false of false economies.
Who’s getting a good deal?
Supermarkets are packed with two-for-one deals enticing you to buy everything from cereal to cat food but stuffing your trolley with non-essential extras often means wasting money and food later on.
Group buying sites are great for discounts but only if you wanted a fish pedicure, falconry lessons or laser teeth-whitening in the first place.
Then we have cashback sites such as Quidco or Topcashback. Their popularity has surged as part of the ‘freeconomy’ but you need to check carefully that you are getting the best products, especially if you’re buying financial products – saving on insurance now is a dangerous waste if you find you can’t claim when you really need to.
While over half the respondents in the survey say they are saving on restaurants, takeaways and fast food, the chances are they’d be better off eating at home and saving the money that way.
So, while bargains, discounts and cash back on things you really need are obviously great, remember ‘there’s no such thing as free lunch’ – even at Pizza Express.