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Thrifty or tight – where do you draw the line?

Saving money in jam jars

If you’re looking to cut back, you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve launched a new Money Savings Tips hub. But is cutting back worth the effort? Which? Conversationalists seem divided.

Whenever I see a money-saving tip explained online, the feedback from commenters always falls into one of two categories.

Some people are grateful for any advice that can help them reduce their outgoings by any amount, because they believe in the value of looking after the pennies.

Others suggest that life is too short and their time is too valuable to engage in such activities, or even that they’d be embarrassed to be seen taking part in certain penny-pinching deeds. Where do you draw the line between thrifty and tight?

Too much hassle?

The latest issue of Which? Money features a double-page spread explaining how to make £230 a year through stoozing. Few would turn their nose up at this sum of money, yet in a recent poll here on Which? Convo, only 30% of you said that stoozing was worth the hassle.

You’ve also been divided on the merit of haggling, despite our online guide showing exactly how to save an average of £240 a year on your bills by doing it.

Simpler tasks, such as using cashback sites, loyalty cards or price comparison sites, receive less scorn. So does the line between worthy and unworthy money-saving behaviour correlate with the amount of effort put in to make the savings?

Money-saving tips

We know that a sizeable core of Which? members are keen to hear of more ways to cut their costs and make money over the short-term. If you’re one of them, you might fancy having a browse of our Money Saving Tips, featuring our comprehensive 50 ways to save money guide.

And if you’re not an advocate of the tips in this guide, do let us know why in the comments below.

Are you always thrifty?

Depends - I try to find a balance (61%, 149 Votes)

Yes - I always try and save the pennies (36%, 88 Votes)

No - it's not for me, life is too short (3%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 245

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For an old fogey like me is a vertical actually a fancy name for a column? Or does it have a specific meaning on the Web?

One of the tips you give includes a link to rentnotbuy.co.uk which takes me to a US dot com site that is active in Cnada and the US. This is not very helpful unless I go holidaying there. However as tool renting is meant to be one of the main benefits I am not sure its usefulness.

I thought it was a transcription error for ‘article’, but then I’m not au fait with the latest argot either.

Hi Dieseltaylor, thanks for your question and sorry about that – we should’ve been more clear. A vertical is a term used to describe an area of similar content on the website. So our money saving tips vertical is an area on our site which is devoted to money saving info. And thank you for noticing the link to the US site – I will double check it.

Thanks for that Alex. We learn something every day on this site. There’s a certain logic in this usage and it’s obviously time this specific meaning found its way into the dictionaries.

I agree John. It’s a great educational resource. I sometimes look up Conversations when in company, to find information that I have read but cannot be sure of the detail. I’m not sure if there is a term for this but it could be considered antisocial, like phubbing – a term I learned here. 🙂

One advantage of ‘verticals’ is that it would – for example – be easy to add an example of how stoozing could waste a lot of money if we are not careful about dates, without upsetting the layout or having to add another page. At one time, some web designers were keen that pages could be viewed without scrolling. Now that we have trackpads, mice with scroll-wheels and touch screens, it’s not necessary.

Why not keep the language simple so that everyone can understand it!!

Hi everyone, thanks for your encouraging comments about the convo 🙂 It’s good to know you find it so useful – we learn a lot from your comments as well!

And thanks for your feedback, Mary. You’re right we should have either used simpler language or put a little explanation in. Will keep it in mind for next time.

I had to lokk up phubbing as wavchange used it!! With caveats about its entry Wikipedia says:

Phubbing is a term coined as part of a campaign by Macquarie Dictionary to describe the habit of snubbing someone in favour of a mobile phone. In May 2012, the advertising agency behind the campaign – McCann Melbourne – invited a number of lexicographers, authors, and poets to coin a neologism to describe the behaviour. The term has appeared in media around the world, and was popularized by the Stop Phubbing campaign created by McCann.[1]
Stop Phubbing campaign

The Stop Phubbing campaign site, and related Facebook page, was part of an elaborate public relations effort designed to promote the Macquarie Dictionary of Australia.[2] In the media, the website was originally credited to an Australian college student named Alex Haigh, who had been interning at McCann and was subsequently hired.[3] A film, titled A Word is Born, describes the entire process and serves as an ad for the dictionary.[4]
Phubbing in the media

The campaign was picked up by numerous media outlets, notably those in the United Kingdom, Mexico and Germany. The press reported on surveys showing statistics of the number of the people “phubbing”, and published etiquette guides.[

Stoozing – again from Wikipedia

” Etymology

The word “stoozing” came into existence from posts on the Motley Fool UK discussion boards in early 2004.[1] Many people were earning money on 0% deals before 2004, but one discussion board contributor, Stooz, was apparently prolific in this. This person’s technique therefore came to be referred to as “doing a Stooz”. In the United States, the term has gained a similar usage.[2]

The term “rate tart” is sometimes incorrectly applied to this practice. A rate tart frequently moves a debt (or cash balance) around in order to get the best interest rate, rather than taking advantage of the difference between two interest rates.[3]

My suggestion is to learn to do things for yourself rather than paying someone to do them for you.

I can’t say I found the 50 ways to save money much use. Most of it was common sense, especially for those that read which. Some of it didn’t save money when you factor in the cost/effort to make the saving. E.g. Printing vouchers costs printer ink, visiting various shops costs petrol, buying a food card to save money at restaurants which have free schemes anyway. The suggestion of turning down the heating to save the cost of heating did make me laugh though.

Better to be a penny pincher than a pound prolifigate. The key is finding the balance between the two. At my time of life snoozing is a far more attractive and relaxing pastime than stoozing!

Oops!………pound profligate sounds much better.

I am thrifty to the extent that I try to take advantage of offers on everyday products if we use them anyway but I don’t see the point of having a spare room full of loo rolls or such like. I always look for quality and value and, since I also abhor waste, I try to make everything last as long as possible without going to ridiculous lengths like cutting the end off the toothpaste tube to extract the last blob.. I couldn’t be bothered with all the financial jiggery-pokery involved in cascading money from one account to another every month – too much like keeping plates spinning and a calamity waiting to happen. As for vouchers and deals attached to loyalty cards and so on, I find they are usually for things I don’t like or don’t need, and the headline ‘savings’ boasted by comparison sites have been shown to be illusory.

Many people have to be extremely careful with their expenditure and would not accept the term ‘tight’ to describe their behaviour; being ‘tight’ probably only applies when people are demonstrably well-enough-off but get some perverse satisfaction from being stingy [Ebenezer Scrooge defined the mode]. My grandfather from the East Riding had a Master’s degree in Frugality and went on to become a Doctor of Parsimony; thankfully, my father saw to it that this trait would not carry on down the generations.

I like to save every penny possible, like when I run out of milk I would rather walk into town & pay 90p then use the local shop 2mins away from me and pay £1.45. (I know people will hate that I don’t support local shops, but to me it’s all about money).

I am also a big fan of online surveys. In-fact I do a few pretty much everyday. Some times you can earn £30 even £50 a month per site, but then again some sites it can take 6 months to earn a 20 quid Amazon voucher. But it all ads up!

I did a blog post over on my own blog last month about a company who pays you 1p for each marketing e-mail they send you. I had a lot of feedback from that blog, around 70% of people loved it, while 30% said it was a total waste of time.

But that’s me, this is what I enjoy and now I am earning pretty big money from surveys sites and it leads onto market research, mystery shopping etc. Just last week I was sent a free 500GB Playstation 3 as a bonus from my market research boss.

As my mum used to say “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”, I live by that quote & thanks to that quote I have a life that I really enjoy, money in the bank, and non of this boring 9-5 job lark!

You set a good example Lee. Given that your opinions are probably more valuable than most, I reckon you are being underpaid for your services.

While the money is good John I also do it as I enjoy it. I always say you must enjoy your work.

Like today I am at my desk, watching The Vicar of Dibley boxset (that show is 20 years old today btw), doing a few surveys & drinking tea that I’ve been asking to test & review.

I feel lucky, I’m on 26 and have my life pretty good right now 🙂

Here is an idea for saving significant money, from France. And apparently saves money for the community on collection charges.

Source: the connexion
Dordogne towns count on chickens
June 17, 2014
TWO towns in Dordogne are counting on their chickens to cut household waste.

The Syndicat Départemetal des Déchets (SMD3) has offered residents in Saint-Astier and Neuvic the chance to own pairs of the feathered composters to reduce levels of organic waste, the newspaper Sud Ouest has reported.

The scheme is similar to ones that SMD3 has already set up in Barsac, Gironde, and Barbezieux, Charente. If successful, this latest project could be rolled out across the Dordogne next year.

And it has proved popular with residents. L’Express reports that chickens will eat up to 150kg of organic waste – such as peelings, salads, pasta, cheese rinds, rice, and potatoes – and lay about 200 eggs a year.

As well as the animals, residents will receive a manual to help keep chickens, a rudimentary hen house and a bag of beans to get them started.

The chickens are set to be supplied by La Jardinerie Duponteil in Saint-Médard-de-Mussidan at the end of the summer.

Sophie Gilbert says:
11 November 2014

We Scots are known to be thrifty, not tight. Here is an example I found on the net: “After discovering that they had won 15 million pounds in the Lottery, Mr and Mrs McFlannel sat down to discuss their future. Mrs McFlannel announced “After twenty years of washing other people’s stairs, I can throw my old scrubbing brush away at last.” Her husband agreed – “Of course you can, hen. We can easily afford to buy you a new one now.” Thrift is bliss.

I have given up thrift .Everytime it starts to work, I get a large bill which swallows it up.

Kathy Everitt says:
15 November 2014

I have haggled with British Gas over the price of the boiler cover (which is, by no means, inexpensive) for the last three years and, each year, without fuss, they have reduced the annual payment by 15%. Well worth doing.

Not included in the Which? vertical was buying in bulk for items such as dish-washer powder and washing powder that I buy from suppliers to the nursing and care home sector. It also convenient if having a delivery to buy a years toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

The cost of the dishwasher powder is around 2p per load , Which?’s Best Buy dishwasher detergent – which apparently now means a tablet – is 40p for Fairy. More acceptably 10p a tablet with Aldi and Lidl’s brands. My suspicion on the demise of powder is that it is far more profitable to sell tablets.

Even allowing for adding occasional salt and rinse-aid I think one can expect to save well over 100% on the dishwasher process.

There is the added benefit that remembering to buy powders can be a 6 month or annual event.

The toothpastes and toothbrushes are well-known brand names at pretty much the lowest cost you could buy them at any shop – and again having them in stock makes life easier as you no longer have to research who is cheapest this time.

The firm I use sounds like a middle-european beetroot soup but misspelt. : )

Dishwasher tablets are another example of a simple thing being made to seem more effective by commercial morphology. The product has been made into a pretty briquette in its own little envelope and featuring smart words like “all-in-one” and “multi-action”. I’m not terribly well-informed on other people’s washing-up methodologies but, from the occasional glimpse of what goes into shopping trollies, it does seem that plenty of people who top up the salt and rinse-aid reservoirs as soon the warning lights flash are also buying box loads of 3-in-1 tabs at premium prices.

One drawback of advance purchase of household commodity items is that you might not be in a position to take advantage of an especially special offer if you have already bought your 2015 stock. Toothpaste touches a nerve with me as I seem to have more tubes than the London Underground and I always buy at least one more whenever we shop. Sainsbury’s offer 122 toothpaste products in eighteen different brands and several different categories. Unfortunately I have a tendency to squeeze out about an inch of paste every time instead of the pea-sized portion recommended as sufficient, so when one tube has gone it’s nice to know there’s another one on the way.

The place to get toothpaste seems to be Aldi as their own brand seems to give 2.18ml per penny.

This would actually beat my buying 12 Aquafresh 125ml which would be 1.31ml per p – apart from ordering 12 saved me £5.99 postage and packing which effectively gave me 2.6ml per penny.

Always buy the 125ml size as you will only lose one final squeeze per tube.

Tesco’s own brand works out at 2ml per penny The most expensive toothpastes at Tesco comes in at £5,34 per 100ml. I feel like asking for the evidence for the claims!

The British Dental Health Foundation seems useful with some excellent toys for teaching tooth health. Most of the big names seem to be supporters. Aldi actually advertise that their toothpaste is approved by BDHF.

Overall though JW I can be serene and never need to worry about running out until I get to the last tube and then order again, stock up at Aldi, or who ever else is offering the best deal.

I am not sure that toothpaste represents a major expense, even though I’m using stuff that cost £4 for a 75ml tube to keep my dentist happy. A small amount seems effective to me.