Sunday, 29 June 2014

Are You in a Flap, Jack?

I was sent the following graphic by Vouchercloud (they've not sponsored me), which I first saw discussed on A Frugal Wife's blog. James Cook of Vouchercloud explained to me, "Basically, because we are a money saving site the main concern of our users is the cost of everyday items and the impact that this has on their lives. We therefore thought it would be a good idea to do some in-depth research into how the cost of living has changed and in particular, how expensive everyday living is now compared to the past. Crucially, we wanted to present the findings in actual adjusted figured (hence the adjusted for inflation) so people are not given a distorted view."

You may have seen this before, but I think it gives some pause for thought. As does this article which I saw shared recently - Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek).  I think if you are going to spend your hard-earned cash, be it frivolously  or frugally, then it makes sense not to play blithely into the hands of the megabucks companies who just want your money. OH said this article made him think twice about buying a coffee from a well-known chain at work the other day, instead of having the free stuff in his office. But then, his second thought was I want a nice coffee. Doh!

Plus, I think as our spending patterns change, it becomes easy to forget the cumulative effect of accumulation. It used to be easy to think, I'm not buying x, because that's the equivalent of y hours work, where y = a scary figure (think the silhouette of Michael Gove in a darkened room, suddenly lit from beneath the face with winking green fairy lights. Scary!). I'll never throw away the gothic velvet coat I bought in the year 2000, which cost £100 at the time and remains damn sexy (yeah, reconcile Sisters of Mercy with the Pulp song now playing in your mind. Mash up!). From my experiences in charity shops lately, people are less likely to cling long term to their throwaway £2 Primani dust-rags (and those charity shops will continue pricing 'Atmosphere' labels the same as 'Per Una', which must mean they think the wine stains and body odour add designer value. "This blouse whiffs like an offensive drunk - mark it down as a John Galliano.").

But as the cost of the essentials keeps rising, how many of us are struggling because of buying cheap little bits of crap we don't really need to make ourselves feel better? Me! I've been guilty of splurging on posh flapjacks to give myself a mid-morning boost. I don't need them; lately, I'm carrying the sort of pud that can get hard-nosed Londoners to give up their seats for me on the tube. Now, that's not good.

Would you spend £150 on flapjacks? At recent rates, that would be my annual equivalent.

Flapjack - not Twinkie! Duh!

And being mid-declutter has reminded us that we have too much. Someone else might be able to use it though, so we've signed up to Freecycle. Incidentally, isn't it disheartening when you begin a declutter and immediately everything looks much, much worse?

Awesome comic by Kerry Callen - see the rest of Batman's sorry tale here.

Also, it may not be the pennies you are wasting. What about time? An interesting life-coach article by Nina Grunfeldon in the current issue of Mslexia talks about how you might use the stones in a jar metaphor to look at your reasons for not doing what you want. If you fill your jar with stones, then fill the gaps with gravel, fill the spaces remaining with sand, and then, finally, top up with water, you get a very full jar (incidentally, this is not an idea for an alternative homemade present to give Josh Widdecombe instead of jam).
Try filling the jar up the other way, and the stones won't fit. The stones are your goals, gravel is the unavoidable tasks like sleeping and eating, the sand is the admin stuff you really should do (like going shopping and sorting out bills) and the water all the other crap (like wasting time on Facebook or answering someone's email;their priority, not yours). You can see how prioritizing rubbish leads to you not doing the thing you wanted to do.

I think the money/time thing ties together. We feel crap because we work long hours. We have a flapjack so the blood sugar spikes make things interesting for a bit. We crash and are tired and not so productive. We fall asleep on the bus home instead of reading the book we wanted to read and wake up at the station with a sore neck and dribble down our fronts. We feel we need to put the TV on as soon as we get home, just until we've relaxed a bit. Celebrity Masterchef suddenly becomes compelling and you watch the series so far on catch-up even though no one knows how to cook. Our eyes glaze like the icing on a school bun, slightly watery. We realize it's midnight. We haven't written our magnificent octopus; we haven't gone for a run; we go to bed depressed. We wake up having had too little sleep to cope with the day; we buy a flapjack to cheer ourselves up.

I'm saying we because I'm speaking of universal experience. But I realize it's just me who experiences the flapjack-bus-Masterchef cycle. But replace with any confection/drug/vice/distraction you like.

So, July is going to be a focus on my stones month. And not just my kidney ones.

Anyway, cheer up. Here's your graphic.

Being British: Are Your Costs Escalating - An infographic by the team at vouchercloud

Embed Being British: Are Your Costs Escalating on Your Site: Copy and Paste the Code Below

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