My Top 3 Food Related Money Saving Tips

My Top 3 Food Related Money Saving TipsA few days ago I came across the “101 ways to save money” article from The Money Advice Service. Great read and a lot of wonderful tips worth putting into action. So in the saving spirit I have decided to put together my top 3 food related money savings tips.

1. Know what you need to buy now and in the nearest future

I know a lot of people think that shopping with a shopping list is a great way of saving money… well I don’t agree with this philosophy. I shop the other way around – I buy what’s on special offer and then plan meals around what I have. This way I am able to spend less because I hardly ever pay the RRP and always try to buy products on special offer, or BOGOF or 2 for £X. This is a great method if you know what you have in your cupboards, what you need now and what you will need in the nearest future. Let’s take instant coffee as an example. We drink coffee every day and it is a must have in my household. When I see it on special offer and I like the price I will buy 2 or 4 jars at the time – yes I might have to spend more money shopping this time round but I will never have to pay full price for my jars of coffee 🙂

2. Learn to make your own

Making your own food is the easiest way of saving money when it comes to food. Cooking from scratch might be time consuming but it will always be cheaper than buying ready-made products and you know exactly what you eating. And I am not only talking about dinners or lunches, mix some natural yogurt with condensed milk and a punnet of fruits and you got yourself ice-cream. Have some meat bones? Add some carrot and celery and boil it for few hours creating homemade stock. And who knows after a while you might even start to enjoy it, I did.

3. Work with leftovers

Food waste is a huge problem; we buy too much, we cook too much and of course we throw away way too much food. Learning how to deal with your leftover in an efficient manner can seriously improve your money pool. In most cases leftovers can be re-used and turned into something else but this means you have to get your hands dirty and actually spend some time in the kitchen 😉 Got some old bread which isn’t so fresh and sexy anymore? Well turn it into a bread pudding; this quick and virtually fool proof task will allow you to “save” the old bread and save you money as you don’t have to buying a pudding… you just made some from something which would most likely have ended up in the bin or in your back garden feeding the birds.

If you want to know more about my top tips on how to reduce food waste you can read my post here.

What are your top money saving tips when it comes to food / shopping / cooking?

*Post written in collaboration with The Money Advice Service

I am a weird, vulture like stingy foreigner

I am a weird, vulture like stingy foreigner

This morning The Telegraph published a piece titled “My late night supermarket shopping saves me £2,800 a year”. As we are featured in this piece it was only natural for me to visit the online version of it and have a peak at the comments… now I wish I hadn’t done it. Actually this isn’t true. I think it was fine to visit and even the reading of it, but I should have never engaged and definitely never replied to some of them. I guess it was an impulse and when you find yourself under attack you are naturally overcome with an urge to defend yourself… how silly of me…

The piece was supposed to relay that you can save money by smart shopping. It looks like some people who cared enough to comment didn’t actually care enough to read the article fully or simply took it in a different way than what was intended.

The first attack was on my job. One guy thought that being a self-employed online moderator is so redundant that it actually makes me jobless. Someone else thought that I am probably hoping to secure in time a nice, well paid, lots-of-holidays, public sector job with all the trimmings – the mirror-image of self-employment. Really? Why people are so quick to project their own dreams or hopes on to others? I would hate to work for someone, especially in the public sector… as to trimmings? What trimmings? Being stuck in a cubicle 9 till 5?

Yet another person had decided that my lifestyle of frugal shopping makes me a sad personality. Quite the opposite, in my humble opinion, it makes me happy and gives me more money to spend elsewhere.

Someone else suggested that I should get a life? I actually have one and I am very proud of it.

One guy actually called me a vulture… how bizarre! I wonder if Mr. Seank knows what vultures are and what they do. I don’t actually scavenge, I pick food from the shelves just like he does I assume… the only difference is that I know which shelf to pick my food from and more specifically what time of the day I should go shopping in order to get a better bargain.

It’s sad that some people can be so narrow-minded. It’s seems it is so much easier to criticize something than to actually try and understand it. I was told that bargain shopping is not very British, maybe this is why so many people wouldn’t do it or even consider doing it… stuck with being an old stereotype or maybe just too proud to grab those good bargains is just plain silly in my mind.

There was also a comment suggesting that maybe if I work harder I would be able to afford full priced food… this was actually a funny one… I never said I can’t afford it, I simply chose to shop this way. Saving money on my food shopping, or any form of shopping come to that; leaves me with more money, and sometimes with some money to spend on other stuff. Not only this, it also gives me in most cases better quality food. A good percentage of reduced food at the end of the day comes from the finest or the organic selection, they are usually the most expensive ones and often unsold… so please explain to me why would I chose a shop value type of food (like some other comments suggested) over reduced but much higher quality products that are still in date at the time of my purchase? I simply don’t see any logic in this. And let’s face it, most labels on the food products have very little to do with its usability, they are there to empower buying power, they are there to prey on the lack of knowledge of the masses, they are simply there to make you buy more or at least more often.

I have learnt the meaning of labels and I have great understanding on how long my food will actually last before getting spoiled. I covered it earlier in my “7 Top Tips How to Reduce Food Waste” post.

I am not ashamed of my shopping style. I am actually proud of it and I have no inclination whatsoever to apologies for it.

I just feel sorry for all those people out there who failed to understand it.

People don’t have to agree with me and they for sure don’t have to follow my steps but I do think that before posting a comment or reply the individual should at least try to understand the piece and the meaning behind it. For no other reason than it will help them to form a non vitriolic and informed opinion to their replies. I also consider the other angle to this situation and that is that these foods if unsold will just be destroyed. There is no option under our law of donating it somewhere; it will not go to anyone who might actually really need it. If no one will buy it, it will go to the bin; in my opinion that is the greatest tragedy, that is a shame!

This whole comment situation had me bouncing of the walls most of the morning. It reminded me of The West Wing and The U.S. Poet Laureate episode when Josh posted a reply on Lemon-Lyman.com, which started a series of troubles. C.J.Cregg had a great came back to this whole commenting malarkey: The people on these sites: they’re the cast of One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest.

But there is always a silver lining. I’ve received a lovely email from Raphael who decided to write to me after seeing all the abuse some people gave me. Thank God we are not all the same. I am glad there are still a few people around who are full of civility and human compassion.

Philogenes wrote to me as a reply to one of my comments: You must know by now that most commenters aren’t interested in the facts, just their own opinions! …I didn’t know it but now I do. Lesson learnt. I was actually under the impression that if someone, as I regularly do, decides to leave a comment it will be meaningful and on topic… I was wrong, epic fail!

So, what do you think?

Am I a weird, vulture like stingy foreigner?

Can my way of shopping really be offensive to some?

Was the published piece really a reason for so much negativity?

And just to clear something else. I didn’t get paid for this feature. I didn’t do it for the money or for the fame (as suggested by yet another “friendly” comment). I have had my 15 minutes of fame with other articles published in various newspapers across the country and my own recipe on a billboard… I am not hungry for more, believe me. I agreed to do it in order to show some people another way, a way of saving a few pennies (and sometimes pounds) and having something to show for it. I hoped that maybe this feature would encourage some people to be more savvy when food shopping. I simply wanted to do something good, is that really so bad?

My life will never be the same again

* by Mark

As I wander down the path of my life I occasionally pause to look back at where I have come from. Picture the scene, a moonscape stretching out before you, only the small rocks and boulders breaking the seemingly endless expanse of nothingness. As I gently swing around to continue I find myself at the base of a steep incline. Climbing up the incline I am accompanied by a chorus of rousing strings that echo through my mind reaching an emotional crescendo as I crest the top and see before me…. a large black obelisk. I approach cautiously and touch it and at that exact second a realisation washes over me that my life will never be the same again.

What on earth, you may well wonder has me so worked up that I can wax lyrical on a Sunday afternoon. The answer is easier than you would expect in short I finally sat down and started to investigate this phenomenon called “crypto-currencies”.

I first heard of this thing called Bitcoin around a year ago I thought to myself, bitwhat? My initial thoughts run along the lines of “That will be useful for nerds, geeks and those unable to stop playing the latest crazy multiplayer game in the internet”, and went about my life unaffected.

Evidently psychologists’ claim that a person needs on average “5 touches” before curiosity takes over and research begins. Well I must have hit that target because I found myself doing just that, researching.

That was about four months ago and it has led me down the rabbit hole to a world of subjects that I have never considered before. Money is everything in our modern world, have it and you can live like all those perfect people in the magazines and on TV, don’t and you can fade into obscurity until the grim reaper himself tracks you down. Yet given the all consuming totalitarian control money has on our lives it is staggering just how little we know about it. Even the fundamental question “what is money?” is extremely hard to answer once you actually start to think about it.

Yet within Bitcoin and the Blockchain it is based on is a tool, like the internet, or even computers themselves that if adopted by the masses will change the world, and I would like to think for the better. Imagine a money supply by the people for the people that is devoid of the control and manipulation by anyone, anywhere, no matter how important they are in the world.

I urge you all to start with Youtube and search for an introduction to Bitcoin. I warn you, it will probably melt your brain at the beginning unless you have grounding in finance, banking or economics. However like all new concepts and ideas it takes a little while to get to grips with it but as the fog of confusion lifts and the reality sets in then you will find yourself smiling and then you find yourself dreaming.

I intend to write a series of article for you all as I love you so much and like a born again evangelist I feel a compelling urge to spread the word about this potential future of mankind. I shall start as an introduction and cover a range of subjects to add context. Hopefully it builds up as a parts work into a comprehensive guide for you all.

Oh and if you’re wondering, yes I have joined the family and I have opened up an account, in fact here is the QR code for my account:

BitCoin QR Code

If you know about Bitcoin already, good for you, then you know all you have to do is scan the above code and enter an amount an click send. Then no matter where you are in the world, nor what time of the day or night it is, I will receive the sent sum within seconds for a few pence in transaction fees. How else could you do that?

Anyway I hope you have read this far, and more so your imagination is peeked, as mine is.

I will write more on this soon.

Have you heard of Bitcoin?

Would you be interested in this new form of global trading?

Do you use Bitcoin or another crypto-currency already? If so please share your stories with us.

#SmartBuy – Kitchen Roll and Dog Poop Bags

When it comes to shopping and saving money we all have our tricks. I would like to share with you two of mine… just to start with…

Actually this post was prompt by an overheard conversation that a dog owner is not going to clean up after his pooch because poop bags are too expensive… what a lot of rubbish!

Poop bags when bought in a smart way cost almost nothing!

So what is my secret? – get a superstore own brand nappy bags. They come in lot of 300 and cost around £0.30 – £0.35 for the lot – bargain isn’t? That’s much cheaper than buying bags which are advertised as a dog poop bags. Really what’s the difference? A bag is a bag! And with a nappy bag you can have a nice bonus as in most cases they are scented, you see… only benefits 😉

Nappy bags make perfect dog poop bags
Nappy bags make perfect dog poop bags

Second item on the shopping agenda is a kitchen roll.

Now sure if you use them in your household, but we sure do. We didn’t use to as Mark always wants to find ways to save the trees, so we were just using a proper fabric kitchen towels like a J cloth and a dishcloths but with the arrival of a Newfie in the house we kind of have no option… life without a stack of kitchen roll is just a nightmare when you own a gloopy dog.

So we got a Newfoundland and started buying kitchen rolls. It didn’t take long before we were wondering about getting some shares in some kitchen roll manufacturing company to help save some money… we needed it constantly and the rolls bought in your superstore don’t last for long… even the one advertised as extra long or as extra absorbent. So one day whilst at Costco Mark suggested that we get an industrial strength kitchen roll we got the one from Tork, you know those huge while rolls you see in every burger van or most likely in your place of work… I was not impressed with the idea as they are huge and bulky but I agreed to give it a try. OMG, this was one of the best decisions we have ever made regarding household items purchase. Yes, they are bulky and yes, they do not look so sexy but they last forever… and comparing their price to your standard superstore kitchen rolls they are ending up being less than a quarter of the price.

It may looks horrible but it works like no other
It may looks horrible but it works like no other

So here you have it, my 2 cents on how to shop smart and save some money during this crazy recession time.

Do you have any smart buy tips?

Smart Buy Badge

Rebuilding society through microloans

With the digital age well and truly in full steam ahead mode now new opportunities, never before even conceived of, come into being seemingly daily. There was a time when investing in to companies was the remit for the well heeled city gentleman or the playboy millionaire who had nothing better to spend the money on, occasionally an entrepreneur would rise above the rest and make a fortune this way. For the rest of population it was the stuff of dreams and the movies, until the digital age brought the capabilities into your homes.

Rebuilding society logo

Today there are websites like rebuildingsociety.com that allow anyone to invest small amounts of capital into a range of business opportunities, so now anyone can join in the business of buying and selling of companies.

After registration and setting up your account, you can peruse the extensive database of companies seeking funding. There is a wealth of information to enable you to make a very informed decision with your money. There is even a discussion board with each company so you can ask any questions that you may have before investing your life savings. There is an overview page telling you all about the company giving you valuable background about their aims and goals. There will be information on why the company has requested the loan and to what ends the money will be used, this is very useful if you are looking for a particular type of company to invest in or maybe you have strong views on what their plans are for the future and want to get involved.

First pit stop after you have had a brief look around the site would probably be in the invest menu where you can find the “How to invest” option. From this screen you can view the current investment requests. You will have access to their performance trends, their last two years company accounts as well as their Companies House report. Before a company can request a loan through the rebuildingsociety.com website they have to go through a credit check, if they do not have a strong financial position then they are not permitted to apply for a loan, helping ensure your position. The company is also required to offer some asset as security for the lenders. In the advent of a default by the applying company then rebuildingsociety.com will enforce the option on the security originally offered by the company.

At some point you will inevitably hit a knowledge wall, there is an abundance of information on the site from P/L accounts to risk management and bad debt and default ratios. And this is my point, if you do not have a back ground in financial undertakings or a reasonable understanding of business jargon you will quickly become confused. Thankfully at rebuildingsociety.com they have a whole section devoted to FAQ that you can read and improve your understanding. This section I must admit was gratefully received.

My earnings to date :-)
My earnings to date 🙂

I was given £50 to invest in the company of my choice. In the end after what easily filled an afternoon’s research I opted for M&P Cards Limited who are asking for a loan to help them set up a new flag ship outlet. Now not being the most financially technical person I must admit that I was swayed by the fact that Thorntons chocolates where involved kept my attention. Their accounts seemed to be adequate and there was no bad feedback of note so they seemed a safe investment. To date, I am £1.38 up on the deal. Now that is not earth shattering but as good as the banks at present or even better. Investing more would obviously improve earning potential.

With nearly 2800 registered users and in excess of £5million of funding pledged this site is set to grow and grow as more people get involved. It’s a wonderful idea and though the risks as in any financial dealings are present, because it’s all in micro payments you are never betting the house on your decision, unless you want to of course!

Lending Statistics
Lending Statistics

So check out their website and give it a whirl.

If your application to join is accepted you could very soon be investing in local businesses and with some luck and a good choice well on your way to fortunes as yet untold.