Consumer Goods

Trying to live cheaply

by Admin

I was interested to read an article on the BBC news website today about the new benefits cap, which was trying to estimate how much money someone needs to be able to live (albeit cheaply). As well as some examples of how people can save a bit of money with cheaper options, it was interesting to me to see things that I wouldn’t necessarily have considered when trying to work out my weekly spend.

For example, they say that the average family spends £9.50 a week on furniture. Now, obviously, most people don’t buy a new piece of furniture each week, and I can’t remember the last time I did – but it is expensive and you will need to budget for some such purchases over the year. You might think that if you were living on a budget you just wouldn’t buy furniture, but it does wear out and does need to be replaced, even if it is replaced with a cheaper, second-hand equivalent.

Also clothing – not something I spend money on regularly, but if you have a job interview you will need a suit – and you’ll have to save for many weeks at a couple of pounds a week to afford it. Things like socks will wear out, shirts will get damaged – if every penny counts, it will be difficult to get replacements, even if you shop in budget shops.

Anyway, check out the link above to read the article in more detail. You might spot somewhere that you could economise!

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Friday, April 26th, 2013 Consumer Goods, Economy, Jobs No Comments

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Petrol price review by OFT

by Admin

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has this week issued a call for information on the prices that consumers are paying at the pumps for petrol and diesel. They intend to investigate a number of things, notably whether there is sufficient competition between suppliers to lower prices, and whether or not a fall in the price of crude oil is reflected by lower prices for consumers at the pumps.

This last question is a bit of a hot topic for many petrol users as they feel that although oil prices are not at their peak, petrol is more expensive than ever. This great chart from Whatgas compares the price of petrol in green with the underlying cost of crude oil in blue:

Price of unleaded petrol and crude oil

As you can see, although the price of petrol does follow the cost of oil, it seems that there is a much larger gap between the oil cost and the price at the pumps since the oil price dropped in the middle of 2009. As the people at Whatgas say, some of this is due to currency fluctuations (oil is traded in US dollars, not pounds Sterling) and increases in fuel duty. The OFT will be investigating whether the whole discrepancy can be accounted for through “legitimate” reasons, or if they believe petrol companies are behaving unfairly and fixing the price higher than clean competition would suggest. The OFT expect to publish their findings in January 2013.

As a final thought, the BBC’s article about this investigation includes this interesting chart showing how the total price for each litre breaks down:

Petrol and diesel price breakdown

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Friday, September 7th, 2012 Consumer Goods No Comments

Negotiate a price when buying online

by Admin

The recently-launched website Aroxo is helping consumers to save money and negotiate a good deal in the midst of the credit crunch. Capitalising on the fact that when money is tight, sellers are often willing to bargain with buyers to secure a sale, the founders of Aroxo launched a site to allow you to negotiate a price even when buying online.

The system works quite simply – sellers have registered a list of products they stock and their “normal” prices. Buyers then browse the site and find a product that they wish to buy. Instead of comparing prices, or competing in an auction, the buyer then enters the amount of money they would like to pay for the item. All the sellers of the item are notified of this intent to buy, and make offers to the buyer – the buyer then reviews the offers and can choose to accept any of them, or to negotiate further if they wish. The buyer doesn’t commit to a purchase with their first offer, so there is nothing to lose.

Because it takes time for the offers to be made by the sellers, this approach lacks the “instant purchase” appeal of normal shopping online – but if waiting a day or so can save you a lot of money then surely it’s worth it – and the chances of buyer’s remorse are lessened also. Aroxo is currently focused on consumer electronics but they have plans to expand into other markets, and if you planned to make such a purchase it could save you a significant amount in these tight times. However, don’t buy things you wouldn’t normally have bought just because you got a good deal – that’s not the way to save money!

More details are on the Aroxo website.

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Thursday, August 6th, 2009 Consumer Goods, Economy No Comments

The cost of Japanese goods

by Admin

While we often look at foreign currency exchange rates with our minds on our holidays and how much the food will cost us abroad (see my previous post), they affect us in other ways when we are still at home.

A strong pound can affect British businesses, impacting their export sales as their products cost more abroad and therefore fewer people buy them. The opposite, of course, is true – a strong pound makes importing foreign goods cheaper, and a weak pound makes it more expensive. With so many consumer electronics made abroad, this affects us at home.

I’ve been watching the price of camera equipment, much of which is made in Japan. A year ago, there were more than 200 Yen to the pound, which meant that buyers over here could get a good deal on lenses and the like. However, compare this graph of the cost of a Canon lens with this graph of the pound vs. the Yen. As the pound dropped as low as 122 Yen, vendors in the UK have had to increase their prices almost £100 (on that lens – more expensive products have gone up more).

As the pound gathers strength, it is climbing back up against the Yen and the cost of consumer electronics will come back down. With the country still in a recession, retailers will be competing for sales and should therefore lower their prices as soon as the rates get more favourable – passing the savings on to us! I hope so, at least – I really want that lens.

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Saturday, June 20th, 2009 Consumer Goods, Foreign Currency No Comments

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