You Are Not Saving Money

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The Eat Out To Help Out scheme offered a 50% discount for anyone who visited a restaurant, bar or cafe over a 1 month period.

This was limited to up to a £10 discount per person and didn’t include things like alcohol, but proved incredibly popular as over 64 million meals were claimed under the month long scheme.

Now I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of whether this was a good thing or not. This will eventually have to be paid for (probably through tax hikes), and encouraging people to go into busy eateries just as a global pandemic was looking like it was coming under control, are just two of the arguments against it, but it undeniably got people spending in order to re-stimulate the food and drink industry that desperately needed financial help.

One thing that irked me, probably a little more than it should have, and kept cropping up on the news reels over that month was the message:

“I saved [X amount] through the Eat Out To Help Out scheme”

Fine. Most of us usually take a few trips a month to a restaurant or cafe either to try something different you wouldn’t make at home or just as a social event with friends or family.

I used the scheme once too, but was put off using it again by the sheer amount of people piling into my local shopping centre.

But these amounts were astronomical – even with the 50% discount!

When the scheme was nearing its end, an article popped up on the BBC about how much some people thought they’d saved because of the discount.

Daniel claimed he’d ‘saved’ £218 over the duration of the scheme, sometimes eating out 3 TIMES A DAY.

Let’s assume he received the maximum of £10 per person discount per meal. That’s still at least over 21 times Daniel ate out that month. And that’s assuming the maximum discount!

Ok, now we’ll assume he took his daughter with him every time. That’s still over 10 times. Again, this is assuming the maximum discount where at least £20 was spent (to receive the max. 50% off), so the chance he ate out more than that is pretty likely.

Eating out that much over a month period should not be classed as saving money in anyone’s book.

He’s still going out of his way to spend this money that he may not have spent otherwise.

I don’t want to shit on one person’s behaviour specifically, as he may be raking it in and eating out this much may be well within his budget. But this will almost certainly have been replicated up and down the country, by people who almost certainly don’t have the income to do so even with a 50% discount.

It’s frivolously irresponsible and you hope that this is just a one off given the circumstances.

Danielle was another individual that ‘saved’ £150 during the scheme. However she didn’t have the excuse of having a daughter tagging along too. This meant the minimum amount she travelled to her favourite eateries was 15 times! That’s at least every other day. AT LEAST…c’mon guys.

This isn’t just a result of a generous 50% off, month-long scheme the government is running that people feel like they’re ‘saving’, this happens whenever you’re online shopping or browsing your favourite high-street shops too.

“Save up to 80% in our clearance sale!”

You’re not saving money. People need to realise that this is not what is happening. You’re just reducing your expenses.

You’re only saving money if you’re tucking that amount away into a designated savings space.

Whether that’s as part of an emergency fund, a pension, a small pot to go towards holiday spending money or a car repairs emergency pot, it doesn’t matter. That money is saved BECAUSE it’s being redirected to a specific space for a purpose.

That’s where features such as Starling and Monzo’s rounding up spend and save pots are coming into their own for people who struggle with the psychological aspect of compartmentalising their finances. That small reduction in expenses is actually being redirected into little pots where that money will (hopefully) sit there until its intended savings goal is reached.

THAT is what saving money truly means.

Try not to fall into these psychological marketing traps around how much you’re saving when you’re shopping around.

If you’re not prepared to buy that thing at full price, it’s not a good deal; you didn’t really want it that bad.

If you were lucky enough to keep your job, you’ve just been through one of the greatest savings opportunities that has probably ever existed.

When in history have you been literally forced to NOT spend money? You literally couldn’t go out and spunk your pay cheque at the pub the first weekend you received it.

Those that had an income stream, this opened up a world of possibilities. Financial consciousness was made evermore necessary when some people didn’t know if they were coming back off furlough to a job at all.

It reinforced the importance of spare cash set aside and whether the car you barely drive is worth the monthly payments.

It allowed people to value time together over the need to spend money in restaurants just so they could have a conversation around the dinner table.

I don’t want to be insensitive for those that have struggled beyond their finances, so I can only comment on the financial aspect of what has (and still is) gone on.

I’ve had a few friends tell me how shocked they are at the amount they’ve saved, and even a few asking what to do with the spare amount they have left over even after they’ve put aside their regular savings amounts. This is amazing news to hear and an optimistic sign that at least some people will come out of this with a new lens at how they manage their finances.

So I implore anyone with the means to do so, to continue that momentum, ignore the noise and start putting your actual savings to good use.

5 thoughts on “You Are Not Saving Money

    1. Definitely and I think it managed that by and large, but the examples given in the article I referred to just blew my mind. I wonder if they’ll roll it out again but more localised for those areas that are currently under more strict lockdown measures at the moment.

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  1. Me and sis took advantage of the scheme just the once at a local restaurant as we both missed out on eating out on our respective birthdays.

    You’re right, it was the usual marketing ploy which cons people into thinking they are saving, when they are in fact spending.

    That said, this month I was ‘conned’ myself into making a couple of purchases during Amazon Prime Day. I’m glad I don’t usually slip up like that!

    I read an argument somewhere against the new banks’ rounding up feature that it actually encourages people to spend because the rounding up made them feel good about their spending and that they were saving into pots. The argument was that the rounding up should be a much bigger percentage to do any real good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s absolutely fine to grab a good deal on one of these big promotional days as long as it isn’t a regular occurrence, we all have to treat ourselves of course and doing it less frequently makes it a little more special.

      I totally understand that actually about the argument against the rounding up feature. I’ve never really used it myself but I’m giving it a go at the moment to save for a Switch and it does kind of make me want to spend a little more than I otherwise would. But this account is only ever my ‘spending’ account for coffee, beer etc. so that’s all that money would be used for anyway. But I can totally see how gameifying savings in this way could mean people feel a need to spend for the sake of it. Interesting one…

      Liked by 1 person

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