Right now, everyone’s skint and trying to save cash they don’t have. Even here in the Cartoon Palace we’ve invoked some austerity measures, including:
Calling up Virgin Media and demanding that our televisual package is immediately curtailed.
Saving: over £40 a month! Clearly Husband had me fooled for far too long.
Scrapping the piece-of-shit Ford Focus (which you can read about here).
Saving: a vast amount of cash of which the car itself was worth about a tenth, and an unquantifiable amount of mental anguish regularly spent wondering if that incessant car alarm going off in the middle of the night was ours (despite suspecting ours didn’t work).
Replacing “designer” tortilla chips (Old El Paso and similar ilk) with Sainsbury’s Basics.
Saving: the latter is actually a better, crispier chip, and only 50p a sack!
These success stories therefore make me an expert in the field of False Economy i..e., choosing an inferior product in a bid to save some cash. And because my sense of social responsibility runs deep, I thought I’d help out the buck-saving, well-intentioned consumer by compiling a non-exhaustive warning list of products which are exactly that.
Target 1: the budget tea-bag
Basic packaging can sometimes yield surprising results. Those tortilla chips, for example. But how many of us sit and chomp into a bag of tortillas every day? How many people rely on fried corn triangles to break their fast? Not many, and certainly no one I’d aspire to be.
Tea bags, however, are a staple of every British kitchen, and a cup of tea is all things to all men: an essential fuel-giver, a conversation starter, a mental-and-physical body warmer. Tea is brilliant and should be celebrated with every cup. It should not be dust from the supermarket-own-brand tea factory floor divided up into fraction-of-a-gram amounts, sewn into bags likely to contain asbestos and marketed as a drinkable hot beverage. Never buy budget tea. It will only bring sadness into your life.
Saving: friends (because what kind of friend would offer a cup of watery sawdust?), your dignity, and your love of tea.
Target 2: budget washing-up liquid
This stuff is a flagrant abasement of the description Washing Up Liquid, and a contravention of the Trades Description Act. My one ill-fated purchase of some own-brand 28p washing-up liquid occurred circa 1998. Traditional amounts diluted with water did nothing. Spraying half a bottle of methadone-green liquid “neat” over my dishes then leaving them for an hour yielded limited results. I’d have had better luck taking advantage of the dog and his over-exuberant love of left-overs. A sham even at 28p.
Saving: time doing dishes, energy doing same.
Target 3: cheap shoes
My mother lamented that, as a child, I was “hard” on shoes. I still don’t know what I did to them, but for every one pair of Clarks my brother had, I had two. This has followed me into adulthood and every new shoe I own quickly resembles something the crows – or worse, the Aberdeen seagulls – have been at. This means I can’t buy cheap shoes as I’d be buying a pair a week.
Thank God, because there’s nothing economical about footwear undoubtedly made where the UN don’t reach, by 6-fingered kids with squint eyes and no parents. Cheap shoes look cheap, cheapen your clothe-buying ethics, and, if you’re inflicted in such a way as I am, immediately disintegrate upon looking at them.
Saving: the lives of some little kids who will never know the kindness you did by not buying crappy footwear, your arches which will not fall as a result of wearing crappy footwear, and your fashion prowess as you will not be consigned to Dr Scholl’s “medical” shoes to save said fallen arches.
Target 4: suspicious-looking cheap pet food
I can’t imagine I have to convince too many people of the pitfalls of this “saving” thanks to the horrorshow that is The Horse Meat Scandal. (How did things get this bad? The world is a dark place.) If horses are now found in school dinners, who knows what’s inside a can of budget pet-food.
Happily, my animals have always been more cultured of palate and knowing they would shun anything that wasn’t the best by staging a dirty protest and clawing off my face means I’ve always steered well clear.
Saving: vet bills, inevitable after your pet contracts some rare variant of leprosy / small-pox / West Nile Disease only transmitted through ingesting their own kind.
Target 5: farmed eggs
I may be bordering on preachy here, but I’ll take the risk.*deep breath*
I have been fortunate enough to never in my life have bought a battery-farmed egg. Nor have my parents (according to my mother, this is why I wasn’t sick as a child). I have also been quasi-parent to some chickens for a time and each morning collected eggs straight from the coop. Cracking those gems open was like cracking open the sun, and the taste was as an egg should be (Rampant Punnery Alert): Egg-cellent!
What kind of society are we that we think we need to cram happy hens into cages and turn them into broken-legged, cannibalistic, egg-producing factories that are worse off than dead, with no sunlight or trees or corn? We do not need to do this, and surely no one would want to perpetuate this eco-crime.
Oh no! Have I turned into one of those crazies who like to shout about ethics in the city centre of a Saturday? I’ll move on.
Saving: Your sense of well-being that in shunning the battery-produced egg you are helping the UK become a better place. And in a country that puts horse meat into everything – including, I suspect, budget tea bags – we need all the help we can get.