Saturday, 24 September 2011


Rumour has it that the supermarkets are poised for a new price war initiative from Monday. Apparently Tesco is going to cut its 3 for 2 type offers in favour of consistently lower prices - mmmm, well, we'll see.
If they are trying to win back some customers from the likes of Lidl and Aldi, they're going to have to work harder on their confusion marketing pricing policies. We need transparent pricing for clear comparisons. We want to be able to see clearly that we are saving money - and do not need a calculator or a computer to work out just which product or supermarket is cheaper.
Tesco's PriceCheck promise is also failing me at the moment. I am consistently getting "Tesco was cheaper" - but half my virtual checkout receipt shows N/A beside the items I have bought. Conveniently, it seems, those items are not available in Asda! I have checked on My Supermarket and, with a few exceptions, that seems to be true.
So will be lured away from the cheaper stores? I'm going to bide my time and watch carefully what the prices of things that I buy every week do.
I'm also going to check that product sizes don't shrink along with prices too!
Happy frugal shopping!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


If you have children planning to go to university next year or after, all the media coverage about how much it will cost and what universities will actually charge, may have you worried and confused. The good news is, you don't have to pay any money up front and repayments, which start after the student graduates will be in worked out on how much they earn and only start when they earn above £21k.
The bad news is that, despite what the government says, most universities will indeed be charging the top rate of £9k per year for courses and this is likely to leave students with a debt of around £50k after graduating. This may make potential students nervous, given the economic climate and possible job prospects after graduation, but I do believe that it will concentrate their thoughts on exactly why they want to study at uni and what career they will follow.
It could be said that the charges will make a uni education elitist and that may be true, but in my opinion it will also mean that many unfocussed teenagers who just see university as the next step after college, but who have no career aim in mind, may be discouraged from studying for a degree. We can't yet forecast what effects this will have on our young people and their job prospects, or indeed the wider economic prospects of the country.
However, there are other ways forward. Careers can be forged from apprenticeships, or hobbies that turn into self-employment. Some potential uni students are turning to the Open University as a way of studying for a degree whilst working (even if their job is not well paid) as they will then graduate without any debt at all. Open University degrees are not free, but for people on a low wage the OU does give financial help. Of course, this means independent study, living at home and foregoing the partying lifestyle of a student away from home!
More very clear and useful information on student loans for next year is available from Martin Lewis on the Moneysaving Expert website.