Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Emergency Budget in a Nutshell

Simonne's comment on this week's emergency budget:

Although it was a harsh Budget, overall some of the measures weren't as bad
as many were predicting. There's also a significant emphasis on cut back in
the public sector being propped up by concessions made to the private
sector, especially entrepreneurial businesses.

Click here to download our summary of the highlights....

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Save hundreds of pounds a year by switching brands?

Martin Isark has an enviable job. 
He’s a professional food and drink taster. He also runs a website called where you can compare the cost of 2,000 of own-brand products from the main supermarkets with their branded rivals.

The Times featured Martin’s website today and it also appeared in an online article from the Mail recently from which I quote:

“Aldi's chocolate digestives, for instance, which cost 49p a pack, score ten out of ten and are as good as McVities, which cost about £1.30. 
Likewise, Marks and Spencer's Organic 24 Whole Grain Wheat Bisks cost £1.69 and are as good as Organic Weetabix, which costs around £2.27.
And not just with food  -  washing powders, dishwasher tablets and toiletries are worth trying, too. You could save literally hundreds of pounds a year with some simple changes.”

If you’ve the time you could try a blind tasting. Martin swears that most people can’t tell any difference in taste and quality between the top brand of sugar, chocolate biscuits and cornflakes and their supermarket counterparts. He even says that Lidl’s chocolate is better than Green and Blacks. And half the price.

Are we being conned?

I bought some beautifully wrapped 'artisan' Taleggio cheese from Waitrose last week and paid nearly a fiver for a piece barely fit for the mouse trap. 
Blindfolded I swear it tasted uncannily like a Dairy Lea cheese triangle (price 92p for 8). 

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Is this why many people who plan to save fail?

We’re always told to make our goals concrete but, according to new research, the best savers make abstract plans. The researchers say it’s better to focus on the ‘why’ question of saving, rather than the ‘how’, because people who focus on concrete aspects of their goals fail to spot other opportunities to save money.

"Imagine a person who has a goal to save money. The person forms a plan to purchase fewer clothing items at the mall," say the authors of the study in the Journal of Consumer Research. "Would the person also be more likely to order a cheaper meal at a restaurant, avoid making an impulse purchase, or combine errands to save money on gas?"

The authors conducted four experiments. In one, people were asked to list a specific plan to save, whereas others were not asked to plan. Then some people were asked to focus on why they wanted to save money. Subsequently, all participants were given the opportunity to buy candy. The goal-setters weren’t so good at resisting the urge to splurge on candy.

"Planning is more effective when people think abstractly, keep an open mind, and remind themselves of why they want to achieve a goal," the authors write. "This strategy is especially effective when the plan turns out to be unfeasible (cheaper restaurant is too far away, gym is closed today for a holiday) or when other goal-directed activities become available (walk instead of taking a cab, eat a healthier meal)."

University of Chicago Press Journals (2010, May 19). Asking 'why' instead of 'how' helps consumers achieve goals of saving money or losing weight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 10, 2010, from

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Don't ditch the lipstick girls

I've just carried out some research with my friend the lovely Janey Lee Grace (pictured) which suggests we might be entering an age of natural beauty. 

Women say natural ingredients matter more to them than the brand, when choosing what to put on their skin. 

That's good news. 

Our survey of 1,000 women also found that more than two thirds of women prefer products that are not tested on animals and are free from artificial chemicals.

 But when it comes to going completely natural, more than a third of women would refuse to give up their lipstick. 

Not that that's a problem, as Janey says "There's a 100 per cent natural alternative to everything from nail polish to self tan, so in fact it’s now easy for women to save their skin, their cash and the planet while still looking gorgeous.”

Janey's got a great offer on to coincide with her new book  'Look Great Naturally - without ditching the lipstick' (published today by Hay House). If you're one of the first 100 to order it on Amazon you'll stand to win a bunch of natural goodie prizes. Send your Amazon receipt to before June 8th (don't forget to include your postal address to receive your goodies) and get free downloads of Janeys new podcast series 'Summer Health' plus an exclusive download track from Janeys brand new album.