That moment when you leave the comfort of your parents’ house and are about to start on your own. You have huuuuge plans of eating only the things that you love, like having pancakes and sandwiches all day, every day. Then all of a sudden you realize you have to save your money for the other pleasures of life (like going out, partying etc.) and you end up eating store-brand spaghetti with ketchup for £1/bottle on every meal so that you can spend the least amount of money for maintaining being alive and the rest is left for the good stuff. You know that as soon as you go home to visit your parents your mum would have prepared your favourite 3-course meal with a desert “to-die-for” and that’s why these are the days you look forward to.
Does that sound familiar? To be fair, I went through UNI (Bachelor’s degree) living at home with my parents and did not have any such troubles. However, for my Master’s degree I moved to the UK with a limited amount of money to spend each month. And to make it worse, whenever someone was coming to visit me (my sister, my then-boyfriend-now-husband) I had to limit my expenses even more in order to be able to spend whatever I’ve saved on showing them around and going places. My meal of choice was exactly as described above – store-brand spaghetti 3 times a day (5p/item) and store-brand ketchup (£1 per bottle, which would last me for about 2 weeks). Oh, and once I managed to cook some cabbage which I ate for 3 consecutive days, which was a nice change in the menu.
And all this suddenly starts to change once you get a job and start earning your own money. And I am not talking about the part-time job you had whilst at UNI, but a real, full-time, bills-paying job. That’s when you decide to try the bread for £1 instead of the one you used to buy at 9:50pm for the discounted price of 10p. At some point you even stop looking at what’s on offer and buy whatever you feel like. The store-brand items are no longer the ones you reach for first, and you even allow yourself to try something exotic like dried tomatoes or sea food.
By now you must be wondering what I am rambling on about and where this is going. Well, if you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’d know that we recently moved back to the UK. Because I’ve lived here before, but as a poor student, I have my favourite low-priced shops, which I’ve missed immensely and was eager to visit again as soon as I had a chance (Primark, New Look, Sports Direct, etc.). I also couldn’t wait to try some familiar tastes like the ASDA’s cooked meat, TESCO’s beagles and so forth. As you can imagine, being a grown-up with a stable job (at least until I went on a maternity leave) I am probably expected to move on to some more high-end brands and I’ve seen this happen with many people. The most visible example I can think of is any beauty blogger/vlogger I’ve followed, who all started as students doing Primark hauls, and are now shopping mostly on ASOS and TopShop (no offense to the latter). And I am not judging – I definitely can see why they have chosen these brands. I am just wondering whether if they (or you, if you recognize yourself in this post) had the same experience as I did and were taken back to some previous times, when money were something to have to think more about – would they have still chosen the more expensive ones, or would they be overwhelmed by the cheapness (if that’s even a word) and yet good looks of the items in the more low-end shops. Or maybe my question is – do we always need the best possible quality/image or isn’t a lower one enough.
I’ve seen some TV shows of blind tastings of store-brand goods versus branded, and even specialty ones, where quite often the store-brand items would be as good as the other ones or at least good enough. Maybe if we could do a “blind test” for most things in our life, we might realize there are things which do not bring any extra value to us, but we’ve paid the extra price for them. Maybe we don’t need them, maybe we don’t buy them next time we shop for such things. Like for example buying a TV unit – can you honestly tell the difference between a 50” and a 55” one? I couldn’t. They’re so big that either would not be able to fit in my viewing space. Especially, looking at them from a short distance.
Well, these are some random thoughts that have been crossing my mind. Have you thought about it and how have your spending habits changed as a result, if at all? I would really like to know, so please comment below if you’ve had a similar experience. If not – why not give it a go – go to your favourite discount store and browse around – you might find it’s not as bad as you thought.