Is there a friction between MoneySaving and Shopping?

I’ve just been talking to some TV colleagues about my holiday; they were surprised that I’d “stayed in a decent hotel” – after all “you’re the Money Saving Expert… I thought you’d have been in a tent?” Personally I don’t see the conflict: I’ve always maintained MoneySaving is about maximising the way you live. It’s for this reason I have different spending mantras for those who are skint and those who aren’t (the latter being “will I use it, is it worth it, can I find it cheaper anywhere else?”).

By being efficient and canny with your money, MoneySaving should enable you to have a better not worse lifestyle. So it makes sense I stayed in a decent hotel, I’m not in debt and can afford it, and I ensured I got it as cheaply as possible (a great deal in fact, but that’s another story). There is no conflict here. MoneySaving isn’t about being tight; it’s about putting controls in place to ensure a) you spend within your means and b) you get more but pay less.

This publicly perceived conflict, while incorrect, is something I often ponder. Occasionally when putting the weekly e-mail together there will be things that are juxtaposed. For example the debt help: what to do if you’ve problem debts article next to a ’32” LCD TV for £320′ note. On the surface this looks incongruous, yet this site has 3 million users; a very broad church. Nearly half are debt free (according to past polls). Thus these things cater for different audiences – of course a £320 LCD TV is a saving if you were going to buy one anyway and pay double – yet it isn’t a saving if you can’t afford it and don’t need it.

When I do these high value bargains, I always include a reminder of the Money Mantras to make people question whether they can afford to spend the cash. It’s a difficult balance, but ultimately it has to be about showing people about responsible spending. I’ve never been a ‘frugal’ expert.

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