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17 September 2014
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Should I Worry About... Spending?

As a nation, we're £1 trillion in debt - that's £17,000 of debt for every man, woman and child.

Where's it all going? It seems that we could literally be pouring money down the drain: a recent survey found that the average person wastes £1,725 in unused products each year.

Here are some tips to help you spend less without compromising your lifestyle:

In the supermarket

  • Make a list.

  • Avoid end-of-aisle supermarket danger zones - promotions may not be the bargains you think they are.

  • Look around and compare prices within a product range - premium goods are often at eye level.

  • Mix and match your brands. Think about where it counts for you and don't necessarily go for the leading brand.

  • Think about what you actually need - promotions are used to sell products supermarkets want to make you buy.

Shopping centres

Shopping centres are pleasure palaces designed to stop us thinking and keep us spending.

  • Know what you can afford, always look at the price tag and shop around - it might be cheaper elsewhere.

  • Try using cash instead of plastic. This will help give you a handle on exactly how much you're spending.

  • Stay focused on what you actually want to buy. Avoid impulse buys and extra purchases.

  • If you really can't afford it, steer clear of the shops.

Credit cards

  • Don't choose a financial product based on gimmicks - it's the finance that counts, not the freebies or the image.

  • Read the small print. If necessary, ask questions and don't buy a product until you're satisfied you understand it.

  • Compare your card with other products on the market. Choose the card that best suits you and the way you use it.

Retail therapy

  • Think about what you'll gain from not spending - i.e. less worry and a healthier bank balance!

  • If you like to treat yourself on payday, why not do this at the end of the month instead of the beginning. That way you'll have a better idea of how much you've really got to spend.

  • There are certain occasions that come around every year so we can all budget for them - holidays, Christmas, birthdays. Put aside a little each month and you'll avoid paying for it all at once.

  • If you never seem to have enough money to take advantage of seasonal sales, why not put money aside for it? As long as you spend the money on things you need, you could save yourself hundreds in the long run.

Cardinal rules

  • Shop around. Can you get it cheaper elsewhere?

  • Think before you buy:

    • Is it worth it?
    • Do you need it?
    • Will you use it?

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 TV Programmes - BBC One

Should I Worry About...

Programmes in the second series shown July 2005:







Find out more about the first series

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 Elsewhere on

Compulsive shopping has advice for people who can't control their spending habits.

Borrowing and debt with the latest on the UK's growing credit card debt.

Keeping to a budget has tips to keep your spending under control.

Cashometer has a simple debt calculator.

 Elsewhere on the web

Citizens Advice Bureau
Answers to frequently asked questions about debt and credit in the UK.

Consumer Credit
A registered charity helping people in financial difficulty.

National Debtline
Offers free, confidential and independent advice about financial problems.

Martin Lewis
Independent, free-to-use advice on saving money.

Consumer Direct
This government website has advice for people applying for credit cards.

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