Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Why is everyone getting so competitive about living cheaply?''

In The Red

Honestly, what's worse: competitive spending or competitive saving? Two weeks ago, I would have said the former – but increasingly I'm coming round the view that saving is the real chestnut, if only because, suddenly, everyone seems to be doing it. You can't move for some smug so-and-so gloating over the (low) cost of their lunch or how much (hardly anything) they've spent on their winter wardrobe.

In fact, in some ways, the credit crunch has brought out the very worst in human nature. OK, so the past decade may have propelled a load of pinstriped bankers into silly-money territory, but at least it didn't force us all to be miserly, jealous and boastful when it comes to our daily food bill. Sometimes, you just don't want to know which are the best deals – especially when somebody else has got them.

The whole thing has been thrown into horrible relief since my boyfriend purchased a new phone. It's not that he got it at a spectacularly low price – he didn't pay very much, but it was hardly the deal of the century. No; what's brought on this sudden bout of resentment is the fact that his phone comes accompanied – free of charge – by a tailor-made bargain-hunting device that lets you scan bar-codes. Then, it will identify the item and determine where, if anywhere, in the vicinity it can be found for less.

So we have, say, a head of broccoli. And we're in Tesco, about to purchase said head – along with 20 other household items. But no! Wait! The broccoli is 20p cheaper down the road.

And so it begins, the day-long quest to find the cheapest broccoli. We walk down the road, only to find that the phone's point of reference has changed and, in fact, the best bargain is to be found another 20 metres away, and then another 20 metres, until we're in an entirely different neighbourhood and we still haven't found our dinner.

And all I want to say is: "STOP IT! WHO CARES ABOUT CHEAP BROCCOLI? THIS IS MADNESS, YOU HEAR?"

But I can't.

I can't because it's the credit crunch – and everybody knows that in Hard Times Like These, we're out for every bargain we can get. To break ranks is sacrilege. And – oh my – if someone else has managed to find the same item as you at a marginally lower cost – well, then you're expected to spend the rest of the day telling them how wonderfully they are dealing with the current economic downturn, all the while secretly castigating yourself for your own financial incompetence.

It's enough to drive anyone to bankruptcy.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Guru Careers: Management Accountant

    £27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

    Guru Careers: Project Manager / Business Analyst

    £40-50k + Benefits.: Guru Careers: A Project Manager / Business Analyst is nee...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power