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The real cost of the goods we buy. #thrifty

It can be easy to spend money without much thought, especially if you’re using a debit or credit card, but spending money has an impact on our future and on the environment. It is a good idea to stop and think about the real cost of the goods we buy and look for value for money. Not just for ourselves, but for future generations that will have to live with climate change caused by our excessive consumption.

the real cost of the goods we buy


I bought a used car in 2004 and at the beginning of November, it will once again have a service and MOT. It was in good condition and had 30,000 miles on the clock when I bought it, despite being 7 years old. It is 19 years old now and so coming to the end of its useful life. It has cost me less than £250 a year in depreciation and when I add the cost of MOTs, servicing and repairs that figure rises to around £400 year. That’s about £8 a week, but I can add the cost of road tax, insurance and breakdown cover to that, then the figure rises to £900 a year.  I use about £500 worth of petrol a year. So my car costs me less than £120 a month. How does that compare to your car? A newer car might give the appearance of a higher status in life but it wouldn’t get me from A to B any quicker.


Good quality clothing can last for years and never go out of style. If we go for this season’s latest styles then the true cost might work out very expensive for such a short period. Then our latest fashion statement ends up in a charity shop or worse, in the recycling. I understand some people even buy clothes such as the Christmas jumper to wear for just one day. We might be able to save on clothing for special events and buy timeless fashions, there are some fashions that seem to go on forever.


When we consider the real cost of goods, we also have to consider the cost of maintenance. My car has cost relatively little to maintain. I have had to replace the battery a couple of times and an engine sensor needed changing. When we buy domestic appliances we need to make a judgment and try to find a product that will last. It is so expensive to have domestic appliances repaired it is often a matter of using them until they no longer work and then replacing them. I do save by doing some of my own maintenance on such products, though.  So we have to consider durability too when we buy products.


Branding can make a product look really cool and desirable. But will you still want it in six months time when the novelty has worn off?  Branding relies on changing our perceptions about the product and advertising is used to do this. The cost of the advertising is added to the real cost of goods with a famous name. When branding is used to sell a bottle of fizzy water with added flavouring it suddenly becomes an iconic cola. Branding applies to almost all goods produced and sold by multinational companies and it can disguise the real cost of the goods we buy. Everything from designer clothing to posh scent gets the marketing and the advertising to convince us that the product will give us added status or even sex appeal, because we’re worth it, but is it worth it?


Comparing the cost of a meal in a restaurant to the cost of cooking it yourself can give you a realisation of the real cost of the goods we buy. If we can’t cook a similar meal then we can’t make that comparison and we do have to take account of the skill of the chef and the value of the experience. Watching a live show might be more expensive than watching on television but we do get an experience that has value.

The real cost of the goods we buy

It is always worth stripping away all the hype associated with the marketing of goods to reveal the real cost of the goods we buy as we make decisions about what we spend our money on. We can then get value for money and save in the long-term.

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