Penny-Pinching 101 – Have Your Cake and EAT It! [why our spending habits have to CHANGE]

I’m just going to start out by stating very clearly: this post is going to be all about the facts of female consumer spending today and the bottom-line of it is that in order to live that luxurious, indulgent life we all want (otherwise known as the YOLO life), we need to start spending less, not more! Or maybe I should say, we should start spending SMART. That’s right, to get the most out of that dazzlingly varied beauty and fashion market out there, the key is not to buy more but to be a discriminate buyer.One of the reasons I started this blog was so I could write articles about budgeting (how to be a budget fashionista, a savvy shopper, a penny-pincher, whathaveyounot) and I thought before I buckle down to starting that series of posts I’ll first start with an introductory post that explains more about why this is important. Okay, now I’m going to talk about CAKE.



Who doesn’t love cake?! Not that baby, that’s for sure. He probably loves cake as much as the average woman loves makeup, in fact, he’s even treating his cake exactly like the average woman treats her makeup ie. smearing it all over his face.

Speaking of the average woman and makeup, do you know exactly how much the average British woman loves her makeup? Well, enough to spend over £133,575 on it over a lifetime! Yes, you saw that figure right. I even put it in red so you can see it better. And in case you missed it, here it is again – £133,575 this time in bold AND red. Yayy, look at me using exactly the same sort of tactics marketing companies use to get you to buy their products, except I’m doing the exact opposite.

Ready for more numbers-related facts? Well…

  1. In total, the British public now spend more than £14 billion on toiletry products each year.
      • Toiletries are just soaps, shampoos, conditioner etc, this doesn’t count all your makeup, skincare and styling products!
  2. That wash-bag you bring with you on holiday?
      • Most people estimate theirs to be worth around £50, it’s actually closer to £156.69.
  3. What about cosmetics bags? Well, turns out women’s cosmetic bags are worth £256 in total.
      • Apparently the average women lugs around 16 products in her handbag.
  4. The average woman’s cosmetic collection is worth an impressive £512.
      • And the average bathroom cabinet has £1,964.30 worth of skincare and makeup stockpiled inside it.
  5. As for fashion?
      • If you’re an average woman, you spend £1000 a year on clothes and nearly £84k in a lifetime.

So, what does this mean? Well, to state the blindingly obvious, it means beauty has a price. We can’t have our money and feed our beauty-products obsession too. Or, to quote a well-known phrase: You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

But... then what's the cake FOR???

But… then what’s the cake FOR???

Exactly my chocolate-smeared baby friend, what’s the cake for then?? Why would you do that to a baby, put a cake in front of him and say ‘no, it’s just for you to have not to eat‘. This saying never made any sense to me. ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too.’ Ok, then I don’t want the cake, can I order something else that I can actually eat? No seriously, it’s like saying I can’t own my makeup and put it on my face too, then what’s the point??

But let’s get back to the topic at hand. I don’t actually care that women spend so much on cosmetics/makeup/fashion whatever, everyone is free to make their own choices in life and if these products make them happy so be it. That’s how I choose what to buy, not based on what’s cheapest but what would make me happy at the lowest cost price. So we can’t have our cake and eat it too, oh well.


Or is it ‘Or can’t we?’, hmm. The answer to this question lies asking yourselves whether those products women all spend on actually DO buy them happiness.

Let’s re-visit some of those facts we looked at above, shall we.

  1. Okay, so the average cosmetics bag is worth around £250, fine. But what’s the priciest thing?
    • The makeup bag! Over a third of women have makeup bags that cost over £75. I don’t get it, your makeup is going to spill all over it anyway. But okay, if that’s what makes you happy, it’s legit.
  2.  Carrying on, the average woman carries around £250 of makeup in her handbag…
    • And somehow manages to lose it all. Figures show it costs the average Briton £248 in lost products a year and £15,872 in a lifetime.
    • To be fair, not all the makeup lost is on commute etc. Sometimes things just go missing in the house too or when you’re on holiday. Let’s be careful girls! Our products might cost us more than our mobile phones!!!
  3.  If you want to have £1,964.30 worth of products in the bathroom, ok. But what actually gets used?
    • Research says just over a sixth of products get used, which means about £1,636 has been wasted =(
  4. And fashion? Let’s be honest, how much of your wardrobe do you usually wear?
    • The straight answer: a third. That’s right, £1000 spent on clothes a year on average and about £600 of that unworn.
  5. Finally, did all that buy us happiness?
    • No, half of the women polled admitted to feeling guilty after their purchases.

I don’t know about you but I love shopping. So much so that I never want to have to feel such a heavy emotion as guilt because of it.

First, let’s put those figures into perspective. Those figures came from studies that polled women from a variety of ages, those in their 30’s or 40’s probably bought more expensive products so for readers who are much younger (say teens/20’s) I’m willing to bet our spend is nowhere near the averages stated above! So what can we take away from this? Well, everything! It doesn’t matter if our total spend is less anyway, the fact is that we are still victims of something (*ahem*marketing*ahem*) that somehow convinces us to buy products that we won’t actually use or don’t actually want to wear. All of us can still cut our budgets down by at least two-thirds. Maybe even more.

And what will happen once we’ve done that? We’ve got more money leftover. Which we can then use to go out and buy some products that we actually will use/wear or perhaps just spend on something else entirely. That really expensive thing that you covet that really, really can’t afford? Well, maybe you actually can!

I’ll be honest, my own wardrobe is half full of things I don’t wear, some items which even still have the price-tags on! And as for my makeup cupboard? There’s mascaras in there that have seen the light on day on my lashes just twice before I decided they weren’t for me. That’s why I feel this topic is so important, I thought I was penny-pinching enough but obviously not. Let’s go on a journey together girls and beat the beauty/fashion industry at their own game! Let’s turn ourselves from guilty, duped consumers to happy, satisfied customers. Let’s HAVE OUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO.

Right, post almost over! In the coming posts I’ll put up tips and advice on how to actually achieve (like I said at the beginning, this post was just to show how important this all is). But somehow, I feel as if ending on this note is kinda unsatisfactory… right so here’s some spending tips that I’ll elaborate on more later:

  1. Ebay is your friend.
    • Bought a product/item you didn’t actually use/don’t want anymore? Turn it back into cash and get something else.
  2. Be careful what you carry.
    • Have a scan of what you’re carrying in your handbag, will you really use all that in the day?
  3. Do your research!
    • Hold off on buying that latest whatever and see what other people say first!

So, on a final note, being budget isn’t about scrimping and saving to the point of living a miserable life (that’s why those types of people are called misers, because they’re miserable. No really, that’s probably the etymology of that word). Being budget is about buying what really DOES make you happy, for LESS. So you can afford to get more stuff that really makes you happy but avoid all that spend-guilt.

Here’s a final picture to end with:

I'm eating the fork, not the cake.

I’m eating the fork, not the cake.

Much Cake-Love,

Penny-pinching Penny

ps: let’s eat the cake, not the fork.

pps: on a total random side-note, my favourite type of cake is coffee. What’s yours?

Do you want to have your cake and eat it too?

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5 thoughts on “Penny-Pinching 101 – Have Your Cake and EAT It! [why our spending habits have to CHANGE]

  1. Pingback: Penny-Pinching 101: Ten Tips to Shop Sales Smart | Parsimonious Penny

  2. Pingback: August Beauty Competition Giveaways 1 – Glamour + Sai-Sei Skincare | Parsimonious Penny

  3. Pingback: Penny-Pinching 101: eBay Bargain-Hunt How-To Guide – Get Great Deals Shopping on eBay with these Tips and Shopping Apps/Websites | Parsimonious Penny

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