The carrot and the rabbit trap

I am back. I have found myself a job and MAY save my home as a result. I am relieved, hopeful and very very busy all at the same time. This accounts for the long silent period.
I am turning my mind to more optimistic thoughts- how to live cheaply and well. My philosophy is to spend as little money as possible on necessities so that I can spend more on foolish luxuries. Most 'sensible' people advise the exact opposite which is why so many people are prey to advertisers and credit providers. We know credit is the devil and yet choose the devil over boredom.
Loyalty schemes resemble a carrot dangling over a rabbit trap. The company dangles a carrot in order to tempt us into debt but occasionally we can take the carrot and escape.
The first thing you should do with loyalty schemes is to cut down on their number. There is nothing more useless than a dormant scheme because you will never earn sufficient points to buy anything useful. It is better to concentrate your fire on one or two schemes so that very little money is tied up in dead points. I have recently got rid of my McDonald's and my JD Weatherspoon coffee cards for this very reason.
Loyalty schemes exist to change spending pattens. When you join one you are allowing skilled psychologists to work on your mind in subtle ways. This means that you should choose your schemes carefully because they are more powerful than you believe.
Prior to my period of unemployment I was literally addicted to McDonald's. I start work at 7.00am and used to develop a mild headache and cravings for a McDonald breakfast by 10.00am. This could make me quite grumpy but I would feel euphoric and cheerful once my body was flooded with salt, fat, sugars and caffeine from the breakfast. I only realise how close this sensation was to a drug hit now that I am no longer hooked. This addiction was not caused by the loyalty schemes but it was carefully nurtured by them. I would receive vouchers for additional products and was aways encouraged to trade up.
I have joined three schemes that will certainly do more for my health than a gym membership I never use because the act of collecting points will cause me to eat better (or less).
1. Subway.
Subway have introduced an electronic version of their old stamp scheme. It seems quite generous but the real benefit is that you may use points to buy a free lunch. This means that it is possible to gain a cash benefit from the card, unlike the majority of schemes that simply give you something extra on top of what you buy. This is always presented as a saving but never is. A 'free' coffee is only a cash benefit if you would have bought it in any case.
Interestingly, it is only possible to claim on this card once it is registered online. The reason given is that Subway do not wish you to lose your points if your card is lost- but why should they care? The truth is that they wish to monitor your eating habits in order to change them. There is no such thing as a free lunch after all.
Subway is more healthy than most fast food and equally filling. It would be a good habit for me to develop.
2. Paul.
This is a French baking chain that is setting up in the UK. It is worth joining this scheme as they give you benefits up front- a coffee and a croissant that the French bizarrely believe is a breakfast.
3. Starbucks.
Many people hate Starbucks for some reason. Yes, it is synthetic and corporate but this is true of all successful brands. It is also true that Starbucks can be an expensive habit and a fattening one. I suggest using the card far more intelligently than this. Starbucks will send you vouchers from time to time simply for registering your card. They also offer free Wi Fi. This means that you could use Starbucks as an alternative to a home broadband connection. This could save you money and is more sociable than surfing alone.
4. Open the co op and ignore Airmiles.
Airmiles fits my earlier definition of a bad loyalty scheme exactly. It is hard to earn sufficient points to earn anything useful because most of the rewards on offer are quite pricey. Furthermore airmiles expire when your account is dormant for two years. This causes the collector to make purchases simply to keep his account live. Unfortunately I have 347 airmiles on the account which is too many to lose but too few to spend. No doubt the scheme is designed this way deliberately.
Airmiles can be generous when it suits them. One airmile is worth about 9.5p and it is possible to earn one point per pound spent making it by far the most generous scheme. This is only possible when buying high profit luxury items. It is also possible to obtain airmiles on everyday items but at much lowe rates. This gives us a great deal of information on where companies make their money. I have always suspected that luxury goods carry huge markups and the different rates of airmiles collection would seem to confirm this.
Airmiles is fun because it provides a bogus justification for luxury. I can buy cashmere scarves and fine wine and believe I have been given something for nothing. Unfortunately none of these things are habits I can afford right now and so I must wind the scheme down. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the scheme will not let me use my miles until I spend another �400 or so. Actually my life has been so grim of late that I am quite happy to be 'forced' in this way. I will make six or seven purchases and then redeem my miles for a weekend break or a crate of wine. It will then lapse.
What do poor people need most? Cash. This is my reason for joining the co op. This scheme gives a dividend of up to one percent in cash on a variety of purchases. It has the further advantage that it is possible to earn points by making investments of various kinds while other schemes will only reward you for spending. The down side is that the co op is a socialist institution and tends to lecture its members. It has cleverly repackaged socialism as a 'customer led ethical policy' for its middle class client base. In practice this results in the same PR friendly campaigns in favour of recycling, fairtrade and carbon offsetting that most companies engage in. The current management appear to be a bunch of smart cookies who have turned a sprawling conglomerate around and have transformed it into a focused collection of niche businesses that increased profits by around eight percent last year. These guys are far too clever to allow an anti British, misandric or anti white agenda to destroy what they have created.
Joining the co op is also a cheap alternative to joining a trade union. Most trade unions offer some form of legal insurance by which they will represent you in court if you come in conflict with your employer. In reality the legal work is done by cooperative legal services who will work with anyone- not just trade union members- on a 'no win no fee' basis.
Why the picture of a bee? Three reasons. The co op puts a picture of a bee on their membership cards to represent thrift. The organization is trying to 'save the bee' and because I feel like a bee right now. I have not had a single day off for more than a month. I am exhausted! Buzz, buzz, buzz!!


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