Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A penny for them.

 So various countries of Europe are still staggering through the continuing financial crisis and we are no nearer to knowing what the final outcome will be. We reap a sort of benefit as we get more Euros for our pounds but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth to be gaining from others’ misfortunes. 

In today’s news I heard that the UK’s unemployment figures are down. Why is this? More people are taking part-time jobs as these are in many cases the only ones available. And so the unemployment statistics are artificially changed once again. Pretty soon we’ll be like other countries of Europe that I know of where people have several part time jobs but little or no security of employment. 

I also came across a curious tale of someone getting his own back on his accountant. The man in question must not have been happy to have to pay his accountant £804 pounds and went along to the bank to get the money in 1p and 2 p coins. He then sent this along in five crates to pay his bill. Unfortunately for him this is against the law. It transpires that these coins are only legal tender if you are paying for something costing 20p or less. You can spend up to £5 in 5p or 10p coins and up to £10 in 50p or 20p coins. There is no limit to how much you can pay in pound coins, however. 

So this chap could have paid the lot in £1 coins and I’m pretty sure that would have been annoying enough for his accountant to deal with. Or he could have refined it a little and paid with 774 £1 coins, 20 50p coins, 50 20p coins, 50 10p coins and 100 5p coins. I’m sure he could have been satisfied with that. 

As it was he broke the law and ended up paying a fine of £1118.62. I bet he’s even more annoyed now. 

I’m rather glad I don’t have that kind of problem to deal with but only fallen trees in my path. As the alternately soggy and then windy weather around here seems to be loosening the roots of a number of oldish trees around here I come across them and generally have to duck under them as I run, jog and walk around the area. Here’s the latest one on a bridle path not far from our house. 

Getting back to money matters, I read a report today about how much money British household waste by throwing food away: £270 per year per household according to a recent survey. That’s more than £20 a month. Vegetables and bread are the things most frequently thrown out. 

One of the factors is supermarkets pushing two-for-one offers, leading people to buy more beans, broccoli or blackberries than they really want or need. 

Another thing is people not planning their week’s meals properly and just going to the supermarket and buying “stuff” with the idea that they can make some kind of meals out of it. It’s hard work being organised! 

Personally I suspect that sell-by and use-by dates have something to do with it as well. There’s really no need to throw potatoes or other vegetables away because the use-by date has gone by. Surely a reasonably intelligent person can tell when a potato is past it! 

One thing that struck me was the strategies that the article said people used to reduce their spending on food. 47% of families surveyed are eating out less often and 24% have changed what they eat at mealtimes, for example by buying cheaper food. Most striking for me though was the 26% who now try to “all eat the same food at mealtimes to keep the costs down”. 

Now there’s a revolutionary idea: instead of cooking four or five individual and different dishes, often more expensive “ready meals”, have all the family sit down together to eat the same stuff. Save on cooking pots, energy used and everything. 

And then, you never know, they might get used to the idea of talking to each other over the evening meal as well!!

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