As the cost of living appears to be rising at an alarming rate and the constant apparent devaluation in wages and pensions it has never been so important for most of us to literally ‘shop around’. This isn’t’ pure speculation or some random forecast of economic doom and gloom, this is fact. We’ve arrived in a place where money has never been in such short supply. Some of our cash hast to be allotted to the unavoidable like domestic fuel, council tax: even the charge for the telephone is a necessity, often linked to our need to be connected to the internet. Yet there is still one area of spending where you and I as consumers have total control should we choose so to do. Most of us have to do our weekly or bi-weekly domestic shop in a supermarket. Until three months ago I would quite happily visit a particular major supermarket for various reasons, not least of which were familiarity and apparent perception of quality linked to value, or peripheral services like car washes, fuel or travel agents: even opticians. Equally today there is a blind, almost robotic ‘addiction’ to brand loyalty. Yet in some towns, like Market Harborough, one may still have to pay as much as 50p to simply park a car for the privilege of shopping. Similarly if one chooses to shop in Corby town centre there is still a parking charge: a ‘little’ additional cost easily overlooked, yet one that equates to five items in the average shop of 10p reduction in price. We’d surely see these as bargains. I’d decided enough was enough. There had to be a shrewder and better way forward than consistently paying up to £80 to fill a trolley with household essentials. Some supermarkets exist that have, for many years, stripped back on the frills. Their packaging may be construed as somewhat bland. Their atmosphere is not polluted by an outpouring of ‘musak’ interspersed by self sponsored advertising. They stock tins of beans with unrecognisable labels and their milk chocolate has a name unfamiliar to the keeper of the household purse. One still has to deposit a £1 coin to secure a trolley though parking ones car is invariably free. Put simply, their costs are a great deal lower for household essentials purely because their goods and services have been ‘stripped-back’ to the basics. I find it incredible that there are still people who would not enter one of these budget cost-cutting stores purely because of pride. Well, I managed to swallow that little gem a few months ago and I’ve found myself saving more money than the average annual rise in the cost of living. Amazingly, if one visits one of the major supermarkets today, they are still packed with high spending consumers marching trolley to trolley: isle to isle. Yet, fear not. There is an altogether less stressful and cost effective way forward. As they say, one needs to shop around to shop around. Start saving cash!