The cost of living

Discussions about serious topics, for serious people
Post Reply
User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Princess POW
Posts: 9026
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The cost of living

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Feb 15, 2022 9:40 am

Trinucleus wrote:
Mon Feb 14, 2022 8:43 pm
It's interesting how Lidl and Aldi seem to deliberately pick sites close to the big supermarkets - they clearly aren't scared. And no one's going to undercut them on MIG welders
I suspect that's partly just where sites are available for a new supermarket.

They don't seem at all interested in the inner-city walking-distance end of the market, which is fair enough from their point of view but does slightly limit the point of hagiographising them.
Tree dwellers leaping out the boughs shouting «Get the paper»
Trunk hugging rebels chucking petals at a detonator

User avatar
veravista
Catbabel
Posts: 651
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:29 pm
Location: Directly above the centre of the earth

Re: The cost of living

Post by veravista » Tue Feb 15, 2022 9:56 am

I've just bought some specialist dog food for the spoiled pet, I get it in 12kg bags and yes it has always been expensive. Last purchase in October '21 it was £56.99 a bag, today its only £65.86! Yeah, 15% increase.

Still, delivery is free..

IvanV
Dorkwood
Posts: 1204
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by IvanV » Tue Mar 08, 2022 11:54 am

Whatever was being said about a cost of living squeeze a few weeks ago, suddenly it has got a lot worse.

Especially in relation to energy consumption. The measures the government was bringing in - I don't know if they were actually implemented yet - to "mitigate" the effect of energy price increases on households already look ridiculous. Especially the bit about delaying the price increase, but you have to pay it back later. It was a gamble on the price of energy falling back. Which has now spectacularly not happened.

The energy supply sector is also looking like it is in an even bigger pickle. The new price control levels were set in Feb. And already they are nowhere near enough in comparison to the price of energy in the market that energy suppliers have to buy to supply people with. Bulb will now need billions more in public support, because the price it can charge from 1 April is already nowhere near enough. Well, hopefully the main suppliers managed to hedge at the regulated price as soon as it was set and before the invasion. So hopefully the energy producers, currently creaming it, will take some of that pain, rather than us seeing the entire energy supply sector falling over.

By chance my energy supply contract terminates at the beginning of April. Since the notice of it coming to an end comes before the energy company has put its standard variable tariff (SVT) on 1 April, I usually get this unhelpful official comparison sent to me by the supplier, in my case Octopus, based on the current SVT, rather than what it will be after 1 April. So that tends to make it look like the SVT will be cheaper, when so far it always hasn't been, because it isn't comparing like with like, ie, the prices after 1 April. This year the fixed price contract Octopus has offered me is is just enormous. I'm far from convinced it is less than the price of my consumption on SVT, even after the increase. I did see a news item suggesting that new fixed price contracts might be more expensive than regulated SVTs. I need to look at the details a bit more carefully before choosing.

User avatar
lpm
Light of Blast
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 08, 2022 12:02 pm

You need to guess prices at the next price cap increase.

Mathematically better to pay the variable, say 28p per kwh for 6 months then 50p for the subsequent 6 months, than pay 40p fixed for all 12 months.

But would pay a bit of a premium for certainty.

What are the actual fixed rates on offer vs the price cap 28p electricity and 7p gas rates?
⭐ Awarded gold star 4 November 2021

IvanV
Dorkwood
Posts: 1204
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by IvanV » Tue Mar 08, 2022 1:09 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 12:02 pm
You need to guess prices at the next price cap increase.

Mathematically better to pay the variable, say 28p per kwh for 6 months then 50p for the subsequent 6 months, than pay 40p fixed for all 12 months.

But would pay a bit of a premium for certainty.

What are the actual fixed rates on offer vs the price cap 28p electricity and 7p gas rates?
What Octopus are offering as their 10 month (only) fixed tariff for "loyal" customers is 41p electricity and 12p gas, at my postcode. 12 month fixed open tariff is 43p & 13p.
So my perception that it looked rather more than the price cap tariff was correct. With such a large difference...

These prices vary slightly according to precisely where you live.

As you correctly say, there's what happens in October. With the war on top of everything, maybe it can be worse than the scenario you mention. The energy suppliers seem to be worried it might be quite a bit worse than that. It looks like a poor bet to fix at rates so much higher than the regulated tariff, and so I think I won't. But who can say for certain?

User avatar
lpm
Light of Blast
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 08, 2022 1:20 pm

Doesn't look worth fixing, at a quick ballpark look. Unless you really value certainty.

Ignoring that we burn more gas in winter, 7p + 19p six months each = 13p for 12 months

It won't be the 19p at the next price cap.

Adjusting for burning more gas in the Oct 22 to April 23 period, maybe 7p x 33% + 16p x 67% = 13p

It won't be the 16p at the next price cap either.
⭐ Awarded gold star 4 November 2021

User avatar
dyqik
Light of Blast
Posts: 5372
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: The cost of living

Post by dyqik » Tue Mar 08, 2022 5:00 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 1:20 pm
Doesn't look worth fixing, at a quick ballpark look. Unless you really value certainty.

Ignoring that we burn more gas in winter, 7p + 19p six months each = 13p for 12 months
You can't ignore that. Getting worse unit prices on gas for the next 6 months would be a price worth paying to get somewhat lower unit prices for the six months after that.

I know my situation is more extreme, but at fixed gas prices through a year, my gas bill is close to $20 a month from April to October, and closer to $200 a month from November to March. That's with a air source heat pump running when the outdoor temperatures are above 5C, but wasn't hugely different before we got the heat pump. Here's my gas usage for the past year:
Gas usage.png
Gas usage.png (9.11 KiB) Viewed 1026 times
So if I knew prices were going to rise from the their current $0.07 a kWh to $0.50 a kWh in six months time, I'd happily sign up for 12 months at $0.40 a kWh. Because the former would give me six months of $20 bills followed by six months of $1400 bills (total $8520), vs six months of $115 bills followed by six months of $1120 bills (total $7410). Rough approximations, etc. here. But you do have to do the maths.

(I have another 12 months of fixed rate 100% renewable electricity at the moment, so in reality, I'd lower the changeover point on the heat pump to more like -5C if gas prices rose like that next winter)
Last edited by dyqik on Tue Mar 08, 2022 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
lpm
Light of Blast
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 08, 2022 5:06 pm

Fine, call the equal case:

7p x 10% + 13.7p x 90% = 13p

It's a personal calculation, this is just a ballpark estimate to show how bad the October price increase would have to be.
⭐ Awarded gold star 4 November 2021

User avatar
Sciolus
Dorkwood
Posts: 1028
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:42 pm

Re: The cost of living

Post by Sciolus » Tue Mar 08, 2022 8:18 pm

It's depressing that the response of so many commentators is once again to cut the green crap, having failed to learn the lesson that was unsurprising last time and should be bindingly obvious now.

IvanV
Dorkwood
Posts: 1204
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by IvanV » Tue Mar 08, 2022 9:10 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 8:18 pm
It's depressing that the response of so many commentators is once again to cut the green crap, having failed to learn the lesson that was unsurprising last time and should be bindingly obvious now.
Sadly it's a bit more complicated than that. But that's a debate to have in another thread.

Millennie Al
Dorkwood
Posts: 1384
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by Millennie Al » Sun Mar 27, 2022 4:51 am

The Guardian reports very welcome news with regard to the cost of living: UK supermarkets accused of ‘bombarding’ shoppers with cheap meat

Unfortunately, when you read the article you find that this is nonsense. It's based on this: UK’s four biggest supermarkets heavily promoting cheap meat to boost sales which is in turn based on Questionmark's report "Superlist UK Environment 2022 PART 2: SUPERMARKETS AND THE PROMOTION OF MEAT" (link in the Eating Better article).

Despite the Guardian's headline, nothing in the report analyses how cheap meat is. Instead, it looks at offers. So if a supermarket sells a chicken for £1, that's not "cheap meat", while if it sells chickens at £50, with an offer of buy one get one free, that is counted as cheap.

The whole thing is a complaint that meat is too cheap, which leads to people buying it, which is bad for climate change, obesity, and the usual stuff. Consequently, they recommend that meat be priced out of the reach of poor people (without explicitly saying so).

They're also clearly pretty stupid. Take this from page 7:
An argument for multi-buy promotions is that
they would support lower-income consumers.
With the rising cost of living, saving any amount
can relieve considerable pressure on families.

However, recent studies from the UK indicate that
multi-buys - in contrast to other types of price
promotions - do not save the average consumer
money. Instead, people who buy multi-buys spend
£14 more on average annually (PHE, 2020).
"However" is completely unjustified. It's quite possible that lower-income consumers save quite a lot while the average consumer does not due to rich consumers losing money. And it seems to me that if you're talking about something that only makes people spend £14 annually, then you're wasing your time on a trivial issue.

You can't have it both ways - either we're trying to keep food prices low to help the poor, or we're pushing up prices to reduce consumption.

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Princess POW
Posts: 9026
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The cost of living

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sun Mar 27, 2022 2:44 pm

There's clearly a balancing act between the various crises weve let develop - cost of living, climate, ecological, etc.

The best long-term strategies will be those that tackle multiple crises simultaneously - eg energy efficiency, renewables, plant-based diets, etc. Bad strategies tackle one strategy at the expense of another, eg increasing fossil fuel output and infrastructure. Terrible strategies would be ones that do nothing useful, eg encouraging people to eat more meat via misleading offers.

Given that public health officials are in agreement that people in the UK need to eat less meat, supermarket loss-leaders promoting meat are in a similar category to those promoting booze or crisps: attractive to some consumers, no doubt, but not a useful solution to any of the country's problems.

You've got to admit this is an impressively and persuasively broad coalition criticising the practice:
Image
Dieticians, public healthists, economists, farmers etc etc.

I'm not sure BOGOFs is where I'd start (and it isn't where Eating Well started either, tbf) from an ecological perspective, rather than ending subsidies, putting ecological information on packaging (e.g. carbon, water and land footprints per calorie), etc. But price signals and promotions are a common target for public health interventions, eg no BOGOF cigarettes or glamorous booze adverts, and treating meat consistently seems fair.
Tree dwellers leaping out the boughs shouting «Get the paper»
Trunk hugging rebels chucking petals at a detonator

Millennie Al
Dorkwood
Posts: 1384
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:42 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Mar 27, 2022 2:44 pm
There's clearly a balancing act between the various crises weve let develop - cost of living, climate, ecological, etc.

The best long-term strategies will be those that tackle multiple crises simultaneously - eg energy efficiency, renewables, plant-based diets, etc.
If that's true, it's in defiance of the general principle that you need to concentrate on one problem at a time to fix it. Otherwise you risk putting a lot of effort into each problem only to find that the solutions conflict. This does not mean that you fix one at the expense of others - just that you fix one while not making the others worse.
Given that public health officials are in agreement that people in the UK need to eat less meat,
What they say is not reliable. When it comes to the effects of food, there is a proliferation of research which is merely observational and rests on correlation being causation. Many studies are even worse and rely of self reporting, which at best can merely provide a hint at where to do a proper study.
supermarket loss-leaders promoting meat are in a similar category to those promoting booze or crisps: attractive to some consumers, no doubt, but not a useful solution to any of the country's problems.
Who is talking about loss leaders? I pointed out that the article referred to "cheap meat" but was not based on any assessment of price.
You've got to admit this is an impressively and persuasively broad coalition criticising the practice:
Image
No. I don't. Because that is taken from https://www.eating-better.org/who-we-ar ... -with.html which is a list of organisations that "shares our interests and would like to work with us". It doesn't say that these organisations endorse anything said by Eating Better.

User avatar
lpm
Light of Blast
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Mon Mar 28, 2022 10:41 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:42 am
If that's true, it's in defiance of the general principle that you need to concentrate on one problem at a time to fix it. Otherwise you risk putting a lot of effort into each problem only to find that the solutions conflict. This does not mean that you fix one at the expense of others - just that you fix one while not making the others worse.
Yeah but we're in the endless cycle of

Let's deal with Iraq before tackling climate change
Let's deal with the financial crash before tackling climate change
Let's deal with the pandemic before tackling climate change
Let's deal with Russia before tackling climate change
Let's deal with the mutant radioactive crabs before tackling climate change
Let's deal with - oh look celebs are doing things

The world procrastinates more than I do when faced with a pile of work and that's saying something. Both the world and me need a kick up the arse and to just get on with it.
⭐ Awarded gold star 4 November 2021

User avatar
Gfamily
Stummy Beige
Posts: 3979
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:00 pm
Location: NW England

Re: The cost of living

Post by Gfamily » Mon Mar 28, 2022 10:53 am

With the increase in the energy price cap from 1st April, I've seen recommendations in a few places that we take meter readings this week and send them to your supplier (if you're not on a smart meter).

This should allow you to make sure that the higher cap only applies to your actual energy usage from that date.

I would not suggest inflating the meter readings before sending them in as that would be dishonest
My avatar was a scientific result that was later found to be 'mistaken' - I rarely claim to be 100% correct
ETA 5/8/20: I've been advised that the result was correct, it was the initial interpretation that needed to be withdrawn
Meta? I'd say so!

WFJ
Snowbonk
Posts: 503
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:54 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by WFJ » Mon Mar 28, 2022 10:54 am

But life without any meat would be such a soulless hell that saving the world would become pointless. As a compromise, can we just get rid of beef and ban personal car ownership instead?

User avatar
Bird on a Fire
Princess POW
Posts: 9026
Joined: Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:05 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The cost of living

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Mar 28, 2022 11:01 am

lpm wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 10:41 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:42 am
If that's true, it's in defiance of the general principle that you need to concentrate on one problem at a time to fix it. Otherwise you risk putting a lot of effort into each problem only to find that the solutions conflict. This does not mean that you fix one at the expense of others - just that you fix one while not making the others worse.
Yeah but we're in the endless cycle of

Let's deal with Iraq before tackling climate change
Let's deal with the financial crash before tackling climate change
Let's deal with the pandemic before tackling climate change
Let's deal with Russia before tackling climate change
Let's deal with the mutant radioactive crabs before tackling climate change
Let's deal with - oh look celebs are doing things

The world procrastinates more than I do when faced with a pile of work and that's saying something. Both the world and me need a kick up the arse and to just get on with it.
Plus, these crises are interlinked.

The west is still funding the war in Ukraine, despite all their blather about how bad it is, because of decisions to delay decarbonisation. There are shortages of cereals, inflating prices of staple foods, and yet we're wasting loads of it feeding livestock instead of people. etc etc

It's a very frustrating time to be intelligent and well-informed.
Tree dwellers leaping out the boughs shouting «Get the paper»
Trunk hugging rebels chucking petals at a detonator

User avatar
dyqik
Light of Blast
Posts: 5372
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: The cost of living

Post by dyqik » Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:11 pm

WFJ wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 10:54 am
But life without any meat would be such a soulless hell that saving the world would become pointless. As a compromise, can we just get rid of beef and ban personal car ownership instead?
It must be sad being that bad of a cook.

User avatar
Opti
Dorkwood
Posts: 1151
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:21 pm
Location: On the beach

Re: The cost of living

Post by Opti » Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:26 pm

Spain introduces some measures to help with the increased cost of living.

Take that Rishi, makes your 5p fuel tax reduction look a bit dismal.
Time for a big fat one.

WFJ
Snowbonk
Posts: 503
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:54 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by WFJ » Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:29 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:11 pm
WFJ wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 10:54 am
But life without any meat would be such a soulless hell that saving the world would become pointless. As a compromise, can we just get rid of beef and ban personal car ownership instead?
It must be sad being that bad of a cook.
Ouch! My cooking skills? How dare you! Would you say Mozart was a terrible composer if he complained about only being allowed to use major chords?

Seriously, life would be just as bad with no vegetables. Variety is the spice of life, you know.

IvanV
Dorkwood
Posts: 1204
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 11:12 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by IvanV » Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:35 pm

200 years ago, the poor used to eat much salmon, oysters and eels. Because they were cheap and plentiful. As far as I am aware, the poor were able to move on from this diet when they became expensive luxuries. Indeed, I suspect many of them are now happy to do without oysters and eels at least. Salmon has recently become much cheaper now it is farmed. It was an expensive luxury in my youth in the 1970s. A once a year treat for us at Christmas.

Though cheapness is not always sufficient. It's difficult to find fresh herring in the shops these days. It became cheap, because most people wouldn't eat it, to the point they don't even give it shelf space today. I can't remember when I last saw it. Fiddly, but delicious.

User avatar
dyqik
Light of Blast
Posts: 5372
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:19 pm
Location: Masshole
Contact:

Re: The cost of living

Post by dyqik » Mon Mar 28, 2022 4:04 pm

WFJ wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:29 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:11 pm
WFJ wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 10:54 am
But life without any meat would be such a soulless hell that saving the world would become pointless. As a compromise, can we just get rid of beef and ban personal car ownership instead?
It must be sad being that bad of a cook.
Ouch! My cooking skills? How dare you! Would you say Mozart was a terrible composer if he complained about only being allowed to use major chords?

Seriously, life would be just as bad with no vegetables. Variety is the spice of life, you know.
It's more like Mozart not being allowed to use pipe organs in his works, because they're too expensive and pollute too much.

I don't miss meat when I don't eat it. It just doesn't taste of much to me, the texture is often off-putting, and the veggie alternatives do the job almost as well. The lack of meat doesn't remove any particular flavor element, it just changes how you get it.

noggins
Fuzzable
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: The cost of living

Post by noggins » Mon Mar 28, 2022 4:24 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 08, 2022 12:02 pm
You need to guess prices at the next price cap increase.

Mathematically better to pay the variable, say 28p per kwh for 6 months then 50p for the subsequent 6 months, than pay 40p fixed for all 12 months.

But would pay a bit of a premium for certainty.

What are the actual fixed rates on offer vs the price cap 28p electricity and 7p gas rates?
Accidentally on purpose misread your meter, report a much higher meter reading, thereby paying for future gas at todays rate ?

User avatar
lpm
Light of Blast
Posts: 4656
Joined: Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:05 pm

Re: The cost of living

Post by lpm » Mon Mar 28, 2022 4:47 pm

Be a liar and a thief to save a few quid? My self esteem is worth more than that.
⭐ Awarded gold star 4 November 2021

WFJ
Snowbonk
Posts: 503
Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 7:54 am

Re: The cost of living

Post by WFJ » Mon Mar 28, 2022 5:07 pm

dyqik wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 4:04 pm
WFJ wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:29 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Mar 28, 2022 2:11 pm


It must be sad being that bad of a cook.
Ouch! My cooking skills? How dare you! Would you say Mozart was a terrible composer if he complained about only being allowed to use major chords?

Seriously, life would be just as bad with no vegetables. Variety is the spice of life, you know.
It's more like Mozart not being allowed to use pipe organs in his works, because they're too expensive and pollute too much.

Maybe, but I think that's closer to my suggestion of just getting rid of beef.

My original (slightly flippant, but meant to include a real, if poorly communicated point) comment followed the suggestion that we should move to plant-based diets. Any environmental plan that includes the elimination (as opposed to reduction) of meat consumption is going to fail. At least in the time-scales we need to work within.
I don't miss meat when I don't eat it. It just doesn't taste of much to me, the texture is often off-putting, and the veggie alternatives do the job almost as well. The lack of meat doesn't remove any particular flavor element, it just changes how you get it.
If meat doesn't taste of much to you, I could return your "bad cook" comment, and it might explain why would think the veggie alternatives do the job almost as well ;). More seriously, beef is probably the most successfully imitated meat, at least in its burger or mince forms, and is the meat we most need to reduce. The chicken substitutes I have tasted are just rubbery material that needs strong spice or sauce to be edible.

Post Reply