About frugality, co-creation and the return of temptation

This is a sponsored review of Happier: a new website for the savvy consumer.

My long standing and faithful readers know well where I stand on frugality. My new readers – and I know that there are many of you, I do this Google Analytics thing now 🙂 – can get the long(er) story by reading this. The short story is that I don’t stand by frugality and can’t abide people telling me to cut my own hair, to take shower once a week and to wear five jumpers to keep warm. I find this all very vexing, pointless and, let’s face it, ultimately wasteful.

My UK readers also, no doubt, know that this, sometimes extreme, frugality mentality and blind deal chasing has as its natural home the MoneySavingExpert.com – the biggest and most popular personal finance website in the UK that was recently sold for…well, an awful lot. I have to be fair here – this website helped me a lot when we first found ourselves in financial trouble. But it is a bit like your first pair of shoes – if you don’t outgrow them there is something wrong.

Combine frugality and deals, and a website to go with it and you can understand why when I was approached to review Happier I felt a bit ambivalent. Why did I accept? Well, mainly because the message very nicely mentioned that ‘a negative review would be OK’. This immediately made me curious – usually it is a sign that people have a great product and they really wish to contribute value.

Next, I decided to discuss the matter with John – you all know that he is the techie around here and my favourite debate sparring partner (after all, we have been married long enough). He looked at the site and send me a text reading: ‘I like it; clean, fast and an interesting concept.’ My curiosity increased even further!

It was time to play! Went on Happier and found crisp design and a list of deals. Oh, no! I was thinking what you may be thinking: not another affiliate site listing deals. Then I looked closer and noticed the rather stylish blobs to the left: one green, one red and a larger one in the middle saying ‘points’ (I am doing my best here people but if you want to know what this looks like go see for yourself). John had said ‘a rather interesting concept’, didn’t he? And I got it!

It isn’t simply an affiliate site of listed deals at all; it is a co-creation of a community sharing information about products and educating each other to be savvy consumers. From what I understand, anyone who joins the site (yes, I did join) can publish a deal they know about; then people can comment on whether the product is worth it and vote (this is what the blobs to the left are about). Gloriously simple and marvellously useful! I was briefly tempted by a deal for Agent Provocateur underwear (free delivery) but on a second thought…the Lindt chocolates won!

And this is only the part about deals! There is also a part for free stuff – books, stamps, manicure, you name it. Anything that members have found and consider worth sharing. My personal favourite in this section is a free entry to Kew Gardens in London between December 22 and January 4 – if it were only a month later (I said I don’t do frugality not that I don’t appreciate a good deal). It may be also worth looking at the competitions – some really great stuff there. But since I have never won anything in my life, I will stick with the deals and the free stuff; for now.

Now about temptation! Guys from Happier, what have you done to me? When I go on a site for savvy consumers, with an emphasis on deals, free stuff and saving money I am not prepared to deal with temptation that may lead me to spend hundreds of pounds. Yes, I am talking about your Money Saving Guides! Until I read one them I was happy with my trusted iPad 2; I was strong and determined to resist the iPad 3. Then I absolutely loved Siri – and my iPad doesn’t run it. So I am lusting again – after technology!

Verdict: I have to say that I truly, honestly loved this site – it is crisp, fast, well structured and useful. My feeling is that building on the principle of co-creation it will be really big – it only needs time to grow! For that, I did my bit and joined the Happier community.

How about you?

13 thoughts on “About frugality, co-creation and the return of temptation”

  1. Just what we need another place to encourage spending! LOL!!!!  I approach shopping in a logical disciplined way.  I was brought up to only buy what I need not what I want.  So I will only go to a deal website to see if they have items I need vs, encouraging me to buy stuff I do not.  It keeps me out of debt.  I know it helped me achieve financial freedom!

    1. @Edward: You are right. But you see, money has absolutely no meaning if it doesn’t sustain life. And not any life but life as we want it! Seeing it like this, site like Groupon and Happier are only platforms that enable us to lower the cost of the life we want – we have to have the vision and the discipline not to diviate.

      1. I agree about the purchase of money. But my point is that if I’m not willing to experience something at the full price, getting it at a reduced price is only happening because it’s a good deal. If I was really that interested in it, I would have been doing it before Groupon.

  2. I had never heard of this. Guess its because it is in the UK. This would be like Amazon for me. I tend to buy a fair bit from there when I can find deals.  I must admit I don’t control my online spending as much as I should, even with deals. In fact the deals probably make me spend more.

    1. @Miss T: Have a peep – it is a lovely site and a great idea. I suppose you have not heard about it because it is still very new but I would expect it to grow.

  3. I don’t mean to be a broken record but I agree with the majority. I love sites like this and Groupon but they do just encourage you to spend more money. The only way it truly benefits the consumer is if the consumer is disciplined enough to ONLY use those sites when buying something they were already going to buy.

    1. @Jason: Great! More work that we personal finance bloggers can do – help our readers develop the discipline to shop when they need for what they need; and if they use site like Happier they can get it at a good price :). Shops also encourage you to spend; advertising does; watching movies…It is like the battle between David and Goliath again: the consumer (David) can win only by being really clever and savvy.

  4. I didn’t know Martin sold MSE, can’t even imagine the amount! I don’t know happier, I usually use quidco for cashback and google “coupon XX” with the brand I am buying, only to find outdated deals so will try happier next time!

    1. @Pauline: He sold it for £17 million – gives hope to so many people in a very strange way. MoneySavingExpert was an incredibly clever business model though – in fact after academic publishing it is probably one least likely to fail.

  5. @Maria and @Pauline – Martin actually sold moneysavingexpert for £87m not £17m. No wonder why he has a big smile, see here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18295587

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