Review: A Chocolate Based Savings Plan


Cadburys chocolate savings machine

pictured: house-bank on test at chocolate incentive scale

What’s on test: The merits of a savings plan that utilizes a coin-operated chocolate bar dispenser as a means of collecting capital.

What we found:  

Pros:  We found that harnessing the power of an (admittedly minor) vice was an extremely effective way of building our savings. As with any vice once taken root, we could be relied upon to consistently let ourselves down which, in doing so, would be guaranteed to boost our savings. Saving money with a return in miniature chocolates also currently represents a sounder investment strategy than developing a share portfolio.

Our testers also found that fostering positive associations with the coin-operated mechanism was an effective way of boosting an individual’s confidence in using and being surrounded by other coin-operated mechanisms, like lockers and vending machines. In fact, some of testers particularly enjoyed the act of inserting a metal coin into a slot of roughly equal diameter, citing it as a pleasingly ‘real’ experience in an age where chocolate consumables are increasingly bought electronically, with credit cards or on the internet.

Finally, we found that a savings plan that offers only one kind of chocolate as a like for like exchange incentive was an effective way of destroying one’s predilection for that brand of chocolate. We found this destruction to be a positive as, if all other chocolate brands could be adapted for dispensation, then the adopter of the savings plan could go off chocolate entirely, with scope for moving on to savings plans utilising pulses or nuts or alcohol.

Cons: Our testers found the ‘buy-in’ for this kind of savings plan to be relatively considerable, with the cost of the dispenser alone representing a major outlay (£10.99 approx). It could be argued that any savings plan that can only be effective by first losing a large amount of money isn’t really a savings plan. We found that, for the plan to recoup this loss and be ultimately effective, the mark-up on the dispensed chocolate would have to be considerable, which then makes buying instead from a larger retail vending machine look a much more attractive alternative. We found that investing in this kind of vending unit would in turn represent even more expense, and while it could carry a wider variety of stock at more competitive savings prices, it would also involve a greater degree of expense and effort to keep sufficiently stocked and maintained, with visits to cash ‘n’ carrys and service engineers a distinct and expensive likelihood. Again, our concern would be that none of this would remotely resemble a savings plan.

Finally, we felt that manipulating a potentially crippling chocolate habit in order to fool ourselves into saving some money could result in a kind of personal meltdown, with us not being able to trust ourselves or be sure that we were taking our problems seriously.

 Verdict:  While we did find the savings plan on test to be an effective and reliable method of stockpiling currency, especially in the current investment climate, we also felt that the adoption of a savings plan that revolves around tricking ourselves into being responsible could be construed as a warning signal of sorts. Similarly, our testers also felt that if the objects or goals towards which we were saving were not enough of a lure for us to save without an extra immediate consumable incentive, then perhaps we should reconsider our savings priorities, or hand control of our finances over to a responsible individual, adult or organisation. For those reasons, we would certainly recommend a chocolate based savings plan to anyone who had ever seriously considered it.


Review: Not Knowing What That ‘Running’ 50 Pence Piece is Supposed to be About

50 pence coin Mark Brady

pictured: the celebration of thighs before clocks or something.

What’s being tested?

The potential misinterpretation of the limited-issue fifty pence piece commemorating something to do with a pair of running legs and a giant stopwatch.

What we found

Pros: Our testers found that not knowing what that ‘Running’ 50p is all about helped lend an air of mystique to what was generally considered to be a dull and uncomfortable pursuit. While the benefits of a regime of regular exercise, with either running or jogging being part of that regime, are well documented, it was generally agreed that it would not warrant commemorating on any of the Queen’s silver, and certainly not with precedence over other sports like fast-walking, horsing or showboating.

We also found that the confusion surrounding the image helped stoke a degree of interest in both the history of running and in the technological advances made in the sport. The satisfaction felt on discovering a temporary and superficial interest in something was only bolstered on realising how limited the history of running was, and how few technological advances have actually been made in the sport.

Finally, it was found that the most common misinterpretation of the image was that the act of running somewhere had only been discovered in the last 50 years. We felt this misinterpretation could help fool more transient individuals into taking up the sport with that characteristic degree of reckless over-enthusiasm. This could in turn serve to put their physical wellbeing in jeopardy, as they put their bodies under unexpected stress, running to unfamiliar places they can’t get back from.

Cons: We felt that the easily misinterpreted fifty pence was a dangerous thing to have in circulation, what with it still considered a legitimate pocket-money value by older sections of the populace. Exposing young children to the aberration could cause them to call into question the exact process of running, with many coming to believe that the arms are an unnecessary part of the act. We found that not knowing what your arms do while you run not only makes it harder to run, it also makes you look unusual and disturbing.

The image could also prove dangerous to younger intellects as the exact nature of the message is largely unclear, save for the idea that the event depicted is a cause for celebration. This could lead to a generation of individuals inclined to celebrate abstract concepts, like timed shorts, the time of a long thigh, or a clock within a clock. While some of our testers felt that a few extra holidays would be no bad thing, the majority did not welcome the prospect of having to buy their relatives cards for a celebration of timed thighs.

Verdict: Ultimately, our testers found that, if they thought about it, they could probably think of a few plausible interpretations for the celebratory coin. However, the general consensus remains that discovering the exact nature of the message would be an act, like so many, deferred ‘to Google’, exacerbating our reliance on easy information and powers-beyond-our-control by another small, almost intangible step. This was found by most to a price worth paying, as it’s really quite sunny outside, and our testers don’t want to spend all day inside thinking about a bloody coin.