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.