Alex Jones and Steph McGovern are on a mission to help families change the way they shop. They are in north London with the design-obsessed Parmar family.
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When it comes to shopping, us Brits can blow a fortune.
That's what I want - a single solitaire.
But how can we control our spending?
30,000 or something like that?
I'm business journalist Steph McGovern.
I want to help make our money go further.
We are bringing down your spending.
And I'm Alex Jones.
I know only too well the traps consumers fall into.
-How many times have you used that, then?
We're challenging families...
..to try money-saving alternatives.
So we can all learn how to shop well for less.
-We're talking hard cash.
-That is amazing.
Our job here is done.
This week, a home filled with designer goods...
This must have cost an absolute bomb.
..owned by a family whose spending is out of control.
-Oh, my God.
But slowing down their buys...
I've got a really bad addiction - I'll totally admit it.
..could be one colossal challenge.
-I don't care. This is not working.
-This is rubbish.
Sai, you're doing really well.
We're in north London with Nisha, Sachin and their sons...
..five-year-old Sai and two-year-old Druv.
What's wrong? Are you tired?
The couple met ten years ago in a bar.
I remember walking past and she just caught my eyes,
-and I just couldn't keep my eyes off her, and then...
Yeah, saw him. Just wanted to have a little dance, and thought,
"That'll be the end of that," and now I'm married to him!
If I was summing up the marriage, it's like being married to your best mate, really.
-Don't laugh! It's not funny.
Nisha works at a bank, and Sachin has his own graphic design business.
And this is a man who practices what he preaches.
It's all about design.
I'm a designer - it has to be about design.
Everything I buy, I buy it
because there's been some thought put into the design process.
A lot of what they're buying is to complete their brand-new kitchen.
I love entertaining. I love cooking and I love having friends around.
I like doing the whole three courses.
-How are you doing?
-So glad you're back in this area.
I want people to feel like they've come to my house but they've gone to a restaurant.
And creating a home restaurant doesn't come cheap.
We've got the different cutlery.
We'll have a different glass for a different drink.
A different dish for a different starter or main,
cos again it comes down to me loving design stuff.
Sachin applies his love of design to all his purchases,
from bicycles to belts.
He'll spend on one pair of jeans what I might spend on,
like, five tops.
Every single blue jean is different, so if I see a pair of jeans I like,
I'll buy them.
And it's not just jeans.
I think I've spent thousands of pounds on shoes and trainers.
These two love a bit of retail therapy,
but each has their own shopping style.
I think I'm the frequent spender but you're the big spender.
-Big spender, yeah.
-Like, big purchases.
-Are these the same price?
-They're all the same price.
-Could we get a box, please?
-Yeah, of course.
-I probably shop every lunchtime.
-I didn't even know that.
But the couple need to curb their enthusiasm for expensive goods,
because their house renovation went £30,000 over budget.
We've used up all of our savings on the whole build.
And they still have a lot more to do in the house.
We'd ideally like to get new carpets.
There's lots more things on that list that, you know, now we've reached the budget...
Painting the staircase, painting the walls,
painting the door frames.
We kind of want to save some money,
so we can build that pot up again to just get these bits finished.
Well, we will do our best.
And the first step is for Steph and I to pay a sneaky visit to their home.
We need them to face up to how much they have been spending,
so we're setting up a very special shop.
That is a very nice kitchen.
-It's absolutely gorgeous.
-This must have cost an absolute bomb.
-They've got all the little gadgets as well.
-Everything's top end.
Shall we have a look in the drawers?
-Some nice pans and pots.
-Yeah, look. Even...
Even their pans are pretty expensive.
-Oh, look at that.
-Glasses for every occasion. Open those.
Now, that is impressive.
It's a lot of glasses.
Look at these, as well. They're really design conscious, aren't they?
They must have people round all the time. You would, wouldn't you?
You can imagine here loads of people sat round, all drinking champagne.
-But I think what this kitchen tells us is that these people are big spenders.
Even the hall's hiding evidence of excessive spending.
Oh, look. Is this going to be like a shoe mountain?
Expensive shoes, as well.
Ah! Look at this - it's more shoes.
Really posh ones, as well.
When a shoe's got its own bag, Steph, you know you're in trouble.
Shall we have a look at their bedroom?
Yeah. Come on. Look at how many jeans he's got.
-Four shelves of jeans.
It's all top-brand stuff.
Whoa! There's a lot of perfume and aftershave going on here.
It's like a department store.
They've both got all the top-brand stuff, haven't they?
I mean, do you need that many?
This couple buy high-end and in serious quantities.
-Oh, they're all her saris.
-Oh, that is so pretty.
It's like a little princess dress.
Like, the craftsmanship that's gone into these...
A lot of them look very handmade, don't they?
-They're going to be pricey.
It seems like this family believe that you have to pay more
for good design, which isn't always the case.
Time to set up shop.
We need to show them the reality of their overspending,
so let's spring into action.
Hi. Jump up, come on!
Hi! How are you?
-Sachin, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, as well.
-How are you?
-You surprised us.
-No more surprises now, but we do want to help you.
-So if you're up for it...
-Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Come with us, then.
Now to show them a very special shop.
-Oh, my God.
-Oh, my God, it's all my stuff!
-It's all our stuff!
So much nice stuff.
Yeah. How much stuff do I have?!
-We have this many gadgets?
I can't believe you've done this. I do think...
-I've got a lot of stuff.
-We've got a lot of stuff.
-We have got a lot of stuff, haven't we?
A lot, or too much?
They're about to find out.
So, let's start with glasses.
-You do like them all to match and to look beautiful.
How many glasses do you think you have?
-I'd say, maybe...
I was going to say 50.
No, that's too many. We don't have that many.
-Have you looked in your cupboards?
-I think we've got more.
You have got more.
You've got 122.
-Oh, my God.
-We've got 122?!
How much have we spent?
It adds up to £1,000.
'And that's just the start.'
So, pots and pans, then...
-..to create all your masterpieces.
How much do you think you've spent?
Probably about £400, £500.
'And as for cutlery...'
So, total for cutlery and knives is...
300. No, it's not that much.
Oh, that's close.
I love your justification.
-Just cos you guessed it, meaning that...
So, what's the damage when it comes to the total cost of their kitchenware?
Three. 4,000, then?
-What do you reckon?
-I think just under five.
-Oh, my God!
Sachin's devotion to well-designed products doesn't end there.
He's also a cycling fanatic.
Not a cheap hobby,
especially when you buy your little boys costly bikes, too.
£500 on two bikes for two boys who are five and two.
-It's a skill.
-We're teaching them a lifelong skill. Yeah, so...
It's now become a nice family thing.
We'll maybe go to a nice place and cycle round lakes and...
I'm sure Bradley Wiggins, though,
didn't have a bike worth 250 quid when he was two.
See, this is how you've got to think about it...
-Hall, stairs, landing, or bike?
For Nisha, her big collection of Indian clothes means big spending.
She has over 60 outfits.
So, to what did you wear this?
I've worn this to a wedding before.
-And how much did you pay for it?
-Probably about 200, 250, I think.
-Do you ever wear them more than once?
-I try not to.
That's why I've got so many.
The grand total of Nisha's Indian clothes alone is a whopping £3,200.
My God! I didn't even know that.
And when it comes to Sachin's wardrobe,
overflowing with designer delights, will he have a clue about the cost?
The most expensive pair of jeans...
I love the way you can see straightaway which ones they were.
..these ones here. These are my party jeans.
-We've tiled our bathroom similar to that.
That's... When I did see them, I thought, "Oh, lovely."
-I think I paid 300 for these.
And these are my most expensive I've ever spent, £300.
Jeans are important. I like good-quality, fitting jeans.
And he'll say, "I'm not a normal size, I am 6'3", you know,
-"they don't make jeans for me on the high street."
-"It's only designer brands make them."
And is it the same problem with belts?
Shall we tell you how much your belts are worth?
These are just to hold the expensive jeans up.
-For just his belts?
Oh, God. That's a lot of money for belts.
'And that's not all.'
What about your trainers, then?
Trainers and shoes.
I've got a really bad addiction - I'll totally admit it.
Well, the first step is often admitting you've got a problem.
-Yeah. Yes, yes.
-Now, this isn't even, probably,
-a tenth of your shoe collection that we have here.
Your shoe collection is huge.
-If we look at shoes, belts,
this immense jean collection...
how much do you think the whole kerboosh is worth?
I think we're definitely going to about seven grand.
No. It's not that much.
See, if only Nisha was right.
If only it wasn't that much, but the truth is...
It's eight grand.
That's a lot.
It is, and money that could have been used for their build.
That's been a big project for you, hasn't it?
-Yes, it has.
-Yes. We've used all our savings for it.
-And then we just had to borrow against the house, really.
-There's bits of the house that still haven't been finished.
Where's the money going come from?
-Work, work, work.
-Work, work, work.
-Work harder and save a lot more money, really.
Yeah, but it's not just about working hard -
there's ways you can save money in your day-to-day life.
-You need to pull back in other areas, which we'll help with.
-Are you up for it?
I just think that we have too much stuff, so that's been realised.
We just like stuff and because we like it so much,
-we were doing a lot of repetitive buying.
And maybe we don't need to keep on adding, adding.
We need to kind of tone it down a little bit now.
Start saving some money so we can start getting painting done in the house.
Good, because this family need to change their ways
if they want to finish their home.
Well, I think it's going to be quite tough to convince Sachin and Nisha
to buy anything that's not high-end.
I know. They've fallen into that trap of thinking they have to spend
loads of money to get high quality, haven't they?
It's all about looks for them, though, isn't it?
I think they're going to be quite tough nuts to crack.
I know, but they need cracking,
because look how much they've overspent on the kitchen,
-and they need to get the rest of the house done.
It's lovely, though. But we do need to rein them in.
-Yeah. We do.
So, while the Parmars were away,
we nipped in to give their home a bit of a new look,
with the aim of changing their shopping habits.
"Please wear me."
Oh, my God. One pair of trainers and one of your loafers.
In our experiment, we've replaced their usual branded goods
with mostly cheaper substitutes.
Candles. I think they look very similar.
And to really put their product loyalty to the test...
-And the toothpaste!
..some items haven't actually been swapped at all.
Oh, my God, shampoo and conditioner.
But it's all debranded, so they've no idea what they're using.
-It smells nice.
We've swapped their fancy furniture...
That's a really nice table.
-And the chairs are really nice too.
..in favour of cheaper replacements.
Oh, my God!
Look at the stools.
And their £1,000 crockery collection
has been significantly scaled down.
Look, look, look! My cups have gone.
If this pair want to build up their savings pot,
they are going to have to cut down on branded goods.
Oh, they've taken away the pizza oven.
-Yeah, obviously, that's why that's there.
Upstairs, Sachin's stash of designer denim has been ditched.
-That's it. One pair of jeans.
-One pair of jeans.
And they're high street!
I think I'm going to cry a little bit.
As for Nisha, her collection of costly cosmetics has vanished.
Oh, my God.
I really hope I like this make-up.
Let's see if she can get the same effect for a fraction of the price.
I'm quite nervous, but...
I'm feeling your nerves.
I'm, er... I'm going to embrace it.
I wouldn't say I'm scared.
and looking forward to it.
Yeah, I think it's going to be a really fun few days.
A good experiment.
It's the first day of the swaps
and this brand-buying, design-loving couple need to make breakfast -
using the toaster that we've put in.
You know what? It looks really nice, doesn't it?
I do like it. It's very nice.
-Looking quite similar to that...
-Yeah, you're right.
-..expensive one I was looking at. Pop-up.
Now, they were on the verge of spending £110
on a high-end toaster with the copper styling they like.
Do you guys want some toast?
The toast is in completely.
Let's see if it toasts evenly.
At 25 quid from a budget chain store, if they like this toaster,
well, that's £85 saved straight off.
-Do you know what? It's done the job. I think it's all right.
-Main thing it toasts is the bread, right?
-I think they've done a good swap here.
I think this is something we can actually...
This is definitely a keeper.
It's shown me that...
We don't have to spend crazy money for a toaster.
So, a big tick for the toaster.
But what about the furniture?
Yeah, you can smell it. You can still smell the sanding on it, so this is...
-This is literally just come out of a woodwork, woodwork shop.
We've done away with the couple's £900 table and bench
and switched it with a new one.
It looks really well made.
It is, yeah. It's impressive how they've got it to look exactly...
-Exactly the same.
-..like ours, as in, like, the legs, the iron legs.
The attention to detail has been really good.
That's because it's bespoke.
It's a bit difficult to say, isn't it?
But I'm a bit stumped if it's going to cost more or less than ours.
It's a lot less.
£339, to be precise.
Our design-loving duo think that you have to pay more
to get high-end style.
So we've devised a blind test to see how far their taste is dictated
by a price tag.
-I've actually been looking for some copper vases.
-So, when you two go and shop,
are you swayed by where the product is sold?
I think I am. Definitely.
And what do you look for in a product, then?
Say you were going to buy something like this, like a decorative vase...
-Yeah. I think the design, I'd have thought.
-Yeah, design, yes.
-If it matches our house.
And right now, yeah, we're a bit obsessed with copper.
They have no idea where these vases are from or how much they cost.
Tell me which ones you prefer, then, from the outset.
OK. My favourite one is that one.
-Oh, my God. I was going to say the same thing.
-That's my favourite.
-I'd say that one, as well.
-And I'd probably go for...
-I really like the...
-The end one is beautiful.
-Yeah, that one.
They've chosen their two top designs.
But how will the couple rate the vases when it comes to price?
So, most expensive - which are we going for?
-OK, so number one, number two...
-Number one, OK.
-We're going number one, OK?
-And that's next.
Number two, second most expensive?
-Third, fourth, fifth.
Having ranked the vases from most to least expensive,
will their favourite model prove to be the priciest?
So, we start here, then, with the one you thought
was the least expensive.
This one is, in fact, from Zara Home.
-Priced at 22.99.
The one they thought was the next cheapest is our most expensive,
from a top designer at £90.
-See, you two would've been drawn to a Tom Dixon little box
-with a copper vase in it.
In third place is a Danish-designed vase which is, in fact, £75.
-You liked it, didn't you?
-I did, I did really like it.
Would you pay £75 for it?
-Yeah, we would look at it and think, "Well, that's a lot of money to spend on a vase."
-And then we'd go home and I'd dream about it and go, "I have to have it - I'll go and get it."
The vase they think was the second most expensive
was £30 from Habitat.
Which leaves their favourite vase
as the one they presume is the priciest.
£10 from Tesco.
I'm getting that.
Yeah? Yeah. I really like it. I just can't believe it's from Tesco's.
-We all agreed that this was the nicest.
And this is, in fact, the cheapest,
so I think sometimes it's all about the way something's packaged up,
and that one would look beautiful in this house.
-It will, yes, lovely.
-For £10, you can have it.
I think that we do have expensive taste,
so that was a real eye opener
that we picked something that was so cheap.
It's really changed my perception of where I buy things.
Now I might be a bit more encouraged to go and look
in the home departments of just a supermarket.
Result! They're starting to see that shopping around could help them
finish the house faster.
But will Nisha and Sachin stay so positive when it comes to using
our swapped kitchenware?
They spend a lot of time and money
trying to recreate a restaurant experience at home.
We've only been given these.
So making a meal with our mystery items may not be a picnic.
Knives do look nice, they do look like they're going to do a good job.
We've switched their £290 set of knives for ones that cost 70.
They're doing the job - they're cutting it.
They've got a nice weight to it.
So, yeah, they're good.
That's what we like to hear.
I think...it's OK, you know?
I don't mind the pan. It's quite nice.
-I like it.
-Yeah, I think...
It's a nice design, you know?
Did Sachin just say "nice design"?
Ah, we're doing well here.
Plus, that pan is part of a set that cost £65 less
than the German-designed ones that they own.
It's time to get this pizza stone out.
On tonight's menu - pizza.
Now, the family usually use a £110 Pizza Maker.
But we've given them a pizza stone, costing £20, instead.
A bit clunky, isn't it?
Fingers crossed, it will deliver the goods to their guests -
Nisha's sister and her friend.
They've given us this pizza stone.
Stones are meant to be really good.
Yeah, yeah. So we're testing that out.
OK, this is the first one coming off.
It's a bit stuck on the bottom.
Maybe you need to cook it for longer.
This does not look like the pizza I cook.
-We're going to have to be controversial...
-Yeah, I don't care.
-I don't care. This is not working.
-This is rubbish!
Uh-oh. A vote of no confidence in the pizza stone.
-Let's do some proper pizzas now.
Well, we can't win them all.
But what do they think of the crockery?
Wait, are these plates different?
-Yeah, they're not my plates.
-For everyday plates, they're all right.
-But they're not special, are they?
-We've swapped their fancy £6 plates for bone-china ones
from a homeware store that cost less than half the price.
And how does the cutlery compare?
I like the forks and knives, cos they're... Cos they're...
The ones we have, they're quite thin and slender.
Great. Our cutlery set could save them £85.
And what do they think of our glasses?
-I like the glass. It's nice.
-I think they're totally glass.
They're not crystal.
Nisha, I thought you knew your glasses. These ARE crystal.
I mean, in terms of quality, they don't feel...
They don't feel cheaper.
-If these are cheaper, it will make me think...
-That's a good thing.
They could be, like, you know, a pack of four for ten quid -
I'll go for it. Cos they do look nice.
-That's exactly what they are.
I think it'll be so nice to realise if it's just something just off the shelf, you know, and we liked them,
maybe we don't have to always go top-end all the time.
I think we might be getting somewhere.
Like Nisha and Sachin,
many of us are drawn to familiar brands because of their packaging.
And Professor Avi Shankar wants to tell us how companies try to get
their products to catch our eye.
OK, I'm going to lift this up - just tell me the first thing you see.
-OK, why did you go for Dettol, Alex?
-Cos of the yellow.
-My favourite colour.
-I picked that.
I picked Flash, just cos it was right in the middle and it's
such a well-known brand. So it was, like, in my face - Flash!
So what's interesting here is that, essentially,
they all look pretty similar, don't they? But the packaging detail
for the branded products is slightly different
to the less-branded products.
So, for example, with this one,
we've got the predominance of the brand here.
And what it does comes a bit lower down.
Whereas with the own-label product here,
what it does comes first and then lower down, "by Sainsbury's."
That's funny, because actually,
you don't really look at what it does when you see the brand.
Cos, in a funny way, the brand is just telling you,
"We clean really well."
The other thing I think that you'll agree
is the striking nature of some of the colours here.
Avi wants to show us how colours can subconsciously play
a role in our purchasing behaviour.
So what does blue mean to you?
Cold, it would mean to me.
-Something that's cold...
Some of the other colours we've got here - we've got green.
-Yeah, it could mean, like, sustainable.
Well, green is used in this particular brand here to signify
So, white - white symbolises cleanliness, freshness.
-Purity. So we'd see that on baby products, for example.
-Well, here we've got yellow...
OK? I suspect it's got lemon in.
And it does. But what's interesting is that the own-label products
have got less colour in them than the branded products,
but it doesn't necessarily mean what's inside it is any different.
I mean, this one actually says on it, "Kills 99% of bacteria."
-Cos a lot of them will have the same ingredients in.
-Quite possibly. Quite possibly.
-Yeah, so look past the packaging.
So what we're saying is pick it, pause, then purchase.
-See, do you like that?
-Do you like it?
-That's very good, very good.
-You can have that, Avi.
-You could get a job in marketing.
When your looks fade.
So, Avi's lesson is, stay strong.
Don't get sidetracked by seductive packaging.
And that's something Sachin in north London is learning the hard way,
as he tries to figure out what fragrance we've given him.
This has got me duped.
Sachin owns 15 aftershaves, worth over £700.
I think this is actually one of my aftershaves.
Really? You reckon it's one of your premium perfumes,
costing in the region of 80 quid, then?
Definitely. I'm sure of it.
I like it - it's my smell.
Sorry, Sachin. It's not. It's from a high-street department store
and it cost less than £20.
Sachin loves his designer denim...
I just love jeans.
I actually... I actually wear jeans every day.
..and currently owns 26 pairs.
I've got the smart pair, the casual wear,
the kind of party wear, as well.
And today, Sachin, you have the Shop Well For Less pair.
This is it. Let's have a look at these.
See, I wouldn't go for a pair of jeans like this.
I'm going to embrace these jeans and try them on and wear them,
but I'm not really happy about these, to be totally honest.
And these high-street jeans cost £28 -
which, if he did buy next time, would save him £72.
OK. Bit weird, because they're stretchy but, again,
the time will tell.
And holding up his high-street denim is a £20 high-street belt -
in place of his usual 75 quid one.
Quite a boring belt.
It wouldn't be something I would go and buy, personally.
OK, the belt's a no-go.
But how about the finishing touch for this fashionista - footwear?
Yeah. I actually like these.
They're nice. Only problem is,
I'm not wearing the right colour socks with them.
Yeah, these are comfortable, so if I went to...
If I went to a shop and tried these on, I'd buy them.
I hope they're not, like, £300 or something.
They're not. They're £16, compared to his designer pair that cost 84.
In fact, if Sachin swapped
his entire branded outfit,
which cost £259,
for this high-street version at £64,
he would stand to save nearly £200.
The couple spend big, but they do work hard.
So I've come over to find out where Sachin's drive comes from.
I think my work ethic came from my dad, really.
He's... He came over to this country in the '70s
and worked from the age of 16 in a bakery.
I kind of strive to be just like him.
-That's lovely, though.
And the whole work ethic has come from my mum, as well.
She's always told us, "Listen, if you want to buy that,
-"get a job as soon as you're legally able to work."
"I'm not giving any pocket money - you have to go out and get what you want."
Can you remember your first memory of being brand-aware?
When I was 12 or 13, I got a pair of Reebok trainers.
When I put those pair of trainers on,
I felt like I was walking on air.
I thought, "This is why you pay money for this kind of thing."
And when he was growing up,
his parents were keen for him to choose a more secure career.
It's then down to kind of me being stubborn,
and I said, "I want to do graphic design. I don't care if I get a 12-grand job,"
which I did, when I first left university and got a job.
My dad was a bit more chilled out, cos he just wanted me to kind of
work and just do what I wanted to do. Er, whereas with my mother,
it was a lot more of a battle and it comes down to,
"Oh, there's no graphic design jobs."
Because my mum worked in the Jobcentre, she saw lots of people
coming out of university as graphic designers, so she said, "There's no job in it", but I said,
"Listen, I'm going to prove you wrong. Watch."
So, because you chose your own path,
do you feel that pressure to be successful,
to show your parents that you're providing?
Cos I think it doesn't matter how old you are - you still want to make them proud, don't you?
Yeah, of course. Yeah, I've always wanted to make my parents proud, because...
-Sorry, I'm getting emotional.
-HE CLEARS THROAT
Because I think it comes down to me proving them wrong, to say that,
"Listen, I've... Able to...
"I'm able to provide for my family, buy my own house."
Eventually I set up my own business and everything started falling into place.
And I met Nisha along the way, got two beautiful kids,
moved out of my parents' house, so it just...
And it's nice to think... Sometimes my dad has told me...
It's all right.
Sometimes my dad has told me that he's proud of me, and my mum as well.
-So that means a lot.
-Yeah, I'm sure.
Well, you... I mean, you've pulled it off.
And you've done the house renovations,
which, like everybody, has cost you more than you thought.
Yes. Doing the build was the biggest thing,
because there was going to be a lot of money put into it.
So we have to kind of now build that pot back up again.
-You build the pot back up.
-And then you choose carefully what you do with that pot.
I need to be a bit more careful with what I spend.
-Because now it's not just me or Nisha, it's...
There's basically four of us.
I just think, for you guys, it's the day-to-day stuff.
-It's kind of cutting down a bit on the clothes,
on the interior design elements
-and just looking at cheaper alternatives.
-Yeah, I totally...
-And then you've nailed it.
Like many people, Sachin believes that well-designed products
perform better, so it's worth splurging on them.
So we're going to look at a product where performance is key -
a travel mug.
And to put them through their paces are the tree team
at the Westonbirt Arboretum.
I like my Bovril or coffee.
Our vehicles can be a little bit rough sometimes,
so it'd be very important that it doesn't dribble
all down your uniform and down your face.
They'll be trying out five travel mugs...
The lightweight KeepCup at £10.
Vacuum-insulated Cheeki mug,
retailing at around £20.
Our deluxe option -
Camelbak Forge, £30.
Ikea's Eftersokt, the cheapest,
And at 17.99,
the Frank Green Smart Cup.
-Here we go.
The heat is on.
Yeah, I like the look of this one.
That is piping hot,
but it does kind of go all over the place.
I like my coffee hot.
I really like this one. I like the style of it.
It's piping hot and I'm really happy with that.
This one seems colourful and good for kids.
This one - nice and robust. I'm quite surprised by this.
I can actually feel it losing some of the heat already.
But which cup will be spill-proof out in the field?
Andy, here we go.
Little bit of a dribble.
Yeah, but not too bad, considering you're going at speed.
Let's have another drink!
-Not a single drop.
I'm so surprised that you didn't actually get wet then.
I'm not too sure if that's the cup or the size of my mouth.
You seem to be getting a bit of a spillage there.
-Having a spill?
-Little bit of a spill, yeah.
After a bumpy ride, which of our cups have won our tree team over?
Well, not at all surprised.
The best one.
So, the team's top travel mug
was the most expensive.
But our cheapest option
was joint second.
I think I'd go for this one - 6.95 as against 30.
Performed really well for the money.
Just goes to show, it's always worth shopping around,
as something cheaper could do the job just as well.
That's advice that label-loving Nisha in north London
is doing her best to take on board,
as she tests out some substitute scented candles.
I do love my Yankee Candles. And they look very similar.
Let's give them a smell.
That's quite nice. It's vanilla-ish.
Vanilla cake or something like that.
Nisha's usual branded candles cost around £20 each.
I just really like different rooms smelling nice.
You know, on first looks, they look very much like my ones.
Well, these candles ARE made by the same company,
but for a supermarket and sold at half the price.
Yeah, but the real truth is once you light them.
Now you have to wait.
And if Nisha likes them,
she could save £65 a year to help finish off the house.
But are they lighting Nisha's fire?
They are good. I wouldn't say they're excellent.
You do get a scent, but it's just not as strong and as punchy
as my normal candle brand. So...
But if it's, like, cheap as chips, it's definitely an alternative.
Nisha's brand blinkers are coming off,
but there's still a way to go to get this family thinking less about
spending and more about finishing their house,
so I'm heading over for a financial pow-wow.
-I just wanted to have a bit of a chat with you about how you
spend your money and what you spend it on.
And I know one of the big things for you has been this kitchen,
-which is absolutely gorgeous.
But it's been a big expense for you, hasn't it?
-It has, yes.
-So, tell us a bit about how you've paid for it.
-Ah, well, we spent seven years saving for it, probably.
Bit of savings, little bit on the house, so...
-Yeah, but mainly most of our savings have been used on it.
And you started with a budget, didn't you?
-But you went over it.
As you do. I think everybody goes over budget.
Can you tell me how much by in terms of a percentage?
So there's going over budget and then there's, like,
"Hello, budget! Where are you?"
-Yeah, a bit of that.
-And why do you think that was?
There was a few unexpected things that happened.
Yeah. And I think it is our taste, as well.
We tried to really go with the cheap stuff and we just couldn't.
-Then we just said, "OK, we're doing this once - let's just do it."
So there's still loads you need to do.
-And how are you looking at funding that?
I think we just need to start building up that savings pot again.
Do you know, roughly, at all,
what percentage of your income you're saving?
I think we save about...
-Is it about 20%?
So if we now look at the 80% that's left...
-..what do you spend that on?
Major thing would be the mortgage and then it would be, you know,
the overspend of what we've gone on here.
-Obviously, the food and... Food and drink...
-The usual things.
-Yeah, yeah, it's just...
-So, if you are looking at that 80%...
-..could you split it into your wants and your needs?
So, if we look at this kitchen...
-This was a need.
You need a kitchen, don't you?
-And you need things like a sink and a cooker,
cos that's fair dos - it's a need.
-So let's have a look at some of the specifics in the kitchen.
Let's take your rather fab plug.
OK, so you would class a plug in your kitchen
-as a need or a want?
-As a need.
-Yeah. It's a need.
Yeah. You need to have plugs in your kitchen. So, this plug...
Oh, can plugs be ugly?
-How can they be? I mean, there's not that much difference -
it's just got a USB thing that this one hasn't.
-There's no switches.
-It's just sleeker. There's no switches.
Oh, you don't like a switch?
No, you don't need a switch these days - just plug it in, ready to go.
Right! You two are going to take some work, aren't you?
We're going to look at these, right?
..is also a need - it's a plug.
-So, then, this one becomes what?
So let's look at something else.
-You proper love all this - no pressing buttons - don't you?
We do. The touch screen, yeah.
So you'd start this off as a need, and then I show you a cheaper one...
-..and you realise...?
-OK, it's a want.
-That's a want.
The toilet flush...
..which took... I mean, to be honest,
when I sat on your loo when we first arrived,
I struggled with which one to press.
Again, you need a toilet flush.
But let's face it - there are cheaper options out there.
And, you know, this is a classic.
-And so that, again, goes into your...?
do you really want to spend that much on a toilet flush?
And just to give you that comparison...
-..of what you spent compared to what we've given you,
there's a £450 difference there.
-Which is quite a lot of money, isn't it?
And that's just on switches, man!
It's literally just a case of, if you want to try and save money...
-..when you're out shopping,
is this something we really need or is this something we want?
How much do you really care about what the toilet flush looks like?
It's just being more sensible. I can see where you're going with this.
-Good. So if you look at it as your 100%...
-..if it's 50% on what you need,
30% on what you want,
so the lifestyle choices, and 20% saving,
-then that is a really manageable way to live.
-It is, it is, yeah.
And is a good way to save money.
-Can you do that?
-Yeah, we can do that.
The thing I love about them is they're so stylish and they get
loads of pleasure out of that, with all of their crazy switches and
everything. But it's about getting that compromise between being able
to get the house how they want it to look
and actually finishing the house.
They need to finish it in order for it to be their forever home
and this will help them to save money to do that.
And, as the couple are starting to see, there are savings to be made
everywhere, including their toiletries.
Well, let's try this bad boy out.
I use whatever toothpaste is available, really.
And I've got a 3-D deluxe whitening toothpaste.
-Didn't know about that.
Like, I'm learning about this now.
-Yeah, because you use too much of it.
-Look how big my mouth is!
Nisha's secret sparkly toothpaste is priced at a fairly fresh £4.50.
But we've given them a cheaper brand, costing only a pound.
-It's very minty.
-It's nice - my mouth feels really fresh.
-I think taste and texture is important and both were fine.
Great news. If they use this, the couple could squeeze
an extra £90 a year into their savings account.
And what about every man's bathroom essential?
The eye gel. It looks very similar to what I use at the moment.
Which costs £24.
It does feel nice - I can feel it, nice and cooling on my eyes.
If this is going to save me money, then I am sold.
Well, it will indeed. It's from a high-street chemist
and would save you almost £17 a pop.
But Nisha's mystery make-up might be more of a challenge.
Don't know, I just have a feeling I'm not going to like it.
Just by looking at it, it's just not as pretty as all my stuff!
But do they do the job?
Doesn't smell like my one.
It's blending quite well.
It's not bad. If it's going to save me a lot of money...
..then this one is OK.
With our swap foundation, you'd be almost £10 better off.
It is good. It's providing good coverage.
And what about the lippy?
Oh, that smells really cheap.
Nisha's usual high-end lipstick sets her back £15.50.
This lipstick would save her a tenner.
It's actually not bad.
It's a little bit more...
..glossy than I would go for.
And the colour's nice. This is a very nice everyday colour, actually.
Oh, gosh. I don't want to like it!
I want to say I hate it.
But it's... I like it - it's quite nice.
Yeah, I think stripping away the packaging
has made me think differently about things.
I think I am attracted by the packaging
and how things feel and how they look.
Fantastic. Looks like Nisha's turned a corner.
But to really put the couple to the test, I've got a challenge for them.
-This is something that you're sort of hankering after, isn't it, one of these?
To go with their shiny new kitchen,
the Parmars want a shiny new stand mixer.
But, true to form, they want a top-of-the-range £500 one.
-He's always wanted one.
He watches TV and goes, "Oh, we really need one of them."
I've seen your type before!
I want them to try these three machines
without knowing their make or cost
to find out if they really do need to splash as much cash
as they think they need to.
What's your initial impression?
That looks cheap. That's nice.
I really like the look of this one. This is my favourite.
Nisha and Sachin clearly like the look of the third machine.
But will performance change their minds?
So, we're going to give them a go and just see how they fare.
First up, a VonShef stand mixer, our cheapest machine at £85.
-No, I don't think that's very good.
-Oh, that's taking quite a long time.
When I do it with my hand whisk...
-It doesn't take this long.
-..within that time, it would be done.
-What about noise?
-We don't like the size of this,
-either, do we? It's just too big.
They're not keen.
OK, shall we move on to this one, then? So, Nisha do you want a go this time?
Yeah. Oh. God, it's not smooth, as I thought it would be.
At a penny under £250,
will the Bodum Bistro whip up their excitement?
OK. Does feel clunky, though...
-..when you lift it up.
-Can I have a try of how it opens?
-So, are we not convinced?
-But I know you two.
In your minds, you've already discounted this pair here.
-No, but... We are attracted...
It all comes down to their favourite-looking machine.
Have a proper look at this first.
Oh, it's a lovely mechanism, that is.
-Just open and close it, look.
-Look at that.
Well, proof is in the pudding, as they say.
Here we go.
Oh, man, look at that.
-Nicer sound, as well.
-Now, the best bit...
-..of the conversation is you're going,
-"It's even a nicer sound".
-Look at that.
-Oh, my God.
This is just built really well.
The way it opens, the way it feels.
-But do you think that this one comes with a big price?
There's no contest for Nisha and Sachin.
Number three is their winner.
And they're certain it's the brand they love.
So you two are pretty convinced that you know which make this one is.
-Yeah. That's the KitchenAid.
-Yeah, definitely, 100%.
-About £400 to £500?
And you'd be happy to spend that, having tried it?
-So, the moment of truth.
This is, in fact...
-149.99, this baby.
The Aldi Ambiano is a bargain for this pair,
and it comes with a three-year guarantee.
-Oh, my goodness. I'm definitely getting that.
-Good. Good result.
I'm still surprised that it's an Aldi one.
That just has completely proven us wrong.
Yes. Definitely a winner for us.
I think I've learned a little bit of a life lesson for the future.
I think if I need to get something now,
I don't think I'll jump in and go, "Right, I'm just getting the best of the best."
-We're definitely getting that. That's saved us a lot of money, hasn't it?
Job done. They're on board with our budget buys.
And to save even more money,
we want to help Nisha make the most of what she already owns,
like her barely worn Indian outfits.
So we're sending in a sewing pro
to help her give them a new lease of life.
-Come in, come in.
Rumana Lasker is a dab hand at recycling old clothes.
So, what would you make out of something like this, for example?
So, you could do interior design cushion covers,
but I would really love to have a blazer out of this.
-Just a really slimline, sleek blazer on top of some nice trousers.
You've got some gorgeous outfits.
Thank you very much.
I buy an outfit for a particular occasion, or a wedding,
and I wear it for that particular event and I don't wear it again, which is really bad.
I think it goes out of fashion and then I want something else.
I'm exactly the same. I've got boxes full of Asian outfits in my bedroom.
But I started kind of wanting to re-use them a bit more,
so I refashioned a few. So I'm wearing one here.
This is a kimono I made.
-Oh, it's amazing.
-It's quite trendy.
-Oh, I love that.
I added a trim, you see, just to update it a little bit.
That's totally my style.
So, if you're feeling a little bit more adventurous, this is a dress I made out of a sari.
-So you can see, I kind of kept the sari pleats in the back.
That is really clever.
And I see you've got a sari picked out for us over here.
-How many times have you worn it?
Oh, gosh. I don't think I've ever worn it.
-I think I've just gone off it.
-But actually, look at the embroidery.
-It's so beautiful.
-Just really gorgeous.
And look at how much fabric there is, as well.
-There is lots of it, yes.
-Do you feel like maybe giving it a go
-and doing some sewing?
-Yeah, let's do that.
To get Nisha started,
Rumana's keeping it simple, with a table runner.
So, do you do a lot of sewing?
Oh, I used to, but, yeah, not any more.
Yeah, I'd love to get back into it again.
-Does your mum sew?
-Yeah, well, my whole family background is tailors.
-Everyone's a tailor.
-Yeah, so it's in my blood.
It's thought that around 30% of clothes we own
haven't been worn in the last year, so upcycling is something
we could all do. And if you aren't nifty with a needle,
look for a tutorial online
or find a local seamstress.
-OK, ready for the chop?
-Are you sure?
Once the sari's cut to the length needed,
Rumana removes the embroidered edge so they can reattach it
to the table runner.
So, we're just pinning the border to the main bit of the table runner.
-And then we're just going to do a nice straight stitch,
-all the way down.
Nisha's given control of the sewing machine to sew up both sides.
And shortly after...
..what was an old, unwanted sari is now a new home accessory.
Oh, wow. I think we're done.
Yeah, brilliant. Let's take it out and have a look.
-How do you feel?
-Oh, that's really good.
-It's so simple.
-It's so easy to do
and it doesn't have to be a sari that you do it with.
-It could be anything - it could be, you know,
an old dress, it could be curtains, a quilt cover you love.
Just moving things around and thinking about it differently can create something completely new.
This is really going to inspire me to use some of the clothes that are
just sitting there doing nothing.
And definitely it's going to save me money that way.
Do you know what? I really love how it just shimmers in the light.
Yeah, it's really nice.
See, Nisha? A little bit of fashion frugality
could mean a lot more money in your bank account.
Come on, Druv.
But when it comes to cycling, can we steer Sachin in the right direction?
The bikes I have for the boys are very top-end.
I bought them because I absolutely loved the look and feel
and they're really good quality.
Five-year-old Sai's usual bike cost his dad almost £350.
Plus, Sachin wheeled out 175 quid
on a balance bike for two-year-old Druv.
Do you want to have a look?
Today, Druv's on board a balance bike that cost 50 quid.
- Yay! - Keep going now!
Go on, Sai. Show us how you cycle.
And Sai's test riding a cycle that's
almost £150 cheaper than his usual one.
I like it.
Well, there we go.
I think you can't put a price on happiness.
Whether they're riding a £10 bike or a £100 bike,
to them it's irrelevant.
With Sachin en route to serious savings,
it's time for Alex and I to pay the family one final visit,
to find out if these slaves to design
are ready to spend less and save more.
I'm a tiny bit nervous about this one.
I know, cos we have challenged them quite a bit, haven't we, trying to
get them to make that compromise when it comes to high-end products?
Do you really think they're going to take our advice on board, though?
They have to if they want to finish renovating the house!
This is the most exciting part. I'm really looking forward to finding out what we've been using.
I'm excited and nervous. But most importantly, I'm looking forward
to seeing how much money I can actually save.
-Cos that's the most important thing.
-Can we come in?
-Come in, come in.
So, we're back. And you're smiling, so that's a good sign.
What it been like, then, with all the swaps and things?
How have you found it all?
Certain things were brilliant, certain things were not good.
-OK, shall we have a look at some of them?
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
This family are so focused on design that meeting their standards
with our swaps proved a big challenge.
What did you think of the toaster we gave you?
-Yeah, we loved it.
And it looked really nice, too.
Yeah. And you're really bothered about that, aren't you?
Yeah, it has to look good.
Did it work all right? You know, did your toast come out as well as you hoped?
-It did, it did.
-Well, it toasted the bread.
-Yay! So, it's perfect.
-It was really good.
-It ticked every single box for me.
-This is it.
-Yeah. It's a very nice toaster.
-So, would you buy this?
We want it. We want to buy this one, definitely.
-Let's have a look, then.
-That is the price difference.
Of the one I was looking at?
-Oh, my goodness.
-That is amazing.
-That'll save us a packet.
£84 saved. Nearly £85 cheaper than my £100 one.
-Wow! Look how much...
Er, no, sunshine. That's not happening.
What did you think of the knives we gave you?
-They were good knives.
-I liked the knives.
-Yeah, they were nice.
-Did the job? Fitted with the kitchen?
-Yeah, totally. Yeah.
Do you think they were cheaper, more expensive
-or the same as what you had?
-They were cheaper.
-What makes you say that?
-Cos we spent a lot on our knives.
-So they have to be.
-That's a surprise, isn't it?
Let's have a look at them.
-And the saving...
-Oh, my God. That's shocking.
Yeah, it is. That is shocking.
-Does that say £220.01?
This knife block costs £68.99.
-Is it a swap?
If they'd bought these knives instead,
they could've kept £200 in their pocket.
Next, we substituted their pricey department-store table and bench
with something very similar.
-It was, in fact, a bespoke table.
And you can choose your finish, you can choose the grain.
-So you could have gone to this particular carpenter,
who's online, and chosen exactly what you wanted.
With a bespoke table, you'd often think that it's more expensive,
-Definitely. We thought it would cost more.
Yeah? Well, I've shrunk your table.
I haven't. It was, in fact, for the table and the bench, £339...
-That's amazing. We just didn't know that existed.
-No, we didn't know.
So, next time they're furniture shopping,
they'll be aware of cheaper alternatives.
But the couple weren't quite so sold on some of our other homeware swaps...
-No, didn't like them at all.
-Not our style.
Including the crockery.
I think we're always going to struggle with you two as far as
-kitchenware's concerned, cos that's your thing, isn't it?
And of course, the pizza stone.
One of the biggest things that shocked us in your house
was the number of glasses you have.
What did you think of the ones we swapped?
Liked the wine... White-wine glasses.
-Champagne flutes, I quite liked.
-The red glasses, no.
-Didn't like the red glasses.
-Wasn't my style,
but overall they were very good quality.
-..these are the glasses.
-But let me just look at this glass for a minute.
Can we just compare it to the one that you actually have and see
-how different it ISN'T?
there's not a staggering amount of difference there, is there?
So, they're a supermarket own brand.
And they'd save £21.70.
So, we've got the champagne flutes.
That's a saving of £60.
And for the 16 glasses we swapped...
In total, you would save £123.40, just on glasses.
-Would you swap?
-I would swap. Definitely.
-Yeah, yeah, I would.
-But not before the others smash.
Is it making you think differently about how you guys buy, though?
-You would never have thought of going to a supermarket for your glasses, would you?
But they are crystal glasses, as well.
-They are the quality that you want from them.
Definitely. No, that's really good to know.
So, we did pretty well overall with the homeware -
but when it came to clothes,
snappy dresser Sachin wasn't wowed by our cut-price jeans.
Put them on and they were just... They just felt really weird.
They were like... Are these jeans or tights?
-No, it's not a swap.
-You win some, you lose some.
However, Sachin did want our wallet and loved our loafers.
They are a lot cheaper than yours.
So he could hang on to an extra £140
if he stays brand-free in the future.
Your little face! It's lit up there at the money you could save,
cos you really like them.
And Sachin wasn't too sniffy about our alternative aftershave, either.
I think this is actually one of my aftershaves.
All right. Let's find out.
So, the one we gave you was, in fact, this.
The difference in price is...
-Oh, we love that.
-I'm getting you that for Christmas.
That is a substantial saving on one bottle of aftershave.
Yeah, it is. Yes, it is.
-OK, so it's a swap.
-Definitely, yeah, that is a swap.
I think I've used the same brand of make-up for so many years,
so I was quite nervous of trying something completely different.
We changed all of Nisha's costly cosmetics for cheaper brands.
-Were you impressed by what we gave you?
-I was impressed.
Nisha was won over by more than 80% of our beauty buys,
which would save her almost £350 a year.
-I didn't know how much this stuff cost - that's just crazy.
-You don't need to know - it's not important.
Now does it make you think, "Oh, there might be other brands out there that I'll like, as well"?
Yeah, yeah, definitely.
And there are serious savings at stake with the children's bikes, too.
You spent quite a lot on the boys' bikes, as well.
-Yes, I did.
So we swapped the boys' bikes.
-What did Sai think about his little bike?
He loved it. He's five years old - he doesn't know the difference.
So it just made me realise, you know, I could've given him anything.
-It doesn't really make any difference. And the smile on his face was brilliant.
So the bike really was more about what you wanted?
Yes, that's right. I think I was a bit selfish and I really liked it.
It was kind of more for me, because I've got really nice bikes,
so I want my boys to have really nice bikes, as well.
OK. So, would you swap with that in mind?
-This is not the exact bike, obviously, that we gave Sai.
OK? But the saving would be...
-Wow, that's... Yeah.
-It's loads, isn't it?
It is a lot, yeah. That's a lot, yeah.
-So that's a no-brainer, right?
-Yes, it is.
Druv's bike was £125 cheaper.
-Between those bikes, you could've saved nearly £300.
Having now gone through all the swaps, how do you feel?
Has it opened your eyes to a different way of spending?
-Yes, it has.
We'll look in different places, not automatically go to the branded shop
that we feel comfortable going in.
Consider supermarkets, high-street places.
-Be a lot more savvy.
It has proven quite tricky to change your perspective.
-But do you understand now that sometimes you just
-don't need to spend as much on every item?
It's just about getting that compromise so that you can get
the house renovated, get it done and get it to the design standard
-that you want it to be.
This is a real move forward for the couple.
Shopping around in future for their clothes, toiletries and homeware
could mean big savings over the course of a year.
So, taking on board the swaps that we've shown you
-and everything we've talked about...
..it would be a saving of...
-We haven't even gone as cheap as we could've.
We could've saved you more, but we know...
We knew this was going to be hard, so we thought, "We're not going to go too low - we'll go mid."
-That's good, though.
-Yeah, that is good.
That is loads of money without changing your lifestyle very much.
-I think that's very good, yeah.
-We're not talking about major changes here -
-this is just little things.
-So, have you enjoyed the process?
-It's been brilliant.
-It's been brilliant. It's been such a fun thing to do.
And you're richer because of it.
All we need to do now is work out a date
-that we can come round and have some supper.
-And he'll cook you a curry. Yeah!
-Well, that went well, didn't it?
-Well, it did. You know what?
I thought it would be really hard to convince them.
I know, but actually they were more up for it than I thought they'd be.
Yeah. I mean, I don't know why you doubted us, really.
-I didn't - you did!
-It was you!
You were the one worried. ALEX CHUCKLES
Whoa! Look at all the paint.
..a click-click shopper out of control.
-Three to four deliveries a day!
But can we uninstall their spending habits?
Give us your mobile phone!
Steph McGovern and Alex Jones are in north London to meet the Parmar family. Graphic designer Sachin and his wife Nisha have two sons, five-year-old Sai and two-year-old Druv. They love the finer things in life and when it comes to shopping, design is everything.
Nisha and Sachin love to entertain and have recently renovated their kitchen. But this design-conscious couple believe you have to pay to get the best quality and design. Can Alex and Steph convince them that they don't have to spend a fortune to get the look they're after?
To show the Parmars the reality of their overspending, Alex and Steph resort to shock tactics. They raid the family home and, armed with the evidence, they create a pop-up shop filled with the contents of the family home. Will this force them to face up to their spendthrift ways?
To really challenge them, Alex and Steph give their home a bit of a makeover, taking away their usual brands and repackaging them. Some will be cheaper, but to really put their product loyalty to the test, some items won't have been swapped at all. How will this design-focused couple cope with their debranded products?
From crockery to candles and kitchen gadgets to kitchen furniture, have Alex and Steph shown the design-obsessed Parmars an alternative way of shopping that could save them money in the future?
Professor Avi Shankar shows how brands use their packaging to catch our eye. Five travel mugs are put through their paces to see which one comes out on top, and Alex gets the Parmars to blind test three stand mixers to see if price really does equal quality.
The experiment is over, but have the Parmars embraced enough new products and changed their shopping and spending ways to save money?