The Ultimate Guide To Penny Pinching Review: Roadkill Roast

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PENNY PINCHING: Thursday 1st December, C4, 8pm

A few years ago, picking up a penny from the pavement was hardly worth the calories burned while bending over. Today, you might have to beat away a ravenous crowd in your desperate effort to collect the change. As such Channel 4 has decided to capitalise on the current economic climate by showcasing some of the nation’s greatest cost-cutters in their documentary The Ultimate Guide to Penny Pinching.

While at the surface it’s mostly just pointing the finger at people whose interest in saving money has become a bizarre obsession, sometimes the benefits of this lifestyle can be as striking as the pitfalls.

We follow a range of penny pinchers and they each provide valuable lessons, shocking drawbacks and hilarious explanations for their unusual lifestyle. Suburban housewife Judith incredibly reduces her shopping bill from £50 to £5 with the aid of dozens of coupons, but her family might eat the same meal for weeks if she decides she can save money by buying in bulk.

Bride-to-be Rebekah is having her wedding for less than the cost of the average photographer, but her guests will have to suffer through a booze-free reception (don’t expect any good gifts Rebekah). Meanwhile Jonathon reckons he saves £1,500 a year by eating animals he finds lying by the side of the road, but unfortunately this means he has to eat animals he finds lying by the side of the road.

Finally we have Jalag, a tech-savvy bargain-hunter who always finds the best deals, but took his wife to Pizza Hut for their anniversary because he had a coupon. I know what you’re wondering, and yes, he did get his wallet out for dessert.

Clearly, aspects of this lifestyle are appealing while others come closer to appalling (roadkill!) and Channel 4 does a good job presenting both sides. Their portrayal of these, for lack of a better term, Coupon-Freaks is balanced and there are times when you start thinking that given the savings, a flattened badger kebab wouldn’t be too bad. As one of Jonathan’s friends, invited over to sample the latest “catchâ€? remarks after hearing he has just eaten wood pigeon, pheasant and squirrel, “nice balance.â€? The moments that might be depressing, such as Judith’s explanation as to why her sons had to eat microwaved burgers (“slopâ€? they called it) night after night, are presented as humorous and lighthearted thanks to some upbeat background music and quick reminders that these people are saving thousands.

It’s definitely easy to laugh at these penny pinchers and you’ll be hard-pressed not to chuckle throughout this show, but something about their sincerity, the fact that saving a few pence here and there genuinely makes them happy, quickly makes you forget that they celebrate special occasions in fast-rood restaurants and forces you to consider saving a little money yourself, just for the thrill of it. As such, this isn’t really a ‘guide’ at all, but a window into the lives of some quirky (maybe obsessive) people that don’t just cut costs so they can pay the bills, but do it because it makes them happy.