Let us all learn from the thrifty skills of Lucy Noble.
Lucy, 40, is a mum of two and a self-confessed coupon queen. She absolutely loves a bargain, and her money-saving ways mean she feeds her family for under £3 a day.
Plus, she’s already done her Christmas shopping, having saved a load of cash by doing it all in the January sales.
The key to her scrimping is having no shame about using apps, vouchers, coupons, and discount codes, and planning out her shopping with military precision.
Lucy will even return full-price items for a refund, just so she can buy them for a reduced amount when they go in the sale.
All the money she saves go straight to her children; Abbey, six, and Owen, nine.
Lucy says: ‘My mates say that I’m tight, but I say I’m just thrifty.
‘I’m obsessed with making savings – it takes over your life. I do spend a lot of time on my phone. I would say about two to three hours a day looking for offers. My husband tells me off quite a bit for it.
‘I’ve always been a bit of a bargain hunter and started trying to save money when I was in my early 20s.
‘My sister used to sell a lot of stuff on eBay, so I started doing that, then it went on from there.’
At first Lucy just used coupons in passing, but in recent years she’s become a dedicated bargain hunter.
She’s joined a load of Facebook groups so she can keep an eye on the latest offers, and every day will search ‘latest freebies’, saying that can get you everything from food to makeup.
Lucy also signs up to do product testing, so she’s sent full-size bottles of lotions and potions for free.
One of her regular bargain hunting tools is Try It, which tells users when emails are going out offering freebies, the Ashleigh Money Saver websites, and the Reward Me Now app, which lets you buy a code to get discounts of up to 18%.
‘I get such a buzz when I see a bargain,’ says Lucy.
‘Last Christmas I got some dressing gowns for £25 each and they reduced the price two days later, so I took them back and got a refund, then bought them again for £12.50.
‘Most of my friends say, ‘Oh I wouldn’t dare to do that,’ but I’m saving money, so why wouldn’t I? It was £12.50 to spend on something else.
‘I will return things even if buying them again in the sale only means saving a couple of pounds, because I would rather have that money back.
‘I’ve ordered things online before, then realised two days later they have reduced the price, so I’ve ordered them again at the cheaper amount and sent the originals back to get a full price refund.’
Lucy has managed to restrict her weekly food shop to just £20 for a family of four, using offers and the Feed Your Family For Around £20 A Week Facebook page (which advises you to do exactly what it says on the tin).
Her budget requires careful meal planning and hunting down bargains, but Lucy says this has allowed her to save more than £1,500 a year.
‘Some people say they don’t have time to do it, but it doesn’t have to take a long time if you plan carefully,’ says Lucy.
‘Before I go shopping I will check online for offers, check the apps and then decide what supermarket to go to.
‘I’m thinking about what I’m going to do for the kids’ tea throughout the week and how many meals I can make from something. Nothing is wasted.
‘I cook stuff like Bolognese from scratch, working out how much we will eat and freezing the rest. If we have a chicken we will use everything – we’ll even use the carcass for stock for a soup.
Lucy’s top tips for saving cash:
- Use coupons and cashback websites
- Plan your meals for the week
- Do not be afraid to take items back. That’s money in your pocket rather than in the retailer’s till.
- Double up by using vouchers and discount codes together.
- Sign up to get freebies in the post
‘You can also buy fresh vegetables for just as little. You can find them for 20p. I go to the local butcher who often has offers on, too, and stock up, putting items in the freezer.
‘It’s great, as I’m saving money and the kids are eating healthily. It’s just about being organised and being savvy.
‘I used to spend about £50 a week and I’ve managed to reduce that by £30 which really adds up over a year.’
When it comes to travel, the mum will save on that, too, by shopping around for the cheapest deal.
The same applies at Christmas. Lucy will pounce on the January sales to do all of the next year’s Christmas shopping at a significantly reduced price. Then she wraps all the stuff and keeps it in an airing cupboard.
She says: ‘I also get birthday presents, so if the kids end up going to a party they have a gift already. I make a note of all the things I’ve bought so I don’t forget.
‘Friends will spend £700 to £800 per child at Christmas, while I don’t really have a budget, but I try and keep it below £200.
‘Having things bought and wrapped takes so much of the stress out of it. Friends will go out on Christmas Eve to get presents and I can’t think of anything worse than doing that.
‘I’ll also collect makeup samples, which make great little gifts, and looking out for free items you get with magazines.
‘Quite often you’ll pay £4 for the magazine and get a mascara worth £15, so I’ll go to different shops to buy the same magazine, but with a different gift.’
Noticing a theme? For Lucy, saving money is all about hunting out bargains and putting the time in to find the best possible deal.
If you want to do the same, throw away any awkwardness about asking for deals.
‘I am bargain crazy and if I see a shop closing down I’ll have a really good look for stuff,’ Lucy says. ‘I want to see if I can get stuff for as cheap as possible.
‘I will pay full price occasionally, but very rarely, and if I can I will get it discounted.
‘I have no idea how much I save, but I think it must be thousands of pounds, especially when you take into account the savings on holidays.
‘I get stuck with the label of being tight, but if I can save money that will go into my savings – meaning we can take the kids on a nice holiday, so it’s worth doing.’
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