The Savvy Shopper

Blue And Pink Piggy Banks,

I like a bargain, actually that’s an understatement, I LOVE a bargain, and I basically refuse to buy anything full price unless it’s a life or death situation. I thought I would share a few of my favourite tips for shopping with you. This list is by now means exhaustive but it’s the stuff that currently gains me most value.

Coupons
Yes you’ve probably seen that extreme couponing program, and those money saving programs where they get a whole bag of shopping for 5p, I have, and it’s a bit embarrassing really, and in my eyes makes the whole game look a bit shameful, I would never do that, however on a more realistic scale, taking a browse around the coupon sites occasionally in order to supplement savings on your weekly shop can have a great pay off. I like to check maybe every 2-3 weeks and if there is anything I usually buy on offer, or a new product I’d like to try, it’s an absolute no-brainer. The Key sites worth taking a look at are listed below; Don’t forget to make sure your printer is working before printing as you often only get one chance….

Coupon shop: These have a variety of grocery coupons from multiple brands.

Caring everyday: Run by Johnson & Johnson, this is mainly toiletry items, however you’ll be surprised at the amount of brands they own that you’ll recognise such as Listerine, Benylin, Calpol, Netrogena. There’s quite often a 50p off coupon for facial wipes, which is great if you combine with one of the regular BOGOF or half price deals you can get on them in the supermarket.

SuperSavvyMe: Brought to you by another big brand – P&G, you’ll find coupons for the likes of Aussie, Febreeze, Iams, Pantene and Gilette, they also give out free samples and run competitions.

MyMail: I’ve only recently discovered this one, it seems to be coupons mainly for new products, although my recent favourite was 50p off of Divine Chocolate (try the toffee and sea salt!), and I’ve found quite a few of these coupons can be printed more than once. There’s also benefits to collecting the codes off of the Daily Mail – but I’ll get to that bit in a minute.

Couponstar: This website isn’t so much one for consumers – I think this is a company that facilitates coupons, never the less it is a great place to find a list of current coupons that you may not have found on the above sites.

Money Saving Expert: And finally, if you’re not all ‘couponed’ out by now, head over to this post on the MoneySavingExpert forum where people are always posting their latest finds.

Customer Loyalty

It doesn’t always pay to be loyal! However below are my pick of the loyalty schemes which I think are certainly worth joining:

MyWaitrose: The key benefits of this scheme are the free daily cup of coffee (or tea!), a free newspaper when you spend £5 (£10 at the weekend), and exclusive discounts on products – the selection of which varies, and the discount rate also varies between 5-25% depending on how generous Waitrose and/or their suppliers are feeling!

Most importantly, there is the recently introduced ‘Pick your own scheme’ which invites MW customers to pick 10 products from a list of a 1000ish which they will then receive 20% off every time they shop. The great thing about this is you still get any promotions on those items too, so my current favourite is getting 2 of my favourite pizzas for £4.30 when they are usually £4.20 each thanks to a combination of my it being one of my ‘picks’ and on a ‘2 for £6’ offer….thank you very much (nom nom nom).

My JohnLewis: Not quite as established as the above, but is still in it’s infancy in comparison. Some (used to be all) customers receive vouchers for free coffee and cake, now it seems a little more sporadic, but as with the MyWaitrose card I’ll keep swiping away as I’m sure there will be good things to come once it is a little more established, in the mean time I’ll keep my fingers crossed that those little cake vouchers continue to pop through my letterbox.

Virgin Flying Club You don’t need to be a frequent flyer to reap the reward of this one. yes I have taken a couple of flights with Virgin in the seven or so years I have been a member, but the majority of my points have been accrued through online shopping… just click through their website and your purchases will earn you miles – lots of popular stores are on there, a few extra clicks could earn you a holiday sometime in the future…. Not to mention regularly adding to your miles in this way means any miles you have earned from flights are less likely to expire.

Top Tip: If you shop at John Lewis, shop online. Register your My John Lewis card onto your account, click through via Virgin to earn Flying club miles, then shop with a partnership card to earn points that accumulate into John Lewis Vouchers! 

Boots Advantage Card: An oldie but a goody, I got mine the year it launched, at the tender age of 12! The advantage card comes of age this year, launched in 1997 – the original loyalty card! Points make prizes! If you don’t have one where have you been! worth carrying around and swiping every time you shop, then after a little while treating yourself to a little something.

Tesco: I’m not the biggest fan of Tesco but it does serve a purpose on a lonely Sunday when everything else is shut, and the fuel is occasionally cheap too. A good use is to collect vouchers and double them up when they have promotions  and buy products or days out, I personally get mine converted automatically to Virgin Flying Club Miles (See above)

Bank accounts/credit cards

1) NEVER BUY PHONE INSURANCE FROM A PHONE PROVIDER!! Got it? Because you can often get yourself a bank account with that and other benefits included for a much smaller monthly payment!

Most banks offer these accounts, the one I use gives me phone insurance, worldwide travel insurance, countrywide breakdown cover and other things that I don’t use (including a taste card) for £16 a month – now how much are you paying for your phone insurance again?

2) If you can trust yourself, put your monthly spend on a credit card with benefits then pay off monthly. I use the John Lewis/Waitrose Partnership card which earns points which are then converted to vouchers, this is good for me since I shop a lot in JL/WR however shop around as there may be one better suited to you, some offer cashback (as do some bank accounts too lately). Also buying things on a credit card does get you better consumer protection, not to be sniffed at.

Voucher sites

Ok they are a royal pain once you sign up, spamming you with their offers daily (or more frequently) but nothing applying a quick filter to your email won’t fix. And yes, you might end up buying loads of things you never knew you needed, BUT if you are in the market for …well, anything, they’re worth a quick look! My favourite offers in the past have included Starbucks, New Look, Asda and Amazon gift cards at cost that is much less than face value, so certainly should not be disregarded. I have listed the ones I have used below:

Bespoke Offers (From Barclaycard, but barclaycard not required)
Groupon Yes their emails are a bit OTT but that’s what spam and filters are for
Wowcher As above but with annoying TV ads!

Tip: Shop around! even  if it does look like an awesome deal on one of the above, still check prices elsewhere as they’re not always as good as they make out! 

Amazon

Amazon sadly isn’t what it used to be, since the price hike in prime membership and a second hike in minimum spend to get free delivery (perhaps intended to push people towards prime, who knows), however there are still some great deals on there, and in fact ways to get around potage costs (sometimes!). I could write for hours about Amazon tips and tricks, but other people already have, so I’ll keep this short and sweet and to my top 2 tips:

Lightning deals used to only be around for the likes of Black Friday, January sales etc etc as far as I know, but did you know Amazon actually have them every day? Lightning deals are items on offer, with limited quantities, and a limited window to buy them in. And by heading to their Today’s deals page you will find those, and their ‘deal of the day’. Beware of RRPs as discounts aren’t always as good as they sound, but never the less I have made some great saving through some tactical lightning deal purchases.

Camel Camel Camel – say what? CCC (I’m not typing that every time!) tracks Amazon prices meaning you can see if it was available for a better price, or in fact you are getting the best price just by pasting in the link to the item you are looking at. FYI, I believe lightning deals don’t show up in their charts though. CCC also have a handy plugin for chrome which only shows when you are on Amazon, a quick press of the button and all the info you need is there.

My mail 

OK so, if like me you don’t really read newspapers, still pick up your free daily mail with your myWaitrose card, and here’s why…. Points make prizes! Every paper has a unique code which you enter into their website which are then converted to points (you get more from a weekend paper by the way). These points can then be converted to various things such as gift cards, and on occasion (and my favourite to date), Starbucks!

Social media

And finally, there’s often an amazing deal, website glitch and all sorts of other things you might not want to miss out on, so I highly recommend following 10 Ways on Facebook and Hot UK Deals on Facebook and Twitter as they are always very timely and have some awesome links!

I could probably go on even more but I’ll leave it here as this post is already WAY too long, but I do hope I’ve helped to save you a few pennies too, and if you have any great recommendations for saving money, please comment below!

Photo credit: Blue And Pink Piggy Banks via photopin (license)

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