How Norfolk coupon queen's new bargain bible could help you save
- Credit: Holly Smith
If you are looking for the best way to shop for Christmas you are probably a year too late.
For Holly Smith, Norfolk’s coupon queen, who once did a £1,200 shop for free, grabbing a bargain is not just for Black Friday - it’s a full time occupation.
And planning ahead is part of being a smart shopper.
“You can buy boxes of Thornton's chocolates for 10p after Valentine's, they haven’t even got any heart branding and they have a year sell-by date on them.” she says.
For those in the know it’s all about scanning and apps.
Supermarkets will sometimes mark items down for next to nothing knowing the coupon community will spread the word without causing a general stampede - some people bagging Disney dolls for 2p, she says.
Then there’s the free products you can try - and get your money back, if you have the right app.
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Tips like these and dozens of others form the backbone of her new money saving book, produced just as lockdown hit and Covid-19 sent the economy into freefall.
Navigating discounts, especially around Black Friday which has grown into a month-long Black November, can be confusing amid a barrage of marketing messages telling us about good deals.
And Mrs Smith, who has three million followers on Facebook and hundreds of thousands on Tik-Tok and YouTube says while there are good offers people need to keep their wits about them.
“Companies are spending millions on marketing for Black Friday, and they are going to want to get something back,” she said.
“It is a marketing trick that is amazing.
“But are you really getting a bargain? Do not feel you have to rush out and buy just because it is Black Friday. You can find discounts all year round.
“Do not bow to pressure, they want you to check out as quickly as possible, it is just one click.”
For anyone really struggling she recommends unlinking their payment details so it takes longer to buy something.
And when the guidelines say we can go out and about it is best to pay in cash, keeping the link with physical money.
Mrs Smith, first enjoyed saving money shopping with her mum aged eight, but took to couponing in a big way when she was recovering from an operation and money was tight.
It has lead to numerous TV appearances and a huge number of followers who have created their own tip-sharing community - as well as an income for her.
She is passionate about sharing all she has learned about good deals, and says having autism helps her to be upfront and honest.
While she appreciates buying a new dress can deliver a boost, overall the benefits of saving and then going on a dream holiday outweigh any short-term shopping fix.
Like her you have to be in it for the long haul - a journey which has seen her go from penny-pinching mum to published author.
Having been approached by a number of publishers she eventually went with Penguin and is delighted with the result.
Although the focus is on ways to save money as well as make it, the final product is fun and colourful and includes some cheap craft ideas and recipes from her Facebook followers.
One woman had messaged her to say she had already saved over £300 after reading the chapter on bills - another convert who was now enjoying the money-saving buzz she has found so addictive.
Saving money didn’t have to be a chore, simply persuading one woman to pay for her takeaway coffee in cash had lead to savings totalling hundreds of pounds.
Holly Smith’s Money Saving Book: Simple savings hacks for a happy life, is available in hardback from most retailers priced £12.99.
For details of offers and to find the Facebook community visit www.couponqueen.co.uk.