Are you a Home Bargains shopper?

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No? You should be! My shopping habits have been revolutionised since they opened up a store near me. They sell everything from stationary, to groceries, toiletries, toys, cleaning products, hardware, home furnishings, pets and more!

One of regular purchases here is 4 packs of John West tuna chunks. They sell 3 varieties – in brine, in sunflower oil and in spring water. All are £2.79 for a 4 pack, that’s 67p per tin! The next cheapest I could buy is an economy, supermarket brand at around 80p per tin, although the price has come down recently and you can buy Asda Smartprice or Tesco Value for 65p per tin. However I don’t think the quality compares, as economy brands are usually grey mush and barely resemble a tuna steak. I rarely see John West for less than £4 in the supermarkets. The tuna is pink and meaty, definitely top quality!

I use a lot of mailing bags and tissue paper for sending eBay items. I used to buy my mailing bags at Wilko, as I found them the cheapest. Their A4 mailer bags x5 are £1.50 are and A3 x5 are £1.75. The same at Home Bargains are 49p for 6x A4 and 89p for 6x A3. They sell 10 large sheets of tissue paper in a rainbow of colours for 49p, the next cheapest I can find is at a local bargain store for 99p. There’s just no contest is there? You can see how the savings start to add up!

I regularly buy sweets and chocolate here, as they are so much cheaper than the High Street. They have a HUGE range! I also love my oatcakes and I can buy them for 65p per box here. Compare that even to Poundland, where surprise, surprise – they cost £1 a box! They have a huge range of cheap biscuits and top brands too. As someone who eats a gluten-free diet, I often spy gluten-free items in Home Bargains at a mere fraction of the supermarket cost. A while back they were selling Nutribix for 79p a box! They cost £3.79 a box in the supermarkets- they had a slightly shorter best before date of 1-2 months, but what does that matter when you’re going to eat it soon anyway?

I buy some of my toiletries here too, dental products are much cheaper than the high street and I always pick up big name toothpaste for £1 a tube, like Colgate, Sensodyne or Arm & Hammer. They often have bumper sized packs going for this price too.

Do you use Cif cream cleaner? They sell it here for £1 a bottle. You might find it for £2 in the supermarkets if you’re lucky and occasionally £1.50 a bottle at Wilko. But other than grabbing it from time to time, in Poundland – you won’t find it regularly, this cheap. They also sell Dri-Pak Soda Crystals at 65p for 1.5kg which is way cheaper than £1 a bag at Wilko. These have so many household uses and I’d never be without a bag.

In the pet section today, they had pet carriers for £20 and scratching towers for the same price. They are always cheaper for treats here, like Weebox sticks at 79p per pack, next cheapest is 99p in the supermarkets or Wilko.

I regularly pick up Sequin Art kits here for £6-£7 instead of the £15-£18 they are full price. I have had lovely hardback Disney notebooks for £1-£2. If you check out http://www.moneysavingexpert.com and look on the ‘Quick Grabbit’ forums, you will find a Home Bargains thread where members post the hottest deals. But I want to encourage you to go there anyway for your everyday basic items because they are much, much cheaper! Oh and be sure to come back and tell me what you’ve found 🙂

Swagbucks – Share the Love!

February is a month of love, and getting a 500 SB bonus from Swagbucks is their way of showing it!

I’m sure you know by now, but just incase you’re new or still thinking about signing up – Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like New Look, Amazon, or PayPal cash. When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 500 SB bonus!

Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 1/3/17. You’ll get a 300 SB bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least £25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another 200 SB bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)! That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and last month I was able to use my earnings from the last 3 months to buy this beautiful, pure wool rug from John Lewis.

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*You must receive your shopping SB before 1 April

Make the Most of Supermarket Vouchers

I don’t know about you, but at this time of year I find that the supermarkets are desperate to compete for my business. I have been deluged in vouchers and coupons by email, post and in-store all trying to get me to do my Christmas shopping with a particular retailer. I will use these coupons to my advantage and here’s how you can too.

  • Make sure you take a calculator to the shop with you, so that you just meet the threshold spend. This means you get the full value of the coupon.
  • Look on MySupermarket before you go and compare prices on the items on your shopping list. Make sure you’re buying them at the shop with the best offer.
  • Combine this with money-saving shopping apps, like Shopitize, Clicksnap, Shopinium and CheckoutSmart. This way you can either get an item for free with the app, or at a further discount PLUS you are getting the shop’s discount on top! Even better if it’s a store that gives loyalty points too. You could even spend some of your points and possibly get your shopping for free, or even by getting them to pay you to take goods away. (Yes, it does happen – I’ve done it myself on occasion). Stacking offers like this is the way to go!
  • Take the opportunity to stock up on essentials, if they are on offer. The shops want you to buy over-priced Christmas goodies, but hopefully being a minimalist, zero waste, money-saving type you are going to make these from scratch yourself and save a small fortune! So, take this opportunity to stock up on loo roll, mouthwash or whatever else you can get a good deal on and stash in the cupboard for next year.

For example, the last time I bought 4 pints of milk at Waitrose – they gave me a £6 off a £30 spend voucher printed from the till. Alongside some everyday items that we needed, I picked up 36 loo rolls. I basically got 16 of these for free and they were on a 2 for £7 offer which is the best price I know they are ever on sale for anyway. So I got a sweet deal here. At the till, they printed £8 off a £40 spend. Yes, they’ve upped the threshold but it’s still a pretty decent discount. If you’re shopping at Waitrose – tweak your ‘pick your own offers‘ and on top of the voucher, you can save 20% on those items. Check the internet for manufacturer coupons too, so you can save on certain products. Again, make sure you check MySupermarket and use them wisely, in the right store. If a product is already discounted, you can often take it away for FREE!

I absolutely hate going round the shops the nearer it gets to Christmas, so I am using this part of the month to stock on essentials like shampoo, tea bags, coffee, loo roll and so on. This way, I needn’t go near the shops for a couple of months at least! Fill your freezer, if you have space but make sure you leave room for any Christmas bits.

Look out for on-line only shopping vouchers too – I’ve been emailed a stack of these too. However they have MUCH higher threshold spends which are probably going to be too much for me (like £10 off £100 and that isn’t such a good deal, but better than none). They would be great for families though, or if you have a lot of visitors over the festive period.

Lastly, don’t over-stretch yourself! Make sure you have enough cash left to pay for Christmas. Maybe use your credit card to your advantage, but ONLY if you can afford to pay it off IN FULL when it becomes due.

Black Friday is finally here!

So, Black Friday is finally here and will put an end to all the hype. Did you make any purchases? I heard on the radio that most shoppers are choosing to make their purchases online this year, rather than in-store. I made none this year, I honestly couldn’t see a genuinely good deal out there for me and besides, there was nothing I needed to buy.

 

Quidco suffered a massive fail, as there site went down (presumably couldn’t cope with the volume of traffic! However, if you need to make a purchase then you may like to go through Swagbucks to get cashback. I can see that Holland and Barrett is offering 10% cashback today. And Thornton’s (which might be good for Christmas gifts) is offering 8% There are also some good deals with holiday sites like Thomson, if you fancy planning to get away from it all! Did you make any purchases? Why don’t you share some of the great deals you have found? Let me know.

Just for signing up through me, you can earn a 300 SB bonus if you earn 300 SB before December 1st – if you spend at least £25 shopping through Swagbucks during that time, you’ll get another 200 SB bonus!

Frugal Living Tips- Spend Less, Live More!

Minimalism includes the idea of spending less on consumer items and more on experiences. This month I’ve been thinking  about the necessary (I believe) expense of insurance. Here in the UK it is a legal requirement to have car insurance and after the recent occurrences of extreme weather, which have left people flooded out of their houses and far worse- I think you would have to be foolhardy not to have home insurance. This month is the unfortunate month in the year, when all our insurances come up for renewal, along with all our car insurances, car services and MOT, plus road taxes. It most sincerely was not planned that way, but we manage by saving all year.

Even so, you do not want to spend more on these things than you have to, but you still want a reasonable level of cover with decent customer service, in the event that you should need to claim. I have always subscribed to the school of thought that you should shop around for these things and it has never let me down, as I have always been able to save money and not always needed to change provider. It takes a small amount of time, particularly in the age of comparison sites. I have even found that you can get paid to both shop around for prices and disclose your renewal price, or allow your details to be used to obtain quotes (usually under a false name). To do this, you will need to register with various mystery shopping companies and survey sites. I earned £25 the past 2 years, just to shop around certain providers for quotes on the telephone and complete a short questionnaire about my experiences.

Not only this, but the savings from shopping around can be significant. This past year I kept £136.62 in my pocket. Here’s how I did it:

I shopped around for home and car insurances, mostly using comparison websites. I ended up switching home insurance provider and saved £71.56. I rang up my current car insurance provider and asked them if they could give me a better price (as I knew there were only savings of £30 to be had by switching). Simply for asking, they knocked £52.56 off my renewal price. It makes you feel like they simply are trying to fleece people who aren’t brave enough to ask. It’s possible I guess, that I could have haggled further. But I knew that was a better offer than I was going to get anywhere else- so I took it.

I have a courtesy car whilst my car is in for its service and this has always been free, until now. The garage wanted to charge me £12.50 for a day’s insurance with a £500 excess, should I have an accident. I came home, rang up my current insurer and they set up a day’s policy for FREE, just because I asked with a £150 excess!

I may have been able to get a better price for my car service too, since my local main dealer offers to price match any service using genuine parts. But I would have needed to obtain a written quote and I personally don’t know which other garages I would have approached that I felt were trustworthy. I checked around with friends in the know and made sure that they were offering a fair price for the work needed. In addition, after all this shopping around for insurance- I didn’t really have time to fit in the research required as well. I need to plan better for that in the future!

I am planning to take a mystery shop for the other car’s service, which means that I will get the service for a lot less. In the past, this has sometimes meant having a video researcher accompany me with a hidden camera! (I had to pretend they were a friend who I was dropping at work afterwards). I am not sure yet what is involved this year, but I feel answering a few questions is a small price to pay for a chunk of money off! With this particular car (a Nissan), if we get a main dealer service (not only do we get the chance to mystery shop them), they also throw in a year’s free breakdown cover. It’s not expensive and basically a very good deal!

I hope these tips help you to save more money on the essentials and more on great experiences in life!