A professional bargain hunter has shared the seven tricks she thinks parents are missing out on to save money.
Mum-of-four Holly Smith, 36, has made a living from posting her shopping hacks online to her thousands of followers.
Some of her best deals have seen her bag a £1,200 supermarket shop solely with coupons, and £12,000 of first-class transatlantic flights for free by using loyalty points.
Her money-savvy ways have even helped her to become mortgage-free in her thirties.
Speaking to The Mirror, she shares some of her favourite ways to cut back costs – from saving money at the supermarket, to finding hidden bargains at B&M.
Shop at ‘best before’ online supermarkets
Holly is a huge fan of online supermarkets that specialise in selling food past it’s “best before” date – in fact, in some cases she says you can save up to 80%.
All fresh foods, such as meat and dairy products, have a “use-by” date. Food past this date is not safe to eat and it’s illegal for retailers to sell it.
But food past its “best before” date is about the quality of the food, rather than it being safe to eat, and retailers are legally allowed to sell it.
Holly said: “I personally save a fortune and recently made a YouTube video where I bought £79 worth of food for only £28.34.
“It’s a great way to pick up cheap snacks for your kids – as they do like to raid the cupboards during the summer holidays!”
Some of Holly’s favourite “best before” websites include:
Use the B&M scanner tool to find hidden bargains
B&M has a tool on its free smartphone app that lets you find hidden bargains in stores by scanning barcodes.
Why this is important is the app will tell you if an item’s price is different to what it says on the shop shelf, or before it has been reduced by staff.
In some cases, parents have flocked to social media to share the 10p toys they’ve found by using the B&M scanner.
Holly says she uses the B&M app to find cheap Christmas and birthday presents.
She said: “Staff can’t instantly update the price labels. This is where the barcode scanner comes in handy!
“Pick up a few items to scan and it’s likely you will find some cracking bargains.”
Download apps to check for food intolerances
Lots of parents have a child with a gluten or dairy intolerance but find the food in the gluten-free and dairy-free aisles very expensive.
Instead of shopping in these aisles, Holly recommends downloading apps that lets you scan food and check for any potential allergies.
She said: “I have a gluten intolerance and save on average £30 per week using the GF Plate app to find food I can eat, which are located outside of the gluten-free aisles in supermarkets.”
- GF Plate – lets you scan any item to see if it’s gluten free
- Vegan Scanner – lets you scan any item to see if it’s meat, dairy and egg free
Compare food prices before you shop
When MySupermarket, a grocery comparison website, ceased trading, many parents were upset they could no longer compare the price of groceries before shopping.
Luckily, there’s a new alternative called Trolley.co.uk which allows shoppers to check food prices.
It works by the user typing in the product they want to check, then once you’ve found the best price, you’ll need to go to the supermarket to purchase it.
Supermarkets that are listed include Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl.
Holly said: “I save on average £20 to £30 per week using Trolley.co.uk before I shop.”
Take advantage of cashback apps
If you don’t have a printer, but love a coupon, there are now plenty of apps that let you download money-saving vouchers.
Open each app and select the supermarket you are shopping at, and it’ll bring up a list of freebies and discounts you can claim.
You then buy the products as normal but when you get home, you’ll need to take a photo of your receipt (via the app) to prove you have purchased the qualifying products.
After you’ve done this, you will get the offer amount via bank transfer or PayPal.
Holly said: “I save around £300 per year using coupon apps.”
Try out food waste apps
Apps like Too Good To Go and Olio are a great way to save money and stop unnecessary food waste.
Too Good To Go has partnered with chains like Costa, Morrisons and Greggs to sell food that would otherwise been thrown away.
You don’t get to pick what food you get, and the “magic bags” cost between £2 and £3 and the retail value of the grub you save is always much higher than this.
Olio is a free sharing app where people give away food and other household items to people living nearby.
The idea is that everything listed on Olio is free, as it is being given away, so you shouldn’t have to pay for anything.
In order to pick up a bargain you need to register with the app and then start searching by your postcode.
Once you spot some food you’d like, you click on it and then request to pick it up.
Holly said: “I personally like the Too Good to Go bags from Greggs as they often contain at least £20 worth of food for only £2.59.
“My kids are always excited when I get a Too Good To Go bag!”
Save money on days out
If you’re planning to visit a theme park or attraction in the summer holidays you can currently get discounts at the following places.
It works by buying certain products and keeping hold of coupons on their packaging.
- Yazoo Milkshakes – 2 for 1 entry to Alton Towers
- Kellogg’s Products – Adults go Free with a full paying child at all Merlin Attractions
- The Pizza Company (exclusive to Tesco) – 2 for 1 at all Merlin Attractions
- Carex – Half Price entry to Chessington, Alton Towers or Sea-Life Centres
- Cadbury’s – Half price entry
Holly said: “I personally like to buy Rice Krispies squares as they contain the discount voucher and are also great snacks to take into the attraction.”