Savvy shoppers can save hundreds of pounds each year. Undercover bargain hunter Penny Golightly goes... er... undercover, to find out how.
As a nation, we're always looking for bigger and better ways to cut the cost of our shopping. Printed or online coupons and discount codes offer some of the biggest savings, especially when combined with seasonal sales. A recent survey for Sainsbury's Bank showed that 75% of Britons plan to use discount vouchers and reward points in 2016, which is a 25% increase on 2015. Here's some inspiration and a few thrifty tips to help you save more this year.
Printable coupons 101
Deepak Tailor, 28, the founder of freebies site latestfreestuff.co.uk says:
"The best places to find coupons are websites like supersavvyme.co.uk, caringeveryday.co.uk and mymail.co.uk. They have hundreds of coupons from top brands and change their offers every day, so it's always worth popping back to see the latest batch. Our members have told us they can save up to £300 per month using coupons. That's a really significant saving on your normal spending."
Deepak's secret saver: "If you shop regularly at supermarkets, download the checkoutsmart.com and shopitize.com apps. These allow you to collect 'cashback' on certain in-store purchases. Just upload a picture of your receipt through the app and they'll deposit the cashback into your account. It's one of the easiest ways to save money on your weekly shop."
Online voucher codes explained
If you're shopping online, always check for discounts before clicking 'Buy' by looking on the popular promotional sites such as myvouchercodes.co.uk, vouchercodes.co.uk and voucherbox.co.uk for deals from the retailer you're buying from. Savvy pensioner John Tanner, 72, from Liverpool, has saved over £700 in two years by doing this, most of it on holidays. "My youngest daughter introduced it to me. We worry about what might happen next financially, but we're certainly not eating into our savings at the moment, which is comforting."
John’s secret saver: "I combine their voucher codes and cashback deals to get an instant discount, plus money back a few weeks later."
Emma Cossey is a digital trainer who runs the Freelance Lifestyle coaching website, and lives in Bracknell, Berkshire, with her husband and young son. She saves money on meals and days out with discount voucher app vouchercloud. "It's great for kid-friendly activities with other mums. As I'm self-employed, it's also useful for cutting the cost of meeting for a coffee with clients. On average, I save 10%-50%, or around £20-£40 a month."
Emma's secret saver: "I also save using Tastecard and Gourmet Society dining cards. By upgrading to a Tastecard+ for £1, I have access to discounts on hotels, theatre trips, cinemas and days out, which we use for monthly date nights. This saves up to £100 a month, which makes all the difference to a family budget."
Loyalty schemes: the lowdown
According to research by Loyalive, 75% of UK retailers offer loyalty schemes. Supermarket loyalty cards are the most popular — there are over 19 million Nectar cardholders alone, who collect points that can be redeemed for everything from days out to restaurant meals, gadgets, cinema trips, holidays and more. These are followed by high street chemists, airlines and hotel chains. But, while we happily join loyalty schemes, many of us forget to use our points, with £6 billion-worth of points unclaimed among the top 10 schemes alone. To keep on top of various loyalty schemes, try a smartphone app such as Stocard or Mobile-pocket to keep everything in one place.
Have points, will travel
Nimtaz-Tanya Noordin, 31, is head of global communications at beyondbeanie.org, and lives in London. Her previous job required regular long-haul flights, so she joined the British Airways Executive Club to collect Avios points. "I just logged my flight number and dates of travel into my account on the club website after each trip. At one stage, I had over 800 points, which may not seem like much but it enabled me to enjoy two or three free flights per year to many European cities, such as Lisbon."
Nimtaz-Tanya's secret saver: "Secret Escapes is a brilliant site for holiday discounts and I've managed to get some really luxurious holidays for a fraction of the cost."
Loyalty scheme perks
Other businesses offer free loyalty perks as part of their services. Ryan Stewart, 42, is a film editor and father of two from Strathclyde who uses the paid Amazon Prime scheme. "I was attracted by the movies and TV shows on their streaming video service. They offered a £20 discount on the normal price, so I joined.
"The main membership benefits are free next-day delivery on most items at Amazon, and the chance to borrow free e-books from the Kindle Lending Library. The perks are shared with my girlfriend too, because we live together."
Customers in Birmingham and London can also join Amazon Prime Now, for free same-day delivery of a wide range of goods.
Ryan's secret saver: "When I’m buying from Amazon I check camelcamelcamel.com to see price fluctuations over time for products I want. It gives an idea of whether it's likely to be discounted further or if the current price is the lowest."
Whether you want to cut the cost of your weekly shop, jet off on holiday or just want to get more bang for your buck when signing up to online sites, looking around for discounts, vouchers and promos could mean you're quids in.
Find out how much you could save every month with our handy savings calculator.
This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.