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Shoestring Jane’s guide to frugal living: Hit the post-Christmas sales, sign up for newsletters, find online discount codes, use cashback sites, haggle, and buy second-hand.
If you are feeling the pinch after the indulgence of the Christmas festivities, there are ways to spend more smartly to make the best of your money.
In this article, I will show you how to get almost everything more cheaply. The trick is to get the best value and maximum discounts.
Hit the sales
You may think the post-Christmas sales are over, but they often continue for the whole of January. Although the best bargains may already have been snapped up, retailers want to be rid of old stock and will discount hard on what remains.
You can often find gift sets, toys, Christmas cards, wrapping paper, decorations, and more at rock-bottom prices. Stock up for next Christmas and for gifts to use throughout the year.
When my children were young, I kept a present box for the many birthday parties they were invited to, and this is when I bought the majority of gifts for their friends.
Sign up for newsletters
Most retailers offer a 10-15% discount if you sign up for their email newsletters, so keep this in mind when you visit a new website. However, if you don’t want to be spammed with offers going forward, be sure to unsubscribe immediately.
Find online discount codes
It is often possible to find special offers and discount offers at specific retailers through an internet search. For example, I searched for ‘Ikea promo code’ and found a £4 delivery deal (it is usually £35), 15% off kitchen appliances, and 50% off winter sale prices.
There are supermarket deals, too. Tesco is currently offering a one-month free trial of Clubcard Plus, which allows you 10% off your grocery shop twice monthly.
Be sure to read the terms and conditions to see if there is a minimum spend and check expiry dates.
Use cashback sites
Before you make an online purchase, take out a phone contract or even buy insurance, it pays to check cashback sites such as TopCashback* and Quidco* to see if you can get money back on your purchase.
For example, the RAC offers between £25 and £152 off breakdown deals on TopCashback at the time of writing.
For instant cashback, the Jam Doughnut app is worth exploring. You purchase a gift card for your chosen retailer in advance and earn cashback on it. You can then use it online or in-store to purchase anything from a hotel stay, a Deliveroo order or a coffee at Starbucks.
Read the small print, as some offers are only for use in-store.
We Brits have traditionally been too polite to haggle. However, that has begun to change in recent years.
Companies providing phone, broadband and TV packages are great places to start if you are nervous about haggling. When your contract comes up for renewal, tell them you are leaving unless they bring the price down.
Have a point of reference to help you negotiate. For example, get some quotes from a comparison site and let them know what you could pay elsewhere. Their retention team will be keen to keep you as a customer and have the power to offer discounts.
Always haggle when purchasing car insurance, home insurance and breakdown cover.
Some online platforms like eBay and Vinted give you the opportunity to make offers on many of the items for sale. If a particular eBay shop doesn’t have the ‘or best offer’ option, it is still worth messaging the seller to see if they would consider taking a discount.
You can generally haggle down the price of big-ticket items like cars, furniture and electrical items and save yourself a packet.
When haggling, be confident, friendly and polite. The worst that can happen is that they say no.
If you enjoy a good show and usually take the train to the West End, explore the world of coach trips instead. It often costs just a few pounds more for your ticket and travel than it would if you had bought the ticket directly from the theatre.
Compare prices online for theatre deals as well, but watch out for expensive booking fees; some are extortionate!
If you don’t mind which shows you see, you can buy ‘rush tickets’, often sold at the box office on the day of the performance. Some theatres sell them online, such as the National Theatre. You can queue to purchase a Friday rush ticket from 1pm on Fridays for a performance the following week.
Some of you will know that I am a huge fan of buying second-hand, and for good reason. You can buy almost anything pre-owned at a fraction of the original price.
Cars, bicycles, toys, books, clothing, furniture, homeware – the world is your oyster when it comes to buying second-hand. Be careful to inspect the items thoroughly, test that they work when you can and ask lots of questions to ensure you are actually getting a bargain.
The way to get almost everything more cheaply is to be creative and determined in your approach. Before you make any purchase, do your research to see if it is available more cheaply, check for discount codes, haggle and use cashback sites. Consider whether you could buy a used item instead of a new one.
Bargain-hunting will soon become second nature to make you a savvy shopper and save you hundreds.
*These are my referral codes. If you use them, I will earn a small reward.
Photo credits: Pexels
Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.