Is this Britain's SAVVIEST shopper? Woman saved £15,000 and bought a house - thanks to coupons

20th Aug 18 | Real Life

Clair Hughes first turned to money saving tips to clear her student overdraft - but now, she's saved a fortune.

PA Real Life-Clair Hughes-Couponer

A woman told of how she has saved £15,000 and bought a house – thanks to coupons.

Savvy Clair Hughes, 30, first began to research money saving ideas as a way of getting out of her £3,500 student overdraft.

She started trawling the internet for discount coupons and cut price offers, and now estimates she’s saved “easily over £15,000” – and even managed to put down a deposit to buy a three-bed semi-detached house in Bury, Greater Manchester with her partner, Shane Byrne, also 30.

Clair estimates she’s saved over £15,000 (PA Real Life/Collect)

Revealing how she never pays full price for an item anymore, thrifty Clair, who works in a local school, said: “It’s become a running joke with my friends. Every time we go out, they’ll ask if I have a voucher – and I always do.

“Discounts are always there to be had, it’s just a matter of being organised.

“Before I started this, I thought it’d be so much work, but now I’m so used to this lifestyle that it’s automatic to me. I must have saved easily over £15,000.”

Some beauty freebies (PA Real Life/Collect)

Clair’s mind first turned to money saving back in 2010, when she moved in with Shane, a phone company trainer.

Having recently graduated from Edge Hill University, near Wigan, where she studied drama and physical theatre, she’d maxed out her £3,500 student overdraft – and felt the interest repayments were just “money down the drain.”

After taking to the web for advice, she tried out a few clever money saving tricks like switching her overdraft to a zero-interest account.

Clair and Shane (PA Real Life/Collect)

Then, a few years later, she came across an online community for “couponers” and decided to give it a go.

She started spending hours trawling the web for money off vouchers or discount codes, printing them all out to take with her whenever she went shopping.

“It would initially take a couple of hours to get organised,” she said. “I’d go on supermarket websites to look through what I’d need in a shop, making a note of anything on offer, or anything I had a coupon for.”

 

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A post shared by Thrifty Clair (@thrifty_clair) on

She added: “Eventually though it becomes second nature and you can do it in around half an hour.”

Over the years, the coupon queen has managed to nab some impressive hauls.

Two lamps worth £140 cost her just £35, and because she learnt buying in bulk is usually cheaper, she scored six months worth of dog food for her Pomeranian Poppy for a mere £9.

A shop that cost Clair just £1.53 (PA Real Life/Collect)

Around two years ago, Clair also began using cashback apps and websites where you are given money back on items ranging from beers to toiletries.

After each shop, she uploads pictures of her receipts, which are then scanned, and money is given back on certain items.

“I’ve saved hundreds through that alone,” said bargain-mad Clair.

Clair and her dog Poppy (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “You can get cashback on most things, and it’s all something I’d have been buying anyway. If something is totally free, I always make sure I get it regardless of whether I’ll use it, as I can donate it to a charity or foodbank.

“But with cashback, I make sure it’s worth my while.”

Among her other top saving tips, Clair recommends taking part in paid online surveys, which have earned her hundreds in high street vouchers, hitting the shops at certain times of the day to take advantage of reduced ‘yellow sticker’ stock, signing up to receive trials or tester products or trawling cosmetics counters for freebies.

Clair at her graduation (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “I have managed to get a lot of freebies by messaging or writing to companies to compliment them on their products. People always assume you get freebies for complaining – but it pays more to be nice.

“I’ve heard a lot about a practice called wombling too, which is basically collecting other people’s discarded receipts from shopping trolleys to check for missed discounts. I’d love to give it a try but there doesn’t seem to be a receipt to be found at my local supermarket.”

Having set herself the goal of owning a home by the time she was 30, Clair – who has set up an Instagram dedicated to sharing her thrifty pearls of wisdom – was delighted to exchange just five days shy of her landmark birthday.

Clair showing some vouchers (PA Real Life/Collect)

And now, after Shane proposed to her on his birthday earlier in August, she is looking ahead to planning the ultimate shoestring wedding.

“I can’t wait to see what I can do on a budget,” she said. “The proposal was a total surprise, I couldn’t believe it. Now we’ve got the house, it’s time to save again for the wedding.

“I can’t believe how much coupons and cashback apps have helped me. The community is really helpful. There will always be someone on hand to explain how it all works. I get messages all the time myself. Outwardly it looks like a lot of work, but when you see the thousands and thousands you can save, it’s well worth it.”



© Press Association 2018

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