Looking to buy a house? You might want to rethink your shopping (Picture: PA Real Life)
A new homeowner was able to save for a deposit after making a habit of buying yellow-sticker bargains, and earning up to £400 a year doing online surveys while watching TV.
Thrifty Emma Baldry, 31, first learned to stretch her finances at university and continued to keep her expenses low, limiting her food budget to just £15 a week.
The car dealership employee, who lives in Romney Marsh, Kent, combs supermarkets for reduced items, also using cashback apps and earning hundreds of pounds through online polls.
The proud owner of her first home – a semi-detached two-bedroom property, which she purchased last summer with her partner, welder David Martin, 26 – says her frugal ways are to thank.
She said: ‘When I was first saving for a house, I set up an Instagram account to track my spending.
‘I wanted to make sure I was budgeting, but I ended up being introduced to an entire money-saving community who shared so many great tips and tricks with me.
‘There are so many clever little things you can do to save money.
‘Individually, it may not look like they’re giving back megabucks – but it all adds up and it’s all money you wouldn’t have otherwise have.’
Emma outside the home she bought (Picture: PA Real Life)
Emma added: ‘I will do one big shop at one of the cheaper supermarkets, like Aldi, to get in lots of basics and things I can freeze.
‘I’ll usually spend £100, but that will last me and David four to six weeks.
‘Then, I’ll do smaller top up shops to get fresh produce using yellow-sticker bargains. The amount I’ll spend depends on how big a saving I can score, but I can get a weekly shop for less than a tenner.’
Emma knows exactly when to time her shop so she can snatch the best bargains.
She continued: ‘Different supermarkets start reducing their stock at different times.
‘Some do it first thing in the morning, while others keep going throughout the day and put the best bargains out just before they close.
‘It can be a risk, as there may be less available, but if you go later, you can score some real savings.
‘I do try to meal plan to keep costs down, but I can’t be too fussy as it all depends on what’s on offer.
She regularly buys reduced items (Picture: PA Real Life)
‘Yellow-sticker cooking does involve getting creative in the kitchen and it’s meant I’ve tried dishes I’d never otherwise have thought of.
‘I think it helps that I’m not fussy. I’m a pescatarian, which means I don’t eat meat, but I’ll give most other things a go.
‘David and I try to produce as little food waste as possible. Before I go to a shop, I take a good look at what we have in, and think about what needs using up.
‘I’ll rarely buy simply what I fancy.’
Some of her yellow-sticker haul (Picture: PA Real Life)
As well as yellow-sticker shopping, Emma earns money by doing focus-group style surveys using sites like OnePoll, QMee and Prolific.
She said: ‘The surveys vary in length and how much you’ll get for them, but most are very quick. You do need to be patient, but if you can stick with it and get through a few, it all adds up.
‘As they’re market research, you usually need to be eligible to participate as they want to hear from certain types of people, but in the past, I’ve made around £400 extra a year from doing them, so it is worth it.’
Another string to Emma’s money-saving bow is cashback apps.
She explained: ‘They work in different ways. Some offer you discounts if you shop online via their site, others give you cash back if you buy certain items.
‘I can make back about £250 a year using them. It definitely helps around Christmas, which can be an expensive time.’
Emma’s top tips for saving more money:
- Take a look at your bill providers to make sure you’re getting the best deals
- Some companies offer you incentives if you can get friends to sign up to their product or service
- Switch to a SIM only phone plan – mine costs me just £5 a month
- Don’t buy lunches out when you go to work
- Find out what time your local supermarket starts reducing stock
- Find a cheap hobby – like crafting – to do so you don’t get bored and start shopping online
Previously, Emma allowed herself £300 in disposable income every month for non-essential treats like new clothes and takeaways – but now, she has reduced that to just £100.
By sharing her story, Emma, who regularly shares money-saving advice on Instagram, hopes to help other people to be more canny about spending.
For more money-saving advice as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join Metro.co.uk’s Facebook group, Money Pot.
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