A savvy mum says all her Christmases came at once when she received a stocking filler book on saving hacks as a festive gift – as she has sliced her family food bill by £1,400 so far this year.
Also saving ‘thousands of pounds’ on clothes and household goods for herself, her husband, Dov, 53, who works in financial services and their boys, aged five and two, Heather LeMond, 37, is now an avid ‘thrifter’ – treating money-saving like an art form.
After leaving her administration job in a building society and becoming a full-time mum in 2016, Heather, of Malvern, Worcestershire, found managing on one salary tight and made a resolution at the end of 2020 to ‘spend more wisely.’
Since asking her husband for Holly Smith’s ‘Money Saving Book’ for Christmas after seeing it promoted on Facebook, she has been on a roll, saying: ‘Constantly having to replenish the kitchen cupboards is quite expensive.
‘But following these thrifty tips has enabled me to do something that allows us a little bit more freedom as a family and makes us worry less.
‘It’s quite fulfilling to feel like I’ve made a difference.’
Heather LeMond, 37, from Malvern, Worcestershire, pictured with her husband Dov, made a resolution at the end of 2020 to ‘spend more wisely’ and has saved thousands this year so far, with tricks such as bulk buying, freebie websites and yellow sticker grocery shopping
Free trials of new products, including beauty products, snacks and nappies. Heather also distributes the freebies among her friends and family
Discovering a wealth of websites offering ways to save money – like where to find cut-price food as it approaches its expiry date – Heather also started buying in bulk to save money over time.
Introductory offers by firms offering things like food boxes have also proved worth snapping up, while websites offering samples of products like toothpaste have come in handy.
She said: ‘With food boxes, which provide the ingredients for different meal recipes, I signed up to one company which had an introductory offer, then I tried another one.
‘Before I knew it, the first company came back offering me a hefty reduction to buy again from them.
A Christmas box Heather made for a family in need with discounted and bargain finds, including games, sweets and socks
Drinks Heather bought from best before websites. She uses sites such as approvedfood.co.uk and cutpricebarrys.co.uk to pick up good that are close to or past their sell by dates, but still safe to consume
The thrifty mother said that she’s struggled with her mental health, and knowing that she’s helping her family with her money-saving efforts gives her a real confidence boost. She wanted to start saving more money after finding it a struggle to get by on one income when she became a full-time mother
Heather started to make savings after getting a book for Christmas that she’d seen promoted on Facebook, and has already cut her spending by thousands this year
‘The introductory offers can be very good. My first box might even have been under £20 for the ingredients for evening meals for a family of four for five nights.
‘As a result, we used these for family dinner during the week for quite a while.
‘I started off using tips from the book I was given, but soon got the hang of things. One thing led to another and I’ve found lots of different ways to save money now.’
By joining Facebook pages about money-saving, Heather discovered ‘sampling’ – companies that give out samples of new products to try, often accompanied by money-off coupons.
She said: ‘I got a massive box of toothpaste samples when there was an Oral-B campaign, together with lots of coupons, meaning I can save money going forwards.
‘When I’ve had samples, I’ve been able to share them with family and friends, too.’
Registering with web pages like Supersavvyme, which is full of offers, competitions and opportunities to test and review new products, has also paid dividends for Heather.
She said: ‘I agreed to share the link to a washing tablet and fabric softener brand’s campaign on my Facebook page and got a really large box of samples.
Meal prep for the freezer from Heather’s yellow sticker shopping. The thrifty mother snaps up reduced food and then makes sure there’s plenty of space in the freezer so that it doesn’t go to waste
‘I also enter competitions through the site, which have some good prizes on offer, like Hoovers, and hair appliances like hair dryers or curlers – although I’ve not been lucky enough to win yet.
‘And I’ve found companies that are introducing a new product and will send you samples, which you can share with your friends and family, then you write a quick review.’
Meanwhile, ‘yellow sticker shopping’ – buying food that has been reduced for quick sale – means Heather can use ‘posh’ supermarkets like M&S, which she would normally regard as ‘too pricey.’
She said: ‘I do a Zumba class on a Wednesday night, then afterwards I go to the supermarket and go yellow sticker shopping.
A stash of nappy rash ointment that Heather picked up for free. She saves money via using sampling websites for new products (left). Free items Heather upcycled for a friend’s baby shower (right)
Heather is also a keen yellow sticker shopper and can afford to buy from M&S – a place she’d never normally shop at – because of the great reductions
‘You just need enough space in your freezer to keep things, because they are approaching their expiry date.
‘I bought sausages for 50p and a load of meat products that were reduced the other day, so they are all in the freezer now.
‘And I go to places like M&S, because they have great yellow sticker bargains, but I wouldn’t buy food there when it’s full price.
‘Sadly, some people are embarrassed to fill their trolley up with yellow sticker items, thinking people will presume they’re poor, or stingy.
Heather cooks family meals from recipe boxes with introductory offers. Her first box cost £20 for the ingredients for five evening meals for a family of four
‘But being smart and savvy is a good thing. It’s not embarrassing.
‘It’s bonkers not to take advantage of all these savings because you’re embarrassed.’
For Heather, saving money is a thrill.
She said: ‘I have been a stay at home mum for a few years and I also struggle with my mental health, which affects my self-esteem.
‘Knowing I am helping my family by saving money gives me a real boost.
‘Before I started doing this, our weekly food shopping was costing upwards of £120.
Stock Heather has picked up from from best before websites (left). Fairy detergents from a sampling website. As well as getting free products, Heather said that you usually get discount vouchers so you can save money on future purchases too (right)
‘Now I’m shopping more creatively, it’s more like £70.’
How YOU could saved THOUSANDS in a year with Heather’s savvy savings tips
- Yellow sticker shopping – Find everything from bakery items to packs of vegetables and meat, at supermarkets like Morrisons and M&S
- Best before date shopping. Good websites include approvedfood.co.uk and cutpricebarrys.co.uk
- Food boxes – look for introductory offers from people like Gousto, HelloFresh and SimplyFresh
- Search for bulk deals for household goods and cleaning products on sites like Amazon
- Start a presents drawer and shop for Christmas bargains in advance Join thrift conscious Facebook groups – such as Kids and Toy Deals UK, Hot Deals, Coupons and Freebies
- Become a sampler using websites such as magicfreebiesuk.co.uk, supersavvyme.co.uk and free4you.co.uk
- Follow Facebook pages and websites like Holly Smith Extreme Couponing. Visit her blog at couponqueeen.co.uk
- Pick up Christmas decorations in bargain stores like B&M bargains
- Sign up to emails from the money-saving sites and keep an eye out for new campaigns
Another tip, according to Heather, is buying in bulk.
She said: ‘I buy my household products on Amazon in bulk.
‘Just today I’ve spent £20 and, basically, got the toilet roll, the cleaning products, the baby wipes, hand wash and shower gel, to last us for a month.
‘Last year, when I just did a weekly shop in just one place, I’d probably have spent about £15 a week on that kind of thing.’
Since she started ‘clever shopping,’ Heather has also been using services like Amazon Prime, which for a small monthly fee means you get their TV streaming service and free deliveries.
She said: ‘I also use Iceland online because you only have to spend £35 to get free deliveries.
‘Shopping online means you can see what you’re spending in your trolley.
‘I think that, in the supermarket, you throw things in the trolley and don’t always realise you’ve overspent until you get to the check-out.’
Shopping out of season has also yielded some great clothing bargains from sites like TK Maxx.
She said: ‘I buy my kids’ clothes and shoes in the wrong seasons.
‘I’ve anticipated how much they will have grown and have already got their winter boots and jackets from TK Maxx at rock bottom prices.’
Heather even has a Santa sack full of goodies already for Christmas 2021.
She said: ‘I’ve been gathering gifts throughout the year.
‘I browse through Amazon when I have a spare half hour and if something pops up that I think would be right for the people I buy for and it’s a good price, I get it.
‘I only normally go for things costing a few pounds and have snapped up a lot of amazing bargains.’
Now Heather is something of a savvy shopping evangelist and is keen to spread the word about saving.
Heather shops at best before websites for items close to being out of date and can pick up items such as porridge pots, soft drinks, chocolate and cereal bars
Heather’s Christmas 2021 stash from Amazon. She buys her Christmas presents throughout the year whenever she sees a good discount
Heather uses recipe boxes which offer introductory discounts to whip up a week’s worth of family dinners for less
She said; ‘I only found out how to do it after seeing Holly Smith’s book promoted on a Facebook site.
‘Now if I make a great saving, I tell my friends about it, to encourage them to follow suit.
‘I get a little glow every time I save money now because I know that I am making a difference to my family’s budget.
‘Far from being embarrassed about being thrifty, I find it quite exciting!’