Expert Bargain Hunter's Secret Tips REVEALED - save £6,000 a year
Holly Smith from Great Yarmouth saves at least £500 a month by entering competitions and using coupons.
We asked Holly all about her comping and couponing habits so we could gain some insight into her daily life - and to get a few tips for the Magic Freebies fans!
Holly was training to be a make-up artist in college before undergoing major bone marrow surgery in 2009. This mother of two also suffers with Asperger's syndrome which can often lead to single-minded focus and for Holly, this led to extreme couponing.
The website Extreme Couponing UK was set up so Holly could start to help other parents saving money with coupons too.
After watching American TV Show 'Extreme Couponing' three years ago, Holly was determined to save money on the grocery shopping, as at the time she was spending over £100 a week.
You might often wonder whether coupons can help you with items you actually need, such as cleaning products or toiletries. Holly says it's easier than people think and suggests that you treat your favourite brands if they don't give out coupons.
'If you remember their founded year, you can send them birthday cards which always go down well!'
Holly even suggests stocking up on cheap Christmas and Happy New Year cards to send to them and tell them how much you love their products.
'I find the success rate is a lot higher when you contact companies via mail rather than e-mailing them.'
It's not just Holly who has been bitten by the couponing bug - her husband Callum Smith has recently taken up money-saving. Now they are a couponing-couple and Callum recently made an appearance on BBC's Watchdog Money Saving Special.
'He laughed at the idea to begin with but after seeing how much money we were saving he was converted!' Holly said. 'After he filmed I had a letter of praise from the production team saying how impressed they were with him! So I taught him well.'
We asked Holly to give us her top 5 couponing tips for Magic Freebies fans who wanted to get involved.
Holly's Top 5 couponing tips
1. Find a website with an up-to-date coupon list.
You can find Holly's own coupon list at UKCouponing.co.uk
2. E-mail and write to brands giving them feedback as you might get a coupon from it.
Companies appreciate feedback as it's a good way to let them know how their product or service is received.
3. When there is a good coupon and offer for non-perishable products stock up!
Holly now has enough toothpaste and shampoo to last her 2 years and it didn't cost a penny.
4. Join couponing communities on Facebook and connect with like-minded money-savers, you will learn money saving tips every day!
Check our Holly's own Facebook page CouponMumUK which now has over 130,000 fans.
5. Buy a folder to keep all your coupons organised.
Take your folder to every grocery shop so you can never miss a deal.
As well as couponing, Holly enters competitions as a way to afford luxury items and holidays for her family. In the last seven years she has won over £50,000 worth of prizes.
The most valuable prizes have included:
- £2,000 cash from Doritos
- TV's for every room in the house worth over £3,000 IN TOTAL
- a luxury holiday to Jersey worth £3,500
One big prize Holly couldn't claim was a £4,000 skiing holiday. 'A few days after winning I got diagnosed with a bone tumour so I let them reselect a winner as I wasn't allowed to fly.'
Holly makes great use of unwanted prizes. The 'weirdest' prize she ever won was a book on Britain's Roundabouts, which she managed to sell at a car boot sale for £1.
Christmas is a breeze as prizes are saved up throughout the year to give as gifts. 'Friends and family know this but are quite happy as they get something they couldn't normally afford.' Holly explains.
''One year I won £2,000 worth of designer handbags and gave those as gifts.'
The couponing mum donated over £1,000 of children's clothes and toys to The Salvation Army in 2014 to go to underprivileged families.
We asked Holly to give us her top 5 comping tips for Magic Freebies members who want to win.
Holly's Top 5 competition tips
1. Create a separate e-mail for competitions.
Holly says to 'NEVER enter competitions using your main e-mail address as you will get A LOT of spam e-mails', she gets over 100 a day so make sure you create a brand new e-mail address for your comping.
2. Use form fillers to save time.
Holly swears by form fillers such as RoboForm which automatically fills in your address details to every competition.
3. Check out NinjaWin.com
This website lists every competition on Twitter and lets you enter them quickly and easily.
5. Enjoy it!
If comping becomes boring, Holly says, it's probably not for you, so don't spend time entering competitions if you don't enjoy it.
So how does everything fit into Holly's home? 'All prizes go up in the loft until Christmas or I sell them straight away on eBay.' Groceries are bought with coupons, but only what Holly needs at the time. If our coupon queen can get multiple items for free, she will stock up and donate them to the food bank.
If you're planning a wedding then you'll be amazed by the amount Holly saved. The event took place on 29th October 2011 and was planned in less than seven months by the couple - they saved £7,000 in total.
This included a whopping £6,000 in wedding related prizes and coupons (of course) for the food and wine. Holly even used her bargaining skills to get their wedding car for just £35, their usual cost being around £2,000.
We asked Holly to give us her top 5 freebie finding tips for Magic Freebies members who are itching to know more.
Top 5 freebie finding tips
1. Visit MagicFreebiesuk.co.uk
Visit freebie sites as they have all the freebies in once place which saves the effort of trying to find them for yourself.
2. Ask for freebies
Ask for perfume samples when you visit a department store as they always have them behind the counter.
3. Look locally
Look on local freebie websites / Facebook pages as they are fantastic for furniture freebies.
4. Enter online
Holly says enter online competitions as they are 'free and very rewarding. '
5. Skip dive!
If you see a skip then have a quick peek inside, Holly says. 'My dad found a fully working lawn mower and a wooden dolls house which he repainted for my children and they love it.'
Thanks so much Holly for giving us a great insight into your couponing ways!