A bargain mad mum from Louth, who bagged a pair of brand new leather boots for just £2.99, has been revealed as the UK’s “Online Bargain Hunter of the Year 2013”.
Natalie Cooper, 24, even received a £10 loyalty voucher when she bought the boots, putting her in profit.
The former Monks’ Dyke Tennyson College student saves thousands every year and lives debt free, despite being a full time mum. Natalie trawls the web for money-saving offers twice every day picking up discounts on everything, from food to clothing for her and her two-year-old daughter Madison.
Natalie saves thousands of pounds a year on her purchases and won’t spend a penny unless she’s first secured a discount, and she will only buy an ‘on offer’ grocery item if she also has a voucher code or coupon to redeem against it.
Money-saving website PromotionalCodes.org.uk named Natalie as their “Bargain Hunter of the Year” and asked her to write a one-off blog post with her own handy hints and tips to share with readers. However, after reading her article, the website has now offered her a regular weekly blog spot on their site.
Natalie said: “It all started three years ago when I was pregnant, and people started to say how difficult it was with money when raising a child, and how much items like nappies and baby wipes would cost. Before that, I had been young, care-free and naive.
“I didn’t want to have to struggle, and I wanted to try and stay debt-free. Initially I just did little things, like changing my energy supplier to get a lower price, but then I searched online and it turned out there are lots of ways to save money and still get quality.
“I find now that a lot of the time I can get quality items for cheaper than the cost of more basic items. And the money I save means that I can have little luxuries and get nice Christmas presents for my daughter.
“I became addicted to saving cash quickly, and if I saw someone save a few quid on something then I wanted that saving too!
“I had to learn the hard way that not everything’s a good deal. You should always avoid Buy One Get One Free deals - they’re a con! They make you buy things you don’t really need, and the savings aren’t usually that good either.”
But how much does Natalie actually save from her addiction to coupons and bargains?
“On average, I save around £100 a month, although some months it can be as high as £300 and I often get sent lots of free goods in the post”, said Natalie.
“My best deal was on baby wipes. I managed to get 157 packs of wipes for free over a two week period thanks to an in-store promotion and coupons I’d been sent. People often just throw away offers in the post, and dismiss it as junk mail, but there are often some good deals in there.
“Another time, I was sent a year’s supply of a cooking sauce simply because I’d sent in a photo of a pie I’d made. For 12 months I became one of the company’s taste testers.”
Darren Williams from PromotionalCodes.org.uk said: “Natalie proves that you can save money, and a fair amount, simply by being smart about what you buy and by always searching for a code or money off deal before you start parting with your cash.
“A saving of a couple of pounds may seem insignificant at the time, but start adding them up and it’ll give you an idea of the amount of money you could save. Better off in your purse than in the shops tills.
“It doesn’t have to be a time consuming hobby. Like Natalie, you could fit it in around your children or find the odd half an hour to look for the best deals.”
Here are some Natalie’s top tips for money saving and couponing:
• Compare food items in-store, and make sure you always go for items that are already on offer.
• Always carry your coupons with you, as you never know when you might need them
• Compare and price-check items online before you go out shopping, and pre-plan your shopping.
Natalie’s first regular blog is due online today, so check www.promotionalcodes.org.uk to read it.