I’ve made hundreds of pounds by entering free competitions and using secret deals – here’s how you can do the same
A WOMAN has revealed how she saved over £1,000 this year thanks to free competitions and secret money saving offers.
Laura Doe, 31, a support worker from Chorley, made a few simple tweaks to her everyday life and had huge rewards.
Laura enters competitions, hunts for bargains online, applies for free beauty products, uses cashback apps and hunts for free food and goods online.
Laura is competing to be crowned Latest Deals Saver Of The Year: members of the two million-strong money-saving community are revealing their top saving tips and tricks.
Laura told LatestDeals.co.uk: “I enter loads of competitions, either ones I’d like to win myself or ones that I know someone would love as a present, so I can pass onto them.
“These are always completely free and just take a couple of minutes of your time to either find the answer or just put your details in.
"I also won over £300 on pickmypostcode earlier in the year – it’s a free website that you log into daily and you can win money if your postcode is picked in any of the draws that day.
"I also follow Latest Deals and their different groups to find good deals on Amazon for things I want or have been thinking about buying. A few months ago, I got some lovely lights for my garden for about £5!
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"I’m also a member of a few tester panels who send out products to try for free. With some, you get to keep the product and others send you a voucher for your time. It really does depend on what they’re asking you to do.
“I also enter all of the sponsored ads for free perfume and aftershave, makeup and anything else that may be useful. They’re great sized little samples to try something but also great for travelling.
“I always use whatever aftershave samples I get through to give my brother for his birthday or Christmas, and I use the perfume samples when I’m going on a night out as then I don’t have to worry that I’ll smash my favourite perfume bottle at some point. Plus they’re small enough to put in a small bag or even your purse!”
When it comes to shopping Laura has her own tricks to make sure she’s bagging the best bargain possible.
She said: "When looking at buying a more expensive item, I always look around a few websites to see who has it cheaper and if it’s the same price if one website has any perks for buying it with them.
"My latest bargain was an advent calendar with baubles from Primark. It was marked at £15, but scanned through at £7.
"I recently bought a brand new Apple Watch Series 7 which is normally £369 for £349 as it had gone down for Black Friday.
"I also got five months of Apple Music, Arcade and News for free for buying it from Currys. I also have access to buying vouchers online through work, which gave a discount off the price, which gave me just over £20 off as well!
"I think just by spending that little bit of extra time looking to see who gives you the best deal or the best perks (sometimes different stores offer different perks so always take the one you think is most relevant to you!) you can save a bit of money rather than just buying from the retailer you always shop with.
"I also tend to look in charity shops for items like books or other things I don’t mind being preowned. They normally have them for much less than you would pay even when they’re reduced in the shops.
"I found the next book in a series I was reading in hardback a couple of months after it had been released for £1. It was still £15 on Amazon and in other bookshops!
"I recently had a charity shop find of brand new Dr Seuss books, which cost £4 for all 11. But as you can see they retail for £6.99 each!”
As well as bargain hunting, Laura relies on apps to earn herself a little extra on the side.
She explains: "I also use cashback apps such as Shopmium, GreenJinn and CheckoutSmrt when shopping in stores and also try to check them regularly to see if there’s anything I would like to try or anything that I would usually buy that I can get cashback for.
In the past month, I have saved at least £150 through doing a little bit of extra work
"Sometimes they offer 100% cashback so you can try something for free. I also use sites like TopCashback to see how much I would get back from my online purchase, and also check sites like vouchercodes.co.uk to see if there are any codes for money off or sometimes they offer Amazon vouchers or other vouchers if you shop through them.
"To spread the cost for Christmas and birthdays, I try to pick up presents that I know people will like throughout the year, especially if I see them a bit cheaper (January sales are pretty good for that – especially for Christmas cards!) so that I don’t feel it as much when it comes to Christmas or the busy birthday months that I have.
"I store them away for later in the year when I’ll need them. Last year by December, I only needed to pick up a couple of bits for Christmas which were mostly food or drink.
"I also use sites like Freegle and Gumtree to give things away or get things for free or very cheap that I need.
"I’ve managed to get two bookcases with glass doors and a bed for free this past year and I also asked my local area if anyone was giving away books for me to take into the retirement village where I work for my residents.
"I ended up with three big boxes of books for them, with all different genres so will suit most people.
"Finally, I’ve started using apps to reduce waste like Olio, which offers both food and other objects for free in your area.
"The food is usually saved from a supermarket and has a short date on or they can be tins you’ve found in your cupboard and know you won’t use but still in date, it really does vary!
"I also love the TooGoodToGo app. You can save food waste from cafes, bakeries and stores.
"You buy a 'magic bag' at a fraction of the price it would cost you to buy full price and it is filled with anything that would otherwise be thrown in the bin.
" I’ve had some really good bags, where I’ve got quite a lot of stuff in them and have shared them with family and we’ve been eating them for lunches or snacks for a good couple of days after they’ve been bought.
"They’re still fine to eat, they just can no longer be sold in the shops or cafes.
"The magic bags normally only cost a few pounds (the most expensive I’ve seen has probably been £5) but you normally get a bag where the full price would be either double or triple the price you’ve paid, sometimes even more!
“In the past month, I have saved at least £150 through doing a little bit of extra work.
“I’d say I’ve saved around £1,000 a year at least. And I’ve been doing it for 10 years now, my first ever competition win was a Nespresso coffee machine when they first came out!
“My tips for people who want to do something similar is to not buy on a whim.
"Do your research and know your prices, even in supermarkets, as some sell the exact same product for much cheaper.
"Always look at cashback apps and sites to see if they will give you anything for your purchases and search to see if there are any relevant voucher codes that you can use to knock even just the delivery charge off.
"I think it’s all about just spending that extra five or 10 minutes searching around to see if you can get a better deal.
"Also if you don’t mind a surprise when it comes to food, try the TooGoodToGo app.
"I’m pretty picky about meats but I can always give them to a family member!
“If you like to know what you’re getting, try the Olio app, as there might be people nearby giving away something.
"But I think the main tip that I can give, is to just take your time with your purchases and don’t buy on a whim as that’s how you end up spending more money!
"I always find that before deciding to buy something wait a few days or even weeks to see if you really want it – if you do that’s when you start searching and if not you’ve saved yourself some money by not buying something you don’t need!”
Tom Church, co-founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, comments: "We are running the Latest Deals Saver of the Year competition to hear from the genius savers in our community, and to learn their valuable tips and tricks to saving money.
“Laura has some amazing tips here, and the good news is that any of us can do these.
“Simple everyday changes such as spending a few more minutes searching for a deal, bagging free boxes of food or entering competitions can literally save you thousands of pounds!"
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