A SAVVY single mum who would get herself into debt by spending £2,000 on presents has managed to bag a virtually FREE Christmas for her daughters this year by using coupons and entering competitions.
Natasha Whitehead, 32, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, now has £600 worth of festive gifts for her two girls, Bailey-Grace, 12, and Isabelle, nine, and other loved ones.
The organised mum started preparations for Christmas in January, stockpiling freebies and heavily reduced gifts throughout the year so she would stop feeling stressed about money each festive season.
Natasha, who works at a junior school, said: "It’s easy to panic buy and spend far too much.
"In the past few years, I’ve ended up getting myself into debt, easily spending £2,000 on gifts that the kids get bored of opening half way through.”
Natasha decided to change her spending habits after reading an online article about couponing – where someone collects discount vouchers to score as big a saving as possible.
She's now a coupon addict and hunts for vouchers so she can save as much money as possible.
She once spent just £1 on £16 worth of stationery gifts.
She also enters online competitions, which allowed her to buy some books as presents after winning a £50 WH Smith voucher.
She's even won food after scooping a £500 Co-op voucher, a lot of which she donated to a food bank.
She said: “When I first found out about the couponing world, it was by stumbling across a freebie that was being offered by a skincare company on Facebook.
"At the time, I didn’t understand why brands were just handing stuff out – but now I see that the savings are out there if you know where to look.
“It gets almost addictive, seeing what else you can win or what other discount coupons you can find."
Natasha also swears by cashback apps.
They invite users to upload pictures of their receipts, which are then scanned, before money is given back on certain items.
She added: “If you’re smart and combine coupons with cashback apps, you can even make a profit.
How Natasha saves money on Christmas presents
HERE are Natasha's top tips for saving money at Christmas:
- Don’t buy for the sake of it. Just because something is in the sale, does not mean it is a bargain – especially if it is something you do not need.
- If you see a freebie, apply quickly. There are often a limited amount on offer, and they soon get snapped up.
- Be organised. If you put aside little bits here and there throughout the year, you will be totally sorted for Christmas by November.
- Be patient. Dedicate a little time every day to scrolling for coupons, and slightly longer for entering competitions.
- Don’t ignore your emails! Companies often send discount codes or vouchers for birthdays, or if you are newly registered to a mailing list.
“You literally get paid to buy things you’d need to get anyway. Sometimes, they also offer freebies.
"I’ve managed to get some bottles of nice alcohol, which ordinarily would cost at least £20 each, and chocolates.”
Natasha also has a number of store loyalty cards, which she has managed to build up enough points on to buy presents like beauty products and candle gift sets in shops she would have needed to use anyway.
And she regularly signs up to online mailing lists, to take advantage of the introductory discount codes they frequently offer.
Organisation is the key to money saving, according to Natasha.
She said she sets aside time every morning to sit down with a cup of tea and scroll the web – in particular social media – for new deals.
She also fills out surveys in exchange for cash or high street vouchers.
“I know lots of people can’t be bothered with sifting through emails, especially when you’re signed up to a lot of mailing lists, but it’s worth doing in case you miss a discount code,” she said.
“The same goes for surveys, too. You can sit and fill them out in front of the TV in the evenings. It doesn’t need to take long, but it pays off.”
Now, more or less finished with Christmas shopping before December has even begun, Natasha is looking forward to being able to properly relax and enjoy the season of goodwill with her daughters.
She continued: “If you can afford to splurge at Christmas then that’s fantastic, but that wasn’t me, and it was getting silly – the amount of stress I’d cause myself.
"For the first time ever, I can actually sit back and enjoy it.”
She added: "Christmas doesn’t need to break the bank – there are ways of saving money. You’ve just got to think outside the box.”
Couponing can save you a lot of money.
One shopper managed to save £15,000 and buy a house just from collecting coupons.
Another revealed how she saved nearly £30,000 over five years thanks to her "addiction" to couponing.
There's a voucher deal on at Morrisons at the moment where you can get 10p off a litre of fuel.