Cost-saving apps: Newbury bargain hunter offers some tips on saving the pennies and the pounds
Karen Kirton has spent the last 30 plus years searching out ways of saving money on a daily basis and with the rise in the cost of living hitting everyone, she shares some savvy ways to make savings.
Karen freely admits she has always loved a bargain: "We married young and had three children – two girls and a boy – and I wanted to be able to spend time with them, so needed to be able to budget accordingly."
Today Karen also has four grandchildren she likes to spend time with when she can.
She said: "We moved to Thatcham from Portsmouth about 30 years ago. And more recently moved to Newbury, where we are gradually doing up our home, but using upcycled materials and furniture."
It works very well, as Karen and her husband have created a cosy home.
"My husband works at Malverleys in the gardens, which means we know all about growing home produce." Their own garden is a work in progress, but provides them with seasonal veg.
"People have often asked me how I manage to find bargains and make the most of what's on offer so many years ago I set up a blog called 'Berkshire on a budget' because I was forever sending hints and tips to friends and family."
Today Karen provides those same tips on an Instagram page and is amazed how few people know about the cost-cutting apps that are available, as well as some more obvious simple lifestyle choices that can save money.
"The internet has made it much easier for people to find bargains, but some of the shopping apps are really good. I save hundreds of pounds a month just by using offers and price comparison sites.
"Not everyone is internet savvy, but if you have a mobile phone, it is so easy to download an app and then make the most of the bargains on offer."
Its not just about the internet either. Karen makes use of free facilities in and around Newbury and is always discovering other cost cutting services that anybody can benefit from.
"I like to share my knowledge and it is surprising how often someone will say 'oh I hadn't thought about that'..."
She points proudly to a dresser which takes pride of place in her kitchen. "We found that at the Community Furniture Store in Newbury. I gave it a lick of paint and it fits perfectly in the kitchen."
Karen says it takes a bit of effort to use the apps and seek out bargains, but it is definitely worth it in the end.
Here are some ideas from Karen about how you can save money on a daily basis using some shop savvy apps.
Some of the tips may seem obvious, but sometimes they have to be pointed out in order to encourage us to take those cost-cutting steps.
Food shopping has become worryingly more expensive, but I hope you find at least one way to save money here.
Start by emptying the food cupboards, fridge and freezer. Bin anything past its "use by" date.
Items with the advisory "best before" date will be safe to eat – so make a list and incorporate them into your meal plans for the next few weeks.
The Supercook and Big Oven apps offer meal suggestions with your list of ingredients – don't forget the peels and stalks!
The Olio app is great for free bread, pastries and vegetables.
All are at the "best before" date, perfectly edible and freezable.
Apps such as Green Jinn and Shopmium work slightly differently.
Buy the items in store at full price then using your receipt, claim all or most of the cost back online.
Maybe you could try a mystery bag of food from shops and restaurants using the Too Good To Go app for only a few pounds.
By signing up to your favourite establishments mailing list, the birthday treats can be worthwhile too.
Supermarket savings sweep
World food aisles are cheaper for herbs and spices, but ethnic stores are better still.
As a treat, Co-Op £5 meal deals are great value for young families and a bargain hunting visit to the market around closing time can be fun.
Self scanning, yellow stickers, vouchers and loyalty cards save money.
To go the extra mile, receipt scanning apps will, eventually, pay back some of your bill.
Meal plans change with bargain buys, however, stay within budget and use up what you already have to save waste.
Comparison sites such as Trolley.co.uk will help make an informed choice on where to shop.
Eat less meat, down shift your usual brands, follow portion size guidance, it will save cash and the waistline too.
Weekly Community Larders
These cost very little and with up to 14 items, depending on venue, and lots of fruit and vegetables, my tip is to shop here first.
A free Berkshire Family Life card offers many discounts and the subscription Tastecard offers a decent 60-day free trial for half price meals.
If you struggle to use the internet for any of the apps, the libraries offer a lot of free computer help and if you would like more information on anything here, follow "mybestforless" on Instagram.
Karen will be back in September with some more cost-cutting ideas.