I like to shop locally but there are some things that cannot be bought in Athgarvan. A glittery toilet seat is one of them. It was time to update the bathroom so I went online and with one small click of the mouse, purchased my big camp toilet seat. It sparkles like a disco ball and makes every trip to the smallest room in the house feel a little bit special.
Walking to school the next day I happened to bump into a fellow mum on the run, Melissa. Unable to contain my excitement, I showed her a picture of my latest purchase. Her eyes lit up, she used to sing in a band and loves a bit of glamour. “You should have spoken to me, I’d have got you fifty percent off that,” she said with a wink.
Two years ago Melissa lost her job as a cost analyst for a large American company. Now that the family was relying on one income, the mortgage, gas, electricity and insurance bills began to stack up. She had to make drastic changes and examined the household budget for the first time, with an accountant’s eye.
“I found that there were big price differences online,” she told me. She made reductions on her energy providers first, then got a better deal on her mortgage and insurance. After further examination, she discovered that the biggest saving of all was to be made on grocery shopping,
Melissa says that anyone can cut hundreds a year from their weekly shop. When she was employed, she used to spend €800 a month on food; that has been reduced by more than half. “Now I sit down, go online, run though all the supermarkets and see what’s on offer”. Her favourite comparison website is reeprewards.ie.
With Newbridge just down the road she does Tesco and Dunnes in one day. She does Aldi and Lidl in Kildare town on another. The savings she makes each week are incredible. “Everything that I buy is half price or less”. The best ever shop was when she spent just €40 for a weeks grocery shopping using Tescos online. “The trick is to plan out a week of meals and make a detailed list” she advised me, “The rewards are there for the taking”.
“Aldi is best for regular weekly savings and Thursday vegetable offers. Dunnes and Tescos put up good deals on vegetables too”. She’s also become a bit of an expert on the psychology of shopping. “Cheaper goods are always on the lower shelves and never shop when you are hungry”.
The discount queen spends two hours in the morning and the same in the evening online finding the deals. “I’m not working, I have the time to sit down and investigate what’s out there. I am making it my job to save our family money”. It was through her extensive research she discovered ‘Beady Eye Bargains and Special Offers’ on Facebook. Sarah McHale, the founder of ‘Beady Eye’ spends twelve hours a day searching for deals and sharing them online.
Thirty thousand people are on the Beady Eye page and there’s a reason. It’s the place for them to share the knowledge. Every special offer, ‘Buy One Get One Free’ deal, money saving hint and tip in Ireland is listed there. Special discount codes for online shopping are listed and added to daily. “The bargains that are out there are unbelievable,” Melissa told me. Why am I always the last to know about these things?
A few hours later I found myself standing in Melissa’s kitchen with a mug of tea. On the kitchen table, she had laid on a huge display of everything that she had bought online for her two children for Christmas including dolls, watches, painting sets, beads, headphones and a cuddly toy. Late Late Toy Show eat your heart out.
“I bought this off EBay for 1 cent INCLUDING shipping!” she beamed, holding up a beautiful silver ‘Frozen’ necklace with a secret watch inside. “These twelve Barbie dresses were €1.29 for the whole set” she carried on, rooting through the pile. “These Minecraft toys are €9.99 each in the shops. I could never afford them. I bought nine online for €12”. That’s a saving of a whopping €78.
Christmas is a sneeze away and this year Melissa began shopping early. “Stores will have sales or discounts in September to increase their sales for the last quarter for the year. It is the best time to shop for bargains”. Retailers such as Argos sell toys at 75% off. She began buying from EBay in September too. “You have to allow 45 days for things to arrive”. She has most of her Christmas shopping done while I’m still in Halloween mode.
Savvy Melissa had a few tips for this sloppy shopper. “Register online with the companies that you want to purchase from”. All the big players from Debenhams to Littlewoods, Smyths to Argos send out offers directly to you on a weekly basis. “There might just be something that you are looking for”.
“Sign up to Groupon, Living Social, Deal Rush, Grab One, PigsBack and get daily emails. Make a list, only buy what you need”. As I got up to leave, she showed me deals that are currently available online. Lily O’Briens are offering 20% off, Lifestyle Sports 10%, New Look 20% and MacCabes pharmacy the same.
“It’s like a treasure hunt! It’s so satisfying when you find something that you’ve been searching for at a discounted price.” Her research has paid off. Melissa has cut hundreds from bills, her groceries and saved a fortune on her children’s Christmas presents. There is only one thing left to find that will make her Christmas complete, a trip to Santa.
Santa’s probably the only thing that you can’t buy on a discount site so she’s off to Donadea Forest Park to visit him in the grotto instead. The Discount Diva had better watch out. If Santa discovers how good she is at buying toys, he’ll want her as head elf.