Superscrimpers, I salute you
I can’t resist those super-scrimping television shows where incredibly focused and driven women navigate the equivalent of a road train of trolleys round a supermarket armed with several months’ worth of discount coupons. They usually rope in a grown-up daughter or two to launch a guerrilla raid on an unsuspecting supermarket and clear the shelves of toiletries and longlife groceries. Because they have spent weeks saving and planning, they know exactly how to maximise the offers and end up with free toothpaste or buying longlife fruit juice for pennies. It’s hugely complicated and labour-intensive, they need the separate trolleys because often they are limited to X number of freebies in one go and they have an almost limitless supply of coupons. One slip and all their good intentions are swallowed up by a bill for a year’s supply of mouthwash. The pay-off is always hugely satisfying as they load their cars up to the rooftops with several months’ supply of cereal and baby food and chocolate pudding hours later, often as darkness falls, having been waved through the till by a beaming befuddled cashier who either charges them about £20 – or sometimes even pays them to leave.
It is a great spectator sport, and like last summer’s Olympics I can only watch and admire from afar. I just don’t have the drive or the organisational skills to take advantage of offers and discounts on such a massive scale. The only time I tried to do something vaguely similar, which was nothing more complicated than trying to get the best deal on the wine and food for the school quiz night, I spent so much time dithering over the offers that I ended up with a £60 parking fine for overstaying in the supermarket car park. That went down well with the treasurer.
So I admire the superscrimpers’ precision and focus, I just know I can’t compete with them. But like Jennifer Ennis’ six-pack can inspire me to cut down on the carbs after Christmas and step up the running (I say running – it’s mainly panting in trainers), we can all steal a secret or two from hardcore scrimpers – here’s how:
1. Supermarket online vouchers, especially the ones like Tesco that double up every now and then like an online fruit machine. You can end up buying hundreds of pounds’ worth of clothes or electrical goods for nothing. But again, it’s not for amateurs – don’t wait until the day before they run out to shop because you will drive yourself insane if you try to rush.
2. Groupon, KGB Deals and other group buying sites that offer great deals if enough people sign up for the daily offers. Great for nights out and expensive household one-offs. The time between buying and booking your offer can be months – I bought a tooth-whitening treatment in December but my earliest appointment was May. So don’t wait until Christmas Eve to book the carpet cleaner, book it the moment it comes on Groupon and the wait will probably be so long you end up with fluffy carpets just in time for Boxing Day. Ditto white goods, dental treatment and
3. Shopping from a list. I know I know, it’s boring, it makes you feel like your mum and it’s pointless because you write the list then leave it at home – you don’t have to explain. But it is the single quickest, easiest way to knock £20 off your supermarket bill. It’s not just the £5 ready meals and vanilla scented candles (ooh, as cheap as Ikea) you buy on impulse that tip you over the edge, it’s the things you leave out. How many times have you come home having blown £100 on groceries to be greeted with a cry of, “Did you get me the make-up remover/batteries/tights I need?” Once you’ve packed away enough food to keep a survivalist happy till Doomsday, you realise you’ve forgotten the bin bags and light bulbs. So you have to hare off to the corner shop to buy the essentials you forgot, at twice the price. Now THAT is boring.
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn