‘I save £1,000 on Christmas by shopping early and have everything wrapped by August’

Jill, 43, from Berkshire, reckons she saves an impressive £1,000 on Christmas each year by making the most of January sales, cashback websites and vouchers when shopping online

Bargain hunter Jill won’t be joining the thousands of shoppers dashing round stores for last-minute Christmas presents this weekend.

She completed the bulk of her Christmas shopping by February this year, having made the most of the January sales – and even had everything wrapped up by August.

By shopping early and making the most of cashback sites, the 43-year-old estimates she saved around £1,000 on gifts for loved ones and food.

Presents that she has wrapped up this year for family include Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume reduced from £69 to £27.94 and Reebok shoes down from £21 to £5.67.

Jill also picked up culottes from M&S for just £1.80 instead of £18, as well as a candle from TK Maxx for £2.70 down from £10.

Speaking to The Mirror, Jill, who lives in Berkshire, reckons she has spent around £200 in total on Christmas this year.

She said: “I start buying as soon as Christmas is over. Most of the presents are bought by February.

“I pick up some bits throughout the year if there is a good deal, but they’re all wrapped and bagged up by August.

“I even buy my cards and wrapping paper in January when they’re cheap. The cards are written out in August too.

“I would say I save close to £1,000. The majority, I pay probably 25% of the actual price on average, taking into account Topcashback and vouchers.”

Jill says she often finds products discounted by up to 70% off in the January sales – and boosts her reductions by looking for discount codes online.

Some of her favourite shops for hunting out bargains include Boots and the supermarkets – but her local independent shops near where she lives are also good for January sales.

She previously loved shopping in Debenhams after Christmas, before the department store chain closed down.

When shopping online, Jill also makes use of Topcashback to get money back from on her Christmas gifts.

Cashback sites do what they say on the tin. You’ll get money back for a qualifying shop when you provide proof of a receipt, and as long as you complete the transaction via their website.

Jill said: “Sometimes I end up getting near 90% off. I just Google discount codes and you may need to try one or two codes, but one will usually work.

“The next step I do is go to Topcashback, so I get money back on purchases as well. There are a few steps to the process.

“Up until this year, I would’ve said Debenhams was really good for after Christmas sales. Boots is very good as well – they have fantastic sale items.

“People who are retired or if you’re a student, you can get an extra 10% off with your Advantage card. You do have to time it right.

“I’m also subscribed to LatestDeals.co.uk and most of the deals sites, so they scope out a lot of the bargains for you.

“A lot of the supermarkets now don’t just stock food items, so I get a lot of gifts after Christmas there as well.

“Waitrose, which is normally known for being expensive, they sell off a lot of items really reduced.”

In terms of saving cash on food, Jill makes the most of yellow sticker deals that she can freeze and also the Too Good To Go food-waste app.

Too Good To Go partners up with retailers including Greggs, Marks and Spencer and Costa – as well as smaller, independent shops – to sell “magic bags” of food that would otherwise be thrown out at the end of the day.

Prices start from around £3 for a bag – and Sarah says she has been able to get full boxes of food worth £50 for just £3.09.

The only downside is you can’t choose what food you get in your Too Good To Go bag.

Jill added: “We don’t feel like we’re skimping either as we buy everything we want.

“I’ve got loads of reduced food frozen in my freezer, like salmon and fancy stuff from Waitrose.

“I’m also a big fan of Too Good To Go and it means food doesn’t go to waste.

“The savings may seem small, £5 here or there, but it soon adds up. It makes such a difference as my other half has been laid off a couple of times.”

Her tips for other bargain hunters include not leaving your Christmas shopping until the last minute, having an open mind when it comes to what to buy, and asking for extra discount.

Jill said: “I had seen a lovely Phase Eight dress, which was 70% off down to £35. I tried it on and loved it – it was the perfect fit – but there was a little stitch missing off the zip at the back.

“I asked the lady if they could do anything and she ended up knocking another 20% off. You can’t normally return items when they’re heavily discounted.”

Some of Jill’s best Christmas bargains
Here are some of Jill’s best discounted Christmas presents – and any cashback she received from shopping online.

Red cashmere scarf: was £49 70, Jill paid £13.23 (cashback 79p)
Checked scarf: was £35.70, Jill paid £9.45 (cashback 56p)
Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume: was £69.50, Jill paid £27.94 (cashback 61p)
Striped shawl: was £30.70, Jill paid £8.10 (cashback 48p)
Culottes: was £18.90, Jill paid £1.80
Reebok shoes: was £21.70, Jill paid £5.67 (cashback 34p)
Socks: was £8.70, Jill paid £2.16 (cashback 12p)
Candle: was £10.70, Jill paid £2.70 (cashback 16p)