WE all love a bargain, but Caroline Smart has a precise plan when it comes to tackling the bustling January sales – get maximum value for money.
This super-thrifty approach has seen her bag an ENTIRE wardrobe for her and her daughter Amber-Mae for less than £115.
Caroline bagged a whole wardrobe for her and her daughter Amber-Mae for less than £115Credit: David Cummings – Commissioned by The Sun
From Halloween outfits to Christmas jumpers and bikinis, Caroline will snap it all up on a tight budget — prompting pals to dub her Mrs Bargain Hunter.
The 25-year-old, who is currently unemployed, said pandemic restrictions mean it’s more important than ever to stock up using cheap deals — particularly for one-year-old Amber-Mae.
Caroline, from Harefield, Hillingdon, says: “I bought me and my little girl matching winter gilets for £10 each from H&M, stocked up on four packs of three baby grows from Matalan which had been reduced from £10 to £2, three summer dresses from Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo for myself which have cost no more than £3 each.
“I have bought Hunter wellies from lovethesales.com for myself for £27, and then also managed to get Amber-Mae £20 trainers from Next a size too big for her, so she can grow into them.
Caroline takes full advantage of the January salesCredit: David Cummings – Commissioned by The Sun
“I even have our Christmas outfit sorted for next year. Every girl needs at least one super-dressy outfit which can be reused, so I bought Amber-Mae a multi-pack of dresses from Next for £18, and myself one dress reduced from £26 to £7 on the Nasty Gal website.
“And it is always cheapest to buy bikinis around this time of the year, so after shopping around I managed to find myself two sets for £5 from Missguided.
“Every year, the January sales start earlier and earlier — so I have always got my finger on the button ready to go. Coats, shoes, tops, holiday wear and dinner outfits — I get everything.
“I have signed up to all of my favourite sites, to make sure I am up to date with all of the discounts and I will take my time to look for the best bargains.”
She said she has managed to get some designer pieces on the cheap
As well as stocking up on essentials, in the past Caroline has snagged herself some designer pieces too.
She says: “Last year I managed to get a Michael Kors purse for £14, and I got Hollister leggings for £12, reduced from £30.
“Shopping to me is like a sport, and once you win, it’s the best feeling ever. That’s how I feel when I find the super-cheap bargains that nobody else has spotted. I probably do the equivalent of a full 9-to-5 job when I am bargain-hunting.
“I have spent around nine hours shopping — from waking up early to late nights, and sometimes they do ten-minute flash sales so you have to be aware.
Caroline says the pandemic has made her even more aware of being frugalCredit: David Cummings – Commissioned by The Sun
“It can make January quite a challenge, and it isn’t very relaxing — but it means the rest of the year is easy.”
Frugal Caroline has always loved hitting the sales, but says it’s more crucial than ever for her to be canny about her spending.
She says: “I am unemployed due to Covid-19 after getting made redundant from a receptionist job.
“I’m currently setting up my own beauty business called Beauty By Caz but it is very difficult as lockdowns keep being put in place.
“Because the future is so uncertain in this current climate, I just want to make sure Amber-Mae and I get everything we want for less than half the price.”
The thrifty mum loves to match with her daughter and will hunt down outfits that complement each other.
She says: “I love for us to be glam together, so I don’t see why that has to stop?
“When you look good, you feel great and I pride myself on that — it is so important for your mental health.
Caroline often begins with bargain store Primark before heading online to find even more dealsCredit: David Cummings – Commissioned by The Sun
“I reckon I usually manage to save around 80 per cent when I shop in January.”
Caroline often begins with bargain store Primark before heading online to track down more deals.
She says: “Primark is by far my favourite shop, as it has everything in it and things rarely cost more than £10.
“In Primark it is best not to be rushed, and so I make sure I have at least an hour or two free. I never miss a corner and carefully browse each rail to find the goods.
‘I just want to live the easy life’
“If I have seen an outfit I really like on a celeb, I guarantee I will be able to find a duplicate for cheap in Primark — the shop is great for that.
“And always check the size of the clothes, don’t always go by what hanger they’re on — you could miss a 12 on an 18 hanger.”
Caroline admits she gets teased by her loved ones for penny-pinching, but she believes getting her clothes at a snip is worth it.
She says: “My friends and family will laugh at me for it, but then I am always the first person to help them bag a bargain.
“I got my friend’s favourite Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume reduced to £15 in a TK Maxx sale, and a summer dress my friend had her eye on for a while for £5.
“Other people roll their eyes at me when they see me getting shopping bags out of the car in January.
“They probably think I’m smug but I just want to live the easy life and get sorted.
“It feels good knowing I don’t have to worry about anything for the rest of the year.”
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