A savvy woman has managed to clear £40,000 of credit card debt through smart shopping tricks including yellow sticker shopping and is now helping others save money.
Maddy Alexander-Grout, 38, from Southampton, Hampshire got into debt after taking out dozens of credit cards and loans while at university in the early 2000s.
Eventually, the shame and fear surrounding her debts were too great to handle and she knew she needed to take drastic action by overhauling the way she shopped.
With two children, Harriet, aged three, and Ben, six, the mum started visiting her local supermarkets up to six times a week in order to buy yellow sticker produce and keep costs down.
Putting the money she saved on shopping towards paying off her credit cards and loans and sticking to a strict budget, Alexander-Grout is now totally debt-free.
"I go to the shops up around five or six times a week looking around the reduced-to-clear section," she explains.
Buying food, including meat, then freezing it is another money-saving trick Alexander-Grout used.
“I used to pick up a lot of meat which I’d be able to freeze and use when I liked," she explains. "I once remember getting a massive pack of sausages for 16p.
“Likewise, I’d also make sure to buy a lot of fish produce too. Prawns are generally on offer in these sections, but sometimes there would be really good quality cod fillets too."
Watch: Cost of living: Scramble for value ranges as grocery inflation hits highest level since 2009
Even after her careful spending cleared her debts, Alexander-Grout continues to stick to her thrifty habits.
“Despite clearing my debts, I still yellow sticker shop now," she says.
"On jubilee weekend I got pizza, chicken, mini cheese cakes and more – all reduced!"
When food shopping, Alexander-Grout says it is important to think ahead about the meals you can make with the items on sale.
“Sometimes there are salads in the reduced section which are great to have with meals," she says. "Sometimes you can also get fruit which I use for smoothies.
“It’s essential to think about cupboard staples too, like rice, pasta and lentils.
"If you’re going to shop this way you need to make sure you have stuff to go with it," she adds.
This means you may have to bulk-buy cupboard staples, even if it means spending a little more initially.
"I bought a spice kit that cost me £4 and I’ve used this for nearly a year now," she says.
She also suggests making a list before you shop to avoid impulse-buys, never shopping while hungry and choosing supermarket own brands.
Though she has never worked out how much money she has saved over the years, Alexander-Grout estimates she has saved thousands shopping it in this way and credits her smart tricks for clearing her significant debts.
Alexander-Grout is now sharing her money-saving experience by launching a discount scheme for parents called My VIP Rewards.
This site offers discounts on supermarket and high street shopping, UK theme parks, beauty salons, cafes, soft play areas, days out, holidays, pet care, weddings, nail salons and at home kits.
My VIP Rewards was created in 2017, once Alexander-Grout was debt-free, to help people shop locally and support their community.
She also shares her tips and tricks on her TikTok, @maddyaboutmoney.
Additional reporting Caters.