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How to save money on shopping

apparel 1850804 640I hate trying things on in shops – the easy way to make yourself really miserable is trying on a dress in a tiny changing room when you’ve got odd socks on and haven’t shaved your legs. And the mirrors are like those in old fashioned amusement arcades. Buying make up is out because I have a real fear of cosmetic counter saleswomen. If one approaches me, wearing full orange war paint, I run a mile.

But on the other hand, obviously I buy clothes, handbags make up etc. I just do it online. Why schlepp around carrying things when you can get it delivered to your door? Even if I do venture into actual shops, I often just track down the item I want, look at it and then go home, order it online and have it delivered. And what’s more, I can often get cash back from doing so by buying online via a cashback site. I use Quidco but there are others such as TopCashback* (which is Money Saving Expert’s favourite and claims on its site to pay the best rates) or even ones which give the cashback to your chosen charity or concern such as easyfundraising.

With Quidco you register for free membership. Then when you want to buy something, you log on to Quidco and search for that retailer through Quidco. It will tell you how much cashback you’ll get – there are special offers every now and then. Currently Quidco has 5% cashback at Debenhams, for example. Anyway, when you’ve made your purchase your cashback is tracked and after a few months, you can choose to have it paid into your bank account or take online vouchers for retailers (which boost payouts). It’s an easy way to make a bit extra. For example, I bought a pair of boots from Clarks for £65. The cashback is £3.25 which I should get two months or so after my purchase.

But there are shortcomings. Firstly, I spend most of my money at John Lewis and Amazon, neither of which is on Quidco. Secondly, unless you spend loads of money or buy insurance policies you don’t get huge payments. I’ve never tried to buy car or home insurance using Quidco (because I tend to buy via a comparison site) but I might give it a try next year. Thirdly, you can wait a while for payouts – I’ve got one outstanding from Marks & Spencer dating back to April. But it’s free money – and who doesn’t like that?

See our guide to Christmas shopping here.

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Monday, 22 April 2019