I’m a mother of four – I saved £100 by only buying damaged items, you can’t tell the difference
A MUM-OF-VOUR has saved hundreds over the years by snapping up imperfect items – and they’re just as good.
Vicky Saynor, 47, owner of Bethnal&Bec Luxury Stays and mother of Willow 11, Mylo 12, Felix 14, Poppy 17, has always been on the lookout for yellow stickers but has specialized in “damaged items” in recent years.
The latter are goods that can no longer be sold at full price, but are still more than usable.
A can of beans may be dented, or the packaging of a mascara tube may begin to tear.
These items aren’t unsafe or harmful, they just got bumped a little.
“I remember people telling me to be careful because if they are damaged, metal could come out [substances] into the food, but that’s not the case,” Vicky, who lives in Hertfordshire, told The Sun.
Vicky said she picked up cans of cans for 2p from Tesco and bought a £16 plant for £3 from Sainsbury’s.
She also estimates she’s saved around £45 on Christmas goodies like biscuits and chocolate and can feed her family of six for a tiny pound a meal.
Vicky also managed to find a box of Thornton’s chocolates for 74p, less than around £7, also at Tesco.
Only the box was “damaged”, but it was still completely airtight.
Just this week the savvy shopper needed to buy cleaning supplies for her son and managed to find a pack of three items in the ‘damaged’ items section, saving her £20.
Here are Vicky’s top tips for saving your money on “damaged” items.
It might come in handy as prices have been increasing lately.
According to the Office for National Statistics, UK food and non-alcoholic drink prices increased by 16.5% in 2022 to November 2022.
This rate has increased for the past 16 consecutive months from a negative 0.6% in July 2021.
Damaged items should be reduced
Firstly, if an item is damaged you are most likely entitled to a discount – most supermarkets have an unsold or damaged item policy which means they will still sell them but at a reduced price.
If you see something that isn’t already on sale, Vicky said, always take it to a shop assistant and ask for a reduction – they have to give it to you.
She said, “I think people will be surprised at how much you can get before you have to buy full price.”
Choose your shop wisely
Vicky said she mainly shops at Tesco as it’s her local supermarket and they usually sell everything from groceries to clothes to make-up.
But it’s handy to know which stores are most likely to sell what.
For example, she said: “I never see ambient things reduced at Aldi or Lidl, only chilled.”
Whilst Sainsbury’s has an excellent plants department and these are often discounted for being ‘damaged’.
She said: “Supermarkets bring them in and put them on stands that are inside and get very little light.
“They also have AC, which not many plants can stand.”
Vicky ended up buying several damaged plants and bringing them back to life.
Stores like Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s are also good for children’s clothing and Vicky always goes straight to the discounted section.
“If I need to buy something urgently, usually for the kids, and I can’t get it online, I always go to the store first and see if there’s anything similar.
“And then I go to the full price department.”
Don’t worry that the item is not “perfect”.
Vicky said one thing that worries many is that the items we buy are not in “perfect” condition.
Of course we want value for money and we should get what we paid for, but if the packaging is a little torn or the veggies are a bit wobbly, that doesn’t mean the quality of the merchandise has been compromised.
“For example, there may be a pillow or where someone opened it and they [the store] can’t sell it at full price,” she said.
“Well I don’t mind that it was opened, that saves me 75% sometimes because I’m going to put it through the wash anyway.”
She said the same goes for rickety fruit and veg, it’s all still in good condition and if you grow it yourself, it will most likely be rickety too.
Vicky added, “We’re so conditioned that things have to be perfect in order for us to buy them — that’s so out of place.”
Many supermarkets also offer vegetable and fruit programs where you can score bargain prices if they are misshapen or imperfect.
For example, Lidl runs its Waste Not scheme, which offers 5kg boxes of fruit and veg for just £1.50.
Go at the right time
Vicky said she used to do some sort of shopping every day but now tries to go once a week unless absolutely necessary.
Finding “damaged” items is also about timing, she said.
Knowing when to leave depends on the business, Vicky said. So be sure to ask the time at your local supermarket.
For example, she said Co-op tends to release its damaged items on Mondays and Fridays.
But with other stores, going on a Saturday night is also a great trick, as they usually try to get rid of stock before a Sunday or Monday delivery.
First go to the “damaged” items
Vicky said she always goes straight to the Damaged Items department first.
She can then plan the rest of her shop based on that.
These are usually hidden in the back of the store and can be difficult to find, so you may need to ask someone for help.
The savvy shopper retrieves all her cans from the damaged department and was a really cheap way to support her family of six, including making packed lunches for their four children.
She said: I saved a lot of money by buying damaged cans, which I think is a great way to save money.
“I can cook an entire meal for a family of six for less than a pound and that motivates me to seek her out.”
“When I walk past a supermarket I only go in to look at the reduced section, even if I don’t need anything I put it in the freezer.”
Vicky also said just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
“If you can’t see anything, go to customer service and ask where it is.
“B&M, for example, don’t have a specific shelf, but they have a couple of boxes in the back that they put their damaged items in.”
She simply asked if she could take a look at what needed approval from a store manager, but she was able to poke around.
Ask for another discount
Vicky always tries to get another discount on top of what the store has given.
She said: “I always go to customer service and tell them this plant is going in the bin and they’ve usually only discounted it by maybe 50% but for a 25 pound plant it’s still a lot of money for one damaged item.
“So I’ll always ask for an extra discount – I bought a Pothos for £15 and got it down to £3.”
Once you’ve bought “damaged” groceries, use apps to prepare a meal
Finally, Vicky explained that you get random items listed in the “Damaged” section that may not match your meal prep.
In this case, she suggested downloading food apps that will help you put together meals using the ingredients you have.
For example, receipt generator apps like SuperCook and MyFridgeFood let you add the goods you have and it will then formulate a meal for you.
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https://www.thesun.ie/money/10052059/mum-of-six-buys-damaged-items-only/ I’m a mother of four – I saved £100 by only buying damaged items, you can’t tell the difference