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Christmas presents

The Coupon Queen’s five festive money-saving ideas

Christmas is creeping up quickly, and this usually involves lots of spending too. But there are ways to make your festive season spend fun, rather than frightening. 

We asked award-winning blogger Emma Mumford aka The Coupon Queen, to tell us about her money journey, and how she prepares for Christmas.

My money story

I started my money-saving journey back in August 2013. At the time I was living with my ex-boyfriend and was a full time banking manager.

My relationship with my ex wasn’t great and he emotionally abused me to take on his £7k debt, stupidly I did to help our situation.

I fell into depression quickly from all the stress at work and with my own finances I didn’t want to put people in debt knowing how I felt £7k under myself.

I left the bank and focused on getting my own mental health stable again, it was then I watched a show on TLC called Extreme Couponing and the rest is history.

I instantly got hooked to the show how could they be getting thousands of dollars’ worth of food for so little!

In September 2013 I finally gave myself the kick up the bum and started my page ‘Extreme Couponing and Deals UK’.  I also started branching out my posts to freebies and deals, which got great reactions.

I’ve gone from putting people in debt to helping us all get out and that is something far more fulfilling for me.

I know how it feels to be in debt. Christmas can be a hard time, but there are ways you can have a great budget Christmas.

Five Christmas tips

1. Competitions

Make sure to enter low entry competitions as you are more likely to win, using your lucky competition wins for presents is a great idea and certainly keeps the cost down!

2. Black Friday

The one day of the year us Brits go mad for a bargain. Be careful when dashing for those deals as some aren't reduced by much at all. My top tips for Black Friday are plan ahead, know what products you want and do your research on pricing. Shopping online also makes Black Friday less stressful and you can quickly price compare with Google. 

3. Beauty Samples/Hampers

I collect lots of freebies throughout the year and very regularly get deluxe samples of beauty products and perfumes. These are great for creating hampers with or for stocking fillers, as everyone needs travel size products from time to time. 

4. Secret Santa

One tip I have learnt off a friend is a tradition she holds with her family every year. We all know of Secret Santa in the workplace but what about with your family? One year they were all feeling the financial pull of the festive season and suggested they did Secret Santa within the family. It meant they could spend more on the individual whilst saving money in general, by only buying a few gifts for one person instead of eight. It was such a success they have been doing it 4 years now!

5. Write to companies for coupons

Now is the time to get emailing companies. Pick the brands you love and use the most. Give them an honest review of why you love their products and how they compare to rival brands. This is free product research for them and they often reward you with higher value coupons. It does take persistence and be prepared for thank you emails, but with time you will be happy to see the postman when your coupons come through the letterbox. 

This guest post is from The Coupon Queen and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about The Coupon Queen and what they do on their website.

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  • Rachel / 17 November 2015

    I think your tips from Emma re Xmas are rather impractical most people don't get "freebies" or samples even Avon charge for samples.

  • Chris Toms / 10 November 2015

    Charity Shops:Clothes,Videos,Cds,just some of the many gifts one can buy.I like Oxfam and one or two of the small charities.

  • Carol Westerman / 8 November 2015

    It's a very good idea i don't have much money so is a very good to have some vouchers bif I can find any

  • Carol Westerman / 8 November 2015

    I think it a really good idea I'm only on disabled benifit so would be very good for me but don't no how to get thme

  • Carol Westerman / 8 November 2015

    I think it a really good idea I'm only on disabled benifit so would be very good for me but don't no how to get thme

  • Carol Westerman / 8 November 2015

    It would be good to be able to get coupons to by things for Xmas but i don't no how to get them but only on
    disabled benifits but it is a great idea

  • Kay Rowe / 7 November 2015

    I think it's great advice and lots of good ideas. Sadly at the moment I live abroad, but will be returning to the UK in the not too distant future, when I fully plan to start couponing. I too like to watch Extreme Couponing, although I do question having so many goods stock piled. At what point do they use what they have stockpiled. It's a bit like a shop having a stock room full of stock that they are not sure of selling.

  • kate / 6 November 2015

    ithink its great if u no wear to find the cuopon and no how to get the right ones

  • kerry bennett / 5 November 2015

    any tips for the competition web sites

  • Susan Storar / 5 November 2015

    Good tips and advice x

  • Susan / 5 November 2015

    I have done surveys for companies. Promising freebies. Not one freebie or voucher have I received.. Please can you let me know what website to use..Many Thanks Sue..

  • Ruby / 5 November 2015

    This is a great site and the coupon advice is great. This year I am also making a lot of home made gifts like bags and toys etc. Just has to be done. I especially like the bit about contacting companies. I will have to try that one now!

  • Lynda / 4 November 2015

    Emma, I may start referring people to your blog, It would save me having to repeat myself so often!. Please keep it up. I don't think I've made any large online purchase without googling the word "Voucher" followed by the company name ~ Cookie Stylie!.

  • Amor Flores / 4 November 2015

    thank you for those tips you help me a lot...want to try it...thank you again.

  • Hayley Dymond / 4 November 2015

    I think this is fab xx

  • Sahila / 4 November 2015

    This article is really good and informative.

  • Sammy / 4 November 2015

    GO YOU!!!!!!!

  • Christopher Alan / 4 November 2015

    You have done well and when the chips are down like it as bean for me this year i am ready for anythik

  • Joe / 4 November 2015

    I don't think this is a useful thing to promote on a money life skills site

  • glen cashmore esq / 4 November 2015


  • Mrs Wilma Dixon / 4 November 2015

    Hiya just read some of your xmas Tips !! 1st time I've had this E Mail.and very intresting it is too !! I've taken on some of your Advice and will try it out !! Many thanks .

  • jackie trueman / 4 November 2015

    There are a lot of freebie websites if you google them i have found quite a few

  • raja m / 2 November 2015

    it looks lot of herd work need same thing quirk and easy

  • Helen Baker / 2 November 2015

    Where and how do you get the freebies.🙏🏻

  • Sarah Pearsall / 1 November 2015

    I have tried to get coupons and free gifts but no joy;how do you manage?

  • christina loughràn / 31 October 2015

    I enjoyed these tips,what I do is from sept I spend a little extra each week on non perishable food.This means Christmas week I only have to buy fresh food,this really is worth doing.

  • Anne Aitken / 30 October 2015

    I have trouble buying Christmas presents because of being on benefit, please do you have a solution?

  • Stanley Mutshiya / 29 October 2015

    Very informative and opens your eyes and mind

  • Kate Caldicott / 29 October 2015

    Excellent tips. We have been doing the Secret Santa for a number of years now and it really helps.


  • B.Teasdale / 29 October 2015

    Why are we talking in dollars when we are in the UK?

  • christine harrison / 29 October 2015

    i like your idea of secret santa,although there is only my mum and sister to buy expensive gifts for, we really have everything we need and love already, so buying for one is so much easier, i will suggest this for next year as i have already bought all i need, as i buy in january and all through the year when i see a bargain !

  • Dave / 29 October 2015

    very enlightening, i must try harder, thank you

  • Robin Butler / 29 October 2015

    I remember one Christmas when my late partner and I were really hard-up with little money for family presents. Then we got the idea of making sweets, fudge and chocolate truffles from a recipe book. The ingredients didn't cost that much, nor the little boxes etc to put them in. These gifts went down well, with many requests for recipes. Another idea, if you live in a large city, especially London, is to visit the museum and gallery shops, where you'll often find original, quality gifts at very reasonable prices. We found the London Science Museum especially good.

  • Yvonne / 29 October 2015

    I changed my internet supplier about 2 months ago from Sky to TalkTalk and they sent me £100 worth of Love to Shop vouchers. I know TalkTalk are in the news at the moment but I have no complaints with the service - just use a strong password. x

  • Yvonne / 29 October 2015

    Hello Emma
    I will certainly be trying your ideas.

    I turned 60 in May and have reduced by working week to Monday -Thursday for health reasons but, obviously my wage dropped. I mentioned to my daughters what I planned and told them Christmas maybe sparse. They were all very supportive and told me to think of myself, which is not easy after all this time of loving taking care of others. I have enjoy looking for deals but I never thought of coupons.

    Wishing you all the very best x

  • sarah / 29 October 2015

    I could have written 5 useful points down for you.
    1: Shop around- don't go to one shop and buy everything.
    2: Set a limit to each person/family member
    3: Start buying in the upcoming months rather than waiting until december
    4. Don't waste your money on rubbish. If there is something someone really wants and they aren't at the 'believing' stage- buy a token gift and enjoy the half price sales and get them what they really want!
    5: Be honest with friends and family- most are in the same situation. Many who have children agree with us to only buy for the kids to save costs.

  • Pauline Jeffrey / 28 October 2015

    Good idea with Secret Santa, but hard to get everyone to agree

  • James Robinson / 28 October 2015

    Use a Credit Card that gives 0% on purchases. Pay the minimum off each month using your Bank. Save the money in a 5% saving account and pay all your Credit Card debt at the end of the year. The credit card People will love you for the way you do business and one gave me a £20.00 and a BIG box of chocs. All true!!

  • Ray Baldacchino / 28 October 2015

    A bit confused about saving dollars - our currency is £s in GB! Still, the principle is the same. No mention of stacking - meaning using more than one discount at a time. For example, I regularly wait for the 25% off wine offers at the supermarkets and combine that with any money-off vouchers like £6 off if you spend £60, but as far as I aware, only Asda and Tesco do not place any restrictions on how much alcohol you can buy with their money-off vouchers - Lidl, Morrisons and Sainsburys do.

    Another example is when I bought my Halifax house insurance recently; I got £50 cashback and a 10% discount from Halifax but I am still waiting for my £50 cashback from Quidco who take ages to pay, unlike Top Cashback who are quicker. The result was my £138 policy premium came down to about £15 for a year's buildings & contents insurance!!

    I have mentioned cashback websites which is another lucrative way of saving money. Cashback is usually available on things like insurances - I got £70 cashback with Top Cashback on my car insurance making it £128 comprehensive; banking, and utilites (including TV and broadband) are items where large savings can be made but you have to change your supplier every year as you do not usually receive cashback on renewals. A lot of people can't be bothered to change every year but its not a lot of bother for the savings you make unless mistakes are made, which sometimes happens!

  • john Emmons / 28 October 2015

    all sounds good and the main thing to remember is if you have £500 to spend then spend no more ! spend £1000 how to pay for it if you haven't got it and its no good saying well the little ones need xyz

  • Theodora / 28 October 2015

    Thank you. Ve started worrying abut making d season worthwhile for d kids without being bankrupt. Will become redundant on the 18th of Nov. I have no idea hope to cope. Thank you.

  • Tony Goodchild / 28 October 2015

    Trite, and I'd never have the cheek to do Secret Santa with my kids & grandchildren. Please be serious in future.

  • emma murphy / 28 October 2015

    I've also seen the programme and its mad, shame we don't have the coupon system like they do in the USA, I cant recall last time I saw a coupon etc., is there such things anymore??

  • Helen / 28 October 2015

    I love the Secret Santa idea.
    I recently bought my toys in the half price (supermarket ) sale and paid for them with my nectar points (which I had saved up for through the year) and paid just a little in cash. It's great to plan ahead.

  • julie thrasher / 28 October 2015

    l save my tesco point all year to use on christmas thing which save me of lot of money plus l do it online it cheap why buy thing to

  • Elizabeth / 28 October 2015

    Taking the advice above, if I comment at how fantastic your coupon deals and site is will I get rewarded in vouchers! Fantastic site, great deals never dissapointed!!