It's time to celebrate! After the winter hibernation, we have five great reasons to celebrate - and five freebies to help you enjoy each of them. So whether you're gearing up for St Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, Free cone day, Crufts or Lincoln in the FA Cup Quarter-Final - we have some fantastic freebies to help you enjoy the day even more - without it costing a fortune.
The beer brand is celebrating the fact that Lincoln City has reached the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup (the first time a non-league team has reached this stage since 1914). On Saturday, between 12 and 5.30pm, it is recreating the famous Lincoln Imp pub at The Edward Lear pub on Holloway Road in London. Graeme Le Saux will be behind the bar, but more importantly, Lincoln City fans who pop in on their way to the match will get a free beer on the house.
Quidco is celebrating Crufts, with free Bonios. Once you have signed up to the free cashback site, you just need to buy Bonios from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons or Waitrose by 12th March, and upload the receipt to the app. Your £1.90 will be refunded in full.
Free ice cream
Ben & Jerry's ice cream shops run the fantastic Free Cone Day every year, and the users of HotUKDeals.com have spotted that this year the day falls on 4 April. You can track down your nearest shop on the website, then pop along for a scoop in a cone - completely free - any time between 12pm and 8pm.
Free pint of Guinness
You can celebrate St Patrick's Day with a freebie, as Pitcher & Piano is offering a free pint of Guinness (or Baileys over ice), to all its newsletter subscribers. Just sign up, and you'll get your code, which can be used any time before 31 March. If nether drink is to your taste, it may well be worth signing up anyway, because they have been giving a way a different drink each month.
If you haven't yet signed up to Topcashback, then you can get a great freebie for Mother's Day. New members can get a free personalised box of Milk Tray from Cadbury. All you have to do is sign up, click through to the offer, and buy the chocolates for £10 plus £3.95 postage and packaging. The full £13.95 will be credited to your cashback account. The offer runs until 26 March.
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
The more work you are prepared to put in, the more you stand to save. If you put your shopping list into mysupermarket.com, you can identify where each individual items is cheapest, and can technically buy every single item at its lowest possible price.
If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, a reasonable compromise is to shop at two supermarkets: once at the weekend and once mid-week. You can buy each item at the cheapest of the two shops, and save money without devoting hours to shopping.
There are several deal-sharing sites, including hotukdeals.com and latestdeals.co.uk. Most of them have a ‘freebies’ section, where you can get items completely free, and all have a section where they post fantastic deals that are well worth taking advantage of.
They will often point the way to coupons for brilliant discounts too.
The more time you have spare to spend looking for these, the more you can save.
It’s worth following your favourite brands on Facebook or Twitter. It’s also important to pick up in-house magazines, try your free local paper, and check any letters from supermarket loyalty schemes for your vouchers. If you have a Nectar card, visit the website before you shop, so you can upload the latest deals to your card.
While you’re in-store, keep your eyes peeled for promotions on packets, and on receipts. Often the deal-hunting websites will offer a short cut to many of these, but if you have the opportunity to do some legwork, you will find plenty of others.
Compare the price of your branded goods (after you use the coupon) with the cheapest supermarket alternative. If the discount makes it the cheapest option, then feel free to use it immediately.
However, if it doesn’t bring the price down below the own brand price, then don't throw it away. Hang onto the coupon, and check Mysuupermarket.com every few days to see if there’s an offer running on the brand at any time before the coupon expires. A deal plus a coupon is often the cheapest option.
Prices change all the time, but it pays to have a shopping list annotated with the usual price - or an old receipt - on hand when you are shopping. When something is on sale, compare it to the usual selling price from your list, to decide if it’s really as good value as it purports to be.
The frugal experts have decent storage areas at home, so if there’s a very special deal on washing powder or toilet paper, tins or toiletries, they can stock up for a few months at a knock-down price. It’s not generally worth doing on fresh produce, or packets with a short shelf life though, because throwing something away that’s out of date will undo all of your good work.
There can be some incredible bargains in the ‘yellow sticker’ sections of the supermarket. Most stores will have a spot for fruit and vegetable reductions, somewhere for chilled food price cuts, one for bakery products, and a final one for those with a longer shelf life that may be a bit battered, or separated from the outer packaging. Check them all for a possible discount.
The ’yellow sticker’ items will usually be reduced at least twice a day: once in the afternoon and once later in the evening. If you can wait to shop at around 7.30pm or 8pm you can get astonishing discounts.
If you want to time your shop exactly, then your best bet is to ask in store when they do their final reductions - don't be shy!
Get to know the rules around freezing ‘yellow sticker’ items, so you can buy when they are cheapest and use over the following weeks and months.
Don't assume something is perishable without checking. Everything from cheese to beansprouts is fine to freeze as long as you treat them correctly (beansprouts need blanching, chilling in ice water, and freezing immediately).
It’s never worth buying something just because it’s cheap: you also have to be able to factor it into your life. If you can't immediately think how you would use that over-ripe avocado, a pack of cut-price tongue or kippers, then don't buy them.