The joy of shopping
Karen knows how to shop. In fact, she’s something of a shopping hotshot not in a reckless ‘splash the cash’ way but in an everyday discounts and savings way. And one of her main reasons for being smart with her money is to enable her to host big family meals that bring everyone together.
“We both come from big families…”
Karen and her husband, Lesley, met in Artane when they were both teenagers and moved to Clane 21 years ago. She works as a project manager for an IT company while Lesley is an administrator for a company in the Dublin markets.
“We both come from big families,’ explains Karen. “Lesley has three sisters and two brothers and I have one brother and three sisters. When I was growing up our house was the place that everyone came back to and on Friday or Sunday evening it was like the loaves and the fishes. It was super.”
Karen confesses right away that she (really) loves shopping
“I love bargains,” she says. “I’m a great shopper.”
But it’s soon clear that far from spending indiscriminately, Karen is a savvy shopper who always has an eye out for bargains. Her skills in spending wisely are linked to her love of bringing the family together over a meal.
“We both love cooking and Saturday’s the day all the family come here. In the winter it’s to watch the X Factor! Lesley’s probably better at cooking than I am. His signature dish is chicken wrapped in Parma ham with asparagus or the braised beef that he’ll cook for 12 hours. He actually goes from the markets in Dublin down to Moore Street where he buys big joints of meat. They wouldn’t be the most expensive cuts but last Saturday we had fifteen round for dinner and we got a huge joint of beef and he braised it starting at 4 in the morning and everyone had it in the evening and it was fabulous.”
Karen’s skills in making the most of her shopping budget have their roots in her childhood in Artane
“There was always pots of potatoes going in the family kitchen when I was young on so you get to know how much of anything you need to feed people. It’s great to look for the bargains. Especially after the recession hit. It’s awful that it took that but maybe we were all a little bit foolish but there you go. We are very lucky in Clane because we have all the supermarkets here and a great butchers’ too. I pick different things from different shops. Predominantly, though, my shopping comes from SuperValu because I do like the branded things especially when there’s a discount on them.”
And Karen knows exactly when the new discounts appear
“Every Thursday, SuperValu have all the new special prices and you can get the bargains so you know each week what’s on special and they send you out all the vouchers. So this week if I spend €25 I’ll get €6 off and we’ll spend that between Friday and Sunday which is when we do our shop as we’re both working during the week. Then you get your money off vouchers for all the different brands if you use any of those bits and pieces.”
Linking her Bank of Ireland credit card and SuperValu Real Rewards card
Because Karen has linked her Bank of Ireland personal credit card and her SuperValu Real Rewards card she gets double Real Rewards points when she spends in SuperValu and 1 Real Rewards point for every €10 she spends anywhere else on anything else, home or abroad.
“It was easy enough to link my Bank of Ireland card to my Real Rewards card. You just put in the card numbers and that was it. I have the Real Rewards app on my phone so I can easily get a breakdown of how many points I get if you use your card or if you use cash. Points mean euros and they are super to get because they are great value.”
It only takes a minute to link the two cards if you have your Real Rewards card number and credit card number to hand. You get a text once your cards are successfully linked and you can start collecting points.
She tells me that by waiting for her regular purchases to be discounted then buying in bulk she can make great savings
“I do pretty well each week with savings. When all the specials are on and you go to buy those you might be talking €20 or €30 saved. Things like your big box of Ariel which is usually €14 you might get that for €8. So you do wait for the bargains to come. I would go through one of those boxes of Ariel every ten days. You stand still for long enough and I’ll wash you! You multiply those savings over a year and that’s quite substantial.”
How does she feel about having her cards linked?
“Having the two cards linked makes me feel smart about managing my money and smart about the savings I’ll make. I know that you can use the Real Rewards points for things like your Electric Ireland bills and Aer Lingus flights but I like to use them purely for making savings on my shopping because you feel you’re getting a great bargain.”
We’ve been talking about supermarket shopping for a while when Karen says, ‘ask me about clothes shopping!’
“I can tell you where all the bargains are! BT’s have a great sale on men’s jeans at the moment. Marks and Spencer have a wonderful summer sale on clothes now. Arnott’s have great bargains on bedding and towels in Homeware . I know all this because I go into shops all the time. The girls will say to me where will I get this or where will I get that and I’m constantly on the websites looking to find the best value.”
It’s pretty clear that her shopping expertise extends far outside food shopping and into every area of household spending.
Not only that but she’s keen on supporting the local shops in Clane when she can.
“I was just talking to my sister about Christmas,” she says (it is a sunny day in July). “If you wanted to do your Christmas shopping now my God what bargains you could have. We have a really nice gift shop ‘Bob and Kate’s’ in Clane village (Karen points the shop out in the village on our way back from SuperValu) so if you wanted to buy a candle or something like that and you say to Tommy I’ll want four of those for Christmas presents and he’ll give you your stamp book and you pay a regular amount, say €10 a month or €20, and you’ve got it all paid for by Christmas. I’m a great believer in keeping money in the village.”