Published: 06:00, 11 June 2019
Hannah Jones came to national attention over a cheap bulk buy of chocolate coins. Tom Pyman reports on her bargain-seeking tactics
With more pressure than ever before on exam results and property prices continuing to go through the roof, modern life can be tough for young people.
We've all read the think-pieces about how they need to spend less time on Instagram and learn to save their money rather than buying fancy coffees and avocado toast from trendy east London cafes.
The argument in response has of course been that this stereotype of so-called millennials is just that, a stereotype, and therefore not reflective of a generation of people simply doing their best to get by.
Twenty-six-year-old Hannah Jones and boyfriend Nathaniel Bell, 24, - hard-working kitchen assistants and waiters respectively - are doing exactly that.
They live together with their pet hamsters and guinea pigs in a homely but humble flat in Maidstone's Upper Stone Street and plan to tie the knot next April after getting engaged in November.
Naturally, however, creating magical memories at a wedding ceremony in front of friends and family does not come cheap, so the couple instead have to make savings on a day -to-day basis.
Hannah unexpectedly made the national press last month after buying 44 packs of chocolate coins for just a penny each at a Maidstone convenience store.
She shared her thrifty purchase with a specialist Facebook group, getting hundreds of likes and comments, before the bargain was picked up by news outlets.
The response from the public was somewhat mixed - many were in awe at her ability to find such incredible value for money, while others were somewhat less impressed.
“I’ll admit they were a bit of an impulse buy, and not something I’d usually get but I thought ‘why not’?”
Hannah said: “People think it’s easy and sometimes you see them get annoyed that they didn’t find bargains like that, but I didn’t just stumble across those coins, it takes time to find them, and that’s perhaps what people don’t realise.
“You have to have patience and I don’t have money that I can just throw away, I don’t feel shame in getting it - if it’s not me, it’s going to be someone else.
“I paid less for 44 than one bag at full price, and it means I can share them with my family and friends rather than just leave them on the shelf before they get thrown out.”
She admits she can spend more than half an hour looking round one shop to see if she can get a jar of coffee or whatever it may be for less than what other shoppers are settling for.
Chief on her list are items she knows will be discounted such as when seasonal ranges end.
But the savvy shopping undoubtedly has its benefits, as the couple say they rarely spend more than £20 a week on food between them, compared to the average spend on a weekly shop for a small family of between £50 and £60.
Ahead of the big day, Hannah has already picked up dozens of packets of 'luxury Christmas napkins', reduced from £2 to 10p each as soon as the festive season drew to a close.
Cups, cutlery and small purses which she plans to use as wedding favours have also cost little more than a fistful of coppers to collect, while she has also raided car boot sales for more decorations to use at the wedding reception which will be held in her mother's garden.
However, a checkout malfunction, which meant she was able to take home a reduced dress for just 2p, remains her favourite bargain purchase so far.
“It’s definitely become a passion and a hobby now as well as saving money,” she admits.
“I understand why more people don’t do it, I think there’s an element of embarrassment and people might not think it’s worth it to save 75p here or there, but it all adds up." Extreme Couponing became a smash hit television series in the United States showing the most intense of bargain hunters dedicating days to cutting vouchers out of magazines and sifting through rubbish bins to find more.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get to that stage,” Hannah chuckles.
“I enjoy it as a hobby but we also want to work and pay our way without any handouts.
"Why would we spend so much money on food when we can save it for the wedding or the honeymoon?"