BRAZIL native Rafaella Borba had to find new ways to get by when her daughter Maria was born, and it made her scout out options to save.
The 34-year-old, who moved to London in 2019 and now lives in Cambridgeshire, saves more than Â£1,700 a year on clothes and food.
She told The Sun her attitude towards money really changed when her daughter was born in January 2020.
The savvy mum said: âI was on my own with my girl, having left my family. It was scary.Â
âI wanted to do the right thing for me and my daughter, but it could be almost overwhelming.
“When I was still pregnant, I was writing down the list of things that I would need to buy, and realised I wasnât prepared at all.
“It was scary especially because I wasnât working at that time and not on benefits either, so was just my small savings from Brazil that I used to convert and use here.”
To help, she signed up for Facebook groups set up by Brazilians living in London, where she could get free advice on everything from types of milk to buy for babies to how to find a GP.
They also had practical money-saving tips, including how to get free clothes.
Thanks to offers of free clothing on the social media platform, she now saves more than Â£1,000 a year on her babyâs clothes.
While her Facebook groups were for Brazilians and in Portuguese, there are plenty of others to make the most of on Facebook.
Simply search for keywords such as “new mum”, “free clothes” and “advice” and look at local community groups too.
Rafaella explained: âFor me, a mum with a baby girl, one of the biggest pluses has been the listings of baby clothes.Â
âBabies grow out of theirs so quickly, meaning itâs really expensive to constantly replace booties and other clothes.
To help keep costs down, Rafaella regularly visits the donation page on one of the Brazilian Facebook groups to look for clothes for Maria.
Apart from searching for clothes thatâll fit three-year-old Maria now, she is also keen to look for slightly bigger sizes that her daughter will grow into.
Rafaellaâs also keen to find items that are more suitable for the season.
She said: âOne thing I recently picked up was a pyjama-type-sleeping bag, which we donât have in Brazil because it never gets that cold.
âThese fleece-sleeping bags are really pricy, especially as she may only need them for a few weeks.â
Rafaella reckons using the donation services has saved her Â£2,000 over the past two years.
When Maria grows out of her clothes, Rafaella donates them so other mums can save money too.
How she saves on shopping
Donations aside, Rafaella saves money through internet shopping.
The problem was she didnât live near one of these supermarkets and they didnât deliver to her postcode.
Luckily, Rafaella found a community group in Potters Bar where people offered to pick up goods for mums who didnât drive or live near to an Aldi.
By contacting one good Samaritan, who lived close by, Rafaella was able to pay for and collect all the nappies Maria needed.
Rafaella explained: âAt the time, Maria was going through 2,000 nappies a year.
âBy using this collection offer, and then buying them myself when I was able to, I save around Â£100 a year.
âThis might not sound like a lot over 12 months, but itâs Â£100 I have to put towards Christmas and birthday presents and savings for my daughter.â
Aldi currently charges Â£2.25 for a 60-pack of Mamia newborn nappies, while Tesco’s Fred & Flo brand costs Â£2.40 for 58 of them.
Ordering online instead of in-store shopping
Ordering groceries online from the discount supermarket became an option when Rafaella moved to Cambridgeshire to work as a marketing executive.
She found that placing internet orders kept her weekly bill at Â£60, whereas if she shops in person it tends to be around Â£10 more.
Overall, this saved her Â£520 over a year.
Rafaella explained: âI spend much less if I buy online as Iâm not walking down the aisles, making impulse buys.
âI tend to stick to my shopping list, and only veer off to look at the offers.
âAlso, I save on time, as I shop from home when Mariaâs asleep, and of course Iâm not spending so much on petrol.â
To make even more savings, Rafaella shops via Topcashback to earn money on her purchases.
Cashback offers give you money back on your shopping, but they require you to spend the cash first.
You then get reimbursed, whether it’s a set amount or a certain percentage off your shopping.
She said: âI reckon I earn around 3% cashback on average when I buy via the cashback siteâs portal. This means I save around Â£7 a month on groceries.
âItâs not much, but itâs still over Â£80 a year, and thatâs on top of my other savings.
“I save the cashback to put towards Christmas presents, for which I earn more cashback so itâs a win-win.â
It’s important to remember that the free cash will depend on the retailer’s cashback offer and how much you spend.
You should never spend more than planned or more than you can afford.
One dad recently told The Sun how he’s earned more than Â£500 in free cash to put towards his kids’ Christmas gifts this year.
Shoppers can currently get Â£15 worth of free shopping thanks to a cashback deal – and you could use it for a tub of Quality Street.