SINGLE-MUM of two Hollie Gregerson enjoys free holidays, designer clobber and fancy cars – but her life of luxury isn’t funded by a big budget.
Instead, the 34-year-old uses her money saving skills to blag freebies and discounts to live a VIP.
Hollie started blogging when she expected her first son James (left), now three
Hollie, who started her money-saving blog Thriftymum.com in 2016, lives in Hull with her two sons – James, three and Ted, two.
She works full-time as a project manager at East Riding Yorkshire Council and uses her spare time to hunt out luxury treats.
The Sun spoke to Hollie to about how she hunts down her bargains, so you can too.
Get your nails and hair done cheaply
If you want freshly blown out hair and shiny nails then it could end up costing you £100 in some salons.
This can be pretty expensive so a great tip is to look at your local colleges.
“They tend to have actual beauty salons, and the prices are so much lower,” Hollie told The Sun.
“The trainees are supervised as well so it can’t really go wrong.
“I usually save £20 whenever I get a blow dry this way.
“It can actually save you a third or a quarter of the price,” the savvy blogger added.
Hollie uses her own local college, but contact the ones close to you to see whether they offer something similar.
Get free holidays through pet sitting
Holidays are expensive but there’s one way to get the stay for free – and it’s by offering to pet sit at the same time.
Alamy You can get a holiday stay for free by looking after pets
“There are loads of different websites that pair you up with where you’d like to go on holiday, and the destination where someone’s going away at the same sort of time,” Hollie said.
“Then you essentially house and pet sit at the same time.”
This gives you the chance to only pay for flights when going on holiday, meaning you could consider staying longer, she added. One such website is HouseSitMatch.Co.
Drive a convertible for free
Buying a car is really expensive, but who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend on the road in something brand new?
“I wouldn’t be able to buy a car at the moment, but it’s quite nice to be able to spend the weekends driving around something fancy,” Hollie said.
“A lot of garages do a 48-hour test drive, so in the past I’ve done that.
“Recently we got a brand new Mini Convertible, absolutely gorgeous.”
“We just went to the beach, had a little drive around in the town and through the countryside. It was really nice.”
If you want to do the same as Hollie, simply check out the weather forecast and then book a test drive. You can book your own Mini Convertible here.
You usually don’t need insurance to do a test drive with a professional dealer, as this tends to be covered by its own policy, according to comparison site Compare the Market.
Just keep in mind that if something unfortunate happens, you may still have to pay for some of the damages – it’s worth double-checking this before you set off in the car.
Rent designer handbags for special occasions
If you’re going for an event where you’re expected to dress up, such as a wedding, you can get away a lot cheaper by focusing on the details and accessories of your outfit.
“You can really dress up in cheaper outfit with nice accessories,” Hollie said.
By renting designer handbags and accessories you can easily make an outfit more exciting, according to Hollie
“To be able to buy a designer handbag outright on a single mum budget is no chance on earth.”
The good news then is that websites such as Rose-riva.co.uk lets you rent designer handbags for between one and four weeks.
You can put in your budget when you search for a bag as well as the brand you want.
For example, a Gucci Ophidia GG Supreme Shoulder Bag would set you back £85 if you borrowed it for one week, or a total of £170 for four weeks.
You need to work out how long you can afford to keep it for – and whether it would be worth investing in a cheaper handbag long term.
Make your furnishing look luxurious with cheap tricks
Meanwhile, to make your bathroom like more luxurious, you should consider plants.
“Artificial trees really make it look more high-end,” Hollie said.
“I’ve got mine from Ikea – a massive Bamboo tree – and it just makes a massive difference to how the room looks.”
She also buys cheap bubble bath and puts it into glass jars in order to avoid the “tacky, colourful labels”.
“And to make my towels really fluffy, I use a combination of one cup of white vinegar and half a cup of baking soda when I wash them.
“It gives them a hotel luxury kind of look. My grandma taught me this one.”
When it comes to candles, Hollie always looks out for dupes from Aldi and Lidl.
“They do some great copies of Jo Malone candles.”
Shop around for a gym membership
Hollie saves on gym memberships by shopping around and then “constantly getting free trials”, she said.
“If I’m feeling like relaxing and an evening in a hot tub, there’s no need to go to a spa as so many gyms have that and spa areas these days.
“So I go there through free trials, and then just keep doing that.”
Getty – Contributor Spend the weekend driving around a new car
Get free makeovers from high-end makeup brands
One way to feel pampered is by going for a makeover in department stores – and the best thing is that they’re usually free.
“I was spending quite a lot of money on normal high-street makeup, so I went for a makeover with Browns at a department store.
“I asked how much the foundation was, and she said: ‘Actually, we don’t have any in at the moment, I’ll give you a free sample instead’.
“I went back the next day and asked if they’d got it in yet, and they still hadn’t and offered free samples.
“So I just kept going, and gave them my number to let me know when they get a delivery.
“I was thinking that before I get that call, I should just keep going everyday to get free samples.
“I don’t pay for foundation anymore, it’s so expensive.
“Getting a makeover in store is a great way to feel pampered anyway, you get some luxury in your life for free.”
To get the free makeovers, you just need to enquire that you’re looking to buy some products or ask for a new product to see how it looks on your skin and how it lasts during the day, Hollie said.
Do mystery shopping and mystery dining
Love eating out but hate having to fork out for it? Then mystery dining might be the answer to your prayers.
Hollie started mystery shopping and mystery dining a few years ago.
“All you need to do is go out, eat the food and take a few pictures of the meal. And then write a short report afterwards.
“It’s a great idea for a cheap date.
“Initially you get your meals for free, but the more reports you do, they start paying you as well.
“Because the quality of your reports are in demand, it also means you can go to hotels and new restaurants.”
Hollie Gregersen Hollie’s two sons like to help her grocery shopping
You can save hundreds of pounds a year by doing this, Hollie said. It’s all about how much time you have to commit to it, and the number of companies you work for.
Hollie recommends signing up to as many companies as you can. That way you can pick and choose as many jobs as you want.
When she had given birth to her second son Ted, Hollie and her baby’s father ate out every night for the first week so they didn’t have to cook or wash up.
“It was really simple because we didn’t have to do any food shopping. We just went to a different restaurant or pub every night.”
Examples of mystery shopping websites include Grassroots, Red WigWam, and Market Force.
Mystery Dining by HGEM also offers free meals at certain restaurants to foodies who are willing to take the time to write a detailed report afterwards.
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The Sun has spoken to one dad-of-three who makes £1,500 a year from filling in surveys and mystery shopping in his spare time.
Earlier this year we revealed how to make money from home and earn up to £1,000 without leaving the sofa.
We also rounded up 50 ways to save money including the best apps and tips from experts.
Blogger Emma Drew struggled to get job after uni but now makes £100k a year
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