Mum is the boss of bargains

Amanda's Instagram page, Bargain Boss, has over 14,000 followers. Pictures: Stewart Chambers

By Melissa Grant

Most mums love a bargain.

Perhaps none more so than Officer mother-of-two Amanda, the creator of popular Instagram page Bargain Boss.

The page has amassed more than 14,000 followers in a little over two years.

With money saving tips, side hustle ideas and bargain finds, there is plenty of useful and inspiring information for anyone looking to save some cash.

Amanda’s love of Disney is peppered through the content, and there are also appearances from her two children Alyssa, 8, and Levi, 5 as well as their dog Eva, and their two recently adopted kittens.

Bargain hunting has long been a passion for Amanda. Saving money has always been a priority and, at times, a necessity for her family.

Amanda and her husband, Steve, bought their first home in their early 20s after scrimping together a deposit, which involved a challenge to spend just $10 on work lunches for the week.

Shortly after buying their first home, Steve tore his ACL at soccer and was unable to work.

Amanda said they were unable to access any Centrelink payments.

“We needed to come up with ways to save,” she explained.

“That’s where my love of bargains kind of kicked in.”

Amanda would often go into work on a Monday and show off the bargains she had purchased over the weekend.

“They (colleagues) would always be amazed at how far I had gone for a bargain,” the former Consumer Affairs Victoria employee said.

Over the years, Amanda’s friends told her she should share her money saving tips with the world.

At the time, she had the idea starting a social media page but didn’t think it would get off the ground.

It was actually a trip to Fountain Gate with her son that prompted Amanda to get cracking on her own page.

“Krispy Kreme were celebrating National Doughnut Day by giving away free doughnuts… I took a picture of Levi eating his doughnut and I thought this is starting today.”

Afterwards, she went to Coles and took photos of their marked down bulk buys products.

When she got home, she put Levi down for a nap, made a logo and created an Instagram account.

“I shared it on Facebook – some family and friends followed. I hit 100 followers, and I celebrated that milestone with a glass of bubbly. I never thought it would take off the way it has.”

The Bargain Boss Instagram account has been going for just over two years.

Amanda spends endless hours creating content and responding to comments and messages.

“I enjoy chatting to people. When people send me a message I always reply. I’m often up until midnight just making sure I’ve responded. The content takes time as I want it to be perfect.”

She has also enjoyed some collaborations with businesses – but has turned some down.

“My biggest thing about my page is keeping it as authentic as possible. It takes a lot of work to build a following and trust and it can be taken away very easily.”

She said the best thing has been the connections made through her page.

“I’ve made some really amazing friendships through it,” she said.

She also enjoys hearing about the way her followers have saved money, although some admit to spending on things they shouldn’t have.

“It is a bargain page but it’s only a bargain if it’s something you are going to use!”

You can follow Amanda on Instagram at @bargain.boss

Amanda says it’s not that hard to bring in a few hundred dollars extra each month from side hustles. “Even something simple like selling your kids’ old clothes can make a lot of money if done correctly,” she said. Amanda has already reached her goal of making $10,000 through side hustles this year.
Amanda says a lot of money can be saved using loyalty programs and is amazed by how many people don’t have a Woolworths Rewards and Flybuys cards.
Recently, she cashed in $270 worth of Flybuys points which she used at Kmart to buy items for her kittens. The keys, she said, are to boost all the offers sent to you and not remain loyal to a specific grocery store. “Shop at whoever has the best sales and loyalty offers for that week.”
Once every few months, Amanda tries to use everything possible in her pantry and just shop for essentials that week. The money she would usually spend on groceries is put aside.
Amanda says shopping around 6.30pm-7pm at Woolworths and Coles will get you the “best markdowns”. She often buys meat marked down to 50 per cent or less, and puts it in the spare freezer as soon as she gets home.
It also pays to know what stores do what markdowns.
“I know one store where I can get marked down bread. One store does cheese – that’s where I go if I feel like a cheese platter.”
Recently she bought a $35 bunch of flowers marked down to $2.50 and packs of bagels for 10 cents from Coles.
Amanda says Woolworths, Coles and Aldi will refund the purchase price on their own branded items that customers aren’t happy with (the guarantee doesn’t apply to other brands). “Stores ask for the item, or what’s left of it, to be returned or in some cases the packaging will do, for example if it’s been cooked.” She says Woolworths has a Fresh or Free guarantee where they will replace ‘fresh food’ you’re not happy with.
Familiarise yourself with scanning policies at your supermarket and check your receipts.
“Basically, if an item scans higher than the advertised or shelf price you can get that item free, but there are some exclusions and terms and conditions,” Amanda said. Scanning policies are for specific supermarkets, not all stores, she added.
When you are out shopping, grab your phone and Google what you intend to purchase.
Many stores are happy to price match. “It’s saved me hundreds of dollars,” Amanda said.
If you have your eye on a certain item, it pays to phone around places that stock it. Amanda says she will often call electronics stores multiple times to make sure she gets the best price.
Join your neighbourhood page on Facebook and look out for community gardens.
Amanda uses the community garden in her estate for herbs. People are often willing to swap items on neighbourhood Facebook pages, she added.