Mum who was 'drowning' in debt pays off what she owes with clever money-saving hacks

·7-min read
Rosie Forshaw shares her money-saving tips with users on Instagram after paying off her debts. Collect/PA Real Life)
Rosie Forshaw shares her money-saving tips with users on Instagram after paying off her debts. Collect/PA Real Life)

A mum who was once “drowning” in debt with bailiffs at her door has paid off what she owes with clever money-saving hacks and is now sharing her tips to help others cope with the cost of living crisis.

Rosie Forshaw, 33, from Cheshire, shares her savvy tips online as @moneysavingrosie and wants everyone to know it’s possible to live “frugally and with dignity”.

The new mum, who now works as a wedding videographer, was herself stricken with anxiety when she fell into debt back in 2012 due to working a zero hours contract in a music venue.

Struggling with bills and buying basic necessities, in 2013 Forshaw ended up with a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against her, ordering her to pay back around £2,500.

“The debt inhibited every aspect of my life," she explains. "It made me feel anxious that any phone call or anyone at the door was coming for money.

“I couldn’t enjoy anything. I tried to come to a settlement with the creditor and they wouldn’t accept my repayment offers.

Read more: Woman shares cost-cutting tips for making delicious meals for less than £1 a head

Forshaw and her son. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Forshaw and her son. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Having already been suffering from anxiety, Forshaw said her debt worries made things worse.

“There were times when I struggled to leave the house," she adds.

“The debt was all I could think about.

“I was scared that whatever I had left would be taken by the bailiffs. It felt so shameful. That’s the worst of it.

“I remember the day I got the CCJ," Forshaw continues. "I remember the crying I did when I opened the letter.

“It was the saddest day. It definitely made me realise I needed help."

The turning point came when the mum-of-one visited Citizens Advice who helped her reach an agreement with her creditor.

In the following year, she moved house, saved all the money she could and paid back her debt.

Read more: Spend-savvy mum already has Christmas 2022 all wrapped up

A haul of baby items Rosie got got for free (Collect/PA Real Life)
A haul of baby items Rosie got got for free (Collect/PA Real Life)

She also began searching for cost reductions in all aspects of her life – from rent to food, clothes and furniture.

“Initially, I got the opportunity to move to a cheaper area. That was a massive saving," Forshaw explains.

“Then it was just about being more thoughtful in terms of saving, being mindful of meal planning, prepping and preserving, packing lunches and that kind of thing.

“I’ve always been someone who likes second-hand clothes anyway. But I made a point of always finding the best prices possible."

“The hardest part of saving money is getting started," she adds.

The more Forshaw learned about living frugally, the more she wanted other people to know the tricks for saving cash too.

“I thought I’d put my tips online," she says. "I offer tips on everything from yellow sticker items to coupons.

“And I get messages all the time from people saying I’ve helped them save money."

One of Forshaw's reduced shops. (Collect/PA Real Life)
One of Forshaw's reduced shops. (Collect/PA Real Life)

With the cost of living crisis reaching unprecedented levels, Forshaw's money-saving hacks are now more in demand than ever.

One of the most pressing issues she tackles is food costs.

“I batch cook as much as I can," she says. "I also go to shops when I know things will be marked down.

“Don’t be afraid to politely ask the staff in your supermarket what time they mark things down.

“If something isn’t marked down but I need it and can find one near expiry, I’ll often ask staff if it’s the cheapest that it will be that day.

“I got a steak just this week for £2 that way.”

Working out what to do with marked down items can be an issue but Forshaw says a quick online search often shows how to preserve items for longer.

“I bought six avocados once," she says. "I looked online and saw that by putting them in a jar of water they’d last a month – and they did!”

Read more: Super-saver mum does food shop a year in advance

Forshaw shares her savvy-saving tips with others. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Forshaw shares her savvy-saving tips with others. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Forshaw has sourced everything from cut-price baby food to meat by stalking the yellow sticker aisles.

She also gets non-perishable items like houseplants and gifts, explaining: “It’s worth looking in all the aisles for reductions.

“If it’s a change in season or there’s only a few of something left, it’s more cost effective for the supermarket to just get rid.”

And it isn't just the big supermarkets where you can find reductions, local shops can also offer savings.

“I’d recommend speaking to your local greengrocer or butcher and asking what the cheapest cuts are, how they can be stretched, if they can adjust servings," she says.

“I’d also recommend cutting down on meat and supplementing with mushrooms and lentils.

“You can easily halve the portion of mince in a bolognese for example. Bulk it out and you’ll never know the difference.”

Watch: Cost of living: Products hit hardest by soaring prices revealed as grocery inflation at highest level in 13 years

Food waste can bring savings too.

“I keep vegetable peelings and scraps in the freezer for stock,” Forshaw says.

“I use things like parsnip shavings in bars that I make for my little boy.

“It’s something that would otherwise have been thrown away.”

Forshaw also suggests joining forces with friends and family to buy and share items in bulk such as rice.

“You could do things like clubbing together with workmates and each batch cook five of the same meal,” she suggests.

“Swap them round, and you all have a different meal for every night of the week but have only paid for one.”

Apps like Olio, which allows surplus food to be shared, and Shopmium, where you find money-off offers, are also well worth checking out. Forshaw suggests looking in your local paper and even junk mail for coupons.

Items Forshaw bought at 20p each through a loyalty point app. (Collect/PA Real Life)
Items Forshaw bought at 20p each through a loyalty point app. (Collect/PA Real Life)

Loyalty points are another way of saving: “It’s always worth looking on the Nectar app.

“I got a whole haul of things for 20p once. Often they’ll have specific things to buy, like little bits of garlic and ginger that give great points.

“I’ve paid for furnishings and a whole Christmas dinner with those points.”

When it comes to clothes, Forshaw mainly buys second-hand from charity shops and, and she saved hundreds on clothes for her baby son as she got so many hand-me-downs.

For other items Forshaw scours Facebook Marketplace.

“Even my sofa was a third of the ticket price as it was ex-display,” she says.

“People need to stop being so worried about things being shiny and new. Not only is it cheaper [to buy second-hand] but it’s better for the environment.”

Planning ahead is another of Forshaw's top tips.

“I shop out of season as you get the best bargains," she says.

“I am already looking at Christmas gifts. Superdrug for example often have Christmas sets on sale for 50p in the summer.”

Forshaw also threatens to leave subscription services, explaining that this can often lead to being offered a deal to stay.

The savvy saver's latest mission is to show people that you can buy nutritious food on a tight budget, no matter what supermarket you have near you, including the pricier shops.

“I am going to show that you can stretch a tenner to a proper shop in any one of them, even Waitrose,” she explains.

Starting at the Co-op, Forshaw says she bought enough food to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days for just £10, with meals including pancakes with berry compote, egg fried rice and corn fritters with eggs.

“It’s not the sexiest food but it’s absolutely sustainable. It would keep people full and give them ideas,” she says.

Forshaw also says she wants to help remove the stigma of actively trying to save money.

“We all need to be less ashamed," she says. "I lived through the last recession. It was such an isolating experience.

“If we are all more open and willing to share savings, then we can do it together.

“The main thing I want to get across is that you can live frugally and have dignity.”

Additional reporting PA Real Life.