FINANCIAL worries spurred on a Dorchester bargain hunter to save thousands of pounds by ‘extreme couponing’.

And now self-professed ‘coupon queen’ Emma Mumford, is urging cash-strapped residents to give it a go.

The 20-year-old dedicates hours of each day finding money-off coupons and free gift vouchers.

Her savvy shopping skills have led to almost 40,000 people following her Facebook page ‘Extreme Couponing and Deals UK’.

At the height of her bargain hunting, the Alton Pancras resident would spend just £5 on a weekly food shop worth £40.

She started couponing in August last year and since then has saved £2,800 – as well as helping struggling family members, friends and storm damage victims in the process.

She told the Echo: “Times were hard and I’m pretty sure if it hadn’t had been for coupons I wouldn’t have eaten.

“I now spend up to two hours a day looking online for the best deals before printing them off and heading to the shops.

“It’s not just food – I’ve saved pounds on clothes, technology equipment and furniture.

“Everyone is struggling and so many people are using food banks, especially single people, and couponing can really help.”

She began collecting coupons when illness stopped her from working and spent months collecting Christmas coupons, spending just £25 on all her festive food and drink last year.

She had a total spend of £99.89 on her Christmas haul and has saved £540.22.

Emma, who lives with her parents and works at Next in Dorchester, even manages to charm companies into sending her sample products.

Piles of purchased bargains fill the shelves in her parents’ garage following hours spent painstakingly cutting up coupons.

She added: “It is addictive – all the stuff is kept at home and my friends come round and help themselves. When I first started to buy stuff I wasn’t being cost effective “Sometimes making the most of an offer means bulk-buying items – I keep them all in my parents’ garage.

“It started when I was watching a TV programme about extreme couponers and I thought I would give it a go.”

She added: “Once you spend the time signing up to the deal sites then it’s really simple.

“The best way is to write to the companies praising their products and they will often reward you with vouchers and free samples.”

Among her biggest savings was a year’s supply of dog food worth £66 for £6, 12 boxes of Special K for £8 instead of £47.90 and 30 bottles of Coke Zero for free.

Inspired by Echo campaign

‘COUPON queen’ Emma Mumford was inspired by a Dorset Echo campaign to help residents stricken by floods and storms.

After seeing coverage of those affected by the weather, Emma came forward to give away items from her stockpile of groceries and other items.

She said: “I moved back into my mum’s house recently and I had all this stuff, because you tend to get a lot of it in bulk.

“It seems a waste to have it just sitting around and I was thinking about giving it to a foodbank, but then I saw this campaign and I just really wanted to help people out.”

The Dorset Echo has been working in partnership with Rotary clubs and money has been pouring in from kind-hearted readers.