A money-saving blogger made international headlines when he travelled from Sheffield to Essex via Berlin because it was cheaper than taking the train. “Coupon kid” Jordon Cox is on a quest to share his money-saving tips with the nation – but where did his own story start?
When you first read about Jordon Cox’s 1,017-mile journey back home to save 7.72, his actions might seem a bit extreme.
His journey, which could have been done and dusted in just over three hours, lasted for 12, including a trip to the Brandenburg Gate and a currywurst.
Mr Cox himself admits the trip was a bit of “blue-sky thinking”, but his epic journey captured the media’s imagination and catapulted him and his money-saving tips on to TV screens around the globe.
Aged 18, he now has more than 10,000 Twitter followers – having gained 7,000 since his blog about Berlin – and a job blogging for Martin Lewis’s website, MoneySavingExpert.com.
‘Dad left us’
But the last couple of weeks are a far cry from Mr Cox’s life when he started seeking out deals and coupons aged 15, after watching a US television programme called “Extreme Couponing”.
The reality series follows shoppers making use of money-off vouchers while trying to accumulate the most groceries.
The show inspired Mr Cox because of a change in his family circumstances.
“My dad left us, so it was down to me and my mum, and we were living on just her salary then,” he said.
“I couldn’t work because I was too young, and we were struggling to make ends meet and enjoy things in life like we had before – going for meals out or trips.
“After I saw the TV show, I searched for coupons on the web and found you could do something similar in the UK. That week I went out and saved 10 on shopping.”
Once Mr Cox had started saving money, he decided to share his tips on a Facebook page.
“It all grew from there. I had people messaging me saying ‘I’m a single mum, how can I do this?’
“I told them, if they could apply simple couponing skills, they could use the money they saved towards bills and other things.
“If I could do it as a 15-year-old, anyone could do it.”
A few months later, Mr Cox was hosting couponing seminars in his hometown of Brentwood, Essex, teaching shoppers how to save as much money as possible.
Mr Cox might call himself “Britain’s coupon kid”, but he is far from alone when it comes to seeking out the best deals and telling people about them.
Holly Smith, 30, from Gorleston in Norfolk, hit the headlines in December when she got 1,164 worth of supermarket goods free of charge by using coupons.
The mother of two, who says she saved more than 10,000 in 2015 (including 2,000 in coupons), runs a website giving out money-saving tips.
Ashleigh Swan from Newcastle has also forged a career in couponing after being made redundant.
Mr Cox’s first big moment in the media came in December 2013, when he managed to acquire shopping worth 600 for 4p, giving it all away to a charity for disadvantaged families.
After national newspapers took an interest in the story, Mr Cox said he noticed even more people were coming to him for advice.
In October last year, an opportunity Mr Cox describes as “a dream come true” presented itself in the form of a job offer from website MoneySavingExpert.com.
“I’ve been doing this for three years and it was the ultimate goal to work on a website with people who just get it,” said Mr Cox, who did not want to disclose how much he is paid or whether he has any other income streams as a result of his blogging success.
“There are so many sceptics out there, but it’s great to be around people who love and understand money-saving, and learn from them.
“Martin Lewis is an inspiration of mine – he’s a great person to look up to.”
- Martin Lewis OBE founded the website MoneySavingExpert.com in 2003 and sold it in 2012 for 87m., although he remains its editor-in-chief
- A journalist, Mr Lewis has a show on ITV and regularly appears on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 5 live’s Consumer Panel
- He has featured in The Sunday Times (Giving) Rich List for three years in a row, entering in 2013 after donating 11.1m to charity
- He is a governor of the London School of Economics and has an honorary doctorate from Chester University
Munching on a lunchtime cheese sandwich – from the reduced section, of course – the canny teenager reflects on how life has changed for his family in the past few years.
“We’d always envisaged me going to uni. But to have a job and financial security is amazing at this age.
“With the rising prices of university, I really didn’t think it was for me. I’m not a big party animal and don’t drink, so the social aspect of uni didn’t appeal to me. I’d rather go out to work and make a difference.”
Mr Cox said his mother Debbie was “really proud” of what he had achieved, particularly his most recent tip to Berlin.
The coupon kid is now planning to capitalise on his newfound fame and spread his money-saving message as far and wide as possible.
“I want to teach people how to save as much money as they can,” Mr Cox said.
“I’m going to spread the message that you do not have to pay full price for things. Everyone, if they put a tiny bit of work in, can make a huge difference to their budget.
“This is a great way to go about it and be productive instead of being gloomy about finance.”
And what does Mr Cox picture for his own future?
In the coming months, he hopes to be on the road delivering seminars teaching people how to making savings on shopping and other aspects of financial life.
He is also saving hard himself to get a deposit together to buy his first home.
“I don’t spend any money on myself apart from food and travel, so if I save for three years, I’ll have enough to buy a house in my area,” he said.
“The quicker I can be financially stable instead of paying rent, the better.”
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk