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'I buy own brand shampoo for 70p a bottle!' says Shop Well For Less host Alex Jones

alex jones

The money-saving show is back and The One Show host Alex Jones is determined to help us all save cash...

She may be on maternity leave from The One Show, but Alex Jones is back on our screens int he coming week, hosting BBC1's money-saving series Shop Well For Less. In the first episode on Thursday, February 23, she and business journalist Steph McGovern head to Glasgow to meet a family with three sets of twins!

You and Steph seem to make a great money-saving team, what’s your secret? “We’re both natural shoppers! ...And we’re not the only ones, because Britain is a nation of shoppers. We don’t want to take the fun out of shopping, we just want people to understand how to get a bargain. We’re not saying 'Put the credit cards away!' We’re just saying this is the best way to do it, but we try not to be preachy. We meet families who want to save a bit of cash and spend a few weeks with them. It’s a fun way of looking at money and how to best utilise what you’ve got.

“There’ll be things that don’t work for some families, but do for others. You might look at one family and say 'I would never do that' and then 10 minutes later 'Oh but I would do that though.'"

Tell us about the Rodgers family from Glasgow, who you meet this week… “They are one of the warmest families I’ve ever encountered. When they told us it was three sets of twins, we thought it would be carnage. On one level it’s a mad household, but it’s also one of the happiest homes I’ve ever been in. It’s full of love and fun and obviously, enormous bills. With six children – three sets of twins – they were perfect material for the show.”

How did you find them? “They volunteered because they’re generally spending an absolute fortune – everything is supersized. Cleaning products, washing products, what they have to spend on the kids. They all had iPads and iPhones, it was like going into Curry’s! They were a brilliant showcase and such a nice family. I think people will watch and love them and learn through them. It’s better like that, some people who overspend are ridiculous, but they’re not ridiculous. They have to do five loads of washing a day because there’s so many of them.”

We hear they have a large shoe collection? “I couldn’t believe it. I’m all about storage so the fact they had a cupboard for shoes was genius. It was like Narnia for shoes! I can’t remember how many pairs,, but tonnes. Wall-to-wall. Yet they were all brand names – Nike, Adidas – which rings alarm bells.”

Do you play good cop/bad cop, when you’re filming? “Yes, but it flips quite a lot as well. People won’t think this about me, but I am quite sensible with spending. Not in all aspects, sometimes I’m just awful – let me loose in Topshop and I’m a disaster! But I’ve just a done a house renovation and I’ve been quite sensible with that. There are areas where I’m more sensible than Steph. Take her into a perfume shop and the budget’s gone!”

What did you learn that surprised you most during the series? “I was shocked by how much money you can save on cosmetics. I’ve started using supermarket shampoo for 70 pence and it’s amazing. I wouldn’t have looked before, but it was a recommendation from someone we filmed with. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but up to now I’ve been paying over a tenner a bottle. You’re lead to believe that just because it’s a brand it’s better, but it’s not always the case.”

Why do people always go for branded products? “People tend to buy what their parents bought. It’s amazing, because we also look at the psychology of why we buy brands. There’s a reason that all these firms spend a shed load of money on advertising – because it works! We think it must be best because the others don’t have a TV ad. With some brands, like batteries, you think one brand is the way forward, but actually the most famous brand came third in our test…”

Is there more pressure for children to have the right stuff? “That’s where the balance comes in. Parents might say ‘OK, he’s not going to wear the cheaper trainers.’ Fair enough. But then maybe they will go for the shopping own brand detergent, because they go through five of them a week. We’re just presenting the options. If they want to swap, this is how much you could save.”

We know fashionable trainers can be important for teenagers, but what about younger children? “What we’ve realised through the series, as well, is what age it starts. Some families will give all their kids branded, when the younger ones don’t really understand. But they’re given branded because it’s assumed that’s the best. Lots of parents have made that mistake – buying their kids expensive clothes that they’re going to grow out of very quickly. Fair enough when they get a bit older it’s a bit different, but for a period of time there’s no need to spend an absolute fortune on little children.”

How rewarding is it when you help families save money? “Lots of these families are working long hours, six days a week and they don’t have family time. People come to realise that’s the important thing and the realisation that having time together is important, so if saving some money means people have to work less or can afford a family holiday that’s an amazing feeling.”

How much have you missed The One Show since you’ve been on maternity leave? “I have missed it, but I’m also really excited about being a mother. On my last day I was sad in a way, but also overjoyed about what was to come.”

Will you be watching the show while you’re off? “If I get a chance! It will be funny watching Matt on it and not being there. But the show’s in very safe hands while I’m away…”