EVEN as a teenager, Juanita always had a taste for the finer things in life.
Growing up, the diehard fashion fan, 40, from Orpington, would raid her mother's wardrobe for designer items (that had been purchased with a Selfridges work discount) and even used a Moschino bag for school.
Before having children, Juanita – who appears on the latest episode of 5Star's Bargain Brits on Benefits – told Fabulous that she'd regularly spend thousands on her credit card in a single shopping spree.
She said: "I'd go to Gucci and I wouldn't just get the loafers – I'd get a handbag and scarf too. It'd cost thousands."
At the time, Juanita's father- who worked as a property developer – would pay off her credit card for her.
But when he passed away five years ago, the former model's whole world view shifted and it shocked her into dramatically changing her spending habits.
Now a single mum-of-three, Juanita – who receives £200-a-week Universal Credit – has swapped Selfridges and Harrods for her local charity shop and believes she dresses better than ever.
"Just because I'm broke, that doesn't mean you have to look broke," she said.
On tomorrow night's show, Juanita – who claims her designer wardrobe is worth thousands -manages to bag a Jimmy Choo handbag worth £800 for just £12 after spotting in the corner of a charity shop.
"It gives me such a thrill," she said. "I can sniff a designer bag from a mile away and you can tell if it's real because it's all been hand-crafted in one piece."
Aware that her sister has always dreamt of owning a Jimmy Choo bag, Juanita gave it to her for her birthday along with a bottle of the brand's £50 perfume she bagged for £25 in Savers.
But a £12 designer handbag isn't even the best bargain Juanita has ever bagged – having previously picked up a £2k fireplace frame for FREE.
"I love having a look through skips," Juanita said. "Because you're helping people get rid of stuff and it's amazing what rich people through out – old furniture, TVs, everything.
"My mum got a 50 inch TV from a skip and she plugged it in at home and it didn't work but it only cost £50 for a repairman to fix.
"But I got a £2,000 fireplace for free because my neighbours down the road had put it outside their house.
"My mum spotted it on the bus when she was coming up to me and was bothering me about it all day and I said, 'I'm not letting my neighbours see me taking things for free – it's different when we're in Mayfair!'
"But as soon as I saw it, I fell in love and I knocked on the door and asked if I could have it."
Juanita’s savvy shopping tips:
- Visit charity shops in wealthy areas (such as Kensington & Chelsea) as people are more likely to donate designer items
- Befriend charity shop sales assistants – I've even given a few my number to text me when good stuff comes in
- If you're buying multiple items, ask the person on the till if you can negotiate the price down
- Don't be afraid to ask if you can get money off if the item is slightly worn or if a designer item looks fake
- Scan skips when you're walking past and keep an eye out for unwanted items people put outside their homes – even if it costs a bit of money to do them up
- If you can, buy designer items when you see them as you can sell them on for a higher price later
- If you have a social media following, offer to give shops a shout out in exchange for a discount
Talking through her top shopping tips, Juanita explained how she negotiates package deals with staff – when they take money off the total when she buys multiple items.
She said: "Sometimes I'll say to the people in the shop, 'this looks like a copy – can you bargain it down?' And because I'm buying 10 or 15 things, they'll do it even cheaper.
"That's why I try and buy as many things in one go so I can get a discount."
What's more, Juanita also recommends visiting charity shops in wealthy areas – and will often travel 20 miles to check out the stores in Chelsea.
She said: "Lots of celebrities and footballers' wives live near me so when they clear out their wardrobes and drop it off at the charity shop, you get clothes in there that have tags on it."
"Get to know the staff because they always know what's in their shop. If you build a good relationship with them, you can ask them if they've got any nice designer bits in.
"What I like to do is give them my phone number and tell them I'll be their best customer if they call me when anything sparkly comes in.
"Next thing you know, they're putting stuff aside for you. I'm definitely loved in Orpington!"
Bargain Brits on Benefits airs Mondays at 9pm on 5STAR
For more bargains, this ex-Nike worker revealed how you can get a FREE pair of trainers as she reveals the store’s secrets.
And savvy shoppers have shown off their huge Asda kids’ clothing hauls as prices are slashed to 50p.
Plus this Pandora worker revealed the store’s secrets – including how to nab replacement jewellery for FREE.
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