How I Got Started...

In June of 2008, I was a stay at home mom to a three year old and a ten month old. Finances were... well, tight to keep it short and sweet. My husband did the best he could, but unfortunately, like a lot of young families, we had a lot of expenses and not a lot of income. I had been looking for ways to save money, and I came across the idea of couponing. I was intrigued.

My mom was a big help during this time. She had been telling me for eons that I should consider clipping coupons. She tried to tell me stories about how she was a big couponer when we were all young. I blew her off every time. Even the few times I clipped the coupons, they sat languishing in a drawer, well past their expiration date, until I sent them off to be recycled. However, despite my disinterest, she kept on mentioning. So when I came across a magazine article about The Grocery Game, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the 4 week trial for $1 (hey, don't laugh. Literally every penny counted at that stage, lol). By the end of the four weeks, I realized two things. First of all, I was hooked. Every part of my being wanted to keep saving that kind of money. The other thing was, I had the time and patience to do this without purchasing the list every week.

So starting that first week, I began cutting coupons. I sorted them alphabetically, which has always been my favorite way (there will be another post discussing different ways to sort your coupons - everyone has a favorite way). I started buying a Sunday paper every week and my mom started bringing me her coworker's castoffs. At that time, I was receiving the CVS ads every Friday (which has now stopped, although I'm not sure why...) and spending my free time the next two days deciding what deals to do, gathering the coupons, figuring my out of pocket expense and generally having a game plan (my scenario, and a back up scenario if they were out of stock on anything). It was a lot of work, but the payoff was huge. I would still be doing it this way had I not had an epiphany... although The Grocery Game wasn't going to work for me, the internet had a wealth of information, including a few sites that discussed these same deals that I was coming up with on my own. Once couponing became easier, I began eying other parts of our budget...

Honestly, couponing did a lot more for me than just get me a lot of free and cheap stuff (although it definitely did that). It completely changed my outlook on my life. I started looking for other ways to save money. Between making and actually following a weekly menu (with all the highlights on the meals coming from that weeks best deals), stockpiling the items we used the most, and looking for free and cheap ways to entertain my family, we went from living paycheck to paycheck (and regularly falling behind on bills), to actually having a little leeway. Now, 2 and a half years later, we are still working to pay off debt, but we are a lot closer to that than we were. If I hadn't found frugal living, we would have still been falling behind.

Sometimes, trying to save money can feel overwhelming, but I'm here to say 'take it one step at a time'. Once you start saving money, it becomes easier to find ways to save money. It's honestly a natural high when you realize you are paying less for something that you actually use. Plus, I will be here for every one of those steps! Any questions?? Leave a comment, and I'll answer it or find you the answer to the best of my ability. Pinky promise :D