After the birth of my son, I saw a morning talk show featuring the Coupon Mom. I would love to tell you what show or what she talked about but I just had a baby so I really don't remember. I googled it and found this link which looks to be during my maternity leave so it must have been the Today show. I thought it seemed like a good idea to save a little money on baby stuff so I checked out a few websites. From there I was hooked!!! I might have started with baby stuff but the stockpile slowly grew.
My mother in law came to visit and decided that she was on a limited income and she should learn how to coupon. Taking the opportunity to use my two years of research and trial and error, she did exactly what I told her (most of the time). She joked because the first few times, she just bought whatever I bought to make it easier. Then she started picking out her own things but making me check her out so that she didn't "mess it up." After a few months, she could do it on her own and saved tons. I taught my first student how to use coupons to save fortunes. She was also hooked and agreed that we could never go back to the other way of life and throwing money away.
Everything in the Northern Virginia area is very high priced so we were challenged to figure out how to make it on one income before I could stay home with our son. I worked full time for two years while taking care of my son full time but something had to change. After couponing for two years with no budget, I started tracking my purchases every month. Many websites suggest a weekly spending limit but I just couldn't do it because of the ups and downs of the sale cycles. It was making me totally stressed so I gave up and looked for the next solutions.
One website told me that the best way to determine a budget was to cut back each month and see if you saw the difference. In 2011, we started the year spending $230-$360 per month and slowly decreased to $130-$160 per month (averaged $217.86 per month). For 2012, we set a monthly budget of $160 (flexible to $180-$200 in the months that we need to stock up on meats or other expensive items). I have gotten more creative in the past year by baking my own bread, rolls, making breakfast and dessert treats each week, and making all home cooked meals.
I try to get lots of great books out of the library in order to make sure that I am doing everything that I can to make our money stretch. I read frugal books, economic books, mommy books, and cook books. My cousin suggested that I read some "fun" books so I have added a few of those into the monthly list for a vacation from the serious material which makes a great balance. I hope that you decide to check out a few books that I have found free through my local library and suggest some books that you think that I should read.
Thank you for visiting my blog and I look forward to getting lots of comments from you on my posts. I would love to get book suggestions, recipe ideas, and crafty projects that you are working on. I would also love to hear about your shopping successes. Please feel free to send me details about your great trips and I would love to post them!! Look forward to talking with you soon.