With the start of the new year, we are all starting fresh with couponing, and most of us probably have some sort of financial goal we need to accomplish. Today Angela is sharing the story of how she couponed away $6,000 worth of debt this past year! Take it away, Angela...
One thing I have learned since beginning my couponing journey in May 2011, is that it’s very rare to find someone who gets into couponing for any reason other than because of some sort of financial catastrophe. Here's my story: I was left with a credit card debt of over $7000 due to divorce and was struck by a devestating tornado on April 27, 2011 that took almost everything I owned. Needless to say, my life was starting over in many ways.
I felt trapped by a massive debt already in existance and by the upcoming debt I was facing by having to rebuild everything I had lost in the tornado. Friends had given me Publix gift cards to help with restocking food for the new place. I also gathered a bunch of coupons to use along with the gift cards to hopefully be able to walk away getting all I needed without having to pay much out of pocket, (since I didn’t have much to spare!).
Ultimately, I had to ONCE AGAIN pay for the overage with my already loaded-down credit card because even with the gift cards and all the coupons I used, I still didn’t have enough money to cover my bill. I thought that when you use coupons, you come out so much ahead. Well, this mentality was quickly proven wrong. I thought there had to be a way to use the coupons and actually SAVE more than I was SPENDING. If other people could do it, then why couldn’t I?
I needed this to work. So, being the stubborn and driven person I am, I was determined to figure it out. I spent countless hours trying to find the websites, then understand the websites, find the coupons, organize everything, put deals together...you get the idea. I was working 8-10 hour days at my full-time job, then coming home and getting on the computer till 11pm every night printing every coupon I found and literally making myself sick over trying to understand it all.
Then one day, while on lunch at work, I was checking out couponing sites on the internet and experienced the “A-HA” moment. It took over a month of me driving myself insane and being so lost and then BAM, in an instant, I GOT IT!!! That night I went home and got back on the computer, but this time, I understood it ALL! Every green line, every red line, every underlined line, what SS meant, what OOP meant, what DND meant, all the jargon that before was like trying to read hieroglyphics.
Since then, it has been a steady progression forward and I have a very nice stockpile that has taken up 1/4 of the garage. Last month, I purchased $407.54 worth of products at Publix and spent $0 OOP. I also received 2 $10 Publix gift cards at the register, which actually earned me a $20 profit!
I had said, after all the kindness shown to me by strangers after the tornado, that when I got back on my feet I would give back. Couponing has allowed me to do just that. I’m able to turn a $35 check that I normally would have written out to a local animal rescue shelter into almost $200 worth of dog and cat products. I turn my overage and freebie items into donations to retirement centers, food banks and to anyone who needs them.
There is no more leaving the grocery store with $180 worth of food and then running out of it 3 days later. There is no more going through the pantry and discovering all there is to eat is a sleeve of saltines. There is enough food to feed myself, my boyfriend and his son for a year at least and toiletries to maintain hygiene for even longer than that.
In 2012, I bought $9,414 worth of groceries, toiletries and household goods for 3 people and 2 cats. I paid $1,764. A savings of $7,650 averages out to a monthly cost of just $147 spent. These totals do not even include all the goods I received for free via mail. And now with ibotta, I will save even more!
Couponing at the grocery store led me to saving money everywhere in my life. It started as a necessity, became an addiction and is now my passion and part-time job. I made a goal for myself at the beginning of 2012 to coupon away my $7K debt by the end of the year. As of November, I have less than $1K left. I can breathe.
I have also parlayed my couponing knowledge and experience into teaching classes in the central Alabama area. I was featured in a story on a local news broadcast as expert on how to save money for back-to-school shopping. A friend and I have created a couponer’s group on facebook called “The Coup Loop,” where we and fellow couponers discuss all things “coupon.” Couponing has blessed me so much this year. Even if I was to win the lottery, I wouldn’t give it up!
My new goal is to be able to move on from renting and buy a house in the spring. I am positive that couponing will help me to succeed in this, as well.
I would like to thank you, Michelle, and everyone else who contributes to put together such a fantastic site for people who coupon/shop at Publix. Your site is the primary one I go to daily and without it, I NEVER would have been able to save as much as I have. I know I am not the only one out there who feels this way!
Thanks for sharing your story, Angela! I am so proud of you! It feels so good to have those big bills gone (I speak from experience and remember my bad choices...that will never happen again!)
I could really use a few new volunteers for the Reader Spotlight – so please write in if you have a story to tell! Your post can be about almost anything to do with couponing. You can tell us about a particularly good or bad situation you’ve dealt with as a couponer, about how you got into couponing or how couponing has impacted the rest of your life, you can make a list of things every new couponer should know…just about anything, really! If you think it’s interesting and it has to do with couponing, email me with your idea at contactiheartpublix @ gmail.com!
This is one of my favorite features on the site! Be sure and check out all the past Reader Spotlights HERE.