This week and next we're going to hear from a number of the readers who wrote in last week when I asked the question: "How has couponing/deal seeking positively impacted your life this holiday season?" I loved hearing about all the positive things that you guys are doing and there were so many great responses that I'm actually going to feature some of your answers for next week's Reader Spotlight as well! I know you'll love reading these stories as much as I did!
Couponing and deal seeking have helped me tons this holiday season. My son’s class decided to donate to The Ronald McDonald house this year instead of exchanging gifts. His fellow students were in awe when he brought his donation in: two full bags of toys, food, and bath items! I was actually able to purchase 8 toy items (2 U Build Battleships, 2 Crayola bracelet kits, 3 decks of Pictureka cards, and a Lego car for $7 out of pocket)!
In addition, I was able to gift a huge box of items (bath stuff, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, storage bags, and tons of other non-food items) to a local family in need, and I donated a couple of items to Toys for Tots.
My father passed away on July 15 of this year, leaving my mother after 56 years of marriage. She is struggling emotionally and financially now that she is on her own for the first time in her life. Because of couponing, I was able to get free or really cheap toys to give to my mother so that she can use them as gifts for her 18 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. She was thrilled to get the assistance and it has helped her to be able to still see the joy in the kids faces during what is going to be a very difficult Christmas!
Debbie B. writes:
My family has a huge bottle bank where my husband, myself and my mom put our change all year. Every year for the last five years, our bank has contained about $200 to $300 at the end of the year. We use that amount to adopt a family through White Doves (I believe they are a branch of United Way). With all of the awesome deals that I get through I Heart Publix, Totally Target and Wild for Wags, I have had a LOT of change this year, and when we added it up, our bank contained over $497! We used the extra money to adopt a five kid family and are buying all the kids bikes. I wouldn’t be able to do nearly as much for this family without all the change we have accumulated from all the awesome deals - a few dollars here and there out of pocket and all our change goes in the bottle!
White Doves asks that you provide Christmas dinner for your adopted family as well. Not only will our adopted family get Christmas dinner, but they'll also get lots of stock up items that I've been able to accumulate over the last couple of months.
We have 3 boys and they all come shopping for our adopted family. My two older ones (12 and 15) have started contributing their change to the bottle bank as well!! It is great to see the kids really enthusiastic about shopping for kids who otherwise might not have a Christmas.
My husband and I have had a tough few years. Two years ago his sister died tragically which broke the whole family. My daughter was born five months later and my husband lost his job a few months after that. We were supporting a family on our very small income and the last two years we have been unable to have much of a Christmas at all.
I took up couponing right after Christmas last year because I read about all the deals others were able to do to provide Christmas for very little. We were up to our eyeballs in debt when my husband started working again in July 2010. Couponing has enabled us to pay off 75% of the debt we accrued in the last 2 years. We have been able to provide a $1000 Christmas for less than $500 for the whole family, including each other! We have also been able to add his mom to our cell plan and buy her a computer and add her internet card to our cell plan to help her cut down on expenses since she sacrificed so much for her family as a single mom.
We even have a savings goal for next year: we want to have Christmas at Disney next year! We are saving enough for my husband, myself, my daughter, and my mother in law to go meet my family in Orlando! We never would have been able to accomplish all of this without couponing, which cut our HBA and food expenses from $600+ a month to less than $300!
Couponing has made a huge positive contribution to my family. Each year our church ‘adopts’ a local elementary school and we provide Christmas gifts for the children the school social worker has identified. In prior years, we have adopted one child. This year, we were able to provide the entire Christmas for two siblings – several new outfits each and a bike.
Our church delivers the gifts a week early to the parents so they can have the joy of wrapping the gifts and giving them to their children according to their family traditions. We had double the pleasure – and of course, used clothing coupons and rolled gift cards- to make each dollar count. Our generosity was absolutely funded by our savings from coupons!
I have been couponing for just over a year and in June I became unemployed, at which time I was eligible for state health insurance and decided to proceed with medical testing, including a mammogram. I was found to have early breast cancer and underwent treatment. Couponing has kept me and my family going through these rough times. If it had not been for these websites and the awesome deals I was able to get, I am not sure how I would have survived. I have made it through and the holidays are going to be great because of the many deals I was able to get!
I am a high school math teacher and I've been couponing for about 18 months. My school does a food drive around Thanksgiving every year, and this year I was determined to use couponing to donate to the food bank and get my kids involved in the competition. I started buying items for pennies on the dollar and showing them to my students to demonstrate what coupons could do. I was buying things like pasta sauce (organic and regular), pasta noodles, organic granola bars, rice, etc. My students jumped right in. Between myself and my 22 students, we ended up donating over 2000 items just from our classroom!
In addition, this Christmas one of my students (who I have had for 3 years now) was facing a tough time. Her Mom had lost her job and she (my student) was trying to work a part time job, excel in school, and play for the softball team. The softball coach and I were able to donate $150 in gift cards and personal care items for her, her two sisters, and her mom.
Couponing has enabled me to really do Christmas for my own family so much better as well, but I am really enjoying what I am able to do for others this holiday season. I am even teaching a fellow teacher how to coupon!
In order to keep the Reader Spotlight feature going, you all are going to have to volunteer to tell us about something YOU do when you are couponing!! 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!