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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Journey to Couponing

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Matthew 6:24

This is the verse that resonated in my head for months and years as I figured if I said enough that I would actually begin to believe it.  Within one year I was married, pregnant, my dad died, became a first time mother, my husband changed careers and we moved into our first home (2004-2005).  Wow what a whirlwind of events and I had no idea what was to come.  Moving towns and becoming a mother I found myself with little to no network of friends outside of my husband and one very special friend.  We started attending a local church and dove in an adult community (Sunday school).  It took about a year to finally feel at home there and begin to grow the huge network of family that we have today.

When Rich changed careers he moved to the financial industry which takes forever, or what seems like forever to get on your feet.  I have always had dreams of making lots of money and have lots of things.  It was a desire of mine, something I yearned for - it was MY idol!  Me have an idol?  I don't have any statues or worship false gods or did I?  Enduring the tough times was good, I thought, because we would end up in this place that would be bliss WHEN the money came in.  Month after month there was no money and I hit a breaking point, literally in tears asking my husband "Why hasn't God answered my prayers?  Why isn't he taking care of us?"  I believe this was a turning point for me, not an over night realization but gradually God changed me.  He changed what I felt was important.  I could not hear Him because I was too busy talking and not busy enough just spending time with Him.

Month after month I would go to the store and spend hours, literally trying to find which can of green beans I could save 1 cent per ounce and would continue to come home a failure spending close to $700/month on consumables.  God then put someone special into my life who shared a glimpse of what "couponing" could do.  I have always thought of coupons were for people that bought stuff they didn't need- Oh how wrong was I.  Since there was no money, not even enough to have a budget, it was just how low can  you go, I dove in and absorbed as much as possible.

Almost immediately we went from $700/mo to $200/mo and I was stockpiling.  This is an early on photo of our one rack in the garage.  It is chuck full now and with the exception of a very small shelf built off to the side (to house cleaning supplies apart from food and away from little hands) the only thing that I allow to seep into the house is diapers.  When those bad boys go on super sale we stock up.  Hopefully many more babes to come.

In order to achieve this in the beginning, with learning curve and all, I would spend about 3 hours a week (including the actual shopping).  For me that was over $34 an hour I was making or saving.  Now I spend about an hour and a half and our bottom line is under $300 (groceries, soap, cleaning supplies, razors, all paper products, diapers, all toiletries, dog food etc).

Since I had learned this I immediately started telling anyone I could find to listen to me. Well one friend told another and pretty soon it imposed on family time all this sharing and helping so I put it into a class form.  Within a few months our church hosted me as a guest speaker.  This class still remains scheduled, 4 times a year for free free.  I call things free free when they are actually free, no gimmicks.  I now offer group and private classes at other locations for a fee. 

This journey was so difficult but I would not change it for anything - I would not be the person I am today if I had not  had to endure each day of my changing process.  There was no other way for me to learn than to be stripped of everything, feeling hopeless and falling to my knees to slowly but surely listen to God and know that my security is in Him and not money.  Today I see things differently as if I put on another set of glasses.  I don't yearn for things anymore, in fact I strive to purge as much as I can especially when I can't control it.

Fast forward to 2011 I am a stay a  home mom of 3, married to possibly the most wonderful, supportive man in the world!  We are attempting to homeschool again this year this time 1st and preK and one very distracting 18 month old.  I am continually in awe of what God does in our lives day in and day out and can't wait to spend every day dependent on Him!

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