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From the Email Bag: Using Coupons Changed Our Lives

I get so many wonderful, encouraging emails from many of you. It’s always inspiring to hear your stories of living frugally and how it has made a difference in your lives.

I just thought I would share this story from Kim in hopes it might encourage and inspire you as it did me:

2009 was a tough year for my family. While we had planned financially for the birth of my son, we hadn’t planned on complications during pregnancy that resulted in my two-month hospitalization away from our home town, extensive medical bills and NICU stay and a 180-mile daily round trip commute for my husband between home, work and the hospital.

Just as we got baby healthy and home, we had another blow: My husband was laid off with no notice right as I was scheduled to go back to work from maternity leave. He qualified for unemployment, but the difference in income from his paycheck was a big one, and we now had lots of expenses from this latest addition to our family.

That was the day I first did a Google search for “coupons” in attempt to find ideas to help stretch our budget and our lives changed dramatically. I always thought because I have a “good” job, that I didn’t need to use coupons because I wasn’t in dire straights. Little did I know that coupons are not only used by those in many different income brackets, but that there is enormous savings potential if you just become an informed shopper.

The $20-$30 a week I was hoping to save quickly turned in hundreds of dollars a month and more. Our family not only learned to survive on less – but to thrive on it. We were able to afford for my husband to be a stay-at-home dad for a year to our preemie son, giving our little guy a chance to get bigger and stronger with lots of personal attention from dad.

We were also surprisingly able to live a more comfortable lifestyle. Even while watching our spending, we were still able to buy everything we needed, and still had room in our budget for growing our savings, starting college funds for the kids and even for extras like vacations. Using coupons and being smart about our shopping has helped our family be in better financial situation than ever before, and earlier this year, we were even able to pay $5000 cash for a new roof for our house.

Steinbeck Roof

My husband is back to work, and my son is now strong and healthy, but we’re still continuing our savings efforts for the better of our family. My husband and I feel it is important to share our good fortune, and our savings efforts have enabled us to be able to generously share with others. We love taking large care packages of our deals to family and friends, and we have also been able to make regular donations to our children’s school, the local food pantry and more.

We’ve had so many people ask us for advice and information, we have even started a blog to share local deals with our own community. It’s great hearing from readers who are now saving money and able to better make ends meet because of information we shared.

-Kim from 2 Kids and a Coupon

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  • sara says:

    What a great story! I can relate to the financial burden of having a complicated pregnancy and preemie. This is my second high risk pregnancy and I have been on bedrest for 9 weeks. The financial strain is hard and I admit some nights I just sit and cry wondering how we will ever dig ourselves out. I spend most of my bedrest days searching the internet for coupons and savings deals and just how to change our daily living so that we won’t drown again. I am thankful we have a roof over our head and don’t go hungry but I long for the days when no one is ringing my phone for another bill I’m behind on….
    I hope to be like this reader one day!!!!

  • Megan says:

    What an encouraging story! Thanks to Kim for sharing it and Crystal for posting it.

  • Mel says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I was especially touched by the fact that you stated you “enjoyed” giving to family and others. That is the one significant change I’ve experienced through serious couponing. I have always valued giving, but I’ve found that I can now give more generously. I find great joy in that!

  • Kimberly says:

    What an inspiring story!

  • Lindsay Knowles says:

    Amazing! I was just thinking of writing in to tell a very similar story! Preemie birth in 2009, turned into extended maternity leave for me, turned into not being able to return to work full-time (luckily, my employer has agreed to keep me as a part time employee – so fortunate!). I sat down and realized we needed to get our spending under control. So, I think I did a google search for “ways to save money” and came across December212012. This has introduced me to frugal living, coupons, and Dave Ramsey, which has started us on a path towards paying off our debt, something we just didn’t have before. There are many things that make our family different from Crystal’s but something we all have in common is a desire to have a happy, less stressful life! Thanks for sharing this story and inspiring so many others!

  • Dara says:

    Can you make posts like these a regular feature? I’m sure you get many inspiring stories and I’d love to hear and be encouraged by more of them!

  • Teresa says:

    Sounds like what we went through April 2010, except I am a stay at home homeschooling mom of 5. That ment my husband had to try to find people to watch them and still make it to work, then bring them to see me and correct the school while taking care of the house. The cost in fuel was almost overwelming, but I so wanted to see the kids at least a few time a week. It was over a hour each way, so he put hundreds of miles on that long month and a half.
    God is good, all the medical bills are paid off (thank you Samariten Minitries) and we are almost back to normal. Our little early bundle of joy is now 8 months old and started crawling today:) I tell everyone, “I never want breakfast (lunch or dinner either) in bed again.”

  • Susan (FrugaLouis) says:

    So encouraging! Thanks for sharing, Kim!

    And THANK YOU, Crystal, for all of your hard work!

  • Bethany R says:

    Great post — thanks for the uplifting story (and the hope that I too can pay for a new roof in the Spring ) …

  • Helena says:

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. It is so difficult out there for so many, and it was great to read the positives of your experience. I am one of those who believe in paying it forward, so to be able to sustain your family and give to others, is so wonderful! Please continue to post for us.

  • Carrie P says:

    It is truly amazing how one small change and one smile or one small piece of advice from someone can change a life! That story surprisingly brought tears to my eyes! I started coupling seriously about 6 months after becoming a stay at home mom to my now 3 yr old and 18 month old sons. The thing is we don’t even use all of the coupons I come across but it has led me to use only those for healthy foods. So, by paying close attention to the pennies saved, we in turn have saved hundreds of dollars by simply avoiding most processed foods(which are very expensive!). Turns out I purchased a lot of food that really seemed good but was not! I began trying to vary our weekly meal plan by using great recipes that have been shared here on December212012 that happen to use simple ingredients that my boys-including my husband -just love! In general, I spend about $450 on food each month for our family of four and that often includes diapers and basic misc items! For anyone new to this, it may take a few months but once you get a good routine, your savings habits will multiply! We love to give but it is not always easy. When you see your own family so happy and you are empowered with financial knowledge, it is such a blessing and makes it much easier to want to give even more. For instance, when we are led to a great deal that saved us money we would have had to spend without the discount found through your site, it is financially easier for us to help out a friend or neighbor in need! This will occur even if we did not realize what led to us having the extra $20 to spend. We are very thankful. We have been going through each room in the house every couple months and donating boxes of items to Goodwill. Crystal, your site is wonderful. Keep up the great work! You help so many people!

  • Amy says:

    You’re post really hit home. We also had a premature baby (a girl) and my husband stayed home with her. And your house looks just like mine. It really kind of creeped me out. I’m glad your son is alright. Our daughter is thriving.

  • Hollaina says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. It’s always inspiring to see how a person can use a negative situation to inspire and live out positive changes in their life. 🙂

  • L says:

    Love these kinds of stories!! Congratulations and way to go!!! 🙂

  • Jenn B says:

    These stories are exactly what I needed to read at exactly this moment in my life. I’ve just gone back to work after taking 4 months to stay at home with my 2-month-early preemie baby girl. NICU visits an hour away, staying in a Ronald McDonald-type house for over a month, and living on the graciousness and kind hearts of others became a normal part of the lives of my husband and I right after she was born. Once we survived that ordeal I thought the worst was behind us. It wasn’t. A few weeks later my husband’s string of self-employment endeavors that had been sustaining us since he’d been laid off two years prior suddenly disappeared causing us to unexpectedly become a one-income family–that being what was left of my teacher’s salary after taking so much time off work for our little girl. My husband was able to quickly find work at half his normal rate of pay, and we’ve been surviving week to week ever since. We too have just discovered Dave Ramsey’s financial classes, and several friends have been tutoring me in the art of couponing. It just seems like the hole we’re in can’t get any deeper, and I’ve been in a very dark and depressing place because of it. I can’t even begin to describe what an encouragement it is to find out that we’re not alone and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing that we are getting our finances under control and learning how to spend our money wisely for our future and knowing that others have traveled this road before us and survived it gives me a lot of hope that we’re in for better days ahead.

  • What a great story. This inspires me to do more with what I have. Best wishes to you and your family.

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