My husband, Alex, and I have always kept track of our monthly spending. We categorize our expenditures and follow each transaction and log it in a spread sheet. Each year, we have a rough idea of how much we would expect to spend on certain categories, like groceries, gas, and entertainment. The thing is...this "budget" was more informative than restrictive. Though we knew about how much we were spending, going over in a category didn't stop us for going out and spending more that month. Looking at this budget, and realizing how much income we would be losing, I knew something needed to change!
In June, Nolan and I flew from our home in Durham, North Carolina to visit my parents and brother in Wisconsin. I dove right in to watching on-demand episodes of TLC's Extreme Couponing. I watched, intrigued, as ladies worked their way through the grocery stores, piling hundreds of bottles of hot sauce and packages of ramen noodles into their carts. I anxiously watched the cash register deduct their coupons...beep after beep after beep. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars of products....for FREE?! "Who would ever NEED 500 bottles of hot sauce, and what kind of person jumps into dumpsters to fish out coupons??" I asked myself.
This show was clearly over the top couponing, but the money saving ideas stuck in my mind. There had to be a way to apply these concepts to save money in a more realistic, and less dirty, way. The money saving seed had been planted!