Supporting a family of five (with three of those being children ages five and under) on one income was seemingly impossible. Since his salary as a public school teacher was keeping us near the poverty level, my husband and I tried to supplement his income as much as possible. We stripped our budget of anything frivolous including cell phones and cable television. Regardless, all of our efforts seemed for naught because at the end of the month, we still had more money required than we had coming into our banking account.
So, we sat there at our wits end and hoped for an answer.
The gentleman across from us said, “Well, I see two areas that you can cut back.”
I was flabbergasted since we were already so tight but cautiously excited by the potential. “Where?” I asked.
“Your electricity and groceries.” There was an odd silence in the room as my brain tried to wrap around what he was saying.
“Ummm…” I ineloquently stuttered, “Our electric bill is on budgeted billing and it is automatically drafted from our banking account each month. I can’t change that.”
“Well then, I guess you will have to focus on the grocery budget.”
I guess this would not be difficult if I had not already fudged our number on the information in front of him by $150! Did this man not know what a box of diapers cost? Did he have any idea about how much a male toddler could eat? I asked him that.
“Mrs. Philen, I understand your dilemma but unless you can make some alterations to your grocery budget, a judge would not even allow you to file bankruptcy.” With that, he closed our file.
We were too poor, too far in the hole, to even qualify for bankruptcy. I did not think that was possible.
Several days later, as I sat nursing our infant son, I watched the Coupon Mom on the Today Show purchase $100 worth of groceries for a mere $0.25. I was intrigued and looked up her website. That was a day that changed my life and the future of our family.
Her philosophy of combining coupons with sales prices led me to do even more research. I began seeking out every ounce of information I could find on saving money by using coupons.
At the encouragement of Teri Gault’s book about her website, The Grocery Game, I purchased a large binder and filled it with page protectors and page dividers from my stash of office supplies. My husband named the notebook, Penny, and immediately she was a member of the family. The children even grew to respect and protect Penny. She went with us everywhere until she outgrew the seat in the buggy.
Over the next few months, I watched our grocery bill plummet even while I was bringing in so many bags of groceries that I was running out of places to put the stuff. Both of our freezers were packed, the pantry was full and I was moving stuff out of the laundry room to use the shelving in there for stockpile storage. The biggest surprise? We were spending $400 less per month than ever before.
Now, our family embraces a frugal lifestyle. We do not have cable television. No smart phones. No expensive cars. An average 3 bedroom home.
Now, I believe God has given me a mission to share our lives with as many people as possible. That is why you are reading this today. We live a very transparent life, showing you through our successes and our failures, how you can balance your family, time, and money.
My hope and prayer for you is that as you put an effort into saving money, that God would see the intentions of your heart and bless you tremendously. Everything in the heavens and earth are His and what we have is on loan to us from Him. What we do with it is up to us but if we prove ourselves faithful, He promises to entrust us with more.
As He gives to you, remember that you too should give to others. Share what you learn and become a generous giver. Soon, you find your cup overflowing and your life more blessed than ever before.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to CONTACT ME.