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Life After Credit Card Debt – May Update

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Hi Everyone! Tricia here with an update.

First things first, we are still credit card debt free. May was an awesome month and I had a renewed zest for stockpiling money away in our savings account. That’s not to say we didn’t purchase a bigger ticket item, because we did. No, it’s not that LCD TV πŸ™‚

Instead of purely talking about our finances, I thought I would briefly talk about two different topics on my mind this month. I suppose you could call them “mini-blogs.”

Big Ticket Item Purchase
Near the beginning of our debt reduction journey, we decided to stop using the freezer that came with our home when we purchased it. We were using way too much electricity and I had a hunch the very old freezer was drawing way too much power. As soon as it was unplugged, our electricity bill went down.

We’ve been without a freezer ever since. Sure, we had the one with our fridge but you can’t fit too much in it. I have been patiently watching the sales and finally…there was a 7.0 cu ft freezer for sale for $170. My price point was met and we now have a freezer. Yay!

I’m anxiously waiting to stock it with fruits and vegetables this summer. But something I didn’t necessarily realize is how much money we can save on dining. Our schedules have been hectic lately and we find ourselves grabbing fast food at least once a week. I can stock the freezer with some frozen foods that we can pull out and pop in the oven or microwave in a pinch. So far it has been working out great. We don’t want to eat those foods too often for health reasons (sodium content being a biggie), but fast food often has a lot of salt as well.

It’s never easy for me to spend that much money on a single item, but I’m very happy with the purchase. I see it paying for itself in less than 6 months.

Coupons
I’ve never been that big into coupons. The coupons I would see in the papers were often for expensive brand name items that we don’t buy. I live in an area where the local grocery stores do not offer double coupons. It was usually cheaper to go with the generic brands.

I started reading Money Saving Mom and started watching how others have made the coupons work for them. I gave it a shot and was surprised at how many coupons you can get online (including those you can find on Facebook (I’ve found some great ones from there). During the month of May, I’ve probably saved at least $50.

It’s addictive, though. The first time I did it I was armed with a stack of coupons. I could feel the adrenaline rush through me as the grocery bill got lower and lower as the cashier processed the coupons. I found myself wanting to find more and more coupons and go back out to the store.

And that is where it can be dangerous. It’s great to save a lot of money, but you don’t want to spend too much and have food go bad or have a cabinet full of food you probably won’t eat. I don’t even want to start thinking back to how many products I have purchased because they were a great deal. Many of them ended up at the last garage sale I had and someone else got an even better deal then I did! LOL.

I am still very much a coupon newbie and I am figuring out the happy balance with my couponing. I need to do it responsibly and figure out how to take less time doing it. I was spending way too much time figuring out what coupons I should print. Anyone have any couponing tips to share?

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That is all for this month. I have had a very exhausting week and I have had very little rest. I am ready for some serious rest and relaxation this weekend and my bed is calling my name right now.

Have a great weekend everyone!


17 Comments

  • Reply Ebony |

    If you are interested in healthier options for the frozen meals, check out Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough. It tells you how to plan for those sales and make meals that can be made at your schedule or even with a partner and frozen for later. It’s not leftovers, either. It tells you how to avoid that leftover feel to your meals.

  • Reply Sheila |

    I am a couponholic. This year along I have saved 83% on our grocery purchases and drug store purchases. I don’t know where you are located but here are the websites I use weekly for my shopping trips: http://www.iheartpublix.com and http://www.southernsavers.com. I also have a blog where I show my weekly shopping with coupon matchups. I don’t shop without coupons. 90% of my stockpile was free with coupons. Good luck with your coupon journey and happy savings!!!

  • Reply jolie |

    I’m so glad to hear that things are going so well for you guys. I have heard couponing can be incredibly addictive. Enjoy your
    new money saving hobby!

  • Reply Nan |

    I would recommend couponmom.com . This website ties weekly store ads with coupons so you don’t have to cut out all coupons, file or organize them, and then find them again. For example, if you look at the page for CVS on couponmom.com it lists the items that are in the weekly ad. Then it tells you where to find coupons for that item and tells you how much $$ you will save on that item. I’d given up on couponing (mostly for time reasons) until I found this site.

  • Reply cassie |

    i agree that coupons can be dangeous if you;re not careful. but when you are careful, they are SO MUCH FUN! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mar |

    I have given up on printing most coupons because I think I was spending as much in ink as I was saving on the product. However, I check the ads and will match up with coupons that come in the paper (it’s a local weekly so we don’t get that many) or with what’s on sale that week (55 cents off Cheerios at Walgreens’s this week let me buy 14 ounce boxes for $1.44) but that’s about it. It is fun when I get a good deal, though. This week, my daughter’s contact lens solution was on sale for $7.99 at Walgreen’s with a Register Rewards coupon for $8 off my next purchase at checkout. I went back today to get another bottle, but they were out (sigh). However, I used the sales and the Cheerios coupon and the RR coupon to get 3 boxes of 6 Fiber One bars, a 14 ounce box of Cheerios, a can of Arizona Tea, and bobby pins for less than $2. Not a bad deal…

    I agree on making the major purchases, but I bought a dehumidifier for our house today at Target. I was thinking about buying one, so I knew the price of $149 was pretty good for the size I bought and the people in line in front of me were buying one and said that this brand works well for them, which is why they were buying another one for another part of their house. We live in central Maryland and have only window unit air conditioners. It’s already muggy here and the dehumidifier is pulling out a lot of water, which makes the room already feel cooler. I think it will help with the utility bills while making the room feel cooler because there is less humidity.

  • Reply Kim W. |

    I stumbled on your blog this evening. We are also working our way out of debt and have those credit cards paid off. Congrats. It is nice to see another dedicated person on this journey. I have a question about the freezer you bought…is is supposed to be energy efficient or was it just a good price? I have been thinking about doing some similar, especially, since I just mastered the art of cutting up a whole chicken. BTW- there are a lot of recipes out there for casseroles that freeze well (if you are looking to cut sodium). Thanks for keeping your blog!

  • Reply Leslie |

    Coupon use works for us very well. I can keep our household costs for food, $200 a month using coupons. I use the stockup method for things we use regularly, so I only have to buy those things when they are at rock bottom prices – coffee for instance, I gave up starbucks when I decided to get out of debt. I’ve found one particular coffee that I absolutely adore, fortunately my store puts it on sale about once every three months, and there are usually coupons to go with it. I buy enough then to get me to the next sale, and it comes out to about $1/pound. I’ll try “new” products only if they are free or near free with the sales and coupons. I will buy certain items when that we don’t actually use when they are free after coupons and sales for donation purposes. My daughter’s school routinely has food drives for those families in the school system that have fallen on hard times and through couponing, I can send her to school with a bag full of nonperishables for every food drive (we don’t know who those families are, but its nice to know we are helping out our neighbors). I also routinely buy cat food, even though we don’t have cats and dog food that my own pups don’t eat when they are free after sales and coupons, and donate them to the local animal shelter.

    It does take some time and organization, but I save the clipping and sorting for when there is actually something on tv I want to watch. Then I can justify the time spent vegging in front of th tv! The various websites that do all the deal match ups for you are invaluable because they do all the hard work for you.

    I think as long as you know your “rock bottom” prices, couponing can be successful without a ton of additional work (and it helps allow room in your budget for those non essential things that we all sometimes want, but don’t actually need!)

  • Reply Tricia |

    Leslie – you brought up a GREAT point about using coupons to get items to donate. If you haven’t already, you might want to check out Penny Experiment. You should see the deals he gets using coupons and then he donates the food to food banks.

    Some of you may notice that the person behind the experiment is the person who purchased this blog from me (Jeffrey Strain). In disclosure, he never mentioned the site to me – I found it on my own while looking for coupon sites. It’s a great thing he’s doing πŸ™‚

  • Reply DCS |

    You’ve got the coupons to stock up on ingredients. You’ve got the freezer to store them. All you need now is a big ol’ slow cooker and you can make your own frozen convenience meals salted to your taste/requirements. Most slow cooker dishes freeze and reheat well (some are better that way than when freshly cooked).

    As far as I’m concerned, every freezer should just come with a slow cooker (and maybe a blueberry bush) inside it when you buy it. They’re perfect for each other.

  • Reply Tricia |

    DCS – we have a medium size slow cooker, but the lid fell and broke about six months ago! I’ve been looking for a replacement lid with no such luck yet. Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a larger one and whip up some meals to freeze for convenience meals. I like your idea!

    And I agree about the blueberry bush idea. I can’t wait till the wild ones are in season! I’ll be picking them to eat and to freeze this year!

  • Reply Tricia |

    Hi Kim W – Our freezer is not energy star certified, but the estimated cost to run per year is $28. It was important for us to get a chest freezer since they automatically are more energy efficient than upright freezers (the cold air doesn’t escape as easily). Size was also important – we didn’t want one too big or too small. For us, the 7.0 cu ft. is just the right size.

    Of course, I say that now. Ask me after the summer is over LOL.

  • Reply Ladona |

    An easy way to stash a few freezer meals is to simply double up for a few meals. Instead of making one meal’s worth of spaghetti sauce, make double and freeze half. Google “once a month cooking” “freezer meals” and “dump chicken recipes” and you will find scads of recipes, tips and advice.

    Freezers are a great way to take advantage of meat sales. Plus the discounted manager’s sales (my grocery store puts those out on Sunday mornings.)

  • Reply Stephan |

    nice job with that freezer. it takes a lot of patience to get the best deal, and it clearly paid off for you. i hope its an energy star one as well, so you can really see the savings over the next few years in your electricity bill!

  • Reply Tammie |

    Hi Tricia,
    Great choice on the big ticket purchase. I have tried couponing it does save my down fall is the time it takes for the coupons and matching them I am sure I will get the jist of it eventually. I do agree with the crock pot meals my family and I really need to start doing that and freezing them. We also have a chest freezer that is eons old but for right now I can not unplug it I have no room for meat and bread when I buy it monthly. Which I really need to hit those rock bottom days again those are so great. Cryovac is great! Good luck with it all and keep the blog going I love your updates and tips!

  • Reply Ann |

    Freezer is really a big help for my daily routine for cooking. Especially during winter time I stored my food and also cut my groceries shopping trip.

  • Reply Kim W. |

    Thanks for the freezer info. Yes, please post how it goes for you over the summer. I am looking forward to the possibility of a purchase. πŸ™‚

So, what do you think ?