In our last installment on Love & Money, Renee Scott shares her tips to couponing and saving your family money at the grocery store.

by Renee Scott

I love couponing! 

There is nothing better than saving more on your grocery bill than you actually spend.  It is a tremendous way to avoid paying more on groceries than you need to.  For the record, I am NOT one of the ladies you see on the popular reality show, “Extreme Couponing.”  I don’t have a separate room in my house or a custom built garage shelving system that holds hundreds of boxes of cereal and toiletry items.  I’m just a gal who loves to save!

My pantry
My pantry

I was introduced to couponing about 18 months ago through my son’s daycare.  The church was offering a free couponing class for the community.  To this day I can’t even remember why I decided to give up a Saturday morning to attend.  Boy I’m happy I did!

Since that day, I save on average 50%-60% on my grocery bill.  We are a family of four who used to consistently spend $550-$600 a month on groceries.  We now pay about $300 a month (including pull ups for the 3 year old).  A recent shopping trip at Publix cost me $26 for nearly $100 in groceries. 

Items from a recent shopping trip

The whole basis behind couponing is to purchase (stock-pile) items your family uses while it is discounted at its lowest price.  You then combine your coupons with low prices or Buy One Get One (BOGO) free deals to save, save, save!

Here are a few steps that I follow every week for couponing success:

  • Purchase 4 papers weekly  (Always purchase an even number of papers depending on the size of your family)
  • File the coupon inserts in a filing box (shown in picture)
  • Review couponing website for coupon match ups at local grocery store (Publix BOGO’s are normally the best deals)
  • Pick up free coupons all over the grocery store (most people don’t realize that coupons are normally near the front door, placed around end caps, or down the aisles )
  • Stock pile items at their lowest price (this does not suggest you hoard items)
My file box
My file box for storing and organizing coupons

If you are interested in couponing, I would highly suggest attending a free class that provides the basics of the program.  I personally recommend Truecouponing.com.  There are several offerings in the area but I love Truecouponing because it is faith based and FREE.  New to couponing?  Check out this great tutorial on their website.

The greatest gift that couponing affords me is the opportunity to share my abundance.  Whether it’s giving a care bag to the homeless, cooking dinner for a friend or donating toiletry items to the elderly, I am able to fulfill God’s desire of sharing with others.  Couponing requires time, patience, and organization but it is well worth the 2-3 hours of my time each week.  In my eyes, it’s a 2nd job that allows me to work from home.

~1 Timothy 6:18~
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

If you are a couponer, we would love to hear about your testimony of savings.  Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.  This link will take you there.

Renee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog,  Double Portion Inspiration, where she shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She is a wife of over 14 years and mother of two children.

by Debbie Altman

Growing up, our children knew that we only ordered water when we went out to dinner, (which was only if it was “kids eat free” night and we had a coupon!) We drove older used cars and almost all of our furniture was from Craig’s List (and our home looked very nice, actually!)  To this day, our adult children joke at how deprived they were that they only got Happy Meals twice a year, on each of their birthdays!  My husband quips that, “they were already happy!” 

Debbie and her husband Craig, with their son Brent, daughter Dara, son-in-law Matt, and granddaughter Sienna.

Despite what we did as their parents, we knew our kids needed to know how to manage their own money. We’d heard plenty of stories of young college students who’d fallen into so much credit card debt that they became overwhelmed and depressed, and some even took their lives. Or stories of young couples starting out their marriages with huge amounts of debt.  So, one day while listening to Christian radio, I heard a program about teaching children the value of money.  We decided to start it right away with our kids.  Here’s how it works.

  1.  Determine the “Kid Cost” – Instead of doling out money to your children a few dollars at a time for the things that you normally give them money for – clothes, toys,  money for a movie, a friend’s birthday gift – decide how much money on average that you are actually spending on them over a month’s time.
  2. Divvy it up – After determining each child’s “Kid Cost,” get cash in that amount and divide the money into envelopes. For example, the envelopes could be labeled: Tithe, Save, Clothing, Entertainment, Gifts, Extras.  You decide how much should be in each envelope to start.
  3. Place it in their hands – Now, hand over the envelopes to your children!  Yes, it sounds really scary, but it works! Over the next month, any clothing items they might desire must come from that money.  (Basics like underwear and socks, or large ticket items like a Prom dress, were still provided by us.)  If our daughter wanted a special pair of jeans that were more expensive, she learned to save up a couple months worth of her “clothing” allotment.  If they wanted to “borrow” from their clothing money for extra entertainment money, they could do so, but it meant they had less money to spend on clothes, (or skate board shoes!)
  4. Don’t leave them alone – Through the whole process, our kids were still required to talk with us and get permission for decisions they were making. This allowed for many teaching moments. They learned quickly if something they wanted was really worth it.  And if it was, then it was worth waiting and saving up for.

Not surprisingly, there were many things they might have previously asked us for, that they now realized weren’t worth spending THEIR money on!  Having to budget and make choices about where to spend and not just “picking from the money tree,” taught them the value of money and self-control.  And the responsibility and trust given to them by us through this system brought them to another level of self-confidence and maturity.  The transformation was amazing!  (Our children did have required chores and responsibilities, by the way!)  This approach can continue to be adapted to the ages and personalities of your children, and can be applied all the way up through high school and even college.  We highly recommend it and have seen the fruit of it in the lives of our adult children. You won’t regret it!  

Debbie is the wife of Pastor Craig Altman, and together they founded Grace Family Church 18 years ago.  She is a former RN and mother of a 27 year old married daughter and 26 year old son.  She is also known as “Nona” to her precious granddaughter. Debbie enjoys family, reading and the beach, and is inappropriately competitive at board games.

Today we continue our month-long look at Love & Money with a wonderfully honest account about what to do when you’re faced with job loss and struggling to provide for your family.

by Teri Blanchard

I couldn’t believe it. I heard it happening to others but I never thought it would actually happen to me! Nevertheless, there I was… without a job. I was a single parent with no income and no idea how we were going to make ends meet. How could this happen? Why me? What was I going to do? Where was I going to get the money to support us?

After my little pity party, immediately I updated my resume. I searched the classifieds. I went on interview after interview and called everyone I knew for a job.  But I was getting nowhere fast. The bills started coming in with late notices. The refrigerator became emptier every day. The power was shut off the same day the eviction notice came. That was it. I was no longer holding on by a thread but had reached the end of my rope.

Angrily I cried out to God, “Please help me, I can’t do this anymore!”  That was precisely what He was waiting to hear. I had to stop trying to do it all myself and start looking to Him. So, I began to pray each day. I read my Bible every day. I buried myself in the Psalms. I went to church whenever the doors were open. I even watched the Christian television channel! I began to thank Him for what I did have and not focus on what I didn’t have. I wrote Scriptures about His provision on index cards and placed them all around the house. Scriptures such as:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mattthew 6:33 KJV)

”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will and He will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it…” (Psalm 24:1 LB)

I began to realize that my part was to seek Him and His ways, and His part was to provide for us and take care of us.  And He did. Certainly not in the way I had wanted or expected but He did provide.  We were able to qualify for government housing, free medical care and food assistance, as well as receive an income of $200.00 a month …for a year! But you see God used that year to completely change me and my life as I drew closer to Him. I began to trust Him as He provided in every way that we needed.

Most importantly, I learned that He alone is my provider; not a person, not a job, not the economy.  He owns it all and He provides it all. I may not know why things happen, what to do about them or where the money will come from. But, I do know the One who does know. And when I put Him first, He will provide the rest.

Terri Owens Blanchard is a wife, mother, and Mimi to her precious granddaughter. She is a Mary Kay Consultant, a small group leader to the Military Wives group, and an assistant small group coach. She loves to shop, travel, and shop as she travels! She also enjoys spending time with family, friends and her crazy pets.  

 

For the first part of February, A Beautiful Blog brought you stories on love in our series, “Love & Money.” Now we’re shifting our focus to money. Today’s post is from our queen of saving green, Kim Wiezycki.

By Kim Wiezycki

Welcome to “Lifestyles of the Fun and Frugal!” Here are my top 10 ways to save, starting today. My friends and I use these tips to pay down debt, save money, and be able to give. Start a few of them today and make a plan for the money you save!

 

  1. Quit buying costly disposable items and replace with re-usable items. Paper towels average $1.99/roll—that’s $95.00/year!  Instead, buy a pack of washcloths for $5.00/pack and use for cleaning up messes for several years! Just throw in the laundry!
  2. Make your own laundry detergent.  Average cost per load with store bought generic brand is 25-35 cents/load. Homemade detergent costs about 2 cents/load. That’s a savings of over $100/year! Google “Duggar laundry detergent recipe”.
  3. Take in a boarder to help with your rent. Many Christian college students or exchange students need a home and their rent can go toward your bills!
  4. Use glass pasta jars and jelly jars to store leftovers, stocks and broths, and household items like pens and paper clips instead of buying plastic containers. Just rinse and reuse!
  5. Drink water at restaurants. Average cost of a soda is $2.00. If a family of 4 eats out 5 times a month that is $40.00/month or $480 in soda or tea a year!
  6. Buy used and refurbished items! Even an iPod, Kindle, and computers can be purchased refurbished direct from the company with all warranties as if you bought it new. No need to pay full price!
  7. Pack school lunches. Average school lunch is $4.25. A homemade sandwich or leftovers in a thermos, fresh fruit or vegetable, water in a reusable bottle, nuts or cheese, and a cookie can cost as little as $1.00/meal. Pack a cloth napkin and metal or washable plastic fork, too!
  8. Learn WHEN and HOW to use coupons to get the best deals. Websites like The Grocery Game and Coupon Mom tell you when to pair a coupon with a buy-one-get-one-free deal or other rock bottom price deal. You really can cut your grocery bill steeply!
  9. Join or start an organic produce co-op in your area. Save money while supporting local farms and businesses and eliminating the grocery store’s marked up prices.
  10. Make homemade cleansers like baking soda and Dawn dish detergent scrubs for glass cooktops, lemon juice or white vinegar and water for soaking whites and cleaning table tops. Only pennies per week!

Kim has been married to Larry Wiezycki for 16 years and they have two boys, ages 9 and 11. When Kim isn’t in church, she can be found teaching curly girls how to take care of their hair, spending way too much time on Facebook or reading real books, and running a 5k here and there.

A Beautiful Blog continues our “Love & Money” series with a wonderful Valentine’s Day story about companionship and relationship with God.

by Renee Scott

Renee ScottAlmost daily in my subdivision, you will see beautiful sand cranes walking around in pairs.  They immediately get your attention because of their long legs (over 4 feet tall) and impressive wing span. 

You can learn so much from the sand crane regarding companionship/relationship and marriage.  The sand cranes are believed to mate for life.  Mated cranes have a “unison call” that is a synchronized duet used to reinforce the bond between the female and male birds.  They stand close together while eating, flying, and sleeping.  Both parents help to rear their young until the next breeding season.

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to highlight the lifestyle of the sand crane. On a day when we celebrate love and affection, there is much to be gained from studying these birds in their natural habitat.  Even in the animal kingdom, God illustrates the power of companionship.

Genesis 2:18 (MSG) shares, “God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”  Before Adam was ever given a name, he was provided a help meet. 

I was inspired the other day by a single sand crane walking in my backyard.  It didn’t have a mate.  I wondered what happened.  What was the story behind this solitary existence?  I will never know, but, there was a beautiful lesson in it.  Even though the crane was alone, it continued to move forward.  It hunted for food and walked tall with a boldness not found in most of the bird species.  This particular bird didn’t allow the tragedy of losing a partner or maybe never having one, stop its progress.

God desires to be in relationship with his creation. He is the ultimate companion.  Exodus 29:46 reminds us that God freed His people so that He could dwell amongst them.  He sent His son and named him Emmanuel (God with us) as a gentle reminder of Christ’s purpose and desire. 

Whether married, single, widowed, or searching for your mate, God yearns to be in relationship with you.  He is concerned about the details of your life.  He desires an intimate relationship with you.  He wants to be the lover of your soul.  Never allow your history or current circumstances separate you from Christ.  His love is unconditional.  There is no greater love.

Renee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, Double Portion Inspiration, where she shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She is a wife of over 14 years and mother of two.