You Want Me To Eat What?! The Next Part of Our Debt-Free Story

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Last we left you in our personal story of deep-in-debt to debt-free, we attempted to use the “magic money” called coupons.  Well, our first attempt ended in disaster and did not save us anything, but sucked our time like crazy.  It was a very frustrating experience.  We wanted to save money on our groceries as we couldn’t stop eating, but since the generic was still cheaper than the coupons on name-brand, we felt hopeless in this area.

So we went back to advice from Dave Ramsey. He knows that you can’t stop spending in the area of food…so what was his advice? Eat rice and beans. EAT RICE AND BEANS for the next “who knows how long….?!”

This was going to be very painful, but we had to do something.  So if our lavish dinners out for a few years means a few years of rice and beans….. well, we couldn’t argue with it as we didn’t have any other option!

Trying to eat like a bird on rice and beans did not last long.  It was very difficult, very impractical and certainly not a long term option.  We knew that sacrifice was needed to accomplish our goal, but this was causing us more temptation, irritability, frustration and ultimately setting ourselves up for failure.

So this option was not turning out well.  I was so frustrated, I would spend so much time praying and crying for relief from our selfishness.  I knew it was 1,000% our fault that we were in the mess we were in, but I was pleading with God for relief many times per day.  I tried with all of my might to make rice and beans work, and it did fill us up.  But I needed another answer.

A short while later, Alex was listening to a Saturday morning radio program while in the shower (from our shower radio from our spending days). This particular program was done by a man in our area that was a grocery coupon shopping expert and had been for years.  Again, we had heard of him, but did not really listen to him… until now.  He seemed to be telling us something that we hadn’t ever heard.  We could actually combine coupons with sales and get food items for nearly nothing?

He worked for the news station and the news station website had a section where he showed the sales that week with coupons matched up to those sales.  He then took those sales items that week and made a menu out of it so that you would buy what you would eat that week.

Should we give this coupon thing a second chance? Even cooler was that he had printable lists that showed you everything on sale – which store of many to shop at that week and then a menu based off of what you bought on sale with coupons that week! WHAT!! This was way too exciting to not jump on board…. I mean who wouldn’t want to do this?

I jumped right onto this website, printed the list from the one store that he recommended we shop at that week and planned our shopping trip. Honestly, it sounded a lot easier than it really was.  I had fun with it.  I was seeing good results in the sense of our budget was dropping, but it only lasted about 2-weeks.  Why?  Well, this man had a plan and an idea – but the follow through was very impractical.  You had to shop every week and then you had the craziest menu because it would totally depend on the sales that week.

The first week wasn’t too bad; it wasn’t a great healthy menu, but workable for a time. However, by the second week, I was starting to have serious doubts about this approach. I was a little surprised by the suggestions on the menu that week. Fruit Loops for breakfast one day, fruit snacks and bananas for another day’s breakfast, boxed mac and cheese and bologna sandwiches for some of the lunches, and many boxed dinners like Hamburger Helpers – well, all because these items were on sale that week.  

So I lost my faith in using coupons for the second time.  This concept could not be a long term option!  We had a while to go to rid ourselves of $100K of consumer debt – this was going to take a while and we couldn’t live off of boxed foods reasonably for health’s sake.  We had to find money within our current budget and make extra money to even get started on paying off our debts.

The burden that this brought to our lives was so overwhelming……here I was, pregnant with our first and filling so completely hopeless.  I did not see a way out and I was so angry with myself and with Alex for letting us get into this mess.  I did not want to bring a baby into our lives with this stress and burden that had us aching, crying, fighting and totally incapacitated.

We had successfully scaled back our lavish lifestyle due to necessity – we ran out of money and credit.  Our attempts at getting more credit those final months before starting our pay off journey were very stressful and usually ended in a “no”.

Well, since we had to scale back our lifestyle out of necessity, how do I scale back our grocery budget.

Well, for a while after these few experiences of trying to cut our grocery budget, I was just shopping at Walmart with their everyday low prices and every once in a while using a coupon on items we really needed.  I just tried to be as careful and intentional about what I bought and this was the first step in saving my grocery budget; our grocery budget did decrease some.

But the ideas that this man on the radio introduced to us still intrigued me – was there a way to actually make it work to use coupons and shop the sales to be a bit more normal with the diet?

Well….. this next idea actually worked, and it was a huge blessing…….

Stay tuned for our next part coming soon!

If you haven’t read the story or need a refresher up to this point, check out the previous parts of our story:


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