Deep in Debt to Debt Free: The Unsuccessful Coupon Couple

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 21, 2014

our-deep-in-debt-to-debt-free-part-11-coupon-couple

Last we left you in our story, we had just found out we were expecting a baby after a few years of wanting a baby.   The Lord had blessed, but this was a real life-changer for us as God used this to wake us up to the reality of our financial situation.  But when we were woke up to the mess we were in, we knew we had to act now and act quickly.

I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.  It was something we both discussed before marriage and so it was a very important thing for both of us.  But although this was our goal initially before getting married, our selfish actions were making this less and less of a reality – and at that point and the direction we were headed- it seemed like there really was no possibility of this happening.

We were at a point where we couldn’t even think about just one day without a paycheck.  We were literally one paycheck away from bankruptcy – but the Lord spared us by the skin of our teeth.

So here we were: pregnant, happy and so incredibly elated about this new budding life that would arrive in our lives in less than 9 months.  What were we going to do in 9 months to help us get to the point we needed for me to be a stay-at-home mom?

But before we tell you how we started, let us tell you what we didn’t do to get started:

  • We didn’t declare bankruptcy
  • We didn’t get a second mortgage to suck up the debt (more on this later)
  • We didn’t go through a credit counselor
  • We didn’t default or foreclose on any of our loans
  • We DID work hard, learn on our own how to do it and dug ourselves out only by the grace of God.  He allowed all of these things to work out so that we did not have to do anything drastic (other than hard work) to get out of it.

We want to provide you the context for this because one or more of these are some of the first questions we receive when people are curious how we got out of our debt.  Many often assume that we used a credit counselor, got a second mortgage to eat it (which is NOT paying it off but rather just hiding it) or something along these lines.

So we’ll continue our story and now start on the details of how we dug out of the debt hole we found ourselves drowning in.

We were so lost as to where to even begin, we didn’t know what to do, where to start…. nothing!  We hadn’t talked to any friends or family (probably because of our pride and shame) and so we didn’t have any advice from anyone that we knew.

But one thing that was clear to us was that we had to stop spending right that moment! We shouldn’t buy anything, go out to eat, travel, not go to the mall – nothing except for the absolute basics until we could figure out where to start.

Shortly after starting our “spending fast,” two things happened that same week that started putting our thoughts together on how we could start paying this off.

Alex had run across the Dave Ramsey radio show and for once in his life, actually decided to listen to what he was saying.  We knew who Dave Ramsey was, but hadn’t ever truly listened to his words of wisdom in the area of debt.  We did not own any of his materials and was only going off of the tidbits of information that Alex picked up from his radio show.  Those ideas were to stop spending, cut back your budget, and bring in more income.

Well, duh, that made sense! Why didn’t we think of that! :)

But the question was “how” and “where” should we cut our budget and “how” could we increase our income.

So the second thing that happened, while we were leafing the newspaper we came across that infamous coupon packet in the Sunday newspaper.  It was then and there we decided to cut back our grocery budget by using magic money called “coupons!”  We put ourselves on a spending fast, but there are some things we couldn’t cut out – food and gasoline to get to work.  The gas situation didn’t change at this time, except that by not going other places and only driving to work we were able to cut our gas budget slightly.  We also had no food storage or supply.  We could not simply go without food.

So here’s how this went, we picked up two  Sunday newspaper the following week.  That Monday, Alex left for work in the morning and I was determined to plan a strategic shopping list and menu based off of the coupons.

I started organizing and cutting coupons that morning right before Alex left.  Alex came home for lunch and I was still on the floor cutting and organizing coupons.  Alex was a bit shocked about the amount of time I was spending doing this, but I assured him that “these were like money, so my time will be worth it!”

Well, Alex came home and we scrounged a dinner together with the bits of food we actually had in our home before our first ever “free money” shopping trip.

Well, I was ready to go grocery shopping, I had my coupons and my plan and Walmart was the place to go since they had the lowest prices.  Why wouldn’t you use coupons on the lowest prices, right?

Well, here’s how it went:

First aisle and first attempt to use a coupon!

Me: “look babe, here’s the coupon for this cereal, let’s find it and get this one to ‘save money!’

Alex: “well, look here babe, the generic is still cheaper than the name brand with this coupon…. so I guess we will save more money by getting the generic version.

Second aisle and second attempt to use a coupon! 

Me: “look babe, here’s the coupon for this pasta, let’s find it and get this one to ‘save money!’

Alex: “well, look here babe, the generic is still cheaper than the name brand with this coupon…. so I guess we will save more money by getting the generic version.

Third aisle and third attempt….. well, you get the idea!

So as our shopping trip was continuing, honestly we were both quite frustrated and I wanted to cry. Alex was frustrated that I spent the whole day to save money with nothing to show for it (we probably used one coupon for the whole trip).  I was frustrated that it wasn’t working.  As you can probably imagine we were both irritable and cranky which didn’t make for pleasant conversation or a productive one on what we were going to do next.  Whatever were we going to do??

Stay tuned as we continue our story! 

If you’re new to the series or just want to catch up, we encourage you to check out our whole Deep in Debt to Debt Free series from the stories below:

Alex & Cassie
 

19 Clever Uses for Baking Soda in the Kitchen

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 21, 2014

19-clever-uses-for-baking-soda-in-the-kitchen

Every thrifty home should have Baking Soda on hand! It is such an amazing, simple, natural product that does so much good around the home. It is also very cheap!

In fact, many of your household cleaning and deodorizing questions will be answered with baking soda.

Today, we are going to share the uses of Baking Soda in your kitchen!

Here we go!

On Appliances:

  • Dishwasher Cleaner: Pour a bunch on the bottom of a dishwasher. Then pour some vinegar and lemon oil or juice and run the dishwasher for a non-toxic dishwasher cleaner!
  • Coffee Maker Cleaner: Clean the coffee maker by running it with a a few table spoons in the coffee grounds spot. Then follow up with another run of just water to rinse it all away.
  • Fridge Odor Neutralizer: Keep a box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors.  Also clean with a paste of baking soda and lemon oil to remove even more odors when you clean your fridge.
  • Oven Cleaner: Clean your oven by spraying water all over.  Then sprinkle baking soda on top. Let it soak for 30+ minutes and come back with steel wool and scrub away. Then wipe with a wet rag and rinse until clean.

For Cooking/Food:

  • Clean produce: Make a natural fruit and vegetable cleaner HERE.
  • Remove odors and stains on skin: If you get garlic or onion odors or food stains on your hands from cooking, pour some baking soda on your hands, add a bit of water to make a paste, scrub your hands and nail and then rinse the odors and stains away!
  • Stop a kitchen fire! Stop an oil fire by covering the fire in baking soda!
  • Create Crystal Clear Iced Tea: Clear your brewed iced teas with a pinch of baking soda – this clears up the cloudiness that brewed teas create.
  • Tenderize Meats: Tenderize meat by rubbing the outside of the raw meat in baking soda.  Soak in the fridge for a few hours and then rinse away before preparing to cook!

For Cleaning:

  • Garbage Disposer and Drain Cleaner: Clean and disinfect the garbage disposer or pipes by pouring baking soda down the drain or disposer, then follow up with vinegar.  Let it set overnight and then run water down the drain and turn on the disposer.  You can make this super effective by also mixing in lemon oil into the dry baking soda in the first step.
  • Eliminate Trash Can Odors: Absorb trash can odors by sprinkling baking soda on the bottom of the can or even the bottom of the bag. 
  • Wood Surface Cleaner: Clean wooden cooking surfaces and cutting boards by liberally sprinkling baking soda over the wooden board.  Then follow up with vinegar and scrub and rinse clean.
  • Baking Pan Cleaner: Clean metal baking pans by sprinkling baking soda.  Add just enough vinegar to make it paste like and rub it all over the baking pan.  Let it soak for 30+ minutes. Come back with steel wool and scrub away and rinse clean!
  • Greasy Dish Cleaner: For extra greasy dishes, add a tablespoon or two of baking soda to your dishwater. This will help the degreasing of those dishes!
  • Clean-Up Grease: For any spill of grease, sprinkle baking soda and wipe away with a disposable cloth and then follow up with sponge or rag that is dipped in baking soda to clean the remaining residue.
  • Deodorize Smelly Kitchen Rags: If you get a smelly kitchen rag, soak it in a bowl of hot water and baking soda for a few minutes. Squeeze it and then reuse, or place in the laundry room to be washed (without sitting in the hamper being stinky!)
  • Deep Clean Kitchen Rugs: When you wash your kitchen rugs, add baking soda to the wash to help remove odors even further than your wash soap alone!
  • Make your own cleaners: a natural mold and mildew remover to clean these areas of your kitchen HERE, and Natural Heavy Duty spray cleaner with Baking Soda HERE.

For Pest Control:

  • Trap Roaches: Baking soda is toxic for some pests like roaches. Mix baking soda with sugar and set it out.  The sugar attracts and the baking soda poisons them.

An extra note:

Baking soda and lemon essential oil are like the PB&J of natural cleaning! They are an incredible pair in the kitchen!  Just mix the oil with dry baking soda before using to up the power of baking soda and to make things also antibacterial! Learn more about Lemon Essential Oil HERE.

Where to Get Baking Soda 

arm-hammer-baking-soda-sm

First, know that the more you buy at once, the cheaper it is! You can get the small boxes of this for about .50 for generic 1 lb. box in the grocery store.  This is the typical cardboard box size and if you start to use baking soda like we do, this will not get you far!

So, you can get a 2-lb. box for $1.25 at Walmart in the laundry section.  Or you can get a 12-lb. bag for $8 at Walmart.

But even better,  you can get a 13.5 lb. bag at Costco and Sam’s Club for around $6.50.  This is what we use and this is the best price we have found.

See more Homemade Products and Frugal Tips

See Our Pinterest Boards for Even More Frugal Living Ideas

Alex & Cassie
 

Amazon Sale: Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper Only .38 Each Double Roll Shipped FREE

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 21, 2014

quilted-ultra-plush-sm

Amazon has a great deal on Quilted Northern Ultra Plush Toilet Paper 48 – double rolls (96 rolls equivalent) for only .38 each double roll which is .19 per roll when you choose the subscribe and save option in the top right corner. This is the best price we have seen on this brand for a very long time! 

This deal is great too because you can shop from home and it will be shipped to you for FREE!

Here’s how to get 48-double rolls Quilted Northern Ultra Plus Toilet Paper for $18.15 shipped!

Amazon’s prices can change at any time.

See more Amazon Deals

Please note:  the 5-15% discount is for the Subscribe and Save option.  Amazon states that you can cancel subscribe and save at any time, including right after the order.  So if you do not intend to continue having them automatically delivered, cancel the subscribe and save soon after so you do not forget (wait for your items to ship before canceling as it will cancel your current order)!

Alex & Cassie
 

How To Stop Damping Off: Dealing with the Mold and Fungus On Seedlings

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 21, 2014

how-to-prevent-damping-off-mold-and-fungus-on-seedlings

We have been vegetable gardening for a few years now and there is one issue that has come up on occasion when starting our seeds inside – it is called “damping off.” This is basically mold or fungus that develops in the soil or at the base of your seedlings.  You do want to get rid of this as it can cause disease and damage to your seeds, plants and crops.

It is usually caused from overwatering and/or too much humidity.  When we plant our seedlings, we mist to water with a spray bottle and cover with plastic wrap.  Once they have sprouted, we then water with a little bit of water and keep uncovered.  If you overwater, you can use a fan to help dry out the excess water.

If damping off does occur, here’s some natural ways to take care of it! Do this at the first signs of damping off or mold!

  • Start with clean or new seed starting pots.  If you are reusing any pots, be sure to wash in hot soapy water rinsed well to kill and get rid of old bacteria from previous plantings.
  • If damping off occurs, try one or more of these methods to “nip it in the bud!” (Pun intended!)
    • In a 32 oz spray bottle, mix 1 TBSP (or 1/2 ounce) of 3% hydrogen peroxide with water. Mist your seedlings with this mixture to cure damping off.
    • In a 32 oz spray bottle, mix 2-4 TBSPs of strong brewed chamomile tea and mist seedlings to cure damping off.
    • Sprinkle your seedlings with ground cinnamon.
    • Spring your seedlings with ground activated charcoal.

Any of these methods to help prevent and cure the damping off.  The best one we have found has been cinnamon – it is also the easiest as you can pull it out of your spice cabinet and sprinkle it on! You may need to repeat any of the above until the problem is resolved!

How have you cured damping off on your seedlings? 

See more Gardening Tips

See our Gardening Pinterest Board

Alex & Cassie
 

All You Magazine Subscription Deal At .83 Per Issue (The Coupon and Savings Magazine)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie on April 21, 2014

all-you-mothers-day-sale-2013

This is a very rare opportunity for All You Magazine, this time last year was the last time it was offered. So if you missed it last April, you can nab it this time!

This comes out to be only .83 per issue, which is virtually un-heard of!

If you have tried to save money or live a frugal life-style in any way, then you have probably come across one of the most popular magazines for couponers and frugal thinkers alike – All You Magazine.  It is one of our favorites and one of the best magazines out there for the money-savers.  But, you may have also noticed that due to it’s high demand and popularity, it rarely goes on sale!

Well, for a short time, there are two great deals on this magazine!

If you are not familiar with this popular magazine, make sure to check out more information on what each issue of ALL YOU contains! We often find most coupons are higher value than other coupon sources and most are exclusive to All You Magazine as well!

So here’s the deal, All you sells exclusively at Walmart for $2.49 each issue, you can subscribe for the online promotional price of $20 for the year.  But, you can get it for 50% off the lowest subscription price with their 2 for 1 sale.  You can get 2 subscriptions for at the promotional price of $19.92.  This is .83 per issue!

So what this means is 4 things: (Please note, you should also be able to extend any current subscriptions on this deal too)

  1. Get double subscriptions for double the coupons for your own family, or
  2. Give a free gift to your Mother, friend, or anyone else that would benefit from this magazine, or
  3. Split the cost with a friend who has been wanting to get this magazine and each of you will get a subscription for only .83 each issue!
  4. If you already have a subscription, you can bless two other people for the cost of 1 with a gift subscription!

Click HERE for your 2 for 1 Subscription Deal to ALL YOU Magazine that comes out to be .83 Each Issue


There is also a second promotion that isn’t quite as good as the first, but still decent! You can subscribe to All You magazine for 1 year (12 issues) for only $12, which is $1 an issue.

Click HERE for the $1 per issue deal on All You Magazine

Both of these sales end April 30, 2014.

Disclaimer: We receive a commission for All You subscriptions purchased through the link above, but we only post a deal on this magazine when we honestly think there is one. Thank you for supporting our site if you choose to order this magazine deal through our site.

Alex & Cassie