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It's Christmas Year Round! Save $100's to $1000's and not go into debt

This is one topic that got me started on learning tips, tricks and hacks that's created Personal Financial Savings for Anyone at KeepOurMoney.com. My family decided that I would be a SAHM. My ex-husband worked was well trained in the Navy but couldn't be certified to do the same job without having to waste the money to go back through civilian school to learn what he already knew, so he had a just barely over minimum wage job. We shared a house with my parents and lived paycheck to paycheck with some payday loans in between. I was an extreme couponer before it was mainstream to make ends meet. And we had two daughters, Vanessa was about 3 and Taylor about 1 when I started establishing every way I could find to stretch a dollar.


This was in the infancy of the Internet being in every house...when Martha Stewart was tiling her pool with AOL CD's and when the dot com bubble was filling fast. I learned quickly to start my own discount code page and became an "affiliate" of every major store I could find to be an affiliate with. That made be about $250 a month on commissions. I'd spend my mornings looking for new promo codes to post and email on my e-zine and Deals of the Day while my girls watched cartoons. Some of the deals back then were FANCY... like when one long busted dot com retailer misprinted a coupon code with an extra 0. $100 off $100 purchase instead of $10 off $100. I used up every email address we had in the family and bought up 6 clearanced Seiko watches originally $350, marked down to $99 plus a pair $2 gloves to put it over $100 along with Free Shipping over $59 purchase. That was the year my friends got Seiko watches for Birthdays. This was a time that Toys R Us would allow you to punch in the SKU codes from the Sunday paper printed coupons for purchases on their website that were marked down 30% cheaper than in store. I found a small website called MyPoints.com that if I figured out if I linked through my own affiliate link and then clicked through MyPoints link before shopping, I could get my 5% affiliate points PLUS get points on MyPoints to exchange for gift cards. I could do surveys and get points for what I was already doing anyway. We're switching our cable company? Hang on, let me put the order in through MyPoints. That year, I earned enough on MyPoints to redeem for $300 in Walmart Gift Cards that we used for (FREE) Christmas shopping. And I've been doing that ever since to Save $100's


It was also a time when you could pay a "service fee" of a nickel for any coupon valued up to 50 cents and a dime for every coupon up to $1 to order mass coupons from the coasts where the coupon values were higher than the Midwest. All stores double dollared the coupons and most would double the coupon above the price of the item you were purchasing. So, Sundays were my days to put in my orders for $1 coupons that felt like slot machine jackpots to find on items that cost only $1.00 or $1.29 because those babies would double up to $2.00 and I had $0.71 or $100 "credit" to go toward the groceries I really needed. It was totally worth paying $2 for 20 $1 off AIM toothpaste coupons that cost $1.09 here to get the extra $18.20 "credit." But, what to do with 20 tubes of AIM toothpaste that my family didn't even like? I donated them to the Homeless and Sexual Assault centers.


The best trip ever.... i plotted, planned and spreadsheeted aisle to aisle, coupon to coupon. IF my magical Excel had it figured right, I was looking at 90% off. My parents and I went on that trip and filled 8 carts, every item having a coupon in the 4 inch thick stack I had. Halfway through shopping, I sent my mom to the front with two full carts to park and to tell the front end supervisor, we had a HUGE order getting ready to come through. We had two more carts each and by the time we got to the checkout, they had a checker and a bagger ready for us. My mom was a nervous wreck as the check rang up everything $200.... $450..... $600.... $785. She had to leave at least twice to go smoke cigarettes out front. My dad just watched. Other customers came down and were parked with their purchased items in cart all around watching when the cashier took THE STACK of coupons and that's when it started going back down..... $602.... $509... $379....$229.... $169 .... as my Dad's grin got bigger and bigger. People watching started betting..... all the way down to $68 and some change before tax. Somewhere in this house of mine, I still have that receipt rolled up with a rubber band around it about the size of half the entire receipt roll.


We didn't have to purchase trash bags, dryer sheets, rice, dish soap, light bulbs, bar soap, toilet paper, soup, sponges, toilet cleaner, Kix cereal, and a few other things I've long forgotten for over a year! I donated in total 48 tubes of toothpaste, 32 bottles of shampoo, 24 boxes of tampons, 18 bags of maxi pads, 20 toothbrushes and more I don't remember to one of the homeless shelters, and got a receipt, but since it cost nothing after the coupons, I never thought there was a deduction. It wasn't until about 5 years later, it occurred to me as I was reading on the charitable deduction page while filing taxes the term "FAIR MARKET VALUE" on some furniture we'd donated to Goodwill....... "HEY..... wait a minute! All this time I've been donating toothpaste and soaps to these shelters and groups and the FAIR MARKET VALUE of all that stuff is the SHELF PRICE, NOT what I've been paying for it which was nothing!" That changed everything.


Now, not only was I making money as "credit" towards my own groceries from the dollars doubling on items priced less than $1, but after that I could deduct the FULL MARKET VALUE on what I was donating from out taxes. I was essentially doing all of our annual grocery shopping at NO COST. Then came the advent of rewards apps..... MyPoints, Ibotta, Kik, Fetch, and many more that -- WAIT.... I get points for buying this stuff, that I can save up all year and redeem for gift cards and I can use those gift cards to do Christmas shopping!? SO NOW, I was getting Christmas gifts for my kids for FREE?!


And the rest of it all slowly unfolded and developed into all of the knowledge I share over 6 1/2 hours in Personal Financial Savings for Anyone so we can Keep Our Money.


WELCOME to the BLOG where I'll share deals, provide info, give course snippets and provided general information a couple of times per week!


AND BY THE WAY -- I know it's MAY --- NOW is the time to start Christmas Shopping on CLEARANCE .... there are holiday items, winter clothes, coats, boots and toys at every major retail up to 80%-90% off! Buy now, SAVE that money, and don't go into debt in December!


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Learn more at www.KeepOurMoney.com

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