The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor

April

The Architect

Clay

Let’s figure out this coupon thing.

If you have been following the whole ‘April Learns How to Use a Coupon’ adventure, then you will appreciate that I’m actually putting forth some effort.

First I started buying coupons at The Coupon Clippers because for a nimrod like me it was so easy and the sight isn’t cluttered with a bunch of crap or cwap as my daughter would say. I’ve spent under $20 on coupons and to date I’ve saved over $80 on items that I would normally buy without a coupon. I’ve also noticed that I’m stocked with stuff that I usually have to buy every month. I have 5 bottles of Softscrub, 6 boxes of tampons, 4 bottles of lotion and on and on just because I was able to save a ton by using my coupons.

I’ve finally got in the swing of looking at the sale’s fliers for my local grocery store and yes, I look at them online and I figured out they come out every Tuesday…… I know, I’m a genius! I also learned that I can load coupons onto my grocery card. Yes, it’s true, so I loaded some coupons onto my card last night and when I buy that item the coupon will automatically ring up when the cashier swipes my card, plus I can use a manufacturer’s coupon along with it and save even more! I sound like a pro don’t I?!!!

I’m also in the process of figuring out CVS and Walgreens. I found a great sight that has tutorials for both stores and has links to great coupon places. Go here to learn all about it.

Okay, so let’s go back to the question; Are coupons worth it? I’m going to vote YES! The first time I used a bunch of coupons on items that I buy on a regular basis and watched my bill decrease by $40, well, that was all the proof I needed.

I have to admit I still have a lot to learn, but by golly it’s a bit of a rush to see just how much I can save.

Now if you need some inspiration to start saving I recommend these sights;

Retail Anarchy
– Written by our own Jean Martha’s/ Renovation Therapy/ I love Upstate’s fiance. Sam has a book and a documentary and a bunch of radio podcasts that focus on how to save money on groceries and basically figuring out how to declare retail anarchy. I also love that he put together a list that he calls Deal Sites.

Be A Blessing– Great tutorials for learning how to use CVS and Walgreens sales.

Savvy Savings Tucson– Written by cookbook author Stephanie Ashcraft. The girl has great deals listed on her sight and she’s a coupon queen.

I know there are tons of sights out there and many of you initially pointed me in the direction that has led me to where I am now, so thank you my dear cheap/frugal readers for helping me learn what a frickin‘ coupon is and how I can use it.

You can’t save the world, but you can save some money so get out there and try!

A story about April written by Clay

**Guest post by Clay

April and I had been married a couple months and April was still in her “I don’t like Clay very much” phase of life, partially because we lived in a small, ramshackle rental house, it was a pit…with a back stoop.

It was a Saturday morning, April was heading out to work at the animal hospital and I was still in my big red bathrobe sporting some major bed head. I said goodbye to April and heard the screen door slam behind her. Then I heard the “incident.” My first indication that something was amiss was when I heard an ear piercing shriek and five or six terrified “CLAAAAAYYYs.” I know that many of you haven’t had the pleasure of April’s spine-tingling, terrified shrieks, but I am the recipient of one every four or five minutes. They usually happen when a bug is within 25 feet of the house, but they also happen when she is in a room and I come in and “scare” her. They go something like this:

April: [doing something and more often than not, having a conversation with herself] “oh yes, thank you for asking, I’ve been a professional blogger for many years now and…”
ME: [bang, bang, bang…that’s me walking into the room, very loudly] “um….April”

April:SHHRRRRIIIEEEEEEKKKKK!!! WHY DO YOU ALWAYS SNEAK UP ON ME!!!”
ME: I’m sorry. [At this point I usually just back out of the room with my hands in a “don’t be mad” sort of way.]

I get blamed for floating in and scaring her on purpose but this has happened to other people as well so I know it’s not just me. It even happened to one poor sap who was walking in front of our house…on the sidewalk, you know, where people usually walk. April was clipping a hedge at the time. It went something like this:

April: [Clip, clip, clip] “oh yes, thank you for asking, I’ve been a master gardener for many years now and…”
Man on the Street: [bang, bang, bang…that’s the guy walking on the sidewalk, very loudly] “Hello”
April: SHHRRRRIIIEEEEEEKKKKK!!! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR DOING!” Man on the Street: I’m sorry. [Man backs away with his hands up.]

Anyway, the hair-raising shrieks happened and I, being a dutiful husband, ran to her aid through the back door and stopped…and stared…and was confused. April was lying high sided on her stomach about two steps down with her head facing downhill and her arms and legs behind her body as if she was a skydiver gaining speed before the chute opens.

There were only four steps. She was high sided on the second step. I stood there and wondered, “Does she really need me to help her up? I mean, all she has to do is put her hands down. Is she trying to slide across the yard? How did she get into that position in the first place? She was only out here for about three seconds. What the heck?”

All the while, the shrieks and screams continued until April craned her head around and saw me standing there, kind of stupefied. She gathered that I wasn’t reaching down to help her so she turned down the volume…slowly and started to rise to her feet…slowly. In those three or four minutes I had the chance to look down at myself and notice that my robe was wide open and my lily white boxers and my lily white skin were gleaming in the sunlight. And I’m not kidding about the colors. I don’t tan a lick and I have very clean underwear. In fact, they were pretty much the same shade of bright, especially for anyone who squints or happens to be standing more than 15 feet away.

I raised my eyes past April as she rolled back and forth enough to gain the momentum to get up and saw our back-door neighbor standing slack jawed and shirtless watching the whole thing. Sigh. This very neighbor also happened to be holding all the materials for installing a new mailbox and was heading for the very spot where his old mailbox used to be. In the very spot where April, two days prior, had run aground with our car sending his old mailbox hurling halfway up his yard. And that happened right before she peeled out and left the scene while I stood there just shaking my head. So what was I going to do? I gave him a pleasant “how you doing” wave, a “this kind of stuff happens all the time” smirk, a “I hope your project goes well” thumbs up, and a “what kind of person would bash your mailbox and not pay for it” shrug. Then I closed my robe, turned and walked back into the house.

I think my wife might have made it to work on time with most of her pride splattered on the back stoop, but I didn’t hang around long enough to check.

The millionaire in the patched overalls.

You people warm the cockles of my, my, my….what is that saying? You warm the cockles of my heart?

Anyway, thank you for all the kind words and prayers sent our way and especially for Virginia. She has been surrounded by her children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and her house is full of love and warmth right now.

Clay and I went over a couple nights ago to deliver some food and we had the immense pleasure of sitting down at the kitchen table to share a couple of beers and watch the end of a basketball game with two of Ramone’s sons and one of the grandsons.

I was amazed at how accomplished are Ramone and Virginia’s children. A lawyer, a high ranking Navy officer, an engineer, an accountant were just some of the professions in the house that night.

Ramone valued education for his children. His kids were one of the first families to attend the private school in town and then he made certain that all of his children went to college.

It made me take a good hard look at their lifestyle. Ramone didn’t believe in credit. He borrowed money to buy his first house, but not from the bank. He borrowed the money from a strange wealthy man that rode his bicycle everywhere he needed to go and his house was filthy. Ramone was worried that the man would lose the title to his house in the mess so he worked overtime and weekends at the railroad and paid off the debt in a matter of months.

Can you imagine paying off your home in less than a year?!

Ramone still owns that home and a few others……all paid for. I remember Ramone scoffing at me when I told him I couldn’t afford to do something because I had a mortgage. He was right to scoff. What are we doing?! We take on so much debt for things we can’t buy! Ramone viewed debt as disgraceful, humiliating a failure.

I view debt as a bridge from point A to point Fairyland.

By living a simple, uncomplicated life Ramone was able to provide more than just the basics for his family. He drove old beat up trucks (most of them are still on his property being used for storage), mended his fences with bailing twine, patched the holes in his jeans, heated his house with a wood stove and grew his own beef and vegetables.

What an admirable way to live.

He left his wife with a suitable income and his children occupy the homes he bought. Even as an elderly man he was ensuring his family had all they needed and more. In return they are all at his house now comforting Virginia, taking care of the cows and honoring the memory of their patriarch.

I think we might all learn a thing or two from Ramone. I think it’s true that most of the wealthiest people in America don’t look wealthy.