I have been teasingly called “the crazy coupon lady”, this is a tittle I wear with pride. I love coupons because they enable me to feed my family of five well within a budget. Staying in the budget by using coupons as enabled me to peruse my dreams as well. For seventeen years, since graduating high school in 1995, I have wanted to attend college. Two years ago I began working toward my Associates in Science Degree at a local community college. I could not have achieved my goal without coupons.

Three years ago I was a 35 year old stay at home mother of three, military wife with minimal marketable assets. My staying home allowed me amazing years of watching my girls grow up. It also enabled us to avoid child care costs, which would have consumed the majority of my paycheck. To stretch our one income I thrift shopped, went to yard sales, bartered with friends, grew a garden, and I used all the coupons I could find. My efforts have kept my daughters feed, clothed, and appreciative of all they have. They are an active part in my couponing now, and shopping is a family event that both educates and involves them.

I had found a way to survive and thrive on one income however not to fund perusing college. As my youngest neared Kindergarten, I began rethinking my place in our family since all three of my daughters would be in school soon. I still only had a high school diploma, although I did not have the expense of child care anymore, the pay rates being offered were low. I knew I was worth more. I knew I needed to go back to school. What I did not know was how I was going to pay for it.

My husband and I sat down and I told him of my desire to go to school, which I am pretty sure he already knew. He thanked me for being such a good mom, supportive of his military commitments, and for all the couponing and other things I do to stretch our money. Then he offered me his Post 911 GI Bill. My books and classes would be paid! The only thing left to figure out was funding extra gas expenses or afterschool care two days a week while I would be in classes.

The solution to the extra expenses came from a tried and true method-coupons. I was watching “Extreme Couponing” one day and realized while some of the people on there were over the top, I may be able to learn something from them. I began watching more episodes, consulting the internet, researching local stores coupons policies, and joining couponing groups in my area. I gathered as much information as I could find and began applying the techniques I learned to my weekly shopping trips. Soon I was saving twice as much as I had previously.

A note from us at I’m In:  We can help you save at your favorite stores at I’m In!

In 2013 I saved over $3,000 at Stop & Shop alone. This year, 2014, I have already saved over $2,000 at Stop & Shop. Coupons are making my dream come true. I am in college for the first time in my life, because of tiny slips of paper which many toss in the garbage. Coupons do not only influence my purchasing decisions, they also influence my life decisions.