Here is a little background of my family and our life:
When Tom and I first got married we were broke – I was working at a fast food joint, Tom was in college full time and working over nights for a security company. Money was tight and we knew that we needed to do something to make our life better and so Tom enlisted in the Air Force in July 2005. Thankfully I had always been one to find the best deal for my money and so that continued as our life together got started. Using coupons to make the little money that we had go as far as it could was essential to us being able to survive and with no wiggle room in the budget the drastic life change to being a military family was essential for us.
Tom went to basic training from July 2005 – December 2005 and I was home with our oldest daughter living with my parents. Once done with Basic Training we moved to New Jersey – 2 days after Christmas! Life was better then it had been, the budget had a little more wiggle room, we all had heath insurance and a house of our own, on base.
In May 2006 we found out that we were having baby number 2 and then a few weeks later we found out that Tom was deploying which made our world change again. He was deployed in Afghanistan from August 2006 until December 2006, coming home just a few days before Christmas. I went through my pregnancy with an 18 month old at home myself which had challenges of its own and while deployed Tom dislocated his shoulder and I ended up having a high risk pregnancy and he was sent home. While being home myself as a “single parent” I learned alot about myself and ways to make the nights that I was alone be bearable. Our tight budget got tighter with the arrival of a new baby and when our son was 6 months old I got a job – at yet another fast food joint.
At this time I was using coupons but not to the full extent and it was tiring on us all. Family time was limited with us both working and it just was not the way we wanted things to be. We realized after a few months that me working was not really helping because instead of me cooking they ended up eating out (which not only costs a lot of money but it is not a healthy food to eat) and so I went searching for a way to make our life better.
Couponing was my answer – HotCouponWorld.com was what came up in the google search when I searched “How to save a ton of money using coupons”. Since I knew I could and had always saved money using them I was hoping I would find a way to save even more using them. My first spark was when I was looking at an Acme ad and saw crutons at $1, and I had .50 off 1 coupons and Acme doubles making them free. I showed hubby pictures of people’s stockpiles and how much they were saving useing coupons in mass quantities. That was it for us, hubby and I talked it over and it was decided, as soon as I built up a small stockpile I would quit my job(a God send that there were issues at the place I worked and I ended up quitting before our decided date). While I spent many hours looking for deals and at the store(about 4 hours a week, much better then the 40 i was working) , I could now do my prep while everyone was in bed and then go to the store when hubby got home from work and be back with in an hour and we could all sit down for dinner, have family time and hubby and I were able to spend time together almost every night. We ended up being able to stretch our budget further then we ever did before, we were able to afford the healthy options for everyone instead of Tom and I living off sandwiches and Tuna helper (since no matter we always made sure the kids ate heathy). The money saving ways stretched to our dining out and stockpiling kids clothing which once I learned how to master scoring kids clothes at an awesome price I felt we were set. Our stockpile helped us be able to do things that we never thought we would be able to do like have 2 cars instead of dealing with having to share one.
With the money I saved couponing friends were asking me how I did it and I started this blog (Which was then MidgetMomma’s 1200 Budget, where I documented spending only $1200 a year on our groceries and personal care products).
When I went back to school in 2009, we had a nice size stockpile that made cooking dinner easy for my husband, and easy for me to shop since I was just filling in the gaps as we used the stockpile. It also made life a lot easier, since at the time I was also pregnant with our third baby, going to school at night, being a SAHM during the day and everything else that comes along with having kids, a hubby, 2 cats and a house.
In 2010 our world changed again when Tom was put on temporary medical retirement from the Air Force because his injury from his deployment did not get better to where he could stay active duty. Thankfully we had a heads up and were able to save money to cover the time it would take to find him a job. We ended up moving in with my parents for a year and in the midst of a house half packed getting ready to move to Pennsylvania I told Tom I was taking the jump – I was going to go from being a blog that was free on blogger to a .com that I would be able to own my own content. A choice I am sure he thought was crazy, that spending $300 while he was about to have no job and I should have been packing but I did it. In the time that Tom was unemployed, he supported my adventure (although at times I am sure he wanted nothing more then for me to toss in the towel and go get a job – but with just my associates degree any job I got would do nothing more then pay for daycare once he found another job.
After living with my parents for a year it was to the point where no matter how much I loved my parents and they loved us that 2 families in one house was just not going to work. Tom had put in for the GI Bill to go back to school and finally got the ok so In 2011 (the day before Thanksgiving) we moved to New Jersey. We took a leap hoping that it would get us back to a point where we could be both be working and bringing in an income. Tom started school and the hunt for a job.
In May 2012 Tom got a job! It was an exciting time in our house and a big change for us all – me especially. I had gotten used to him being home and doing the stay at home thing while I worked and worked to grow MidgetMomma.com and as excited as I was for him I was scared as well. I was about to be a work at home Mom – with no help while he was at work. The job Tom got was in Philly Pa and we were living 5 minutes outside the military base where we were stationed when Active Duty and so the hunt to move was on and in December 2012 we moved to Southern New Jersey – again with another leap and a hope of faith that we would be able to make it.
In April of 2014 we finally reached a long term goal of ours and bought our first house! It was a tough choice for us because we LOVED living in Southern New Jersey but the cost of living there is much higher then where we are now and finding a house that met our needs turned out to be a really big challenge. So I took a day trip up to the Poconos where Tom and I are both originally from to look at a few houses and ended up falling in love with one that is not far from my parents and put in an offer that day (yes with out Tom seeing it, he did see it online though 😉 ) A few weeks later it was time to sign the dotted lines that would make us home owners and have our life adventure lead us back to where we came from. While I love and miss New Jersey like crazy I am loving being close to my parents again where my kids can grow their relationship with my parents and I love the house.
In my free time now I spend way to much time on pinterest looking at ideas for the house, which is going to amount to lots of DIY posts because I have a an expensive taste that doesn’t work well with my budget 😉
Through out everything we have always been money conscious – we had to be or we would have drowned (even then still had times we were pretty close) and while now we are better off then we have ever been in our lives our past stays with us. We use coupons to save money and now instead of using them to just put food on the table we are using them so we can do things like visit new places (like we did this May going to Disney) and now working on hunting for a house so we can finally own our own home.
While you are here take a peek around and enjoy and we will see you again soon 🙂
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