A Year in Review

By ERIN TURNER

Today, I celebrate my one year anniversary of writing the Save It blog for the awesome Make It Missoula website.

When I told my husband it had been a year, he said, “Who would have guessed you could write 52 blogs about couponing and saving money!?”

I couldn’t agree more! But what I discovered over the year was with each blog idea more ideas were born and my list of topics kept growing.

In addition, your comments and questions inspired many of the blogs. I have realized the conversation of couponing and saving money is never-ending. In these hard economic times, people yearn to discuss new ways of approaching money and methods for saving it.

Never before has our society had an economic downturn yet had access to be connected with the entire world via the internet. This resource has allowed people to share fears, ideas, challenges, and knowledge. Through the ability to connect with others who share a desire to manage their budgets, we’ve been able to form communities of support which encourage and give hope.

We may still be in a recession, but we have the means to push beyond the rain and find the rainbow. People are discovering a new found joy in a simpler way of life, they are stronger and more independent as they control their spending and there seems to be an increased awareness of reusing, recycling, and repurposing which not only benefits the pocketbook but also the planet.

Erin Turner celebrates her one-year anniversary of writing for Make it Missoula.

Erin Turner celebrates her one-year anniversary of writing for Make it Missoula with a pantryparty.

I hope through my first 52 blogs, you have learned something new and maybe been inspired.

I know I have learned a lot over the year from you and others. When I started, I thought I fell into the “extreme couponing” category. What I quickly learned after watching the programs and reading other blogs, is my form of couponing isn’t “extreme,” rather it is smart and resourceful.

I don’t coupon just to prove to others how much I can acquire. Rather, I view coupons as my currency and use them in order to dictate the price I am willing to pay for items, thus stretching my dollar as far as it will go.

This type of couponing is a more realistic approach and can be used by the majority of people. I’m so happy to know a few of you who converted over to couponing after reading the blog and I hope there are more of you out there. Couponing changes lives!

A year ago, I was in the stocking-up mode. I worked very hard last winter and spring to buy the household essentials for super cheap or even free. I even inspired my husband to hop on the couponing band wagon, which increased our saving power even more.

This stocking-up paid off when summer came around and we were too busy with gardens, livestock, and summertime fun to shop or coupon. Then we spent the fall replenishing our stockpile.

I’m so excited to announce that starting February 1, we are entering into a Pantry Challenge where we will live off of the food in our freezer and pantry for an entire month. This means no grocery stores for a whole month! Can you imagine how much that will save?

Now, we do have some flexibility: We will still watch for some rock-bottom prices and coupon match-ups but only if they are a screaming deal. Our youngest son has a birthday this month so that may include a grocery stop for ice cream (of course, the cake will be homemade!).

By making these accommodations, we have a better chance at being successful in our challenge because we are adapting to our lifestyle needs. That is a huge key factor in any type of couponing or money-saving endeavor. If you don’t make it adaptable to your lifestyle, you won’t succeed!

Be sure to read next week’s blog where I line out our challenge and talk about how we plan to accomplish this goal – and what we’ll do with all the cash we hopefully will save! It’s so rewarding to have reached this level of couponing that we can actually consider doing this challenge. See what is possible with couponing?

Writing this blog over the year has truly pushed me to be more conscious about frugality. If I’m at the store and considering throwing a full-priced item into the cart without a coupon, I quickly remember there is an audience out there to whom I am accountable.

In order to create new blogs each week, I am constantly looking for new ideas or gathering tips from others. So I am grateful to this blog for keeping me on track and keeping me honest in my own quest for frugality.

On the lighter side, I also have learned to plan my blog pictures earlier instead of waiting until the deadline to snap them. My poor family has had to endure many shots in their pajamas or in their dirty work clothes. This next year, I promise to at least try to capture them at more appropriate times!

I do truly appreciate my family being so willing to be the subject of many stories and pictures. My boys will walk by the computer and ask, “What’s this week’s blog about? Are you talking about me?” Yeah, between my blog and my husband’s car lot radio ads featuring the kids, they think they are rock stars!

I hope over this last year you have learned something new, remembered something old, were inspired to do something different, laughed at something I shared, but mostly, I hope you were motivated to take charge of your budget and impact your financial freedom in a positive way!

Have you been reading the Save It blog since it began? If not, click into the archives to see all 52 blogs.

If you have been a loyal follower (thank you!) please share which blog you liked the best. Please leave any topic ideas you’d like to read about in the Save It blog this next year, too!

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Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her previous posts: Save Money and Do It Yourself with PinterestLearn How to Save with a Couponing Class, and How to Create a Household Budget. Be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.

   Visit the Coupon Queen’s “Save It”archive.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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