I get asked this question a lot in my classes. How in the world did you get started? Or, why did you get started?! That is an easy question and a tough question at the same time. When I started, I had a good reason to do so but as I continued, my reasons changed.
April 2009- The date I started. Before April, I never thought that this would be me. That I would be a penny pincher. I would never have to resort to that. I didn’t really know what a coupon was. I would throw them away when I got them. I just could care less. I was a brand specific snot and had everything I thought I ever needed. I lived in a beautiful home overlooking the lake. We had renovated it to make it “ours”. I drove around in a BMW with leather interior and a sunroof. I was a stay at home mom and only dressed my daughter in GAP and Gymboree clothing. I was too good for hand-me-downs. Too good for things that came from places like Walmart.
Then, my world collapsed. I became a single mom living in this beautiful home with this gorgeous car and no one to pay my bills and no job to support myself. I wasn’t really quite too sure what I was going to do. I thought that someone would help me. Someone would come along and pay my bills right?! Wrong. I lost my car first. Then the house. Then the knock on the door. It was a neighbor with a tube of toothpaste and a receipt showing that she got it for free. She had seem some commercial during the Oprah show about couponing and decided to try it out. She wasn’t exactly sure how it all worked but she gave me to toothpaste and the receipt hoping I could figure it out. At that moment in time, I thought she was crazy. Who does this?!
I never knew how important that moment was to me until I can look back at it. It took me less than 3 months to really grasp couponing and get really good at it! I had realized that this is how my daughter and I can survive. We were going to make it. After losing my house, I was forced to move back in with my mom. Within a month, I had every closet filled with my hauls and free stuff. People starting catching on to what I was doing and started to contact me to help them do the same thing too! One person a month, 2 people a week, 3 people a day. More and more people were interested in what I was doing! That is when I realized that I might have something. From the very worst part of my life, bloomed my path in my life. My career had been carved out for me.
I never really thought about how I had affected people’s lives. I just knew that there were people out there in the same situation as I was or were struggling due to the loss of a job, death of a family member, and divorce. I was given the tool to solve my hardships so I figured I had to share. And, it was just plain fun. I had a blast finding deals, getting stuff for free, blowing people’s minds.
This is where Beth’s story comes in. Beth is (was) my cousin who lived a nice 8 hour car ride away in Pennsylvania. We always stayed in touch and little did I know that she was a deal seeker too! She would call me up and brag about how she found this on clearance or that on clearance. Friendly family competition you know?! I don’t think she actually did it the correct way but she got the deals the BETH way. Just like how she lived her life. On her terms. I would get pictures of her cart full of toilet paper. Lighters she had found on clearance at CVS. Anything that she thought she had found better than me. Our family in PA didn’t quite understand this whole “stockpile” thing. Although frugal (canning veggies, growing their own veggies, hunting for meat, etc) they never had more than what they needed. If they only needed 1 box of Kleenex, it didn’t matter that they could have 12 for free. They only bought and kept what they needed.
That put Beth and I in a category of crazy together. Beth and I share 3 of the same tattoos, and if you ask my aunt (her mother) we also shared a soul. On this day December 1st 2013, I got a phone call that would make my world come crashing down around me. Beth was dead. At only 40 years old, she was gone. She was supposed to be coming to visit me in just a few short weeks. A tragic one car wreck. And she was gone just like that. Her trunk filled with Christmas presents for the family, she was totally unaware that today was the day she was going to lose her life.
That made my “purpose” in life change. I was no longer couponing for the fun of it, but now for her memory. This is what she would have wanted. At times, I want to just give up. I want to quit. I don’t know if it is worth it. But, I have to. I am not doing this just for me anymore. I am doing this for her. This is what she loved. She got to share this passion with me. I need to continue. I have to. This is her memory. I wear her pearls always. They never come out of my ears so she is with me everywhere I go. Just a few days ago, I went to PA to visit my family and I went to “her” CVS. I think she knew. All the deals she had ever told me about, were there! The lighters had signs for 75% off, the toilet paper was piled up on clearance. Sometimes that small sign from Heaven is all you need to keep on going. I know she is watching over me. I know she is shopping with me. I know she is guiding me. I know she is enjoying every minute of my couponing. I have to keep going. This is my path, she has shown me. I will never stop. For her. For you. For all of you. But, mostly for Beth♥
R.I.P. May 7th 1973-Dec 1st 2013. Beloved Mother, Daughter, Sister, Cousin. And, your soul will always be a part of mine. As your mother says, I am the only one that will bring her to tears because when she sees me, she sees you. We share a soul. You will always live on inside of me. Until the day we meet again my friend♥