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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Little Bit About Me!

Hello everyone!
My name is Jami. I am married with 2 kids. My husband is former Active Duty Army and is now serving in the National Guard and going to college full-time. When we were in active duty, we were stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. I was working part-time as a Licensed Practical Nurse, going to college on post and working on my 3rd college degree, volunteering at the WTB SFAC on post, and running my own non-profit organization to help the single soldiers who were returning from deployment. We lived at Ft. Riley from 2007-2009. That was the only station we ever got sent to. There was not much to do there. We were over an hour from Topeka, which was where the Sam's Club, Chuck E. Cheese, the "big" mall, and many other opportunities were. I started becoming very saavy about online shopping and swapping. I joined a group called Freecycle. org is an amazing online community of recyclers. Instead of throwing stuff away in the trash, you post it online in a forum, and then other people choose it and pick it up from you. Living on a military base brought MANY great opportunities to get some really awesome stuff for FREE...just because the families got orders to move overseas or were getting out and just had way too much stuff to take with them. We got all kinds of stuff off Freecycle, and at the same time, I got rid of a lot of stuff on Freecycle. So, that was my addiction for a while. Through Freecycle, I met many other spouses on post that I would have never met on a regular basis, and I ended up creating some really awesome friendships that are still on-going even today! Through these other moms/military spouses, I learned new tricks about shopping and saving that I knew about but wasn't great at. I had used coupons before, but I never really knew how to "use" them. I was the occasional coupon user who would use one or two every few months. I learned, though, about how to use coupons ONLINE...something I never even knew you could do! So, that was the start of my couponing career!
Forward to 2009, my husband finished his term with the Army, and we were now expecting our baby boy (2nd child). We moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (West Allis), where my husband was originally from. I did not know anything about Wisconsin or Milwaukee, but it reminded me a little bit of where I was from, Riverside, California...well, minus the palm trees and beaches...instead Wisconsin had big oak trees and Lake Michigan, which is the size of a beach and looks like a beach, but it's polluted and nasty, and you really don't want to swim or fish in it! LOL While we were living in Wisconsin, I became a stay-at-home-mom...something I had NEVER been before, well, at least...NOT full-time! I was pregnant with our baby boy, and my husband had a full-time & really good paying job with FedEx Smartpost in New Berlin, WI, so we were able to afford for me to stay at home. It was a little weird at first. I was used to working as a nurse, and usually working full-time, but I was really happy to get to stay home this time. With our daughter, I had to work full-time and hardly ever got to see her. I felt like daycare was raising her. When I found out I was pregnant with our son, I told my husband that I was not going to do the same to him. Well, staying at home all the time was really boring...I won't lie! I don't know how people do it just to do it. I'm a very active person, and I could not stand being at home all the time, but as I got further into my pregnancy, having to walk down a flight of stairs just to leave our apartment and then another flight of stairs to do laundry, got really old...really fast. While our daughter was at school, I started teaching myself new ways of saving money. I figured if I couldn't work, then I'd at least stretch our money and create a well-maintained budget. I spent hours a day researching couponing, bulk buying, local sales, etc. online. We had at least 5 different grocery stores whose ads we got in the mail all the time. We subscribed to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper just so that we could get the Sunday paper, which was always chocked full of valuable coupons. I found several coupon swapping sites online and became a member of them and started swapping coupons. Plus, I found a Freecycle community in our area, so I was able to get rid of stuff and get stuff in our new area also. (My favorite score off Freecycle in Milwaukee was a complete apple decor set from Home Interiors! Beautiful stuff and in great condition...and all free! Can't beat free!) As I did more and more research on couponing, I started learning the tricks of the trade and became really good at it! My husband was so amazed at how much money we were always saving when we shopped. I not only did couponing, but I also learned how to work Wal-Mart's admatch guarantee! With 5 competitors in the local area, I learned how to shop LITERALLY all around town in a matter of a few minutes, and then I would buy everything at Wal-Mart, so I saved the gas of going here and there, and I saved the time! I also learned that Target has a portion of their website where they offer TARGET coupons that you can use with manufacture coupons. There are so many tricks to couponing that it can be mind-boggling, but it's so much fun and so great feeling...when you see your bill get cut in half or even more! My biggest saves with couponing and ad matching were a grocery shopping trip at Wal-Mart where our total bill came to the total of almost $300 , and with couponing, ad matching, and items that were already on sale also...our total....$90! Another great one was at Target, where I was buying Christmas gifts for our kids (toys and learning items), and I used both manufacture coupons along with Target bill $300...the amount that I actually PAID...$30!!! Yes, you read that right! And yes, when people in line and even the cashier see savings like this...they freak! LOL It usually becomes a big crowd stunner, but it's a great feeling to know that I know what it takes to work the system!!! And it's totally LEGAL!!! If I can do it, you can do it too! That is why I created this blog....