We saved $40,000 in less than a year and here is how we did it…

It’s amazing to me to think that I started my mission to save $40,000 and accomplished it in LESS than that one year time frame! I look back at that twelve months and am amazed and how, with simple changes, we were able to control where we wanted to invest our money.

First things first: we had to audit where our money was going.

If you don’t know where you are spending it, you can’t figure out where to cut back…everyone down to Dave Ramsey tells you that. For us, it was easy –we were spending WAAAAAAAY too much money on food. Seriously. We spent over $600 a month to eat out, which translates to about $7,500 a year. That was $7,500 a year with nothing to show for it and it floored me! My husband thinks we are entitled to go out to eat. I gently reminded him that we are entitled to EAT, but eating out was not a necessity.

I also figured that we could be doing better at the stores we shopped at. We were spending an average of $875 a month on things like food, personal care items, pet supplies, which translates to over $10,000 a year.


OK, we now knew where our money was going and it was time to spend less: Budget time!

We knew our fixed expenses and what we had to tweak; it was time to cut out non-necessities!

•No more movie nights at the theater or renting DVDs at the local video store, we started using our FREE public library!
•Eating out at restaurants was a no-no unless we were using up one of the many gift cards that we got from turning in my husband’s credit card points! (We use the card a lot but keep it paid off).
•Stack them with a “Kids eat FREE” night and we get out for maybe $1-3, including tip.
•We had a mini parade when we were done paying for preschool and were happy that 4K was FREE! It entertained our little peanut and gave her that important socialization that an only child needs.
•Then I cancelled the gym membership (that I didn’t use). I DID have 14 months credit from an accident that kept me from using it and plan to really play with that this summer. (Another topic, for another day…)
•We used Freecycle and Craigslist
I also became the DIY Queen (Do It Yourself) – everything from resealing my driveway to painting the stairwell, things I would have normally paid someone to do. It just took research and a little time. If I needed a tool I didn’t have, I borrowed it instead of buying it.

Then it was time to play the coupon clipping game…

I remembered my Mom using coupons in the 70s (I was negative ten years old..) and doing pretty darned well with it. It was a family venture and has some great memories attached to them. I thought it was time to do a little research and take it seriously myself! I hit the library and found out that the only books they had on it were over ten years old. Needless to say, no information on printable coupons or E-Coupons, LOL!

So, I talked to my Mom and then, went to the stores. One by one I learned them and was rapidly averaging a savings of over 90% and building my 6 month stockpile. My monthly budget for the three of us, and our two pets was just $100 a month. That included food, personal care items and more!
There were months that we spent LESS than that $100, and once I went over – by $0.73, but we have a pretty darned full house. My simple stockpile (when compared to the TV shoppers) consists of three shelving units, 6 cupboards and one chest freezer.

Meal planning came next – which was easy!
I used to have a restaurant and catering company with my mom, in my life before Tupperware. Add the Tupper training and I have had over 30 years of food expertise…So I can bake a chicken and realize it will become chicken ala king in its future reincarnation and eventually, creamy chicken wild rice soup. Yes, creative re-purposing of foods so my family didn’t catch on to what was happening, was important.

I also started to stockpile other things:
•Clothes that I knew my daughter would grow into
•Gifts for all those little people birthday parties she was going to be invited to
•Office/school supplies for her “art cart” and homeschooling. (Yes, she is in public school, I supplement it).

Now came the time to see if we could make MORE money.

Knowing that we were going to be moving from our house, it was easy to drawer by drawer, closet by closet, sort through things and eliminate! Some things were sold on EBay, some things were sold at children’s resale events and some things were sold at our annual garage sale. This all added up to a nice sum of approximately $5,000. Toss a tax return refund in there and we have almost hit 10K. (Yes, it pays to have a home office and be self employed!)

Now comes the “What ELSE can you do”? speech.

•Do you like to clean? (I don’t)
•Do you like to cook? (I do, but had already done the restaurant thing…)
•Do you like to teach? (Hmmn… I have done that for years with my Tupperware…)
Teaching it is!

For me, it was teaching the Coupon Clipping 101 information:
Sharing with others, what I learned by myself: how they can save over 50% at their grocery store on a regular basis. Yes, I managed to market a little of my Tupperware in there, after all it IS my “real” job. I whipped up a power point presentation and was ready to go – had laptop, would travel, and started through the public library circuit. Soon I came to the churches, and private groups. Then comes a news paper article and TV segments… I really could make it a full time job but I love my Tupperware business and helping other ladies be able to stay at home and raise their kids.

The natural follow up to that class was the Meal Planning 101 class: teaching them how to get creative with meal time, work with those leftovers and keep that money in their pocket! Use their food before it went bad and not drive their family nuts with the same leftovers in a series of days.
Between the two, I am booked out almost three months in advance…it more than covers my $100 a month spending budget.

Add these all together, along with a little from my Tupperware business that I paid myself,
and you will find the $40,000 we saved.

I originally started this blog to keep myself accountable and it has taken on a life of its own. Many of the “big” bloggers cover stores that we simply don’t have in the Midwestern area that I live in – and DON’T cover the stores we shopped at, so I started covering them. People got excited about my recipes, the things we were doing with Ms Sarah, and have been simply lovely to get to know better. It’s crazy to think that I have over 20,000 people following my posts between email, facebook, twitter, Pinterest, etc!

A lot of my blog readers have asked me “What is next?”

More of the same.
This is the sixth year of a recession that the “experts” said was over in 2009. That’s funny because two of my friends lost their homes in 2010 and people in Wisconsin are still loosing their jobs. (which is NOT funny). We will continue to manage our money better and invest more wisely.

•We are investing in our daughter’s college fund.
•We are investing in our retirement.
•We are investing in our church.
•We are helping the food pantry
Not necessarily in that order, but you get the idea. We are happy and have found that “living on less”, when done right, isn’t really less at all. It’s amazing how much more we have, how creative we get, and how much fun we have had doing it!

Are you trying to save money or pay something off?
—Here is my challenge to you : track your expenses!
Once you know where your money is going, it will be SOOOO easy to see where you can make the changes that you need to, so you can make that goal a reality.
Blessings to you –
Dannelle Gay
Operation 40K

My Press….

1/9/2013 – Lodi Enterprise: Coupon Queen
11/22/2012 – 
The Wisconsin State Journal — 
Black Friday Shopping Strategies!
Read it HERE

11/20/2012 – The Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio

Fall 2012 – Working the Grocery Store Sales Fliers – on Moms Everyday with Pam Tauscher

Fall 2012 – Frugal Summer Fun – on Moms Everyday with Pam Tauscher

Fall 2012 – Summer Travel (1 and 2)- on Moms Everyday with Pam Tauscher

11/20/2011 – on NBC15 AM show with Amy Carlson

11/11/2011 – On NBC15 5PM Show with Leigh Mills and Carleen Wild

9/15/1011 – On the air with  News Talk Radio and Mitch Henk

9/13/2011 – On the WISC3 TV Morning show with Karin Swanson – video here
Coupon Columnist for Critical Eye News
5/28/2011 – On the NBC15 Morning Show with Amy Carlson : see it here

5/25/2011 – Eating Better on a Budget Fundraiser : read it below


5/1/2011 – On the NBC15 Morning Show with Amy Carlson : see it here

2/17/2011 –  Sun Prairie Star Article by Julie Henning : read it here

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4th Of July Tips

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