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How I saved $40,000 in one year: A Review

How I saved $40,000 in one year: A Review

I may have been compensated for this post. Please keep in mind that it affects you in no way financially. If an item is being reviewed, I am not obligated to give a positive review and always use my own words. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. If you would like a review done contact Dannelle at

It’s amazing to me to think that I started my mission to save $40,000 a little over a year ago and accomplished it in LESS than that one year time frame! I look back at the previous 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. 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 and thought it was time to do a little research. I hit the library and found out that the only books they had on it were over ten years old. Needless to say, no info 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 1,000 people following my posts between email, facebook, twitter, blogfrog, etc!

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

More of the same.

This is the fourth 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. (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

9 thoughts on “How I saved $40,000 in one year: A Review

    • So inspiring!
      Last month I started to track ALL of my spendings from receipts and bills onto an excel spreadsheet… and realized exactly where all our money was going. This month, I am much more careful and conscious about what I buy and why I buy them. Through blogs like yours I learned how to coupon and save at least 45% on my grocery bills. I’m super excited to see how I end up in the next few months and if we can keep a $100 grocery bill too. We never eat out unless it’s my hubby or my birthday so I guess we don’t have to worry about that 🙂
      Thank you for sharing your review! I liked it.

    • Thanks for your kind words and congrats to you for your new journey! A 45% savings is HUGE over a 0% savings – you have cut your spending almost in half!


    • I must agree with the first person that commented, you are an inspiration! I was so excited to find a local blog that has all the info I need to save our family money. The sad part was that I used to be so good at couponing and it fell at the wayside after baby #2 came 2 years ago and just got lazy. I am more than ever committed to get back on track and stay on a very low budget. Thank you for your blog and your wisdom!!!

    • Aww…thanks!

      It’s like riding a bike – you can get back on and get in the swing of it again.


    • I teach couponing classes, too! 🙂 I have been thinking about teaching meal planning classes but I’m a vegetarian so I’d have to get creative and add meat. I don’t charge for any of my classes, but they have definitely enriched my life in other ways.

    • Hi Sadie!
      It’s AMAZING the people we meet at our classes, isn’t it? Seriously, to coolest people EVER!

      Good luck to you in the contest!

    • Wow, that is a lot to save in just one year. Admittedly, most people don’t even have a salary of $40,000 per year, so saving that amount in one or even two years is impossible. It is my ambition to eventually have that amount saved, but it will probably take about 5+ years to accomplish this, as I am not one of the Americans that earns a high-paying wage unfortunately.

      Still, we all do what we can.

    • My partner and I do this. We minimize our outgoings as much as we can whilst trying to maximise earnings by doing all kinds of different things to generate more income.

      By doing this we’ve been able to save around £40,000 in one year so far. I have it planned that we will save £45,000 a year for the next 2 years until we buy our second property and let it out. At that point we’ll be saving around £50,000 a year.

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