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When I first began my money saving efforts, it felt as though my social life had come to a screeching halt. Gone were nights out for drinks with friends. Expensive dinners and big shopping trips, including splurges at Ann Taylor Loft (yes, my go to teacher-wear store) were immediately things of the past.

Ok, this might also have had something to do with the birth of my first child, but following these coinciding events I suddenly found myself not only becoming the household money police, but the fun police.

After bringing home a trunk full of products from Target for less than the price of a pack of gum, I began to cringe at the idea of paying $5.00 for a beer at a bar or a cup of gourmet coffee. After scoring free meals at restaurants using special promotions and coupons, I balked at menu prices at my favorite local restaurants. I steered clear of the mall and its siren song, knowing that I could probably get that pair of jeans for less if I held off for a good coupon and sale. I stopped visiting my favorite salon because the prices I'd been paying for years suddenly seemed outrageous.

I began to examine receipts from my husband's purchases, questioning each dime he spent…."Did you really NEED another hat?" "You had drinks AND appetizers tonight?!" "You didn't use your store card???"

It was somewhere between fishing his receipts from the trash can and pointing out the fact that he failed to save $1.00 on a baseball ticket by using a coupon I had clipped, that I realized, "Lady, you've lost it!"

We all have different reasons for couponing. Some love the challenge of the bargain hunt. Some do it out of necessity, to stay afloat. When my son was born this spring, my husband and I decided that I would take at least one year off from my job as an elementary school teacher to be a stay-at-home mom. We recognized that our previous budget would be too large for our reduced means, which is what lead me down the money saving path.

Somewhere along the way, though, I lost sight of why I had started couponing in the first place. My attempts to coupon and save money were to be a way of reducing our monthly expenses, so that we could afford to live comfortably as a one-income family…but I had become a money-saving martyr, avoiding spending whenever possible, giving up life's simple pleasures, and expecting my family to do the same.

After taking a step back and some time to re-evaluate, I've realized that saving money actually allows us to enjoy time with family and friends, during a period in life when finances are tight. By trimming a significant amount of money off our monthly spending on groceries and personal care items, my husband and I can occasionally splurge on a night out, babysitter fee and all. Money saving gives us the ability to treat ourselves once in a while WITHOUT guilt–maybe a pedicure for me or a round of golf with the guys for him. We can still take part in the activities of our past, knowing our spending limits.

I will continue to cut spending and increase savings in as many ways as I can–that, I am certain of–though I will remember that I do not have to abandon my previous self to do so!

This has been a guest post by Allison from Durham, NC
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