A little over a year ago, I decided to take a one-year leave of absence from my teaching position to test the waters of "Stay-at-Home Motherhood." I had been dabbling in the couponing world since my daughter's birth, and in preparation for the upcoming trial year of a one-salary household, I went into full-blown Krazy Coupon Lady stockpiling mode!

I encountered two different attitudes toward this new hobby. First were the positive people who were amazed by the phenomenal deals I was getting on household staples, toiletries, etc. Co-workers sat in awe at the lunch table while listening to me spin tales of my weekend trips to the store. Family members were thoroughly amused by my phone calls, during which I'd make them guess how much I'd spent total out-of-pocket after enumerating all the items in my weekly hauls from the grocery store and drugstores.

These couponing supporters would bring me their Sunday paper coupon inserts on a weekly basis so I had extras. Some of them would even print coupons for me from home when I'd reached my own print limits! Couponing seemed to be infectious, as many of them took up the cause as well. These "glass half-fullers" drove me toward my goal of being able to subsist on a much lower budget than my family was used to.

But this article isn't for them. They know how much I appreciated and still DO appreciate their support. No, this article is for the naysayers. This is for the people who said, "You'll be back to work next school year," with a Disney Villain-esque chuckle at the end. (Okay, maybe they weren't THAT bad, but to me, it seemed that way.) Guess what? The 2011-2012 school year is nearly over, and I was successful! It took nearly that whole year to balance our household budget so we weren't regularly dipping into our savings, but we did it, partly due to some KRAZY couponing, and also with some sacrifices.

Here’s what we did:

1. We stopped going out to eat so much and changed the way we shopped for groceries. Now I only buy sale items and/or those for which I have coupons.

2. We downsized our utilities. We signed up for every money-saving program available through our electric company (That alone has saved us a TON of money!) We eliminated our landline and became a mobile-phone-only family. We got rid of the pricey satellite TV service and downgraded to basic cable.

3. We traded in our gas-guzzling SUV on a smaller, more economical vehicle (which also lowered our monthly car payment AND insurance costs!)

4. We built a stockpile. With our super-tight budget, I'm not able to hit up all the stores in town every week to gather up bags full of awesome deals, but I don't HAVE to. I have my stockpile to rely upon.

I believe that I've become a better person with a humbler attitude and a renewed outlook on life after this year. And, guess what? I just turned in my resignation letter to make "Stay-at-Home-Mom" a permanent position!

This has been a guest post by Michelle from Port Charlotte, FL
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