Guest Post: Slash Your Budget with the Internet

Welcome to this week’s guest poster!! Sherri Gray, aka “The Money Mom”, is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor Candidate.  In this post, she’ll introduce herself and some of her money-saving internet strategies.  Sherri, who is a PWC resident, also hosts a weekly web-based radio show, which you can find on the PwcMoms calendar, or in the links at the end of this post.
__________________________________________________________________________________________
I’m The Money Mom, a financial coach, who works with individuals and families nationwide, taking you from where you are to where you need to be financially. I use Biblical principles to teach you how to budget, get out of debt, and save for the future. And I do it all with a mom’s touch, not telling you what you want to hear but telling you what you need to hear because I genuinely care about the people I work with and want to see them succeed.
One of the financial areas that many people struggle with is their budget. It’s so easy for us to swipe our debit card, credit card, or write a check without having a realistic system for tracking our purchases. John Maxell said that a budget is simply telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. Raise your hand if you’ve ever reached the end of the month and wondered where all of your money went. I see those hands. Don’t feel bad. Mine is raised, too. 
But I knew there had to be a way to slash my family’s budget without sacrificing the quality products that my family had become accustomed to. I found a way to do just that through the internet. The internet is a great resource and has a plethora of discounts and coupons to help my family save money. Now the days of my family spending more money than we have, and using credit cards to make up the difference, are behind us.  
I’ve saved money on food items by purchasing some from retail stores, like Target, as an alternative to my grocery store. I recently purchased 2 Dannon Activia yogurts (4-pack) for absolutely nothing. The yogurt was on sale for $2 each. I then used a $2/2 Target internet coupon (http://coupons.target.com/) and stacked it with 2-$1/1 manufacturer internet coupons (www.coupons.com), which made them both free. 
Please keep in mind that most internet coupon websites are designed so that you can only print 2 identical manufacturer internet coupons per computer. I’ve also purchased other name brand items for free or cheap, using store and manufacturer internet coupons, including cereal, milk, condiments, margarine, peanut butter, snack bars, gum, lip balm, deodorant, toothpaste, paper towels, pain relievers, air fresheners, mouthwash, dental floss, toothbrushes, soap, sanitizer, and dish detergent.
But the internet doesn’t just stop at couponing deals. It also has a vast array of clothing and shoe deals. Private seller websites like www.amazon.com also have discounts and close out sales on so many things like snacks, electronics, DVD’s, and even diapers. Overstock websites like www.zulilly.com and www.6pm.com, can offer discounts on name brand clothes and shoes at a fraction of the department store prices. Keep a look out for end of the season sales at retail websites as well. I recently purchased a Rothschild coat, including a hat and scarf to match, for my school age daughter, for $23 (including shipping), a 75% savings, directly from the Rothschild website, using a coupon code that I found on an internet blog.
Internet blogs are another great source for finding online coupons and deals. Internet bloggers do all of the legwork and you reap the benefits. I’m an avid couponer now and have my own internet blog as well (http://themoneymomdeals.blogspot.com/). Now, I can’t imagine life without internet coupons and website deals. 
If you’ve never researched internet deals, my recommendation would be to start small. Think of an item that you purchase regularly from the grocery store, retail store, or department store and do a search to see if there’s a way to get that item cheaper using the internet. I guarantee you that once you see the discounted price versus what you usually pay for that item, you’ll wonder why you ever paid full price for it. In fact, I saved over $2,400 last year using internet deals in combination with newspaper coupons. So, take full advantage of the internet and use it as a tool to slash your family’s budget. Your family and your wallet will thank you.  
________________________________________________________________________________

If you want to learn more about spending less and using coupons, Sherri is hosting a workshop called ‘The Secrets to Spending Less Workshop’ on March 24 from 6 pm – 7 pm. For more information about registering for this event, go to www.themoneymom.org (a call in number will be provided to those who want to attend remotely).