As a 40 something single woman who is striving to spend less than I make, I have started to look for more creative ways to give to charity. More than 10 years ago, I longed for the opportunity to work full-time for a non-profit to give back to God a little of the overabundance He has given me, as well as to help other people. That dream came true a little over three years ago, but at that time I was deep in debt and struggling to just pay the bills. I remember well the anxiety attacks and the worry.
My spiritual adviser encouraged me to get out of debt, which I was able to do about 18 months later (taking some money out of my IRA helped, even though it wasn't the wisest thing to do). Then, I started to save. I had started doing some couponing, but it took about six months before I started getting the hang of it. I started by purchasing two Sunday papers serving the largest city in my area (Detroit). I also became a member of Vocalpoint, which has sends product samples and high-priced coupons to its members. I also print Internet coupons as needed to match a deal.
Saving helped tremendously to prepare me for the unexpected windfall I received last year. I spent a little of it on needs, then put the rest of it in the bank and sat on it for six months. Then, I paid cash a small condo in the fall and furnished it. I'm adjusting to life from the 120 square foot room (and sharing a bathroom with four other women!) that I was renting to a two-bedroom condo for myself. Since I have more room and more time for myself, I have found myself wanting to give more to others.
The charity I work for is training missionaries to help others to deepen their relationship with God. They have several young men in training and receiving some education nearby. A few times a week, a representative will call those who have expressed a willingness to shop and donate the items to grocery shop for them. Of course, the charity accepts unsolicited donations as well, perishable and nonperishable. Most of the things I've offered to give them, they've taken (they're not big on sweets). In buying food items for free or cheap for the charity, I'm not only helping the charity, but I'm also helping the people who are purchasing groceries so they don't need to spend so much and so often. It hasn't gotten to the point where I've had someone ask me how I do this and seriously want to learn how to do it, but I'm open to that.
Throughout the process, I would go from visiting every couponing blog I could find to narrowing myself down to a local coupon matchup site, and a couple of more general blogs to find free samples, other sales and posts about other home economics topics. The local website has gotten really good with the matches that I started to consistently pick up items for my charity of choice – often free. The charity has been very thankful and impressed. My spiritual adviser has given this activity his blessing, but has given me a monthly budget … $15. I work for a non-profit, you see, and relatively speaking, I don't make much money, but I am living frugally and do well.
So this blog will hopefully provide information and commentary about my couponing expeditions for charity, but perhaps not so many pictures (I don't have a reliable digital camera). I don't have time to include coupon matchup info in my buying reports, or include all the shopping I do for myself, but it'll be interesting to see what can be purchased for $15 that helps charity.
My motivation for couponing for charity centers on God. Some people reading this will think that's wonderful, while others will be indifferent or think I'm crazy or weak (if I am, it's not because of that). If the couponing information helps you, that's wonderful. I hope that this will help others find creative ways to donate to their favorite charity, because in this economy, especially where I am in SE Michigan, the charities need all the help they can get.