How to Stretch a Penny… all the way to Ethiopia

Lately we’ve become serious penny pinchers.  Those of you who know us well might wonder how Calvin could pinch that penny any tighter.  It is possible my friends; quite possible.  We’ve come up with some ways to make regular life cheaper so that adoption life can gain speed.

1. We buy those coupon books that kids sell for fund raising.  Seriously.  These are a major score.  The auto coupons inside can save you 10-20% on car maintenance.  Free oil changes.  We recently had work done on Calvin’s car and saved well over $100.  So spend $20, help the kids, and rake in the savings!  Getting a dinner out at a super cheap price every once in awhile is also a major perk.

2. I cut hair.  Calvin’s and Elliott’s to be exact.  For Elliott’s hair I set the blade to 7 and go to town.  Calvin’s is 5 on top and 2 on the sides. This saves roughly $30 a month.

3. Ladies, this one is super daring.  I wax my own eyebrows.  For real.  It’s not that hard after you mess up a few times.  Savings: $12.

4. I shop (and volunteer) at kids consignment sales.  Volunteering comes with early shopping privileges and credits.  I am able to get the kids clothes and necessities for the entire season for a 1/4 of retail cost.  (maybe less)

5. COUPONS.  Can I say it again… coupons.  If you aren’t on the band wagon, hop on it.  I literally cut my grocery bill in half each week.  Often I cut the bill by 60-70%.  People, it’s like cutting dollar bills out of the newspaper on Sunday, printing dollar bills from the computer, finding them in the mail… it’s awesome.  And let me be clear.  I do not feed my family crap loaded with MSG and gross preservatives.  We eat partially organic and mostly natural foods.  There are coupons available for any way you choose to eat, you just have to take the time to look for them.

6. We don’t buy things we don’t need.  Pretty straightforward.

7. We don’t have Iphones.

8. We are pretty green.  We recycle, of course.  But the trick that helps us save is conserving energy.  Not running the heat/air too high.  Washing large loads of laundry instead of many small ones.  Starting a vegetable garden in the back yard so I don’t have to pay $2.69 a pound for dang tomatoes anymore.

9. We don’t spend money on lawn care.  Sorry homeowners association.  Of course we will mow, but we aren’t going to fertilize or hire lawn care people to make our lawn look like outdoor carpet.

10. Finally, we just try to cut out the unnecessary.  Eating at home, playing together, making use of what we already have… all these things help us achieve our goal.

Saving money isn’t so bad after all.  For me it’s a challenge, a quest of sorts.  And I love a good challenge.  Anytime I open my wallet I try to think of our child and how every dollar brings us closer to him.  It’s pretty easy to close it after you meditate on that for a few seconds.

About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.


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  • glad to have stumbled upon this. you’re a good writer. love the fact that you and calvin are adopting. and loved all your tips except number 7. i mean can we make another couple saving tips so that we could bring number 7 back into play?

    • We have certainly tried to justify an Iphone (or two) but our $30 per month unlimited text and data Sprint plan we got through an employee referral deal just can’t be beat. (=

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