At 5:50 A.M. the clock radio ($3 at a yard sale) alarm sounds. The Savings Queen jumps out of bed and goes to the desk (won on The Price Is Right), where her clothing lies. She pulls on her warm-up suit (free, from a friend). She wakes her running partner, her oldest son (six-and-a-half hours of active labor), to hit the streets for their four-mile loop.
After pulling on her running shoes (half-price sale plus 20 percent off for opening a new charge card—which she later canceled), she and her son enjoy their run in the cool Southwest morning (free, courtesy of the Creator). After her workout, she takes a quick shower, washes her hair, and shaves her legs (soap, razor blades, shampoo, and conditioner all free with coupons).
She then makes her own special blend of gourmet coffee (wholesale—see www.elliekay.com for order form), because life is too short to drink bad coffee. She sets the table for breakfast as her son Jonathan comes into the room with a quick “Morning, Mama.”
As he sits at the table, he picks up a box. “We only have six kinds of cereal this morning? Can I open a new box from the fifty boxes that are in the storage closet?”
The Savings Queen answers, “No, Jonathan, six boxes are more than enough. Remember Kabuli Alezo in Zaire? He’d be thrilled to choose from six boxes of cereal” (9¢ per box with coupons combined with sales).
She packs the five children’s lunches with apples (from their tree), homemade chocolate chip cookies (49¢/dozen), meat and cheese sandwiches (bologna 49¢, cheese 19¢ with store card and double coupons) on homemade whole wheat bread (39¢/loaf).
Packing the lunch bags in the kids’ backpacks (75 percent off at Staples’ after-season clearance), she rushes them out the door and into the Suburban (purchased when two years old at 15 percent above wholesale).
“Do you have your jacket, Daniel?” ($6 at a yard sale).
Daniel shrugs, “No, but I have on my sweatshirt” ($5.50 at a thrift store, with the tags still on it).
“That will do, Daniel. Now, children, remember that as soon as you finish your homework this afternoon we’re going out to eat dinner.”
The car fills with screams of “Yea!” and “All right!”
“Where are we going?” asks Philip as he holds his violin ($12/month).
The Queen adjusts her crown a bit. “Well, today is Tuesday; what does that tell you?”
“Denny’s!” sings the kids’ chorus.
The Queen turns the corner and slows the car. “That’s right. Today children eat free with two kid’s meals per adult entrée. Because I have a coupon for ‘buy one adult meal/get one free’ and because they will accept both offers together, we’ll feed our family of seven for $6 plus a $4 tip!”
The children kiss their mom (priceless) and bound out of the car to start their day at Community Christian School (first child—full price, second child—20 percent off, third child—30 percent off, children four and five—free). On the way home, Mom stops to fill up the car with gas (15 percent less for cash plus $2 off eight gallons with a coupon) and grabs a quick coffee (refill mug free with an 8-gallon gas purchase).
She stops by the bookstore to grab a couple of videos for family night (two free children’s videos daily) and buys a birthday gift for her friend Jessica (note cards at half off). She gets a refill of hazelnut coffee (25¢ donation to a literacy fund) and jumps into the car. She stops by the library to research some money-saving Internet sites for her upcoming book (free computer use) and downloads a “Web bucks” sheet for use at the grocery store (15¢ per printed page).
At the store, our Savings Queen does her usual shopping by buying a cart full of groceries ($230 before coupons) for $75 (20 bags of groceries).
Running by for her free oil change (certificate from volunteerof-the-month award), she writes thank-you notes (25¢ box at a rummage sale) in the waiting room of the service center and mails them (free postage from an Internet site).
At home, she sorts the items she purchased and gathers three bags of groceries for a family in the church that is out of work ($45 non-cash charitable donation on income tax). She vacuums with her Kirby (free from Grandma, rebuilt by Kirby’s guarantee for $75) and washes clothes (50 pounds of soap for $9 at the wholesale club).
Making a quick change into a professional suit ($25 wash-and-wear), she adds her gold tone earrings, gold collar necklace with slide, and a lovely gold tone watch (all free from hosting a Premiere jewelry party for her girlfriend Brenda). On her way to the luncheon at which she’s speaking (free lunch for speaker—plus honorarium), she stops by the florist to pick up her free floral bouquet (certificate earned by a son for a Mother’s Day writing contest) for her desk at home.
Back at home she has a package waiting of free puzzles, toy cars, and T-shirts that she received from refunding (save for Christmas stocking stuffers). As she takes the package into the house (2,600-square-foot Southwestern style complete with hot tub—acquired through a VA loan assumption), her eyes fall on the lovely G. Harvey print in the formal den (free with donation to Focus on the Family). She thanks God for her many blessings and changes into a blue-jean romper (free from a friend who lost weight).
Back in the kitchen, she makes eight loaves of pumpkin bread in coffee cans to distribute as gifts to her Webmaster (does Web page for cost), her newspaper distributor (gives her rejected coupons), and letter carrier (lets her know when the post office has their food drive, so she can donate food). Then, she keeps one loaf for her kids’ afternoon snack and freezes the other four to have on hand for last-minute hospitality and thank-you gifts (38¢ each).
She answers the phone (bought on sale using a credit card to earn bonus points) and speaks with her Beloved husband (does home repairs, bathes the children, and mops the kitchen floor—he works for food).
Her Beloved informs her that they will have unexpected company arriving in town tomorrow night for dinner. Gracious as ever, the Savings Queen accepts the challenge with a nod of her crown (vintage-costume-jewelryfashioned crown—retail $300, she paid $85). As she bids farewell to her Beloved, she gets a call on her business line for a live radio interview (free advertising for her books) and talks for an hour.
By now, it is late in the afternoon, but she has thirty minutes before she needs to pick up the children. For some strange reason, she feels a bit tired after her busy day. She sits down on her newly reupholstered couch (original fabric $38/yard, bought for $3/yard at a wholesaler) and rests with a book by her favorite author, Becky Freeman (sends Ellie a courtesy copy from the publisher for plugging the new book).
After picking up the children and getting homework done, Papa comes home (free flight suits courtesy of Uncle Sam) to take the family to Denny’s. After dinner, back at home, Bob bathes the children (see above—hey, he works for food no matter who makes it), they all brush teeth (free toothpaste from a store coupon combined with a manufacturer’s coupon, free toothbrushes from the dentist). The Kays put the kids to bed and say their prayers (always yields great dividends).
After she mops the kitchen floor (29¢ floor cleaner), she changes into her silk nightshirt and wrapper (a guilt gift from Bob when he went to flight training school in Florida for two months and left her in New York with 100 inches of snow). After a lengthy catch-up conversation with her Beloved, she reads her Bible (eternal value) and drops into bed to rest up for another day of savings.
Believe it or not, everything in the above story is true. It is amazing how anyone can save money every day. Savings opportunities are all around us if you train your eyes to see them.