Monday, April 23, 2018
Business

How coupon savings paid for a trip to Italy

After couponing for a few years, I decided in 2010 to see if all that work was adding up to real money. And if it was, could I use those savings for, you know, something fun?

Was it enough savings to pay for something I would otherwise have a hard time justifying in our family budget? Maybe something on my bucket list?

So I decided to track my savings for a year. I created an Excel spreadsheet with the stores where I shopped in the first column and the 12 months across the top.

After putting away the groceries, I made it a habit of going to my computer and entering the amount spent on my monthly budget page, then tracked the amount saved in coupons on my spreadsheet. I decided to track only the savings I accrued as a result of cutting coupons or sending in rebates.

By November, I had saved more than $2,900. As luck would have it, our church bulletin that month included an invitation to participate in a pilgrimage to Italy in October.

There it was. My bucket list luxury and the reason I had been tracking the coupon savings.

I signed up immediately and recruited my sister, Jeanne, to go, too. By the end of the year, I had saved $3,754. The cost of the pilgrimage: $3,498.

The trip fulfilled a lifelong desire to see the Vatican and all of the historic sites related to Christianity. We visited more than 50 churches.

I was honored to do the Mass readings in the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, one of the four main basilicas in Rome. I attended a papal audience and visited Greccio, the site of the first nativity scene in 1223. I also visited Assisi, where Saints Francis and Clare were born, and went to Siena and Florence.

It was a trip of a lifetime. Our group of 35 pilgrims, several from St. Paul's in St. Petersburg and Nativity Parish in Brandon, had a reunion before Christmas to share stories and savor the experience.

It was so much fun preparing for the trip knowing that I was paying for it through my couponing efforts — which turned out to be better than a second job.

So, of course, I continued the tracking practice last year. My savings: $4,302.

And my newest bucket list item? My husband and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in September, so we're thinking that deserves a special celebration — a cruise? The Grand Canyon? The Redwood Forest?

Oh, the possibilities.

Turn your coupon savings into a bucket list item, too. Just follow some of these tips:

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