Money makeover: Thrifty Christy reveals transformation from big spender to savvy saver and giver

India Bramblett, 3, and her sister, Alice, 1, take a snack break with their mom, Christy, who grocery shops with a large arsenal of coupons stored in a three-ring binder. Bramblett, aka “Thrifty Christy,” shares couponing and money-saving tips in her blog, which can be found at www.BlountMomsToday.com.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

India Bramblett, 3, and her sister, Alice, 1, take a snack break with their mom, Christy, who grocery shops with a large arsenal of coupons stored in a three-ring binder. Bramblett, aka “Thrifty Christy,” shares couponing and money-saving tips in her blog, which can be found at www.BlountMomsToday.com.

I was not always Thrifty.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good garage sale as much as the next girl. Mainly I loved shoes, and the more, the better. However, I wasn’t afraid to pay full price for things either, and I definitely didn’t know the value of a dollar.

Recently, I went through boxes of things I’d put in storage after college. For whatever reason, I saved canceled checks for all my purchases during my four years at Auburn. As I looked at where I spent my money, my jaw hit the floor. The “college me” apparently thought it was OK to spend $4 for a coffee at Starbucks, not just once a day, but between every class. The “college me” also thought nothing of frequent weekend shopping trips in Atlanta. I stopped mentally calculating my excess at one point; because it hurt.

So how did the free-spending “college me” become the responsible, deal-finding adult I am today? It’s been a long journey. (Don’t take that to mean I’m old). But I think I can point to the day my worldview started to shift, and it was because of a delayed flight in the Pensacola airport. I needed something to pass the time, so I picked up a book by Dave Ramsey. Working in the student-lending industry, I was interested in all things financial, and thought it looked like a good read. Somewhere between Pensacola and Louisville, Ky., Ramsey’s book changed my thinking. The author said paying off debt would lead to peace, and one day the ability to give back to others. It was a new concept, and I loved it.

So my husband and I started crunching numbers. We saved and did without, all the while throwing money at the car payments, student loan bills and credit card balances. Finally, after working multiple jobs and selling many of the items in my closet, we were debt free. I cannot recommend it enough.

Now, I’m a stay-at-home mom with two little girls. My husband is a youth minister. You will not see our faces on the magazine covers of “Forbes” or “Fast Company,” and my girls will never have trust funds. But we have a lovely little house, and we pay our bills on time. It’s bliss.

In the coming months I hope to offer practical tips to save money on specific, tangible items. However, before you start budgeting, couponing, making lists and finding deals, I encourage you to examine your thinking. Consider redefining what you really “need.” If you have a roof over your head, clothes on your body and enough food to get you through the day, you’re incredibly rich in the eyes of the world. When you’re feeling sorry for yourself because of what you can’t afford, turn your thinking instead to what you do have. Luxuriate in gratitude.

Hopefully I will be able to help you save some money. My greatest hope is that I can show you how to live more simply, and in that simplicity, find happiness.

Christy Bramblett is a mother of two girls, ages 3 and 1, and she is married to Ash Bramblett, Minister of Youth and Outreach at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. Her blog is updated daily and is featured at ww.BlountMomsToday.com. She will also be in the soon-to-be released quarterly magazine Blount Moms Today, due out on March 24.

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