You shop to save but could shop less and save more.

Ashley Grant, 28, Tampa

"I love to spend money. I know it's awful, but I get a thrill from shopping that can't be matched." 

Conversion moment: Three years ago, my husband, Jeremy, and I looked at our combined debt -- $60,000! -- and realized things needed to change if we ever wanted to own a house, travel or retire.

First steps: I closed all our credit card accounts and got on a payment plan to start paying back our debt.

Next moves: When Jeremy challenged me to stop spending on nonessentials, I googled freebies and realized there were a lot of free events near us. So I started a blog at tampabayfreebies.com to share the tastings, movies and grocery deals I find.

Favorite place to shop: The grocery store. I love watching the bottom-line number shrink as the coupons ring up on the register.

Driving force: I used to splurge, but now I plan every shopping experience. I will put things back on the shelf to see if I can find them cheaper elsewhere.

Financial status: We’ve paid down $15,000 in two years.

Biggest spending challenge: The little expenses add up (I can drop $40 per month into vending machines!). I’m trying to cook at home more, bring lunch to work and carry snacks to avoid picking up fast food.

Best deal ever: Once I got $1,000 worth of groceries for $100. It took four hours and five stores, but I didn’t need toiletries for a year! We ended the day with free burgers from a restaurant (I found the deal on Facebook), drinks scored from a bar’s e-mail list, and seats at a comedy show I won in a contest.


More Real Talk 

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More on How America (And You!) Shop 

How America shops (how we're alike and how we're different)
Take the quiz now to find out what kind of shopper you are
If you're a "Super Saver," this is how you shop
If you're a "Committed Convert," this is how you shop
If you're a "Strategic Splurger," this is how you shop
Learn even more ways to shop smart and save