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.
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