Moving to a More Natural Lifestyle: Ramblings of a Former Coupon Queen

Guest Post written by Stacy Myers.

Hello – My name is Stacy and I used to be a coupon addict. No…really. I would take my coupon binder camping – in the woods – with all of nature – and no electricity. There I was, in the woods…just me and my coupons with the Sasquatches. A year ago, if I could see myself where I am now, I would have told my husband that I had lost my mind and he needed to commit me to an institution. And yet, here I am – a complete 180 from what I used to be. Why?

Why did I make this HUGE change? It was for my baby girl, Annie…but now it’s turned out to be the best thing for my whole family.

In March 2011, I led my readers on a family journey called Stacy Goes Storeless where I did not shop retail the entire month. I wanted to prove to my readers that stockpiling worked. During that month, we only ate what I had stockpiled and it caused us to take a serious look at what we were putting in our bodies – high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and food colorings, to name a few. Yuck.

And Now

I started reading all I could get my hands on, and we changed our diet. At first, I thought it would only change how we ate….but then everything changed. I started making my own cleaners and buying homemade soaps. My husband jokingly says that I need to wear a tie-dyed skirt (I’m actually wanting one of those!) and drive a VW van (no plans for that purchase, but if you have one you’d like to give me I’ll take it).

I’ve embraced this new, natural lifestyle….but it was a gradual change. I encourage everyone who wants to make this switch to TAKE IT SLOW – or else you’ll end up going crazy and could possibly be relocated to the poorhouse where you’ll live until your mama sends you a cake with a file inside so that you can bust out.

Making the Switch

As we ran out of something in our home, I replaced it with something better: coconut oil for canola oil, butter for margarine, frozen veggies for canned veggies. For the love of Pete! I couldn’t just throw all that food out – I’m frugal all the way down to my undies. So, I would use it and comfort myself with the fact that I would replace it with something better.

I will tell you that I did throw out a good bit of the soy that I found lurking in my shelves. Soy scares me now….and there is good reason to avoid it. I was scared to death that our budget would go to pot and we wouldn’t be able to afford high quality food – but let me tell you something, people….that’s a LIE OF THE DEVIL.

The mindset that we cannot “afford” good food for our family on a modest budget is not true.  We just have to prioritize and set goals. I quickly found out that my budget could stay the same by buying in bulk and buying items in season to freeze (I was already doing this since I was raised on a farm – so I have a preserving instinct).

Don’t buy into the lie that you can’t buy good food and you can only afford Twinkies and HoHos…just start slow and begin to replace your food with something better when it runs out.

Image by Sara Alfred

Out With the Soap

At first, the food seemed to make sense – but I still embraced my body wash and Colgate toothpaste. Don’t touch my Bath and Body Works stuff, dude – I might have bitten your hand off. But then I started to notice a change in Annie’s skin – it was rough and dried out. Depending on what type of soap I used on her, she got red splotches. Weird. Soap is supposed to make you feel clean and beautiful – not red and splotchy like you have the pox.

I immediately switched to natural soap for Annie and saw a HUGE change in her skin….and I slapped myself when I realized that it couldn’t be that great for Barry and I either. Duh.

Your skin is your largest organ – why slather it all over with chemicals? I can’t even pronounce that stuff and here I am smearing it inside my mouth. Doesn’t that seem crazy to anyone else?

So, now I’m buying homemade soap from a wonderful local lady – for our body, hair, and shaving. One product…more room in the shower – no bottles to knock over. Natural lotions and no fluoride in our toothpaste. Has this totally creamed my budget? Nope. I find that by cutting out all the unneeded mess, I had plenty of room to buy nice soap – one thing to do the job of many. Now I have this handy dandy little book from MadeOn called My Buttered Life with EASY recipes for making your own lotions…I can’t wait to dive in!

Do I still use some of that yucky stuff? Yep, I’m phasing it out and we’re almost done – “au natural” here we come! My next step in the bathroom will be to make our own deodorant. Being natural doesn’t mean you have to smell like Pepe Le Pew.

Natural Cleaning

I was already making my own laundry detergent because it was cheap….and I’m cheap (I try to embrace it). So, when I began the switch to natural cleaners, it was pretty easy.

Here’s a news flash: homemade cleaners are CHEAP, BABY! You can clean your entire house with white vinegar and baking soda. Natural cleaners are just a part of my cheap lifestyle – it’s a beautiful thing. I bought a great book called Simply Clean which has totally revolutionized how I clean now….it’s a miracle book full of cleaning recipes for every room in the house. It’s my favorite eBook of all time.

If you’re cheap, or you want to be cheap like me, then natural cleaners are a great place to start! If the food switch overwhelms you, start with cleaners first. I think it will make your switch a lot easier. Next on my list to make this a huge batch of liquid dish detergent, using the recipe from The Farmer’s Nest.

Where Am I Now

I’m still very new to this lifestyle….but I am excited about it and I’m blessed to have a husband that is on board.  I’m now delving into the world of natural medicines and it’s a little slower going – a lot of information to wrap my mind around – but I’m gradually changing out our medicine cabinet.

So, that’s my testimony – I wanted to share it with you because I know a lot of women out there are scared…scared of the switch – afraid they can’t do it. I’m living proof that it can be done – you can put down the coupons and save more money. And let me tell you something, honey – using coupons does not make you frugal. Switching to this lifestyle – making things at home and getting rid of the chemicals – still left us enough money in our budget to pay off our home mortgage balance of $20,000 in eight months on only one income.

You can do it – you can make the change. I’m with you all the way… I’ll be your cheerleader.

What has it looked like for you to move to a more natural lifestyle? What inspired your changes?

About Stacy Myers

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and a stay-at-home mom to her two children, Annie (3) and Andy (newborn). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with her daily antics.

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Comments

  1. AineMistig says:

    Stacey, so glad I found this article! Such a relief to hear “take it slow” when wanting to switch to a more natural lifestyle. I like your blog to begin with, and now I know I can utilize your site on links for homemade soap, etc. My biggest hurdle in switching to natural foods is we live in a tiny apartment with NO STORAGE. Between saving the big brother’s stuff for the baby brothers stuff and the books and the hall closet being used as a laundry room, the storage space is maxed out — otherwise, I’d love to buy in bulk! We have one of those refrigerators with a smaller freezer on top and a larger fridge on bottom, and I’m learning to make the most of that freezer with my homemade soups. I console myself with the notion that living and eating even a BIT healthier is better than none at all!

    But, anyway, thank you for writing this! I love stumbling onto your older posts that are some useful for my present day life!

    And PS: if you really want a tie dye skirt, let me know. I do tie dye. ;)

  2. I always enjoy my visits here with you Stacy. Thank you for sharing your journey…it’s always encouraging to read how others (you, in this case) keep a budget on a *real foods* diet. I hopped over from Keeper of the Home today to read this article. What you wrote over at Keeper of the Home was a great read, too. I appreciate your *real* encouragement! :)

    Many Blessings,
    Camille

  3. I had a friend keep asking me to teach him how to super coupon like on t.v. he knew I lived on very little and was convenced that was the best way to save money. so many things in coupon ads I would skip over because I would have never bought them in the first place but sometimes I’d see something I didn’t know about-cut the coupon and find it cost more than I imagined. sometimes there are store coupons for whole foods the only thing that was worthwhile was fiminine hygine stuff. i switched to cloth liners and menstral cup about same price as next three year generic brand (got it around 27 birthday you use a different size after child birth or age 30) after 17 years of not being able to function for a day or two a month with out ibprofen I haven’t had it in the house in 3 months. I use to fill guilty that I hated using toothpaste but then I found out most tooth pastes are bad and using a soft brush and water is perfectly fine I know eat one tiny spry “mint” candy after each meal. I use a roll on version of crystal deoderant especially after finding out breast cancer is in the lymphes in the arm pits antipersprent was out of the question. as for shampoo sauve started to be to harsh I switched to baby shampoo but it left build up no tangle spray would made my hair more pron to tangle I tried the generic form of wen it worked awesome but it was too much money I tried many other things like clay, castil soap, vingar, baking soda, cornstarch. not to say they didn’t clean my hair but nothing was as cheap or easy as what I had been use to until I decided to just use water. I bought a boars hair brush I still use the other brushes combs. but I will never use shampoo again I haven’t used it since late in august nor have I used body wash my hair is great and I don’t stink (note that I wened my self slowly off shampoo at the time I stopped I was using a small amont of mild shampoo once a week) . I still use hand soap and dish soap. I recently learned about wool dryer balls for cutting down on drier time it seemed you need 6-8 for large load which is all ever do they cost $5-11 each plus shipping so I looked into making them I found wool roving online at sugarloafwool for one dollar an oz the amount needed for each ball they seemed easy to make so I ordered enough to make 3 sets of 8. My mom’s my sister’s and my house. for christmas. The shipping rates made it logical to buy batting for making new quilt and mattress pad in the same order. the only disposibles I still do are paper towel for grease and truly yucky stuff I don’t want in my wash and rasors from the dollar tree and charmin ultra strong 2 ply is more than twice as good as 1 ply. I still have more to learn for sure but I just want to encourage you in your journey before trying a new product explore what using nothing at all looks like. way to go by the way!

  4. Stacey, this is the article that needed writing by someone who had lived the lifestyle. I have long advocated that couponing is for people who absolutely do not care about their health or don’t KNOW how bad all those foods are that they drop coupons on. Less expensive, or even FREE, is smoke and mirrors. It is not FREE if it will eventually make your sick, or lethargic, or cost you the price of medical services and prescriptions. I do not coupon. I have not couponed in a very long time because of these reasons. Someone like you who has truly been a dedicated coupon user will reach LOTS and LOTS of people who will listen to you because you’ve been there. GOOD FOR YOU!! And good for your family because of your decisions! I’ll be stopping back to learn more about what you’re doing. Really interested in the homemade soap you buy and the lotion recipes. I have LOTS of coconut oil. Hope it uses that. :)

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