If saving money or getting out of debt are on your list of things to accomplish in 2018, Bellevue mom Nicole McDonald can help.
Nicole has been blogging, writing books and teaching classes for a decade about topics such as couponing, meal planning, budgeting and blogging with her home-based business, Mom Saves Money. Five years ago she published a book about saving money with coupons, and she just released her second book, The Extraordinary Art of Meal Planning (The Extraordinary Art Series Book 2) on Amazon.
This mom has turned her passion for saving money into a business that gives her flexibility to be there for her children and allows her to help others live better by saving money.
“Being able to help people is the most rewarding part,” Nicole said. “I like hearing people say, I was able to save money on my groceries, or I was able to get my budget under control. I’ve even had people say they’ve finally paid off their debt.”
The Art of Frugal Living
Nicole learned the art of frugal living from her parents, who were small business owners in Lincoln. After high school, Nicole served for seven years in the U.S. Navy and worked in the intelligence field. Part of her job in the Navy involved financial counseling for service members. While in the Navy, she also earned a bachelor’s degree in management studies and continued her education after her service by earning an MBA in marketing.
She eventually left the Navy to get married and start a family. She wanted to stay home with her daughter after she was born, and she knew the simple living concept that she learned as a child was the answer.
“I had really embraced the frugal lifestyle, and I really loved it,” Nicole said. She saved money by using coupons, and she wanted to share what she had learned with others.
Nicole read an article about how she could start a blog for free and possibly make some money, and that’s when Mom Saves Money was born. That was in 2008, and since then her business has helped hundreds of other families save money and find more joy in life.
In addition to her blog, Nicole began teaching classes about saving money. Her classes are offered through Metro Community College, Iowa Western Community College, and she is often hired by companies or groups of women to teach anything from Apps that Pay, Couponing, Freebies, Meal Planning, Budgeting and Frugal Family Fun. See a list of her upcoming classes here: Mom Saves Money Classes.
“I really enjoy teaching and helping people,” Nicole said. “That is one of my passions is just being face to face with people and helping them learn new skills. Financial issues can be really stressful. Time management can be stressful for a lot of people. All of my classes are to help you live better on less. Have more joy in life and just less stress. That’s kind of the goal of what I do.”
She has even become a resource for local media looking for information about saving money with coupons or the best Black Friday deals, even though she chooses not to shop on Black Friday anymore. Read her Black Friday Blog Here. She once invited a skeptical reporter from the “Bellevue Leader” to accompany her on a shopping trip to Target to show how she was able to save money with coupons. He was shocked, and the story of how she brought a $180 bill down to about $10 became a front-page story in the newspaper.
One of the things she has always loved was trying to win sweepstakes and giveaways. Recently, she won a $100 gift card to Cabela’s and a $100 gift card to Family Fare. Her daughter once won a $1,000 in an Omaha World-Herald Kick-Off Kid contest. Every Saturday, she posts on Facebook the Giveaway Linky, where she shares opportunities for readers to win freebies from bloggers and businesses.
One of her most popular weekly posts is the Omaha Area Grocery Deals & Coupon Match Up, where studies grocery store weekly sales and matches them up with coupons to let readers know where to find the best deals on groceries for the week.
Her simple recipes are also a big hit with readers. Her most popular recipe is Freezer-Ready French Toast Sticks. The recipe has been shared more than 87,000 times on Pinterest.
Practicing What She Preaches
Nicole and her family, which includes her husband and three children, ages 11, 9 and 7, live simply and frugally so they can enjoy life.
“We are very frugally minded, Nicole said. “I coupon, and we have an app where we track our budget. My car is 14 years old and has 130,000 miles, and I’m totally OK with that. It runs great. We live in a very modest house.”
She also gardens, preserves food and carefully plans her meals.
“I really enjoy doing those little things that save money so that we can plan for the future or we can put money toward vacations instead of stuff,” she said. “With travel being important to us, I make sure to budget so we have travel money.”
Also because of those choices, Nicole said their home will be paid off in 2-3 years
Sharing Her Knowledge Through Books
Nicole decided to write her first book about couponing after repeated questions about couponing from the students in her classes and from others.
Her book, The Extraordinary Art of Couponing by Nicole McDonald (2013-08-09) was a best seller when it was first released, and it continues to sell on Amazon for the frugal price of just $3.99 for the digital version.
Her new book, The Extraordinary Art of Meal Planning (The Extraordinary Art Series Book 2) sells for $4.99 for the digial version. The 60-page book teaches readers how to create a simple meal plan, how to create quick shopping lists to save money, how to freeze meals, preserve produce, batch cook, and how to save money on meat, and how to plan meals for picky eaters. It also has tips for using a slow cooker, and the bonus section contains 100 budget-friendly meal ideas.
Nicole’s next book, which she has already written and is currently editing, is called “The Extraordinary Art of Budgeting,” which focuses on how they paid off their credit card debt.
Saving Money in 2018
Nicole’s number one piece of advice for anyone looking to save money or pay off deft in 2018 is to know where your money is going.
“You can’t set a budget or guidelines for your spending if you don’t know what you are currently spending,” she said. “Start tracking your spending and paying attention and where your money is going.”
She recommends the free Every Dollar app by Dave Ramsey as a good place to start.
For more information about saving money,
Visit Nicole’s website, Mom Save Money
Note: All Amazon links in article are affiliate/referral links.