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Digging My Way Out of $40K in Credit Card Debt

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collin holding up a stack of coupons

Debt is scary, but it IS possible to get out.

Financial struggles have been a big conversation between me and my team lately. So much so that we’ve decided to launch a series of posts dedicated to this topic. In fact, I recently opened up about how I found myself $40,000 in debtyes, that’s a 5-figure number!

To leave off from where I was in the first part of the series, I had officially hit rock bottom. I was pregnant with my daughter Piper and truly wasn’t taking the best care of myself. I was struggling with bulimia and the vicious cycle continued even though I was pregnant with my third child. The weight of the guilt and shame I was carrying seemed to be getting heavier and heavier as I continued to numb the pain with bulimia. Binge, purge, binge, purge…  my daily life was wrapped up in this vicious cycle.

Oh the guilt I felt for failing as a mom, not only to my sweet baby girl inside of me, but also to my two boys right there in front of me just wanting the simple gift of a present mom. I felt like an empty vessel of a person just going through the motions in life without actually living it.

Not many people were aware of my relationship with food since I had isolated myself from sharing those struggles with my friends and family. That said, it was clear to them that I wasn’t in a good place. Keep in mind, at this point, my family and I were struggling financially – BIG time. Things sure get expensive when you are trying to keep up with the Joneses AND feed your addiction.

I hit rock bottom one weekday morning while crying on the bathroom floor. I finally said to myself, “I can’t do this anymore,” and shortly after picked up the phone to call my dad to ask for his support not only emotionally, but as well as financially, to help me get treatment.

So I checked into rehab.

Without anyone else prompting me, I knew I needed help, and I knew that unless I was truly wanting to break this addiction, rehab would have been a waste. I am so fortunate that my dad was able to help get me into a great rehab facility to begin working on regaining the mental and physical strength to fight my eating disorder, especially since Piper would be due in the coming months.

But one of my biggest takeaways from being in that treatment center wasn’t centered on my own problems, but instead on the hurdles that others have to tackle every day. It gave me that eye-opening realization to count my blessings and be thankful for what is going right in my life. Talk about a perspective check!

While I was in the 28-day program, we were lucky enough to have my mother-in-law come out to help with the kids and the support I felt from my family definitely kept me motivated to complete the treatment even when it felt like too much. I came out feeling like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and just overall so much better, but just because I had finished my program didn’t mean that it was smooth sailing. Even to this day, the struggle with food still lingers because it was an addiction that engulfed my life for years.

Nevertheless, I was ready to be in control and get healthy, not only personally but financially! Since I wasn’t spending loads of money anymore to continue my food numbing and retail shopping coping mechanisms, it shed light on just how much money I was actually throwing away each month. When I heard about couponing, I had no idea those little pieces of paper would have such a powerful impact on not only paying down my debt, but help me to launch a business, and regain control of my life.

First, I had to learn the ropes of shopping with coupons.

Anyone who dives head first into couponing will tell you that there is A LOT to learn and a whole lot of math that comes with it. Remember when I said that I grew up struggling in school? Well, imagine my excitement when I finally got couponing and was able to apply this knowledge to our family’s day to day expenses and start actually saving us money—the complete opposite of what I was doing before (AKA spending money we did NOT have!). Love those light bulb moments!

Having never felt great at much of anything created a depression that painted a negative image in my mind of myself and my value. But because I was finally grasping a concept, it reinforced my confidence and self-worth to ignite that fight I had against my low-self esteem, health struggles, and my debt. It was a small win but it was life-changing.

I will admit, prior to having that light bulb moment, it took me months to understand the whole coupon thing. In the beginning, I was honestly spending money on items that our family didn’t necessarily need. Learning which deals made sense to purchase for our family was a key factor in actually SAVING us money. Is it really a deal when I have a stockpile of endless bottles of personal care and beauty products, with many being items that my family doesn’t use?

The thrill of getting a great deal with those magical pieces of paper can be addicting. And as you all know from my first post, this gal (that would be me) has got an addictive personality. So needless to say, when I first started couponing, I got a little too excited about the freebies and deals… and to keep things real, was spending MORE money on products my family didn’t even use. 🙈 Collin, Collin, Collin…

Months went by and I finally had the much-needed light bulb moment when my hubby asked me a simple question, “How come we have so many bottles of curly hair styling products when none of us have curly hair?” – Welp, I really couldn’t answer that with anything that would make sense. However, that question made me reevaluate why I was couponing and I quickly realized that I needed to change my focus. It was no longer about the thrill of the deal, but about truly saving my family money.

Having to discipline myself to only make purchases that made sense for me and my family is how I came out on top while couponing.

Cash Envelope System

In addition, I found that using a cash-only system when shopping kept me honest about my purchases. Knowing I had a set amount of money in my purse made sure I stuck to my initial shopping plan without any add-on items. This was especially helpful when I was grocery shopping as it made me so disciplined to stick to the grocery budget as I would leave my debit/credit cards at home. We all know how tempting it can be to drop a few extra items into the shopping cart – and then BOOM… budget blown.

As I got better with my shopping habits and scoring deals, I started sending them off via email to my friends and family. I was so excited about all the money I was saving and had to share! And then I got a reply back to one of my daily messages from my sister, Marley, that said, “You are sharing so much awesome info with us, you need to start a blog so that you can continuing sharing all of this with others, too…”

And then, Hip2Save was born.

collin wearing hip2save gal t shirt with coupons all around her

Way back when the site was hosted on Blogspot (in 2008), I started cranking out the deals to a small and humble following. One reader turned into 10, which turned into 100, and the more I posted, the more my site grew. I couldn’t wait to share the latest coupons and deals, and I was thrilled when I realized that this newfound passion was actually becoming a viable business. I felt empowered, excited, and just downright smart.

It also felt so great to be good at something, especially since it was helping me cut back on my spending so I could finally start paying down my credit card debt. And I was having so much fun! I was a one-woman show back in 2008, on top of the world, and I loved every second I spent working on the site.

However, the site did require a lot of time and it never really “closed” so I was essentially working 7 days a week. It was to the point that I had my laptop out during family events making sure my readers knew about the latest CVS deals or hot promos at Walgreens. To keep it real, as exciting as it was to be growing Hip2Save into a thriving site, there was no balance in my life and Hip2Save was all-consuming.

I was working for hours on Hip2Save each day – NOT because I was hoping to make money and grow a business, but because I was so passionate about sharing all of this money-saving knowledge with others. I truly had no clue back in 2008 that you could actually make money blogging. I still have to pinch myself as it’s pretty incredible to get to do what I love while making money and supporting my family… and I’m even more grateful that I get to employ people around the country who share in my passion.

Thinking back, I am so incredibly appreciative of my supportive husband who was serving in the Marine Corps when I began blogging and was always my cheerleader, even back then when I really didn’t know where this was going.

“How can I help?”

Collin and Bryn Hip2Save

I hired my first team member—my sister, Bryn, in 2009. She helped me source coupons, write posts, and respond to our awesome readers. I loved having her by my side through the ups and downs, and I could never put into words just how grateful I’ve been to have her in my life.

We spent a couple of years fine-tuning the site, only to realize we hadn’t stopped growing, which is a great problem to have in the blogging world! I brought on a few more employees to grow our team and felt overwhelming joy when I realized this passion-project-turned-business was actually helping others improve their financial wellbeing as well.

In fact, Stacy, one of my amazing employees, happened to share this message with our team recently:

“One of my original goals when I started working at Hip2Save was to pay down our debt. I hated seeing so much of our one-income budget going to paying creditors. Well… today was the day. All of my credit account balances are officially $0. It only took about 18 months…”

Phenomenal, right?! Being surrounded by such an inspiring community of like-minded, financially-savvy and passionate individuals is one of the reasons I love to wake up each and every morning, grab a cup of coffee and jump onto my computer.

Learning how to coupon, sharing my finds, and becoming empowered through saving money has changed my life entirely!

Couponing has certainly changed over the years with more policy restrictions and a focus towards digital promotions. While I am grateful to have been able to turn my financial situation around years ago, many of the savings tactics I used no longer apply, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other successful strategies I can share.

Stay tuned as there’s much more in this series!

We’ll be posting ways to earn, ways to save, and ways to be smarter overall when it comes to your money.

Join The Discussion

Comments 120

  1. PJ

    Collin, your story is so inspirational! Couponing has been a lifesaver for many people, including myself. Your story makes me want to work even harder to find ways to save money and cut costs! Thank you for being so open & honest. I am a Hip2saver for life🤑

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. ❤️ I am so incredibly grateful to have such supportive readers like you in my life.

  2. Melissa

    Thanks for your vulnerability! Never easy to do but always so worth it as it helps so many others and ourselves! Thankful for you and your team this morning.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)


  3. Tiffany

    Your site has been a lifesaver for my family and I. I am a stay at home mom, 5 kids, my husband does not make a ton of money but I am able to stay at home with your help! I have learned to budget, coupon, deal shop. Heck…..I almost have Christmas done for next year already! Lol. You are a blessing to my family, and I am sure all of your readers. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. BIG HUGS! 🤗

  4. Meredith

    Collin, I look up to you so much! I started following years ago (over 8 because my daughter just turned 8..)! Thank you for sharing your story, for being honest, and for all that you do to help others. Your hardwork has helped my family so much! Love the Hip2Save team!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are so welcome Meredith. And thanks for taking the time to comment – so grateful for our community. ❤️

  5. Shellie the Bookworm

    Collin I just love you and your team! I honestly don’t know how long I have been Hiply-Saving, but it’s got to be around 10 years. 🙂 Couponing has helped keep me inspired to find the best deals for my little family since my first baby was little. I love how fun your posts are, how you put a positive spin on everything. When life gives you lemons, am I right?! 😉

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awww, thanks so much Shellie! And I loved your last sentence about the lemons! 😉🍋

  6. Amanda

    Thanks for sharing and all that you do! You are so inspiring! My husband and I are just starting the process of paying off debts so his whole paycheck doesn’t go to bills each month. It’s so easy to create bills without really realizing and so hard to get rid of them. We are young with 3 kids and want a better future for them!

  7. Suz in OH

    Colin, I have been with you for many years, and so appreciate that you have shared your story during that time. Being debt-free is one of the most important things anyone can do for their future, financial and otherwise. I really liked in your story that you realized you were buying and stockpiling things your family did not need. The BUDGET is the key to a healthy financial journey. Deals and coupons are steps taken on that journey. Best wishes to you and your family, the Hip2Save team and your community of followers.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you so much. ❤️

  8. Julie C.

    While your story is inspirational I do not have a husband or family to call for financial assistance. I work 3 part time jobs. I am barely surviving. How do I pay off my two credit cards? I owe $3,800.00

    • MrsFelix1004

      Do you have a monthly budget? Have you ever used mint or something similar to track where you spend your money?

    • Nubianqueen

      Cut down on eating out. Pack your lunch. Take baby steps on the purchases that you can cut back on. Coffee, tea snacks are expensive daily. Make them at home can save you some money.

    • JenB

      See if you can get a full time position somewhere instead of the part time jobs. I went from having 3 low-paying jobs to having 1 job and I make more at that one than I did at the 3 combined. I also have some free time now! Go to your local job center. Your unemployment office might have a re-employment office that can help. They also have federal grants where they can send you to school if you’re underemployed. Can you get a (trustworthy) roommate to help out?

    • Cindy

      Dave Ramsey

    • JD

      Everyone has given you great advice. There are only two ways to get out of debt: spend less or make more. If you are at all mechanical find out what apprenticeships are available in your area and apply. Google it or ask your local librarian for help. My plumber hires and trains their own and the head plumber is a woman. The trades is the quickest way to increase your training and income if you have any inclination. If not go to your local state employment office, public library, or local college and ask what free career services are available. Examine your credit card bill. It will tell you the amount you need to pay to get rid of the debt in three years. That’s the amount you need to aim for. Are there any services you can do without such as cable or a phone data. Have very low cost but nutrious meals such as dried beans, eggs, and oatmeal. You have a heavy load with three jobs.

  9. Meerasmom

    Thank you so much for this post Collin and for all that you and the team do at Hip2Save. I came to this site as a young first time mom buckling under student loan and credit card debt. For the past 8 years I have literally been coming to your site every single day. Through an incredibly wrenching divorce, lack of child support, and single momhood, I’ve been able to stay afloat and feel independent because of this site. I’ve paid down debts and created a safe space for my family financially. I owe you so much, thank you!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      I sure appreciate you taking the time to share about your own personal struggles. Your kids are so blessed to have such an amazing mom. ❤️

  10. Meliza

    Collin, You are Ah-mazingggg! You’ve taught Me so much and I appreciate You very much, Thank You!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are so welcome. And thank YOU for the kind words. 🙂

  11. jo

    U rock and ur team rocks…thank you for being real …its life and stuff happens and it’s nice to know ur not alone !!thank you thank you!!

  12. Shelly

    Collin, Thank you for starting Hip2Save, it is my favorite web site for great deals and coupons! You should be very proud of yourself.

  13. Kari

    Thanks, Collin, for everything you’ve shared over the years. I’ve been a daily follower since two duty stations ago (my hubby is now retired). I have saved a ton of money taking advantage of the deals you post and I appreciate YOU! Thanks for being transparent and sharing a very person side of yourself with us. Xo Kari

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are so welcome. Thanks for being a loyal follower through the years. ❤️

  14. AshleyBeth

    You are so AWESOME Collin, such an inspiration. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  15. JenB

    I love your site. It has helped me save a lot of money and I frequently pass on your posts to friends. Thanks for all that you do!

  16. Amy


    • Oh Lord

      Umm did i sttttutterrrr?

      • Vanessa

        You didn’t stutter but certainly seem “phonier” yourself since you’re actively following her, her team and her page.

  17. A good person

    Grow up lol. The fact you took time to post this is hilarious and shows how much of a low life you really are

    • MrsFelix1004

      And honestly you might complain but obviously you have used this site for something helpful so be thankful.

      • Oh Lord

        Sure have. But im on to get deals and saving not to hear a sob story. Yes I can move on I have and will but Im calling out the nonsense phoney story. They keeps adding on new sites that i dont visit because Im only interested in shopping deals, but cant they create somewhere where hip2save has their journal type stories. More and more its turning into an online journal and thats not what was originally intended. Post the stories on FB and keep a deal site a deal site. You opinion is not wrong but neither is mine.

  18. Kate

    I am proud to say that I’ve been with Hip2Save since the very beginning- back in the blogspot days 🤣
    Your site is always so positive and uplifting.
    Also, thank you for being so open about your struggle with bulemia. I’ve also had a long struggle with my weight and food. No matter how low the number on the scale is (during unhealthy times) or how hard I try to have a positive body image (during health times) I just can’t seem to be kind to myself. Just last night I got rid of my scale! It was very liberating!
    So thank you for talking about this and reminding me that there is hope ❤️

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and for being a loyal follower through the years. I sure appreciate YOU.

  19. AshleyBeth


    • becky

      Why are you such a bitter person:(

      • CassadieMomdukes

        Why do you follow? Just ignore stupid comments. It makes all of us, me included, look like we have nothing better to do.

  20. Diana

    You are so brave to share this story. I had no idea that you went through so much to get to where you are now. You are truly an inspiration! Thank you for that, and of course, also for the wonderful savings tips!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you. ❤️

  21. Gisette

    Thank you for sharing today,Collin!

    Thanks to your hard working Hip2Save team members as well!


    Keep up the hard work guys!!!!


  22. Amy

    Thank you for sharing! I have been following since 2010 and I am so grateful for you. I, too, share in eating problems and have for many years. Sometimes it’s nice to know I’m not alone. God bless you Collin💗

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are definitely not alone. BIG HUGS! ❤️

  23. Melissa

    Hip2save + Dave Ramsey = taking control of your finances😃

    Thank you Collin😃

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awww… LOVE that! Thank YOU! 🙌

    • Kaylee

      A to the -MEN! I couldn’t agree more. And Colin, I’ve been with you for 10 years, since you were brand new and you’ve impacted my family so much. Helped us to be debt-free just six months after grad school, with four kids!

  24. Gisette

    Just ignore it. The fact the individual had to make up a fake name speakers to his or her character..,🤷🏼‍♀️

    • Gisette


    • Oh Lord

      🤮 so thats your actual name?

  25. Sara

    Thank you for all you do. I started following in 2012 and it’s changed our lives. There are other coupon sites out there, but Hip2Save is the best. The clarity of your posts and scenario breakdowns. 5 stars. You helped me save enough to take off work for awhile with coworkers who make more money than me shocked in disbelief that we can afford it.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Your comment means so much! I will definitely be passing along to the team. ❤️

  26. Beth

    You are amazing!!! What an inspirational story! Thank you for everything you do and for just being your amazing self!

  27. Laura

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, Collin! I’ve been following the site (and recommending it to others) for years, but I now feel like I know you, and I have a greater appreciation for all you all do to share ways to save money. I have been grateful for all of the deals I’ve gotten based on your tips, but am grateful for the teen job tips and other savings ideas. Keep up the great work, and you (and your team) are awesome at what you do!!!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you so much Laura!

  28. Oh Lord

    Yes becky we saw your amen the first time.

  29. Casey

    I just want to say that I’ve been following you since the beginning. Thanks to you I got going with couponing and deal hunting and I am happy to say my finances are the healthiest they’ve ever been. Through 2 layoffs and a huge amount of credit card we made it to the other side. NO MORE CC debt and I have nice savings account to fall back on. THANK YOU, HIP2SAVE! Thank you for sharing this story! Thank you for inspiring so many people!

    • Casey


    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      WOW! That’s amazing! BIG CONGRATS! 🎉

  30. Rosanne

    Thank you for your openness and willingness to share, Collin! I’ve followed you for years and am always learning from you and your team.
    Again, thank you!!!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are SO very welcome. ❤️

  31. Donia

    Really inspirational and how very blessed you are today. I enjoyed reading these posts and I remember telling everyone when I discovered this site years ago. It had me drop some others I followed to only follow this one at the time. It has changed and evolved over the years. I will say I do not like the ads as much but understood fully why they are there.
    thank you for sharing,


  32. Ileana

    You’re so inspirational! I’ve been a follower for 10 years in October! Thanks to you and your team for all your hard work ❤️

  33. Kat

    Collin, you have saved my family. I’ve been following you for just shy of 10 yrs. Every Christmas, every birthday, every good deal – all have helped me support my family on my own way. I even have my husband on board (is there a coupon for this? How can we save?)! We have 5 kids and I cannot IMAGINE how things would be without you and your websites. And not only have you helped me with good deals, you helped save my marriage from crumbling over finances. We currently have just under 10k of debt to pay down and we are even saving for a Disney trip next year! I cannot say THANK YOU enough! You truly are a wonder!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Awwww… your comment means so much! Thank you for sharing and congrats on paying down your debt and saving for a trip to Disney. SO awesome!! 🙌

  34. Mika

    This is a great post. I wanted to suggest though that you add a disclaimer about couponing for the thrill of the deal or saving money on your homepage. When I started couponing after I found your blog, I just kept getting things I didn’t need because they were either free or cheap with coupons. After couponing for a few years, I’ve only recently realized that I need to slow down and stop spend money on things I don’t need just because it’s a good deal. I still managed to pay down a significant amount of debt and save some money, but I could have saved a lot more if I had a reminder to focus on buying things that I need and stop chasing deals.

  35. Rachel

    I’ve been following you since 2009! I had no idea it was almost the very beginning for you! You really helped me get my family items we needed and remain budget conscious during our PhD years! We had no real income and it helped us stretch every single dollar! You really are amazing and I’m so grateful!

  36. fran


  37. Bethany

    Thank you for sharing this. ❤️

  38. Hilary

    The reason I get to stay home with my baby is by saving money and getting deals on stuff my other kids need. I don’t think we could financially survive without it.

  39. amy r

    Thanks for the hope that you give to people like me who find themselves in a continual cycle of spending. There IS a way out. It CAN get better. Now, i need to find myself a path…

  40. amy r

    What are you reffering to?

  41. Bunny

    Collin you are lovely beyond words. You have helped so many readers over the years with your special brand of humor and honesty.

    You are a treasure and your gifts to others are most appreciated. Thank you for all you and your team do every single day.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you Bunny. ❤️

  42. Alice

    Praise the Lord! What an amazing testimony to overcoming and helping others!

  43. Michelle

    I’m so glad you are winning the battle!
    Thank you for all you have done for me, my family and friends.
    You are a blessing for us and we appreciate you!

  44. tiph

    Thanks food sharing.

  45. Randy

    Thanks for sharing! So excited for you and your family and how far you have come!

  46. Celeste

    Thanks for everything you do and you are appreciated more than you’ll ever know! You rock girl!❤️

  47. Gail

    Love you Collin! I was one of your original blog followers back in 2008! That was the same year I started couponing. It was much different using coupons back then, but I’m still able to score some good deals now. I’m so happy that you have over came your addiction. I don’t personally know you, but I feel like I do! You are an inspiration and I am so proud of you and your accomplishments! Thank you for all of your tips over the years! You have saved me thousands of dollars♥️

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Thank you so much Gail! I sure appreciate you being a loyal reader for OVER 10 years now! 🤗

  48. Caitlin

    I started reading your blog in 2010. At that time, I was a stay at home mom with a newborn with a congenital heart defect, we were at the poverty line despite my husband working 60 hours a week, and I was terrified. I think I originally found you by searching for ways to save money on diapers. I have been a daily reader since then, and despite living in 5 different states since, have managed to find deals no matter where we’ve lived. I can’t even begin to estimate how much money you’ve saved my family. I read other blogs, but yours is the only one I consistently come back to. 9 years later, life is so much better, thanks in part to the money you saved us. My son is a healthy, happy third grader, our finances are on track for us to be debt free soon, and we’re finally expecting baby #2. Thank you so much!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Your comment sure touched me. Thank you so much for opening up about your own personal struggles. I sure appreciate YOU. ❤️

  49. Jeanette

    Thank for sharing your experience. We are working on paying off our credit card debt. Your story is so inspirational.

  50. Kathy O'Rourke

    Beautiful and brave post with lots of great information and inspiration! I think I started reading shortly after you started. It has been fun to see how much the site has grown, but from day one it has been full of great tips and has always helped me! You and your team have a fabulous attitude and your spirit of gratitude is a great model.

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