Who Rocks The Party?

FUW's resident party animal, Disco Stu was recently interviewed in The Pantagraph Newspaper. Let's all read and see what the "Mayor of Downtown Bloomington" has been up to recently...

Making Ends Meet: Single dad finds savings in coupons, saving energy

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 3:43 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON -- Weekly ads have become Lawrence Tucker’s best friends. “I’ve become a coupon cutter,” said the 28-year-old single father. “Mom always did it, but I never thought I would.”

But as the cost of everything increases, Tucker said coupons help stretch his budget.

It’s even rubbed off on his son, Jake. The 5-year-old recently saw a camouflage car seat on sale in an ad and decided that’s what he wanted as a treat after he got his last in a series of childhood shots.

“All the money I make goes into the house and Jake,” Tucker said.

He bought his west-side house about three years ago when the economy was better. He could get a good rate and wanted to give Jake some stability.

Heating bills for the two-story house have been challenging. Bills average about $1,300 for the five coldest months, so Tucker doesn’t pay until he gets his tax refund check. He said the late charges are worth not stressing about how to come up with the money each month.

He hopes next winter will be different. He recently got a new energy-efficient furnace through a grant from Bloomington’s Community Development Department.

Meanwhile, he’s slowly replacing light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescents.

“I buy a couple when I can or when they’re on sale,” he said.

To further stretch the check he receives as a bill collector at AFNI, Tucker often buys store-brand products, especially soda. He sticks with name-brand paper products but tries to find coupons that help cut that cost.

To save gas, he shops at grocery stores near his Miller Park neighborhood or close to work.

“I used to come home for lunch every day,” he said, often buying lunch on the way. Now he either skips lunch or takes a snack from home.

Having family in town also helps.

Tucker’s grandma and great-grandma watch Jake after school, saving the cost of a babysitter. His sister shops garage sales for some of Jake’s clothes; other family members hand down their kids’ clothes.

Recently, Tucker found a Cubs T-shirt that would have been perfect for Jake. But he couldn’t justify the price, so it went back on the store shelf.

Any extra cash goes for entertainment. Tucker has switched from buying new DVDs to getting used ones on the Internet. He also keeps an ear open for free activities for Jake.

“I don’t want him to suffer due to my financial struggles,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting creative. We go to the park a lot and also take advantage of the arena. They have half-price ticket night on Friday.

“I try to maximize my budget as best I can,” he said.


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