Monday, February 2, 2009
Today on Oprah -- Cheap Families
Families all over the country are tightening their belts during this economic crisis, but some people are actually finding that cutting back can lead to richer lives. The Heinz family makes a net income of $58,000 a year—but they have $70,000 in savings. How'd they do it?
365 Ways to Live Cheap: Your Everyday Guide to Saving Money
Sue Heinz is a stay-at-home mom with four children living in Sarasota, Florida. To keep their family out of financial worry, she and her husband, Brett, have gotten thrifty. With a prepaid cell phone used only for emergencies, the family's monthly bill is just $5.
By brown bagging his lunch and carpooling to work, Brett spends little money during the work week and saves $122 each month on gas.
Sue has found a way to snip $550 from their yearly budget by cutting the family's hair herself. And with a little online research, Brett found out how to do his own home repairs and says he has saved more than $6,000.
Sue says their thriftiness began 11 years ago when she and Brett first moved to Florida on a teacher's salary. "We had goals," she says. "We wanted to own a home, we wanted to have a big family—and we knew we had to set our priorities to make that work."
The ride hasn't been all smooth sailing, and Sue says they incurred some credit card debt along the way. "But I'm very happy to say, and proud to say, that we're paying it back at nearly three times the minimum balance," she says.
Although they've had to cut back in certain areas, Sue says their thrifty ways haven't curbed their lifestyle one bit. "We go to the beach once a week, we go bike riding with the kids, we do all kinds of fun things," she says. "There are second-run movie theaters; there are a lot of ways to have fun without spending money."
"It's an alternative to living beyond our means, really," Brett says. "Instead of spending too much money on things, we just make choices."