Families that cut a little last year are cutting more now

Moving to a smaller home

Last summer, when many other families were packing up to head for the beach, Deshaun Davis and her family were packing to head somewhere they never thought they'd have to go: to a smaller home.

Davis, her husband, Mert, and her 9-year-old daughter, Kyla, moved from a four-bedroom, three-bath house in Fort Worth that they sold for $365,000, to a three-bedroom, two-bath home in less-costly Lewisville, Texas, that they bought for $299,000.

"We wanted to save money," says Davis, 38. "The simplest way to save was by downsizing."

A year ago, when Davis' family was first feeling the effects of the economic slowdown, the college professor saved money by eliminating trips to the spa at her local Nordstrom for facials and lip waxes.

Now, the family has to do more.

Besides her full-time teaching job at Texas Woman's University, Davis took on a part-time teaching job, as well.

"Friends I know have lost homes and jobs," Davis says. "Then, I had an 'ah-ha' moment: It could be me."

So the couple sat down and looked at what they're spending. They had what Davis calls the "biggest conversation" about finances they'd ever had and scrapped spending plans that included a family trip to Walt Disney World.

Not cut: church donations. "That's the only thing we didn't change," Davis says. "It just wouldn't be right."

A scaled-back Christmas

It didn't feel lavish two years ago when William Muckelroy II and his wife, Lore, bought a $2,000 plasma TV for Christmas.

Things were different last Christmas for the couple from Eagle, Idaho. Their only gifts to each other: new tires for their cars.

That means Lore's 1999 Toyota Corolla, with 130,000 miles on it, will have to keep rolling for five more years, William says.

Next Christmas? "Maybe I'll get a pair of jeans," he says.

That's a long way from last February, when the couple's biggest move toward cutting costs was William carrying tap water to work instead of $1.29 bottles of Evian.

Now they're also paring back vacation costs. They typically take summer trips out of the country, but last summer they took a $600 trip to Las Vegas. And this summer they may visit Lore's folks in Pennsylvania, "but only if airfares are cheap enough," William says.

William also has stopped sending out dry cleaning — which used to cost him at least $100 a month. And after contributing $5,000 last year to his Roth IRA, he's not adding a cent this year.

"I haven't even thought about it," he says.

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