If you saw my latest "GMA Savings Makeover," you know that I saved the Gunn family of Oswego, N.Y., more than $58,000 by using six simple strategies. Their monthly savings will be $847 -- really meaningful money for them. This was my fourth Savings Makeover, based on the strategies in my book, SAVE BIG. Frankly, I started doing them because people were skeptical and I wanted to prove that the techniques in my book really do work and aren't hard at all. The Gunns approached me because their 2010 New Year's resolution was to pay their bills on time and start saving. Our story aired on Dec. 22, so we just made the cut off!
Tom and Nancy Gunn have always wanted to make their finances fit their family -- not the other way around. They have two sons of their own and over the years have adopted or taken in three other kids.
"We love the opportunity to help other children," Nancy said. "That's how our family ticks. The more the merrier. The more we can help the better we like it."
So my challenge was to find a way to stretch the salaries of a self-employed hairdresser and a school bus supervisor. I did it! Here are more details about how to duplicate these savings in your own life.
When I do these savings makeovers, I look for painless savings people can achieve with savvy tweaks. But I was worried about Nancy Gunn because she's in her 40s and self-employed and hasn't started saving for retirement, because she and her husband have always put the kids first.
So I suggested the Gunns cancel their cable TV service for aggressive savings. Actually these days it's not such a sacrifice because it's possible to watch nearly all of your favorite shows in other ways. The website www.CancelCable.com has a show-finder tool that tells you how. Many shows are available online and with a couple of simple cables, you can connect your computer and TV and watch on the big screen. Plus in the era of digital television, you can get 30 to 50 channels with a basic antenna. To my delight, the Gunns were totally open to the idea. They just hadn't thought of it!
By canceling cable, then bundling their home phone and internet service through their phone company they will save an impressive $128 a month -- $3,072 over the course of the two-year contract! I wanted the Gunns to drop their home phone service too, but unfortunately they don't get good cellular service in their own home.
I also found the Gunns terrific savings on their cell phone plan with the help of the indispensable website www.Validas.com. Here's how it works: You upload your cell phone bill to the website where special software analyzes it every which way. There are hundreds of factors that a human brain just can't compute, but a machine can. (Also check out the new Validas "My Peeps" App that helps you choose which people to put on your AT&T or Verizon friends and family free calling list for maximum savings.)