"I've certainly gone without food a night or two so my kids could eat," Adam Speck said. "It is a struggle, in this economy, to try to make ends meet."
Tiffany Speck, a registered nurse, added, "I do worry. These are their formative years, their critical growth period, and I want to provide them with the best nutrition, but I don't always feel that we're able to do that."
After listening to the Be CentsAble presentation, the Specks agreed it would make a difference for them.
"I think so," Tiffany Speck said.
"Absolutely," said Adam Speck.
The Specks and the rest of the participants all questioned whether they would have to spend a lot of time in order to save a lot of money.
Pate and McKee said they get that question all the time and that they have developed savings systems for people with limited time to plan. They suggest doing what you can and adding new strategies as shopping this way becomes second nature.
Pate said that, at first, learning how to layer her savings was time consuming. But now, she spends just four hours a month and saves $400.
Plus, she and McKee save other people time by sharing the best deals they find on their Web site, www.becentsable.net.
"We just saved our families so much money that we felt we had to share it," McKee said.
Another time-saver: Instead of clipping coupons, they save all recent Sunday circulars. And when they need a coupon for a specific product, there are Web sites that tell people which circular it's in.
For example, there's www.couponmom.com, founded by Stephanie Nelson, who got her start on"GMA."
And also, there's www.hotcouponworld.com, which is updated by participants.
Chris West attended her first coupon party in November 2008 and said already she has saved more than $600 on groceries and household items.
She told a funny story about the first time she checked out using her new skills. A teenager was working the register, and when West's price dropped from $56 down to $4.53, he panicked, thinking he had made a mistake.
"He was like, 'Oh, my gosh, I did something terribly wrong,'" West said. But she told him, 'No, you didn't. It's me.' I was so excited!"
"A lot of people compare it to, 'Teach someone to fish and they can eat for a lifetime,'" Pate said.
"That's kind of what we do," McKee added. "We come in. They learn all the strategies and they can use it forever."
Pate and McKee are in such demand that now they are training other people to hold coupon parties. They have already signed up people to teach in 20 different states.
Price Match at Wal-Mart:
Wal-Mart stores will match any price offered by a competitor within 60 miles. So, if you have limited time, one easy savings strategy is to look at the online circulars for local grocery and drug store chains, jot down prices for items you need and then make only one stop -- at Wal-Mart.
Hot tip #1: Pate puts her price match items in a different part of her cart, so they are all together and she can easily read them off to the clerk.
Hot tip #2: Wal-Mart will match other stores' sales on house brands by selling you its own house brand for the same price.
Target posts store coupons on its Web site for two weeks, but they are actually good for six weeks and often the same items will go on sale during those six weeks, so then you can double your savings by taking advantage of the sale and using a coupon.