Frugal Moms Give Savings Tips

Find out how one mom cut her family budget by $35,000 a year.

ByABC News via logo
October 13, 2008, 7:50 PM

Oct. 14, 2008 — -- When work friends Marsha Flood and Kathy Sullivan were laid off from their jobs, the women knew they had to get serious about saving money.

The Chicago-area moms went well beyond saving a few bucks a month. Flood cut her family's annual budget by $35,000, and Sullivan paid off her mortgage in just five years.

Flood said once she started, saving became second nature, and she recommends people save as much as possible in good economic times, so they'll be prepared if money gets tight.

"It really does get ingrained in your brain, you can't really get rid of it," Flood said. "It is innate, it is just something you feel guilty [about] if you spend too much."

Flood saved at least $3,500 by hiring a medical claims professional who makes sure she gets a fair shake on medical bills.

She stretches out the time between haircuts by doing her own trims. When she does need a color and cut, she saves $75 a visit by getting it done at a beauty school.

She says she spends just $2 or $3 a day on food by cooking from scratch, freezing in bulk and limiting meat to three-ounce portions.

"It is good for your waistline, all my kids are very thin," she added.

Flood even files her receipts alphabetically by store name so it's easy to ask stores to match competitors' prices or adjust a price if something goes on sale. To her, every little bit adds up.

Sullivan paid off her home in just five years by sending all her extra money to the bank each month to go toward the principal on her loan. She saved $36,000 in interest payments.

Her philosophy is to go after the big savings.

"People spend $5,000 on furniture, and if I only spend $100 that is huge," she said.

She resisted making any home improvements until the home was really hers. Instead, she found solid wood furniture by hunting garage sales and thrift stores.

And she transformed herself into a do-it-yourselfer and saved $450 by refinishing an old bathtub and $250 by installing her own anti-flooding pump.

"I just go to the hardware store, get the materials and figure it out," she said.

Sullivan only buys used cars and pays for them in cash.

Without big bills to pay, the single mom managed to stretch her savings and stay home with her kids for three years after getting laid off from her job.

The frugal friends have different ways of cutting costs, but the results are the same -- little to no debt and some peace of mind even in a bad economy.