(CBS4) – Andria Alexander and her husband Todd have two small children and a dog. Like many families, they have at times found themselves without enough money. Unlike many families, they’ve done something about it, and now they are sharing their tips for surviving, and thriving, in a bad economy.
The wife and mother of two said the trick to “Simply Frugal Living” is to always get something back when shopping and the same game plan works at any store or restaurant.
“I save our family about 31 or $32,000 a year,” said Alexander.
After their second son was born, she decided she wanted to quit her job and stay at home. Todd is the music minister at their church and earns about $40,000 a year, and they knew it would be tough, but she had a plan.
“We started by listing out all of our expenses,” she said. A lot of folks, you know, it comes in, it goes out; you don’t exactly know where it is going.”
“So, it’s a matter of grabbing hold of your expenses and figuring out where the money is going exactly.”
They cut back in every category, starting with groceries.
“I was able to cut that expense category consistently by 50 percent,” said Alexander. “By matching coupons with sales prices and then stocking up for six to eight weeks at time on a product when you could get it at its cheapest.”
The family of four spends just $200 a month on food, and that includes cleaning and paper products.
Alexander shops at various stores depending on which has the best deal, and she plans her weekly menu based on sales.
“My goal is to have at least two things going for me, if not three when I buy something,” she added. “I want it to be on sale. I want to have a coupon for it, and I would like if there could be some other promotion.”
Alexander also has some tips on how they save on utilities.
“Running the dishwasher and the washing machine at night when the rates are lower; always running a full load, never a partial load; washing your clothes on cold instead of warm or hot cause it doesn’t use as much gas to heat the clothing. Cooking food as much as possible in a crock pot to avoid running the gas on the stove,” she said.
Alexander also said they are not suffering. In fact, they are living and eating better than before.
She pays cash for almost everything, and every dollar has a spot in her “envelope system.” Each envelope has a category like groceries, clothing or eating out. When the envelope is empty, that’s it for the month; no more spending.
It isn’t easy and it’s time consuming, but it sure pays off, and she’s sharing the wealth through her website.
“I cover all kinds of resources for how to live frugally from coupon match ups for the grocery store, all kinds of resources to help people save in this economy,” Alexander said.
The Alexanders also take vacations and eat out, but how they live and spend never changes; pay in cash, always look for a deal, and double that deal if you can.
This report is based on an item that first appeared on CBS station KDKA