CHICAGO (CBS) — This might be the hardest time of the year to “Survive This Economy”. No one knows that better than families, like the Wrights, a suburban couple with four kids.
The holidays always mean spend, spend, spend; but this year, with some expert help, the Wrights set out to slash their holiday spending in half.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker followed up with the Wrights to find out how they did.
Home video is proof the Wright children had a very merry Christmas, but now that Santa is back at the North Pole, it’s time to assess the damage on Marcus Wright’s wallet.
“Christmas was fun; a little stressful, but fun,” he said.
That’s because the Wrights were on a financial diet while shopping this Christmas.
The couple was trying to cut last year’s $1,000 Christmas budget in half. They didn’t make it to $500, but Wright said, “I got a little better this year. I saved $200, because I only spent [$800.]”
He did that in part by resisting the urge to give his kids extra gifts.
“I told myself she doesn’t need that. They don’t need that. No, they’ve had enough. Let’s just slow down a little bit and just give them what they’re looking for, not the extra stuff that I would normally do.”
In addition to willpower, Wright said the family also incorporated tips from a shopping expert CBS 2 introduced to them during the holidays.
Brad Wasz showed Marcus smart phone apps where he could compare prices.
“I used the one app where I did the bar code scan to see if I could find it cheaper at another store,” Wright said.
In one case, a toy he was about to buy was $5 dollars cheaper online, so Wright asked the clerk to match the price.
“They were like, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can do that. Let me get the manager.’ So the manager came over and he was, like, ‘Yeah, we do match and we’d like to keep your business,’ so they did it. It worked,” Wright said.
While he saved money on some gifts, Wright also admitted he went over budget on presents for his mother and his wife, Sinora.
“I buckled and got what she wanted,” he said.
But he also learned a lesson.
“Better planning; understanding that I didn’t need to buy more than what was on the list. The kids were happy with what they had,” Wright said.
The Wrights hope to get closer to their $500 budget next year, so they have a plan. Next month, they’re opening up a Christmas fund.
Wright said the family will invest a few dollars every week and only spend what they save.
CBS 2 will help the family find the best fund to maximize their savings.
With the $200 cut in their holiday spending, plus the $22 savings on the electric bill, the $137 in credit card debt savings and the $360 they’ve saved by cutting down on fast food, the Wrights have a total of $719 in their piggy bank since November.