CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s hard to believe, but it was one year ago this week when CBS 2 introduced you to the Wright family, a suburban couple with four kids, trying to “Survive This Economy” by saving some serious money.

Over the past 12 months, the Wrights have saved nearly $8,500 on groceries, utility bills, credit card debt, and other expenses.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker shares some of the most important financial lessons the Wrights have learned in the past year.

Making lunch is a morning ritual for the Wrights. A year ago, lunch was fast food, but cutting back on eating out is just one of the many lifestyle changes they made during the yearlong “Survive This Economy” series.

“I’m hopeful that a lot of people learned what we learned doing this,” Marcus Wright said.

With the help of numerous experts, the Wrights learned how to save money on utility bills, groceries, clothing, and Sinora Wright’s favorite – paying off three credit cards with a combined debt of $1,800.

“It’s the beginning of the end of my credit card debt,” she said

Dr. Amy Johnson, a life coach, helped the Wrights stay on track. Last year, she compared their journey to a financial diet.

On Tuesday, she applauded them for having the discipline to get financially fit.

“No one makes brand new change, and keeps it going for a year straight, unless you have your eyes focused on the big picture, or the goal. So they stayed very focused on that,” Johnson said.

What also helped was having a supportive family.

“When I help my parents, it takes a lot off their back, so they don’t stress so much. And so, if I could help them by turning off lights when I leave the room, and the light bill really gone down, so that means more stuff for me,” 11-year-old Tierney Wright said.

Marcus said the changes his family has made over the past year to cut costs will definitely be permanent changes.

He said those changes include “us getting better about saving money, us cutting down a lot of unnecessary expenditures.”

“It’s been great. We’ve seen the benefits of doing that, and I just hope people learn something like I did,” he added.

More good news for the Wrights: back in February, on the advice of one of our experts, they opened a Christmas savings account, which has grown to $800 by putting away $20 a week.

That means, unlike last Christmas, they don’t have to use credit cards to buy toys and gifts for the family.

After a year of being on a financial diet, the Wrights have saved $8,457.

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