The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

Dave Bruno


Author, The Money Saving Mom's Budget (2012)

Founder of Money Saving Mom website, which receives 4 million page views per month

Married,Jesse; 3 Children: Kathryn, 7; Kaitlynn, 5; and Silas,3;


Crystal Paine: The Money-Saving Mom

Crystal, 30, was homeschooled as a child.  Both Jesse’s and Crystal’s parents taught them the value of working hard and being good stewards of their finances.  Crystal’s mom introduced her to couponing and put her in charge of grocery shopping for their family of 9 while she was living at home.  Both Crystal and Jesse lived at home, worked and saved as much money as they could before they were married.  So the money they saved in addition to the money Jesse got when his mother passed away, gave Jesse, 31, and Crystal $35,000 in cash and no debt going into their marriage.  They put the money in savings and earmarked it for a purpose: three years of law school for Jesse. 

While they were both committed to work and stay out of debt while Jesse was in law school, Crystal had to take their frugality to a whole new level.  They imposed a beans-and-rice law school budget and in the process found dozens of ways to squeeze a dollar out of dime.  They even learned how to buy all their groceries and household products for $35 per week. Pinching pennies paid off because when Jesse graduated from law school in 2006, the Paines had no student loans or debt of any kind.

After law school, their income increased when Jesse landed a job that paid more than the bills.  They decided to continue to live simply and saved up for an enormous goal:  to pay cash for their first home.  Since they didn’t have any debt and had good income, they knew this was an attainable goal because they lived in a part of the country where housing prices were lower than in many other places.  Jesse and Crystal were willing to wait for 5 years.  Even while paying rent, they would be in a better position than if they saved up for a down payment, got a 15 year mortgage and paid it off in less than 10.  Before buying anything, they would carefully consider the purchase and usually found a way to make do with what they already had or go without in order to throw more money towards their house savings goal which, they admit, they did not meet every single month.  “Small steps can make a big difference,” says Crystal.  In 2009, Jesse and Crystal paid for the first home in cash.

Crystal says the first and easiest place to cut back is on the grocery budget.  “I always encourage people to start with their grocery budget because it’s one of the easiest and pain-free places to start,” says Crystal.  She says to shoot for $40 per person per week and work towards $20 per person per week.  “I believe everyone should use coupons,” she says.  With coupons, you won’t see a drastic cut in expenses right away, but she says to give couponing 3 months to start working.  Crystal says couponing is not cutting coupons and buying things you don’t need.  “You clip and match what is already on sale and what you need to buy,” she says.  Coupons are available in newspapers and online.  “You may clip a coupon and hold on to it for awhile,” Crystal says.  “You buy when it’s at rock bottom prices and with a coupon.”  Most stores run their sales cycles every 12 weeks.  Also you can stack manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons.  For example, if a box of crackers is on sale for $2.50 and there is both a store coupon for 50 cents off and a manufacturer’s coupon for $1 off, you can use both coupons, making it only $1.

Another secret for saving success is Crystal’s Buy Ahead Principle. “If you are willing to be patient, you can buy most items at 50% or more off retail.  When an item is 50% to 100% off its retail price, buy as many as you can afford in your grocery budget.”  Frequent the Dollar Store for spices and plastic bags.  Go generic as much as possible.  Buy grains and dried beans in bulk.  Use a crock pot.  Bake bread. Shop at bread outlets.  Buy marked-down groceries.  Use 1/2 recommended amounts of soap, shampoo and laundry detergent.  Serve less meat at meals.

A few years ago, Crystal shared about bargain-shopping on a blog and was inundated with questions on how she did so much on so little. Soon Crystal started  They give 100% of the proceeds of private ad sales to Compassion International and Show Hope.        

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