Miserly Moms

Woman with shopping cart of fresh produce in groery, holding a calculator over the cart handle

If the economy has gotten you down and you're dreaming of new beginnings this tax season, take the opportunity to review your budget and take tips from one of America's leading experts on frugal living: Jonni McCoy.

Jonni's story began in California, where she worked as a senior buyer for electronics firms but longed to stay home with her children. She knew that quitting her job meant that she would need to find ways to drastically cut her family's expenses. But as a professional buyer, she was confident she had the skills to pull it off.

Cutting expenses

When Jonni first approached her husband with the idea, he found it difficult to see beyond clipping coupons and saving a few dollars each week, so she tried a new approach.

Jonni compiled her research into a different format, a business proposal, where she calculated potential lifestyle changes totaling $18,000 in savings per year. Suddenly, her man was on board with the plan!

Rather than looking for ways to increase the family salary, Jonni is convinced that reducing the family budget is still the smartest way for families to accomplish their financial goals.

Jonni explains that goals may vary from family to family: "The goal may be for the woman to stay at home or reduce her hours at work, or the goal may be to get out of debt, to buy a house, to send a child to college." She believes it's important for couples to share the same goal and work as a team. Otherwise, it's far too easy to abandon their commitment to live frugally.

Adjustable expenses 

One of the things that Jonni's family learned is that food is a major part of adjustable expenses in a family budget. She offers the following tips that worked in her family to save money on the grocery bill:

  • Keep track of food prices and shop comparatively.

  • Prepare meals and eat at home more often.

  • Avoid convenient mixes and premade foods.

  • Plan your meals according to grocery sales.

  • Watch for coupons and rebates.

  • Cut back on meats.

  • Don't waste anything.

It's interesting to note that habits our parents and grandparents practiced are still useful in today's economy. Too bad they've gone from being "common sense" to being "countercultural."

Whether you're regrouping financially because of the tax season or you've been motivated to review your goals because of income adjustments, know that you are not alone in this process.

Embrace this new beginning as you discuss financial goals with your spouse and invite your kids to share in the adventure of living well on less in a tough economy.


Jonni McCoy and her family's adventure in frugal living have led to a best-selling book and an ongoing ministry. Miserly Moms, now in its fourth printing, includes tips and strategies that have helped her family save thousands of dollars over the last two decades. Jonni's has also released a cookbook, Healthy Meals for Less.


This article originally appeared on ThrivingFamily.com.

Copyright © 2010 by Focus on the Family

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