Three families step up for KATU's 'Spending Freeze Challenge'

Three families step up for KATU's 'Spending Freeze Challenge' »Play Video
KATU Problem Solver Shellie Bailey-Shah helps out the Hill family's credit by literally freezing their credit cards in a container of water.

The KATU Problem Solvers are always looking for ways to save you money.  A few months ago, we challenged you to go an entire month without spending a dime.  And yes, some brave viewers took on the “Spending Freeze Challenge” for 30 days.

“It’s an exercise in setting priorities. What do you need as opposed to what do you want?” explained Problem Solver Shellie Bailey-Shah. “Where does your money really go?  And how much could you save if you were accountable for every cent?”

Our first family is Pat and Paul Buescher, adventure-seeking retirees who live on Hayden Island in a floating home. The couple has traveled the world, visiting seven continents. They signed up for our challenge as a way of saving for their next big trip, a Mediterranean cruise aboard a luxury sailboat.

“We're always up for a challenge,” said Paul.

“Our travel budget borders on the obscene, so when we're home, we try to spend less money, so we'll have the money for travel,” explained Pat.

The biggest stumbling blocks in their budget: eating out and gas.

Like all our families, we allowed the Bueschers to buy a month's worth of groceries and fill the tanks in all their cars once before starting the challenge. The focus of the challenge: eliminating the non-essentials.

Our second family is Kimberly and Gert Zoutendijk and their two teenagers, Jessica and Michael, from Newberg.

Kimberly is an extreme couponer in training - a lifestyle change she made last year after seeing our “Frugal Living” series.

After picking the greenest bananas that she could find at her local store (they need to last for weeks), Kim said goodbye to her grocer, who she sees nearly every day.

“It pains me to hand over $100,” said Kim to the cashier.

“It will be the last $100 you hand him for a while,” reminded Bailey-Shah.  

With a stockpile of groceries already in place, Kim hopes this challenge will push her family to the next level of frugality.

But her firefighter husband, Gert, could be the weak link.

“I wasn't too thrilled about (the challenge),” admitted Gert.

Gert has one out. Because of his job and long commute, we didn't put a gas restriction on his truck.

Our last family is Justin and Jillianne Hill and their two young children, Gregory and Audrey, from Hillsboro. Battling back from bankruptcy, they, perhaps, have the most to gain from our challenge.

“People started saying that's impossible,” said Jillianne, “Then I realized that they weren't meaning impossible in general, they meant for us … for me.” 

“And that's all she needed,” added Justin.

Motivated by the naysayers, the Hills are out to prove that they can control their finances.

To help, Bailey-Shah took the couple’s credit cards, put them in a container of water and then put the container in their freezer, effectively freezing their credit for the next month.

But it's the couples’ daily trips to Dutch Brothers for mochas that may be hard to ice.

“We know (the baristas) by name,” laughed Justin.  “We know their work schedules.”

“One of the baristas became Gregory's babysitter,” added Jillianne.

The family took one last pass through the Dutch Brothers drive-thru.  And then, the challenge was on!

Check back on Wednesday on Thursday to see how our “Frugal Living” families are doing with the challenge. We’ll air the stories on KATU News at 6 and post them on KATU.com.