It all started with a trip to Disney World.
Since they were preschoolers, twins Tai and Tarin Perry, who live in Chicago’s south suburbs, had been begrudgingly clipping coupons for their mom, Gayle.
“They talked about me like I was not a good mother. ‘There goes Ma making us clip coupons.’ They would hate to go to the store with me,” Gayle says, laughing. Gayle Perry, who also has three other children, Duane, Kelli and Justin, worked as a nurse on the weekends when the kids were young, and on her lunch break, she collected patients’ discarded newspapers and brought them home. Every Sunday the children were required to sift through at least 50 newspapers for coupons.
They hated the Sunday night ritual.
But then 140 Box Tops changed their mind. Those Box Tops cut from food packages, which the Perrys had been saving for years, won the family four plane tickets to Orlando and their first Disney World vacation.
“The tide turned for my children when Chex Cereal ran this crazy promotion,” says Gayle. To earn the tickets, each family member needed to submit Box Tops from cereal or other food packages.
After that trip, the Perry kids had a new appreciation for couponing.
And the twins, who turned 34 in March, have taken their mother’s obsession with saving to a new level.
Like their mother, they faithfully clip coupons and scour store circulars and advertisements for discounts and promotions. But they also search the internet for deals and regularly stop by stores to find information on specials. They easily save $5,000 a year each for their families.
And the frugal sisters, who have been featured on the TLC show “Extreme Couponing,” want to help other people save money. Three years ago, they launched a website, doublesavingdivas.com.
The website features daily and weekly deals, discounts and promotions, as well as advice on saving and becoming financially stable. The sisters teach couponing classes and speak to groups and organizations about financial freedom.
“Our focus is more on showing people the deals,” says Tai. “We scout and find deals. The premise of the site is showing people how to save without compromise. We’re saving experts.”
Tai and her husband Talaat have three children: Emmanuel, 4, Brinkley, 2, and Grace, 9 months, and Tarin and her husband Corey have a daughter Rylee, who turns 2 in June, and at press time they are expecting a baby in May.
Saving has become a way of life for the sisters and their families.
Before having children, Tai and Tarin worked in the finance industry, but both became stay-at-home moms two years ago and got more involved with the website.
“In our profession, we came across a lot of people we saw who were struggling. We saw people who really didn’t know they could save in some areas,” says Tai. “It’s truly a passion of ours. We weren’t looking to get paid or come off our jobs. It just happened.”
The website became their business. Not only do they save money, but they also receive money from advertisers and companies who pay them to promote products they love and trust.
“Planning ahead is very important,” says Tarin.
“There’s no reason you should go out and pay full price for anything,” she says. The sisters often plan meals weekly based on what’s on sale. They also shop around. Depending on the sales and promotions, Tai and Tarin might hit three or more stores before their shopping is complete.
Along with couponing and taking advantage of promotions, Tai and Tarin advocate buying in bulk—but not at bulk stores.
Shoppers save the most when they use coupons toward items and stock up on items that are on sale, Tarin says. Tarin started stocking up on diapers a couple of years before she was pregnant with Rylee. By the time Rylee was born, she had more than enough diapers in varying sizes.
“My daughter is almost 2 years old and we’re still using the diapers,” Tarin says. “Every time I go to change my daughter’s diaper, I see how really grateful I am to make that move. It’s tremendously blessed my household. We were prepared.”
Diapers aren’t the only items the twins have stockpiled.
In the basement of Tarin’s home is a collection of cleaning products, paper towels, toilet paper, canned goods, cereal and other nonperishables. They joke that they “shop” in the basement when they need something. Though Tarin and Tai love being prepared, they are more focused on saving.
“It’s something fun and thrilling. It makes us proud. Our husbands go out and work very hard. My sister and I take care of the home for our family and we do our share. We’re working inside of the home,” Tai says. “We go to church and give to those in need and we’re also able to do things with our families like go on vacations and buy nice things.”
Kristy MacKaben is a mom of two and frequent contributor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Kristy's stories here.
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