America's Smartest Shopper

Real Talk: Meet a Strategic Splurger

You know how to save, but sometimes spending is more fun.

How America Shops: Strategic Splurger

Amee Cantagallo, 37, Palmyra

"It isn't what you save -- it's what you spend. Buy only at the price you want to pay, even if you have to wait for it."

Background: Like a lot of women, I gave up my career when I became a mom, in 2004. But I didn’t want to give up my lifestyle. I have the mind of a businessperson, so I made a spreadsheet and took a hard look at the income my husband, Mathew, brings home. After learning from other moms about how find bargains, I started a blog in April 2009 at, and during the past few years I have learned to make it profitable, without taking away from what’s most important to me: time with my family.

Key strategies: We deliberately live below our means so we can pay for things we know are coming up in the future. I’d love a stainless-steel fridge and granite counter tops, but it’s more important to me to know that 20 percent of our income goes into savings. I save money toward my kids’ college fund every month. And even though our cars are paid off, we make monthly payments on each of them into a savings account so we’llbe ready to pay cash when it’s time for new ones.

Debt? No way.: Every Wednesday night I go online and pay off my Discover card. I don’t buy things that cost more than I can pay.

Sale shopping: Before I buy anything, I wait until it goes on sale, I look for a coupon and I buy it through incentives. If I end up spending less than I budgeted, I use the remainder to splurge! So if I budget $150 for groceries but spend $100, I might pick up a nice cheese andwine or a dessert to celebrate -- or put $25 into my slush fund and add $25 to my kids’ college fund.

Priorities: To me, time is money. You have only so much of each, so you have to determine how to balance things. I’m willing to drive across town to save $20 but not to save 50 cents.

Splurges: Shoes. I saved for two years for a pair of Frye boots and finally snagged them when I found a good coupon and used my Discover card, which gave me cash back. I generally have one huge “me” purchase every year or so that I put money toward every month, even if it’s just $20.

Current goal: I’m saving for a Rolex watch. I know -- even my husband says I’m crazy. It might take me five years to get it, but I’llfeel good knowing I paid for it without sacrificing anything else!

More Real Talk 

Meet a super saver
Meet a committed convert

More on How America (And You!) Shop 

How America shops (how we're alike and how we're different)
Take the quiz now to find out what kind of shopper you are
If you're a "Super Saver," this is how you shop
If you're a "Committed Convert," this is how you shop
If you're a "Strategic Splurger," this is how you shop
Learn even more ways to shop smart and save