Despite the financial perks of growing up in front of America in a fictional television family, actress Beverley Mitchell has held strong to the life and financial lessons she learned from her real-life family.
Mitchell, 32, is best known for her role as plucky Lucy Camden over eleven seasons of family drama 7th Heaven. The long-running show (1996 – 2007) was a mirror of many American families: people who love each other, struggle, and work to make ends meet.
The Krazy Coupon Lady approached Mitchell to share her ideas about finances, saving, and coupons. Mitchell is a common sense modern woman. She works and saves, but still enjoys the occasional splurge.
The brains that helped her study film at Loyola Marymount are helping her keep her finances on the right track. It's a good thing since Mitchell and her husband, Michael Cameron, are expecting their first child.
MOM’S ADVICE: EVALUATE NEEDS VERSUS WANTS
Mitchell says she got her money smarts from her mother. She’s adapted those early lessons into her adult life, into her home, and into her business. Soon she’ll pass along the same wisdom to her child.
Mitchell says that before any purchase her mother would ask, “Is this a want or a need?” The answer was almost always a want. “We didn’t buy things we wanted; we bought things we needed. Money was tight.” Mitchell smiles when she admits that sometimes abiding by her mother’s wants-versus-needs rule took a little thinking outside the box. On occasion, she says, “I got very creative on my needs.”
Though only a young mom-to-be, Mitchell began working 28 years ago, booking her first job before kindergarten–an AT&T commercial when she was just four years old. A talent agent discovered her during a tantrum in a mall, according to Mitchell's IMDB biography.
She doesn't remember that first payday but says, "I'm pretty sure I got a toy for doing a good job." Still, her mother guided her through life as a child star in Hollywood—she wasn't allowed to burn through the money she earned working on television and in films.
"My mom was very tight with my money growing up—as in, it went into the bank and was put away for the future," Mitchell says. "We didn’t touch the money I earned as a kid."
Now that she's a grownup and recently finished a role as a guidance counselor on the series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Mitchell is proud to admit she’s very much a "frugal person."
BEVERLEY’S REMODELING TIP: COMPARISON SHOP
"I will shop around to get the best price," she says. "My husband and I are working on remodeling our house, and we exhaust ourselves with research about the work we are doing. We get tons of quotes. Not one or three. I’m talking seven to ten!”
And then, after digging through the stacks of bids, Mitchell negotiates for a fair price! My kind of woman! "You don’t have to have a ridiculous amount of money to make your home look amazing," she says. "So many deals out there, you just have to find them, and patience is key."
SAVINGS STRATEGIES: COUPONS AND DISCOUNT CODES
Mitchell's money-smarts don't stop at being a budget-minded remodelista. She's a Krazy Coupon Lady, too! Mitchell insists she would never be embarrassed if a paparazzi or enthusiastic fan snapped a picture of her shopping with coupons.
The couple does occasionally splurge, like going out for dinner. But with a baby coming, date nights will likely become more rare, she says. Still, Mitchell makes room in the budget for eating out by using Internet sales and coupon codes. Plus, she regularly peruses discount sites.
And what about coupons? "I'm all over the coupons!” Only one problem: "I wish I was better at remembering them!"
Mitchell's favorite places to shop? She's a huge fan of Costco and makes regular trips to Staples to buy the essentials in bulk. Plus, she's getting ready for baby shopping at Diapers.com.
HER SECRET TO AVOIDING IMPULSE BUYS
"I try to avoid putting myself in the position to impulse buy, so I rarely go to the mall," Mitchell says. "I recently went to the vintage mart and picked up some great pieces for killer prices."
"When I decide to go rogue and just buy things at the supermarket, they usually spoil and go to waste," Mitchell says. "I also try to only buy for that day or the next. I would rather go the grocery store every day and not waste than load up on groceries and have them spoil. (Clearly this has happened to me one too many times, and I have learned my lesson.)"
"I have to be careful because it is very hard for me to pass up a deal, even if I do not need it," Mitchell says. "I have had to re-implement my Mom’s rule. Is it a want or a need? Especially with the new baby on the way and all that we are doing to the house, I need to focus and be smart, even if that means passing up a great deal."
Which brings Mitchell full circle, back to family. Her mother's advice has kept her debt-free since her first paycheck–no small feat when compared with her Hollywood peers. Mitchell plans to pass along this wisdom, so someday her child can echo what Mitchell is proud to tell, "I have never spent beyond my means. My Mom has always taught me to be smart with money, and it has paid off."
About this series: Does fame always make a person out of touch? Is wealth synonymous with waste? Or are today's idols more like the rest of us than they appear? The Krazy Coupon Lady is taking an inside look into the lives of celebs who say it's smart to save, no matter the paycheck.
We're asking celebrities to answer a few questions about their spending habits, coupons, and money lessons. Check back regularly to see who else might be a surprise Krazy Coupon Lady!