Dubuque women take on year-long challenge to save money - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque women take on year-long challenge to save money

Lea Droessler and Abby McIntosh have given up buying clothes and accessories for an entire year Lea Droessler and Abby McIntosh have given up buying clothes and accessories for an entire year

In fluctuating economic times, many people are looking for ways to save a dollar here or there. Some are downsizing the family vacation, some are extra conscientious about fuel consumption. Two Dubuque women, however, have taken the money-saving quest to an extreme.

Inside Dubuque restaurant L. May Eatery, owner Lea Droessler and her friend Abby McIntosh are pinching pennies these days, but you won't find them putting their extra change in a new purse.

"Abby and I decided to not purchase any clothing, jewelry, handbags or shoes for one year, and that even includes thrift shopping, Goodwill or anything like that," Droessler said. "It's mildly crazy if you like clothes like we do."

It was an effort to save money, and it's working.

"I think I'm saving between $1,500 and $2,000 a month," Droessler said.

McIntosh said she's saving about $400 per month.

"I have insane student loan payments every month, so doing this is probably the only thing that's made me able to actually make those big payments," McIntosh said, who has her masters degree. "I've been kind of living with a couple bucks in the bank this entire time. Living day to day, paycheck to paycheck. So, I mean, I'm pretty much saving money for the first time in my life, actually."

Not everybody, however, spends their extra money on new clothes and accessories.

In downtown Dubuque Monday afternoon, a group of co-workers sat on the curb and enjoyed their "brown-bag" lunches from home.

"It's a lot cheaper and it saves time," Sarah Hume said, sitting in the sunlight with co-workers on their lunch break. "You're not walking everywhere for lunch. You can just sit down, relax and eat your lunch."

Since cutting back on dining out, Hume said she is saving about $30 per week, which adds up.

"It gives me more money to spend at home and for the kids," she said. "I usually take the girls shopping and then it's more money for home so I can try to cook better meals at home."

John Upstrom is a professor of finance at Loras College in Dubuque. He said the little things add up, such as using the coupons found in the newspaper to make up for the cost of the subscription.

As for Droessler and McIntosh, "You realize how many things you actually have in your closet and what you have access to there," McIntosh said.

The two friends started this one-year challenge in November, at the end of a tour group Droessler led through Italy. They'll celebrate a successful year of frugality by returning to Italy, paying for the trip through their newfound savings.

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