January 16, 2009 09:10 PM by Lisa Stauber
ABC‘s WifeSwap is particularly timely tonight, contrasting tightwad coupon clipper Denise McIntyre with spendy social butterfly Andrea Keyser. Which is better, spending or saving? Which is more worthwhile, clipping coupons or hanging out with friends? And more importantly, can you really buy $50 worth of groceries for two bucks?
Meet the Wives
Denise and George McIntyre have 10 year old twin boys, David and Nick, and they’re not allowed play more than one sport because of the expense. Denise isn’t afraid to stock up on useless items in order to get a great deal, and loves to coupon. “Real men do use coupons,” George says, and he loves the couponing lifestyle too. They hang their receipts on the fridge like trophies, and even stock up on ties if it’s the right price. The boys can do what they want as long as they don’t spend money, but family time is very important. “I believe in being close to my kids,” George says. She’s excited to teach her new family how to save money.
Andrea and Mark Keyser spend money like there’s no tomorrow. They insist that their children excel in sports, since they haven’t managed to save anything for college expenses and a scholarship is their only hope. Andrea loves to plan lavish parties and doesn’t think twice about buying a new SUV. She spends $400 a week on groceries, even though they are in a financial bind. She even bought a $3500 tanning bed to keep in the closet, and spends an hour getting ready every day. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” Mark says. Daughter Brianne thinks her mom spends too much time on the phone with friends, though. “The last time I talked to my parents in my house was probably four years ago,” she says. Andrea’s goal is to teach her new family how to have fun.
Meet the New Families
“Lady, you’re crazy,” Andrea says as she finds the coupons and receipts. She’s disappointed that the McIntyres are homebodies. She thinks their house is too small and probably cost $2000. George regales Andrea with a tale of cheap cough medicine, but she’s not impressed. “It’s frustrating to spend so much money on a party and have no family cohesiveness.” The next day, Denise spends an hour getting ready while Mark shaves his chest and gets the kids ready for school.
“Who needs a TV this big in their basement?” Denise wonders about the 5 foot flat screen in Andrea’s home. Mark asks Denise about her hobbies, but all she can come up with is “couponing.” Mark gives her $200 for food, but Denise only spends half of that. She just can’t bring herself to throw whatever she wants to eat into the cart without counting the cost. Then Denise is shocked that the boys don’t have fashionable socks -even though that’s what the boys want to wear.
Denise spends some cash getting her hair and nails done. She takes Mark outside to talk finances. He admits that Andrea spends too much, but he’s happy to let her do what she wants. Denise goes to Brock’s game, then has to rush over to watch Anthony. She drives from field to field to gym to watch all of the kids participate in all of their sports, and then has dinner with Brock while the rest of the family is busy. “Dinner with Denise was fun. At least I get to sit down with her and talk,” Brock says. Mark takes phone calls during family time. “Her children are never her first concern,” Denise says of Andrea.
Meanwhile, Andrea and George go shopping. Andrea didn’t prepare properly by mining the ads for deals, and he only saved $11. “It makes no sense,” she says. It’s family dinner night, and the boys have terrible table manners. Andrea thinks they are unsocialized and shy, and George and Denise are holding them back. She takes them to batting practice, but notice the boys don’t have any friends. One of the boys is a bully, and Andrea tells George he needs to take care of it.
Andrea’s goal is to make the McIntyres come out of their shell, make friends, and be social. “Life is too short to waste your time clipping coupons,” she says. She’s planning to shred their coupon stockpile! “In my house, if you look good, you play good,” she says, planning a makeover. She won’t let the boys wear funny socks and plans to approve each outfit. Video games are out, and fresh air is in. George also is going to an assertiveness training class. “God has sent you here to give me a preview of hell,” he tells Andrea.
Denise wants to make the Keysers save money and grow closer as a family. “The frat party’s over, it’s time for family first,” she says. Denise requires each family member to clip coupons and go grocery shopping together. The gym is banned, but Mark can still weightlift at home. Sports are off the schedule, and communication is the name of the game. Brianne likes that idea. Denise also says they’ll be selling the car, but Mark disagrees.
Living the New Life
George puts his foot down before Andrea destroys his coupon binders, but she still takes him for a haircut. “I’m still not convinced that appearances are as important as Andrea makes them out to be,” he says. She makes him pay for the primping. George also has to pick up a second job as a handyman, even though he’s never worked construction before. “She’s setting me up for failure,” he says. He gets fired from the handyman gig, and Andrea confronts him.
Denise has $10 and wants to get as many groceries as possible. They end up getting $79 worth of groceries for $10.01, but Mark doesn’t think that an hour in the store is worth $80. Mark doesn’t think the new SUV has hurt the family any, and he won’t sell the car without his wife’s input. It’s workout time, but Mark can’t help yelling at the kids about the workout. “It doesn’t have to be stressful like this,” she says. “I’m not going to change my hardcore way with my kids,” Mark says.
Anthony Keyser is upset about missing his game, and locks himself in his room. Mark comes home and whisks his boy off to football. He doesn’t want his son to lose his starter position. Brianne has a heart to heart with her dad later. “It isn’t easy to talk to you because you’re always on the run,” she tells him. Mark tears up and tells her he misses talking to her too. He promises to change and spend more time with her. Denise coaches Mark on an action plan to help his wife stop spending. “I’m basically taking over everything,” he says. “The Bank of Keyser is closed.”
George does his assertiveness training. “There comes a point in time when you’re going to have to make decisions,” the trainer says. After the class, he talks to his boys and tells him he will always stand up for their family. He backs up Andrea on the video game ban and takes the boys to ball practice. “I learned I’m better than Nick,” David says. “We’ll take the time to see where they shine,” George promises. Now for the tough assignment – spending money on entertainment, without a coupon. They go bowling and have a great time.
Andrea thought the coupon clipping was overwhelming. Mark agrees. “The financial decisions did not always make sense to me,” Denise says. Mark breaks the news that he plans to take over the credit cards and checkbook. “I overspend. I will admit that,” Andrea says. She then points out George got fired from his part time job. George liked seeing the boys get outside and play a new sport, and wants to encourage them. Mark was touched that Brianne was reaching out to him, and plans to improve the family time and communication. There have been some changes – Andrea is looking at the sale flyer when she shops, and George did get a part time job, fixing computers.
Photos courtesy ABC.