Dr. Phil's Recession Survival Squad: Mary Hunt

Find Money Hidden in Every Home

"John and Rebecca have to go on a cash diet. I mean everything, from food to eating out. They have to get rid of the plastic," says money guru Mary Hunt.

She gives tips for generating cash as she tours their house. After seeing their closets, Mary recommends they sell or swap some of their designer clothes, leather jackets, handbags and shoes. She recommends Web sites like Swapstyle.com, Freecycle.org, eBay.com and Craigslist.org. Noting the amount of toys and games their children have, she recommends selling what they don't play with anymore to SecondSpin.com. They could also sell used books at Cash4books.net.

Mary tells John and Rebecca to negotiate with their Internet provider and their phone and cable companies to get a better rate.

Upon seeing the couple's cluttered garage, Mary says, "Wow!"

"We just throw stuff in there," John says.

"I don't see stuff. I see money!" Mary exclaims. "Remember to sell the things that are more valuable on Web sites and classified ads. The lower value things: have a great big garage sale."

Mary takes Rebecca grocery shopping, to show her how she can save more money.

[AD]"The important thing is that you make use of coupons. That's really your ace in a hole. You want to match them with the item when it's on sale," she tells Rebecca. She recommends Web sites like CouponMom.com and TheGroceryGame.com for collecting coupons.

She also advises Rebecca to buy the produce that is in season, which means it's cheaper. "Load up on them when they're cheap," she says, seeing a good deal on chicken and asparagus. Mary also notes that it's important to check the unit price, so you can compare what is the better bargain.

At the register, Rebecca learns she saved 30 percent on her groceries!

Back onstage, Dr. Phil tells the couple, "Think about it this way: It's like you're just lost in the ocean. You're just out there bobbing around, your boat is gone, you're just there, and help is coming. But the question is, will you still be afloat when it gets there? This isn't your life forever. You've got to survive until the boat gets there. And as long as you've still got your head above water when the boat gets there, then your problems are over."

Dr. Phil explains that John and Rebecca's unused items, including a camera, treadmill, furniture, computers, games and clothes, could add up to $3,278 when they sell them on eBay, Craigslist and in garage sales.

Mary's grocery tips would save them 30 percent, which is another $1,080 over the course of a year. When Robert suggested they return anything they've purchased in the last 90 days, Rebecca found receipts for another $290 worth of items to take back.

All together, that's $4,648 back in the couple's pocket!

And just because money stops coming in, it doesn't mean life stops! Mary says families can still have fun without spending money. "Museums have a free day, some zoos are free at least one day a month," she says. "There are hikes, bike trails. Go online " anybody can pick up a new hobby. Create photo albums and scrap books. You don't have to buy video games " you can play them online for free. Pitch a tent in the back yard. Have a stay-at-home vacation " a staycation! If you are really committed, you can start living on far less."

[AD]Dr. Phil reiterates with John and Rebecca that his priority for them is to keep the family together. "This is a teachable moment for your children. It's a teachable moment for children all over America right now," Dr. Phil says. "We have raised a generation of entitled children. They expect video games, and Disneyland, and new cars and designer clothes. They weren't born that way " we taught them that. You don't say, ‘We're going to go have the birthday party because we want the kids to think that everything's OK.' It isn't always OK. And they need to learn: ‘There are good times and there are bad times. And we are loved, good or bad. We are together, good or bad.' And they will see that Mom and Dad persevere during tough times. They will respect you for it. They won't demean you for it. They won't think less of you. They'll think, when times get tough, Mom and Dad, they kept us together."

"Sounds good," John says.