Interview with a Savings Expert: Cristin Frank

It’s common for people nowadays to overdo things. We spend too much, buy what we don’t need, and complicate our schedules attempting to fit everything in. Cristin Frank’s blog, Eve of Reduction, helps to demonstrate that we all can break out of this cycle by being conscious of our spending. She also has great ideas for DIY projects and ways to upcycle. Check out our interview with Cristin for some awesome words of advice.

Cristin, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with CouponPal. We’re obsessed with your blog, Eve of Reduction, which really helps people reexamine their overconsumption and try to live more frugally. How did you come up with such a clever name and the focus behind your blog?

I came up with the name “Eve of Reduction” from the song, “Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire. I, however, wanted to lead with positive examples for reducing consumption, like taking what you already have and upcycling into what you want. I emphasize the use of our talents and available resources (including information).

In the Start Here section, you explain a little behind you and your husband’s decision to get out of debt and try to live more financially conservative lives. Why do you think people get in the vicious habit of overspending?

There are several influences on overspending. For starters, we have a culture of credit that makes it so easy to spend. And now with social media, you cannot avoid seeing what other people have, which tempts us to think about spending even more.

You’ve written about a certain self-fulfillment that occurs when you live within your means – that there is a freedom that comes with not consuming too much and working to reuse the items you already have. What do you think is the very first step individuals should take to walk down the path of being more frugal?

The first step toward financial freedom is making careful decisions continuously. Slow down and evaluate every time you spend money. Is it necessary – really necessary? Can it be purchased cheaper or used? Will it lead to spending more – you don’t just buy a pool; it has to be maintained.

Your site features tons of amazing ideas for DIY projects (everything from reupholstering a couch to making paper ornaments). What advice would you give to people who are a little apprehensive about taking on arts-and-crafts projects?

Not everyone is crafty, and not everyone wants to invest in space and tools for a DIY lifestyle. I definitely get it. You feel a “but” coming on, right? My advice is to start small and just outside your comfort zone. I didn’t start sewing with a couch reupholstery project. I garbage picked a sewing machine and made easy curtains to start.

In Frugal Living, you publish posts about different ways people can save money. Have there been any changes you’ve made to be more financially-conscious that have really made a noticeable difference to your budget?

As a family, we pretty much never go out to eat. Just recently I started making my own pizza dough and pie crusts. My cooking has really improved, I’m having fun in the kitchen, and we save a lot of money.

A lot more people have been jumping on the sustainability bandwagon. Why do you think it’s important for people to understand and embrace living a green lifestyle?

Society will not exist unless we adapt, (heavy, I know). A sustainable, green lifestyle is us adapting to exhausted natural resources. Change and innovation are positives and progressive so that is where we want to put our “energy.”

A key element of your Reduction Rebel philosophy is the need for organization (which we could probably all use a little more of!). Some people feel like they look around their house and all they see is clutter. What area should they tackle first?

The best clutter to tackle is the clutter that slows you down the most. Is it difficult to pick out an outfit each morning? Do your keys get lost in a junk drawer? Are the family coats piled on an encumbered coat rack?  Every household is different, but there is usually a sore spot that’s easy to identify. Start there. See how it feels. Expand on that.

These days, it seems like everyone’s schedules have gotten busier and more complicated. In your book, “Living Simple, Free & Happy: How to Simplify, Declutter Your Home, and Reduce Stress, Debt & Waste,” you include a personalized plan to help readers reclaim their time. What are some basic ways people can declutter their brains?

Beware of guilt. It robs your time, because you feel obligated to get on other people’s schedules. It also fills you with negative emotions that can hinder sleep and elevate stress. So be purposeful in your decisions. Do your best to let others know where you’re coming from, and be confident in your lifestyle by cutting out what’s not essential to your happiness and your family’s happiness.

Your site includes a section for DIY activities for kids. You have kids of your own, so have they ever inspired some of your projects or ideas for living minimally?

Yes, my boys are very clever and resourceful. My husband and I limit their structured time so they have time to focus on their personal interests. The DIY souvenir pennant project was inspired by my son’s interest in vintage pennants.

You may also notice in some of my furniture projects that my son had either begged me to garbage pick that particular piece or is photographed working on the piece. They have both earned money from selling refurbished furniture or their used clothes and toys.

Thanks so much for sharing all your great wisdom with us! Now we’re well on our way to living more frugally and consuming less. Any last tips for our CouponPal readers?

Have confidence in your abilities. You may not get it right the first time, but when you do, you will have gained a life skill.

As a parent, I have taught my boys the fundamentals of being frugal, but also showed them when spending money is a good thing. It’s not all about cutting back – it’s cutting back on junk and spending on what we truly value.

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with a Savings Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #SavingsExperts to @CouponPal!

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