Interview with a Savings Expert: Holly Johnson

Like most people, Holly Johnson was caught up enjoying her life, forgetting to track her spending. After taking a look at how much her family was spending on eating out and groceries, she began to wisely budget her money. The result of her quest for financial stability is the blog, Club Thrifty, where readers can learn about everything from choosing the right credit card to paying off debt. Read on for our interview with this savings expert extraordinaire!

Your blog, Club Thrifty, follows your pursuit of a frugal lifestyle. What gave you the inspiration to start the site?

We started the site in 2012 when we were on the tail-end of our debt repayment journey. We wanted to share our new ideas and goals with other like-minded people and use the site as a way to keep ourselves accountable.

Your motto for the blog is “Stop spending. Start living.” How do you follow this type of thinking in your everyday life?

Obviously, none of us have any intention of stopping all spending. That motto is more about stopping the mindless spending that wrecks family budgets and, instead, funnel that money toward the things that are important in life.

You mention on your site that you and your family became aware of how much you were spending on eating out and groceries after you decided to track your spending. What everyday expenses usually trip people up and cause them to overspend?

Groceries and eating out are huge. When we started tracking our spending, we quickly found out that we were spending more than $1,000 per month on two people. That’s insane, but it is SO easy to do.

After some serious budgeting, you were able to start leading a debt-free life. What is the number one recommendation you would give for someone who’s looking to start paying off their debt?

I would definitely tell people to track their spending and see where their money is going! Once you do that, you can no longer hide from the truth.

As the mother of two children, you’re probably pretty aware of how kids view money. What is the most important lesson you’d like your children to understand about finances?

I want my kids to know that they can lead productive and amazing lives without earning a ton of money, just by living below their means and saving the rest. I hope I am providing them with a good example of how to do that.

In the “Books About Money” section of your site, you mention several books that you learned something from. What other media sources do you rely on for financial tips?

I read the news and try to stay current on what is going on in the economy. Other than that, I try not to focus too much on what the media says about anything - a lot of it is lies and/or hype.

You have more than 5,000 (!) followers on Twitter! Have you ever received a really helpful money-saving tip from a reader?

Oh yes, people give me helpful tips all the time - on everything from travel to savings accounts. I love hearing from readers!

Your work has been featured on sites like GetRichSlowly, Forbes, and Lifehacker. In a piece for Daily Finance, you wrote about the reasons having a budget is so important. What traps can people fall into if they don’t budget their money?

I honestly believe that it all boils down to tracking your spending. If you don’t do that, you don’t have a “plan,” and it becomes easy to fritter your funds away carelessly. Everyone should track their spending, and make a plan for their hard-earned income.

The “Credit Card Offers” on your site details your favorite credit cards. How can readers decipher which online reviews are credible when they research cards?

Read the fine print! The majority of cash-back and travel cards are credible, thankfully, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research heavily before signing up.

Thanks so much for answering our questions! 

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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