Many of us have accumulated debt and have needed advice on how to climb out of it. Lauren Bowling did just that after dealing with an overspending problem in college. Now, her successful blog, LBee and the Money Tree, helps other readers learn to pay off their debt and better manage their money. For tips on becoming financially comfortable, check out Lauren’s thoughts below!
Your blog, LBee and the Money Tree, follows your financial journey to get out of debt. What made you decide to start the site back in 2012? And what’s the story behind the name?
I grew up being one of many Lauren’s in grade school. “LB” has always been my nickname. My Dad used to say I spent money “like it grew on trees,” so I naturally loved the idea of having a “money tree.” It rhymed! It worked! I changed it to “Bee” because it looked more symmetrical when I drew up the logo.
You’ve written about your accumulation of debt and out-of-control spending when you first started college. What was the most helpful tool you used to assist you in dealing with your shopaholic ways?
Going to see and talk to a therapist about the emotional issues that were plaguing me. Shopping and overspending was a symptom of that problem. You can use a number of tricks to curb spending (like avoiding malls, which I do now), but treating the problem itself is key.
You managed to get out of debt only to amass more when you became a homeowner in 2013. What has been the most challenging part of owning your own home?
I think the fact that with a home you are never really “done.” There will always be work, some small project, or something that needs tending. That’s been a frustrating learning curve for me during my first year of homeownership.
Part of your background includes several years working for a hedge fund. How has this experience impacted the way you view money management?
I learned the most from the people I met while there. They were quietly wealthy - concerned more with saving and being smart with money than having the flashy, nice things that you can afford with that kind of wealth.
Your writing has been featured on many different sites, including Daily Finance, Huffington Post, and Forbes. Are there specific experts that you turn to in order to keep up with financial trends?
I’m a huge Learnvest fan. I use the software and get the newsletter each day. I also keep up with a lot of people on Twitter and get my finance news that way.
In the Diary section of your blog, you cover a variety of different personal topics (like visiting a counselor and your actual net worth). Are there any areas of your life that you won’t write about?
I used to write about my dating and love life a bit more, including bad breakups. I’m in a relationship now, but when I was single having a blog with that information on there made it hard to date!
The First Time Visitors part of your blog is a great resource for people trying to figure out how to budget or how to set their own financial goals. What do you think is the most crucial step people can take towards better managing their money?
I think just having a general idea of how much you bring in and what you spend on each month is important. I keep a monthly tab on how much I spend in categories. I have a loose budget, but when I look at the amounts over a period of time I am able to course correct where I’m spending.
There’s also a lot of really helpful information about paying off debt on your blog. What recommendations would you give to someone trying to eliminate their debt?
Quit using credit cards. I recently had to cut all but one of mine up because I kept using them in a pinch because I didn’t want to dip into savings. If you keep using it, you’ll never dig your way out!
It was so great of you to take the time to answer our questions! Any last words of wisdom for our CouponPal readers?
Spend time with your money each day. Even if it’s just a minute or two. You’ll be surprised how much more competent and better with money you’ll become!
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