Interview With A Savings Expert: Lauren Greutman

Lauren Greutman started her budgeting journey after realizing her family was in major debt to the tune of $40,000. After learning several ways to save money on groceries and other expenses, Lauren began offering advice to readers through her popular blog,I Am That Lady. Read on to find out how Lauren and her family paid off their debt and began to successfully live the frugal life.

Your blog, I Am That Lady, is all about helping people save money. What gave you the inspiration to start the site?

Eight years ago my husband and I were in over $40,000 worth of debt. We realized that we were spending over $1,000 per month on food. After that realization, we set a goal to bring that $1,000 per month down to $200 per month, so I had to start learning how to meal plan and use coupons.

Shortly after, I started teaching Grocery Savings Seminars; the demand for those seminars grew, and that is how I started I am THAT Lady. My inspiration was to teach busy moms how to save money in the grocery store. It is the #1 place in your budget where you can save money, so by teaching them how to do this I can help them accomplish so much more!

You’ve written a book called, “How to Coupon Effectively.” What are some common makes that coupon users make?

The #1 mistake that coupon users make is using a coupon just because you have it. I see people spend more money every week using coupons sometimes. The key to using a coupon the right way is using it when the item is on sale.

People also use coupons by buying things they don’t need just because it is free. Free is good, but not when your house is taken over by free things that you don’t need.

As you mentioned, part of your financial journey included cutting your grocery and eating out budget to just $200 a month. What was the biggest area in which you were able to cut back?

The biggest area where we cut back was eating out. We would eat out a lot because we didn’t plan what to make for dinner. Just by not eating out we saved $400 per month! The rest of the savings was from meal planning and using coupons.

Speaking of food, your site contains some fabulous recipes. Do you have a favorite meal that doesn’t cost much to prepare?

Thank you for that kind compliment. Our favorite meal has to be our homemade spaghetti sauce. It is very easy to throw together, costs much less than store-bought sauce, and our kids love it!

We’ve heard a lot of people say that taking a hard look at their expenses and forming a budget was the first major step towards gaining control of their finances. You have said the same of learning to budget your money. What inspired you to start budgeting?

We had to budget out of necessity. When we first started budgeting, we had a $1,000 monthly deficit, were underwater in our mortgage, and had $40,000 worth of debt. We realized that we needed to get serious about our money, so we learned how to budget. It didn’t come easy at first, and it took us a few months to get the numbers right, but we started spending much less just because we were aware of where our money was going.

You’re the mother of 4 beautiful children. What are a few ways you instill money-wise lessons to your children that you’d recommend to other parents?

I recommend talking with them about money very early. Our kids do chores around the house and earn an allowance. They also have a few chores that they do to make some extra cash, things that would go above and beyond their normal chores. We make our children learn about money the hard way; we don’t lend them anything. Even if the toy is 7 cents more than what they have, we will take them home from the store and allow them to do an extra chore to make it. Then take them back to the store so they can pay in full.

Often times parents rob their children of a feeling of accomplishment because they want to make everything easy for them. The problem then becomes children expecting that to happen.  We enjoy allowing our kids to work hard, because that feeling of a job well done is something I want to instill in my children at an early age.

You have more than 7,000 (!) followers on Twitter. Can you recall a time when you received any unusual money-saving tips from readers that you were surprised to find actually work?

I get a lot of deal tips from readers on Twitter and Facebook. My favorite deal from a reader that I recently received was a set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sheets for only $5.00! My son was thrilled to get such cool sheets!

There’s a great selection of DIY projects on the site. What are your favorite things to make that help you save money?

I love going to garage sales and thrift stores to find old furniture. Turning an old piece of furniture into a beautiful thing is so fun for me. Recently, I turned this old dresser into a beautiful buffet table for my dining room. I found the dresser at a thrift store for only $30.00!

Your advice has been featured on several sites, including Huffington Post. What media sources do you rely on for trustworthy money-saving tips?

I look to MSN Money and Yahoo Finance for a lot of great money-saving tips. I use those tips to put together media pitches for both local and national media.

We really appreciate you taking the time to answer our questions! Any other words of wisdom for our CouponPal readers?

Couponing and budgeting can take a few months to get right. Don’t give up after a couple months because like anything, it takes practice. I would suggest giving yourself 3-4 months to work at it and expect to fail and not do it perfectly. One way to keep at it is to get good at Meal Planning, then use coupons and budget your money. It is the perfect trifecta!

Thanks for having me today!

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