When it comes to shopping online, it’s good to have a pal that knows where to find the best deals. At CouponPal, we turn to our network of experts to bring you the best advice and latest cost-cutting tips. This week, we're kicking off a new series on the blog: Interview with a Savings Expert. Our first expert is Lori Felix, the founder of MoreWithLessToday.com. She'll bring you some expert knowledge on everything from finding great deals online to teaching kids healthy savings habits. Stay tuned for more fantastic frugal living pros stopping by the site to share their insights soon.
A very special thanks to Lori for taking the time to be our very first interviewee!
Lori, what inspired you to start sharing your knowledge at MoreWithLessToday.com and what keeps you motivated to keep writing?
In my circle of friends, I was the “go-to” person for deals, discounts, and coupons. I had friends of friends contacting me when they found out about my savings prowess.
My husband is an avid reader of political blogs and while I do not share his interest in politics, I began looking at the various blogs he was reading and thought, “I can organize all of my magazine clippings and scribbled notes into a blog and share it with my friends and family.”
Four years later, I still pop out of bed early to share new ideas and tips. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I love to search out new ways to “ do more with less,” simplify things, and have more money for the things that really matter. What keeps me motivated are the emails and comments I get from readers that have been helped by something that I have shared.
You’ve often credited your mother and grandmother as a big influence in instilling frugal habits in you. What lessons did they teach you that you passed down to your children?
My mother and my grandmother were not wasteful nor were they concerned about status purchases or impressing people. They fixed what was broken instead of buying a replacement, they saved up before making a purchase, and they did not use credit cards.
Both of them were generous with their time and money. They were always pressing a few dollars into the hand of someone who needed it more than they did. My Dad was a school teacher and my Mom stayed at home until the four of us were raised. We did not have a lot, but we had all that we needed.
No one was interested in pacifying the children by buying us things!
It is too early to say if I have successfully passed down their habits to my children as they do not yet have a family to support. I can say that my daughter is a frugal shopper and careful spender. She learned early on that whining in the store would not get her the desired outcome.
On your website, you say that you fell short of their ideals for some time. How did you turn it around and turn yourself into a mega-savings expert?
Oh yes, I did and still do fall short of their ideals. In the '80s, I was into status and labels, and, in the early '90s, I thought the good times would last forever. Now my husband and I are empty-nesters. We downsized from a large home and all that stuff that we had accumulated became a giant pain. We had to rent a storage unit to store the things that we never use.
These days, I try not to make any impulse purchases. I go to the grocery store with a plan and a list and I rarely wander around stores and malls. I try to be purposeful when I spend money and ask myself two questions, “Do I need this now?” and if yes, “What is the lowest price that I can get it for?”
Do you have any advice for parents trying to teach their children about saving money?
Yes! In order to save money, they first have to earn money. In the grocery coupon classes that I teach, I recommend that parents put the kids in charge of clipping and organizing the grocery coupons. Think of all the lessons that can be incorporated such as unit pricing, meal planning, and not wasting food. Split the savings with them and call it their allowance.
You can also get out the utility bills and tell the kids that next month you will split the savings on the energy bills with them as they become aware of shutting off lights, using less water, unplugging electronics, and becoming more aware of what it takes to run the household. Recycling bottles and cans is another great way for kids to earn some of their own money.
We all know that children are much more careful spenders when they have to reach into their own pockets to buy the things they want.
Once they are earning money, I recommend splitting it into three parts; one to save, one to spend, and one to give. Decide as a family how to allocate the money for giving and take turns coming up with ways to bless others from those resources.
Walk us through a typical purchase. Say you want to buy a new pair of shoes, how do you find a great deal?
Did you peek in my closet? Shoes are a weakness of mine! I keep a list of items that I need in my smart phone. Often we have wardrobe items that we do not wear because we don’t have the right pair of shoes, undergarment, or matching item to make an outfit.
On my list, it might say “need low-heeled shoes for gray pants.” Now, when I see a shoe sale, I can shop with a purpose.
Next, I search for sales and promo codes. I do almost all of my shopping online these days. I am more focused and less likely to buy items that may need to be returned. Who has time for that?
Using a site like CouponPal makes it so easy to find the best price. Just by typing a store name into the search bar, I can see all the current deals from places like Macy’s, Zappos, or Shoebuy.
What is one strategy to find a great deal online that coupon code users may not know already?
Yes, know your favorite store's policies. Some stores such as Kohl’s and Victoria’s Secret allow you to use more than one coupon code with a purchase. Other stores allow you to have your items sent to the store to avoid shipping charges. Often you can get a price adjustment if the price you paid goes down. These are the types of tips that I cover in my blog and will share with your readers on CouponPal.
Do you ever purchase something simply because it’s a great deal?
Yes, I love a deal! I cannot resist a great deal even if don’t really need it. I will buy it and put it away as a future gift to give.
Any last words of advice for families trying to stretch their dollars and living on a budget?
Finding ways to stretch your dollars is a moving target. It requires constant attention and constant tweaking. Be on the same page as your partner if you have one, and always try to set aside some funds for fun, hobbies, and treats.
I would love to share some of my ideas with your readers!
If you would like to get in touch with Lori to learn more about her couponing classes or cost-cutting techniques, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @morewless.
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!