Interview with an Expert: Ruth Soukup

We’ve all fallen into the trap of overspending and buying too many things. Ruth Soukup was once the same way. However, she’s turned her financial life around by blogging about her journey towards financial security. Ruth also offers some super helpful tips on decluttering that can help anyone feeling a tad overwhelmed. Read on to see how Ruth answered our questions about getting your life in order!

Your blog, Living Well Spending Less, covers everything from couponing and recipes to household tips and DIY projects. What gave you the inspiration to start the site?

I started my site in 2010 because my husband and I were fighting a lot about money, or more specifically, my out-of-control shopping habits. After one particularly bad fight, we decided to go to separate bank accounts so I could be on a strict budget.

I had no choice but to buckle down, and blogging about my adventures was what held me accountable. Amazingly enough, it worked! I discovered that not only was saving money not as bad as I thought it would be, but that I loved the challenge of finding the Good Life for less.

Your tagline is “the adventure of finding the Good Life on a budget.” How do you make sure that sticking to a budget doesn’t keep you from enjoying life?

To me the Good Life is about more than just money. I believe that a life well lived is not so much about what we have, as who we are, and over the years, I have found that more often than not, the best things in life are free (or close to it!). There is a strange magic that happens when we stop worrying about what we don’t have and begin to truly appreciate what we DO have. I think if I’ve learned anything over the past few years it is that I need far less of everything than I once thought I did.

You’ve been really brave about sharing your past experiences with depression and other challenges. How did you find the strength to share your story and overcome the vulnerability of putting these stories online?

Sharing my story of depression wasn’t something that I was super eager to do, but there came a point in my life where I truly felt that God was calling me to open up and let him work through me. I actually resisted for a long time, but I kept hearing this whisper behind the scenes saying, “This is why I saved you all those years ago.”

After I published the story, I felt so raw and vulnerable that I retreated from the blog scene for a couple of months. Eventually, though, it got easier to talk about, and in the years since I first shared it, God has used it to impact people in ways I could have never imagined. People often write me to tell me that they found my site searching for how to use coupons and left with hope.

As the mother of two daughters, what is your favorite way to teach your children about the importance of wisely managing money?

Right now, the most important thing we are teaching them is that money comes from work. We hammer that point home over and over, and if they want to buy something, they have to use money they have worked for.  

You’ve created a month-long challenge to help your readers declutter their lives. Why do you think decluttering is an important goal? And if a person has 10 minutes, what ways can they quickly declutter their home?

I think many families struggle with feeling like they are drowning in stuff. We have all grown up in a crazy consumer-driven culture that is constantly pushing us to buy more, and most of us have bought into it. We have more clothes, more toys, more kitchen gadgets, more organizing supplies, more electronics, more of everything, really, that we could ever possibly know what to do with, but all that stuff never really fills us up. Instead, it just becomes more to manage and clean and shuffle around. I think embracing a life of less stuff is incredibly freeing, and I think deep down, most of us crave a simpler existence.  

There are lots of things you can declutter in just 10 minutes – a junk drawer, your mail pile, your kitchen counter…..just a few minutes a day can go a long way!

In your “Beginner’s Guide to Savings,” you’ve come up with an 8-week plan for people to get their finances under control. What is the first step in your plan that people should take towards better managing their money?

The first step is to stop spending! You will never get your budget under control without first looking at where it is going and making dramatic cuts in your spending.

People are so busy these days, and many struggle with productivity. What tips would you give to help people better manage their time?

My favorite time management tip comes from Brian Tracy, author of “Eat that Frog”, which is simply to always tackle your biggest and hardest task--your “frog”--right off the bat each day. If you can eat at least one frog every single day, you will be doing pretty good. 

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