As a parent, it doesn’t take many curveballs before day-to-day operations start to feel well beyond reasonable control. When the stressors start settling in, it’s easy to let budgets slip and priorities fall by the wayside. However, in her newest self-help book Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, blogger, author and mother Ruth Soukup provides practical advice on gaining (and sustaining) an organized, frugal, and ultimately happy lifestyle for the long term.
We caught up with Soukup to discuss her new book, the secrets to couponing, teaching kids about money, and much, more more.
Smarty Cents: On your blog, you offer a wide variety of advice for taking advantage of one good, old, reliable way to save money—couponing. What are your essential dos and don’ts when it comes to couponing?
Ruth Soukup: My biggest “don’t” when it comes to couponing is DON’T assume coupons will save you money! The secret that many people don’t understand, especially when they watch shows like Extreme Couponing, is that the bulk of your savings won’t come from coupons, they come from the store sales. Thus, even if you never clip a single coupon, you can save a lot of money on food just by always buying things at their lowest sale price and stocking up until that item goes on sale again.
SC: Any favorite coupon resources you can share?
RS: I love the new digital resources available, such as the Ibotta app, the Favado app, and Target’s Cartwheel app. They make couponing that much easier.
SC: What would you say is your personal philosophy when it comes to household budgeting?
RS: For much of my life, my personal philosophy was to just ignore my finances and hope everything would just work out. Unfortunately, that didn’t really work out so well. The truth is that each one of us has to take personal responsibility for where our money is going and actually tell it where to go, rather than let it slip out of our hands. My husband and I now try to be very purposeful about setting a budget each month and living below our means. We have found there is far more joy in living with less and having more to give than the other way around.
SC: Much of your blog content is centered around family—including your two young daughters. What’s your approach to teaching your kids about money?
RS: My girls are 5 and 8, so the biggest lesson we are trying to instill in them right now is “Money comes from WORK.” We hammer it home with them almost daily. They each earn commissions for work they do around the house, and then we split that into 3 envelopes—spend, save and give. (This is a concept we got from reading Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruze’s book Smart Money, Smart Kids.) It has been so good for them to understand the concept of where money comes from and to learn that if they want something, they need to work for it!
SC: We love that there seems to be a theme of “simplifying” that runs through your blog, everything from organization tips to projects like 31 Days of Less. What general advice can you share for simplifying life, and how do you think that translates to financial wellness?
RS: The older I get, the more I want to just keep things simple. I think many of us, myself included, get so bogged down in the fact that there is always so much to do. If we can simplify in as many areas as possible, we can make more time for the things that matter most. I think the best way to simplify is to simply learn how to say NO more often, whether that be to purchasing things we don’t need, or to taking on more activities than we can realistically handle.
SC: What do you hope readers will take away from your new book, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life?
RS: While the books is full of very practical tips for saving money, setting goals, keeping house, and much more, it is also so much more than that. It really looks at why we overspend, and offers advice for finding contentment right where we are. My hope is that everyone who reads it will feel encouraged that they can take control of their finances and achieve their dreams, whatever they may be.