004: How to Spend According to Your Values with Lauren Greutman

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Who is Lauren Greutman?

Lauren GreutmanLauren Greutman is the #1 Best Selling Author of the book the Recovering Spender and runs ones of the largest personal finance websites for women in the country.

She is a regular TODAY show guest, and frequently appears on Dr. Oz, Good Morning America, and many more. Lauren lives in New York with her husband and four children.

Notice the title of the book is recovering spender…not recovered. I’m a spender too and so this episode was a good reminder that I need to stay vigilant in my spending habits. If you’re a spender like Lauren and I then you will surely get a lot out of this episode. I’ve been lucky enough to have Lauren speak at FinCon and she’s a crystal clear communicator. You’ll enjoy this.

Listen to This Episode with Lauren Greutman

I hope you enjoyed that. A big thank you to Lauren for giving us the gold today.

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Show Notes

[01:50] Lauren’s “one thing.”
[03:55] How to determine your values (your “bucket list”) and understand your spending.
[05:50] The pink Cadillac and realizing she needed to become a master of her money.
[10:30] How she paid off $40,000 of debt in two years.
[12:40] Brain science behind spender vs saver.
[15:50] Deciding to downsize into a smaller home.
[17:45] Lauren’s secret to becoming everyone’s best friend in the workplace.
[18:55] How Lauren’s husband was able to leave his career and work from home with her.
[22:15] The importance of keeping your spending low regardless of income.
[24:50] Getting health insurance and term life insurance while being self-employed.
[27:50] Aren’t “affordable” neighborhoods dangerous with bad schools?
[32:05] How she’ll retire in 10 years and fully fund 529 plans.
[35:15] No credit cards? No problem! How she’s rewarded for spending.
[38:45] Using her mess as a message.

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3 Takeaways from My Interview with Lauren Greutman

1. You don’t need credit cards to earn rewards.

This is true. Lauren mentioned Swagbucks in the episode and how it helps her accumulate around $400-500 by the end of the year to use towards Christmas. At my website we’ve done a full review of Swagbuck and you can check that out at ptmoney.com/swagbucks/.

Other ways to earn rewards without credit cards:

  • reward checking (just discovered a new one from Chime, an online bank that’s been around a few years that pays a reward bonus based on their “keep the change” style savings account – kind of a saving + rewards combo,
  • cashback sites like ebates and upromise, and
  • airline debit cards (yes, this is a thing).

Of course the key with any cashback or rewards program where you are rewarded for spending is to ensure you aren’t spending more than you normally would if you weren’t chasing rewards.

2. As your income goes up, keep your spending the same.

From my experience, this is one of the toughest things to do in life. I’m a spender, and I have a tendency to reward myself with things after moments of financial gain.

I got my first job out of college. My income went from $15k + the leftovers from student loans up to $33,000. Woohoo!

What did I do? I went out and bought a brand new $30k SUV! This gave me a nice ride. But it also gave me a huge payment (at a ridiculous interest rate) and an almost as big insurance payment.

It completely blew my monthly budget and there was no way I was going to get ahead in that situation. I quickly realized I valued financial security much more than that SUV.

So I took it back and drove my older car for another 5 or 6 years while I paid off my credit card debt and started aggressively saving for retirement.

It comes down to values, like Lauren said. Once you know what you value it’s easy to limit your spending to just those things and not feel like you’re missing out by forgoing the rest.

3. Use your past “mess” as a message for others!

Early in the interview, Lauren mentioned that the pain of being broke had finally overcome the pain involved in changing her habits, and this is what led to change for her.

I agree that may have kick-started Lauren on her journey. But I think the real secret to her long-term financial success (paying off debt, starting businesses) has been her act of documenting her progress to share with the world.

Using her mess as a message has created huge accountability for her. Even if you don’t want to start a website and write a book like Lauren, there are things you can do to create the same accountability:

  • Share your mess (and the steps you’re taking to clean it up) with a trusted friend,
  • share your mess with a financial advisor,
  • make progress charts you can leave on your fridge or next to your computer,
  • join a fb group related to your goal, or
  • use a service like Stikk.com to place a public bet on your financial goals.

To see all of my ideas for financial accountability, visit ptmoney.com/accountability/

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Last Edited: February 14, 2017 @ 11:29 pmThe content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, podcaster, FinCon Founder, husband, and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Listen to the new podcast, Masters of Money!

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