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Spotlight Q&A: Frugal Confessions

Welcome to another installment of iontuition’s Q&A series with personal finance bloggers. Today we have Frugal Confessions’ Amanda Grossman sharing her financial tips with us.

From a young age, Amanda’s passion in life was writing, managing money (particularly frugality) and international travel. Amanda started blogging in 2009 at both Frugalconfessions.com and the Houston Chronicle, and has kept it up ever since, combining both her passions for frugality and writing.

What’s the best piece of financial advice you ever received?

It’s not what you earn that matters, it’s what you keep. You can make $150,000—a very high salary—but if you spend $150,001, then you are poor.

What’s your advice for those who already have student loans?

Do what I did, because it will really open up your eyes. Take an hour or so and add up all of your monthly payments. See how much monthly cash flow is leaving your pocket to service your student loan debt. Then figure out how much of that money is just interest. These two tidbits of information will light a fire in you, as they did in me. On the flip side, you might just become extremely excited by the fact that when you pay off these loans, you will have $XXX amount of money coming back into your pockets each month. That’s better than getting a raise or a promotion, because both of those options are not guaranteed. For my husband and me, this was $950/month to service our debts (we were paying extra at the time), and $75/month of that was just to pay the interest.

If you could go back in time and give your 18-year-old self a piece of financial advice, what would it be? 

Go with your gut and open that Roth IRA. When I was 16, I was into money management just as much as I am today. I had this great idea about how I should be WAY ahead of the game and open up a Roth IRA so that I could become wealthy without as much effort. Boy I wish I had followed that idea of mine! Of course, I opened up a Roth IRA as soon as I started my first job out of college, at the age of 22. So not too bad, and certainly younger than others. But I wonder now how much money I would have towards retirement if I had done what I wanted to six years earlier.

Any other financial tips for our readers? 

Debt can sink you in unemployment. Between my husband and me, we were laid off four different times (two times each) in our twenties and early thirties. So we have a lot of experience with tightening spending. We had a total of $59,496 in debt between the two of us, and at one point we were paying $950/month towards servicing these debts. Getting out of debt by September 10, 2010 (except for our mortgage) was an amazing accomplishment. But more so than that, it was sound financial management. The thing is, unemployment compensation doesn’t pay much. So if we still had to pay that $950/month during my husband’s most recent 5 month stint of unemployment, we would have gone back in debt just to pay our bills. So even though you might think your student loans aren’t that big of a deal, think about how that would change if you were to suddenly lose your job. Because it happened to us (four times), and it could certainly happen to you.

Read more from Amanda Grossman’s Frugal Confessions on her blog, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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