Expert Interview Series: Tracie Fobes of Penny Pinchin Mom

Tracie Fobes is the owner of Penny Pinchin’ Mom, which shares tips to help people improve their life, help their family and manage their finances.

SuperMoney recently interviewed Tracie Fobes here and asked her about the biggest money management lessons she’s learned along the way. Read on:

Tell us about Penny Pinchin’ Mom. When and why did you start your site?

I started the site in January 2009. My husband and I were working ourselves out from under a lot of debt. I was helping friends online by sharing ideas and tips so they could do the same thing. I was encouraged to take my ideas and incorporate them into a blog so they could read them all without having to search the forum to find them. And, as they say, the rest is history!

What’s the biggest money management/personal finance lesson you’ve learned in your life so far?

Don’t give up so easily. I declared personal bankruptcy many years ago (before I was married). Then, my husband and I ended up building up a bit of debt ourselves and decided to work hard and pay it off. Paying off my debt was 10 times more rewarding than taking the easy road and just running away.

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Why is it so important to you today to have control of your finances?

Without you controlling your money, your money controls you. It dictates how you live your life rather than the other way around. Even if you do not have a lot of money, just knowing where your money goes puts you in control and can greatly reduce stress and set you up on the road of financial freedom.

What advice can you offer families on digging out of debt?

It will take time. You did not go into debt overnight. It was built up over time. It will, in turn, take time to pay it off. But don’t give up. Just keep at it!

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Why do you think debt is so prevalent among American families today?

There are a couple of reasons. The first is the keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality. Everyone wants everything, and they want it right now. Instead of saving the money and paying for it with cash, people run out and use plastic or take out a loan to make the purchase.

The other reason is due to reasons out of people’s control. Many have lost their jobs. They had no choice but to use credit to put food on the table and keep the lights on.

What do you think are the most common misconceptions people have about smarter money management?

That you have to have a lot of money. Money management means taking control of your money with a smart budget and plan – no matter how much you make.

What are your family’s go-to methods for saving money?

We always pay ourselves first. We have a transaction set up at our bank so that every payday, a set dollar amount is transferred into our savings account. My husband also takes advantage of his 401k at work.

That means, the money we see in our account is ours to pay our bills. We never have to remember to save – it is done automatically for us.

What have you found doesn’t seem to work as well?

You can’t try to save after the bills are paid. I see many who say I will save once I pay ” _______” and that never works. You have to make yourself a priority because no one else will.

Where should families begin when creating a budget?

Sit down with your bank statements for the past three months to see where you spend your money. That will help you figure out how much to budget. After all, you can’t say you spend only $400 a month on groceries when your spending patterns clearly show you are spending $500 or more. Your budget will fail every time.

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What’s been your method for educating your children on budgeting and managing their money better?

We use envelopes for our kids. When they get any cash, they save 10 percent, give 10 percent and then the other 80 percent is theirs. The idea is that they will do this so often when they are younger that it will be the way they automatically deal with money as adults. It will be automatic for them. They will not know any other way to handle money.