This is the fortieth in a series of personal finance blogger interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Dr. Penny Pincher from Penny Pincher Journal.
Who is Dr. Penny Pincher
Dr. Penny Pincher: Some people see my name and assume right away that it is a pseudonym- who would really be named “Dr. Penny Pincher”? Actually this is partially a real name- I really am a Dr. with a Ph.D. in engineering. However the rest of the name is made up.
I am really focused on spending less money, but I have a lot of interests that tend to require spending money. This means I must prioritize a lot and find ways to save so I can fund the things I really want to do. It is surprising how many things you can cut from you budget without feeling much pain. One big test was when I turned off satellite TV at our house after having it for many years. I expected a revolt from the family, but satellite TV was hardly missed at all.
Why did you start your blog?
Dr. Penny Pincher: I have always enjoyed writing. I had a great English teacher back in high school and was even in Honors English in college. Since graduating in engineering, I haven’t had much opportunity for writing, so I decided to make my own opportunity.
I started my blog, Penny Pincher Journal, right after we made an impulse buy at the pet shop. A $1,000 impulse buy… I was thinking of ways to make up for this unplanned expense. I was working on our budget and making lists of ways we could spend less money, and I decided to start a blog to share these ideas.
What are your favorite blogs?
Dr. Penny Pincher: My favorite blog is probably Get Rich Slowly. One thing I have in common with J.D. Roth- we both even lived in old farm houses at one point in our lives and went on to start personal finance blogs . I have to tip my hat to Bob at Christian PF, who has a great personal finance blog and provided some great advice to help get Penny Pincher Journal started. I also enjoy Clark Howard’s show and website.
When did you first become financially literate?
Dr. Penny Pincher: My parents are frugal and I learned a lot from them growing up. We lived on a small farm in the country and raised most of our own food while spending very little money on anything. I have to admit that I am not as frugal as my parents- they really need or want almost nothing that costs money. I have gradually increased my financial literacy as I have experienced buying and selling houses, paying off loans, starting and running a business for 5 years, and many other things. I am not finished learning- I learn new things about money every day.
What was the last item you regretted purchasing?
Dr. Penny Pincher: Last month, I decided to surprise my family and ordered a 2-person inflatable kayak on Amazon for about $150. My logic was that we could pack it in the car and I could take the kids kayaking at the lake. When it arrived, my wife and kids made me send it back! The said it looked more like a swimming pool toy than something you could take on the lake, and asked, “Why were we spending extra money anyway?” I felt stupid for buying it, but I realized that my family really has some good penny-pinching skills!
If you died today, would your family be ok from a financial standpoint?
Dr. Penny Pincher: By the numbers, I think my family would be OK. I have a big life insurance policy- don’t tell my wife :-). I also have fairly descent retirement fund. I think the problem would be that there would be little money coming in, so if my family was not able to stay within a budget, there would be no way to recover. The kayak incident gives me hope that they would be financially successful without me to “help”.
What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?
Dr. Penny Pincher: My kids have learned by example, which is the easiest way to teach kids about money. I remember one time we were visiting someone at the hospital and were there for many hours with nothing to eat. I handed each of my kids a dollar bill and told them they could pick something out at the vending machines. They both handed the money back and said it was too expensive! An older lady overheard this and commented about how amazing this was to watch.
My kids are a bit older now, but are still really good with money. Teenagers have a reputation for blowing money on stupid stuff, but my kids attract and hold on to money better than most adults.
What’s your dream job?
Dr. Penny Pincher: I would like to be a best-selling author. This would be a great way to make money and make an impact on a lot of people. There are millions of people out there who read, and I like to write. This sounds like a winning plan to me!
What is your best tip to save money? (write in question)
Dr. Penny Pincher: What a great question! First off, I would say to cut your cable or satellite TV service. I cut mine and save around $100 per month. The great thing about cutting a monthly bill is that the savings keep on coming every month. I have also dropped “extra” services I don’t need including my daily newspaper, magazine subscriptions, and my landline phone service (a few years ago).
I know I have answered the question, but another great way to save money is to eat at home instead of eating out. Eating out has become very common, but it is expensive and restaurant food is rarely healthy. You can save hundreds of dollars every month by eating at home more.
Do we have time for one more? OK- another great money saver is to keep driving your car after it is paid off. It is a great feeling to drive a car that you truly own, and it saves hundreds of dollars per month on a car payment.