Expert Interview with Cassie Howard on Frugal Living

Frugal livingSaving money and having a sound business sense is not just for CFOs and Fortune 500s. If anything, regular people need budgeting and financial insights more than anybody.

For those of us who want to save money while still enjoying our quality of life, there is Mrs January, a blog dedicated to frugal living without sucking the fun out of life.

Cassie Howard took a moment to tell us about Mrs January, the evolution of the website and some of the top money-saving tips and resources she's unearthed along the way.

Can you introduce us to Mrs January? What did you feel that the other financial blogs were lacking, that inspired you to start your own?

MrsJanuary.com is a frugal living website that teaches people how to live frugally, without sucking the fun out of life. We're based out of Ontario, Canada. We started in 2007, but at the time, it was a personal blog of mine. It didn't actually become a couponing/frugal blog until about 2010. I didn't look at "competition" at all. I started the site as a personal blog, it morphed into a couponing and then frugal blog, and the people just flooded in. I did no marketing for Mrs January until about 2012, when I decided to get serious about turning the site into a business.

Who is your main audience, and how does Mrs January meet their specific needs?

Our main audience is young mothers, and we serve them by providing money-saving tips, as well as parenting tips.

You frequently write about Canadian coupons. What advice do you have for people who think they're too busy to find and clip coupons? Do you have any recommendations on great places to find coupons?

Couponing is a fantastic way to save at least 30% off your grocery bill every week. You can do it in as little as 30 minutes per week. There's really no better time to use coupons! Some of our favorite couponing resources are Save.ca, Websaver.ca and the MrsJanuary.com coupon database.

What do you say to people who think that saving money is all about hardship and deprivation?

I tell them that saving money is all about their attitude. If they think saving money is going to be hard, it will be hard. If they think of it more like a game, it can actually be really fun!

You also help people save money through menu planning tips. First of all, how much does a small family or individual stand to save by being frugal with their groceries? Secondly, do you have a couple of quick tips on how to stretch your grocery budget?

Being frugal with your groceries can easily save you 30% or more each week. For the average family of four, that's about $250 a month on groceries you could be saving. To really stretch your grocery budget, I recommend coupons (of course!), shopping the sales, menu planning and freezer cooking (preparing meals in advance and freezing them for later).

Do you have any particular websites or apps that you find especially useful for personal finance?

I love the Mint.com app, as well as cash back apps, such as Checkout 51 and Zweet.

Can you give us five quick tips on ways that people can save money while still enjoying themselves?

  • Couponing (it's very fun!)
  • Have a meal prep party with your family (cook a bunch of meals for the week ahead in just a few hours on a Sunday)
  • Look for free local events in your community
  • Order free samples online
  • Have a "staycation" instead of a vacation this year (visit museums and other local attractions in your area)

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