Expert Interview with Amiyrah Martin on Frugal Living for Mint

Amiyrah Martin has spent years working out how to live a budget-conscious lifestyle without missing out on anything, sharing her insights on 4 Hats and Frugal in between serving on the Air Force and being a mom. She spoke with us about saving money, living frugally and getting the most out of life.

What first led you to a more frugal lifestyle?

My husband and I found ourselves married at a young age, working 40 to 60 hours a week, with a newborn baby in tow. While we were working very hard and making a decent living, we found that our debt was piling up and we had little to no savings. Bills were paid late, and we even had a car repossessed. Once that happened, we knew things had to change. I quit my job to stay home with my son and work on our debt full time, and that's when we adapted to living a completely frugal lifestyle.

What were some of the challenges of living more frugally that you didn't expect?

Finding resistance of our lifestyle from friends and family. You would think that your inner circle would be supportive of all of your actions, but this wasn't the case with us. Our families didn't understand why I would stop working when we had so much debt, why I decided to keep my son home with me instead of daycare, and why we would selectively only have one car for our household. We surprisingly got more support from online friends than we did with offline friends and family.

It's an old joke that children are expensive, but it's worth asking: How do you balance two kids and a budget-conscious lifestyle?

The first rule that we follow is to make every little experience, even the inexpensive ones, a memory for our kids. Our kids do love toys and electronics, but they have been raised to see them as little blessings that they get from time to time. They have never felt entitled to gifts, which has helped us to keep costs down and the kid "gimmes" at bay. They also know that thrifting for clothing is a normal thing and hand-me-downs are par for the course.

What's the balance between leading a full life and saving money?

On my blog, we always talk about living a frugal lifestyle without deprivation. There is a misnomer that if you decide to live frugally, you have to feel miserly and miserable. Not the case. This is the perfect time to figure out what inexpensive hobbies you love to do, how to travel on a dime, create beautiful meals from sale items at your grocery store, or utilize the clothing items that you already have on hand. The balance is in paying attention to what you CAN do with the money you have, rather than what you could have done with the money that has to go to debt and savings.

If you could give your younger self one piece of financial advice, what would it be and why?

Stay away from the status. Nice clothes, new cars and nightly dinners out may seem like fun now, but that feeling is fleeting. Save some of that dough, even if it's only 20 bucks a week.

What's the future of saving money? Will we all have money-saving apps on our phones, or not have phones at all?

I think we're already seeing a change in the money-saving mindset. More and more people are willing to talk about different ways that they save, whether it's clipping coupons, selling items that are taking up space in their home or just following an easy weekly program that places mere dollars in a savings account. The introduction of apps, like the Mint app, has made saving so much simpler for the busy family. The easier you can make a task for busy families, the more likely they are to do it. Money-saving apps are now providing this for all kinds of families.

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