Expert Interview with Candace Anderson on Raising a Frugal Family for Mint

Candace Anderson wants to make one thing clear: Just because she's the penny-pinching owner of FrugalMom.net doesn't mean she or her family are stingy.

In fact, being more mindful of how they spend their money has freed them to spend money the way that they want.

"Our family has been able to give even more to not only charities on a monthly basis, but also to other families who are in need," she says. "Because we live a frugal life, we are able to give even more."

We recently checked in with Candace to learn more about why she loves frugal living and get her tips and tricks for living on less. Read on:

Tell us about Frugal Mom...when and why did you start your site?

I started Frugal Mom in 2003 after my husband made a major career change. He decided he wanted to leave the rat race of the corporate world and pursue something that he was passionate about. We decided as a family that we could make it work by living a more frugal life. Through our frugal living journey, I realized I could share what I was learning with others who were in similar situations. That was the birth of FrugalMom.net!

Who should be reading it?

Anyone who wants to save money and learn ways to earn money from home will enjoy Frugal Mom. I have a lot of articles that teach others about frugal living, but I also share ideas for earning an income while staying home, as well as recipes. Some of my most popular posts are about once-a-month cooking, which is a great way to save money.

Why are you so passionate about frugal living?

My family has always been a top priority for me. Frugal living can be tough work, but we wouldn't have it any other way. There's just something about living simply that is so refreshing. Lives today are busy, and simplifying is always a good thing. I also love to see my children's lives changed because of frugal living. We are teaching them to set goals for themselves and to be good stewards of the money that we do have.

What are the benefits of frugal living beyond just saving your family money?

Freedom. Frugal living gives us freedom to do what we want with our money. We are not controlled by our finances, we control our finances. There is a great deal of freedom in that.

You work from home and homeschool your five kids - why was it important to you to take such a hands-on approach to raising your family? What have been the advantages? Any frustrations?

I have just completed my 15th year of homeschooling and have worked from home in one form or another during all of these years. While I definitely believe that homeschooling is not for everyone, my husband and I feel that it is the best choice for our family. I love spending the days with my kids, and one of the benefits is that I've been able to build great relationships with them. I also love that I can tailor my kids' schoolwork to whatever interests they have. For example, when my youngest son developed an interest in coin collecting, I was able to give him projects and assignments that nurtured that interest. And yes, there have been frustrations along the way. There are those days when I ask myself, "Why am I doing this again?" Usually a day out with friends is all I need to get refreshed and energized again. Even though there are many frustrations, the rewards at the end make it all worthwhile.

What are your go-to methods for saving money on...

...groceries? For me, it is all about planning meals, growing as much produce as I can, and making good decisions about where I shop. I do use coupons occasionally, and I know many women who save a great deal of money couponing, but we primarily shop at Aldi, and they don't accept coupons.

...household items? Research, research, research. If you are going to spend money on something, you want to make the best decision possible. And a good decision is an informed decision. In our house, we have a rule of thumb for making purchases - we never go with the cheapest or the most expensive. We research, read a lot of reviews and make sure that whatever we are buying will last.

...clothing? This is my weakness. I love to shop consignment sales. A friend and I started a pop-up consignment sale for women called Designer Consignors in the Cary, N.C., area. We do the sale twice a year, and that's where I buy most of my clothes. I also love to shop thrift stores. When my kids were younger, I did a lot of kids' consignment sale shopping, and I always shop the sale racks.

...entertainment? We have a monthly budget, and we try to do as many free things as possible. Day trips are a great way to do something fun without having to pay for an overnight stay.

How have you taught your kids to be frugal/financially responsible?

My kids have grown up with Frugal Mom, so they haven't had much of a choice.

We have tried very hard to instill in our kids a strong work ethic. We try to be good stewards of our finances, and we are very open with our kids about our spending. My oldest son is now living on his own, and it is really great to hear about how well he is budgeting his money, putting a percentage of his paycheck into savings, as well as giving a percentage. This mama is proud!

What tips do you have about saving money in the kitchen? How can we create meals that offer more bang for your buck?

The very best tip I can give for saving money on meals is to plan your meals in advance. Print out a blank calendar, consult your local flyers, and plan your meals around the best prices you can find. Not only will you save money when you go shopping, but you will save yourself time and stress each day trying to figure out what to cook. Once-a-month and once-a-week cooking are also great ways to save money on your meals.

What are some of your favorite tools or resources for managing your money?

Mint.com and Mvelopes are free, easy to use and great tools for tracking spending and sticking to a budget.

I also like to use Pinterest to pin recipes that I like or tips for saving money. Evernote Food is another tool you can use for saving your favorite recipes. Apps like Grocery iQ and SnipSnap are really helpful when it comes to grocery shopping. GasBuddy.comis an app that I use to help me find the best price of gasoline. If you are out shopping and want to know if you are getting a good deal, TheFind is a great app for this. You can use the built-in barcode scanner to scan an item and it will give the best local prices for that item.

Follow Candace on Twitter and Facebook.