Expert Interview with Lynette Rice on Couponing for Mint

When Lynette Rice became a mom, she also became an expert at coupons, as she shows us every day on her blog, Cleverly Simple. Lynette spoke with us about couponing, saving money for your family and how to better manage the family finances.

What financial challenges were you not expecting when you became a mom?

When we found out we were expecting our first child, I was working full time. My husband was in graduate school. Once our son arrived, it became obvious that my dream of staying home with our kids could not wait. The only problem was my husband had one more full year of graduate school. Quitting my job meant we would have to live with no income. Fortunately, we had savings and my husband had a significant scholarship. I did quit my job and we lived on no income for one year accruing no additional debt. We did it on an incredibly tight budget, watching each and every dollar It was a challenge, but we were motivated to make it happen for our family.

Why is frugality so important today?

I don't want to spend money on things that are not lasting and don't matter. Frugality is important to us as a family because I want to continue to stay at home with our two sons. Frugality has opened the door for us to do that. Using coupons, budgeting and saying "no" to certain activities means that we can continue our familial goals. Since it's a priority to us, it makes being frugal important to our family.

How do you strike a balance between being frugal and enjoying what you have?

To be honest, being frugal has allowed us to live more fulfilling lives. When you know where your dollars go, it's less stressful. While we are frugal, we do allow room to enjoy activities together as a family. We enjoyed visiting a local waterpark this summer, we have a membership to our local YMCA and we also took a family vacation. Being frugal to me doesn't mean saying "no" to everything. Rather, it just means that you're incredibly intentional about what you say "yes" to. And when you say "yes," you make it count.

What's the best deal you've ever found?

I've found quite a few "best" deals. My most recent favorite has been an entire trash bag of LEGOs I found at our local thrift store. I paid $30 for hundreds of dollars worth of LEGOs for our oldest child. We gave them to him on his birthday. We also just bought a new (to us) van. We were patient and found a great deal on a very well taken care of van.

Is there a point where a freebie or a coupon just isn't worth the hassle?

Absolutely. If you don't need an item, you don't need the coupon for it either. I don't drive to multiple stores every week hunting down every single deal that's out there. Your time is your money as well. I am intentional about what store I shop at, and focus on saving money there. When you're frugal, you're saying "no" to more deals than you're saying "yes" to. I'm totally fine with that.

When posting cost-saving recipes, what's your criteria for them? What do you look for?

I look for easy recipes that use simple ingredients when deciding what recipes to share on Cleverly Simple. I share what I've made for my family. Moms have busy lives, and we don't want to spend all of it in the kitchen. I look for recipes that fit into real life for families who want to save money but also want to enjoy time around the table together each and every night.

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