Expert Interview with Maggie of Square Pennies on Frugality for Mint

Saving money only seems tricky, according to Maggie of Square Pennies. And as an expert frugality blogger, she'd know better than anyone. Maggie spoke with us about how to save money and think frugal.

What are some misconceptions people have about frugality?

People often think frugality means being miserable living at a lower level lifestyle. Not true! It's really putting your money into what you value and not spending on things that don't really matter to you. It makes you feel good to set goals and accomplish them!

What are some surprises you found when you started living more frugally?

I was surprised at how freeing it really was. Confusion about how to spend money was gone. I didn't have to feel guilty spending money on things I chose to because I was well on my way to my goals.

What's the difference between frugal and miserly, and how do you know you're perhaps more one than the other?

Miserly people are only concerned about themselves. They have no generous spirit. They are piling up money just to see how high they can make the pile. Being frugal means you want good value for your money. You decide what you value. Many frugal people use the resources and abilities they have to help others, whether those people are in their own family or beyond.

What's the oddest frugal idea you've ever tried? Did it work?

One time I had a favorite pair of sandals that was losing its color. The man-made upper started out as a camel color but had turned a blotchy light tan that just looked dirty. Nothing else was wrong with them. They were so comfortable that I decided to tattoo them. Using a black permanent marker I drew a basket weave pattern. They look great with the variations in color looking like various strands of straw. Plus I get a smile every time I look at them!

What are a few ways anydiv can save money, no matter where they are financially?

My motto for clothes is to never pay full price. I buy when a high-quality brand is deeply discounted. Higher-quality clothing lasts longer and is often in classic styles that go with many other items. You will look well dressed even though you spent much less. Don't need the savings? How about donating the money saved to your favorite charity? Or put the savings into a vacation fund. Being frugal means you put your money towards what you want and value.

Anydiv can reduce food waste - that's money down the drain that's easy to save. You can serve less for a meal, freeze the leftovers or take the leftovers for lunch the next day. Sometimes I make a buffet of leftovers and let everyone choose what they want. Almost any leftovers can be added to soup - just keep it in the freezer until you are ready.

There are loads of ways to lower your utility bills. Who wants to give more money to the utility companies? Use insulated drapes, energy-efficient appliances and the slow cooker! You might want to try using a pressure cooker, as it uses very little energy. Low-flow showerheads save on your water bill. On Square Pennies I have posts about growing shrubs, flowers, vegetables and a lawn with much less water and much less work!

Do you think we'll be more frugal going forward? Are we tilting away from consumerism?

Absolutely! We are becoming a DIY and "Maker Culture" that values handmade items more than the latest and greatest from the store. The DIY projects on Square Pennies are some of the most popular posts. They are also a lot of fun!

Also, valuing experiences over just accumulating things is a definite trend. As Millennials become parents, time spent in family activities are valued highly. As a mom of four wonderful kids, I share what is beneficial in our family and actionable ideas for a rich family life.

For the latest advice from Maggie, follow Square Pennies on Twitter.