Interview with Crystal Paine
Michael Sliwinski: Crystal, you’re The Money-Saving Mom. You run a blog, a website. You also write books. Could you say more about yourself and things you do?
Crystal Paine: Yes, I started Money Saving Mom in 2007. It actually grew out of a small “mommy blog” that I had started in 2005 when my husband was studying. He was going to law school and we were trying to stay out of debt. And so I found a lot of different ways that we could save a lot of money and really pinch pennies.
One day, I wrote something about buying all of our groceries for $17 on my blog. People were just amazed at how I did that and started asking a lot of questions about how I cut my grocery bill. I did a series on that blog on supermarket savings and people just kept asking more questions. I turned that into an e-book. I did an online course, people were just very, very fascinated and interested and just wanted to know a lot of information on how to cut your grocery bill.
I realized that this is a niche that no one was really tapping into: giving people a lot of practical information on cutting their grocery bills. So I started Money Saving Mom in 2007 and it just exploded far beyond what I could have ever imagined.
Michael: I’m really impressed by what you’ve achieved in such a short period of time with your blog and the whole platform. You started saving money and strictly planning your expenses before even turning 20, right? Can anyone do this if they try hard? Or you think the way you were brought up and your personality play an important role here?
Crystal: You know, my parents were very wise and they set great examples for us. I’m actually from a family of nine. There are seven kids in our family and I’m the second child. One of the things my parents really wanted to do was to prepare us well for life and so, from a young age, they had us start paying for our clothes, taking part-time jobs and learning how to manage our money well. They really set before us a good example of living a debt-free lifestyle and being careful with our money. They showed us how we would be able to then be a giver and how to treat the money in our personal and professional life by just being wise with the money. So, it really started at a young age and I was really inspired by my parents.
Michael: I can totally relate to that. My parents inspired me to become an entrepreneur in a similar way and upbringing can be really important, but it’s good that while you have the start — you can spread the word to people who were not brought up like that. That’s great! But, it seems that counting money, looking for special offers, clipping coupons etc. is very complicated and time-consuming. How much time does it take to organize everything so well and then follow the plan? How do you manage to get all that done?
Crystal: You know, I love the quote that says: “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen and if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.” And I feel like it’s really important for me personally. We are very careful with our money and very intentional with how we spend it, and so, making that a priority. Also, I just really feel like everyone will experience so many benefits by making clarifying answers and being wise with your finances an important priority, even though it is time-consuming. And then, on the front end, to save money, to budget, to make sure that you’re not overspending.
In the long run, there will be so many additional benefits from that just to inspire you. If you’re married, you’re probably going to experience a lot more unity in your marriage because you’re not going to be so stressed fighting about money. You’re going to be able to invest in your business or your career or just do fun things as a family. You’re going to find a lot of additional health because of the result of not being so stressed about money all the time and there’s just so much more that you can do when you are wise about finances.
And so, I feel like it’s imperative that you make it a priority. It doesn’t have to take hours and hours of time. But it’s worth investing the time for the benefit you’re going to reap as a result.
Michael: It seems that, if it is about the money and the savings and budgeting, people tend to always go for the short term instead of long-term, right?
Crystal: Yes, absolutely.
Michael: Let’s swiftly move to the productivity principles that you described on your blog. One of your 5 top time management tips is: “Say ‘No’ Often.” Assertiveness is a tough thing for many people. They don’t want to hurt or make anyone angry, they don’t want to lose a friend/client/opportunity, they are worried the person whose request was rejected will gossip about them behind their back. What are your thoughts on this matter and, of course, what are your solutions?
Crystal: I think that it is hard especially if you tend to be a people pleaser or want everyone to like you and think good of you. But once you start the practice of saying “no”, it makes it a lot easier to do it more and more. You realize that when you say no to what is unimportant, you’re able to say “yes” to the important.
And so, I just really encourage people to think about opportunities. Think about your expenditures, think about everything before you just spend the money and say “yes”. Really stop and consider: is this wise? Do I have time for this? Do I have money for this? Am I going to regret this in three or six months from now? And when you take the time to analyze something before you commit to it, you’ll find that you have breathing room in your life. You’ll have a lot more fulfillment in life. You will also see that you are not constantly feeling overextended and stressed. Once you’ve experienced those benefits from saying “no” to what is unimportant, you can say “yes” to what is the best. It will empower you to then want to keep saying “no” to the insignificant.
Michael: I follow some bloggers writing about minimalism and good habits. One of them is Leo Babauta who said he had only fifty three things. I went through my wardrobe and managed to say “no” to many of the clothes I had but I wouldn’t wear at all. Don’t you think there is a correlation between minimalism and money-saving principles you’re preaching?
Crystal: Personally, I would err on the side of minimalism but I don’t know if that’s erring, because I find that there is so much fulfillment and peace in my life that stem from being more minimalistic. I find that when you keep your life simple, it just allows you to have that “ring true” that we talked about. It also rings when you have contentment with what you have. When you’re not constantly going out and trying to get more and more stuff and try to find this fulfillment in objects and spending money. Having that contentment in just exactly what you have simplifies your life. I feel that there’s lot more joy instead of just constantly trying to amass more.
Michael: Could you tell us more about the 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge that you took up? Why have you decided to do it? How is it going?
Crystal: It’s going really well. At the end of last year I decided I needed to be a lot more intentional with my own personal health. So I’m doing a yearlong challenge called 12 Months to Healthier You. Every single month, I focus on one area of health and so some of that is fitness, some of that is eating, some of that is sleeping better… So just all facets of life, finding ways to be intentional about becoming healthier as a person. I think that is benefiting all other areas of my life. In June I was focusing on how to have a better morning routine. I found that I’m getting a lot more done thanks to them. Getting up and being very intentional on how I use my morning gives me more time during the rest of the day. I’m more productive and I find that I’m happier and more organized. I’m also able to spend more time with my family just by investing that time and being intentional with my morning.
Michael: The morning routine — it’s really important. I always do some sports after I get up. While it was difficult in the past, being more intentional about it helped me a lot. I managed to do a triathlon. This philosophy works!
You said that your blog and your platform exploded beyond your imagination. What is your greatest success? What are you the most proud of in terms of the professional and financial aspects of your life? And what are you next aims?
Crystal: That’s a great question. I think one of the most exciting things for our family was that the income we earn from our blog helped us to be able to pay cash for our first house. We were also able to fund a child survival fund in the Dominican Republic for 160 moms and babies. We got to go and visit them and we just realized that if it weren’t for my blog and the money we were able to invest in that, these women and babies would not have food. They would not have shelter, they would not have clothing, they would not be taught marketable skills… I feel it is fantastic to be able to take the money that we are earning from the blog and be able to invest it in other people and to give generously. That’s our heartbeat. We don’t need more things. We don’t need nicer stuff. We’re very content with living a simple life and give generously.
Michael: This positive message is the best way to end this interview. It’s amazing to be able to give to yourself, give to your family and give to others. Thank you so much, Crystal!
Read Crystal’s book:
Extra: Watch my short video interview with Crystal: