Five Questions With Lauren Greutman, author, “The Recovering Spender”
With a website that reaches over 2 million people per month, and more than 300,000 social media followers, self-described “frugal living expert “ Lauren Greutman recently added “author” to her resume, with this year’s publication of The Recovering Spender. In the book, and in frequent appearances on TV programs including the Dr. Oz show, Fox & Friends, Nightline, The TODAY Show, The Rachael Ray Show, and Good Morning America, Greutman shares what she learned by overcoming bad financial habits. Amid a whirlwind of activity to promote the book, Greutman graciously took time to answer Five Questions.
In your book, The Recovering Spender, you discuss the neuroscience behind addictive spending behavior. Can you share some of these behavioral patterns?
There are parts of the brain that are found to be responsible for making someone an overspender. What researchers found is that a part of the brain called the insula is responsible for giving your brain warning signs of dangers that lie ahead. If you are about to slam your hand in a door, the insula ignites and tells your hand to pull itself out of the way. What they found is that the insula does not ignite as quickly in the brains of people who are overspenders, making the spender unaware that their shopping behaviors could be dangerous.
You don’t hide the fact that you were once in $40,000 debt. How did this affect your credit score and what were the most effective strategies you used to improve your score?
When I was in $40,000 worth of debt, my credit score was a mess! The strategy that I used to improve my score was to make sure that I didn’t have any late payments and didn’t open up anything new that would bring my score down again. I refrained from opening new credit cards or loans and cancelled a few of my newer cards.
With the holidays closing in, what are some tips you have on holiday budgeting and spending?
When you set your Christmas budget, make sure that you not only write down everyone you have to shop for, but also the specific amount budgeted for each person. This keeps you from easily overspending on everyone because you have a plan. Consumers should also make sure that they plan for miscellaneous expenses such as wrapping paper, stamps, gifts for teachers etc. Those little purchases can add up and quickly throw your budget off.
Come the New Year, what are some realistic financial goals consumers can make and track for themselves?
For 2017, I think everyone should start to look ahead and getting their finances in place. One of the top things I think people need to get in place is an emergency fund. This fund should be between $500 and $1,500 and sit aside in a savings account that will not be accessed. Purchasing life insurance is another area people should look into. It is one of those purchases that really isn’t that expensive and has the additional value of providing you with peace of mind.
You work with your husband in running your media empire. Do you have any tips on how to go into business with your significant other?
The key for working with your spouse is to make sure that you have clear communication and expectations about all jobs. This means tasks both in the home and in the business. As parents of four young children, we have to work together on 100% of our life. For example: I do all the laundry, Mark cooks dinner. I do the media, PR, and book writing. Mark is our content and business manager. We have to be in sync together at all times and in constant communication in order to make it work as well as it does.