I stumbled upon FrugalDad.com not too long ago and was impressed with the sites content. There are many good reads on this site and I recommend checking it out if you want more money saving tips. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Jason White the blogger behind the blog. He offers some great advice and tips.
10 Questions with Jason White from FrugalDad.com
1. So what is FrugalDad.com all about? How & Why did you start your blog?
FrugalDad.com is a site featuring ideas on frugal living, but it’s really more than that. I like to share my ideas and opinions on broader personal finance topics, careers, personal development, parenting, and even blogging. I started FrugalDad.com as a creative outlet to cultivate my interest in writing, and as a way to connect with other frugal families. I wrote articles for Associated Content for nearly a year before deciding to venture out on my own.
2. So what is a day in your shoes like? Location, Age, Job, Interests?
Since beginning my blog my days have become even longer. I start the day around 4:30am to get some time to myself for writing, researching, responding to readers, etc. I get most everything related to Frugal Dad out of the way during those precious two hours before the wife and kids are awake. A quick breakfast with the family and I’m out the door to work my regular 8-5, as a database administrator/web designer.
Afternoons are spent helping the wife prepare dinner, playing outside with the kids (Spring in the southeast means long, warm afternoons where you can play outside until 8:00pm). I finish the day off with catching up on email, prepping the next day’s article and then off to bed around 10:30.
3. Ok, now the fun questions, what is your favorite cheap meals that you make at home and when you’re eating out?
I probably ought to come up with some intriguing made-from-scratch meal here, but I’d be lying if I said I was a good cook. My favorite meal is my wife’s spaghetti, and while I haven’t done a full cost breakdown I’m guessing it is around $1.00 per person, per meal. She makes a double batch and I eat it four or five meals in a row, including my lunches at work for two days. We don’t eat out often, but when we do we like to order an appetizer as a meal, or split an entrée. We also like to hit restaurants on the nights when kids eat free.
Dean, “Ahh, spaghetti it is one of those meals that really fills you up. I never thought of doing a double batch, great idea.”
4. What is the one thing you own under $20 that has gotten the most bang for your buck?
We bought an indoor griddle on sale at Target for around $20 and that thing has been the best purchase in our household. We use it for the traditional breakfast items such as pancakes, eggs, etc., but the real value is how well it cooks meats.
It sure beats heating up the whole house to bake meats in the summer, or standing outside in a cold rain in the winter to use an outdoor grill. Homemade hamburgers are delicious cooked on the griddle, and because of its design much of the fat runs off into a drip container making meals even healthier.
Dean, “I agree, those indoor grills are fast, convenient and easy to clean. I like to marinate meats the night before then throw them on the grill for a quick and easy dinner.”
5. You seem to be an avid reader with plans to read one book every week for 52 weeks. What are your top 3 life changing books you can recommend for people wanting to learn more about money or finances?
I haven’t always been an avid reader. Like most people, I burned out after doing so much required reading in college. However, I soon realized that there is a common thread amongst the most successful people – they read a lot! The very first life-changing book I read on the subject of personal finances was The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley. I read it on a business trip to Ft. Lauderdale, and it completely changed the way I thought about millionaires.
Next on the list is The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey, which forever changed my attitude towards credit cards, and debt in general. It even moved me to change careers, out of the financial industry and into technology. Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, probably had the most profound effect on my life in general, not just financially. It really forced me to stop and think about the things for which I was exchanging my life energy.
Dean, “I have “The Millionaire Mind” audio book, nice pick”
6. Can you share your number 1 tip in being a “frugal dad”?
My number one tip is to be frugal, but flexible. Sometimes we frugal dads let the pendulum swing too far, and the whole family suffers from our obsessive belt-tightening. Life is meant to be enjoyed. My grandfather wrote me a letter when I turned 20 and reminded me to “smell the roses.” Over a decade later I still think of that advice when my first inclination is to say “no” to anything my family wants to do that requires money.
Dean, “Very true, it is very important not to lose track of why you are saving money. Too many people save money just to save money. If you save money on one thing then blow it on something meaningless, what is the point.”
7. In your blog you recently wrote that you downgraded your cable television package, how is that transition going?
It was one of the best moves we’ve ever made! My daughter was initially upset because she lost the Disney Channel, but it’s been surprising how little she mentions it now. We spend more time outside in the evenings and on weekends. My wife and I spend more time reading after the kids are in bed. If it were up to me we would pull the plug on cable television altogether, but remember my tip – be flexible.
Dean, “I couldn’t agree with you more, I wrote about my experience of actually living without a TV. Personally I don’t think there are a lot of good shows on television, maybe I’m just getting old. I also don’t like the confinement of static programming, that is why I love my Netflix, I get to watch what I want when I want.”
8. What is one of the biggest mistakes or problems you feel parents make when it comes to teaching kids about money?
One of the biggest mistakes I see parents making is cosigning for a credit card for their teenager in the interest of “building their credit score.” When that teenager hits college they will inundated with offers for credit, and by normalizing it you have in fact encouraged them to take on a credit card of their own.
Before they know it, they are $10,000 in debt from pizzas, Xbox games, clothes and iPods. Instead, teach kids to use cash. Teach them to save for large purchases. Credit cards are not evil by themselves, and used wisely they can be a useful financial tool.
However, they are not for the financially inexperienced. Giving a teenager a credit card is like giving a 12 year-old a learner’s permit to drive. They may have the physical skills necessary to operate a car, but they do not yet have the maturity nor the experience required to make responsible decisions. I would rather see a young person avoid credit cards until they are on their own financially and earning their own way.
Dean, “Very good point, I bet there are a lot of young adults in debt that with their parents taught them how to be fiscally responsible.”
9. Give me your top 3 blog posts that every Mr. Cheap Stuff reader should read.
How I’ve Survived Without the Help of Wii, TomTom or iPod
10. Finally, can you give me your favorite tip on how do you use the Internet to save money or time?
Like most men I despise clothes shopping. For me it ranks up there with dental checkups and an annual physical. However, thanks to sites like eBay I’ve managed to avoid mall shopping for all but a few required articles of clothing.
When the time comes to add to my wardrobe I visit a mall and try on several styles of pants and shirts. I carry along a pen and piece of paper and note the size, style and any other unique characteristics of the things I like. I leave the mall and go home to look up the items on eBay. Run a search for the item with the tag “NWT” added to the end of your query. You can usually find your item new-with-tag (NWT) at half the costs of retail prices.