CGS Exclusive Interview: Author Leah Ingram

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The CGS Team is proud to present a quick interview that we were lucky enough to have with Leah Ingram. Leah is the author of several books, including this month’s CGS Book Club selection “Suddenly Frugal”. Leah has been featured in numerous magazines and web articles, including the cover of BusinessWeek. Her blog, Suddenly Frugal, offers the ultimate resource for frugal living. Leah saw our post on Twitter regarding “Suddenly Frugal” as July/August’s book club selection and agreed to an interview with us!

CGS: Your book, “Suddenly Frugal”, helps readers save up to $25,000 a year with very simple changes to one’s normal routine. What inspired you to really live a frugal lifestyle and how hard was the adjustment for you in the beginning?

Leah Ingram: Our family was inspired to begin living frugally in 2007, when we found ourselves in so much debt that our only option was to sell the house where we were living (to pay off all that home equity we'd used up) and start again in a new house. In the beginning the adjustment was VERY hard. I likened it to someone going through withdrawal from any addiction--I wanted to shop, I wanted to eat out, but I knew I couldn't. Except for food shopping I stayed out of stores for at least 30 days. When I finally allowed myself to go back, for necessities, I felt tremendous guilt about spending money. What was also hard was explaining the change to my daughters, who were 10 and 12 at the time. They'd never wanted for anything and suddenly we'd cut back. They didn't understand at first, but slowly they began to appreciate the value of money and have since become smart spenders themselves. My eldest, now a rising college junior, cuts coupons at school (her roommates tease her about it), and my youngest, about to leave for her freshman year at college, has learned to work CVS Extra Bucks so well and regularly consigns her clothes. I'm so proud of both of them.

CGS:City Girl Savings is all about empowering women to achieve financial success while still maintaining a healthy and fashionable lifestyle. How important is it for women to save and where do you suggest young women draw the line when it comes to saving vs. spending?

Leah Ingram: I feel it is extremely important for women to achieve financial success. And I believe that by being forced to teach my own daughters at a young age the importance of being smart with money, they have become financially savvy young women. As far as drawing the line with saving versus spending, we have already talked to our daughters about starting a retirement fund. Putting $1,000 in an IRA at their young ages (18 and 20) pretty much guarantees $1,000,000 by retirement age, thanks to the miracles of compounding interest. Also, I understand the importance of women to look good and wear fashionable clothing. But there's no reason to go broke doing so. I love Macklemore's song "Thrift Shop" and talking about $50 for a t-shirt. Years before that song came out, I brought my daughters to designer stores, where they wanted to shop, and showed them price tags. Then I gave them $50 each to shop. Once it was "their" money and they realized that $50 would get them only one piece of clothing, I brought them to thrift and resale stores, where they could buy multiple items for the same amount. That's not to say that my daughter's don't shop at name-brand stores, but they've learned to supplement their shopping and add to their wardrobes with trips to Goodwill.

CGS: What advice would you give to women trying to be fashionable on a budget?

Leah Ingram: See above. Invest in a few good pieces from well-known and well-respected stores/brands and that will last for a long time, and then supplement with trips to a thrift store. Or keep your wardrobe on trend with a few pieces a season from low-price stores like H&M.

CGS: You have written a lot of books, with multiple ones for new brides and wedding planning. Is there a certain place in your heart for brides? Was it your wedding experience that inspired these books?

Leah Ingram: From a business perspective, I'm hugely proud of being the author of 14 books. It's humbling to look around my home and see those books on my bookshelves. I would love to write more books, but inspiration hasn't hit me yet for the next big book. From a financial perspective, I'm so proud of my credit score--816 on last review. We have nearly zero consumer debt and have learned to live within our means. We are able to pay off our credit cards every month. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I'm so proud that my daughters have picked up on my frugal ways. My eldest, who is living in New York City this summer for an internship, called to brag the other night about how she'd gone to Trader Joe's and spent $25 on a week's worth of food. Living in New York, it's easy to spend that amount on one meal. And my youngest, who is working this summer in a job for which she receives tips, has been banking her paycheck every week and living on tips. She loves seeing the numbers in her bank account going up each week.

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Follow Suddenly Frugal!

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www.suddenlyfrugal.com

Twitter: @suddenlyfrugal

Check out "Suddenly Frugal" as July/August's CGS Book Club selection by clicking here.

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Suddenly Frugal!

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2 thoughts on “CGS Exclusive Interview: Author Leah Ingram”

  1. Great interview. I have recently cut back on eating out ( other than special occasions) and shopping. What inspired this was that I realized that I was shopping every week, but I am interested in buying a car and a house soon. So I started adding up what I spent over the last couple of weeks on just food alone. When I saw the total I was deeply disturbed. I have challenged myself to not eating out or shopping for 3 months. So far it’s been 3 weeks

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