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Money Maven: An Oswego mom has become an expert on frugal living

Lauren Greutman
photo provided by Lauren Greutman

When she was in her mid-20s, Lauren Greutman and her husband found themselves in $40,000 of debt.

She learned how to cut back – and is now helping other busy moms be less stressed about money.

Family Times recently talked with the Oswego mom about her financial journey, her website, and how she has integrated her family into her business.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

1. Can you start by telling me a little more about your financial journey – and how it led you to found LaurenGreutman.com and become an expert in this area?

I was a young mom. I had my first child when I was 24 (I got married really young, at 21), and I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. I was put in charge of managing the household finances, and I did a very very poor job at it. I got us into a lot of debt (we were at $40,000 when we were 26 years old), and I had to learn how to cut back, how to get out of it, how to strategically pay down debt. So, I got really resourceful. I went online, I went on YouTube, I watched television programs, I got CDs from the library, I got books to try to learn how to cut back my spending.

When I started seeing a huge reduction in my grocery bill as a means to get out of debt, I started teaching coupon seminars and meal planning seminars back in 2008. The demand for those got so high that I started a website and integrated the meal planning and all of the advice about becoming debt free and budgeting in the same resource so I could put everything together for other busy moms to find the stuff I had to search for all over the place.

What does your life look like now?
I went through a divorce in 2018, and I’m a full-time single mom of four kids. I run my company, LaurenGreutman.com, full time. I have online classes, I teach seminars, I do national television, I’ve written three books. My passion is to help other busy moms gain financial peace through simple, practical strategies that they can implement in their everyday lives.

2. What the goal of your website, books, etc.?

For me, it’s to empower women that they can live the life that they want to without financial stress. I meet a lot of women that are too busy and are stressed out about their money, and they don’t know where to go or where to turn. I really break it down into simple, practical things that they can do right now to cut back on their spending, their grocery spending, and how to cut back on their bills, what bills to strategically negotiate right now. I give them the step-by-step so they can free up a lot of money and start paying down that debt.

Before I had kids, I was a drugs and alcohol counselor, and I was an addiction counselor. So, I take a lot of that addiction counseling mentality into my financial counseling – the underlying reasons why you can’t stick to a budget, why you are not willing to say no to certain things, and those kinds of things, to really help unstick people.

3. What are some of the topics that you have covered over the years?

I cover side hustle ideas, how to make extra money on the side. I cover how to budget. I cover ways to pay down debt. I cover meal planning. Freezer cooking techniques and strategies. I sell freezer cooking meal plans on the website, where I teach you how to create 20 freezer cooking meals for $150. I show you the step-by-step process, where I assemble them in three hours. Those are super popular. Busy moms can have a month’s worth of dinners in their freezer. Credit scores. Ways to negotiate your bills down. Best ways to strategically grocery shop and save money on groceries. Those kinds of things.

“So many women have told me that their lives have been changed because of what I teach.” – Lauren Greutman

4. What has been the reaction?

I have been called the Brene Brown of personal finance before. I take a holistic approach to personal finance. I also have a podcast, called the Hard Money Talks podcast, and it is dedicated to talking about the hard money conversations nobody wants to have. When I combine that with the practical steps that I offer on my website, the reaction is refreshment. ‘She gets where I’m coming from.’ ‘Thank God, somebody finally understands what I’m going through.’ Then I give them the practical steps that can help them save. By getting one of my meal plans, I can help them save $500 on their groceries this month. By having them enroll in my online course called Crash Your Debt, I show them the strategic ways to pay down their debt right now, and negotiate their bills, so they can spend $500 less this month on their bills, and free up that money to pay down debt. So many women have told me that their lives have been changed because of what I teach.

5. How have you integrated your family into your business?

It has changed over the years. When I started my website, my son was four, and he’s almost 17 now. They’ve been in a lot of my YouTube videos. We get invited to a lot of events and openings that we can go to and review…We’ve gotten free vacations before. I got to take them to Jamaica a few years ago for free by working with a reputable vacation destination. I am trying to teach them about personal finance too, and the pitfalls that I fell into, and how do I pass this onto the next generation?

6. What has been the most rewarding part for you?

Honestly, the most rewarding part for me is that as a female entrepreneur and single mom, I get to work and live my life around my kids’ schedules. I make my own schedule; I work it around my kids, around what they want and what they need…I’ve worked so hard over the past 13 years to build up this business and this company to a place where I can now have employees and build it in a way that I can be there for my kids. As a single mom, that’s really hard to do, so I’m really grateful for that opportunity. And that I get to help and pass on so much information to other moms that are struggling. That means a lot to me as well.

7. Do you have any advice for Family Times readers?

I think one of the biggest things is that you need to get real with yourself. You need to get real with your spending, and you need to get real with your why: Why are you in the financial situation that you’re in to begin with? Why do you struggle getting into debt or out of debt? Why do you struggle with budgeting? Figure out that reason.

Once you figure that out, and the reason why you want to get out of debt or why you start learning how to budget, from then on, you can write down your budget. I always tell people in my courses, look at the last three months of spending to come up with an idea of where to start with your budget and where to start with the numbers to use. Take the average of the last three months of spending in certain categories, then you want to set a new budget every single month. I think that’s a mistake that people usually make.

Find some programs and apps that you can use. Some people like spreadsheets, some people like apps. Find the one that works for you. If you’re in a relationship or a marriage, try to get on the same page with your spouse and work together. And have hope that you can do it and find some sort of accountability partner or coach or a program that you can follow. Sometimes, it’s easier to do that than just to figure it all out by yourself.

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