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34: How to Stop Overspending (with Lauren Greutman)

One evening Lauren spent $600 on clothes. When she got home, she left the purchases in the car so her husband wouldn’t find out. The next day she decided she had to tell him what she had done, and how it was only the tip of the iceberg of the $40,000 of debt she had racked up. “When I told him, he just stood there staring at me for a while, then he said, ‘I forgive you. Let’s get through this together.’” Fast forward to today: Lauren and her husband are not only out of debt, but Lauren is teaching others how to do it, too. Lauren is the author of ‘The Recovering Spender’ and blogs at Listen to find out the 3 rules that help her stay out of debt today.

Nuggets of Wisdom from Lauren:

“When the pain of staying broke becomes greater than the pain of changing your spending habits, that is when you will make a change. ”

“A lot of the debt was because I got us into the debt and never told him about it because I did not want to burden him. It was not that I was like trying to be sneaky. I just did not want to burden him. I would just say, ‘Okay, it's what everybody does. I am just having a terrible time dealing with it so it is my fault, so I just need to handle it and get us out of it….'”

“I started feeling really guilty about it. I started thinking like, ‘Okay, I hid this from him because I didn't want to fight with him… He knew we were in debt, but he did not know how much. But he knew we were in debt and here I am, going and spending $600 on clothing and now I am hiding it from him. This is not just good for our marriage and our future. The next day I decided to come clean to him and tell him all the debt that we had. And make a real difference. I felt like for the first time I realized that I could not do it myself, like I needed his help to handle this and to have somebody to talk to about it. It is really like – not only it is lonely and stressful but it is just damaging to your marriage if you have this big elephant in the room that you can never talk about it.”

“He said, ‘I forgive you, let us get through this together.' And so those are the words that changed everything. That was 9 years ago and from then on we got out of debt in 2 years. We just had a passion for teaching other people all the mistakes that we went through.”

“I have a spending problem. I think I always have the personality to be addicted to spending. And because of that I have to know what boundaries I have to set up around myself, so I do not spend money. Like 3 rules that I have. #1.) Do not go to Target alone. My second one, if I do any online shopping, I use a prepaid debit card, so I have to fund it beforehand. And #3, I do not use credit cards. So, those are my three big boundaries I had to put around myself, to keep myself safe. So, yes, I would definitely say, it is an addiction of some sort.”

“The biggest thing that they need to learn is how to set a realistic budget. For years, I was so terrified of the B word. I cringed on the inside. But once I saw that a budget can actually bring freedom to me, it really kind of opened up my eyes to all that's possible. For so many years, I spent money without knowing what was going on and, yes, that was fun and great, but then, you sit down at the end of the day, and you are like, ‘Oh my gosh, I spent this much money. I did not know that I spent this much money! I don't know where it went. And now, you don't have money for your bills.' So, I found out that budgeting actually gives me freedom to spend what I want to without giving me that guilt and feeling of depletion at the end of the day. I think people need to set that realistic budget, and it can really really help them.”

financial makeover

Some of Lauren‘s Favorite Things:

Personal habit: “That I can turn work off. I think that is a big thing. As an entrepreneur who works online, the temptation to work all day and all night and every weekend is there, you know, in your face all the time. We finally got an office outside of our house and that has been really imperative to my success with everything that I do online. I got so sick of being half on, half off all day long, that setting it up this way has really kept us very productive during our work hours and also being able to be a husband and wife at night and hang out with the kids, go out to dinner, and do fun stuff together without feeling guilty that I have so much work to do.”

Easy meal: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Possession: Blendtec

Lauren's Favorite Book: For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

Best advice received: “Be kind to others because they will be kind to you.”

Lauren's Happiness Formula:

“I am happiest when I stick to my budget, I spend time with family, and I sleep.”

A Challenge from Lauren:

“I want everybody to think about their values and if their spending is a reflection of that value system. Because whether you are in debt or not, you can always do something better with your finances. It always comes down to your value system.”


Morning Meditation Guide (free)

Financial Renovation

The Recovering Spender (Lauren's book)

You Need a Budget:

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce


For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

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About jen

Jen Riday is a mom of 6 and life coach who loves to help women experience massive happiness as they let go of stress, sadness or other chronic emotions of negativity.

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