Centsibly Rich // Financial Literacy Chronicles, No. 31

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Please welcome Amanda from Centsibly Rich as our guest for today’s Financial Literacy Chronicles interview here on Enwealthen.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your blog.

My name is Amanda and I live in Iowa with my husband, Alan, and our two kids (Jake, 16 and Cait, 14). I’ve been a stay at home mom since Jake was 6 months old, working various fun and exciting side hustles throughout the years.

Alan and I started out married life in debt. We had a combined student loan debt of around $40k, as well as car loans and mortgage within a year of being married. Even though we were frugal in many areas, we got trapped in a perpetual cycle of car loans for several years.

In our 30s, I discovered personal finance blogs, such as Get Rich Slowly, Free Money Finance, and eventually, Mr. Money Mustache. They provided the inspiration and motivation to make changes. We finally said enough is enough, stopped the cycle of debt, took control of our finances, and are currently working on an early retirement.

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.

Personal finance blogs provided the inspiration and resources we needed to change our money situation, which ultimately changed our lives (for the better). After we conquered all of our consumer debt and started down the path to early retirement, I decided to pay forward what I had learned from other bloggers.

Centsibly Rich was born in March 2016. Centsibly Rich is about all things personal finance, from frugal living and money saving tips to changing your money mindset and taking control.

Can you share your most impactful money memory from your childhood?

Honestly, I can’t pick out one specific money memory.

But I clearly remember my parents always telling me credit card debt is bad. They didn’t even use a credit card until I was older. When they did start using them, they made the point that they paid off the balance each and every month and explained exactly why.

We all receive financial advice from people in our lives.  What’s the most interesting or useful financial advice you’ve received from your community?

Actually, my husband received financial advice in college that had a huge impact on our financial future.

One of his professors told his class every single day that as soon as they graduated and got a job, to sign up for their 401k and contribute the minimum to get the company match (because that’s FREE money). He said it so frequently and with so much compassion (plus he illustrated the magic of compound interest), it made a huge impact on Alan. It was something he never forgot.

I admit, when he did get that first salaried position and said he wanted to sign up for the 401k, I didn’t like the idea. Cutting back on the paycheck wasn’t appealing to me and retirement seemed so far off (we were in our mid 20s). But, like his professor did for him, he educated me on compound interest and the fact that we would be getting free money.

I couldn’t argue with that.

I have several personal finance books I regularly give to friends and family.  What are your 3 favorite fundamental personal finance books you often gift to others?

Your Money or Your Life (Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez). This is my favorite for so many reasons. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of FI and helped me better align my spending/expenses with my values and priorities. It completely shifted my money mindset.

The Millionaire Next Door (Dr. Thomas Stanley). This book shows that most millionaires don’t inherit their wealth, but tend to live thrifty, nondescript lives, spending intentionally and investing strategically. By applying these principles, almost anyone can build wealth.

The Automatic Millionaire (David Bach). Making saving and investing (bill paying too) automatic creates consistency. The only way we’ve been able to stick to our savings goals each month is to make it automatic. What’s left is what we have to live on. It’s worked for us.

What financial literacy education did you receive in school?  If you had a magic wand, what would you change to improve that?

I don’t remember receiving much in the way of financial literacy education in school. I do remember learning to write checks and balancing a checkbook, but I learned more about this from my mom then from the school.

With my magic wand, I would start financial literacy education early. Even in elementary school, kids can (and should) learn more about money than just the difference between nickels and dimes, or how to make change. They could learn the basics of budgeting and interest before they reach high school (and it can be fun!).

In high school, personal finance should be taught each year – from the mechanics of managing your money (banking, loans, bill paying, etc.) to the implications of debt and how compound interest can work for you or against you. This information should be presented in interesting and fun ways that are relevant, making those lessons memorable.

Get their attention – ask them “Do you want to be a millionaire?” and just see if they listen when you explain how.

There are so many blogs on the internet, what are 3 of your favorite blogs that instill financial literacy, either by word or action?

I love so many blogs, it’s hard to pick just 3! If you are just starting out in your financial journey and want to learn more, as well as get motivated and inspired, I’d start with these:

The Frugal Farmer. Laurie’s story is inspirational to anyone who is working to get control of their finances. Her posts are informative, motivational and her site is full of great resources for all things personal finance.

Mr. Money Mustache. I probably don’t need to elaborate here, but MMM has a way of convincing you the standard consumer-driven culture isn’t the only way. And I think realizing this is one of the first steps to really wanting to take control.

Money Boss. I started reading Get Rich Slowly back in the day. J.D. is one of my favorite bloggers and I love his new site. His “Money Toolbox” is an invaluable resource no matter what stage of the game you’re in.

What we’re all seeking is happiness

I like to keep inspirational quotes around the house to remind me of what’s important.  Do you have a favorite money quote you use to inspire your financial life?

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” – Jim Rohn

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about personal finance?

It’s not about more money.

Saving, investing, and earning just for the sake of having more money is fruitless. What we’re all seeking is happiness. And though money doesn’t buy happiness, it can be used as a tool for the freedom to pursue happiness.

Thanks for contributing to the Financial Literacy Chronicles here on Enwealthen, Amanda!

Amanda is a wife, mom, black belt and creator of CentsiblyRich.com. Her family changed their lives by successfully paying off $100,000 in debt on one income. She is passionate about living a “rich” life with a focus on the important things.

Readers, please share your thoughts on Amanda’s experiences, any additional questions you have, and suggestions for who else you’d like to see interviewed in the comments below.  And please do spread the financial literacy and share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Thanks!


  1. Great post! Although I was decently exposed to financial literacy around High School graduation, I still found myself wrapped up in the American debt trap. By 28, I had $50k in student loans, a small car loan, and credit card debts that would take months to pay off. We’re well on our way to cleaning up our mess now, but if we would’ve truly understood the weight of every debt we took out BEFORE we did, we might have been able to avoid much of the struggle.

    • Thanks, Ryan! I think even if you are financially literate, it’s still easy to fall into the debt trap in the culture we live in. In order to avoid debt, you have to live differently, and that’s not always easy. It’s great you guys are getting it turned around now, though. Better now than later (or never)! Hopefully if we all share our stories, others can learn from our mistakes and not make the same mistakes themselves.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Amanda (and Jack!) I agree with your concepts, especially about teaching finances early. I think the trick for real youngsters would be to come up with a fun curriculum that excites them.

  3. Great read, Amanda! I love your motivation to pay it forward, after learning so much from the pf community. It’s great to see you adding to the conversation, and the movement as a whole through your blog. You’re very inspiring!

  4. I’ve tried and tried to identify the first piece of financial advice and I think it came from the HR dept at my first full-time job: contribute enough to the 403(b) to get the match. They couldn’t tell us to do that, but they strongly encouraged. Now, what’s really funny is that I had a LOT of questions when they said this because I had no idea what they were talking about. But when they said the match was “free money,” I was all in. Hahahahaha 🙂

  5. Great interview…it’s always fun to learn more about fellow bloggers. I’m glad your husband’s professor made such an impact on him about the 401k contribution. I am so happy that I started contributing to my retirement plan right away at my first job. It didn’t seem like much in the beginning but that compounding does work its magic if you only give it some time and consistently contribute.

    • Thanks, Andrew! I always like learning more about my fellow bloggers too – this is the perfect way to do it. We are very fortunate my husband listened to his professor…it sounds like the lesson was pretty redundant, but apparently it worked! Starting early was one of the best things we ever did.

  6. Not having credit card debt is the one thing I remember my parents telling me as well growing up. I only contributed enough to get my match the first few years of working as well. It was right when the Great Recession started so I was more focused on repaying my student loans because it was a bad market year. Looking back I wish I would have done more, but, it was still a good use of money.
    Josh recently posted My College Commencement Address to the Class of 2017My Profile

    • Yes, Josh, my parents drove home the importance of staying out of credit card debt (Alan’s parents did the same). The lesson stuck. I’ve always paid off my balance each month (though I did fall for those 12 month free financing deals at the furniture store many, many years ago).

      I think paying off the student loans is a great use of the money!!! Starting off with as little debt as possible pays off.

  7. I’m with Amanda on the idea of financial literacy education starting in elementary school. Never too early to get kids into good money habits. Of course, I would encourage parents not to wait until the school administrators own their eyes.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker
    ARB recently posted How I Almost Got Fired TodayMy Profile


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