One week ago, we started talking about food and money here on the Spiffblog. Many of you seemed to find this topic very important and interesting, so we had to do a follow-up on the subject! Luckily, we managed to get a hold of the incredible Beth Moncel, from Budget Bytes.
What does it feel like to be a full-time successful food-blogger? Beth has nearly 70 000 fans on Facebook, an incredible community around her blog, and published her own cookbook 'Budget Bytes' back in 2013. How did this adventure start? Has her view on money changed from when she first started her budget-friendly food-blog? Find out in this open, inspiring and brand new interview below!
Name: Beth Moncel
From: Traverse City, Michigan. Current: New Orleans, Louisiana
Education: Bachelor’s degree in both Nutritional Science and Clinical Laboratory Science (both from Louisiana State University)
How would you describe your life today?
My life has become more than I ever dreamed it would. I have financial stability, freedom to pursue my passions, and get to do a job that makes a positive impact on other peoples’ lives. I feel so lucky and am grateful beyond words. I truly do have my dream life.
What do you love the most about your life?
That’s a tie between a sense of freedom to do whatever I want (both with my career and day to day life) and knowing that I’ve helped make the lives of other people easier and more enjoyable. Both things are pretty outstanding to me and are something that I thought I’d never get to experience. They both make me feel grateful and happy on a daily basis.
How, when and why did you decide to create your online platform?
I created Budget Bytes in the summer of 2009 purely as a project for myself. I needed something to keep my brain busy and a creative outlet, but I did not have any money for conventional hobbies (everything costs money these days!). I always enjoy a good challenge, so I challenged myself to spend $6 or less per day on food. Calculating the costs and coming up with budget friendly ways to stay full was really fun and I began posting some of my results on my personal Facebook page. A few people asked for the recipes and that’s when I thought, “Hey, maybe I should document this challenge on a blog!” I didn’t really know what a blog was, but figuring that out and learning how to start one was another free project for me to work on. Very soon after I started the blog word got out and I started to hear from people that were dealing with the same issues--no money to spare, but not willing to sacrifice quality food. It was at that point that my focus changed from this being a personal project to a project to help other people.
Can you tell us a little bit about the journey you have had, and what the rest of this year might look like?
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen when I was growing up because there were seven people in our family, so my mom was almost constantly cooking. That’s where I learned the basics. While my degree in Nutritional Science touched a bit on cooking, there really wasn’t much training there. I have worked in several commercial food service jobs throughout my life and have had the luxury of working along side some fantastic chefs and cooks. I thought I knew how to cook when I started the blog, but looking back I was kind of a disaster in the kitchen. Ha! I’ve learned so much over the seven years that I’ve been doing the blog and I love that my readers have been able to learn right along with me. I plan to keep the blog going as usual over the next year, but I’d love to add some meal plans and other features to give people more resources as they make the transition from eating out to cooking at home.
What do you hope to do for people through your blog?
I really hope that people who follow my blog discover that cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, and it can actually be an enjoyable part of your day. I believe cooking is a basic life skill and, unfortunately, most people don’t have any way to learn how to do it. Not only can it help your financial situation, but it can help improve your health, and give you really great quality time and memories with your friends and family.
How would you describe your relationship with money?
I’m kind of obsessed with numbers, so I’ve always tracked my finances meticulously. I love looking at how and where I spend my money, setting goals for savings, and watching all the numbers change as I progress. I guess I’m really geeky that way! One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about my financial journey over the past several years is how my compulsion to spend has changed. When I was really broke it felt good to buy things and it was really hard to tell myself no. I suppose I needed that “high” of spending to feel better about my dire financial situation. Now that I’m more stable, I don’t ever feel the need to shop or buy things just to buy things. It reminds me very much of hunger. When you’re food insecure, you want to eat anything just because it’s there, whether you’re hungry at that moment or not. If food is always available to you and you know it’s always going to be available, you tend to only eat when you’re actually hungry. That’s exactly how my relationship with money has been.
Do you save and/or invest money today?
I do. I have one real savings account, which I consider untouchable. That’s my nest egg or reserve for emergencies. I also save a little every month for categories like home repairs, decorating (because I’m still slowly trying to furnish my house), and vacation. Having money set aside in separate categories like that helps me to wait until I have the actual funds to spend, rather than buying on credit. I also have a retirement account, which is invested in the stock market.
How could Spiff improve your life?
Anything that makes saving or managing your money easier is a plus! I love any app or program that lets you see multiple accounts in one area so that you can get a better overall picture of your financial situation. I like that Spiff allows you to save with family or friends because that’s a great tool to get kids started with financial responsibility early on. That will help them learn to save first and buy later, rather than buy first and pay later! Love it!
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I wish everyone had access to a job that pays a livable wage. I think that the stress of financial and food insecurity causes so much more damage than we realize to both individuals and society as a whole. When you take away the worry about where your next meal will come from or if you’ll have a place to sleep tomorrow, your brain has so much more energy to spend on productive activities, relationships, and creative endeavors.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Retired? No, I don’t really see that, but I’m not leaving it out of the realm of possibilities! :) Who knows, though. I try to just take everything day by day so that I’m completely open to every opportunity that comes my way, rather than sticking to a rigid plan. The sky’s the limit!
All pictures in this article belong to Budget Bytes. We highly reccomend you start following Beth's amazing blog and social media! Follow links below 😊