Save Deals

HerMoney Podcast Episode 174: Money-Saving Strategies With Krazy Coupon Lady Joanie Demer 

Kathryn Tuggle  |  August 14, 2019

This week, Jean sits down with Joanie Demer, co-founder of the Krazy Coupon Lady, to talk about some of the best couponing strategies out there today, and how coupons have been revolutionized for the modern age.

Joanie talks about her journey into couponing, and how she went from being skeptical that it would work to being “all-in.” (Hint: Her enthusiasm might have  something to do with the fact that she saved $100 on her first trip to the store with coupons!)

Listen in as Joanie dishes on The Krazy Coupon Lady’s vibrant online community, and some of the advice they share with one another, for example, just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you should go shopping. Learn what style of couponing may work best for you, and how 10 minutes of effort each week could save you $50. You’ll also hear Joanie discuss some of the mistakes she’s made (hello, high fiber oatmeal) and the differences in the type of discounts offered by loyalty programs, in-store promotions and coupon stacking.

Then, in Mailbag Jean discusses negotiating vacation days and a flexible schedule as part of your total compensation package, how to successfully (and easily) consolidate retirement accounts, and whether or not there’s a benchmark spending timeline for retirement like there is for saving. Lastly, in Thrive, Jean talks about the evolution of the wedding registry. It’s not your mother’s china patterns anymore. These days, Millennials are registering for down payments on homes, experiences, even fertility treatments. Learn why there’s been such a radical shift.

This podcast is proudly supported by Edelman Financial Engines. Let our modern wealth management advice raise your financial potential. Get the full story at Sponsored by Edelman Financial Engines – Modern wealth planning. All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416

Editor’s note: We maintain a strict editorial policy and a judgment-free zone for our community, and we also strive to remain transparent in everything we do. Posts may contain references and links to products from our partners. Learn more about how we make money.

The HerMoney podcast is supported by      Edelman
All advisory services offered through Financial Engines Advisors L.L.C. (FEA), a federally registered investment advisor. Results are not guaranteed. AM1969416


Jean Chatzky: (00:07)
HerMoney is supported by Fidelity Investments. We want you to demand more from your money. So start by knowing what you own and what you owe. We’ll help you take the next step at HerMoney comes to you through PRX. Hey everybody, it’s Jean Chatzky. Welcome to HerMoney. This week’s show we are talking about one of your budget’s best friends. We’re talking about coupons. Now don’t worry. Coupons are not old school. Whether you still cut them out of the Sunday circulars, whether you print them out, whether you pull ’em out on your phone, whether you have a browser plug in, they have been revolutionized for the modern age and they can save you a lot of money. We are going to learn tips and tricks and best practices from Joanie Demer. Joanie is co-founder of They have 5 million women that they are helping save money on a monthly basis. Joanie, welcome to the show.

Joanie Demer: (01:23)
Thanks Jean. Thanks for having me.


Jean Chatzky: (01:24)
Sure. So can you just start with you, cause I have been following The Krazy Coupon Lady, which is actually two krazy coupon ladies for a long time. How did you get into this?

Joanie Demer: (01:40)
You know you’re right that there are two of us. We run the business as a partnership and I run it with my best friend. She was my college roommate and she had this harebrained idea about using coupons and stacking them with sales and promotions in-store and sort of multiplying the savings. And what she had told me when she came up with this scheme was that she thought we could get things for free. And I am just a skeptic by nature. I still am today. That’s the value I bring into the business. But I was like, hey, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. And this just sounds really sketchy. So it was over a month. She had to really twist my arm. She didn’t want to go by herself, but she was pretty sure it could work. And so she’d been saving up newspapers and this was all a little over 10 years ago that we kind of began couponing at the end of 2008 and into 2009 and yeah, she got me to our local Albertson’s grocery store and we were so ignorant. I mean the cashiers were helping us and being so kind and helping us understand basic, basic rules. Like if I had two 50 cent off coupons and the product is a dollar, can I use them both the one product? Of course the answer is no, but we really knew nothing. And anyway, the story goes that we saved about a hundred bucks on that first trip and we were back the next day and the next day and we had started a blog by the end of the week and we got very excited and the reason we called ourselves krazy coupon ladies is because I went from being skeptical that it would work at all to being all in on the obsessive side. Like, oh my gosh, toothpaste is 25 cents. This may never happen again. I need to buy 20 of them.

Jean Chatzky: (03:13)
So we should give a shout out to your co-founder. We’re talking about Heather Wheeler. Where’d you guys go to school?

Joanie Demer: (03:18)
I was at Brigham Young University at the time actually.

Jean Chatzky: (03:21)
Okay. And she was your roommate. Interesting.

Joanie Demer: (03:23)
Yup. That’s how we met. She was from Boise, Idaho, which is where our headquarters are now. So ended up moving back here with her and love Boise. Love running a business here. It’s a great spot to live and work.

Jean Chatzky: (03:33)
So would you say that this wanting to buy 20 tubes of toothpaste at the same time puts you on the spectrum of extreme couponers?

Joanie Demer: (03:42)
So it certainly does put me on the spectrum and I think it helps me understand exactly what that show is and why they did it the way they did it. So we actually met with Sharp Entertainment. They’re in New York and they produce that show and help them conceptualize it. And we talked about formats, like everything from what not to wear, budget version to what the show became. And really, even when we taped the pilot and I participated in the pilot of that show, the show was called Coupon Masters and it took a different angle. Once TLC picked it up as a series, it really became more of a character profile. I think it was an extremely entertaining show and it was a great show for our business because I think what it did is it shocked people, which produced some popularity in the series. But it left people not knowing how to do anything. So they came online and they Googled extreme couponing and they found Krazy Coupon Lady and we made it our mission. Those years the show was airing in 2011 and 2012 to really teach people how to do it in a way that is sustainable. But what I will say is there is something and so we’re very active in teaching our users, hey, this is going to be really exciting when you see these deals. Just know that deals cycle through about once every four months, so about three times a year. So there’s no need to go crazier than that. So that’s something we’ve always taught, but I definitely can relate to that endorphin rush that comes with a good deal. And I had experienced the same thing outside of the grocery store, whether it’s shopping at a discount retailer like Ross or Marshall’s and you get a great deal on a sweater or something. I had experienced that before, but I had never taken it to the grocery store and it was so exciting to be able to attack something that was such a major player in my monthly budget and to really bring that number down.

Jean Chatzky: (05:24)
Yeah, I’ve always felt that it’s worth trying to save money either on really big purchases as well as those things you buy all the time. So things that are just regular purchases. That’s where you get the biggest bang for your buck. But I also like what you’re saying in that you don’t have to go crazy in order to save significantly. I have a whole book of money rules and one of my favorites is just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you should go shopping, which I think I stole from the Disney Channel by the way. Some teenager uttered that line on television and I picked it up.

Joanie Demer: (06:03)
That’s funny.

Jean Chatzky: (06:04)
When should you go shopping with a coupon? I mean, what is the rule and then how do you do it to make it sustainable?

Joanie Demer: (06:13)
Right. Oh, there’s a lot of variables there, right? First of all, the style of couponing that works for you depends on your life. And I can speak for myself in the last 10 years, when I started couponing, I had two young children under the age of two. I was actually seeking and I was excited to have something that was a little bit of a hobby. So at that time I was at home with little kids and I had a little bit of time and I actually liked spending a few hours a week doing it. Now as a busy working mom, you’re lucky if I can give you 15 minutes a week. I mean really. I don’t have the time to shop at multiple stores and I’m using different methods and I need things to be streamlined for me. So one thing that couponing does is, you know, I can put in 10 or 15 minutes a week and I can save 50 bucks a month, easy. I could also spend those hours a week and I could save more than that if I wanted to. But that’s kind of the great thing about couponing is it ebbs and flows with different periods, at least in my life it has done that. As far as when should you use a coupon and when you shouldn’t you, I echo your advice. The best way to save money is actually to just shop less. I mean, that’s truly where it’s at.

Jean Chatzky: (07:17)
Okay. We’re writing that down because that’s like money rule number 101.

Joanie Demer: (07:22)
Yeah, it really is. It’s not a fun one. And the thing about krazy coupon lady and about Heather and I is I think that we liked the excitement and the challenge of it and the saving money piece. There were two verticals that we were running down at the same time. And one of them was we were both raised in a way that was very conservative financially. We were taught the value of work and of saving money. And I think, at least for myself, I was rebelling a little bit against that. And here’s the way I was doing it. I was saying, no, I want what I want. I’m going to find a way to afford it. I don’t want to buy toasted oats anymore. I want the Cheerios or whatever it is. And so I was trying to find a way to get something that I didn’t think I could afford for the price that I was already paying or for less. And so I think that you’ve got to balance that. Again, if you’ve got more time, I think you can play the game. And even if you say, my budget only went down 10%, but I got to buy products, I never could buy before. Or if you’re really short on time and it’s strictly about, no, I need to maximize what I am saving per minute I spend couponing. And that may be the thing, but certainly I’ve been there. In our book that we wrote way, way back forever ago, I shared a story about when I had those two little kids at the time. I just started couponing and it was like high fiber, Quaker Instant Oatmeal was on sale. And I got a bunch of Sunday papers. I bought 20 boxes or something of Quaker Oatmeal, high fiber. I’m like, oh my gosh, healthy. I fed it to my kids. Well, do you know what fiber does to little children?

Jean Chatzky: (08:53)
Yes, I do. I know what it does to me.

Joanie Demer: (08:55)
I donated it all and I’m like, well great. Even though I paid whatever it was, 20, 30, 40 cents a box, that’s not actually a deal because I ended up donating it. I wasn’t able to use it. So, I’ve definitely made lots of mistakes and learned on my own that finding a deal with a coupon and getting it feels good right up until it’s something that you don’t use. And then you’ve got waste, which is one of the best ways to throw away money.

Jean Chatzky: (09:20)
I want to get into the tactics of today, including coupon stacking and loyalty programs. But before we do that, let me just remind everybody that HerMoney is sponsored by Fidelity Investments. Fidelity is all about helping us demand more from our money. It’s about making our savings work as hard as we do in an attempt to help you reach your financial goals faster. It all starts with a financial checkup and understanding of what you own, what you owe, and yes, what you’re spending. And from there, Fidelity will work with you to evaluate your investment options and different ways to grow your savings. You can get started today at We are talking with Joanie Demer, co-founder of The Krazy Coupon Lady. Can you walk us through strategically and tactically how to do this. If you are not a couponer, how do you get started?

Joanie Demer: (10:24)
So, the idea essentially is that we are taking the weekly store circular, as well as unadvertised deals or clearance deals, and we’re looking for coupons that pair with those items so we can kind of double up on the savings. You know an average coupon is going to save you maybe 30% off of the retail price of the item, which is great. We’re targeting 80% savings or more. So we’re waiting for that item to go on sale or go onto a promotion. So at a store like Target that might be buy three of the items, get a $5 gift card, that would be an example of a promotion. At a drug store, you would need to be part of the loyalty program. So at CVS, it might be, buy one of these items and you get $3. They’re called extra bucks. All of these basically versions of saving money off of a future purchase if you’ll buy this item when it’s on promotion. And so what we’re doing is we’re using coupons to lower the amount of money that we’re paying out of pocket. We’re still collecting that promotional reward that we get to use on a future purchase. And by stacking those things together, that’s how we’re really saving money. So that’s a lot of legwork to find those coupons and to pair them up. That’s what Krazy Coupon Lady does. That’s what we’ve been doing for 10 years. We both use technology and largely a team of humans, of women that are in the store every day that are verifying prices, that are testing things, that are finding unadvertised clearance deals. And then what we do is we’ve got a picture of the item in the store so it’s easy to find. We provide you a link to the coupon to access it and we show you exactly how to use it. And if there are any limits of which there are many, we’re helping you understand those rules. So one of the things that has changed since extreme couponing times is there are stricter limits on coupons. So they’ll say, you can’t use more than two identical coupons in a purchase or for whatever it is. That’s actually a good thing. That means that we’re no longer running into empty shelves because people are able to clear a store out of inventory. So it’s actually been a really good thing for ethical, non-extreme couponers. But those are the stones of how we put together a deal. And then one of the coolest new features on the free Krazy Coupon Lady app, are deal alerts. We launched these over the holidays at the end of last year. So what you can do is you can come and you can sign up for push notifications for a certain brand. So if you’re buying diapers and you buy Pampers, you can come and you can toggle that on and then every time we find one of those red hot deals with at least 50% savings, we’ve got the coupons for you, we’ll send you a push notification. So one of the things we’re always trying to do at Krazy Coupon Lady is make couponing easier. Couponing is always going to take effort, just like any good money saving tactic does. Just like any good habit -exercise or eating right. There is a little bit of effort there, but we’re trying to lower that threshold and make it easier. So that’s one of the great things that you can do. And then if you’re done and you don’t need diapers, again, you can toggle that off or you can leave it on all the time if it’s something you buy routinely, like detergent or cereal or whatever it is.

Jean Chatzky: (13:13)
A couple of specific questions. Should we be going to manufacturers sites to look for additional coupons?

Joanie Demer: (13:20)
So there are coupons on manufacturer sites, on social sites. Largely the biggest shift has been from the newspaper to rebate apps. There are coupons on dozens and hundreds of sites, so one of the best values that Krazy Coupon Lady does is we aggregate those together. And again, we have three full time employees that are working alongside of the bots that we scrape the data from. So it is human curated. The coupons are verified as valid and non-expired. You can come and you can type Pampers and what you’ll see is, you’re going to get a bunch of different coupons and you’ll notice they’re from a myriad of different sources. There’ll be some from the Ibotta app or from or or maybe even a social site. A Google search for Pampers is great, but on Krazy Coupon Lady, we’ve actually got the most comprehensive consumer packaged goods coupon database that’s out there. That’s definitely one of the better services that we provide.

Jean Chatzky: (14:10)
How much is it? How much does it cost to get access to all of these coupons in one place?

Joanie Demer: (14:15)
Oh, I’m so excited to answer this question. It costs nothing. Krazy Coupon Lady has never charged anything to our readers. We’re able to monetize our website through partnerships and advertising and so there’s never been any cost to users.

Jean Chatzky: (14:27)
Okay. I’ve read that we should be using, and that’s great by the way. I’m actually thrilled to hear that. I’ve read that we should use multiple devices to print coupons. Is that true and does that mean I need multiple printers or that I just should print some from my phone and some from my tablet and some from my computer?

Joanie Demer: (14:45)
Great question. So you don’t need multiple printers. And the technology is such that that tip was better maybe three years ago than it is today. But certainly if you’ve got a teenager with the phone and a unique phone number or if you have a spouse with one, each of those people can have their own accounts and that will give you access to more coupons. So that does work and the limits are stringent enough that that’s definitely worth doing. Most people probably have a second device in their house, in the form of a smartphone. A tablet doesn’t work because it’s actually needs to be associated with a phone number. But with two phones, I’m able to get pretty much any deal I want. I can mix and match products or I can find coupons from different sources. So definitely yes. Multiple phones is a good thing. Multiple printers is not necessary and today so many coupons you actually don’t even need a printer. A screen grab of the coupon from a phone would do just as well or just submitting what might be a rebate. So many coupons today are circumventing that whole point of sale system. There’s a section of rebate apps, so Ibotta a is the most popular. Checkout 51 is another. The coupons app by is another. And the way that all of these work is that instead of clipping a coupon and showing it at checkout, you upload a photo of your receipt after you purchase the item and then the money is credited to an account that you can eventually cash out of once you reach like a $20 threshold.

Jean Chatzky: (16:04)
Do you use those? Are you a fan?

Joanie Demer: (16:06)
Yes, absolutely. Ibotta is the best in the end. That’s pretty widely agreed upon. In addition to those line level rebates, there’s also bonuses that you can participate in and there are also freebies. You know on father’s day there’s like a free beer at any restaurant. So it’s a cool app. They’ve got great offers. And it’s a good one. Definitely, we say okay, if you’re going to start couponing you need to download three apps. We say Krazy Coupon Lady cause we’re doing that leg work of pairing the coupons with the deals and we say a rebate app. So that can be any of them. But I would start with Ibotta and then we say the store app. So if you want to start couponing at CVS, great download their app. If you want to start couponing at Target, great download their app. Stores are doing a much better job of having coupons that are readily available right in the app that you don’t actually have to do a tremendous amount of prep. You can pull it up in the store and there are coupons that you can either load to your loyalty account, in the case of like a CVS, or that you can scan directly from your phone, like a barcode will actually pop up on the phone, that the target cashier can scan. So those are the three. You need one of each type of apps – Krazy Coupon Lady, a rebate app and a store app in order to get started couponing.

Jean Chatzky: (17:12)
Joanie, you are a wealth of information. I hope that we can convince you to come back sometime. This has just been fabulous.

Joanie Demer: (17:20)
I would love to thank you so much Jean.

Jean Chatzky: (17:21)
Thank you so much for being here. And we will be right back with Kelly and your mailbag.

Jean Chatzky: (17:29)
Our producer Kelly Hultgren is with me in the studio. So I’m wondering, cause I grew up couponing. Not excessively, but my mother, we would have a file of the coupons that we would take to the grocery store. And I’m not a big couponer myself. I do Google for a coupon every time I am trying to buy something online. But I’m wondering if it has sort of gotten lost as time has gone on with your generation. I’m wondering, do you coupon at all? Is it a thing?

Kelly Hultgren: (18:04)
Not traditionally. So I too grew up looking forward to the Sunday activity of clipping coupons for my parents and for shopping that week and then I would be in charge of organizing them and using them when we went to the grocery store. So I had that activity, and I didn’t know this until I started working for you, how awesome of an opportunity it is for teaching children about price comparing.

Jean Chatzky: (18:29)
Oh yeah.

Kelly Hultgren: (18:29)
Price comparison and just being strategic with how to use coupons and when, and needs versus ones. All the things we talk about. These are really good teachable moments. So I started doing that and I’ve modernized as the coupon industry has since then. So my go tos now are making sure I’m signed up for the email newsletters of products I know that I order over and over again.

Jean Chatzky: (18:59)
The loyalty programs.

Kelly Hultgren: (19:00)
The loyalty programs. The rewards programs. So I’m on all of those and I’m pretty diligent about using those coupons when they come. And then I have a browser extension that when I’m online shopping goes through and tries to aggregate the best coupon codes to add to the site before I check out. And that gives me some savings. So that’s my way of couponing. But I’m not carrying around coupons anymore and matching them.

Jean Chatzky: (19:23)
No, but by the same token, we talk so much about the fact that we spend so much money on food.

Kelly Hultgren: (19:33)

Jean Chatzky: (19:33)
And like it or not, if you can save even 10 to 20% in this area of your life, you’re saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.

Kelly Hultgren: (19:43)

Jean Chatzky: (19:43)
And so it’s a big deal.

Kelly Hultgren: (19:45)
And that’s how to think of it. And I think thinking these little moments, how they add up – much like we say like with a little expenses and how they add up over time – these little savings opportunities you think in the year if you calculate it, if you want to do that, you’re right. I think it could amount to even like thousands of dollars worth of savings.

Jean Chatzky: (20:02)
Yeah. I mean, you know, I’m a big cook but one thing that I do, and I’ve done it pretty regularly since I learned that things in the grocery store tend to go on sale every five to six weeks. I just stock my pantry in my freezer. So with the exception of milk and cheese and vegetables, when things go on sale, I buy a lot.

Kelly Hultgren: (20:25)

Jean Chatzky: (20:25)
I keep them around. It makes life easier if you cook dinner cause you just defrost what you want. You don’t have to go to the store. And I find the more I go to the store, the more I end up buying ingredients that are sort of one time use things. But if I actually have the main ingredient in my house and don’t go to the store, I can always… so you don’t have rosemary, you use thyme. It’s not such a big deal.

Kelly Hultgren: (20:51)
One more question before we answer our listeners questions. Do you think you save more or less by ordering your groceries?

Jean Chatzky: (20:58)
I save more by ordering my groceries. I don’t walk down the aisles and say, oh, I need Hershey bars, which I would do. Although sometimes I do order Hershey bars from Peapod because you have to have them in the freezer.

Kelly Hultgren: (21:14)
Of course you do. You need your chocolate. It’s a need, it’s not a want.

Jean Chatzky: (21:20)
It is a need. Not a want. I did by mistake from Peapod one week, instead of the six pack of Hershey bars and you got to buy the big Hershey bars, not the oversize giant ones. Just the regular size that you might get at the checkout. Not the fun size.

Kelly Hultgren: (21:34)
No. Those aren’t fun. They’re really not.

Jean Chatzky: (21:34)
I buy the one with the little 12 squares so I can break them off. But one week by mistake they sent me six Special Dark bars. Hershey Special Dark bars are a revelation because they’re not as bitter as dark chocolate that’s supposed to be, you know, refined.

Kelly Hultgren: (21:59)

Jean Chatzky: (21:59)
An excellent dark chocolate. They’re truly delicious.

Kelly Hultgren: (22:02)
They’re so good.

Jean Chatzky: (22:03)
Yeah. Alright.

Kelly Hultgren: (22:04)
Alright, so first we’ll do one from Sarah. I’ve been listening to your podcast since the beginning and have gained lots of knowledge and advice. Thanks for all you are doing. Here’s my question that I hope you can help with. I’ve been at my current job at a fortune 500 company since I got out of college, so 15 plus years service in the books. I am not currently actively looking for a new job, but one thing I’d like input on for future reference is negotiating vacation/PTO days should I ever move to a new company. Given my years of service at my current job, I’ve got quite a lot of days I’m allotted each year. These days are important to me, not just for my own mental health, but also to be able to spend time with family out of state. What is the current rule of thumb with regards to negotiating vacation/PTO days?

Jean Chatzky: (22:43)
It’s absolutely doable. I mean, companies have policies, but as we know, everything is negotiable. So just for a level set, when you join a company, it’s typically around 10 days, five years later you add another five, five years later you add another five. But if you are already the recipient of a very generous PTO (paid time off) policy, I would absolutely go in saying, this is something that is very important to me. And if they want you, they will often work it out if they can. If they can’t work it out, maybe they’ll offer you the ability to take unpaid time off and you may decide based on the increase in your salary that that’s something that you’re open to or flexibility on the weekends. A lot of companies have gone from strict vacation to this PTO model of including your personal days, including your sick days so that people don’t have to lie when they want a mental health day and call and basically just say I’m taking the day off.

Kelly Hultgren: (23:52)
Right. And we see more of unlimited vacation day policies, which are tricky cause we’re also seeing the fact that people don’t take them or don’t even use the traditional two week amount of them because of pressure of having facetime in the office or it just being seen as you don’t care enough. Especially for millennials. I know that’s a big trend and something my friends and I talk about a lot, but it’s so important to take them because they’re yours. You’re getting paid for them. They’re a part of your compensation package in a way. And also it’s good for your health and your productivity.

Jean Chatzky: (24:27)
Yeah. Quite frankly everybody needs a reset.

Kelly Hultgren: (24:29)
Everyone needs a reset. I was thinking about Sarah’s question too and it all depends on what you value more. So I don’t know if I would lead with coming in saying I need this number of PTO days or vacation days, if it’s going to come at a cost of my increase in salary and pay.

Jean Chatzky: (24:47)
No, I would definitely wait until later. Make them want you. Make them want you, offer you a job, then you can talk about this.

Kelly Hultgren: (24:57)
Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Thank you for writing Sarah and next one from Charlene. Jean has recommended several times to consolidate retirement accounts. I would like to go from six to three. What should I be looking for when making a decision on which ones to keep and which ones to close.

Jean Chatzky: (25:11)
So I would go for a couple of things. First, administrative ease. And to me that says, if you have a current employer that is funding a 401k right now, that’s going to be one of the three that you keep because you don’t have a choice. And so if you can consolidate any of your others with either that plan or that provider so that you can sign onto one portal and see them all on the same page, to me that screams easy. The other thing I would look for is fees. You want to make sure that you’re not overpaying for this. And the third thing, I know I said two, but I came up with another while I was speaking, the third thing is investment choice. You got to make sure you’ve got a wide range of investments that make sense for you. And that’s it.

Kelly Hultgren: (26:04)
Amazing. Now one more from Lisa. I discovered your podcast after reading your “Age Proof” book. I have now listened to nearly all of your previous podcasts and thoroughly look forward to each new episode.

Jean Chatzky: (26:13)
Thank you Lisa.

Kelly Hultgren: (26:13)
Yeah, thank you. And she says, thank you for all of your work and thank you to Fidelity Investments.

Jean Chatzky: (26:18)
Wow. Sponsor shout out. There we go.

Kelly Hultgren: (26:21)
Sponsor shout out. My question is this, is there a benchmark timeline for spending in retirement like there is for saving and retirement? And she’s referencing three times your salary by 30. Is it three times or is it two times?

Jean Chatzky: (26:33)
At 30 it’s one times.

Kelly Hultgren: (26:35)
Oh goodness. That is great news for me. My backstory, I am almost 55 years old. I currently earn $100,000 a year and I have been saving the maximum in my 401k since I started my job in 1989, age 25, and now just have over a million in my account. That’s awesome. I also have $20,000 in an IRA. My husband has his own well-funded 403b retirement plan. Our house is paid off and we have $250,000 staggered in treasury bills and CDs. My position of 30 years is coming to an end at the close of 2019 due to circumstances beyond my control. Jobs in the area where I live are limited and or low paying. We live in a desirable Colorado mountain resort community and plan to retire here so I do not want to relocate to take a better paying position. I plan to work at a job in our area that pays well enough to cover my living expenses and health insurance, but I doubt that I will be able to make additional contributions to my retirement. My concern now is how to plan to withdraw my retirement funds once I am eligible so that I have enough to last hopefully my lifetime. Please help.

Jean Chatzky: (27:35)
Absolutely. I love this question and I think it’s something that a lot of people think about because we’ve done stories. I’ve done stories in the past. I think specifically for AARP about how often retirement takes us by surprise and although she’s not retiring, that’s a little bit of what’s happening here. Your job is ending. It’s not in your control. You don’t want to move, so you got to strategize to make everything work. The good news is I think based on the information that you gave me, you’ve got all the pieces of the puzzle here. As far as the expense benchmarks that you asked for. Look at the fire movement. The fire movement focuses on accumulating 25 times your annual expenses in a retirement account in order to retire. And they do this based on the 4% rule. So if you have expenses of $40,000 a year and you accumulate 25 times 40,000 so that’s a million in a retirement account, you can then go ahead and withdraw 4% and that money should pretty much last you, as long as you’re capturing a decent amount of growth in that portfolio. The question that I have that you didn’t answer is of that hundred thousand, what have you been spending versus saving? So when we look at our math on replacing our expenses in retirement, we don’t have to replace saving, cause we’re not going to be doing that anymore. And so if you’ve been saving on a really supercharged sort of basis, if you’re just socking it away, that takes a huge burden off your plate. You can also sometimes subtract work-related expenses. So if you’ve had a huge commuting cost, if you’ve spent a lot on a work wardrobe, those sorts of things can go away. The nice thing about taking a job that will just keep you level, is that money that is already in that retirement account has another decade, if not more, to grow. And that’s what I would say. Keep yourself on a pace with whatever income you can bring in, so that the money that is in your retirement account can work. And try to live on current cashflow. That will also have the sort of side effect of reducing your expenses because you won’t be living on a $100,000 a year, you’ll be living on less. Last thing, this is a really, really good time to go sit down with a financial advisor. You’re going through a big shift, you’re going through a big change and you can talk to them about a plan to make sure that the money doesn’t run out.

Kelly Hultgren: (30:31)
Nice. Thank you Jean and thank you everyone for writing in. You can email your questions to You could go to as well and sign up for our free weekly newsletters, This Week In Your Wallet and HerMoney newsletter that comes out Tuesday and Friday, respectively. And thank you Jean.

Jean Chatzky: (30:47)
You too. And today in Thrive, let’s talk about weddings because a decade ago it seemed that every wedding invitation I received came with a little handy slip of paper telling me where the bride and the groom were registered. And they were all full of the very traditional requests for china and crystal and silver and salad bowls and of course the kitchen aid mixer – everything that the happy couple needed right down to the placemats. In other words, wedding registries really hadn’t changed that much in the last 50 years. But change has come and millennials who are also credited with killing the paper napkin industry and killing Applebee’s, they have now set their sights on traditional wedding registries. That story came out of the Washington Post and what it reported was they’re not registering for home goods. They’re registering for practical items, down payments on a home, fertility treatments, contributions towards student loan debt. They’re also asking for experiences and consumables like gift cards to retailers, including Domino’s pizza, Uber, Soul Cycle, even Airbnb. So why the switch? What’s happening here? Well, for starters, more people are just living together before marriage. Today, about two thirds of couples cohabitate before they walk down the aisle, which means they already have the silverware. They already have too many coffee mugs, they already have dishes, and they also have a good sense of what kind of things they really need and what they can live without. So to all of you who are requesting things that will make your lives together more joyous and less stressful, as my say, mazel tov, there is nothing else that I would rather get you.

Jean Chatzky: (32:44)
Thanks so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thank you to Joanie Demer for the fantastic conversation. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review. We love to hear what you think. We want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Track Tribe. Our show comes to you through PRX and join us next week. We’ll be back to have a conversation we have been wanting to have about impact investing. That’s environmental, social, governance investing. We’ll do it with Nicole Connolly, head of ESG at Fidelity, and we’ll talk soon.

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