BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEWS TIFFANY COLTER - WRITING COACH


BIO: Tiffany Colter is a passionate freelance writer whose credits include Today’s Christian, Charisma Magazine, Toledo Business Journal, and the Afictionado E-zine. Tenacious in her approach not only to create a great story, but also to mentor other writers, Tiffany can always be found in the presence of a book or laptop. A former world traveler who is fluent in three languages, she strives to reach those who are hurting around her. She enjoys helping others build a strong business and writes a daily marketing blog for writers called the Writing Career Coach and a common-sense money management site, TheBalancedLife.com. Tiffany lives outside Toledo, OH with her husband, a recent cancer survivor, and their four girls.

I’ve personally known you as a writing coach and I've seen the heart you have to help others achieve their dreams. Your passionate about writing and are in pursuit of penning a meaningful, powerful fiction novel which will affect peoples lives. Your excitement is contagious. I was totally caught off guard when you mentioned to me you were writing a book about money and that you had created a blog called “The Balanced Life,” which I can cense your very passionate about this as well. So my friend my question to you is this, why write about money? And how do you feel qualified to talk about this subject? Why now?

Tiffany: That is a great question because people want to know “What qualifies you to talk about money? You’re not a CPA or Financial Planner.” That is very true. I am neither of those things. My degree is in political science with a minor in French. I tell people what qualifies me to write a book on finance in that I’ve lived it. I know how it feels to stand at your kitchen sink and feel the chocking grip of bills you can’t pay. I have seen the look on my husband’s face when he’s put on unpaid medical leave. Our family has faced adoption, illness, and job loss all within six months of each other. I can relate to so many people and what they’re going through at this moment. We need a shoulder to cry on, then we need HOPE.

The reason I put together a book on money was because I am, by nature, a tightwad. My husband is, by nature, a giver. The books on money we read, many of them written by Christians, said that this was good because it provided BALANCE. What I found is that it causes division and a house divided cannot stand. After battling over money and having a bulimic “binge and purge” mentality towards our finances I decided to take all I’d learned, all I felt and all I experienced…and put it aside. I entered a time of prayer and fasting. I told God I wanted to be a good steward of what He’d given us.

God didn’t suddenly give me a revelation of this book. What happened was I began to look at my attitude about money. I realized that my security was found in money-rather than God. I realized that rather than being “frugal” I was being fearful.
I realized that money is about an attitude. I needed to get my attitude in check.

I wrote down a list of 6 impossible things that had to be done. It was August 2005. My husband decided to look at our family and finances like a business. We needed to be united in our goals and our spending. We both acknowledged our financial “issues” to each other.



By October 2005 we’d accomplished all of those “impossible” things on our list AND managed to save up more than $1,000. That was crucial because November 10, 2005 we got a call from out doctor that changed everything. My 29 year old husband, and daddy of 4 little girls, had cancer.




Tiffany, we’ve talked about how your whole world changed the day your husband was diagnosed with cancer. You didn’t look at things the same way, understandable. So, how did you view of money change?

Tiffany: It didn’t. That was the amazing thing. We knew the system worked. Chris was our sole source of income so we worked as much as we could in anticipation of the 6-24 months he would need to be off work [without pay] undergoing intense Cancer treatment.

I wish I could say we did it all perfect. During his treatment we were able to keep the bills paid, except for things like fuel for the car. We ended up using plastic for things we simply couldn’t afford-a gigantic mistake. That is something else I talk about in my book. Recognizing when you’ve made a mistake, adjusting, and getting back on course. We won’t do everything perfect every time. It doesn’t mean that everything is ruined. On The Balanced Life blog I often times compare finances to eating. That is because it is something people can relate to. If you’re on a diet and eat a piece of cake…all is not lost. You simply need to get back on track.

As a writer and coach I know you put a great deal of effort into how you say things and do a lot of research into what to write about next, so, how did you come up with the name “The Balanced Life” for a website on money?





Tiffany: That is a funny story. The domain name actually came to me a few years ago. I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Since that time a few people contacted me trying to buy the domain. Once, when money was really tight, I almost sold it. I’m glad I didn’t. As I started to share the core of the financial principles from my website I realized that it is all about Balance. God is a god of Balance. I don’t mean that in some new age way. What I mean is God calls us to have Balance to our life. We work…but then we rest. He wants us to love our family, but to put Him first. He wants us to prosper, but to bless other people.




When the idea for the book fully formed in my mind I realized that it best defined a healthy view of money. It is neither evil, nor perfect. It is a tool. A tool that must be used appropriately.

Tiffany I'm excited about this up-coming blog and book "Balanced Life." I know your passionate about this subject matter - rightly so - I also know it must be a great feeling for you to be able to encourage others through your experiences. Now that you've wet out appetite for more - when can we expect this book to be available for purchase?

Tiffany:I have a free gift for EVERY person at your blog. It is the free article and they can get it at my website, www.TheBalancedLife.com Simply click on the "article" link and it will let you click to the pdf I don't want one "winner" so everyone can take advantage of that 3 pg article.



Right now I am completing work on it and firming up my platform to shop it around to publishing houses. Royalty publishers are welcome to talk to my agent, Chip MacGregor, for details on the project. I’m passionate about it and I couldn’t wait for it to go to print. There is so much material that I cannot cover in a simple blog, ezine or website. I’m anxious to get it in print. There are so many hurting people. Until that happens, however, I’m marketing.

I spent the last three years as a writing career coach teaching business and marketing principles to authors. I know what platform development is. I know what branding is. I do a good bit of speaking and teaching through webinars, at conferences and to writers groups. This message needs to get out. I cannot allow a downturn in publishing to stop that. So I’m doing what I encourage other authors to do-focus on getting your message out while you wait for that book deal to come in. If your readers would like to know when the book does sell, however, they can sign up for the Balanced Life newsletter, The Balance Sheet, and they’ll receive a notification.

Your book sounds like it can bring hope to so many. Please tell me what I can look foward to when I go to your Balanced Life website?



Tiffany: Most people assume a dry conversation on finances…but it’s not. Anyone who knows me knows that I get passionate about things. I talk about Attitudes that affect our spending. I share recipes that save money. I give “Extreme Debt Elimination” tips.

Hey Tiffany, we've been talking about the "BALANCED" life here now you use the word extreme? Ok, explain this one girl, enquiring minds just have to know.



Tiffany: Those are things for people who might need to RADICALLY cut their finances NOW! For most people the “Hidden Leaks” is popular. People don’t realize how much they spend on silly stuff without even realizing it. Subscriptions pulled from your debit/credit are a biggie.

Don't hate me when I share this with you but when we talked about doing this interview I was thinking of a serious interview - then you said "Hey Nora, did you include the fun questions?" I thought fun in an interview about money? I don’t think so.










Tiffany: Yes, I remember. See, The Balanced Website, and eventually the book, really focus on the HOPE we have in Christ. No matter the circumstance we have a God who PROMISES we’ll always come out better on the other side. I try to keep things fun. Also, I realize that when someone is going through this they need a Jesus with skin on. They need encouragement and practical things to do. Their first source should always be God and the Bible. Once they’ve spent time in God’s presence then they need to apply real principles. I offer real principles in a daily format that addresses Mental, Emotional, Spiritual and Financial aspects of debt, loss, illness and finance.

That is why I wanted to get to fun stuff…so do you have any for me?

Are you ready for these “fun” questions friend? After talking to you about fun, the Lord reminded me of creative ways my family and I had fun during struggles we had gone through. Lights came on and suddenly several fun questions came to mind just for you.

Tiffany: Absolutely!!

QUESTIONS YOU WERE JUST ITCHING TO ASK TIFFANY BUT WERE AFRAID TO SO I DID!!!

Tough times call for creative measures. I know you’ve done much research to help bring “balance” to your family and to help others with your new blog. Were there a few things you came across that just made you say to yourself, “I don’t care how broke I am; there is no way I’m doing that! There has to be a better way to do that.”


Tiffany: Hmmm, I did read about someone reusing coffee filters [and even coffee grounds]. I didn’t go that far, but I did change my coffee habits. I had a travel mug designed for loose tea. It was similar to a press pot for people familiar with those. I don’t make a pot of coffee in the morning now. If my husband isn’t there in the morning I put one scoop of coffee in that press pot and pour boiling water over it. I let it steep while I get the kids breakfast and then press the plunger down just before I pour it in the mug. I only drink one mug of coffee [instead of a pot] and I’m feeling better. Not to mention the 5 scoops of coffee each day I save doing it that way.



Honestly, of many of the things seemed tame to me. I read an idea “Only spend $3 per person per day on food.” I thought ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! We spend less than $1.50 per person per day for food in our house, sometimes as much as $2. $18 per day for a family of six is now considered frugality? It just shows how incredibly out of balanced we’ve become.

I'm not ashamed to say two of my favorite places to shop are Goodwill and Value Village. Would you believe I even have a reward card for Goodwill? (Oh, girl we'll have to talk after the interview. I'll fill you in. Ha!) I'm always pleasantly surprised at what people donate. One man's junk is another’s treasure. So friend, what are TWO of your favorite places to shop?

Tiffany: Oh I LOVE the Value World off the Jackson Rd. exit in Ann Arbor, MI. Anyone familiar with the area, it’s right across from Vets park where Stadium becomes Maple. We had a coupon for that place and we went two years ago and got an entire summer wardrobe for the six of us for $160!! That included a silk suit for my 6’4” husband, a cashmere sweater for me, shoes, jackets…the WORKS!!



Honestly, other than Value World I only love the budget buys at Borders more!!

You’ve mentioned Value World and Borders are your favorite places to shop. Did you just find a deal that made your day? Do tell!


Tiffany: Wow, the best deal? That is tough. That shopping spree was pretty awesome. We each left with no less than six complete outfits [except the undies…still not so keen on buying THOSE second-hand.] for six people for $160. If I had to pick a single item I’d have to say it was the dress I wore to my sister in law’s wedding. My oldest daughter and my husband were both in the wedding. The dress I brought just didn’t hang right. It smooshed the wrong areas and flopped down in others…not good for someone who’d be in lots of photos. I was at my mom’s. She lives 5 minutes from Value world. I zipped over there and there was a GORGEOUS emerald gown with a copper overlay hanging on a rack next to an equally stunning sapphire gown. They said they were about my size so I grabbed both dresses and a pair of shoes and flew out the door. [My total purchase was under $15.] The best part was the look my hubby gave me when I arrived. He’d expected the clunky dress and said, in the way only a hubby could, “Where’d you get THAT?” Well, I felt stunning in my $5 dress.

I’ve always wanted to ask you about how you started raising chickens? Any special training or licenses needed to do this. What all is involved in caring for chickens? Ever been tempted to eat one for dinner?


Tiffany: Oh my chickens are legendary!! It actually started about 3 or 4 years ago. We wanted to teach entrepreneurship to our kids so they had to set aside 10% of their allowance every week for “investments”. Once they’d raised about $3 or $4 they bought some snack cakes and set up a booth at their grandma’s garage sale. They sold the snack cakes for 50 cents each which meant about a $2 profit for a box. That turned their $4 in to $10. Then they sold some of their toys, more snack cakes, etc. When they had enough to buy fencing we put it up, bought a few hens from our neighbor and now we have chickens.


The story is actually a bit longer than that [and involves six pet ducks] but that is the gist of it. The girls sell the eggs to mommy and daddy as well as a couple of friends at church. They split the profit based on the “share” of the business each of them owns. We have 4 daughters and they didn’t invest equally. So the one who invested the most [41% of the ‘capital’] gets the most profit [41% of the profit after expenses]. They’ve learned about profit and loss [like when the possum got in our hen house last month and killed my favorite hen…and a great producer.] They also have learned about hard work and reward.



I’m not sure the laws. We’re zoned agricultural here. What do chickens eat? Scratch [a mixture of seeds] and Laying mash[a sandy mixture of ground corn, oyster shells and a few other things]. Of course, we have “species confused” animals so our barn cats eat the duck food, the chickens and the ducks get in the cat food [they’re free range] and all us humans get a good laugh!!



And eat my chickens….NO! I thought I could but I made the mistake of naming them [I know, bad girl!!]



We laugh at our outside cats who are afraid of the ducks and chickens. The poultry bullying the carnivores!! I always tell the cats “Hey, you’re higher up on the food chain silly!”

Ok, I want to know about the food bargains you’ve come across; so much information is out there. It’s overwhelming – what to believe. Have you found some consistent deals on purchasing food items that you would like to pass on to readers?




Tiffany: I have found that my local grocery store has sales in cycles. The same week of EVERY month cheese and milk will go on sale. The same week of EVERY month TV dinners go on sale [I never eat them, I have just noted this.] It also seems around 7pm-8pm the meat people check the stock and start labeling ‘orange sticker meat’ which is where they need to sell it in the next two days so they mark it down.


I mentioned on my blog recently one of my great money saving tips: planning meals. If we don’t know what we’re going to eat each night we tend to buy what we think we might need. That is when we find we’ve spent $150 and still have no food in the house. That is because you bought 5 boxes of Rice-a-Roni just in case.

I go online and look at the sale paper, look at what I have in the house and look at my calendar. That is when I decide what I’ll buy that week for meals. I write it on the calendar on the fridge “something with ground beef” for Wednesday or I may put “goulash”. There was a season where we only had about $40-$50 per week for GROCERIES [that included toilet paper, soap, laundry detergent and food]. I am still amazed we were able to eat on that. We didn’t eat much, but we ate. During those times I knew EXACTLY what we were eating and EXACTLY what day so I knew what to buy.



I also spent ½ the time at the store because my list was short and I needed to get home. Coupons are only great if it is something you normally use anyway.

I’ve found it difficult to cook a meal everyone likes, especially my kids. It’s even more challenging when funds are limited. Do you have some meals that are a hit with your family that aren’t expensive? Any cook books you’ve come across that have helped you save money?




Tiffany: The funniest thing that my family loves actually came out of a night when we had no food. I had no money for the groceries and we were VERY hungry. I saw I had bought a tube of Pillsbury French Bread dough for $1 the week before. I saw a recipe for a salmon loaf in an old international cookbook. So, what I did was cook rice [not minute rice, the real stuff that you can buy for $1.50/lb], open a can of tuna, chop up 3 baby carrots and crack one egg. I unrolled the bread dough cooked the rice and mixed it with salt, pepper [and any other herbs/spices that seemed to fit], the can of tuna and the egg white.



I put this mixture in the center of the dough. Then I took the long ends and folded one over the end of the other across the rice, tucked the end under and brushed it with egg yolk. I put this on a tray and baked it according to the bread dough directions. I served that with a can of veggies. My husband still requests the meal and it cost me less than $1.75 to make.

I have read the Tightwad Gazette and other books in hopes of gleaning inventive ways to save money (like re-using zip lock bags and so much more). What helpful tips can you pass on to readers that have really helped you and your family?/strong>



Tiffany: Hmm, we save the big ziplock bags but we put the same things in them [whenever my hubby bakes chocolate chip cookies we put them in the cookie bag.]



One thing that has saved us a LOT of money has been the European style of heating that I described on my blog a few weeks ago. We live in an old farmhouse and in the winter it is virtually impossible to stay warm. Our utility bill was $1,000 for January and that was staying in a constant state of “I’m freezing!!”

The cost of propane is also 3 times what it was when we moved here 10 years ago. Our electric bill has nearly doubled. To save money we have our thermostat on a timer [you know, the digital thermostats that you can buy for about $20]. We also have one of these neat coil heaters that are filled with oil. The oil is heated and it radiates the warmth. Around 11pm our heat clicks down to about 3-5 degrees lower than we set it at during the day. We have a coil heater in the room the kids share.



Chris and I have a heated mattress pad. We’ve stayed warmer and we’ve seen a substantial drop in our heating bills by doing this.



The other thing is drink more water and stop eating when you are no longer hungry. So many of us want to eat until we are FULL. Since we eat quickly this leads to over eating. If we only ate until we were no longer hungry we’d be healthier and spend less on food. I started listening to the “experts” who say 4 ounces of meat per person. That means 1 ½ lbs of meat at a meal for my family of 6. That isn’t much compared to what most people are buying. I find that on the rare occasion I eat out the portions are enough for two meals for me. Now, I don’t suggest starving yourself or your family, what I do suggest is eating reasonable portions and drinking more water. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you’re not trying to digest all that extra STUFF we jam in our bodies.



Everyone is in search of creative ways to save money and our planet. On a news clip the other day they showed a single man who set up a worm farm in his basement. The worms ate most of his garbage and left great compost for his garden. He cut down on his bills because he doesn’t pay for garbage pick up and has an amazing garden. Don’t think I’ll be signing up for a worm farm anytime soon. Ha! Are there some surprising things you and your family are doing that have saved you money?



Tiffany: Wow, a worm farm. How can I compete with that?? Okay, I don’t have this to save money necessarily but I do believe in the cycle of nature. We have a little “pond” I dug for our ducks [I use the term “pond” loosely because it is only about 2 ½ feet deep and 3 feet across.] There is no filtering system on this so once a week in the summer we pump this “pond” out in to our garden. It is very good for our vegetables. Then we give the veggie scraps to our ducks and chickens. We also have outside cats to cut down on the mouse population [our neighbor farms alfalfa].

Hmm, honestly-how can I compete with a worm farm!!

**I don't think anyone can Tiffany. We are talking "Balance" here. He is in the "extreme" catagory. I know you have other ideas we all could do. :D**









Okay, I grew up in the city and here is something everyone can do. Plant your own potatoes. This is fun for the kids too. We had some potatoes going bad last spring so we quartered them [I only had a few] and buried them in a line in the garden [but any patch of earth will do]. We went out about 4-6 weeks later and dug a spot and found that one of those potato quarters had turned in to about 10 small potatoes [about the size of new potatoes]. We did this in a few different spots so we’d go out about once a week for about 6 weeks and brought in Potatoes. It won’t save you a killing but it is fun to let your young kids did that. You’d have thought my hubby was digging buried treasure as excited as the girls got [they were 9, 8, 7, and 5].

Let’s not forget about date nights, family nights and other fun? Any creative things you want to share about this topic that saved you money?










Tiffany: One word: Library! The Library has LOTS of great movies. Now, there can be slim pickings during the summer but the other 9 months of the year it is GREAT. We also love to have family game night, family movie night and family fun night.













Family game night we sit down and play Uno for an hour. On family movie night we get a movie from the library [This last week we got Madagascar 2], pop pop corn the old fashioned way [with oil and a skillet…not microwave] and we have a fun night for about 10 cents! We get a second movie for after the kids go to bed at 9pm. It is a double feature for us and a chance to have a fun evening. For us this is on Thursdays from about 5pm-we go to bed.










Family fun night we will either have a fire [we have a fire pit] and cook hot dogs [Wal-mart has chap ones for as little as 67 cents a pack], we cook marshmallows and talk around the fire. This makes a great evening [with dinner] for less than $2.50.

If Chris and I have a kidless night and we want to spend time together we drive down to the mall, buy a large Lemonade from Chick-fil-A [ooohhh I LOVE their lemonade. It is a rare treat for me!] and we walk around the mall and talk.

ANY LAST COMMENTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH?


We serve a big God. He has NOT given us a spirit of fear but of Power, Love and a Sound mind. God also said that He gives us the ability to do work. In the New Testament it says if a person works they shouldn’t eat.

When I read all this together, I’m encouraged. I see a God who equips us and then says that as long as we do our best He is there to prosper us. Prosperity doesn’t always arrive the way we expect, so God urges us not to fear. God gave us the formula for living the Balanced Life. It is to trust Him and to tell ourselves NO.



This website is really a dream and a passion to me. I hope that each person who reads it will sign up for notifications from The Balanced Life. I am working on the book. With the current state of publishing, the more people who express real interest, the sooner a publisher will pick something up. This website is designed to start people on the right direction while we wait for the publishing house to pick up the full concept.

Thanks for stopping by Tiffany. It's been a blast to get to know this side of you. I know that you are an author, a writing coach and so much more. I can't begin to count the hats that you wear. I'm so excited about your new book and where the Lord is going to take you in your writing career.

Thank you so much for having me and don’t forget to download the free article I made available on my website. Get it at www.TheBalancedLife.com.

Common-Sense Money Management http://www.TheBalancedLife.com
Read A Face in the Shadow http://tiffanycolter.blogspot.com
Market your writing http://www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Holding on to Victory because God is always so good
Tiffany Colter

Blessings on your writing and family.

Nora :D

4 comments:

  1. What a great interview! Saving tips and trusting the God will provide. Such good tips. I'm definitely going to your website and getting free articles. I'm not able to work, and my husband's job pays little. We could use some practical tips on saving money--like what we eat when not really hungry!

    Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Linda,

    I'm so glad my tips are helpful. I hope you will tell others about this blog posting as well as my website.

    I really want to reach hurting people with this website! There is hope! That is what we need to hold on to if we're going to weather the storm!

    Thank you for checking out the site.

    Tiffany Colter

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome interview.
    Thanks for the money tips!

    The pictures had me cracking up through the whole thing too.
    Nora you have done it again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nora is even better than you guys think. The chicken picture with the striped Chicken is an actual photo of my chickens BUT the one of the two yellow chickens was a photo she found. What she DIDN'T know was after the photo of our chicken was taken we got 2 Buff Orpingtons...those yellow chickens!!

    Nora is simply amazing. She's able to select photos that are even more accurate than she knew.

    Thanks for your comments and I hope many of you will come over to my blog and see today's post.

    Tiffany Colter

    ReplyDelete