056: Ways to Save During the Holiday Season + The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict with Lisa Thompson and Elbridge A. Colby

In this episode of Saving With Steve, host Steve Sexton is joined by Savings Expert for Coupons.com, Lisa Thompson, who has been educating consumers and savvy shoppers for over 10 years, and author of the book, Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, Elbridge A. Colby, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017 through 2018.

As we return to a somewhat more “normal” holiday season this year, many of us will find ourselves attending more festivities, throwing more get-togethers, and even hosting more out-of-town guests in our homes. Throw in the increasing concerns with rising inflation rates, and as a result - we may be a little more stressed about our budgets this year compared to last year – when many gatherings were downsized or cancelled altogether due to the pre-vaccine pandemic. 

Decking the halls and spreading holiday cheer can come with a hefty price tag. But not to despair – there are ways to keep more money in your pocket, and fewer charges on those credit cards! My first guest, Savings Expert for Coupons.com, Lisa Thompson, joins us to share five easy tips to help you get through the most expensive season, along with some other holiday budget tips such as pairing sales with coupons for an even bigger bang for your buck, and how to think outside of the box when it comes to gift-giving.

For the first time since the Cold War, American officials are warning that the United States could lose a great power war, specifically to China. And while China’s rise dominates the headlines, dangers from Russia, terrorists, Iran, and North Korea persist. The United States can’t rely on its military to overwhelm an opponent, as in previous generations. Instead the country must make choices—deciding where and where not to focus, as well as what to do and what not to do. 

Failing to adopt the right strategy will result in crisis—and very possibly war and even defeat. My second guest, Elbridge Colby, is the author of The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict. He served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and force development from 2017 through 2018, during which time he led the development of the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

Elbridge joins us today to discuss how the world has fundamentally changed and America’s old legacy defense strategy is dangerously outdated, which means the U.S. is at an increased risk of war - and likely defeat. He explains why America can no longer depend only on its strength and power to deal with these challenges, why it’s imperative that America denies China’s ability to successfully pull off an assault on Taiwan, and why the U.S. must do less militarily everywhere else, including in Europe and the Middle East, because of the need to increase focus against China in Asia.

Lisa Thompson has been a Savings Expert at Coupons.com since 2011, helping consumers learn how to save money after spending several years as a paper coupon-toting mom of four (who could recite every free kids’ meal within in a 50-mile radius).

She’s been educating consumers and savvy shoppers for over 10 years.

Lisa's superpowers: Finding travel deals and saving on foods that make it look like you cooked when you really just meal prepped.

Elbridge Colby is co-founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. He is the author of The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict (Yale University Press), which The Wall Street Journal selected as one of the top ten books of 2021.

Previously, Colby was from 2018-2019 the Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, where he led the Center’s work on defense issues.

Before that, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017-2018. In that role, he served as the lead official in the development and rollout of the Department’s preeminent strategic planning guidance, the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). The NDS shifted the Department of Defense’s focus to the challenges to U.S. military superiority and interests posed by China in particular followed by Russia, prioritizing restoring the Joint Force’s war-fighting edge against these major power competitors. He also served as the primary Defense Department representative in the development of the 2017 National Security Strategy.

Prior to this, Colby was from 2014 to 2017 the Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. From 2010 to 2013 he was principal analyst and division lead for global strategic affairs at CNA. Earlier in his career he served for over five years in the U.S. Government working on a range of strategic forces, arms control, WMD, and intelligence reform matters, including service with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003 and with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during its stand-up in 2005-2006. Colby has also served on the staff of a number of government commissions, including the 2014 National Defense Panel, the 2008-2009 Strategic Posture Commission, and the 2004-2005 President’s WMD Commission.

Colby’s work has appeared in outlets such as Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and The National Interest as well as in international outlets such as Asahi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Nikkei Asia, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Le Figaro, Survival, Internationale Politik, Die Zeit, The Taipei Times, Hankook Ilbo, Limes, The New Straits Times, and The Manila Standard. He is also the author of many book chapters, reports, and articles on defense and foreign policy issues. He has testified a number of times before Congress and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Colby is a recipient of the Distinguished and Exceptional Public Service Awards from the Department of Defense and of the Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the Department of State. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Colby is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.