A pet peeve of mine has always been being told, “You spent $X on that? That’s ridiculous!”
Aside from the rude factor, it drives me crazy because I believe that we all have the right to spend what we like on whatever we like and makes us happy – and nobody should be judging, especially if our personal finances are in order. That being said, though I try to make decent financial decisions, I am far from perfect and have a lot to learn. What’s been helpful for me has been periodically revisiting the topic of financial responsibility - as a reminder of my own personal goals, as well as to expand my views on new ones.
I wanted to start introducing some more posts around these topics of money, spending, saving and finances - starting with today’s. Anna Newell Jones writes the blog And Then She Saved, where she’s detailed her personal journey to end her debt, along with a lot of other fun stuff. She was awesome enough to share some of her learnings with us today, and if you didn’t already know, you’ll soon discover what an all around hilarious and amazing woman she is. Have fun meeting Anna!
The lovely Anna
First things first. Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Anna Newell Jones, I live in Denver, Colorado and I write the blog And Then She Saved. My day-job is as a clerk for the state of Colorado (very average salary) and my husband and I shoot weddings and portraits on the side. I also started an Etsy shop as a way to tap into my skills to generate additional income, and I be found on Twitter.
I know some readers may not be familiar with your blog. Can you describe in a few sentences what it is about? How’d you come across the topic?
My blog is all about how I started a Spending Fast (spending on necessities only- seriously, bare bones living) to get myself out of my $23,605.10 in debt. At that point my debt was so overwhelming that I didn’t see any way out of it. I had to do some drastic so I stopped my spending cold in its tracks.
I started my site a few days before January 1st 2010. Since then I have been writing about how I got myself out of debt which took 15 months and I still can’t believe it really happened especially since my only goal at the start of the Spending Fast was to try to get rid of my credit card debt because I felt that they were weighing on me the heaviest.
Also, I should note that my husband and I weren’t sharing an account at the time so his income didn’t contribute to my debt-repayment amount. This year, I’ve been writing about the Spending Diet. The Spending Diet is a modified version of the Spending Fast where I give myself a $100 a month “non-need” allowance. I write about staying motivated and about living life without all the crap. I share my experience with getting and staying out of debt so that I can help others do the same.
And how’d you get in trouble with debt in the first place?
I got in trouble with debt by not being completely conscious with my money. I also bought whatever I wanted; I didn’t know how to tell myself “no”.
What are some really common mistakes that you see people (especially women) make with money? How would you suggest they change that?
Common mistakes that many people make with money are: being emotional spenders, and comparing yourself to others. What can be done about the 1st one is to address the root problem. That means utilizing your companies Employee Assistance Program (sometimes called an EAP) for free therapy sessions, and actually dealing with the problem rather than masking it with material items as a quick feel-good fix. The other problem is comparing yourself to others.
We have no idea what other peoples financial situation is… they may be borrowing money from their parents or relatives or they may be consistently over-drafting their accounts or maxing out their credit cards to have the newest and best items. Keep to your own side of the street, and don’t get swayed into what everyone else is doing. That can cause immense amounts of financial grief.
Anna on The Nate Berkus show
What is a common/popular finance/budget “rule” that you hear a lot that you personally don’t follow? Can you elaborate on why?
A common financial practice that I don’t follow is that I don’t use coupons. I know that coupons can be very beneficial and can save a ton of money but I just haven’t been able to get too excited about them.
Well, I take that back… I recently saw TLC’s show Extreme Couponing and that is something I can get excited about. Generally, if something feels too tedious I know I won’t stick with it. I know for myself I have to make things as easy and as clear-cut as possible or it just won’t be something that I do for long. I think that’s why the Spending Fast was such as success for me. I had my “wants” list and I had my “needs” list. I told myself that I wasn’t spending money on the “wants” list and it made it easy for me because the discretion part was eliminated.
Can you share how you think about budgeting for your clothes/hobbies/frivolous expenses every year?
Yes. The way I approach budgeting for clothes/hobbies/frivolous expenses is that I deal with each spending situation on an individual basis. I often use my Should I Buy It? Decision Card and I walk through all of the questions. It gets easier and easier to stop the automatic and impulsive spending that I used to do so often.
What are some of your most treasured possessions?
The engagement ring that my husband picked out himself. While I switch up the ring that I wear daily it is a true treasure. It’s got an undeniable sweetness to it. Also, my photographs are treasures… past and present I love having all of those memories documented.
Can you share some life advice that you’ve have to learn the hard way over the years that you’d like to share with readers?
Something I’ve learned the hard way is that having everything I want is not all it’s cracked up to be.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
I’m completely smitten with my nieces and nephews, photography, and with laughing (often at completely inappropriate things).
And finally – please share something surprising about yourself
I’m an identical twin and I’m one minute older than my sister. Also, a fun fact is that I was on TLC’s What Not to Wear (embarrassiinnng…). The episode was a 2 hour special that aired in March of 2005. My then-boyfriend and I were competing against two other couples for the title of Worst-Dressed Couple in America.
Thank you again to Anna for taking the time to do this interview and share all of her insights and experiences – and for more of Anna, please check out her blog here.