Interview Money

Interview with Anna Newell Jones

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.

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  • Reply
    Sabrina T.
    December 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    great interview!!love the first pics!!

    Patchwork à Porter

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    What a great interview! I very much agree with not comparing yourself to others. You really do have no idea what others' situations are, and the newest/hottest/most expensive thing really doesn't last as long as I'd ever like it to. 😉

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Oh dear now I'm worrying whether my comment on your last post was seen as offensive. Sorry if it was! Great interview and great philosophy. I'll definitely utilise the Decision Card for future $$$ purchases!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    OMG I need to go track down that episode now- I love that show! Did I just admit that? Yes, yes I did.
    Kim, thank you or doing this interview and Anna thank you for participating, I truly really enjoyed it. While I love looking at beautiful and expensive designer items in other closets, this was such a great, honest interview that I can really relate to on many levels.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I love this interview Katherine!! Thank you so much! {And I totally agree with your first line and paragraph. Everyone has different priorities and are willing to spend different amounts on different things.} And I am always discussing the comparison thing with my husband – you never know what situation a different person is in. Sorry, I've started ranting! Anyways, thanks again for this awesome interview! xo~sam

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Great interview as always 🙂 And you're right that it can come across as rude to make comments about other people's purchases. I had a friend that couldn't understand why people spent money on designer bags, but she would splurge hundreds of dollars on expensive hair straightening treatments and products for her already-straight hair, which I would never do personally, but it's totally fine! We all have different ideas of what we think are worth splurging on. The important thing, as you mentioned, is living within your minds and being reasonable and wise about your purchases.

    I definitely trying to be a more disciplined and frugal spender myself. Thanks for sharing this interview!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    @Cindy oh no definitely not – I wasn't talking about anything that happened on the blog 🙂

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Brilliant! So relevant and timely. Globally, I think the way forward financially has to be being responsible and it doesn't mean no more goodies just sensible budgeting.
    I tried that Should I Buy It? Decision Card with several things and they all ended up being the quickest no answer lol!

    'stay on your side of the street' – I really like that metaphor!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Well done you for getting your finances in order. I like to think I'm money savvy & was always brought up learning not to spend what you can't afford xoxo

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Great Interview! Love money saving tips since i'm bad at it. Never compare yourself to others — so true! If I can just be as grounded as her and pay off my student loans before racking up another one next year.. that will be awesome. =)

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Great Interview! Love money saving tips since i'm bad at it. Never compare yourself to others — so true! If I can just be as grounded as her and pay off my student loans before racking up another one next year.. that will be awesome. =)

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    awesome interview!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Great interview! 🙂 And to think that she did a spending fast! Great will power! I definitely like the advice to never compare yourself to others because you will never be able to keep up with the Jones! Spend according to what you have with what budget you have 🙂

  • Reply
    anna newell jones
    December 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Hi Katherine, Thank you for including me on your site! And thank you for the wonderful comments too.

  • Reply
    hi, i'm natalie :)
    December 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you for posting this! Blogging about fashion makes it so easy to find things you want desperately every single day, but this is a great reminder to resist the temptation!

  • Reply
    amy b.s.
    December 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    she seems awesome!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Seriously so helpful! I love things like this. It's important to be transparents and the "stay on your side of the street" is great advice!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Ever since I read the book "A New Earth," it's helped me curb my shopping habit. 🙂 Material things are just that – just material things..they don't define the person.

  • Reply
    December 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    omg…have you seen ayuerz's bag cabinet! I just accidentally saw it today. It's like Carlinha's shoe cabinet only this time, it's bags, bags, bags!!

    I'd love to own her cabinet. *sigh*

  • Reply
    Ask Erena
    December 8, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Great interview! Cute doggy:-) Thank you for stopping by and your lovely comments. I am your new follower. Hope you follow me back.
    hugs from New York,
    Ask Erena

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 1:42 am

    THis is great. And it's so good for women (especially) to take a real and honest look at themselves and their spending. I had to do something similar to this when I lost my job, and it wasn't fun. It discouraged me from blogging because I felt as though it wouldn't be fun if I couldn't keep spending money on new clothing.

    Thanks for the further inspiration to keep going and realize that having everything really isn't everything!


  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 2:06 am

    so much great advice! thank you for posting this.

  • Reply
    Fashion to Go
    December 8, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Agreed with your stance on spending. Every person has their own values and hobbies. I personally spend the most on fashion and I have no shame admitting it because I still keep my spending limits in tact. Great post!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 3:26 am

    its amazing how anna went on a spending fast and got herself out of debt so quickly! i'm inspired to go on one myself after the holiday season… but only to buy a new purse. LOL xx

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 3:29 am

    I'm glad you stood up for yourself! I agree, what you buy is really nobody's business. This is a site that focuses heavily on fashion is it not? =P. I love the CDC!! I just got a KDT but I covet the CDC more.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 3:57 am

    As a woman who had tons of debt right after high school, i totally appreciate this! This made me think of all the unnecessary spending i do (ie target $1 sections!) and how much i could be saving! She'll definitely be in the back of my head every time i waste money!

    Also, thought of you today! I was browsing TPF and saw a section where people list their favorite fashion bloggers…you popped up quite a few times, and for good reason! =D

  • Reply
    signature mix
    December 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    My favorite interview yet. I think it's easy to get wrapped up in style blogs and shopping and think we need to spend spend spend but I like stopping and taking a moment to really think it through. Thanks for sharing her amazing story and blog.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Great interview!! I can totally relate to a lot what she said about watching what I spend my money on. Temptation can be so evil sometimes! But it's all about self control. Cheers to saving money when we can! ^^

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Anna is a sweetie! She's such an inspiration. I admire her for taking the steps needed to get out of debt. That would heavily way on anyone. Beautiful interview.

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    very inspiring interview. I think her blog is something to do with having "peace of mind" . the fact that everybody who have a debt would not be financially capable of paying it. I have also a problem in my spending habits when I'm still working and the last thing I can do is to cut my credit card and pay my purchases in cash. Now I feel relieved! Now if there's anything I really want and don't have a budget,I'll just wait and save. maybe By now I know myself in terms of spending and it 's the least I can do to save myself from debt.:)

  • Reply
    December 9, 2011 at 3:07 am

    great interview! I always read them but never comment on the interview posts. But this one I just had to! Thanks Katherine!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Nice blog….

  • Reply
    The Blonde @ Stylish3
    December 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Great interview! No matter how much control you think you have over your finances, it's always great to get an occasional reminder to save and plan for the future.

    Her "surprising fact" was great – definitely a surprise!

  • Reply
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