Be Strong…

be strong


in Motivation
And Then I Quit My Day Job

anna newell jones

I meant to write this post awhile back, like back when it happened, but then the baby arrived and then the no sleep thing set in and then the lack of being good at balancing it all came into play. And then, wouldn’t you know it, a chunk of time had passed and this post was still on my list of things to do that just didn’t get done… Until now;)

Back at the end of October, before the baby arrived, I was able to leave my job at the state that I had for 8 years. It was a big decision for us and it was bittersweet too. I worked for a Judge that I had/have a lot of respect for and I really admire him. 

When I became pregnant I started researching my options about what to do when the baby arrived.  Normally, I would’ve just taken my three-month maternity leave and been back to work full-time probably putting the baby in daycare. But, since I made the switch to a part-time employee for the last year and a half at my position I wasn’t protected by the state’s Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that full-time employees benefit from. For those of you who aren’t familiar with FMLA it essentially protects your job for you so that you can go have a baby (or deal with another family issue), have time off after the birth, and still have your job when you return. FMLA protects your job. Of course, there are other details about how it works but that’s a quick, truncated version of it.

Since I wouldn’t have the option of taking maternity leave we had to decide if I would take my vacation days plus medical leave which would only add up to about 3 to 4 weeks. If 3 to 4 weeks wasn’t enough time we’d have to come up with another plan. I had a feeling that 3-4 weeks wouldn’t be enough time and I’m glad I stuck to that hunch because I didn’t start feeling like myself again until closer to 10 weeks postpartum.

We decided that even though it would be a stretch financially and that we would be stepping out of our financial safe zone that I would quit my job with the state and that we would re-assess the situation when the baby got to be closer to 3 months. I figured I could always apply for a different position with the state, if needed, and go back full-time.

Since we were going down to an official “one-income” family it meant that we had to re-evaluate all of our expenses and all of our income streams. So that’s what we did.

Time to Evaluate

We do have our wedding photography business and that has become even more important to our family as a means of survival and income. I also do freelance writing for Babble and they give bonuses if you have a certain number of visitors and that really helps out (that’s why I do those compilation posts of my favorite Babble posts from the month. I need your help in getting the bonuses so we can eat! You know, no biggie;)  I also am a Staff Writer for Wise Bread but I’ve had a little bit of a dry spell over there. This blog does generate a small amount of money through Google Ads and sometimes I will do sponsored posts (I try to only work with brands and products that are a good fit with the site’s message). I’m trying to make it all work; I’m trying to find that elusive “right” mix of everything. Sometimes it all comes together better than other times and I always try to take what works and leave the rest. Because really, what other option is there?

Since I evaluated all of the income streams I also had to look at what money was going out. On the chopping block were the ol’ cell phone data plan and gym membership. I did some research and found a pre-pay plan that was somehow $30 less a month then what I was currently paying AND it offered more. What the –?! So I called up my phone company (Verizon) and politely told them that I wanted to have the plan that was $30 less a month. I mean, duh. They told me that I had one month left on my contract so I was all set to call back in a month and just get the lower plan. Then, miraculously, they were able to access a “loyalty plan” and give me the lower price if I was just willing to extend my contract. I am happy with the coverage and service and know that I would most likely be sticking with that company anyway so I decided to go for it. Just like that, $30 saved!

(Oh, and this doesn’t really go with the story but I have to tell you, I traded in my old iPhone4s and they gave me $299 credit for it. I was then able to get the new iPhone 5s for free. Might be something worth looking into if you are looking to upgrade. I wouldn’t have upgraded if it was going to cost me anything but since it was free I didn’t pass it up!).

Next, I called my gym. I asked to talk with the membership coordinator since they would be the one with the string-pulling power and I explained how I wouldn’t be able to go to the gym consistently for a while. I asked if they could work with me on the monthly membership price. They said they could give me $20 off per month.

For 10 minutes worth of phone calls I was able to cut out $50 a month in expenses! That adds up too. Over a year, that will be $600 saved for a couple of minutes of work.

Having this experience reminds me how important it is to regularly evaluate what income is coming in and what expenses are going out. It’s so easy to get in a routine of just paying for what you’re paying when really, you might be leaving money on the table. Let’s not leave money on the table!;)

Also, this experience makes me even more grateful that I took action with deciding to do the Spending Fast, suffered through it, and got out of debt. If I still had that $23,605.10 in debt (I don’t even want to think about how much more it would’ve been at this point with interest and accruing even more debt) I wouldn’t have the freedom to even consider staying home with the baby and piecing together the different freelance incomes. I am so grateful that I have that choice today.


When was the last time you evaluated your expenses? Is it time for another look? What would your life look like if you didn’t have debt and would you make different choices if you were debt-free?


in Personal
37 Easy Ideas To Make Money On The Weekend

ways to make money on the weekend

I think that we can all agree that making more money is a great idea. Finding the time to fit in a second job? That’s a lot harder.

Luckily though, there are a ton of random things you can do on the weekends to supplement your present income if you don’t have the time to (and don’t really want to) get a regular, more conventional second job. Get creative and think about how you can use skills you already have to make the most of any spare time you have. It can be easy to take your skills for granted. For example, you might be really organized. Well, you could use that skill to help someone manage their email inbox and charge for being a virtual assistant!

Here are 37 easy ideas for making money on your weekends (or evenings)…

Read More »


in Make More Money, Money
There’s Nothing Quite Like Clean Sheets – Simple Luxuries

This post is sponsored by P&G. Save on NEW Gain Flings and Tide Pods at Target.

little luxuries clean sheets

Since I’ve had Baby Henry life’s little luxuries have become wayyy more awesome. Things like, you know, showering, going to the gym, hot coffee, wandering around the grocery store solo, and of course, clean sheets have become even more welcome in my life.

little luxuries clean sheets

Recently, I got to try out Tide Pods and the NEW Gain Flings. I did one load and couldn’t believe how good my laundry smelled. The little laundry detergent pod combines 50% more scent, Oxi Boost, and Febreeze all in one dissolvable pouch that just gets tossed into the washing machine drum to start its magical-cleaning-smelling-good process.

I like that if you save money (and extend the life of your items) by always washing your laundry in cold then the pod will still work the way it’s supposed to; that is a big bonus in my eyes. Also, I like how convenient the powerful little pod is for apartment-dwellers. The light-weight pod completely eliminates the need to lug a huge, heavy canister of detergent from one place to another.

Read More »


in Sponsors
Even Presidents Go Broke – 6 Interesting Stories of Presidential Financial Distress

even presidents go brokeI had grand plans of getting this post up yesterday for President’s Day but that just didn’t happen so, here it is today for President’s Day Week!;) I hope you enjoy this post that was written by my husband Aaron. – Anna

1. George Washington

The original Founding Father and the nation’s first President had his own share of debt problems. At one time, he was among the richest men in America, but soon found himself shackled with debt when his tobacco crop sales started to fail. Adopting a more frugal lifestyle, Washington was able to overcome his debt and creditors by looking for new and creative ways to expand his income. He diversified his crops, experimented with new farming techniques, and decided to sell his produce locally. His approach is not unlike what we still do today to take control of our finances.

2. Thomas Jefferson

In grade school we learned that Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd president of the United States and creator  the Declaration of Independence. What typically isn’t taught is that throughout most of his adult life, Jefferson was deep in debt. Jefferson perpetually lived beyond his means, spending large amounts of money on furniture, building projects, and wine. Lots of wine. During his 8 years as president, Jefferson ran up a personal wine bill of over $10,000. Adjusted for today’s inflation, that translates to roughly $146,000!

At the time of his death, Jefferson’s debt added up to $107,000. In todays terms that would be somewhere between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000!

3. Abraham Lincoln

Abe Lincoln had many occupations throughout his life: rail-splitter, flatboatman, lawyer, and, of course, president. While he might have been great at winning debates, wearing stovepipe hats and killing vampires, Old Abe wasn’t much of a shopkeeper. In 1832, Lincoln purchased a general store in New Salem, Illinois. Sales were dismal and as debts mounted, Lincoln sold his shares. When Lincoln’s partner died, the future President became liable for the $1,000 owed in back payments. Honest Abe continued paying of the debts well into the 1840′s and the debt wasn’t officially waived until he become a Congressman. Nowadays, most people won’t even bend down for the coin that bares Lincoln’s face, but next time you step over a penny, remember that at one point, Lincoln was penniless.

4. William Henry Harrison
Before serving as president, William Henry Harrison, was an ambassador to Colombia. While abroad his family farm went belly up and he ended up owning a lot of money to his creditors. Harrison was forced to sell off most of his land and possessions and he was reportedly still in debt by the time he reached the white house. His untimely death, after only one month in office, may have been the only thing that prevented him from reaching total bankruptcy.

5. Ulysses S. Grant

Grant helped turn the tide of the civil war, but he wasn’t much of a business man. At one point, after the collapse of his tannery business, he was forced to sell firewood on the street to support his family. During and after his presidency, he lived well beyond his means, (a common theme) traveling the world in a frivolous manner. After his presidency, he invested in a financial firm that went ultimately went bankrupt after an embezzlement scheme and he was left with hundreds of thousands in debt. After learning he had throat cancer, and with his family still being strapped for cashed, Grant began working on his memoirs. With the help of novelist and friend Mark Twain, his two-volume memoir went on to become a classic work of American literature and posthumously earned his family nearly $450,000 and helped rid his family of his debt.

6. Harry Truman

Before Harry Truman become president and helped to end World War 2 he was the proud owner of a men’s haberdashery store in Kansas City. It quickly went belly up and Truman was stuck with nearly $30,000 in debt. Truman continued to pay his debts throughout his early career in politics and it was because of his sad financial state that the Presidential salary was doubled. Truman and his wife were the first two official recipients of Medicare when Lyndon Johnson signed the program into law and interestingly enough, Truman debts weren’t official settled until 2012.

In 1947, Truman had failed to pay the newspaper delivery boy for six months worth of papers so in May of 2012 a Truman impersonator, Niel Johnson, presented a check for $56.63 to George Lund, Truman’s old delivery boy, now an 80-year-old retiree, for the unpaid papers. The original total was $7.50. Johnson included 65 years worth of interest


Do you know about any other presidential debt stories? 


in Just For Fun, Statistics
You’re Not Alone…

youre not alone

If you haven’t already, be sure to take part in the Community section. It’s a place where you can get (and give) support throughout your getting-out-of-debt mission! You can do this!


in Motivation
  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Let's do this!

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