The Grass is Greener on The Other Side of the Fence
Author: Melanie Gnau

The Grass is Greener on The Other Side of the Fence - And Then We Saved

“Too many people are thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when they ought to just water the grass they are standing on.” -Amar Dave

In today’s Internet culture, it’s so easy to think that everyone but yourself has it all together. Everyone else is traveling and hanging with friends and enjoying good food and is #blessed. But it’s important to remember that most often we just share the best parts of our lives. There’s bad parts too, but they don’t make for a good Instagram photo. Let’s spend less time (or on social media) and start watering our own grass.

How are you “watering your own grass?” Let’s chat in the comments!


in Motivation
Managing Finances With a Stay-At-Home Parent
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Managing Finances With a Stay-At-Home Parent |

Hey Anna,

How do you approach managing money as a couple when one person is a stay-at- home parent? How can the couple avoid feeling like the money earner is “in control” and maintain equality in money-making decisions?
– We Both Work


Dear WBW,

The ability of one half of a couple to stay home and parent children while the other goes to work to earn a living indeed has many benefits. Some benefits include: avoiding the costs of childcare, commuting time and expense, and other work-related expenses. Additionally, the spouse who works outside of the home is usually given more flexibility in his or her career – perhaps allowing the spouse to earn additional cash for overtime, or a deserved raise. However, there are also some potential drawbacks for single-income families.

Read More »

one comment

in Family, Friends, & Relationships
How to Cut Back on Birthing Expenses – The Many Benefits of Hiring a Doula
Author: Anna Newell Jones

The Innovative Way to Cut Back on Birthing Expenses |

(Note from Anna: Hiring a doula was one of the absolute best things we did for the birth of our son, Henry. Our doula was technically, “in training” so we we able to benefit from her services without paying a fee. [We did end up giving her a family portrait session for free in exchange for all the help she gave us during Henry’s birth since we were so thankful for all she did for us]. We highly, highly recommend hiring a doula. In case you were wondering;)

None of the information provided below is meant to take the place of your own research. Act based on what is best for you and your family and your individual situation and needs!

One of the most frequent questions I encounter as a childbirth doula is how to cut back on birthing expenses. Most women who contact me already know that I am a doula-in-certification (or doula-in-training), so with this knowledge I am aware that my potential client is working within her budget, which I love! I don’t mind providing my services at a discounted rate while I am working toward my certification because doula work is what I am passionate about. That being said, one of the biggest ways to cut birthing expenses is to recognize pregnancy and birth not as a medical condition but as a natural life event. Once you realize your pregnancy and birth is a normal and natural life process you can think out of the “hospital” box and save money in hiring a doula-in-training no matter where or how you plan to birth.


Doulas-in-training are currently trained by whichever organization they are seeking their certification from. In order to become fully certified, a doula-in-training must attend a number of births and complete required classes, and reading and writing assignments as well as receive evaluations from doctors, midwives, and nurses they interact with during any births they attend. Hiring a doula-in-training will not only provide you with incredible support as you work toward your desired birth but she will also offer her services to you at a discounted rate. From experience, doulas-in-training are usually very knowledgeable as the required material is fresh in their minds and they are also eager to help and do a great job with their first solo births. Many have already attended births accompanying a mentor doula, and newer doulas are not afraid to call on their own support system for wisdom and guidance through your birth if they need some tips or ideas.

A doula can lower your costs all around, and having the support of a doula during birth has been shown to result in shorter labor (who doesn’t want that?) with fewer complications. It also reduces negative feelings about the birthing experience, reduces the need for Pitocin, forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans, and reduces the mother’s request for pain medication or epidurals. All of this to say the less medical intervention during your birth the lower the overall cost will be. Choosing to birth with a midwife at either a hospital or birth center will dramatically reduce your out-of-pocket costs as compared to birthing in a hospital with an obstetrician. The cost of your individual birth will obviously be dependent on a variety of factors including your insurance coverage, but generally a birth center birth will be the most cost-effective option. Also, most birth centers and some hospitals offer the use of a labor/birth tub either for laboring, birth, or both, and it can take the place of other forms of pain management; they don’t call it the “midwife’s epidural” for nothing—a labor tub is fabulous!

Other ways to save on birthing expenses include:

  • Prepare yourself with information ahead of your birth so that you will be armed with knowledge of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to every procedure or intervention—not only to save money but to prepare yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually for your new bundle of joy and how he or she will be birthed into the world.
  • Know ahead of time your preferences on costly procedures or interventions so that you are prepared for the bill later. This includes your stance on a range of procedures including, but not limited to, interventions during your labor, newborn shots, ointments, circumcision, and feeding preferences.
  • Remember 4-1-1: Delay going into the hospital until you are in active labor with contractions coming every 4 minutes, lasting 1 minute in length, for at least 1 hour. Going into the hospital too early may not only increase your chances of more costly interventions such as induction, epidural usage, and/or instrumental or caesarian delivery, but at most hospitals if you go in at 11:30pm you get charged for the entire day even though you were only there for 30 minutes of that day!

Obviously go when you absolutely need to, but if you are educated on the stages of labor, you will have a much better experience.

Read books from the library that will encourage and inspire you such as Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Natural Birth the Bradley Way, and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth.

All in all, to cut back on birthing expenses surround yourself with positive support, become empowered with knowledge through books and other experienced women, and double check every bill you get in the mail after your prenatal care, labor, and delivery! I can’t tell you how many bills I received that were incorrectly billed in excess and had I not noticed and done the groundwork to get the bills corrected I would have paid thousands more out-of-pocket than necessary! Armed with knowledge of what is really necessary to birth your baby will make all the difference in the world, not only in the memories of your birth experience for years to come but in also in your ability to make the most informed financial decisions during this life-changing event.

Have you hired a doula in the past? Are you considering hiring a doula for the birth of your next child? Do you have any tips for how to cut back on birthing expenses?

Valerie Rohde is a wife, a new mom, and a childbirth doula working toward certification. She has a full time “day job” on top of the many other hats she wears while she and her husband are working hard toward becoming financially free of old debts and student loans. She is currently working toward her doula certification as well as becoming a childbirth educator and lactation consultant. She has an intrinsic love for writing and has just begun chronicling her family’s financial journey at Taking the Rohde Less Traveled as well as her more personal journey to parenthood here.

P.S. Related: My $110,618.02 Birth Story

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in Family, Friends, & Relationships, Kids, Pregnancy
When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time
Author: Melanie Gnau

When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time. -And Then We Saved

“When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time.” -Unknown

Maybe you’ve tried to complete the Spending Fast. Maybe you failed. Maybe you had an emergency or just fell back into your old habits. It happens. But the best part is: you can start again. You can try it one more time.

How are you trying to save “one more time?” Talk to me in the comments!



in Motivation
Considerations for Couples: Talking About Money
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Talking About Money (as a couple) |


Hey Anna,

As someone who has “been there,” do you have any words of wisdom how couples should talk to each other when working out money issues?

– Haven’t Been There, Done That, Yet



No two couples are alike and no two individuals are the same. When it comes to couple topics, money is often high on the list because everyone differs in their thinking and beliefs where finances are concerned. People often cite money woes as a reason for a relationship disconnect, so it is important from the get-go to understand where your mate is coming from when it comes to money. The old adage about mixing family and money is often sage advice for many people, but when it comes to money matters for couples, it’s nearly impossible to avoid a mixture. Couples need to come together and stick together for present and future financial planning.

Read More »


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, How To
Don’t Go Through Life, Grow Through Life
Author: Melanie Gnau

Don't Go Through Life, Grow Through Life -And Then We Saved

“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” -Eric Butterworth

I strongly believe in life-long learning. I believe in learning from our mistakes and becoming a better person because of it. The money mistakes I made in the past were a blessing because I learned from them. I intend to grow through my life.

How are you growing through life? Let’s chat in the comments. 


in Motivation
Dealing With More Than Financial Burdens
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Dealing With More Than Financial Burdens |

Hey Anna,

I’ve found myself in both a moral and financial pickle, and I would like to hear other people’s opinions on this. Any advice or comment would be greatly appreciated!

First of all I need to say that in my family, we don’t discuss things. My upbringing has been pretty authoritarian — my parents often used phrases like “You can’t do that because I said so”, and they never talked to me about sex, death or money. I had no idea how much they earned, how much it cost to run a household, how credit cards work — I was pretty much financially illiterate. Only later I realized that my parents are not that good in managing money, either. I’m not saying I blame my parents for my own financial stupidity, I’m just trying to illustrate where I came from.

Anyway, when I went to university, I badly wanted to study in the capital. My parents said: OK, go, we’ll manage. I had no idea that their idea of “manage” was to take on a loan. When I left school after two semesters, they didn’t say anything. Only a couple of years later, my mother confessed that they had to take a loan to keep me at school. I was horrified and told her I would have never dreamt of going there if I knew they had to pay for it like that, but she just shrugged and said, “You wouldn’t have listened.” Well, I bloody well would have! Since then, she’s shoved this in my face several times in an argument, to which I’ve always said: “Don’t you dare blame me for something I had no idea of!” I felt betrayed. Read More »


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, Hey Anna (Reader Questions), Paying Off Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Student Loans
And Then We… Went Tiny
Author: Anna Newell Jones

and then we saved tiny house nation anna newell jones

This just might be the craziest thing I’ve been able to persuade Aaron to do with me yet. We are going to build a tiny house! You may have seen this coming with all the tiny house posts here on the blog and on social media, and if so, you, my friend, are very perceptive. ;)

Ever since we went to check out the Tumbleweed tiny houses last spring in Colorado Springs, I haven’t been able to shake the idea that going tiny is something we needed to do. Going tiny feels right.


By going tiny we will be able to take every single area of our life to the next level.


There are so many reasons we want to go tiny. Here are our top 4 reasons:

1. Rental income. Denver’s real estate market is insane right now. Tons of people are moving here each month (approx 4k). We’d love to rent out our current home but we wouldn’t have anywhere to go! By going tiny we would be able to rent out our current home when we’re traveling in the tiny house. Then, when we are in Denver for wedding season we can rent out the tiny house. Either way we will be able to make income from the place we’re not living in. We see going tiny as a way to have an investment property without spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it the traditional way. With the rental income we could make from renting out our current home (either with a long-term tenant or through a short-term rental site like Airbnb) we could pay for our mortgage, HOA fee, and the payment for the Tiny Home loan.

2. We want to expand our wedding photography business. Eventually, we would like to travel with the tiny house to warmer markets during Denver’s cold winter months.

3. We’re out here in Denver by ourselves (apart from my bro and sister-in-law in Erie, Colorado) and we want Henry to have a relationship with his cousins and grandparents. By going tiny we’ll be able to be by family more often; we’ll actually be able to become a part of their daily lives again.

4. Book Tour! When my book comes out we just might take the tiny house on a book tour! (Side note: my book will now be published on April 26, 2016 and this is exciting since I haven’t announced this here yet – the name of my book will be: The Spender’s Guide to Debt-Free Living: How to do a Spending Fast and Get From Broke to Badass in Record Time)!


Building a house, even an itty-bitty one, has been a huge undertaking. Now, we’re technically not doing the actual building of the house ourselves, a local builder, Rebuild Right, will be doing it but there is still so much that has had to be done. It has also been a roller coaster of an experience in many ways but I’ll save all that for another post.

tiny house nation anna aaron photographers

While I can tell you that we’re going to be building a tiny house, I can’t share many other details, and there’s a good reason why: we’re going to be featured on the TV show, Tiny House Nation! Nuts, right?

It will be an hour-long episode and they will show the build, some down-sizing that we will be doing, and then the big reveal! The show airs on the FYI network. (Check it out here: We don’t know the air date of our episode yet but I will share it as soon as I know it. Also, we won’t be able to share pictures of the completed house until after the episode airs.


Here are a few things I can share:

  • Our tiny house will be around 200 square feet
  • The design is awesome!
  • We are paying for the house (not the show)
  • The tiny house has become way more expensive then we thought it would be
  • The house will be built within 10 days (!!!)
  • We will be filming for 6 days
  • We’ve been working on this with a the builder and Tiny House Nation’s production team since June-ish
  • I can’t tell you the exact dates we’ll be doing the filming and building but it’s sooner than later;)


One last thing, we need your help! 

There’s one other little thing we’d love your help with, we have a build site but we don’t have a spot in town to park our tiny house once it’s built. If anyone has any leads in the central Denver area about where we could park it we would love any leads you may have!


What questions do you have for me about the tiny house? I’ll try to answer the ones that I can/am allowed to.;) 


in Tiny House, Tiny House Nation
  • 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. Also! We're building a Tiny House and we're going to be on Tiny House Nation. Follow along!!

    ⭐︎Come back throughout the day for updates.


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