The Best Times To Buy Certain Things
Author: Anna Newell Jones

by ashley g

When the seasons start to change I start feeling like buying stuff. Do you too?

This last weekend here in Denver was a little crispy. It felt like Fall was all up in the air. The change in weather makes me get the urge to buy stuff I need, stuff I don’t need, just stuff. Maybe it’s the change in weather and maybe it’s just general antsy-ness it stirs up. The seasonal change gets me itchin’ for changes to my living space, to my clothing and to the food I eat…

Switch-ups can definitely be good if they don’t include spending money. You know, re-arrange your living room, re-think how you put together your outfits and check out a new cookbook from the library for some new food recipes and ideas.

I’ve learned that the biggest challenge I face when the seasons change is that I want to buy new clothes. I’ve been really tempted to buy clothes because I am SO sick of the ones that I wear all the time. BUT… that usually translates into money looking to leave my pockets. Which, we all know isn’t going to be happening these days! I tried on 4 shirts yesterday and didn’t walk out with a single one because I didn’t love ’em and didn’t need ’em! But, I have to confess that I did buy a robe from the new IKEA on Saturday and I didn’t need it at all. I messed up. This is how it went down… I realized it was just like a hotel bathrobe, you know those huge, white plush ones? Well, I saw it, felt it and then proceeded to convince myself I should probably get it because I have wanted one forever people!

See, still trying to justify it. Shopping is so not the “care-free fun event” that it used to be for me. Now, it’s all been realigned. It’s a good thing. Now, I know a splurge is a splurge and they happen rarely as a treat rather than ALWAYS like it used to go down.

So I need to know, what do you do when you’ve determined that you legitimately have to make a purchase? (Hopefully, you’ve been using the handy Should I Buy It Decision Card too) and what I’m really curious about is are there ideal times during the year and during the week to purchase different things? The below poster illustrates this idea and has some suggestions. (click on it for a larger/readable view)

What do you think? Is there a better time than others to buy certain things? Do you agree with the above chart? Got any purchase timing tricks up those sleeves? If so, I’d love to hear them.

p.s… Happy Labor Day! Hope you’ve got the day off!


in Make Do & Mend, Practical Solutions, Savings, Social, Staying Out of Debt, Things To Do
The Day Chuck Palahniuk Won My Heart
Author: Anna Newell Jones

“Advertising has us chasing and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” – Chuck Palaniuk

Now isn’t that the truth.


in Do Without, Motivation, Societal Pressures, Take Action!
Featured in USAA Magazine!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

This is exciting! I’m featured in USAA Magazine’s Fall Issue. You can check it out by clicking on the images below. The story is on page 8.



in Press & Interviews
Birthdays and How They (& I) Have Changed
Author: Anna Newell Jones

me and my birthday cupcake. what you don’t see is the other cupcake that i ate too. they were both delicious and i only got kind of sick. it was totally worth it.

Yesterday was my (& my identical twin sisters) birthday (wooot woot). I turned 32 years old and I actually FEEL different. 32 sounds older than 31. I hear someone say they’re 32 and I think “Man, they are an adult!” That’s an adult age. I feel like I’m an adult. Maybe that should’ve happened earlier in life but it didn’t. It happened yesterday. That’s okay. Maybe everyone’s different and maybe we’re all more the same than we ever realize. It’s completely possible.

Does anyone else get into a reflective mood when your b-day comes rolling around? It gets me thinking about where I was last year at this time… 8 months deep into the Spending Fast and just putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to continue. I was so happy to be getting big chunks of debt paid off and amazed with how the momentum of the Spending Fast worked. It felt like a reward every month to send the checks off to the creditors at the end of every month. It was like, “Take that Freaking Debt- I’ll knock you out!! Watch me!”

Pre-Spending Fast when my birthday would come around I would go ALL OUT. I’m talking all day spending spree, then a fancy dinner and drinks out all night. I basically went on a no-holds-barred frenzy because if I deserved everything I wanted on every other day of my life because I worked hard and deserved it then since it was my birthday it only meant that I had an even better excuse to spoil myself- because I was celebrating of course!

To me, celebrating meant spending money and spending money was exactly what I wanted to do to celebrate. It was a perfect combo.

Pre-Spending Fast I also loved to spend money on other peoples birthdays. I liked to think about what they would like and buy it for them. I thought this made me extremely generous and thoughtful and wonderful even though I was in a hot financial mess. Any mess I was in did not matter because I was being generous and thoughtful and wonderful so it was justified and made up for it.

I thought that the amount of money I spent on others told them how much love I had for them. I thought things were a way of proving my feelings for them. I struggled a lot with the new non-existent gift purchasing part of the Spending Fast. (This post captures that struggle well.) It made perfect sense to me to spend money on others if I liked or loved them. I knew that they would do the same for me to prove their affection for me and then I would prove my own worth to myself by buying even more things.

It was this whole cycle of proving love with things. It wasn’t right. Things don’t mean love. It took me awhile to learn this. Not to say that I’m perfect at remembering this every minute of eveyday… I can tell you though that it does get easier to remember and now, I can recognize sooner when those old thoughts crop up.

I’ve mentioned before that the Spending Fast went and ruined shopping for me and while I wouldn’t say the Spending Fast and Spending Diet ruined birthdays for me they have completely changed the way I look at birthdays and spending money on birthdays. And that’s a very good thing.

This year for my birthday all I wanted was to go camping (and an iPhone but for now my $11 refurbished cell phone will have to do… I’ll have to tell you more about that in another post). We’ve had a very amazingly busy season shooting weddings and lots of family portraits so we blocked off a weekend (this last weekend) and we were gonna do it! We were going to go camping for the 1st time this Summer!

Friday night came (when we were going to leave) and we decided we’d wait until Saturday morning after a good nights sleep to make our way to Goblin Valley in Utah for my Big Birthday Weekend Camping Trip! Saturday morning came and went and there we were sitting there Saturday afternoon not really wanting to make the 6 hour drive to Utah.

So, we decided to skip camping and have an old-fashioned “staycation”. I could not have been more happy to stay home, sleep in, lolly about (as my Australian aunt puts it:) and just relax. Turns out relaxing at home costs $0.00 and it was perfect.

yummm cupcake

Yesterday, I woke up to flowers on the kitchen table from my husband, drank the darkest and strongest coffee as slowly as I wanted while savoring every sip, took a 4 mile walk/run, opened some gifts (!), made spaghetti, ate garlic bread, got sick on the most delicious cupcakes around and watched 4 True Blood episodes. In. A. Row.

This Birthday was simple and just right. I think it just might go down in history as one of the best birthdays ever.


What was your best or most memorable birthday? How do you celebrate your birthday… do you go “all out”, “kind of all out” or “not all out” at all? Do you have to spend money to prove love and recognize love from others? Is this a cultural thing? What’s the best thing you have ever received that didn’t cost a cent? Do you like sprinkles?


in Do Without, Personal
Gettin’ Guesty with Rebekah Marenda Burder
Author: Rebekah Marenda Burder

This weeks guest contributor is Rebekah Marenda Burder of Honeysuckle Life. She acquired over 20K in debt, got arrested for bounced checks, manged to pay off her debt, quit her day job, moved to Nicaragua for a year, and is now working as a freelancer in her dream position! Erm… amazing!

And, isn’t that the goal afterall? To be able to live a life that’s truly TRUE to you? I think so!

Please help me welcome Rebekah!

image courtesy of the rebekah marenda burder

My life in debt started a few months after turning 18. I signed up for my first credit card after being offered a free t-shirt and bag of Skittles. By the time my sophomore year approached, I was over 5K in debt, in a combination of credit cards and student loans. My debt grew to include a car loan, and by the time I turned 25, I was over 20K in debt. Many of those debts were turned over to collections. Along with that debt I had a complete inability to balance a checkbook, resulting in a lot of bounced checks. I, literally, had no idea how money worked.

My breaking point was a few months before I married my husband, when I was arrested, while renewing my driver’s license, for a bounced check. I had a million excuses, but the bottom line was that all of my bad choices caught up with me. Thankfully, my husband understood, having made a lot of not brilliant choices himself, and we immediately took care of the issue.

My husband and I made a commitment to pay off our combined debt of 23K and live debt-free. We stayed on budget for our wedding, thanks to a lot of contributions from my parents and help from my best friend with DIY projects. After marriage, we sold my car, and commuted to work together in our paid-off car. We packed lunch every day and didn’t travel as much as we wanted to. I started listening to Dave Ramsey and read a lot of Suze Orman books. We bought clothes from thrift stores. I stopped purchasing books and started using the library. It became a game for me to see how much I could pay off each month. Within a year, all of our debt except for my student loans were paid off. We continued making minimum payments while focusing on savings so that my husband could quit his job at a car dealership and start a design company. After a few months, we realized that we both had an intense desire to work internationally and because we had so little debt, we were able to save money, raise part of our salaries, and move to Nicaragua for a year. We paid off our student loans the month we moved to Nicaragua, exactly 28 months after our wedding. The year in Nicaragua taught me so much about money. Mostly that it’s not that big of a deal not to have as much as your friends. In Nicaragua, everyone shares what they have. From a street kid who has one set of clothes and a small bag of chips, to wealthy women who support multiple family members.

Right now, I work for our design company while my husband works for the missions organization that sent us to Nicaragua. We both work from home, which keeps our costs down dramatically. We still share a car, and rent a house owned by a family friend. She gave us a great deal, because we want to buy the property. She’s putting our rent towards the purchase price.

Our biggest challenge now is saving for future purchases because it can be overwhelming trying to predict everything. Health insurance takes up almost as much as our rent. On top of our regular expenses, we have irregular expenses like propane, car insurance and travel. So I now have a savings snowball instead of a debt snowball. I set big goals, like a bigger emergency fund and car replacement fund, and then smaller goals, like upcoming insurance payments and travel plans. We put every extra penny towards the goals. We use a credit card for rewards points, but pay it off weekly.

I’ve become obsessed with saving and planning, just like I was obsessed with spending money. I still get nervous when dealing with money, but I’ve learned to acknowledge the feeling and then switch my focus to meeting our goals. We’ve built up a lot of trust with each other over the past five years, and work with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m honest with him when I feel like I’m spending too much. He reminds me that I’ve changed and I know how to handle finances, and then tells me that money isn’t the source of happiness.

My advice to anyone who is struggling right now is that you absolutely can do it. I know it’s hard, but you can. Make a plan. Stick with it. Get help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.


Rebekah Marenda Burder of Honeysuckle Life •THANK YOU• for being a part of And Then We Saved! 

If you have something to say on a topic related to personal finance or getting out of debt send me an email at: to be considered as a Gettin’ Guesty columnist. xo Anna


in Do Without, Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Guest Interviews, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Student Loans
This Is What We Call A Coffee Emergency
Author: Anna Newell Jones

coffee gif

Wanna hear a story? It’s about coffee. If you like coffee you might like this story.

Most days at work I have access to a coffee maker where I get to make coffee as strong and as dark as I like. But there are some days that I don’t. On the days that I don’t have access to the ideal coffee maker I use the coffee maker down the hall. The “coffee maker down the hall” and I have a rocky past. You see, sometimes people make coffee in that coffee maker that is so totally watered down that it tastes like tea. It shouldn’t count as coffee but it does. Since someone went to the trouble of making it and since I’m addicted to caffeine and since I’m “frugal, cheap, a penny-pincher, and a saver” I’ll drink whatever coffee is available when I can’t make my own rather than dishing out those bucks for the coffee shop coffee. Tea coffee or not – a dollar saved is a dollar saved.

Now, I know that this is what is classified as a “luxury” problem. I’m know I’m lucky to have work and a coffeemaker down the hall to complain about at all- I am grateful for that. This problem isn’t really a problem. This falls more into the category of “Oh, I got the wrong ice cream flavor” but you are still sitting there eating ice cream. Like, it’s not a problem problem. Still, it’s an inconvenience and inconveniences are bummers sometimes.

The other day, my ideal coffee maker was unavailable and the coffee maker down the hall couldn’t even make it’s signature watery brew because the heating element had bust so I was fixin’ to get a mean headache.

Yes, fixin’ to get a mean headache. You heard right. My Southern accent came out.

Come 10:30 am and I was hurting. Bad. Hurting.

As soon as noon hit I rushed to a coffee shop and ordered the most caffeinated drink I could think of- a large twice brewed iced coffee. Sadly and gladly within the first 2 sips my headache disappeared. I say “sadly” because that just confirmed my major addiction to caffeine. I say “gladly” because – no more headache of course!

At this point I should probably say that I decided to give up on coffee and caffeine and all that bad stuff but this is the point in the story where I tell you that the thought of giving up coffee didn’t even cross my mind. Instead, I thought of how I could avoid this horrible withdrawal again. I saw those Starbucks Via’s sitting there. You know those ones where you heat up the water and pour in the little packet? I got a free sample somewhere when they first came out and thought that those would be the perfect solution to keep in my desk for when this very situation happens again. They actually taste pretty good and not bitter or instant-coffee-y at all.


You know what? Those little packets are e x p e n s i  v e. They’re like $8-$10 for 6 packets! Now that’s classified as insane (read: not spending that kind of money on that kind of thing) in my book.

So, I made my way over to the coffee aisle. I found some instant coffee. I grabbed the generic brand of course (cheapest) and for 7oz it was maybe $3. Good deal and it even said “Café Auténtico” on the label so I was thinking I found a loophole around Starbucks and their tasty instant coffee racket. I can get my fix on the cheap! I’ll show them!

I was feeling pretty proud of myself the next morning and I thought I had all my caffeine problems solved when I made up a cup of my Café Auténtico the next day. It was a good day until the bitter, bitter, bitter, nasty, nasty, nasty coffee touched my lips. Man, that stuff was disgusting and I assure you, I did not find any loopholes to any instant coffee racket.

But… that instant coffee was crazy cheap and it was technically caffeine. So, now that canister is sitting in my desk just waiting to get used because you better believe I will use it up rather than buy any more coffee and let that stuff go to waste. Really, there’s nothing wrong with it except for being nasty and today that’s not a good enough reason to let something “good” go to waste.

Back in Month 2 of the Spending Fast I had some gross canned goods I had to work my way through and I did it so you better believe that instant coffee will get used up too.


Is there anything that you’ve “suffered” through consuming to avoid buying something else new? Have you found a way to make cheap instant coffee bearable? 


in Do Without, Make Do & Mend
Cause You Can
Author: Anna Newell Jones

“Just cause you can buy it doesn’t mean you should.”

I used to do this all the time. I’d walk into a store and spend money that I had and I would spend money I DIDN’T have. It was almost like JUST because I walked into the store I bought something. Like what!?! Only once I started the Spending Fast did I realize I did that. Just on auto-buy mode. I like not having to do that anymore.



in De-Clutter, Do Without, Motivation, Spending Fast, Staying Out of Debt, Take Action!
Gettin’ Guesty with Scott Forbes
Author: Scott Forbes

This weeks contributing writer is Scott Forbes he writes the blog After Hours Denver and in his essay below he writes about the power of compound interest!

Please help me welcome Scott!

image courtesy of scott forbes


There are two financial concepts that just about everyone can understand and has mastered at one level or another. Those concepts are:

  1. Earn money
  2. Spend money

We all need to earn money. We can earn a lot or a little, depending on what we do, for whom we do it, and when we do it. Originating and selling sub-prime mortgages for Quick Loan Funding six years ago could net you enough to line your cat’s litter box with $50 bills while enjoy nightly dinners at The Palm, shopping junkets to Rodeo Drive, and a different Ferrari for every day of the week. Doing that job today wouldn’t put enough money into your pocket for a package of Raman Noodles, a torn t-shirt, or a bus pass. The job no longer exists.

The economy changes, but our basic need to earn money so that we can spend on our needs and wants, doesn’t. Mastering the concepts of earning and spending money will not help you save or even stay out of debt. Many behavioral finance experts postulate that people are largely predisposed to spend whatever they earn. If $1,000 comes in per month, $1,000 will go out. If $100,000 comes in every month, that much will go out. And often more. Point being, everyone knows how to spend and earning just feeds that ability to different degrees.

If you really want to reach the goal of saving money and watching your savings grow, the two financial concepts you really need to know are:

  1. Opportunity costs
  2. Compound interest

A couple hours before I graduated from college in 1987 I purchased a bottle of Screaming Cranium champagne and hid it under my gown. The people with whom I’d be sitting at graduation all thought it would be great if the first “pop” came from our section. When I shot the cork up into the air I got one swig before my fellow graduates grabbed it and went on to cannonball the remains. I remember being happy about graduating, but upset that the last $12 I had to my name had gone toward a single gulp of champagne. Given its brand name, it’s probably good that I didn’t get a second.

What I gave up to get that champagne was more than just the $12 I’d had in my pocket, however. I’d given up the opportunity to let that $12 acquire something much more significant for me and for my future. If I had not turned that $12 over to a stinky liquor store clerk with bad breath in upstate New York—and instead used it to buy a couple shares of Procter & Gamble stock at $6/share—that money would be worth well more than $2,000 today.

The secret is compound interest—proclaimed by Albert Einstein as the “most powerful force in the universe.” In its simplest, easiest-to-understand form, compound interest is money that earns money. If you have a savings account you are taking advantage of the most powerful force in the universe, though in its least powerful form. No one gets rich via savings accounts, not even banks. If you have a balance on your Visa card that you roll over from month-to-month, you’re a victim of the most powerful force in the universe. You’re also funding a lot of corporate bonds and helping make other people rich with your money, but that’s another subject for another time.

Compound interest, as well as four stock splits and a present per-share price that’s hovering around $67, is what would make that $12 I spent on Screaming Cranium in 1987 worth so much more today.

Anna’s blog, as well as other sites, encourage people to save by foregoing little things like the daily $7 Mocha Thunderclap Triple Latté at the local designer coffee shop. Or brown-bagging a lunch instead of going out every day and spending $8 on burgers and fries. There’s a lot of wisdom in such advice, but it all goes for naught if you transfer that savings by turning it into spending money for the evening or the weekend.

Think about the opportunity costs of those cups of hot, brown water. If you save it you can soon have a nice stash of “rainy day” money in your account. If you invest in something that’s performed like P&G over the past 24 years, you can have a lot more. Come to think of it, Starbucks stock’s done pretty well…


Scott Forbes •THANK YOU• for being a part of And Then We Saved! 

If you have something to say on a topic related to personal finance or getting out of debt send me an email at: to be considered as a Gettin’ Guesty columnist. xo Anna


in Goals, Guest Interviews, Investing
  • 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!!

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