Gettin’ Guesty with My Mom
Author: Carol Newell

Today we have a very special guest for Gettin’ Guesty!

It’s my mom! Her name is Carol Newell and she has been an avid recycler and re-user for almost as long as I remember. She’s got some solid techniques for making the most of what she’s got which in turn equals some major savings. She has been washing out and re-using plastic baggies, re-using aluminum foil and composting long before it “caught on”. In addition to being an environmental advocate she’s got a heart made of solid chocolate (and gold) and she’s got just enough stubbornness to make her interesting.

I’m so glad she was willing to answer some questions for me about her environmentally-friendly ways. After reading her responses I’m thinking the frugal apple didn’t fall far from the frugal tree… just took a little longer for this apple to ripen after the rot.

Please welcome my mom!

(p.s. She’d love to answer any questions you might have for her. Just leave her a comment below.)

And Then We Saved: How long have you been been into recycling?

Carol Newell: When Anna was in 7th grade she learned about recycling at school. She told me about it and initially I poo-pooed the idea but eventually joined in. I still recycle and Anna is in her thirties so, that makes it about 20 years.

ATWS: How has recycling changed since you 1st started? 

CN: The potential as to what CAN be recycled has broadened quite a bit. It seems to depend a lot on where you live and what has been made available. Also, there are more products made from recycled materials and the cost of those products are not as high as they use to be.

ATWS: How time-consuming is the recycling process for you and what all does it entail?

CN: It would be hard to break down the amount of time I spend recycling. By now, it’s completely integrated into my home and work life so it’s a faster process than it used to be.

ATWS: Of the items you consume weekly what would you say is the percentage of those items that you either recycle or re-use?

CN: I’d say I recycle about 85% of what I use.

ATWS: Do you think your recycling efforts have helped you to consume less or do you consume the same amount as you did in the past and just recycle more? 

CN: My efforts have prompted me to consume less in some regards. I may pass up something I want because it’s plastic and also packaged in plastic. So, sometimes I’ll talk myself out of a purchase for environmental reasons. I consider the materials used to make the product, the packaging materials, the cost, the need, the want.

ATWS: What could your city do to help the recycling and ecological effort?

CN: I think our city does well. There are avenues for unloading batteries, old paint and home chemicals and there are also stores that carry re-usable home renovation materials.

ATWS: How many trips do you make to the recycling bins per month?

CN: My husband and I pay monthly to have our recyclables picked up once a week. We have a large plastic (yikes! hopefully it’s made from recyclable materials!) container that we put out weekly. They recycle just about everything.  We pay $9.00 a month for the service. They don’t recycle glass so I set glass containers aside until I have enough to make it worth my time to stop at a community recycle spot on the way to or from some other destination. I try not to make separate trips to the recycle bins.

ATWS: What items do you re-use the most that most people would throw away?

CN: Probably plastic bags.  I don’t save and re-use plasic ziploc bags that have had meat products in them and when they wear out they go.

ATWS: What are your feelings on people, neighborhoods, cities that don’t support the recycling effort?

CN: It bugs me.

ATWS: What do you say to the people who state that recycling doesn’t really have an impact on the environment? Do you think they are full of bologna?

 CN: I don’t know what to say to this. I just believe it does have an impact.  I think we can make others aware of careless waste by OUR choices and by what we say and do.

ATWS: What would you like to see happen culturally to support our environment and the recycling/re-using movement? 

CN: I would like to see big organizations like McDonalds become more environmentally considerate. They serve so many people so much food all over the world everyday.  I ordered a $1.00 tortilla-type sandwich this year and was appalled that it was put in a plastic snap-lock covering (I guess to keep it hot?). I say, pull it from the oven/whatever and wrap it in a paper wrap. It got me thinking about how many people might be eating that same food daily and the environmental waste that went with it. That sandwich was not worth the environmental cost it created.

ATWS: Do you ever get sick of recycling and want to just throw everything away? Do you ever just throw things away when people aren’t looking?

CN: Of course I throw things away.  I’ll throw junk away that I think no one has any use for.  You might be surprised what can be recycled though.  One day I thought, what the heck I’ll call ’em and ask.  I called our recycle company and asked if they would recycle my daughter’s old barbie dolls with chopped hairdos.  The lady on the other end said sure, throw ’em in! No, I haven’t gone off the deep-end and abandoned recycling!

ATWS: When you see people throw away something that could be recycled what goes through your mind? 

CN: When I see items on the curb waiting for the garbage pick-up I think someone might be able to use that.  I mean usable, decent-condition, not filthy items.  Some thrift stores will come pick up the items for you.  All it’d take is a call and someone else may benefit from what you no longer use.  A free sign on your lawn next to what you don’t want is an alternative too.

Mom aka Carol Newell •THANK YOU• for being a part of And Then We Saved! 

If you would like to be considered as a Contributor for Gettin’ Guesty send me an email at:


in Environment, Family, Friends, & Relationships, Guest Interviews
Confessions of A Mooch
Author: Anna Newell Jones

photograph by miles aldridge

One word I would be okay with never hearing again would be the word Mooch. Being a Mooch isn’t something I ever set out to do- or be- but the word attached itself to me once I started doing my year-long Spending Fast the subsequent Spending Diet and began living my newly and drastically frugal life.

Whether I wanted to admit it or not (and whether I liked it or not) I found that money interjected itself into just about every relationship I have.

When I started my Spending Fast in 2010 my goal was to eliminate my $23k-ish in debt. I naively thought that my goal would not affect my relationships with others. My reasoning was that since I was the only one doing the Spending Fast and since I didn’t share a bank account with anyone (not even my husband) that I would do my financial thing and they would do theirs. Same as always, right?  I’m sure you can tell where this is headed and I’m sure you can see that what I’m going to say is “I was completely wrong” and I was.

Announcing my plan to eliminate all my “non-need” spending elicited VERY strong feelings from those closest to me. While out and about my friends would empathetically say “I’ll get it”. They felt sorry for me and I would have to reassure them that I chose to do this. I reminded them that I WANTED to do whatever I had to do to get rid of my oppressive debt and even though I would still participate in the most free way possible I knew that the dynamic of the room had changed, at least for the moment, and I only hoped that the strain on my friendships wouldn’t be long-lasting.

Doing without my frivolous spending meant I had to get creative about ways to be with others without being in “money-spending situations” and I had to find ways to be okay with not spending money even if I was surrounded by spending. I had to stand strong and hope that even though I was going through a lot of awkward social situations that it would pay off at the end. I didn’t want to be the person who “could never do anything fun”. I wanted to do the same things I did pre-Spending Fast but without the spending money part. It was as difficult as it sounds. I was happy to discover that as I got more used to my new frugal way of life so did my friends and family. Once the getting-going-beginner-glitches got sorted out things the Spending Fast got increasing easier.

While I insisted on not accepting money or things from friends my view on accepting things from my family was the exact opposite. They bore the brunt of any mooching my friends didn’t. The person who got the bulk of my mooching was my husband Aaron. He says that I mastered the “non-verbal” mooch which includes: a long face and sad eyes. He says I also expertly perfected the “subtle mooch” which was well, subtle, I hoped.

Here are some mooching examples from my husband:

  • Upon a suggestion of doing something Anna would say “your treat!?” It was not so much a question as it was a statement.
  • She would say “you fly, you buy!?” 
  • Sometimes Anna’s mooching would have a purposeful aloofness to it. Here’s an example: I would ask if she wanted to go see a movie and she would pretend not to be interested in it. She would say, “I don’t want to see that movie. I’ll go, but you have to pay because I don’t want to pay for a movie I’m not into.” She’d do the restaurant version of that too. Saying: “I don’t want eat there but I’ll go if you pay.”
  •  Other times we’d be at a clothing store and she would admire an item and say “I’ll LET you buy it for me”. Gosh, thanks.
  •  Anna would also do the classic extremely-slow-wallet-pull-out so she’d hopefully get me to cover the bill. It worked, sometimes.

Despite my natural inclinations to mooch from my husband I eventually settled down with it after the first couple of weeks of the Spending Fast for the sake of our relationship. Saddling him with spanking new mountains of debt while I hopefully had none at the end of my Spending Fast was definitely not part of the plan.

I guess I’m a Selective Mooch and not so much of a General Mooch. Either way, I’m getting better and better at balancing my sometimes shamelessly-frugal-money-saving-techniques with my desire to keep my relationships intact and learning how to remove mooching in all of it’s forms.

How do you feel about the M word – Mooching? Have you ever mooched? Has anyone ever mooched off of you? Is is REALLY all THAT bad? What are the boundaries? Would love to hear your thoughts! 


Here’s another post about The Social Side of the Spending Fast that you might like.


in Mooching, Personal, Social, Spending Fast
We Have A Winner! (CLOSED)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Congratulations to Kim! You won the Seahag and Walrus Giveaway! I’ll send you an email about how to claim your prize. Thank you all for playing!


in Giveaway
We Can
Author: Anna Newell Jones

via barn owl primitives

Hard things are hard.

Getting out of debt is hard.

Staying out of debt is hard.

Not getting into debt in the first place is hard.

We can make it though!

We can get out of debt!

We can stay out of debt!

And we can not get into debt in the first place!

It can be done!

We can do it!


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt
A Giveaway with Seahag and Walrus! (CLOSED)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Setting out a towel in the park and laying in the grass is one of my most favorite free things to do in the summer. So you can imagine how excited I am that Jenny from Seahag and Walrus is giving one lucky reader a Lush Green Grass Ring! (That’s so nice of her!)

The winner will get to choose between the gun-metal or shiny silver version. All you gotta do is visit her shop and then leave a comment below saying what your favorite free Summer activity is.

Easy, Easy, Easy!

Then on Monday at 7pm (US Mountain time) a random winner will be selected and then the winner will be announced on Tuesday!

Yay for Summer!


in Giveaway
Gettin’ Guesty with Manna From Brooklyn
Author: Rebecca Roberts

I don’t remember when I first came across today’s Gettin’ Guesty Contributor I just remember being smitten from the start.

Today’s guest is Rebecca Roberts from the blog Manna From Brooklyn. I invited Rebecca to be a guest because of the way she sees the world. She notices the little things that many of us would pass by. What she sees and how she sees it doesn’t cost a thing. Her blog posts are kind of cryptic and almost always hilarious. She finds treasures on the streets of New York City and I feel like I found a treasure when I found her. I almost deleted that last sentence once I realized how cheesy it sounds but decided to stick with it. You’ll probably be writing love poems to Rebecca too once you see what I’m talking about!

Please help me welcome Rebecca!

via manna from brooklyn

And Then We Saved: What is the name of your site/blog? Are you on twitter or anything other places online?

Manna From Brooklyn: Manna from Brooklyn. No, my blog is pretty much its own thing—no store, no Twitter, no Facebook.

ATWS: What does the name of your blog mean?

MFB: Manna is the mysterious food from heaven the Jews found lying on the ground as they wandered starving in the desert after the exodus from Egypt, back in ye bible days, and Brooklyn is where I have lived for the last five years. My idea for my blog was that it would document the many random/awesome/mysterious things I find on the street here—“manna” from Brooklyn.

ATWS: How long have you been blogging?

MRB: About two and a half years.

ATWS: You are very mysterious blogger (no pics of you on your site and no “about me” section and no contact section. Most bloggers have their face all over the place;)- do you do this on purpose? If so, why?

MFB: Hm, I have never really thought about it. Regarding “about me,” in the beginning I had a link to my Blogger profile, but it didn’t really add anything, so I removed it. I like to have things looking clean. And it seems to me that the content should be able to stand on its own. A blog’s a discrete work of art; everything you need to know should be contained within it, I think—like a novel.

The blog shows how I see the world, and even if I look in a mirror like 70 times a day, most of the time I am looking away from myself—at Greg (her significant other), my new shoes, my work, the sidewalk, books, my dinner, or whatever. So there are some pictures of me on it, but not a lot. Also, with pictures of yourself it is tempting to try to make everything look perfect . . . and that’s a vanity road I don’t even want to start down—I got enough problems!

ATWS: I’m curious about you and your blog probably partly because of the mysteriousness…your pictures and captions are thoughtful, intuitive and humorous. What is your background? Do you have an artistic background? 

MFB: I’m glad you think the posts are funny—I didn’t realize I was funny until I started writing them. I went to art school and I have also always been a really big reader, and now I work as a book and ephemera editor in an art museum. Greg and a lot of my friends are artists and/or work in the arts. I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in eastern Canada, and I went to art school there. I got a masters degree in Toronto, then moved to New York for work in 2006.

(below is an example of one of her posts)

images courtesy of manna from brooklyn

ATWS: You post pictures of things that most people would pass on by and you seem to appreciate them and not only do you appreciate them you have a sense of humor about them too. Have you always appreciated the “little things”? Do you always keep a camera with you at all times?

MFB: One of my elementary school teachers told my mom that at recess I used to go off by myself and play with a stick. I think this pretty much sums up my relationship with the world—though I didn’t realize that socially awkward misanthropic anthropomorphism could be a positive personality attribute until I started my blog. I’m always picking little things up off the ground—pine cones, acorns, pennies, dimes, shells, marbles, pebbles . . . I’ll also read just about anything: weird old paperbacks, ephemera from 50 years ago, random commercial pamphlets, waterlogged kids’ books found on the street, religious tracts . . . I just think the world is an amazing place!

I generally always carry my camera. I didn’t do this before I moved to New York, but since then it’s become a real habit. I’m not a very good photographer but I like taking pictures of stuff quite a bit.

ATWS: What catches your eye when you are out and about?

 MFB: First and foremost: cats! Obviously. Followed by money on the ground, books of any kind—especially in free boxes or in the trash—treasures disguised as garbage, garbage disguised as treasure, plain old garbage, random weirdos and weird things. Words. Birds. Discarded lumber. Food on the ground. Anything hand knitted or crocheted. Clothes, shoes, and hair. Trees, flowers. Cactuses are a new but passionate interest.

ATWS: Do you keep everything you photograph or do you leave the items? Or do you take the items and then give them away?

MFB: A lot of times I’ll take a picture of something I don’t want to take home with me (or that I can’t take home with me) because it’s amazing. But if I see something awesome that I want to (and can) take home, I will definitely take a picture of it in its situation if I can, or when I get it home, so I can post it. If I take something home but then I don’t want it for whatever reason (eg, Greg points out that it is in fact really ugly and/or broken and/or useless), I’ll give it away or sell it or put it back out on the street. Sometimes I’ll see something that I know someone else will want and I’ll grab it for them.

ATWS: What is the greatest treasure you have found on the streets of NY? And what is the strangest thing you have found?

MFB: I think overall this* is my favorite thing I ever found. In that it is rare and I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH. Click Here. I have found some valuable things—especially designer clothes, first-edition books, designer chairs, and the like. Also things I now use literally every day: pots and pans, dishes, our easy chair, our end tables, one of our chef’s knives, clothing, makeup (um . . . yes), the sneakers I wore yesterday, my reading lamp . . .

And there are some WEEEEIRD things out there in the world, man. Most of the funniest/weirdest things I have seen aren’t objects but rather people and situations. I think this* remains a fave for many reasons: Click Here And this* is just frickin’ strange: Click Here.

ATWS: Is there anything you passed up that you wish you would have taken? Is there anything you didn’t photograph that you wish you would’ve?

MFB: This* is a little thing but I still really want it!! I should have taken it. Click Here. I recently got a lot of flack for not grabbing this* when I had the chance (who knew?) Click Here. And this* is one fine piece-a wood. I still look at the picture and sigh from time to time. Click Here. But generally I try to have no regrets.

ATWS: Since this is a blog all about living frugally and getting out of debt do you have any money saving/frugal living tricks/tips for living in NY?

MFB: The main one is, don’t live in New York. Other than that I suggest living next to the highway, cutting your own hair, and picking up any money you see lying on the ground. And contributing to your 401K/RRSP if your employer offers matching contributions, o’ course.

ATWS: What are you favorite forms of free/low cost entertainment?

MFB: Hm . . . reading books found on the street, drinking coffee on a bench in the park with my sweetheart, working, putting things in my “shopping basket” but then not buying them, watching TV shows on Netflix, selling things on the internet, crocheting things then un-crocheting them then crocheting them again, ditto with knitting, cooking, g-chatting, blogging about garbage.

ATWS: Anything you’d like to say that you haven’t been asked? 

MFB: I think not. Thank YOU! This was super fun.

this is one of the 1st pictures i’ve seen of rebecca. image courtesy of rebecca roberts

Rebecca Roberts ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then We Saved!

If you would like to be considered as a Contributor for Gettin’ Guesty send me an email at:


in Guest Interviews, Motivation, Social
Featured on BlogHer!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Major WHOA!

I’ve been selected as a featured blogger over at BlogHer! If you’re not familair with BlogHer is a women’s blogging community. It’s so great!

E X C I T I N G!


in Press & Interviews
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    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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