December + January’s Collective Savings Totals!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

andthenwesaved spending fast collective savings

It’s that time of the month where we get to see how all the hard work we’ve been doing with the Spending Fast and Spending Diets have been paying off! Today, I’ve got both December and January’s Collective Savings amounts!

In December we saved $19,547.95!

In January we saved $22,087.81!

That brings our Collective Savings total to $952,779.11! Um. That’s amazing! Almost a million dollars paid off/saved because of doing Spending Fast/Spending Diet!??! SO AMAZING.

Not sure what I’m talking about with this “collective savings” talk? Welllllll… if you have been thinking about getting out of debt but haven’t taken the leap yet why not do it today? Here’s the link to the Get Out of Debt Pledge. You can change your life by getting the heck out of debt ASAP then get on with your life. Finally getting out of debt is THE BEST gift you could ever give to yourself, and having the weight of the debt lifted is one of the most incredible feelings ever. You can absolutely have a debt free life too! Then, after you’ve saved/paid off some money even if it’s just $1 be sure to go to our Collective Savings page. There you can log your savings and have your hard work added in with everyone else’s!


in Savings Total
Budgeting: Is There an App for That?
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Budgeting - Is There an App for That |

Hey Anna,

I first discovered your blog years ago, and after feeling overwhelmed by the need to do a better job of saving for the future, I’ve circled back around. Anyways, I was wondering if you or any of your readers had any suggestions for mobile phone apps to track spending on wants for the Spending Diet. It seems most apps I’m finding are more about an overall budget and tracking ALL THE THINGS, when I would love a simple way to have a quick look at just wants spending for the month. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!

Anything to make budgeting easier!

Need Help Tracking My Wants




Read More »


in Hey Anna (Reader Questions)
September’s Collective Savings are In!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

andthenwesaved collective savings

September’s Collective Savings totals are in! In September we saved $31,652.91! That brings our Collective Savings to a whopping $868,008.21!! SO impressive!!

If you have been thinking about getting out of debt but just haven’t taken the leap yet why not do it today? Here’s the link to the Get Out of Debt Pledge. Why not change your life by getting the heck out of debt already? Finally getting out of debt is THE BEST gift you could ever give to yourself, and having the weight of the debt lifted is one of the most incredible feelings ever. You can absolutely have a debt free life too!


in Savings, Savings Total
The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment – Final Update!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

prepaid grocery budget experiment visa

For the last two months, I’ve been writing about our prepaid card grocery budget experiment in an attempt to get our ever increasingly out of control grocery budget under control.  (See post 1 and post 2.) We’ve been doing the experiment for two months now, and today, I have the final update for you on how things have been going and my final thoughts on the card.

 As I mentioned in the first post, we partnered with the Visa Clear Prepaid Program and the Prepaid Visa® RushCard and quickly learned of the program’s standards for clearly communicated fees and great consumer protections.  The RushCard meets those standards and it’s accepted everywhere Visa Debit is accepted.


Let’s get started on the final thoughts…

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in Sponsored
August’s Collective Savings!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

andthenwesaved collective savings

Drumroll please… August’s Collective Savings totals are in! For August we saved/paid off $28,350.19! That brings our total to: $836,355.30!

August’s savings were quite a bit lower that previous months savings and I’m guessing that has to do with summer vacations and a lot more activities and social events happening. Or…  maybe people just forgot to add their amounts to the page.;) Either way, we’ve got another month ahead of us to buckle down and get some debt paid off!

If you’re new to the site and have no idea what in the world I’m talking about, lemme fill you in. Every month we all add what we’ve saved/paid off to the Collective Savings page and then at the end of the month we get to see how much everyone’s saved, collectively. It’s a fun way to stay motivated and know that you’re not the only one out there on a mission to end your debt, because, lordy, I know it can feel that way at times!

Be sure to add your savings so we can include your accomplishments to next months total. – Anna


in Paying Off Debt, Savings Total
The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment – Update!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

prepaid grocery card experiment update

Last month, I wrote about how we were going to start a prepaid card grocery budget experiment in an attempt to get our ever increasingly out of control grocery budget under control. We’ve been doing the experiment for a month now, and today, I have an update for you on how things have been going.

As I mentioned in the first post we decided to use the Prepaid Visa® RushCard because of its clear fee structure and we can use it everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

At the beginning of the month I transferred the designated grocery budget amount onto the card online. That amount was $250. The one-time $3.95 fee for the cost of the physical card was deducted from our balance along with the $7.95 for the monthly fee of using the card (the fee would be $5.95 if we were directly depositing our paycheck…). That meant our starting budget went from $250 to $238.10.

Let’s talk about some of the PROS and CONS that we’ve encountered so far with using this system.

Read More »


in Sponsored
9 Spending Fast Mantras to Live By – Sign Up to Get Yours!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

You’ve decided to commit to a Spending Fast. Awesome!

It’s a great feeling to knock out debt and build up your savings.

But it’s not such a great feeling to overcome buyer’s remorse when you find that you’ve bought yet ANOTHER thing that you just had to have, only to realize you didn’t really need it.

So how do you stay on track with your Spending Fast when you’re tempted to “fall off the wagon” and when life’s temptations creep up on you and start whispering those familiar sweet nothings into your ear? Read More »


in Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Giveaway, Motivation, Savings, Spending Fast
Our Collective Savings for June
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Our Collective Savings |

This post is a wee bit past due (anyone else’s summer just CRAZY?!) June’s Collective Savings were incredible! Together, in ONE MONTH, we’ve saved/paid off ANOTHER $61,901.84. Whaaattt…

This brings our Collective Savings to a WHOPPING $755,351.70! Do you know what this means? Together we have saved/paid off OVER 3/4 of 1 MILLION DOLLARS in ONLY half a year!

Completely mind boggling!

I’m blown away watching our numbers add up! And I’m totally in awe of our incredible group!

Join us by taking the Get Out of Debt Pledge and then add your savings so your hard work can be added to July’s total!


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Savings Total, Spending Fast
Deciding on a Spending Fast “Saving” Strategy
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Pay Down Debt or Build Up Savings? |

Hey, Anna!

I recently started the spending fast and have a quick question: Dave Ramsey suggests putting aside $1,000 in savings at the beginning. Do you also recommend this? I don’t really have any savings, so this might be a good idea.


Savings vs. Debt Dilemma


Dear Savings vs. Debt Dilemma,

Read More »


in Hey Anna (Reader Questions), How To, Money, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast
The Life and Times of a Sub-Par Perfectionist (Part 2) – Using Affirmations to Change Your Life
Author: Anna Newell Jones

am i perfect yet

The other day in this post: Real Talk: If Only Perfection Could be Bought on Amazon (Part 1), I talked about how I’m always on the hunt for something to make my life easier and better. I want it to be something I can buy on Amazon and have mailed right to me. Easy, right? With just a couple clicks, and after a zillion dollars spent, I’d be totally perfect!

I came to the conclusion that I needed to be easier on myself, and I realized that I’ve been waaaaay over-committing. The past few days I’ve been going through every part of my life. It seems the technology part has really gotten out of control so I’ve been unsubscribing and cancelling things. It’s so easy to forget about the mental clutter that “little”, seemingly insignificant things take up. Physical clutter is easier to spot. I worked really, really hard to get out of debt, and the whole reason I wanted to get out of debt was to have be able to have freedom and some choices, not to be even more stressed out!

In addition to adopting a Minimalist Mind I’m taking action (in the corniest way possible. I’ll be the first to admit this whole “affirmation” thing feels corny as all hell). You may have noticed a LONNNNNNNNG delay from Part 1 of this post to today’s Part 2. I knew that if I put this post up I’d have to start doing these affirmations. I’ve been avoiding this but, today’s the day.

Instead of buying to zone out and make myself feel better I’m going to do some work, internally. Below are a whole bunch of affirmations. Most are ones I’ve completely made up. Those represent my ideal life or situation. With others, they’re true but I find myself forgetting about them. Others are more of a wishful thinking situation… almost like, if I believe it to be true, it will be, type of thing.

From the research I’ve done, the key with affirmations is to try to truly believe what you are telling yourself. Act as if it’s true. Feel what it would feel like if it were true. Let your face and body experience what you’re saying as if, “Of course, there could be nothing more true in the world!”. Fake it till you make it, right? It’s not about simply repeating a list super quick, and breezing through it just to check it off your To Do list. Also, saying some of the confirmation’s there’s a tendency to want to tell yourself things like, “Uh, yeah right!”, “Pshaw!, hardly…”, or, “That’ll never happen!” Apparently, you’ve got to just go with it. Believe it.

The key, so I hear, is to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself these things. I’ve also heard that if you want to “super-charge” your self-esteem, confidence, and really change your internal thoughts about yourself you should say these to yourself as often as 3x a day. Or, in the alternative, you can take what is called the “lazy-man’s” method for changing your life. This approach is when you record the affirmations, put the recording on a loop, and place the speaker under your pillow so all the positiveness seeps into your sub-conscious while you sleep.

Pick a few from the list that truly resonate with you. Pick ones that represent your ideal life. Or, use the below examples as a guide to create affirmations that truly mean something to you.

I’m going to pick 5 of the most vital ones to start with and see how that goes. Also, I hear it can take up to 6 months to feel different so hang in there if you don’t notice massive changes right away.

I’ve included a printable PDF of both of these lists. The link to that is at the bottom of this post. 

Alright, today’s the day.




in Minimalism, Personal, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!, Things To Do
February’s Collective Savings Totals are In!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

spending fast and spending diet collective savings

For the month of February we all saved a total of $58,182.48!! That is a hell of a lot of debt to pay off! The amounts you all are saving, this is concrete evidence that the Spending Fast and Spending Diet work!

We have now collectively saved a total of $379, 597.37!!!! 

To add to the Collective Savings total be sure to include your savings on this page so your savings can be included for March!

You all are doing so amazing knocking that debt out. With every penny that gets paid off it gets you that much closer to a new life. You can do this! If you want to get out of debt too take The Get Out of Debt Pledge and get started today. Might as well change your life on this fine Thursday, right?

 (If you’ve sent me an email your savings have been included in the savings total, by the way.)


How has it been going for you so far this month? What successes, obstacles and challenges have you encountered?


in Savings Total, Spending Diet, Spending Fast
Leaving the Past Behind
Author: Anna Newell Jones

i've decided to put the past behind me

Saw this on Instagram the other day (from user @f*ckjerry), and it had me cracking up. Had to share.


in Just For Fun
64 Insanely Easy Ways to Save Money Around the House
Author: Anna Newell Jones

64 ways to save money around the house

There are people that will always say “there’s just no money to save!” (I know because I used to be one of those people!). Luckily, there are actually A TON of ways to get some cash back into your pockets by doing a few simple things around the house. We all know there is no better time than right now to start saving more money!

I’ve compiled a massive list for you, and I’d love to hear what you do to save money around the house. Let me know in the comments, and tell me if I missed anything! I always love hearing what you all do to save because y’all are always coming up with clever ways to save money that just blow my mind.


64 Ways to Save Money Around the House…

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in How To, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Things To Do
BLOG Anniversary Feeeeeelings + A Giveaway! (CLOSED)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

don't give up

If you can believe it (I can’t!) this blog started 5 years ago on 12/29/09! I started it just as a way to keep me on track while I attempted my year-long Spending Fast to try to get rid of my 6k in credit card debt (a task that I thought was insurmountable, btw). I never, EVER would have guessed that not only would I be able to absolutely CRUSH that $6,000 in debt but that just 15 months after I started the Spending Fast that I’d be completely debt-free (my mind is still constantly blown that it happened so fast!). And, who would’ve guessed that I’d still be typing away on And Then We Saved a whole 5 years later…!?!? (Not me, for sure.)

There are so many cool things I’ve got in the works for 2015 that I can’t wait to share with you. The main thing that I’ve been working on is my book that will be all about How to Do a Spending Fast! Writing it has been such a crazy experience: fun, tedious, rewarding, sometimes absolutely overwhelming but mostly completely fulfilling. Throughout the whole process, before I start writing, I’ve read this little yellow sticky note that’s taped to my computer screen. It says, “Please guide my words as I write so this book so it can be a channel to help the most people change their lives.” That’s the goal: make the book the vehicle for the Get-Out-of-Debt-as-Quick-as-Humanely-Possible-So- You-Can-Get-On-with-Your-Life-Already message! That’s the goal I hope to accomplish with the book. I absolutely cannot wait for you to read it, and have a tangible, complete and comprehensive Spending Fast guide right at your finger-tips! The book will be published in January 2016, and I’ll keep you posted about its status as I learn more throughout this upcoming year up to (and beyond) it’s release date.


A few other things I’ve got in the works:

– Developing an e-course (! can’t wait to share it with you! I think you’re going to love it!)

– Structuring a coaching program to help readers who need (or just want) more individualized attention and assistance through the Spending Fast or Spending Diet.

– Monthly updates about the TOTAL AMOUNT of debt our community has paid off or saved as a result of the Spending Fast or Spending Diet (I’m SO excited to share the current debt pay-off total with you. It’s unbelievably inspiring how much debt we’ve all paid off and put into savings so far!).

– Developing a few tangible items to help remind you of your goals every day!


Everything changed when I gave up, stopped fighting against my debt, and faced my excessive overspending. I put my hands up and succumbed (succumb?) to the reality of my reality. As soon as I realized that everything I had been trying to do to get out debt was failing miserably, and once I came clean with my friends and family about being straight up broke, and overwhelmed THAT’S when the real changes starting happening. When I gave up, when I let go, that’s when I got my power back. To gain power by giving up? Trust me, the irony is not lost on me.

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in Giveaway, Paying Off Debt, Personal, The Book! (Spender's Guide to Debt Free Living)
“I Can Do Hard Things” – Spending Fast Update
Author: Kelly Newell

i can do hard things

My twin sis, Kelly, has her Spending Fast update for you below. I think she’s doing so awesome with it, and I’m extremely proud of her! If you’ve thought about doing a Spending Fast before why don’t you make 2015 the year you do it? It’s time to get out of debt once and for all, and get on with living the life you’re meant to live! You can do this! – Anna


I’ve messed up a lot since my last post, mostly with eating out. I knew that would be a trouble area for me going into the Spending Fast, and I was right. But, overall, the Spending Fast has not been as hard as I thought it was going to be, and I’m making progress faster than I thought I would. Anna mentioned this before, and I’ve found it to be true too. It’s starting to get fun to NOT spend money. It’s like a game or a challenge to see how much throughout the month, and I like seeing how much MORE I can save.

Even though I haven’t conquered the Eating Out beast yet, I am starting to really SEE how much it’s been costing me and it’s kind of disgusting. Delivery is such a supreme waste of money. I’ve realized that a typical lunch out costs me approximately $10. Before the Spending Fast, I didn’t realize that I can get SO MANY groceries for that amount! Since I made that realization, every time I’ve eaten out it just feels bad and so wasteful. Time and time again, I’m seeing that when I end up eating out it is ALWAYS because I just didn’t plan ahead. It’s like, why am I surprised that I need to feed myself a few times throughout the day? Whatever. I just have to be gentle with myself. This is a completely different way to deal with money so it’s not going to change overnight. And I am getting better at it.

I mentioned in a previous post that I needed a haircut and the plan was that I was going to use a gift card that I had. Well, the gift card ended up being MIA so I cut my own hair using Anna’s How to Cut Your Own Hair tutorial. I used craft scissors (because that’s what I had handy), and I really like how it turned out! It’s actually closer to what I wanted for my last hair cut than what the stylist gave me. It turned out well but then I got a little over-confident towards the end and decided to cut in a few “face-framing” layers and messed up a little but when it’s tousled in its Alexa Chung way nobody is the wiser.

Realizing how easy it is to cut my own hair it makes me wonder why the hell have I been spending $150 for a cut and color all these years…?!!? I know that a good cut can do amazing things, especially on short hair, but for me, with my longish hair, I think that after this Spending Fast I’d be willing to get my hair done professionally once, maybe, twice a year, and then in between cuts I’ll just trim it myself, as needed. Also box color works fine to cover my roots and it turns out that my highlights still show through which I didn’t expect so hey, bonus on that too!

Read More »


in Paying Off Debt, Seasonal, Societal Pressures, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
8 Easy, Inexpensive Holiday Crafts to Keep the Kids Busy!
Author: Sarah Ann Noel

easy holiday crafts

easy holiday crafts

easy holiday crafts

This is a guest post from the lovely, Sarah Ann Noel. Hope you’re having a great holiday week! – Anna 

When we found out we were moving to NYC, I decided to seriously downgrade and purge most of our belongings. I managed to turn off sentimentalism (which normally runs thick through my blood), and I really did a number on our collection of stuff. Of course, now it’s Christmastime and I’m at my most nostalgic, realizing that sometimes an emotional attachment isn’t so bad! What I left of Christmas knick-knacks seems like sparse decor for even a tiny Brooklyn apartment! So I quickly conjured up what this non-crafty mama could DIY to add some holiday cheer to our place. Below are the decorations that we’ve made for our home, and these also are great inexpensive crafts to make with kids during the loooooong holiday break!


8 Easy, Inexpensive Holiday Crafts (& Decorations) to Keep the Kids Busy…

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one comment

in Kids, Seasonal
70k in Student Loans GONE – How We Did It
Author: Elliot and Alison

the story of how we eliminated 70,000 in student loan debt andthenwesaved.comI’m so impressed with Elliot and Alison, and I am SO INCREDIBLY happy for them! I got a chance to ask to pick their brains about how they did it. Below is the interview. – Anna


The Story of How We Eliminated $70,000 in Student Loan Debt in Only 26 Months…

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in Goals, How To, Motivation, Paying Off Debt
Amazing Free Printable Holiday Gift Tags ✂︎
Author: Anna Newell Jones

free printable holiday tags

free printable gift tags

There are a TON of super talented people who are kind enough to share their gift tag creation skills with us, all for free. All you have to do is print them right onto computer paper (or cardstock is even better – I got a huge package of neutral cardstock on sale that I use all the time for random projects that come up), cut them out, and you’re set.

Above are some of my favorite gift tags that I’ve found this year. They are by Tomfo, and they can be downloaded from their site here: Free Printable Christmas Tags, and DIY Printable Gift Tags on A Pair and A Spare DIY.

Other favorites:


Do you think you’ll make some of these printable gift tags this year? Which ones are your favorites?

one comment

in DIY, Seasonal
Unplanned Circumstances Derail Spending Fast – Jennifer’s Update
Author: Jenn Davis

moving on after a spending fast derailment

Jennifer is a Spending Faster who is sharing the process here. To catch up from the beginning read this post: Introducing a New Spending Faster!. – Anna

Due to a sudden change in roommate status, I was unable to save for my first month of the Spending Fast. My roommate decided to suddenly move out, so I had to unexpectedly cover the month’s bills. I’ll get a new start in this second month. The good news is my dear friend, Tina, has decided to live with me for the next year and a half, giving me the time I need to complete the Spending Fast.

What are some of the good and bad living situations you have encountered?

I’m sure everyone has experienced it in one-way or another. I know I have many times over! But after the Spending Fast, my hope is that it will be the end of roommates.

I’m not counting this month as a total loss, but instead as a month of changing bad habits to achieve my goals. I tackled my worst habit of buying breakfast and coffee from Starbucks EVERYDAY! I am proud of myself for this WIN.  But how did I do such a thing, you ask? It wasn’t easy. I dusted off my old single serve coffee machine and got a killer deal online of T-disc for 50 cents per cup! Who knew I could get so excited over math! Changing everyday decisions like these will help me in the long run, and is why this was my first area of concentration.

This situation is so so so similar to Anna’s breakfast burrito problems. (See: Your Habits are Making You Broke)

The next thing I need to tackle is spending money on social situations. This month I went back through my online bank entries and wrote down every entry that could have been avoided. Between social situations and spur of the moment decisions, I could have avoided spending $112.49. A movie, a pizza delivery, a sushi outing and 3 bar tabs. Those were my weak moments that I need to tackle next and avoid.

I am not perfect and these were my results for the month. Looking at this in writing, and knowing that I could have the amount of $112 as opposed to $0 saved, makes me face this reality and want to do better.

So you can catch me reading Anna’s archives this month under the categories social, societal pressures, and motivation.

Month 1: $0.00 savings


Do you have some bad habits that are affecting your financial situation?

P.S. Follow along with all the Spending Fasters.


in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
The Life Cycle of Shopping
Author: Anna Newell Jones

the shopping life cycle



in Just For Fun, Money
How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent – Under 5¢ Per Load!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

DIY liquid laundry detergent

DIY liquid laundry detergent

On Facebook people kept telling me about a liquid laundry detergent recipe they were seeing on Pinterest, and I decided to give it a try. I’ve experimented with making my own powder laundry detergent in the past so I’m familiar with the general idea of how to make detergent at home but the liquid version always eluded me because for one, I didn’t want to put soap in the big pot that I cook in all the time because I thought it would ruin it, and also because the recipes I was coming across always seemed super intense. So when people told me about this recipe for DIY laundry detergent, I was like, “Okay, now this looks doable”. I gave it a try, and it was easier than I expected.

I wasn’t going to put this recipe on the site if I didn’t work so I decided to test it out on the grossest, dirtiest, narliest thing I could find: my baby’s super-poopy, cloth diapers that had been sitting in the diaper pail for a day or so just marinating into a nasty, smelly poo stew. I figured, if we’re gonna test this recipe, we’re gonna TEST IT.

We always buy the generic, perfume and dye free detergent for all of our clothes, and I have been using a special (read: expensive) cloth diaper detergent for the diapers. I’m happy to report that this laundry detergent recipe worked great, and the diapers came out whiter than I have ever seen them before. Also, they passed the sniff test, and no stinky residue was present. We will now be switching over to this homemade version for both our clothes and the diapers especially since this recipe is INSANELY inexpensive to make, costing just under 5¢ per load. Seriously. (See the full break-down at the end of this post if you’re curious about the numbers.)

(Also, just as a side note, I tested this recipe on our front-loading HE washing machine.)


How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent…

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in DIY, Food, Groceries, & Recipes, How To, Make Do & Mend, Practical Solutions, Simple Living, Things To Do
How to Hold an Online Garage Sale
Author: Anna Newell Jones

how to hold an online garage sale

When Aaron and I did The Minimalist Challenge we got rid of a total of 748 items (!). Following the challenge we did a big ol’ garage sale, and made some money on all the things we were getting rid of. It felt so amazing to clear out all that stuff, and to this day I haven’t missed a single thing that we got rid of!

A whole bunch of people told me about how the garage sale idea was great, and all, but they just didn’t have the right set-up with their home (apartment or condo) or time to do one. Also, with cold weather your options are limited to only holding garage sales at a certain time of the year. I completely understand all these issues because I’ve encountered them, too.

When I found out about this site that basically allows you to hold virtual garage sales, I instantly thought, “Yep. There it is. Perfect.” It’s called, appropriately enough, VarageSale. Get it? Get it? Virtual garage sale! ;) In 2012, it was founded by a woman named Tami when she was on maternity leave. She then worked with her husband to develop the site.


Here’s How You Can Hold Your Very Own Online Garage Sale…


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in Sponsored
“Death Comes Like a Thief in the Night” (& Other Reasons Why I’m Asking Myself if Saving Money is Really Worth It)
Author: Kelly Newell

death comes like a thief in the night is saving money really worth it?

This is a post by my sister, Kelly, who just completed Month 1 of her year-long Spending Fast. – Anna


Life is Short – Is This All Worth It? Why Suffer?

“Death comes like a thief in the night”, I remember my mom telling me when we were little girls. I’ve been feeling really discouraged, and I’ve been asking myself “why?”, a lot lately. A family member died tragically a couple weeks ago. Why did he die? Does any of this even really matter, at all? Why should I bother with this Spending Fast? I’ve been finding myself thinking, “You only live once, and, really, what’s so wrong with having some debt, and some indulgences along the way especially if it’s getting paid off… no matter how slowly? Shouldn’t I be enjoying life?” I don’t have the answers, and I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I DO know that every time I think of the future and of “Future Kelly” debt is not part of the picture. “Be Debt Free” is something that is ALWAYS on my goals lists, so while I did mess up some, and while I have been questioning a lot of life’s biggest questions, I’m not going to throw in the towel on the Spending Fast.

In my last post, I told you how I was able to pay off my personal credit card within the first week of The Fast. Of course, I won’t be having a tax refund every month- dang it:( so my upcoming savings won’t be nearly as big as this first month’s. I’ve also stumbled some, so the kids, and I ate out about 3 times. It was due to poor planning- BUT on the flip side, we ONLY ate out 3 times! My M.O. used to be that I would eat out, or buy something out at least once a day. My 3 children, and I ate dinner at home every night, and it was actually pretty nice.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself, despite the “set backs”. I’m still committed to the Spending Fast until November 5, 2015, so I’ll just keep trudging along.


Small, Day-to-Day Changes

I’ve always considered myself a good Scout. I’m prepared, I stockpile, I have a plan. I’m quitting that this year- no more stockpiling. I’m using travel shampoos that would have stayed buried in my closet, and eventually be thrown away. The changes are small but I’m seeing that they do add up. I ran out of shaving cream so I’ve been using hair conditioner that I don’t really like for my hair as a shaving gel, and it works totally fine. Okay, so this is kinda gross, and may be TMI but I ran out of cotton balls, so I decided to cut up the free huge maxi pads that the hospital gave me from my last child’s birth. I cut them up into strips, and I’ve been using that instead of buying more cotton balls.

We’re eating the things that are in our cabinets before we’re buying more food, and I’m waiting ’til things are actually gone before I write it on the ‘need to pick up at the store’ list. We even ate up the jar of peanut butter that’s not our favorite but it’s been in the cupboard for months. My coffee pot broke the first week of The Fast, and there’s no way I will punish myself with a Year of No Coffee. Thankfully, I found a french press in my house that I NEEDED at some point but never used because it was too much hassle. I’m using it now. Also, I’m keeping the house at 68 degrees when we are home, and 65 degrees when we are not there.

Anna insisted that I should create a Needs/Wants list to help with my money spending decisions so I did that. Here it is…

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in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
Don’t Buy These 3 Things in December
Author: Anna Newell Jones

the 3 things you absolutely should not buy in december

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! We went over to a friend’s house, and everyone was impressed with how the Tofurkey we brought was actually not disgusting. The standard it had to meet was pretty low so it had that going for it. This morning, Henry woke up at 6:30 am like he likes to do, I turned on the news, and I was half-way listening to it while I sat on the floor with him as he pulled out every single book. On the news they were talking about the worst things to buy in December, and my ears perked up like I was dog who had just spotted a squirrel. I was all over that shit.

The 3 things they say you absolutely should not buy in December? A treadmill, a TV, and winter clothing items and gear. The best time to buy those things? In January! With New Year’s Resolution’s fitness stuff is marked down significantly, TV’s are marked down because of The Super Bowl , and winter clothing and gear is greatly reduced because retailers are starting to think about making way for the Spring merchandise.

The more you know, right?


in Practical Solutions
14 Free Ways to Improve Your Life in 15 Minutes (or Less)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

14 free ways to improve your life in 15 minutes or less andthenwesaved.comTell me I’m not the only one who almost always (mostly) feels like, life could be just a hair better than it currently is. I don’t feel that way because I’m not happy with how things are with my life, it’s more of a continual, life improval thing that I’m after. I’ve learned that just by just tweaking a couple different things each day life can feel more organized, more focused, calmer, and just more enjoyable. Luckily, these ideas are free, and they take VERY LITTLE time to do. Most of these ideas can be done in just a few minutes, or at least they can get underway with just a few minutes of attention each day. Watch your life improve, as you incorporate these tips into your life.

Here are 14 free ways to start improving your life in 15 minutes or less…

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in Social, Take Action!, Things To Do
How to Maximize Black Friday – 17 Tips
Author: Anna Newell Jones

17 ways to maximize black friday

Continuing on with my collaboration with Kmart we’re going to talk about a ton of ways to make the most of Black Friday. Black Friday is the Friday that follows Thanksgiving, and it’s also the official start of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday is all about deals, bargains, and sales, and that’s something I can fully get behind because, as you know, saving money is my thing.

I had a chance to ask Heather, someone who has been shopping on Black Friday for the last 7 years, what advice she would give to new Black Friday shoppers. She says, “Be prepared with a list of what you want to get, and stay calm when crazy people are near. Also, go in groups so 1 person can finish shopping while the other stands in line.” She said that the best deal she ever got on Black Friday was on an Xbox, and that “the best deals are usually on electronics but clothes and boots are always cheaper on Black Friday too!”


17 Ways to Make the Most of Black Friday

1. Create Your Gift-Shopping List

I’ve mentioned this before but it’s such an important part of saving money around the holidays that I’ve got to mention it again. Planning ahead is absolutely vital when you’re buying for the holidays. Write out who you’re going to buy for, what you’re going to get them, and be sure to have alternatives in mind in case the item(s) you want are sold out.

2. Decide on a Holiday Shopping Budget

Again, super important. You don’t want to be hating life as you stare at an empty bank account come December 26th. Saving money = good. Spending all the money = not good. We know this.

3. Do Your Research

Know the hours of the Black Friday sale, and when the items you want to buy, in particular are going on sale since some items go on sale at different times then others. Also, do some research online to see if you need to get in line early or if there are likely to be people camping out.

4. Check both online and paper ads

5. Combine the deals you find with coupons to save TONS

Take advantage of all the printable coupons that you can.

6. Look on Social Media

Check out the social media pages to find out about deals that may not be advertised through the traditional methods. Twitter is one of the absolute best places to find out about not as widely known sale info.

7. Make a Plan

If you can, go to the store ahead of time. Ask the sales attendants where the items you want to buy will be at since some of the items might not be in their standard location because of different promotional displays. Then, draw out a quick layout of the store, marking the path you’re going to take the morning of Black Friday.

8. Ask the Sales Attendants for Insider Info

Okay, so while you’re talking with the staff at the store about where the items will be on Black Friday also ask them if they know about any unadvertised deals. This is the thing, the staff gets info about deals way ahead of everyone else because they have to plan the displays. Be nice and friendly, and they just might spill some extra money-saving beans.

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one comment

in Seasonal, Sponsored
7 Advantages Introverts Have When it Comes to Money
Author: Anna Newell Jones

7 advantages introverts have when it comes to money

Most people fall into either the introvert or extrovert personality. If you’re not familiar with what these terms mean, I’ll explain them a bit. Introverts tend to be purposefully reserved, and they feel recharged after alone time. Extroverts however, tend to be thought of as being vocal and outgoing, and they feel energized by interacting with people. (Just today I heard about Ambiverts! These are people who have an equal mix of both the introvert and extrovert traits.) If you’re not sure which personality type you are go take this Extroversion Introversion Quiz, and come right back.

The topic of introverts and extroverts has been super fascinating to me for quite a while because when I was a kid I was constantly getting told I was quiet or shy, and it drove me nuts! I always took it as an insult, and vowed I would never call my kid shy when I grew up because it was a label I hated having put on me. Particularly, because I didn’t see myself as shy. Reserved and cautious around strangers, sure. Careful about my words and actions around strangers, yes, definitely. Quiet? I could see that. Shy though? Nah. I was choosing not to talk. And when I wanted to talk, I did.

As a kid I wasn’t sure to make of all this “shy” business. When I was around 11 or so, we were in a used bookstore, and I came across a book that was called something like, “Overcoming Shyness”, or something to that effect. I convinced my mom to buy the book for me, and then I read it ASAP so I could try to find the solution to my “problem”. (Oh… :’( didn’t mean for that to sound so sad! I want to go back and give my young self a hug.) I even wrote a letter to Dear Abby, and I asked her for advice on how to not be shy anymore. I don’t remember what she said exactly but I do remember feeling very hopeful when she wrote me back.

After all my research, and attempts to “fix” myself, and turn myself into an extrovert, I found, over time, that I just had to get more comfortable with who I was. I had to start doing things that I was proud of. Playing sports, taking photographs, and doing good things for other people. Slowly but surely, I gained confidence, and my anxiety around people lessened. I realized that being reserved isn’t a “bad” thing at all, that alone time is a necessity for me, and now, sometimes, you can’t get me to shut up once I get talking.;)

Not surprisingly, your ability to manage money may be directly related to your natural-born personality, and your personality traits may directly influence your knack –or lack thereof – of managing money.


Here are 7 Advantages that Introverts May Have When it Comes to Money (and we’ll talk about the advantages extroverts have in an upcoming post!)…

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in Personal, Social, Societal Pressures
9 Gifts for Guys That are All Under $22 Bucks
Author: Anna Newell Jones

gifts for guys under 22 dollars

When the holidays roll around I always have a mix of things going through my head. Mostly, it’s guilt-tinged thoughts of, “I really should make all the gifts to save money but… I just don’t, realistically, have enough time.” And the relief-filled thoughts of, “It would be easy to find some reasonably priced gifts.” So, usually, I end up doing a mix of both DIY gifts and store-bought items. Balance is a thing, right?

When Kohl’s asked me to come up with a few items that Aaron would like as gifts I immediately thought about how he wears dark wash, slim fit, Levi’s every single day but won’t by them at the Levi’s store because they’re at least 100% more expensive there then they are at Kohl’s. Anyway! That has nothing to do with this post.

I rounded up a few items that Aaron would really like, and the price of each item is under $22 because I’m cheap like that.

Aaron’s Gift List: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9


P.S. Isn’t Michonne the biggest badass ever on Walking Dead? I want to be her when I grow up. (Just a heads-up that link is to a fairly graphic zombie killing scene. If you’re not into that type of thing you might not want to watch it.)

In compliance with FTC guidelines, I’m disclosing that this is a sponsored post. However, the opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! – Anna


in Sponsored
“I Decided I’m Going on a Spending Fast for One Year. Today is Day 1.”
Author: Kelly Newell

kelly newell scout dry goods omaha

Earlier in the month I got a text from my sister, Kelly, and it said, “I decided I’m going on a Spending Fast for one year. Today is Day 1.” Internally, I completely freaked out. But, I tried to keep it contained so I didn’t seem too excited (for the fear of scaring her off with my over-the-top enthusiasm). I replied with a simple and contained, “Whoa. Cool!” All of my family and friends have been hearing about the Spending Fast for a grip now, and I’ve never pushed it on anyone. My thinking is that they know I’ve gotten out of debt, they know how I did it, and if they want to ask me any questions or have me give them any support through a getting out of debt mission (Spending Fast or not) that I am totally there for them. You can’t force anyone to do anything because that’s just obnoxious, and it doesn’t work anyway so I don’t do it. Plus, the Spending Fast is hard, and it can really, really suck at times so you’ve got to be ready to deal with that if you’re going to take on a Spending Fast. (While it’s insanely effective, it’s not magic; hard work and sacrifice is required so, sometimes, other methods should be tried 1st.) All that to say that I am soooooooo, sooooo excited (I’m not gonna hold back now), and proud of my sister for making the decision to change her life by doing a Spending Fast. I’ve seen how powerful it can be in my life and in other people’s lives so I’m excited to see how it will end up changing someone’s life that I’m so close to. Plus, it’ll be interesting to be on the other side of a Spending Fast… 


Hi, I’m Kelly, Anna’s identical twin sister. My stats: 35 years old, business owner, recently divorced, 3 kids under 10, boyfriend, no pets. I’m currently embarrassed by how much debt I have so I’m not going to say the full number yet. I’ve been thinking about doing the Spending Fast for years, and now it’s finally time to do it. I’ve got credit card debt, lawyer debt, student loan debt (owed to a financial institution and to my parents), a car loan and another debt. I’ve seen Anna’s success with getting out of debt and with how quick she’s was able to do it, and I want to be debt free too.

I started the Spending Fast officially on November 5, 2014.

My biggest trouble areas are eating out and unfocused spending at places like Target.

Like Anna, after I decided to do the Spending Fast I felt instant relief, and then, about an hour after that I got notified that a tax return appeal that I was hoping for did indeed come through so I put that money directly on my number 1 priority bill: my personal credit card. I also redeemed awards from my bank for cash ($150), and put that money towards my credit card debt, as well. 3 days into the Spending Fast, and my personal credit card was completely paid off! $6,884.21 saved! Had I not decided to do the Spending Fast I would’ve spent that tax return money on random stuff, like usual, and my debt would still be there.


Other things I’ve done this first week to save money…

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in Kids, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters, Student Loans
Introducing a New Spending Faster!
Author: Jenn Davis

Jenn Davis Spending Fast

The #1 thing that you all told me you wanted more of on the reader survey were stories from people who are in the process of doing a Spending Fast so, you guessed it… your wish is my command! I added a new category called Spending Fasters so you can find all the Spending Fast (and Spending Diet!) stories in one place!

And, with that, I would like to introduce, Jennifer, who will be sharing her Spending Fast story with you as she goes. The ups, downs, struggles, successes… all of it. I hope you enjoy following along, and that you find motivation and encouragement in these posts to see that getting out of debt crazy fast is totally possible! And, maybe, you will find that you want to change your life and become a Spending Faster too! 

Also, while the site is primarily read by women I’d love to include a male Spending Faster’s experience through and out of debt. If you’re a dude and interested in sharing your story send me an email: – Anna 

Hi all! My name is Jennifer and I just turned the BIG 3-0 last month! If that’s not a birthday to make you think about where you’re at in life, I don’t know which is! I made the decision to take out a mortgage for a house almost a year ago, here in Florida. Currently, I have a roommate and three dogs living with me. I make a living as a Production Artist at a publication company.

My total debt is 16,027.84 not including my mortgage. This what makes up my debt: I have $4,584.95 (started as 6,000) in credit card debt that I racked up in college by not living within my means. (I was paying my bills with a job I had but I was living off credit cards. It’s been following me around since 2010. I don’t even want to think about how much money I have wasted on interest!) I also have a car loan of 11,442.89.

My goals for the Spending Fast are to, first, save an emergency fund of $1,000 (this differs from what Anna did btw); pay off my credit cards and my car loan. The last few years I have gotten better with my spending habits, but it’s turned into a sort of yo-yo effect of doing good and then erasing the good by doing bad. The time has come to just get it done and I need your help to keep me held accountable throughout this process. With your help, the support of my friends and family, and a boyfriend who is on board, I can’t think of a better time to do the Spending Fast, than now. I want to not only pay off my debt but have a substantial nest egg for me to be able to have more freedom and time in my daily life to do something I really enjoy, whatever that may be.

You know the drill, so here is the breakdown…

Read More »


in Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters, Take Action!
Declutter. Save Money. Do Good. Here’s How…
Author: Anna Newell Jones

declutter. save money. do good.

I love how when the holidays roll around charity work gets highlighted, and everyone is a little more kind and giving.

So today, I’d like to introduce you to a new, online clothing store called Today just so happens to be their Grand Opening and they’re one of the most charitable companies I’ve come across. The site was created by Bryan Harmon. He’s an entrepreneur who’s motivated by giving back to the people. Harmon has an interesting and eclectic background. He’s a disabled vet who served in the Marines and then he transitioned into eCommerce because he saw a lot of opportunities for improvement. provides jobs to veterans (veterans are very close to my heart since I came from a long-line of military), and college students. Currently, they’re donating $3 from each item that’s sold on the website to help the flood victims in Pensacola, Florida. (A major storm dropped several feet of water on the city, and caused some of the deadliest floods ever. The city was rocked with flooded homes, collapsed highways and submerged cars. See images of the flooding destruction here.)

Here’s how works
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in Sponsored
Saving $1,400 a Month With a Spending Diet – An Update From Melanie
Author: Melanie Gnau

how to save 1,400 a month with a spending diet

Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her October update for us below. I’ve got to say, I am SO incredibly proud of her! I love that she’s chosen to change her life, and whoa. Just whoa. It’s so awesome how much she’s been able to save in such a short amount of time. This is what the Spending Fast and Spending Diet is all about. Getting the hell out of debt ASAP. – Anna

After the roller coaster of money emotions that was September, I was hoping for more stability in my savings for October. And the good news is that with my second job’s back pay, I was able to save $1,400 in October! So good, right? Well, yes and no. I managed to save $1,400 which is $400 over my savings goal, but I still went over my $100 Spending Diet limit. (Insert sad trombone.)

In some ways I’m super proud of myself. I saved $1,400 in one month. ONE MONTH! Let’s go ahead and get personal, that’s over half of my paycheck (after taxes and insurance is taken out). But I’m ever the perfectionist and as much as I try, try, try to stay positive, I always seem to be a glass half empty type of gal. Why didn’t I save more?!?!

Well, there’s a few reasons:

1. I managed to get some great deals on pants at the thrift store, but I have a wedding to attend and I didn’t feel that I had an appropriate dress to wear. Could I have borrowed something? Maybe. Could I have found something cheaper? Maybe. I did use a coupon and I felt like I got a good deal, but I still spent money that I didn’t allocate to spend.

When I added that dress to my online shopping cart, I also added a skirt and a top. I justified that I could wear them to work and it was “Buy two, get one free!” It was a moment of weakness.

2. I forgot my lunch a few days this month and I had to go to the grocery store at lunch to pick something up. That was kind of unavoidable, but the nitpicker inside of me wants to say “But you should have backup snacks in your desk at work for this situation!”

Nitpicker be damned! I’m proud that I’ve managed to save over my savings goal this month. I know this holiday season is going to be difficult though. My $100 Spending Diet includes gifts. I’m currently formulating a plan for holiday spending that includes coupons, starting my shopping early and handmaking what I can. And as always, I’m trying to stay positive.


How will you, my budget-friendly friends attack your holiday spending? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! -Melanie


in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
Let’s Talk About Layaway! (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

let's talk about layaway

let's talk about layaway

let's talk about layaway

I’m teaming up with Kmart on some upcoming posts. This is a good match because I always find myself at Kmart if I need (of all things) inexpensive planters and potting soil. And, if I get a craving for my favorite childhood food, Little Cesar’s, I know can get some pizza pizza there.

Kmart is also a place that we used to go to ALL THE TIME when I was I kid. I distinctly remember being in line one time, and thinking about how I could be a millionaire when I grew up if only I could save every single penny from that moment on. That didn’t happen (obviously), and instead, I went ahead and bought my mini gumball machine with my birthday money. I even wrote a post about that experience a long time ago (here it is if you’re interested: Switching Over). Needless to say, I’ve got a whole bunch of Kmart memories. Another day I’ll have to tell you the story about the baby bird.

But today, I want to talk about a topic that I, surprisingly, have never covered on the blog before: Layaway.

So, when I started thinking about this topic I started asking everyone I know if they’ve ever used Layaway, and if so, what did they buy, and why did they use that method to make the purchase. Aaron told me that he bought his parents a ping-pong table for Christmas and used Layaway to buy it for them. That was 15 years ago and that thing is still going strong in my in-laws ice-cold basement.

On Facebook, a whole bunch of readers told me how they’ve used Layaway, and not surprisingly, it seems that it is primarily used to buy Christmas presents.

I know it feels a little early to start thinking about the holidays but I’ve found that the earlier I make my gift shopping list and get the “errands” part of the holidays taken care of the more I can actually enjoy what the holidays are all about: eating until you’re so stuffed you can’t move. Nah, seriously though, it’s about spending time with your loved ones, and I would much rather do that than be stressing out about what I’m going to get everyone.

Morale of the story: if you start early you can spread the cost of the holidays out and also avoid a ton of last-minute stress.

Alright, so let’s talk about details of Layaway in case you’re not familiar with how it works.

  • As mentioned above, you can spread the payments out over a period of time.
  • You can set aside purchases so you don’t have to worry about things being out of stock when everyone else starts their holiday shopping. (Frozen dolls anyone?)
  • If you miss a payment it won’t impact your credit score.
  • The 8 week contract at Kmart, has a service fee of only $5 which is awesome (They’re offering no-money down layaway until 11/15/15 as a special promo). Especially when you compare that to what it would cost to put the purchase on a credit card. (The average credit card APR from 13.02% to 15.59%. That’s completely outrageous.)
  • Since there is a little bit of a process involved with getting set up with Layaway you’ll be able to think through your purchases more and, hopefully, avoid impulse shopping.
  • You can take advantage of sales even if you normally wouldn’t be able to make the purchase when the sale is happening.
  • Kmart offers Layaway year-round so if there is a special occasion, like a wedding, or other big event you can plan ahead rather than taking a hit on your wallet all at once.
  • Oh! And now, you can even do layaway online so you don’t even have to leave your house if you don’t want to. (I reaaalllly like that.)


Enter to win 75 Bucks! -GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

So, get this… Kmart is giving away a $75 gift card to one reader to help you get a start on your holiday shopping! All you have to do is tweet about some of the items you’ve put on layaway. Be sure to use the hashtags: #KmartLayaway and #ATWS so your tweet can be found, and so you can be entered to win. The giveaway will end on Monday, November 10th at 6pm MST. Good luck!


This is a sponsored post, and I am a Kmart K-Club blogger. But, as always, my opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this site possible! xo, Anna


in Sponsored
28 Stupid-Easy Costume Ideas to Make with What You Already Own
Author: Anna Newell Jones

28 stupid easy halloween costumes

If you’re anything like me you’re probably half-way freaking out right about now, thinking, “OHHH, this Friday is Halloween? Uhhhh… What am I going to be?!” (Baby Henry is going to either be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or a Mischievous Monkey. I’ve been thinking about his costume for faaaarrr too long.) Let me tell ya, there are SO many costumes that you can create in 2 minutes flat from what you already have in your closets. OR, if you must buy something to create a costume make sure it can pull double-duty so you can wear the items from the costume in real life after Halloween.

Maximize the money. That’s what it’s all about.

My twin sister, Kelly, owns a buy-sell-trade store in Omaha, Nebraska, and it’s called Scout: Dry Goods & Trade. She recently posted some shots to her Instagram of all these costumes that can be created using clothing items from her store. They’re all easy to find items, and have that versatility thing going on for post-Halloween wear.

Easy and inexpensive = hell yeah.


28 Stupid-Easy Costume Ideas…

1. Girl Scout

With a tan collared shirt and skirt, a strip of paper sack for your sash, a “flight attendant” paper cap (here are some origami instructions on how to make your own girl scout cap), a low bun, and your 3 fingers in pledge position, you’re set.

Inexpensive, DIY, Last-minute Costume Ideas

2. Cruella de Vil

With a furry collared coat, light jeans DIY-ed with splotches of black paint, red lipstick, a sassy expression, and a long, DIY cigarette holder (how to make your own cigarette holder) you’re instantly transformed.

Inexpensive, DIY, Last-minute Costume Ideas

3. Wednesday Addams

Center-parted hair into pigtails, long-sleeve short black dress, black shoes, red lips, vacant stare.

Inexpensive, DIY, Last-minute Costume Ideas

4. The Dancing Emoji Lady

Red dress, red heels, and stiff dancing pose.


Let’s keep the party going with even more Super-Easy Costumes Ideas…

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in DIY, Practical Solutions, Seasonal, Social, Things To Do
12 FREE Family-Friendly Activities in New York City & Brooklyn
Author: Sarah Ann Noel

12 free family friendly activities in brooklyn and new york city

This is a guest post by the awesome Sarah Ann Noel who recently left us here in Denver for New York City. – Anna

Well, we have just moved from Denver to New York City with two toddlers. No, seriously. One is three and one is two, and I’m trying to keep straight which way is which on the G train while making sure that both those little wanderers get on the same train as me too. Are we crazy? Perhaps. But we are making our way in our little corner of Brooklyn.

Of course, even though you have the knowledge of the expense of New York, it’s still a shock to come here and try to function in it. I’ll admit to living a little large when we first moved, just trying to take advantage of it all; but that’s just not feasible for every day life. So below are twelve free activities that we use often!


12 Free Family-Friendly Activities in Brooklyn and NYC (& how to find more!)…

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in Family, Friends, & Relationships, Kids, Practical Solutions, Things To Do
Save $1000 + Melanie’s Spending Diet Update
Author: Melanie Gnau

painlessly save $1000 with this simple solution

Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her September update for us below. – Anna

After the air conditioning fiasco of August, I yet again recommitted to saving more through the Spending Diet. And September was all about recommitment. This month I recommitted by pulling my $100 out of the bank at the beginning of the month and sticking to it.

There was a lot of temptation, don’t get me wrong. The weather is changing and several pairs of my pants were threadbare. You could literally see-through a pair of my work pants– embarrassing and definitely not work appropriate. I also didn’t want to blow my entire $100 bucks on one pair of pants. So I visited my local thrift shop and invested a whopping $19.41 on seven (count ‘em), seven pairs of pants. It reminded me of how much fun it can be to search among the Spongebob pajamas and Aunt Edna’s knick-knacks for gold.

I’m all about saving money, but I’m also all about the living small. We live in an Airstream, for god’s sake, so I love a good purge. This month my husband and I also made a little bit of money by selling our wares at the flea market. And what we didn’t sell, we gave away to a thrift store. I’m feeling much lighter and more committed and renewed to the saving cause.

With all that done, I also tackled one of the hardest things on my to-do list in September. I cancelled my (kind of) expensive gym membership. I had said I would cancel my gym membership to offset my cost of groceries, but I really didn’t want to do it, so I had been putting it off. I hated signing my gym cancellation papers, I felt poor and ashamed, like I had somehow failed. But it was just one of those hard cuts that I needed to make to get me closer to my dream of owning a house. With my gym membership cut, I’ll be saving almost another $1,000 per year. I’ve also been trying to keep my spirits up by looking on the brightside and working out at home. (I, of course, turned to this article on on ATWS about Losing Weight Without a Gym.)

This month was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Saving can be hard on the emotions sometimes, but overall I feel good about my decisions. I managed to save $1,200 this month which is a little over my monthly goal! This month also reminded me of how important it is to recommit to savings on a monthly, weekly, daily and sometimes even hourly basis! To remind myself of my ultimate goal, I like to keep little pictures around of my goal. I keep a picture of a cute cottage in my wallet. That little reminder has definitely helped, but I’m looking for more ways to remind myself of my savings goal.


What little reminders do you use to keep you on track?

P.S. The Minimalist Challenge is great for clearing out clutter, and here’s another helpful no-more-gym-no-more-fees(!) post: 9 Free and Simple Ways to Stay Healthy and Fit Without the Gym.


in Do Without, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Spending Diet, Spending Fasters, Things To Do
I’m Basically a Genius – Here’s Why (Hint: It involves Pumpkin Spice Lattes)
Author: Anna Newell Jones


If you’re a lady in the U.S. there’s a good chance that you go ape at any mention of Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. If you’re not in the U.S. then I’m sure you’ve heard allllllll about them all over the internet because (they’re delicious!) every year when the weather starts getting even the teeniest, tiniest bit chilly that’s all anyone can talk about. These Pumpkin Spice Lattes have pretty much got us all under their spell.

These limited-time, seasonal drinks have already been out for a bit this season but, I’ve got to tell you, I felt like quite the genius (it doesn’t take much;) when I thought up a way to save about $2.50 per drink.

Alright, so a medium, Pumpkin Spice Latte is about $4.50. That’s a lot of money…especially if you think spending money on fancy coffee drinks is a waste of money, which I do.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, this is what. Order your coffee, and then have them put the pumpkin spice syrup in the coffee! Sure, it’s not exactly the same but it’s close! You get the flavor you want, AND you get to save 40%-ish on your coffee. That’s win-win if you ask me.

Also! If you like vanilla lattes then just have them put vanilla syrup in your coffee. Just a heads-up they do charge .50 for the syrup.

Do you have an expensive coffee drink habit? Think this is a trick you might start incorporating? Got any other tricks/tips that you can share with us?


in Practical Solutions, Social, Things To Do
The Pay Off Debt App + Giveaway! (CLOSED)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

pay it off app

This is a sponsored post but, as always, my opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the companies that help make this site possible. – Anna

Awhile back I shared Jackie Beck’s story of how she and her husband got out of $147,000 in debt (!!! nuts, right?!). They were persistent and committed to the process of getting out of debt and, not surprisingly, it worked!

Jackie has created a great app that is appropriately called: Pay Off Debt . Pay Off Debt is an iPhone and iPad app that has helped tons (tens of thousands) of people pay off debt by using the snowball method.

Let me tell you, I really wish this app was around when I was going through my Spending Fast and Spending Diet (not that I had an iPhone then but still…) because it would’ve made it so nice to see the progress I was making and how far I had come. I also would’ve really enjoyed seeing how my pay off date was changing based on the aggressive payments I was making every month. I think that would have been so fun to see it getting closer and closer!

There’s even a feature with the app that let’s you email your snowball information to yourself. I would’ve printed out my progress reports every month, and taped them all over my house, so I could be simultaneously thrilled and horrified/motivated at how far I had come, and how far I had yet to go.


Here are some my favorite features that the app offers:

  • You can prioritize your debts in the way you prefer (lowest balance, highest interest, or you can select a custom order)
  • You can see your planned debt-free date, and then compare and contrast how long it’d take to pay off all debts if you weren’t using the snowball method.
  • You can view progress bars for motivation and encouragement!
  • It takes interest rates into account when calculating estimated time left.
  • It takes taxes and insurance (escrow) into account when adding a Mortgage/HELOC type debt.
  • It lets you change the additional amount you have available to put toward the first debt in your snowball at any time.
  • It lets you set payment reminders to appear when the app is running, if desired, and then once the due date has passed, the reminder will no longer appear.
  • You can select your currency: dollars, euros, pounds, yen or a custom currency.


Jackie also mentioned that she often gets asked why the app costs $2.99 instead of offering it for free. She said that the reason it isn’t free is because she doesn’t want to have ads on the app, and she didn’t want to have it set up to cost $10-$15/month for a subscription type of service in order to access all of the features. She said she would much rather just sell the app up-front for a few bucks, and get on to helping people get out of debt!


Jackie is giving away a copy of the iPhone/iPad Pay Off Debt app to 3 readers! To enter leave a comment below, saying how you would feel if you were debt-free!

 Be sure to fill in the appropriate email, name, etc., fields so we can contact you if you win. The giveaway will end on Friday, October 17th at 5:00pm MST. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Update 10/14/14 Apologies to Jackie. In the original post I mistakenly called the app by the wrong name. It has now been corrected.


in Sponsored
Flying with a Lap Baby – Is it Worth the Risk to Save Hundreds?
Author: Anna Newell Jones

flying with a lap baby is it worth the risk to save hundreds of dollars?

Y’all, you know me. I (obviously) like to save money. With the holidays coming up we’ve been throwing around ideas about what we should do. We’re planners, we’re Virgo’s, we’re Type A (well, Aaron is more than me;), and we also know that the earlier we buy our plane tickets the more money we can save. I’ve even heard that for each day you wait to buy it’s an average of $5 that’s added, per day, to the price of the ticket.

 Find Cheap Flights for Over 450 Airlines!Save up to $15 with Code CHEAPAIR15 

One of the ideas we have is to go visit my family in Lincoln, Nebraska. We’d probably fly because the tickets are so inexpensive, (relatively speaking), and the flight is a mere 1 hour long. If we drive then it’s close to 8 hours (or, it can be done in 7 hours if you only stop 2 times, and go 7 to 10 miles over the speed limit the whole time. Not that I would know.).

When thinking about flying with our little guy, Henry, (his 1st airplane trip) we definitely did not even consider the possibility of buying him his own seat because, I mean, duh. Babies under 2 can fly for free! So you better believe we were going to take full advantage of the chance to save some money!


What I didn’t realize though was that there may be risks to not getting him his own seat. I thought things like:

– “He’s so little it would be no problem to keep him on our laps. He might will be squirmy but it won’t be for long so it’ll be fine! Let’s save money when we can!”

– “That’s such a waste of money to be going and getting all spread out and luxurious on the plane! We’ll just be scrunched up for a little bit! It’ll be fine! Let’s save money when we can!”

– “Only people with money to spare (like lots of it) would ever buy their baby their own seat. I mean, come on. There’s money to be saved here so let’s save it! We’ll be fine! ”


I never thought about not going with “baby flies free” option because I never had a reason not to. You see, the other day I joined a Facebook group called Car Seats for the Littles. I was scrolling along thinking about how complicated this whole car seat thing is when it really shouldn’t be that hard, right? And then, this article pops up about changing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations for kids under 2. My first thought was what it had always been: “Oh hell no! SAVE THE MONEY!”

But then, I read a this: Babies Have a Right to a Safe Seat with Proper Restraints – The Infant Seat Exception Should be Abandoned, and that completely changed everything.

Now, I feel like if we do fly anywhere before the baby’s 2 years old there’s no way I can justify not spending money on a seat for him after knowing what I know now. If, heaven forbid, anything were to happen I would never be able to forgive myself for not buying a seat just to save some money.

To me, it just isn’t worth the risk. I’ve got to say, there are some things that are far more important that money, and this is one of those things.


So, I have a hundred (6) questions for you: What do think about all this? Did you know about the risks associated with having a Lap Baby? Is it worth the extra couple hundred bucks?  Am I over-reacting? Why isn’t this something we hear about more? Why isn’t this a bigger deal to people? 


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, Practical Solutions, Societal Pressures, Things To Do, Travel Cheap
Melanie vs. The Spending Diet – Update
Author: Melanie Gnau

spending diet emergency

Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her August update for us below. – Anna

If you remember, I went over last month’s spending diet allowance. It was so much harder than  I imagined! In August, I committed to do better. I immediately took my $100 cash allowance out of the bank when I was paid and I stuck to it. But lo and behold, we had an emergency. Our air conditioning system stopped working on one of the hottest days of the year. And when you live in a tin can in the South, going without air conditioning is not an option.

Don’t emergencies always seem to happen at the most inopportune moments? Just when you think you’re doing better saving (or in life) BAM! something comes along to knock you down. Luckily in the past year, George and I have managed to get an emergency savings fund together. I consider 95 degree heat an emergency, so we had to dip into the emergency savings to fund a new air conditioning system. I really hated to do it, but I can’t sleep in that kind of heat, my husband can’t work and my poor pup was just plain uncomfortable.

I did experience some buyer’s guilt. I thought things like: “People for thousands of years went without air conditioning!” “It’s already August, it will be fall soon. We will only have to suffer for another month!” “I can’t spend $300 on a new air conditioning system, I’m on the spending diet!!!” But after a few days without air conditioning, I was whistling a new tune and I was ready to dip into those savings. Let’s just say that sweating immediately after stepping out of the shower is not a fun experience.  I’m not happy about it, but sometimes life is going to get in the way of a savings diet or savings fast. I just feel lucky that we had an emergency savings account to dip into.

Next month I plan to sell a few things in order to build my emergency savings account back up. I also signed up to teach a class for extra pay and for the first time ever, I’m receiving a small raise. (High fives for me?!) I know that I can get back on track with my savings but emergencies, man, they are really cramping my savings style!


How do you build your savings back up after an emergency? Let me know in the comments! 


in Do Without, Paying Off Debt, Spending Diet, Spending Fasters
Melanie vs. The Spending Diet – Update
Author: Melanie Gnau

spending diet


Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her July update for us below. We’ll get August’s update up before you know it, and then we’ll be back on track in no time for September. I’m telling ya, we’ve got a plan, folks. She’ll take it from here. xo, Anna


Ok, so first things first, this was so much harder than I imagined. I went over my allowance of $100 in the first two weeks! I am ashamed and to be honest I was a little shocked. (I feel like I’m such a saver!) But I learned from my digressions and I’m ready to get serious.


I went $100 over my spending limit in July for two reasons:


#1 – I didn’t immediately get cash out of the bank at the first of the month like I said I would.

Hey, I’m lazy and I hate making trips to the ATM. Instead, I told myself I’d just write down what I spent. What a joke. If I’m too lazy to go to the ATM, I’m too lazy to write down everything I spend. Now at the first of each month, I am vowing to get out my $100 spending budget and stick to only spending cash on my “Wants.” I’m also leaving my debit card at home so I can’t be tempted by that trickster. (I’m keeping my credit card on me for emergencies.)


#2 – I was too strict with my food budget.

I just simply didn’t budget enough for food. I hate buying food even though it’s a necessity. I thought by giving myself a super strict limit, I would spend less. Wrong! I spent more because I ran out of food and had to make extra trips to the grocery store. I’m going to give myself $50 more to spend on food each month because a girl has to eat. To even out the budget, I’m cutting my gym membership. I love it but I don’t use it often enough. I ordered some infomercial DVDs a while back and I’ve been hitting those harder than I ever hit the gym.


I still managed to save $1,000 this month which I consider a success. I also got real with myself. Looking back on this month, I realize that I spend more money than I should going out with friends. Instead of going out with friends, I’m going to convince my friends that we should cook at home– even if that means I do all the cooking! I’ve even started fermenting my own wine which has been super fun and much cheaper than wine at a bar or restaurant.

I have high hopes for next month. I’m taking on a side job to earn more income and I took out my $100 allowance as soon as I got paid.

Here’s to hoping next month’s spending diet report looks better than the last! Melanie


in Do Without, Paying Off Debt, Spending Diet, Spending Fasters
Thrifty Weekender – Start Your Weekend Off Right / 06
Author: Anna Newell Jones

thrifty weekender - start your weekend off right -


It’s been a little while since I did a Thrifty Weekender post, but, I think we should just get right back into it. Whattya’ say?


Here are some posts/things on the web that stood out to me this week:

  • I’m always on the look-out for inexpensive wedding dresses for other people. Partly because I shoot weddings, partly because of my recent obsession with Say Yes to the Dress (anyone else into that show?), and also because when I got married I scoured the internet, and local stores to find a reasonably priced dress, and there was nothing cute out there. So, what’d I do? I ended up settling for a dress, and then had it altered so I would like it more. That was a bad idea because I ended up spending almost as much as the cost of the dress justy on alterations! Not recommended. If I were to get married again, to Aaron;), I would be completely into these dresses: Gilded Grace Dress (this one is my fave), Alight of Heart Dress, Are You Gonna Be My Pearl? Dress, Romance with Me Dress (that just so happens to be 70% off), and Outshine the Sun Dress. I could go on and on but I should probably stop now. With a lot of the weddings we photograph the brides will also wear a short white dress for the rehearsal dinner, engagement shoot, and bridal shower so I could see a lot of these dresses being used for those purposes too.
  • We’re all so, insanely rushed, and busy ALL THE TIME. Can you do nothing for 2 minutes? Let me tell you, I really suck at it.


What are you up to this weekend? We have to go to Home Depot to get some parts to try to fix of garbage disposal, and Aaron’s birthday is Sunday so I’m going to bake him a huge, chocolate chip cookie “cake”, and then I’m going to frost it with a shitload of buttercream and sprinkles. We’ll eat too much of it, regret it, then vow to get healthy again on Monday.

I hope you have a great weekend, and keep that spending on lock down! Read these get out of debt pledges if you need a kick in the ass/jolt of motivation. I read them very often to keep myself in check. xo, Anna


in Student Loans, Thrifty Weekender
Colorado Public Radio Interview
Author: Anna Newell Jones

colorado public radio anna newell jones interview

On Monday morning I was on Colorado Public Radio to join in the discussion about how some FICO credit scores may be getting a boost soon because medical collection debts won’t be getting weighed as heavily as they have in the past. (This is such great news!) I talked more about my story and how I got out of debt while Chad Gentry from Mpowered talked about the nuts and bolts of how the change will affect consumers.

We were interviewed by Ryan Warner, and I’ve got to say, his voice is amazing. I might have to have his interviews on repeat, so I can listen to them whenever I need to relax. Smooth and soothing with great questions mixed in.

anna newell jones on colorado public radio andthenwesaved.comAnyway!

The very first question he asked me is, “What is your credit score?” When I was getting ready for the interview it dawned on me that when I was in the thick of my debt I used to have NO IDEA what my credit score was! I was completely ambivalent. It was partly because I wasn’t applying for any car or home loans so I didn’t really have to know.  (Just wanted to clarify, in the article on the CPR site they said that I just recently found out my credit score, which is not correct. I just recently looked up my current score. While I don’t have my past credit scores memorized, I was aware of what it was after I got out of debt.)

I’d love for you to listen, and tell me what you think about the new FICO model. Do you think medical debts should be weighed as heavy as other types of debt? Do you agree or disagree with the change?

Here’s the link to the audio recording: Consumer Credit Scores Could Soon Get a Boost – on Colorado Public Radio. (My part starts up at the 6:36, if you’re rushed for time.)


Have you had medical debts go to collections? Will your credit score be going up?


in Press & Interviews
13 Ways To Convince Your Partner That Frugality Is The Way To Go
Author: Anna Newell Jones

how to convince your partner that frugality is the way the way to go

Your partner/spouse may have vastly different ideas about how your joint personal finances should be managed. It seems that in relationships this is usually how the combo’s usually work out:

– One half is more in-tune with financial matters, and deals with all the money matters while the other is happy to stay out of the fray and focuses on other things that impact the relationship.

– One partner is the Spender and one is the Saver (that’s how me and Aaron are. He’s the Natural Saver and I’m the Natural Spender.)

OR one partner used to have different (more frugal) ways about money when you got together, and has, over time, changed their ways, and has started to make financial changes that you don’t necessarily approve or agree with (“Let’s spend ALL THE MONEY!! YEAH! SHOTS FOR EVERYONE!”). Now, that’s a very sticky situation.

Ideally, both people in the relationship would agree on money matters, and work towards a frugal, savings-focused financial life but what if you see things differently? Maybe you’re ready to start living in a new way, and get your debt wiped out once-and-for-all but your partner wants to keep ordering pizza every other night and is totally fine with having the mega-channel, cable package that you are convinced you don’t really need. How do you get on the same page with money much less convince your partner that being frugal is going to be TOTALLY AWESOME? Well, here are some ideas.


13 ways to convince your partner that being frugal is the way to go…

Read More »


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, How To, Practical Solutions, Savings, Societal Pressures, Take Action!, Things To Do
Melanie Vs. The Spending Diet
Author: Melanie Gnau

Airstream Family Spending Diet

I’m so happy Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us! I’ll let her take it from here. xo, Anna

Hi ya’ll! My name is Melanie, I write over at Love Library, and you might remember me from some of my guest posts here at And Then We Saved. I try to save in all aspects of my life, from my wedding to my living situation. Currently, my husband, George and I live in a vintage (and paid-for!) Airstream trailer. It’s a little unconventional, but we make it work. We moved into the Airstream to get out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and so George could focus on his art work. We’ve now saved enough to get us out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. We have an emergency fund, George had a chance to really expand his business and we’ve even had the chance to travel.

But I also realize that for us, living in the Airstream for the rest of our lives isn’t going to be a viable option. I love the ol’ Airstream, but I can’t imagine hobbling around our humble abode when I’m 80. After all our hard work, I also don’t want to plunge ourselves into 20 or 30 years worth of debt either. (Even if it is good debt and all that jazz.) My dream is to pay for a house in cash. Sound insane? Yeah, it is insane. But I have delusions of grandeur and the Spending Diet is going to help me reach those goals.

I started the Spending Diet on July 1st, 2014 and I am hoping to continue it for a year minimum. I chose the Diet instead of the Spending Fast because I don’t do so well when I feel too constrained. For instance, If I’m told I can’t have cookies, I’ll eat ALL THE COOKIES. So for one year, I will be giving myself an allowance of $100 for the wants on my list. My husband gets his own $100 allowance. We don’t share so well.

First up is the Needs List, you might notice we don’t have rent or water. We live rent-free in our Airstream that is parked on family land and we have well water. Our cars are also paid off.


    • Electric
    • Cell phone
    • Internet (my job and my husband, George’s job requires it)
    • Food (from pre-paid CSA only)
    • Gym membership (local gym, it’s reasonable and health is important)
    • Doctor co-pays
    • Medicine (prescriptions and off-brand over the counter stuff)
    • George’s healthcare
    • Car and motorcycle insurance
    • Gas (Busing isn’t an option where I live)
    • Art supplies (for George’s job)
    • Website hosting costs (very low)
    • IRA contributions

The following is my Wants List. I listed many of the same wants as Anna. I put my big vices in italics. I love a good coffee shop coffee, expensive food (hello, Whole Foods!) and heading into a craft store feels like Christmas morn to me.


  • Travel (le sigh!)
  • Gifts
  • Coffee at coffee shops
  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Craft stuff
  • Unnecessary food
  • Self-improvement stuff (e-books, e-courses, etc.)
  • New make-up
  • Eating out
  • Movies
  • Shoes
  • Haircuts
  • Books
  • Jewelry (sad!)
  • Pretty much anything else

So, that’s it. Each month I pull out $100 in cash from my bank account and when that’s done, it’s done. I’ll be updating you all each month with my progress. Talk to you soon! Melanie


in Do Without, Goals, Minimalism, Paying Off Debt, Spending Diet, Spending Fasters, Take Action!
Couponing Made E-A-S-Y
Author: Anna Newell Jones

couponing made easy


This is a sponsored post but, as always, my opinions are my own. 

If something is tedious I won’t stick with it. It’s one of those things I’ve learned about myself over the years. To stick with something over a period of time (like the Spending Fast, or anything else), I’ve got to make things really easy on myself. For most things if something is over-complicated I’ll be over it in a hot second… along with my commitment to it.

Coupons typically always fallen into the, “Nope. Not messing with them, not worth my time!” category. As much as I wish I could get behind clipping, gathering, and organizing I’m just not into it so I try to not make myself feel bad for not being into it. Even though I KNOW there is money to be saved, and great prices to be had because people are clearly super successful in the saving money department if they have their couponing act together.

My thoughts about the whole “couponing-thing” started to change when I checked out BluePromoCode, which just so happens to be “the web’s most reliable search engine”.

couponing made easy with blue promo code

First of all, the site is super attractive. I know that’s kind of a weird thing to say about a website, but it just is. If you’ve gone to most coupon or deal sites they are cluttered messes, and the first thing I find myself thinking is, “Ugh.” Quickly followed by, “Nah. Not worth it.” So, I was pleasantly surprised to see super a nice, clean layout.

If I was you, I would be wondering, “Alright. Coupon site. What makes it special?” I know these things because I asked myself that exact thing when I was approached to write a review about the site.


Here’s the lowdown:

  • After you sign-up you are prompted to follow stores. I would only recommend following stores that you would buy from anyway. We all need household items, and since they’re going to get bought anyway you might as well save some money on them (Target, Home Depot, etc.). They have coupons for just about everything, along with coupons for some more unique stores too. Like for one of my all-time favorite sites, Etsy. (I’ve never seen coupons offered for Etsy before so that kind of blew my mind.)
  • As you follow stores you are creating your Personal Feed.
  • When you go to the site you’ll see all the deals and coupons for the stores you’ve followed in both printable and electronic versions. That’s an expected feature but what I really like is that you can choose to receive emails that highlights your deals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. (I like that they don’t bombard you will a ton of emails everyday if you don’t want them).
  • You can “clip” coupons by clicking the little heart that’s within the coupon square, and then it will be saved for future use. The “clipped” coupons are saved under “My Saves” so you can be reminded about the deal before the coupon expires.
  • They also give you extra info with “Inside Tips”. It’s really interesting because they tell you things that you don’t get to see elsewhere… like how many coupons the store has per month, the store’s average deal duration, and the average savings provided by the store’s coupons. I think that’s pretty cool because I’m a Virgo, and Virgo’s are into stuff like that.


All in all, BluePromoCode is a solid, good-looking;) resource for saving some bucks in a quick and easy way!

Thank you for continuing to support the brands and sites that help to make this site possible! xo, Anna

one comment

in Sponsored
5 Quick, Efficient Ideas for School Year Snacks
Author: Anna Newell Jones

school snack ideas

Hey there, I’m in New York City this week shooting a few more instructional videos for PNC Bank (I’ll be showing pics from the week on my Instagram if you want to follow along.) so here is a very timely, back-to-school post by Mr. Mike Dariano. xo, Anna

I don’t know exactly what my children do at school but whatever it is they must be doing it nonstop. They must be like little hummingbirds, buzzing from room to room, activity to activity, because when my kids finish school each day they are starving. If their teacher is training them to be sherpas on Mount Everest I wouldn’t doubt it.

There was one day when all my daughter had as a snack was a handful of TicTacs and granola bars. I felt bad about this and vowed to plan better snacks for them but vowing and having are two different things. Now that the school year has just begun, we have less time and more things to do so our snacking needs to be organized better.  Here’s what I’ve done to avoid any more TicTac lunches.

5 Quick, Efficient Ideas for School Year Snacks…

1. Make Efficient Use of Your Time: Slice three apples at a time.

My kids love Gala apples and they’re a regular snack around our house, unless we don’t have time to eat them. I could let them eat a whole apple but at five and three years old they’re messy enough. Instead I slice three at a time and put them into a container in our refrigerator.  If they want them at home, they know where to find some.  If we’re rushing out the door, I know where to grab them from.

2. Keep it Simple: Buy only one brand.

In our house we love granola bars so, we’ve settled on Cliff bars as the only granola bar in our house. My goal was to limit the amount of sugar in a granola bar and increase the amount of protein and these bars fit those 2 needs. The secret to having them when we need them? Don’t let them ever enter our house. Keep them stored in the car so they are always ready for emergency hunger attacks.

3. Make Inexpensive Veggies Accessible: Broccoli and carrots.

It our house the easiest veggies are simple, sliced broccoli and carrots. When these come home from the store they each immediately get cut into dippable pieces and placed in the refrigerator next to the apple. Besides being ready for the kids they also make easy vegetable additions to dinner.

4. Skip the Expensive Pre-packaged Snacks: Make it at home.

Rather than buying pre-packaged trail mix we make ours right at home. I’ve found that if the kids make something they immediately like it. We gather up all the possible trail mix ingredients and start mixing together the cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and candy together and portion it out in zip top bags so we can grab these and go out the door. This is also a really great way to use up foods that might be going bad soon.

5. Do Not Buy Bottled Water: Bring your own re-usable bottle.

Water is great but expensive bottled water is not. That’s why we keep our water bottles at the ready. At school my daughters seem to be interested in everything except for keeping themselves hydrated so when they settle into their seats after school they are thirsty little animals.  At night we put out our water bottles along with shoes so they too are ready for the next day.

There is a lot of running kids around so with a little bit of planning ahead, we can do without stopping at McDonald’s every other day.  Most of what we do is to have things ready to go by the door and we keep things in the car. Once we got over the hump of starting the new habits we all became healthier and the snack portion of the budget got a lot smaller.


How do you save money on after school snacks? If you have any secrets we’d love to hear about them in the comments!  

Mike Dariano is a father to two daughters, walker to two dogs, and husband to -thankfully – one wife.  He writes at


in Family, Friends, & Relationships, Kids, Practical Solutions, Things To Do
8 Home Projects You Should Just Pay Someone to Do
Author: Anna Newell Jones

home repairs you should just pay someone to do

Being on a money-saving mission typically means that when something’s broken you try to fix it, yourself, rather than buying something new. Some lucky souls are born with handyman skills which allow them to handle any repair or home improvement project that comes along. However, there are a lot of us who may have the ambition to get the job done but lack the knowledge or experience to get the job done right. Rather than jack something up even worse, and rather than taking a lot of time to teach yourself something that someone else is already fully trained to do (and therefore losing hours of your life – which is way more valuable than money).

You might be surprised to hear me say this but, there are actually some home improvements or repair projects that I fully believe you should just pay someone else to do because they are simply over the DIY/money-saving-at-all-costs level.


Not Worth the Trouble (or Time) – 8 Home Improvement/Repair Projects You Should Just Pay Someone to Do

1. Electricity-Related Projects

Electrical work can be deadly if not done properly. Not only is the one who is doing the work at risk of being severely injured (or even killed) everyone who lives at the home (and surrounding homes if you’re in a condo or apartment) can be injured if electrical work is done wrong. So, if you’re not experienced in electrical work, leave it to the professionals. In many locations, electrical work can only be completed by a licensed electrician and will require inspections once the work is completed. If you end up needing electrical work, call up contact a certified electrician.

2. Plumbing Work

Like electricity, plumbing is better left to the professionals. Plumbing work needs to be done properly by an experienced plumber or you end up putting your home at-risk for water damage and flooding. If you know nothing about plumbing, contact a certified plumber to take care of installing new pipes or replacing broken, leaky ones.

3. Pool Installation

You might be thinking, “Uhhhh… pool installation, really?” BUT. Get this – there are actually many new products on the market that allow you to easily set up a backyard, in ground pool. Yes. Seriously! (Like this DIY pool installation kit) While these pool packages are cost-effective and relatively easy to set up in your yard, there are plenty of other factors to consider. Namely, the safety of the pool is a concern. If you set-up the pool at a location where the yard is not completely level, your pool won’t be stable and may even become unsafe to swim in. Unless you are an experienced excavator, hire someone to professionally level the ground and set up the pool so it is reliable and safe for the whole family.

4. Tree-Trimming

If the trees in your yard are much higher than your reaching abilities, hire a professional tree trimmer to safely trim off the lengthy limbs. Tree-trimming is a task that should be completed by a professional due to the many safety issues. Professional tree trimmers are properly trained and have the necessary equipment to reach the branches situated at great heights. Never climb up the tree with a chainsaw if you don’t know what you are doing as the limbs lost will likely be yours. No bueno, yo.

5. Mold Remediation

If your basement or some other area of your home retains moisture and develops mold, leave the remediation work to the professionals. Some mold and mildew that develops in a home can be harmless but there are also a lot of mold variations that are very harmful to one’s health. If you discover mold growth, don’t attempt to attack it with some bleach on your own (I’m always tempted to do that) because the mold might be far more insidious than you realize with an untrained eye. To ensure the job is done completely, properly, and safely, find a mold remediation specialist to get the job done right.

6. Asbestos/Lead Removal

Many older homes contain harmful amounts of lead paint or asbestos which can be exposed during a renovation project. Tearing down walls or ripping up floors can stir up the poisonous dirt that can cause major respiratory illnesses. Avoid the potential health concern by hiring a professional contractor who knows how to deal with the harmful debris, and has the equipment necessary to get the job done correctly. Even if you are not intentionally trying to remove these harmful materials, any renovation work done on older homes may expose dangerous particles of asbestos, lead, or other harmful materials.

7. Pest Infestations

If your home needs improvement to eradicate pests like ants, termites, or rodents, it is ideally, better to hire a professional who can solve the problem for good. Commercial pest sprays and traps can be somewhat helpful but will not get to the root of the problem. A pest company can find out where the home base of the pests is (usually out of sight), and eliminate it for good so you don’t end up with a recurring problem. Pest experts can also advise you on the damage that has been done due to the pests to make repairs more effective. Pests can cause damage that you may not be able to see but which it could put your home at risk.

8. Energy-Efficiency Improvements

There are several tax breaks that are available to homeowners if you increase the energy efficiency of your home. By hiring an energy-efficient expert they’ll be able to analyze the areas where your home is lacking efficiency, and make the necessary recommendations for updating. A professional can also do a more thorough job of increasing energy efficiency than a do-it-yourselfer because if you miss areas that need improvement you may be still losing money through unrepaired areas.


Did I miss any home projects that should be left to the pros? Or, what do you think, can some of these projects be done DIY just as good as the pros do it?

(Kind of related because we’re talking about house stuff, and home improvements: 6 Tips to Weigh the Best Resale Home Improvements)


in DIY, How To, Investing
Should I Buy It Decision Card
Author: Anna Newell Jones

should i buy it decision card Hi there, I keep getting emails about the Should I Buy It Decision Card not working from the original post (sorry about that!) so rather than emailing it to you all individually (which I would totally do;), and have been doing) I figured I’d try uploading this again so hopefully it will work smoothly this time. Here’s the new Should I Buy It Decision Card link. (When the new page opens just click on the link again.) There are 2 – 5×7’s on 1 – 8×10 page so you can keep one and give one to a friend or keep them both and put one up by your computer screen for when you what to shop online and put the other one around your wallet, on your mirror, or save it as the wallpaper for your phone so you always have it with you. xo, Anna


in Do Without, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Take Action!, Things To Do
Put in the Effort – Get the Payoff
Author: Anna Newell Jones

put in the effort get the payoff

The Spending Fast method for getting out of debt is usually portrayed in the press and articles about me, and the blog, as being a super easy, and quick way to get out of debt. And while it IS a VERY quick, and efficient method (especially in relation to other methods), and while it IS simple, it is not easy.

While it would be amazing to be able to take a pill or snap your fingers to get out of debt instantly, it doesn’t work that way. And, we all know that. It takes time, and effort to do anything worthwhile, much less to get out of ALL OF YOUR DEBT!

To paraphrase the saying, time is going to pass whether you take the chance or not.

You might as well give this the absolute best shot you possibly can. Put in the effort. Get the payoff. Seriously, you can do this. You can do hard things. xo, Anna


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
Minimalist Challenge Update / 05
Author: Anna Newell Jones

day 30 minimalist challenge

Sooooo… drumroll please! The Minimalist Challenge is officially COMPLETE!

I had so much stuff hiding away that I was able to get rid of a total of 496 items!! Aaron did an undocumented version of The Challenge, and apparently he doesn’t have as much random crap as I do so he was able to get rid of 252 items! That means that we collectively eliminated 748 items that were no longer useful to us!!!!!


I had NO IDEA that we would have that much extra stuff to get rid of, and the crazy thing is I don’t even miss (or even remember most) of what we got rid of!

Day 30, Get rid of 30 items:

  • SELL 1, TRASH 1 – Mop heads x 2 (from a failed DIY attempt :/)
  • SELL – Humidifier
  • SELL – Dress
  • SELL – Books x 4
  • SELL – Art
  • SELL – Gel eye mask
  • SELL – Sunglasses
  • SELL – Ring
  • SELL – Chai tea
  • SELL – Breast milk storage bags (ended up donating these)
  • SELL – Breast pump (ended up donating this)
  • SELL – Angeled baby bottle
  • SELL – Baby headband
  • SELL – 1/2 full cocoa
  • SELL – Decorative accordion craft fan
  • SELL – Socks
  • SELL – Baby rice cereal (ended up donating)
  • SELL – Kiddie stickers
  • SELL – Practically full bag of Epsom salts
  • SELL – Large bag of clothespins
  • TRASH – Old computer program CD’s x 5
  • TRASH – Metal thing (I have no idea what it does)

day 31 minimalist challenge

Day 31, Get rid of 31 items:

  • SELL – Clothes x A Zillion (23)
  • SELL – Cute winter hat x 2
  • SELL – Bikini x 2
  • SELL – Screen-printed mini-bag
  • SELL – Sneakers
  • SELL – Thin tin box
  • TRASH – Box of month-old tomato soup (I was hard up for the 31st item)



We did a Yard Sale on Saturday so I’ll be posting about that soon.

Have you been doing The Minimalist Challenge too? If so, how has it been going, and how many items have you gotten rid of so far? How does it feel? 


in De-Clutter, Do Without, Minimalism, Simple Living, Things To Do
A Free Education is at Your Fingertips – 12 Ways
Author: Anna Newell Jones

free ways to get an education

With the new school year right around the corner, and with higher education costs growing at staggeringly high rates it’s a prime time to discuss some ways to get a free education by some less than traditional methods (Related post: Is College Worth the Expense? My Husband’s Story). This is a guest post by the lovely Melanie. xo, Anna

12 Free Ways to Get an Education

In the fourth quarter of 2012, total student loan debt reached $966 billion dollars. I can’t even comprehend that much money. I can’t even comprehend the average student loan balance of $24,803. Once upon a time, I was a student and I also work at a community college so I understand the debt struggle is real. It’s a complicated problem that I could write a novel about, but today we’re going to scratch the surface with a few free ways to get an education!

1. Open Education Consortium

The Open Education Consortium (OEC) is a group of higher education institutions and organizations from around the world. Last time I checked, the OEC presented 25,082 courses from 78 providers! The OEC is a great place to start looking for courses because they work with some of the most innovative educators in the world to compile and create awareness of massive-open-online courses (MOOCs).

2. Coursera

Coursera is another great place to start looking for MOOCs. Similarly to the OEC, Coursera works with global universities to offer courses in almost every subject imaginable. Personally, I cannot wait to take the e-Learning Ecologies course offered from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

3. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a bit different. Khan Academy doesn’t offer formal courses, but it’s a wealth of quick educational videos and great for learning at your own pace. Khan Academy offers introductory-level videos for mostly math and science, but they’ve also branched out to American Civics and Art History. They even offer explanatory videos on finance and capital markets!

4. University of Redditt
University of Redditt isn’t taught by professors, instead it’s crowdsourced. University of Redditt doesn’t just have a traditionally academic focus either. There’s classes on Cooking for the Single Life, An Introduction to Magic the Gathering and Lucid Dreaming, among the more traditional academics like Music, Philosophy, Science and Technology. Who wants to learn how to lucid dream with me?!

5. YouTube

I’ve learned so much from YouTube. Seriously, I don’t know what I ever did without it. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve learned how to do my makeup for my wedding, how to make beeswax candles and how to properly poach an egg! Discover the magic of YouTube, people.

6. SchoolTube

SchoolTube is just like YouTube, except it’s solely designed for students and educators. SchoolTube has a K-12 focus, but there are some seriously amazing teachers who have put up seriously creative and entertaining content. I recently used Mr. W’s Virus Rap to brush up on my biology.

7. iTunes U

This app makes learning super convenient. You can download it on your phone and then learn wherever it is convenient to you– whether that’s on the bus or in the bathtub! iTunes U contains courses from major universities, like Yale, and also claims to be “the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content.”

8. Academic Earth

Academic Earth was the first player in the free online college course game. Today they offer highly curated course links from some of the nation’s top schools– Stanford, Harvard and MIT, just to name a few. Academic Earth is a wealth of knowledge with “curated links to over 750 online courses and 8,500 individual online lectures,” yet still remains an easy-to-navigate site.

9. Wikiversity

Wikiversity, one of the Wikimedia Foundation’s projects, is devoted to learning projects and resources, research and is caters to all levels from preschool to the university. What I like about Wikiversity is that it has a familiar interface. It looks just like Wikipedia!

10. Carnegie Melon Open Learning Initiative

Many large universities (and even small ones!) are jumping on the open learning bandwagon. Carnegie Melon’s initiative is definitely one of those worth mentioning. Through the Open Learning Initiative, you learn at your own pace through modules created by volunteer instructors. Notable courses include argument diagramming, responsible computing and STEM foundations.

11. GCF’s Learn Free

The Goodwill Community Foundation’s Learn Free is a favorite of the Office Systems Technology instructors at my school. It’s great for introductory computer classes like Facebook 101 and iPad basics and the Microsoft Office Suite. They also offer modules in resume writing, career planning and money!

12. The Library
Frank Zappa once said, “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” And I couldn’t agree with him more on both accounts. Bazinga! But in all seriousness, your local library is a wealth of knowledge and information that is right there– free for the taking. (You can find your local public library here: There’s knowledge that exists in books that you can’t find on the Internet– crazy, I know. But libraries aren’t just about books. Many libraries offer educational classes and programs on a whole host of things. I’ve seen everything from yoga classes to computer classes to knitting and 3-D printing. Interested in more ways to save money with the library? Check out 18 Ways the Library Can Help You Save Money.


Happy learning!


Have you used any of the free education resources mentioned? Do you know of others that weren’t mentioned in the post? Would love to hear about your experience with non-tradional education methods!

Melanie is a recently married librarian living in an Airstream with her husband. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. Find out more about their life at Love Library.


in How To, Practical Solutions, Societal Pressures, Staying Out of Debt, Things To Do
Sometimes Being Selfish is the Best Option – Here’s Why
Author: Anna Newell Jones

sometimes you must do whats best for you

“Sometimes, you must do what’s best for you and your life, not what’s best for everybody else.” – Unknown

When I start thinking about creating these hope/motivational posts (because they are SO needed when you’re in the trenches of saving money/getting out of debt) I scroll through my ever-running list of quotes, and I think, “Okay Universe, what does someone need to hear today?” And then, I’m drawn to one quote over another. I like to think that it will help one (or ALL!;) of you get just the push you need to keep going, and help you stay motivated on your trek to a life free from debt!

It can get really tough battling debt, so we’ve got to stay strong as we fight the evils of debt together! (I just imagined like, a zillion She-Ra’s with swords drawn, and debt just dropping dead all over the place. You too? Okay, good.)

Now about this quote here… So, CLEARLY it’s great to care about how your actions will affect others but sometimes you’ve got to say, “Screw it!”, and maybe be a little selfish if that’s what it takes to get yourself to a healthier place. I think this concept applies to all areas of life, and not just to the financial aspect. Do you have people in your life that are keeping you in unhealthy habits? And then do you in turn feel like crap because the choices you’re making aren’t honoring the TRUE you? If so, that’s a feeling you should listen to. You’re getting those shitty feelings for a reason… to prompt you into action.

Sometimes friends/family/partners don’t “get” why you would want to get out of debt if it means you have to do some sacrificing. I understand that to a point, and I believe that it’s usually because they love you and don’t want to see you suffer. However, if you find that after you tell certain people that you’re trying to get out of debt, they still pressure you to spend, and minimize your efforts and successes even after they’ve had time to come around then it might be time to be “selfish” in your effort to become a better you.

For me, being “selfish” meant that I had to tell people stuff they didn’t want to hear sometimes. Usually that was saying, “No” to invites to dinner or lunch out, saying “No” to concerts, and saying “No” to trips. It wasn’t fun to do, and some people got mad and called me selfish but I did it, and made it to the other side. And you know what? I’m glad I stuck to my mission, and was committed to at least trying to become debt-free. To me, in those instances, being selfish was needed, and absolutely the best option for me to make.


What do you think? Have you ever had to be “selfish” in order to protect what’s best for you? I sure have. Would love to hear your thoughts on this. 


in Motivation
23 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Summer
Author: Anna Newell Jones

ways to get the most out of your summer

I was at Target yesterday, and I noticed that they already have the Back to School stuff out! I can’t believe it; seems like summer just started!

Summer is that idyllic time when memories are made so be sure you are getting the most out of the short-lived season (no pressure, right?), while also not spending a ton to make those memories.

Let’s get out there, and enjoy what we’ve got left of summer!

23 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Summer…

1. Realize the Benefits

You know how they say laughter is the best medicine? Well ‘they’ know what they are talking about. With the hectic lives we lead, a little downtime does the body good. Part of being healthy involves feeling good about yourself and having fun. Summer is the perfect time to let loose a little bit and be proactive about having fun.

2. Mix Scheduling With Spontaneity

For bigger trips and events, make sure to schedule ahead of time to make sure your plans will go through. For the things that do not need to be scheduled in advance, take some time to truly enjoy the spontaneous moments of life. It can be a great stress reliever and return you back to reality as a happier, calmer person.

3. Go Local

You don’t have to hop on an airplane to have a great time. Take a day trip around your local area and check out things you take for granted. Many places offer free newspapers or pamphlets listing free or low-cost events like fairs, carnivals, or even educational opportunities. It’s cost-effective to come home each night after exploring something new all day.

4. Go Back in Time

Consider the things you loved doing as a child. There are so many simple trips that likely have become your best memories. Entertain your own kids by introducing them to your all-time favorite summer activities. Have a water balloon fight, invite the neighbors for backyard volleyball, or set up a tent in your yard and tell ghost stories.

5. Take a Mental Health Day

If you do not have a vacation allowance at work just yet, consider calling in for a mental health break. That one extra day can be used to do absolutely nothing but what you want to do. Watch movies, read a book, just be lazy for a change.

6. Tackle the Big Jobs

A honey-do list may not be the most exciting part of your summer but tackling projects around the house that need your attention can go a long way to easing your everyday stress. Using some time off to get stuff done can also help you save money on major repairs.

7. Learn a Skill

Keep your mind active by learning a new skill this summer. Learn how to kayak or get educated on how to can the vegetables and fruits in your garden. Picking up a new skill can introduce you to new hobbies and make you a well-rounded person. You can also make a buck off your skills too: How to Figure Out Your Skills and Sell Them for Cash.

8. Create New Traditions

The winter holidays are not the only time to consider family traditions. Start a few so your family has something to look forward to in the summer months. Start a nightly family walk, scout out a favorite fishing hole, or host an annual backyard cookout.

9. Get Educated

If you have more free time in the summer, invest in your own education. Take courses online or at the community college to get some credits out-of-the-way. Be sure to check out these 8 Insider Tips to Saving Money on Textbooks.

10. Find a Swimming Hole

Whether your family prefers the public pool or enjoy jumping in the local river, find a fun place to cool off on a hot day. If there aren’t any good swimming locations nearby, invest in a sprinkler and let the hose flow freely for a little while.

11. Ditch the TV

Unless it’s a rainy day, keep the television off as much as possible. Take bored kids to the library or the park. Cancel your cable for the summer to save on your expenses.

12. Make New Friends

There are some cool ways to meet new people so get out there and do it. Join a club that focuses on your interests in books or hiking. Say, “Hi” to new people at church. Attend the community block party and meet all your neighbors.

13. Take a Big Family Trip

If it’s financially viable, plan a big trip for the family vacation. Let everyone in the family have a say about where to go. Get in the habit of planning in advance for the larger trips. Working with a travel agent, you can often ‘layaway’ a trip and make payments on it over the course of a year.

14. Find a Fitness Buddy

In order to stay motivated about being physically fit, find a friend that will hold you accountable for your inactivity. Ask a neighbor to go on a daily walk or find a friend that likes to run. Ask your pal to join a dance class with you. Here are 12 Free Exercises to get you started.

15. Volunteer Your Time

There a number of ways you can lend your time to help someone else. Whether you have one hour or forty to give each week, find something you enjoy doing that in turn helps others. Cook at a soup kitchen, teach a class at the community center for free, walk dogs at the shelter, or help build a new house for those in need.

16. Go Camping

Nothing says summer like the smell of marshmallows roasting over a campfire. Find a place to camp on the cheap at a nearby campground or state park. Even if you lack the necessary equipment for camping, you can rent a cabin and borrow supplies from your friends and family. Family camping is a great way to get everyone to unplug and relax for a weekend.

17. Invite Guests to Stay

If you have some out-of-state friends or family, invite them to visit. It can be a whole different experience seeing your local area through a new set of eyes. If you want to take a family road trip, hit up your out-of-state friends and family about a visit.

18. Get Sporty

You only have a limited time to do outdoor sports and adventures like hiking, boating, and water skiing. Take a family fun day and learn how to do a new water sport you have never tried.

19. Join a Team

Some communities or even your workplace may have established sports teams for summer play. Find out how to sign up for the softball team or get involved in some playground basketball. If nothing is in your area already, start a summer league with your friends.

20. Update Your Resume

Summer time is often a time of reflection and pondering what you’d like to improve in your life may reveal your desire to change jobs. During some time off, you can reorganize your priorities where your career is concerned. Update your resume and check out the online job boards to see what else is out there.

21. Hit Up the Yard Sales

Yard sales are growing in popularity. Get up early and hit some local yard sales to see what is being offered. You may be surprised at what some people want to get rid of at cheap prices. You may also want to hold your own sale to de-clutter your house of unwanted things and make a little summer fun money in the process. (Cough, cough… Minimalist Challenge anyone?)

22. Find a Farmer’s Market

If your goal is eating better, find out where the local farmer’s market is. You can pick up the freshest, summer produce for a low-cost. Invest some time in finding new recipes based on your farmer’s market finds.

23. Get in the Hammock

There is nothing like a lazy day of summer where you get to be lazy. If you happened to find a hammock during your yard sale spree, be sure to take some well-deserved time to lay in it. Recharge your batteries before school starts and summer is just another memory.


What are your plans for making the most of this summer? Got any fun trips planned?


in Just For Fun, Kids, Practical Solutions, Travel Cheap
Thrifty Weekender / 05
Author: Anna Newell Jones

iron on face onesie

Happy 4th of July! What are you up to today and this weekend? Anything fun? We’ll be staying in tonight since the baby goes to sleep really early, (7:00 – 7:30 pm) and all the fireworks displays start around 9:30 pm but we might be meeting up with some friends for some BBQ-ing at the ol’ park. I hope that whatever you do you are having fun today!

Here are this week’s Thrifty Weekender links:

  • Remember how I told you that I couldn’t wait to share what I made for Aaron for Father’s Day with you? That onesie up above there is what I made, and I also made my husband a t-shirt with the baby’s face on it. They each wore their shirts and they were a set! It was so cute! I love how easy it was to customize the shirt/onesie and you gift/celebration options throughout the year are endless.(Got the idea from this post over at A Beautiful Mess.)
  • Design Sponge asked “What Is Your Biggest Buyer’s Remorse?” Got me thinking, what is my biggest buyer’s remorse? Mine is a massive couch that cost thousands and long story (super) short, wasn’t worth it. At all. What’s yours?
  • I have tons of random fabric that I always dream of doing something with. This EASY fabric garland might be the perfect solution.
  • Lately, I’ve been really loving Free People’s stuff but I DO NOT love the price of the items so when I saw this post called 41 Amazing Free People Inspired DIY’s I was pretty dang into it.
  • I’m ALL ABOUT pom poms. My house is literally covered in them. No, really, it is. So when I came across this pom pom fruit DIY I basically flipped, and decided that we need even more pom poms around here.

in DIY, Thrifty Weekender
Minimalist Challenge Update / 03
Author: Anna Newell Jones

DAY 13 minimalist challenge andthenwesaved

Things have been pretty busy around these parts! I’m working away on the book (OMG. It’s a lot of work!), we’re in the midst of our wedding photography season, and then there’s all the regular old life stuff that is happening, of course. ;)

I owe ya a couple of updates on The Minimalist Challenge. Turns out, Day 18 was a pivotal point in the process, and I gained a lot of insights about what I have been hanging onto. Probably one of the biggest insights so far throughout The Challenge has been that I’ve realized that I’ve got to stop bringing stuff into the house… even if that stuff is free (local newspapers, things from friends, knick-knacks, etc).

Below is my update on The Minimalist Challenge for days 13 through 18. Up to this point I’ve gotten rid of a total of 171 items!!

Day 13, Get rid of 13 things:

  • SELL – Clothes x 11
  • SELL – Accessories x 2

Going through my closet I found myself thinking/deciding/having these realizations:

– “Have I even EVER worn this?!”

– If I only feel so-so when I wear a piece of clothing then I need to get rid of it.

– There are some clothes that I pull out of storage every time the seasons switch and I always think I’m going to wear but just never, ever seem to get around to wearing. Those items need to stop taking up time in my life and have been put in the Get Rid Of pile.

– Some clothes I like the idea of more than the reality of.

DAY 14 minimalist challenge andthenwesaved

Day 14, Get rid of 14 things:

  • GIVE AWAY – Shower curtain. I have a friend moving into a new place and she said she just so happens to need a shower curtain. Perfect!
  • SELL – Bridesmaid dress from H&M that totally doesn’t look like a bridesmaid dress. This was from my little sister’s wedding and she was so awesome to let us get these dresses that were only about $30. They looked great in the pictures too!
  • TRASH – Mismatched socks that don’t have a partner. (I’m counting them as 1 item)
  • TRASH – Undies x 2. They’re ill-fitting. And you all know, ain’t nobody got time for that!
  • SELL – Earrings/jewelry x 7
  • SELL – Key tag label thingy
  • TRASH – Top to a travel coffee mug. Why in the world do I still have the lid to a coffee mug I no longer have?
  • SELL – Little plastic heart container

DAY 15 minimalist challenge andthenwesaved

Day 15, Get rid of 15 things:

  • SELL – Clothes x 6
  • DONATE – Torn towel
  • SELL – Curtain rods x 2
  • SELL – Socks. Never wear these ones for some reason.
  • TRASH – Drawstring that has become separated from a pair of workout pants (don’t know what pants it even belongs too).
  • SELL – Canister of coffee
  • SELL – Semi-busted book light (just needs tape or something to keep the batteries in) but I never use it anyway so…
  • SELL – Thick headband
  • TRASH – Pot of lipstick

DAY 16 minimalist challenge andthenwesaved

Day 16, Get rid of 16 things:

  • SELL – Small camera bag
  • SELL Camcorder with manual (counting as 2 items)
  • SELL – Small camera tripod
  • SELL – Web camera
  • SELL – DVD-R x 2
  • TRASH – Empty DVD-R cases x 3
  • SELL – Flash diffuser
  • SELL – Lens/screen cleaning kit
  • SELL – USB drive
  • TRASH – Empty box x 2
  • SELL – Set of reflective pant leg tighteners (for when you ride your bike)

Most of these items we just don’t use anymore.

DAY 17 minimalist challenge andthenwesaved

Day 17, Get rid of 17 things:

This is the medicine cabinet edition;) so most of these things have to be disposed of.

  • TRASH – Empty inhalers x 3
  • TRASH – Empty shampoo bottle (it’s super sticky, and covered with fuzz and lint because I took the original label off of it)
  • TRASH – Ointment x 2
  • TRASH – Old lip balm
  • TRASH – Old/expired medicines x 7
  • TRASH – Empty medicine box
  • TRASH – Inhaler thing
  • SELL – Practically new lotion that we never use

What’s with all these empty and expired things?!

DAY 18 minimalist challenge andthenwesaved


Day 18, Get rid of 18 things:

The Linen Closet edition…

  • TRASH – (Continued from medicine cabinet) Expired medicine x 6
  • SELL – Bath towel
  • SELL – Hand towel
  • SELL – Sheets x 4
  • SELL – Pillow cases x 4
  • DONATE – Baby blanket
  • SELL – Bath mat

I think I still have a linen-collecting problem! :/ Linens showed up on my original Spending Fast Wants list and it looks like that problem area has slowly creeped back in.

So, at this point I’ve gone through: my closet, bedroom, coat closet, linen and medicine closest, and our office (surprisingly the least-cluttered area). The next areas that got tackled: junk drawer, Craft/Junk Room, and the basement storage unit.


Read the other posts about The Minimalist Challenge introupdate 01, and update 02.

Are you doing the Minimalist Challenge too? If so, how has it been going for you?


in De-Clutter, Minimalism, Simple Living, Things To Do
How To Feel Rich
Author: Anna Newell Jones

if you want to feel rich

“If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.”

Today I’m counting: when I get my baby to laugh, when the sun peeks through the canopy of trees at the park, getting to go to yoga at the crack of dawn before the city wakes up, free parking at the meters by yoga because it’s so early, cuddling up with Aaron on the couch to watch a random show after the baby goes to bed.

What are you counting today? 


in How To, Motivation
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Last night, fellow personal finance blogger and Babble contributor, Kathleen, from the blog Frugal Portland, posted a video on her Facebook page. It’s called Not Sorry, and I think it’s really great.

A while back I wrote a post called, Stop Apologizing For Your Existence – Why Saying I’m Sorry Undermines You. The video above perfectly articulates what I was talking about it that post.

I think it’s so important to talk about these “little issues” that come up with women, and especially any issues that can impact women in the workplace. This is definitely one of those things.

The other day, a friend of mine told me that at her job she was instructed to “be nicer”, and another friend said that during a performance evaluation she was told she needed to “smile more”. I was shocked to hear that such feedback was given (they don’t work in the hospitality industry where I could see comments like those being somewhat warranted). I wonder what the correlation is with women being so “sorry” about so many unnecessary things, and also being expected to be so nice and smiley is? Are women just are supposed to be robotically cheerful and constantly apologetic in the workplace? I don’t think so, and I don’t like it one bit.

Let’s be on our own side and stop saying “sorry” so much. It might seem like a little thing to do but we can start making a shift with how we are seen, especially in the workplace, with every unnecessary “sorry” that doesn’t get said.  Try saying, “excuse me” if you need a transitional phrase. I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to swap them out once you become aware.


Do you find yourself saying “Sorry” when you don’t really need to? Have you ever been told to be “sweeter”, “nicer”, or to “smile more” in the workplace?  I’d love to hear about your experience with this issue.


in Career & Work, Societal Pressures, Take Action!, Things To Do
QUIZ – How Annoying of a Co-Worker are You? (Or, 101 Things to NOT Do at Work)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

how annoying of a coworker are you quiz


After low-pay, co-workers are #2 on the list of what makes work undesirable. Do you have any co-workers that do any of these “annoying” behaviors (below), or do you (gasp) do any of them? Acknowledgement is the first step to change.;)

I won’t say which ones my former co-workers or myself committed in the past but I was definitely guilty of a few.

How about you, how do you stack-up, and where do your co-workers stand on the annoying scale?



Keep track of how many of the below traits that you, or your co-workers, commit. Then, see what your results are at the end of the quiz. (Just a warning, it’s a biggie! So make sure you have about 10 minutes to complete it.)



1. Dishes out room-clearing, silent-but-oh-dear-god-deadly farts. (Worst offenders: Egg Farts, and farts that linger. You know the ones…)

2. Clips nails at work or does any other sort of personal grooming at their desk

3. Doesn’t cover mouth when sneezing

4. Wears too much cologne or perfume

5. Always has coffee breath

6. Doesn’t wash hands after going to bathroom

7. Doesn’t use the bathroom spray when needed :( yuck!

8. Doesn’t flush the toilet :( double yuck!



9. Schedules meetings first thing the morning (8:00 am) or too close to the end of the day (4:30 pm)

10. Schedules too many meeting, in general. (“Let’s have some meetings to talk about the other meetings!” Um, no let’s not erm-kay.)

11. Is always trying to sell items for their kids (or themselves)

12. Acts as if they are the supervisor when they aren’t. (Acting like a leader can be a good thing but don’t go overboard with it.)

13. Is condescending

14. Doesn’t do certain tasks because they believe the tasks are “beneath” them or “not their job”

15. Acts entitled

16. Questions everyone and everything. (Just do your dang job!)

17. Gossips

18. Constantly complains about all the “injustices” that are happening

19. Focuses too much on the negative

20. Stirs up drama

21. Brings personal drama to work, EVERYDAY

22. Is sulky/moody

23. Exhibits passive-aggressive behavior

24. Tries to “call out” others in front of the supervisor

25. Micro-manages

26. Is too critical

27. Breaks things and then doesn’t fix it or ask the appropriate people to fix it

28. Uses up supplies and then doesn’t replace them

29. Acts as if co-workers desks are the Supply Room. (Get your own darn hole-punch!)

30. Says, “I’m always here to answer any questions you may have!” Then, they are never available when you need them.

31. Stops by your desk, far too often, and then doesn’t pick up on cues that you’re too busy to chat or that you need to get back to work

32. Touches others

33. Stands too close

34. Makes inappropriate/uncomfortable jokes

35. Brings kid(s)/pet(s) to work

36. Thinks you’re closer than you are then over-shares about far too personal (or intimate) aspects of their life.

37. Finishes others sentences

38. Interrupts

39. Talks too much

40. Talks too much about themselves

41. Talks over others

42. Talks loudly

43. Plays loud music

44. Plays terrible music

45. Plays elevator-ish music at half-volume

46. Is late to meetings and then asks lots and lots of questions about things that were covered when they were absent

47. They don’t do their work

48. They do their work but not efficiently, at all

49. They don’t know how to do their job

50. They make lots of mistakes

51. They don’t learn from their mistakes

52. They don’t pull their weight

53. Texts/on phone constantly

54. Is on social media throughout the day (and it’s not a social media job)

55. Hasn’t “paid their dues”/acts too comfortable too soon

56. Sneaks glances at your computer-screen

57. Asks questions about how to do things then not doesn’t learn from the experience so they continue to ask the same things over and over

58. Puts up cryptic Facebook posts about work

59. Puts up non-cryptic Facebook posts about work

60. Is a Know-it-All

61. Tells everyone how great they are

62. Offers un-solicited advice

63. Is an obvious suck-up

64. Takes credit for things they shouldn’t

65. Doesn’t take responsibility for their mistakes

66. Brags about how “caught up” they are and then they don’t offer to help out with what needs to be done

67. Comes to work sick (! – one of my biggest pet-peeves)

68. Takes smoke breaks

69. Takes too many breaks

70. Doesn’t pick up after themselves

71. Doesn’t say “Hi” or acknowledge you when you see each other in the halls even though you’ve met 700 times/they introduce themselves to you every time you see each other

72. Isn’t professional

73. Is forgetful

74. Dresses inappropriately



75. Sings (Loudly, softly, really great, or really bad —it doesn’t matter. Just don’t.)

76. Hums

77. Clears throat, a lot

78. Coughs, a lot

79. Sniffles, a lot

80. Sighs (Heavily, loudly and often.)

81. Doesn’t have cell phone noises on silent

82. Tests out all their cell phone ring-tones at work

83. Makes personal calls at desk

84. Takes too long on those personal calls



85. Eats loudly

86. Eats smelly foods

87. Takes food that isn’t theirs

88. Leaves dirty dishes in the sink



89. Doesn’t understand email etiquette


91. Replies to all

92. Uses every font available in their email signature

93. Has elaborate email “stationary”

94. Has a cheesy quote under their signature

95. Asks questions that they could have found the answer to had they read the email

96. Sends chain emails

97. Sends spam emails

98. IM’s (instant message’s) about important matters that should be emailed about

99. IM’s and then expects an immediate response

100. Responds too slowly

101. Doesn’t respond to emails


Okay, that was more of a test then a quiz. Let’s see how you (or your co-worker) did…

How Annoying of a Co-Worker are You?



If you (or your co-worker) do 0 – 15 of the traits = NOT VERY ANNOYING

You’re not annoying at all! You should start a course called, “How to Not be Annoying” so we can all sign up!


If you (or your co-worker) do 16 – 30 of the traits = KIND OF ANNOYING

You have your annoying moments but you’re really not that bad! Might want to take a look at some areas to improve because you’re definitely doing some annoying things here and there but, generally, you’re doing good!


If you (or your co-worker) do 31 – 61 of the traits = VERY ANNOYING

Ut oh. You’re pretty annoying. Your co-workers cringe when they see you coming and they are secretly very pumped when you say you’re looking for a new job. I know, sad, right?! :( You can still make changes! It’s not too late for you!


If you (or your co-worker) do 62 – 101 of the traits =  CRINGE-WORTHY ANNOYING

You’re the perfect example of an annoying co-worker and your co-workers want you to quit ASAP! It’s nothing personal, of course, but please leave, like, right now. :’’’(


How’d you and your co-workers do on the annoying quiz?


in Career & Work, Social, Societal Pressures
Thrifty Weekender / 04
Author: Anna Newell Jones

thrifty weekender

This Sunday will be Aaron’s very first Father’s Day, and I made him something pretty neat that the baby will give him:), and I got him a couple of little things too. (I can’t wait to show you what I made him it’s a simple but impressive DIY that could be adapted for just about any holiday/event throughout the year.)

We’re continuing to clear-out the clutter through The Minimalist Challenge and my word, gotta say, while I know it will ultimately be cleaner after we get rid of the stuff, during the process of this Challenge our dining room has become a massive mess. I’ve been trying to remind myself, “Alright, it’s going to get messier before it gets cleaner” because we’ve got bins stacked upon bins, and since those are all packed full we’ve switched over to garbage bags so we have a place for the rest of the junk to go. I don’t know how we’ve accumulated SO much stuff! Barf. I’m so ready to let the things go even more now that I’ve had to stare at the piles of stuff everyday!

And now, let’s get into the Thrifty Weekender!

  • Paul Graham’s take on Stuff
  • It’s wedding season so if you’re planning a wedding (or if you have some friends who are) then these wedding freebies might come in handy, and these are great too DIY Wedding Ideas!
  • Seems like everyone I know has issues with spending too much money on food (you too?).  I’m always up for learning more ways to save money at the grocery store but I share what I do know in this post: 7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Grocery Run.
  • Have you heard about the Anchoring Effect? It’s a ploy used to get you to spend more money.


I hope you’re having a great weekend! Give those dads some extra tight bear hugs today! :) xo, Anna

one comment

in Just For Fun, Thrifty Weekender
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