One of my goals for My Financial Reviews is to highlight personal finance blogs and sites that I think can help you with your finances. This week I want to introduce you to Paula from Afford Anything.
She is the former deputy news editor of a daily newspaper in Colorado, where her work won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, and her writing is now featured on personal finance websites such as MSN Money’s Smart Spending blog and the Motley Fool Blog Network.
When and why did you start Afford Anything?
In 2008, I quit my job, sold my stuff, and traveled across the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Australia/New Zealand for a little more than 2 years.
The most common reaction that I got from my friends was, “Wow, I’d love to do that but I can’t afford it.” That blew my mind. I had earned an entry-level news reporter’s salary (e.g. almost nothing!) and I managed to afford it, thanks to relentless prioritization.
I started Afford Anything to show people that they can, in fact, afford anything.
You cover a lot of different topics on your site like Money Myths and Travel. Which topic is your favorite to write on? Which topic do you feel like you could work on a bit more?
When I started the site, most of my posts covered travel and lifestyle design. I’m location independent, which means I can live anywhere on earth as long as I have an Internet connection. I make my own hours and write my own rules. Many of my initial posts covered entrepreneurship, freedom, travel and risk-taking.
In the two years since I returned to the U.S. and started the site, however, I’ve developed a new hobby: buying rental properties. My partner and I co-own 5 rental units, which bring us about $25,000 in passive income each year.
Many of my recent posts have talked about rental property investing, and these days I have to restrain myself away from writing too much about that topic. I don’t want to develop a reputation as a “real estate” writer … I want to more broadly focus on lifestyle, entrepreneurship and wealth!
How do you handle your own finances? What system do you employ with: budgets, investing, and career?
I believe in the Anti-Budget: remove your desired savings amount off the top. Spend the rest. That’s far easier than line-iteming every grocery store purchase.
Last year my boyfriend and I saved roughly 50 percent of our combined income. We’ll be “wealthy” when our passive income is around $50,000, the median household income in America. We’re halfway there, but surprisingly, it seems to be getting harder with time, not easier. There aren’t as many great real estate deals as there were in 2010!
What’s the biggest financial mistake you’ve ever made? What did you learn from it?
Buying into social myths like “Rich people are careless with money” (they’re not) and “I’d rather be happy than rich” (who says they’re contradictory?)
My worst mistake, though, was probably being too frugal. The more time and energy I spent penny-pinching, the less I was able to progress in my career and my investments. The best thing I ever did, financially, was to become frugal with time rather than money.
What are your goals this year and beyond with Afford Anything?
Build a tribe. Start a movement. I want people to see what’s possible. Focus on abundance. Think big. Realize their life is too short for coupon-clipping and penny-pinching. There are (literal) mountains to conquer, companies to launch, books to write, art to create, oceans to sail and people to love.