This is our 13th “Better Know A Blogger” interview. We’ll be posting two per day, except on Saturdays and Sundays, leading up to the 2012 Financial Blogger Conference next month. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to some excellent bloggers from all across the web who are able to shed light on topics ranging from debt to saving money to investing. (Each interview is conducted via e-mail and then published here)
Today’s interviewee is Carrie from CarefulCents.com. Enjoy!
You recently became debt free after paying down $14,000 in about a year. Do you think you would have had that kind of success if you weren’t blogging?
I think I would’ve had some success, but it would’ve taken a lot longer to become debt free. Instead of getting it done within a year, it probably would have taken twice that long. Putting the numbers out there, for everyone reading my blog to see, was a huge motivator. Plus, how could I talk about hating debt and wanting to save money, if I was still in debt myself? No doubt blogging created much more urgency.
That’s so awesome. What was it like getting feedback from readers? Was it all positive? Were there any negative comments that surprised you or helped motivate you? Any great advice from readers that you took to heart?
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The Careful Cents readers are awesome, and for the most part all the feedback was positive and very encouraging. I remember specifically one of the last few progress reports I posted, I said I was struggling. I didn’t think I could get out of debt as quickly as I originally projected. I had several readers email or leave me comments saying they believed I could do it. To not give up and that if I kept the end goal in mind and not lose hope, I could make it happen.
I also wrote a post about what motivates people to get out of debt, and I asked everyone to share their motivations. Reading those comments was probably the most influential thing that kept me going. Especially towards the end when I was ready to give up, that last little push was all I needed.
What a great idea to ask about other people’s motivation. Do you have any advice for our readers who may be working to get out of debt – on how to stay motivated when you want to give up and how to optimize your monthly finances?
For me, there were two top motivators for getting out of debt.
1. Understanding the “Why”. What is your reason to get out of debt (besides just getting out of debt)? It has to be something motivating like; financial stability, traveling the world, following your passions, giving to charities or something like that. That’s my advice to anyone who wants to get out of debt, understand your “Why”. And if you need to, create a Vision Board (I call it my “Why” board) which has pictures and inspirational quotes on it. Pinterest is a nice tool for this if you don’t want to make a physical board.
2. Find a financial tool or software that’s a daily/weekly reminder of your progress. When the numbers stare at you in black and white, it’s hard to ignore them. Most of us humans are very visual so seeing a progress chart did wonders for keeping me on tracking and optimizing my finances. I calculated every penny that came in and went out – and since most of the financial tools did it automatically – I didn’t have to spend a lot of time writing it down manually.
One of the things you write about is how you’ve started freelancing for extra income. What tips would you give to someone who wants to start freelancing but isn’t sure how to use their time most efficiently (especially if they have a full-time job)?
Yes, making extra income and throwing it all towards my debt is the single biggest factor for becoming debt free so quickly. You can only save so much money until you need to make more of it.
Starting a freelance business on the side of a full-time job is tough and takes a lot of dedication. You have to REALLY want it, and to prioritize your time accordingly (as my dad says – how big is your “want to”). Once you’ve decided to pursue a side hustle, you’ve got to schedule your time, even down to the hours. Another smart tip is to find a job within the same field of work you already do. For instance, during the day I’m an accountant and deal with small business bank accounts and taxes. This translates really well into blogging as a financial expert. It’s a slightly different perspective on a topic I already know. So I don’t have to spend extra time or money researching and learning something new.
That’s good advice. Okay, last question: Will this be your first time attending FinCon? What are you most looking forward to and who are you looking forward to meeting?
This is actually my second time attending FinCon. I went last year, after Phil from PTMoney convinced me to go after only blogging for two months. But I’m so glad I went. I learned more than I could have imagined and it solidified my decision to become a blogger. I’m looking forward to seeing all the bloggers I’ve met over this past year and actually putting names to faces. That’s the funnest part for me. Since I’ve already met a lot of the bloggers and companies before, I can’t wait to reconnect with everyone again. It’s going to be an awesome conference!
Thanks again for your time, Carrie. Looking forward to seeing you at FinCon!
Have questions for Carrie? Post them in the comments below.