Better Know… Jana from Daily Money Shot

Better Know A Blogger - Jana from Daily Money Shot

This is our 7th “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 Jana from Enjoy!

Jana - Daily Money ShotYou have a great writing style and you write from a very personal perspective, which is fun to read. How does that shape the way you write about finances? Have you ever had to omit something from a blog post that you wanted to include because it was too personal?

Hmmm. That’s a good question. I think it definitely shapes the way I blog about finances. I write kind of the way I talk, so my posts are very conversational, like you’re sitting down with a friend, talking about money. I try to make it entertaining since so much discussion about money is dry and boring, and people are going to continue to shy away from financial discussions as a result. By making it more personal, it makes it feel more real and less…intimidating. I also like to make people feel less alone in their lack of knowledge or being “behind” on some of the randomly assigned financial benchmarks, so I talk a lot about my lapses and ignorance on purpose.

As far as omitting something from a post, I don’t leave things out because it’s too personal. I’m pretty much an open book but there are some topics that I’ve discussed with my family and I will not blog about those, just out of respect for the others involved.

I think you definitely achieve the goal of being “relatable” in your writing, and as evidence of that you get a ton of comments on your posts. What are some things you’ve learned from your readers? Have you gotten any feedback that has changed how you look at blogging or finances?

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I have learned so much from my readers. I’ve learned that there is a whole community of people who want to talk about money in an approachable, pragmatic way and that they are willing to engage in conversations, as well as provide thoughtful, useful feedback (I’ve gotten great frugality tips through some of my posts and I even have gotten some investing advice! Not specific, of course, but a general overview). I’ve learned how supportive they can be (as evidenced by the amazing comments I’ve gotten on a few of my most personal posts), and that blogging is as much about interacting and having fun as it is about writing.

As you know, many of our readers are working to pay off debt. You’ve written about that topic on your blog. What is the best advice you would give someone who is in the middle of that process?

My best advice isn’t really mine. It’s Dory’s; the fish from “Finding Nemo”. Throughout the movie, she repeats the line “Just keep swimming”. And if someone is in the middle of paying off debt, that’s what she needs to do. Just keep swimming. Paying off debt is hard, it’s exhausting, it’s annoying at times, it’s frustrating, and it’s something that no one really wants to do; we pay off debt because we have to, for one reason or another. There are so many times when it’s just easier to quit and revert back to old habits because keeping on track is just horrendous. But it’s during those times that you need to think about the end goal, what you will gain when it’s done, and the lessons that you’re learning while you’re going through it.

And just keep swimming.

I love that advice! Which reminds me – I think it is very courageous that you decided to quit your “full time” job to pursue your passion of writing. I know this is something many people dream about, so what advice would you give them about actually doing it (quitting) and then pursuing whatever it is you’re interested in?

I left my full-time job for a variety of reasons, and the ability to pursue my dream of writing was only one of them. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity. There were two things that made it possible: my husband supported it and we had worked for 5 years to pay off our debt while keeping our fixed expenses roughly the same. Having that freedom gave me the ability to make the choice to leave my full-time job. It also helped that my daughter is starting kindergarten and there’s no more daycare expense!

My best advice in this capacity is threefold. One, know what it is you want to do and make sure you have a plan and goals in place to achieve it. Two, have an emotional support system in place. Three, have a way to earn some sort of income while you’re pursuing your dream. For instance, I still teach part-time, and I liken my teaching job to the waitressing job an aspiring actress has while she’s waiting for her “big break”. It’s important to still have a steady source of income, even if it’s not doing entirely what you want to do.

That’s great advice! I think you will meet with a lot of success. You mention your daughter – do you have any advice for people with kids who are working to improve their finances? Also, what strategies do you use (or plan to use) to teach your daughter about money?

I have so much advice for those people and next month, my series [of guest posts] for ReadyForZero for parents will be starting. So look for that!

As far as teaching my daughter about money, my husband and I don’t have a specific strategy. We do lead by example–having a budget, making lists, explaining wants versus needs (and what constitutes each one), discussing sales, having a change jar, talking to her about why mommy and daddy work…those kinds of things. We don’t keep money a secret and we welcome her questions about it. Our thought is that the more open we are, the healthier her relationship with money will be and she won’t wind up in the kind of debt we did. We are not shy about telling her “no” and explaining that we either can’t afford something or we didn’t bring the money to buy it that day. She understands that we save money for things, and for her, saving money in her piggy bank is a game. I’m sure as she gets older (she’s almost 6), we’ll have to readjust our strategy but for now, this works for us.

That’s so neat that she has her own piggy bank! I’m sure that will help with her understanding of money (and the importance of saving!) Okay, one last question: Did you attend FinCon last year, and if so what was that experience like? Also, what are you looking forward to this year and what advice would you give a first-timer?

I did go to FinCon last year and it was unbelievable! I learned so much from the speakers and formed wonderful relationships that one year later, I still have. Going this year is going to be like a big class reunion and I’m so excited to meet all the bloggers I’ve befriended via their blogs this year. One of my favorite parts about FinCon is getting to know the bloggers behind the words. It makes reading their sites much more personal.

For first-timers, I would suggest a few of things. First, don’t be nervous. Even though some of us already know each other, you know more people than you think you do. Whether it’s by Twitter handle, Facebook, commenting…these are people you know. Don’t be shy about talking to them (I say this as I am incredibly shy and new people make me very nervous) because almost everyone is incredibly friendly. Two, you will learn a lot of information. Don’t try to digest, implement, or remember it all at once. When you get home, take a day or two, sleep and recover, and then go back through your notes. Plan what you can roll out in a day, a month, a year. You will be incredibly jazzed and enthused about blogging but trying to implement everything at once will fry your brain (you can ask me how I know). Three, have fun. Even though we’re all there to improve our blogs and network, having fun is so important. Enjoy yourself, have a good time (and, most importantly, enjoy the free food and drinks)!

Wow, that sounds like fun! I’m very much looking forward to it, and I hope to meet you in person during the conference. Thanks for sharing your insights, and thank you again for taking the time to talk with me.

Have questions for Jana? Post them in the comments below.

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