Better Know… Paula from Afford Anything

Better Know A Blogger  - Paula from Afford Anything

This is our sixth “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 Paula from AffordAnything.com. Enjoy!

Paula - Afford Anything

First of all, congratulations on your new domain name – it must be nice to have that in time for FinCon12!

Thank you! I was so tired of telling people my site was “afford – dash – anything.” I’m enthusiastic about having the clean, crisp “affordanything” brand!

It does look good! And it’s great that you shared the story of how you purchased it. You are one of the few (only?) financial bloggers who used to be a newspaper editor and reporter – how does that background influence your writing and your work?

I pay close attention to the writing style of my blog — grammar, sentence structure, syntax, and when applicable, narrative storytelling arc. I feel like I spend about an hour just deleting adverbs and tightening the text.

One relief about blogging, as compared with reporting, is that I no longer am expected to do original reporting. For example, I don’t have to call sources to get a fresh quote that won’t have been written on any other website.

That’s interesting. There is certainly more flexibility in blogging, isn’t there? One of the other things that sets you apart is you call your site “the anti-frugality blog.” Can you explain how you make this work in practice and what advice you’d give our readers who are working to pay off debt?

I used to be the Queen of Frugal. I price-compared toothpaste, I scrutinized bills down to the penny, I called companies to complain about a $1.50 overcharge. It was an enormous waste of time.

When I started working side-jobs in addition to my full-time job, my income dramatically escalated. The additional income far and beyond replaced the amount that I was “losing” by not quibbling over 50 cents.

Why devote 40 minutes to calling a credit-card company to dispute a $5 charge? I’d advise people to re-direct that additional time and energy into earning more money. Humans have a limited amount of attention (or what I call “mental bandwidth”), and that attention and energy should be directed towards the tasks that produce the highest income. Think in terms of what’s possible.

I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that. What tips would you give someone who has a full-time job and would like to start earning extra income? How should they begin?

First, decide WHAT you want to do. That often begins with figuring out what scheduling requirements you need. Do you need another job with flexible hours, or can you commit to fixed hours? Would you prefer the structure of going into an office, or would you like to work for yourself and build a client base?

Then search contractor sites and job sites to find out about all the different types of jobs and freelance gigs out there. You’d be amazed at what people get paid to do. There are freelance baby-name consultants who help parents choose a name for their child. There are freelancers who coach college women about how to get into top-choice sororities. The variety of jobs out there is endless.

Then there are traditional freelance jobs, of course: teaching, tutoring, writing, web design, programming, bookkeeping, babysitting, dog-walking. There’s more to do than you could ever imagine.

Wow, those are some great examples of freelance jobs I never would have thought were possible. Another topic you write about on your blog is investing in real estate. Is it something that can work for anyone? Where should someone start if they’re interested in doing this?

Yes, I think anyone with the desire to be a real estate investor can do so. If someone is interested, here’s where I’d begin:

First, narrow your criteria. Do you want to be in residential, commercial, industrial? Do you want to specialize in a particular geographic area, a particular price-point or a particular type of house? Decide how you want to monetize. Do you want to own rentals? Flip? Wholesale? Offer lease-purchase agreements?

Start reading books about real estate investing; I review several of these on my site. Network with people in your area who are involved in RE investing (just be cautious, because you may meet some sharks who prey on new investors). You’ll need to “build a team” — at minimum, you’ll need trustworthy contractors, agents, lenders and an accountant.

That is really great practical advice. Okay, last question: what recommendations do you have for a first-time FinCon attendee? And what are you most looking forward to at FinCon12?

My favorite aspect of last year’s FinCon conference was meeting all the bloggers whom I had spent a year reading — that’s precisely what I’m looking forward to at this year’s conference, too!

Advice for first-time attendees? Socialize, meet, mingle. The time spent standing in a hallway, building a relationship or making a connection, will prove to be valuable.

Thanks again, Paula! I hope to meet you in person at FinCon.

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

Also be sure to come back and check out Paula’s guest post for our Smart Money Debate next Wednesday!

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