Q&A with Paula Pant of AffordAnything.com

Paula Pant of AffordAnything.com has been blogging about personal finance in 2011. She had recently returned from traveling around the world for two years nonstop. During that time, she lived entirely on her savings so that she could be a full-time world traveler. Because of this experience, AffordAnything.com was born!

Why Did You Start AffordAnything.com and what is your professional background?

This is Paula Pant of the blog Afford AnythingThe most common question I got, perhaps not surprisingly, was how could you afford to travel for two years.  I began my blog, affordanything.com, in order to answer that popular and important question.

I worked as a journalist and in many ways I had a dream career. I enjoyed the newsroom, my colleagues, and the work itself, but I quit my nine to five job in 2008 because I wanted the freedom to be able to make my own hours and work from anywhere on the planet as long as I had an internet connection. I haven’t had an employer since 2008 and I’ve been freelancing and blogging full time since 2010/early 2011.

At the moment, my home is based in Atlanta, Georgia, but I travel about one-third of the year. I started the blog because many of my friends would utter the phrase, “I’d love to do X but I can’t afford it.” It doesn’t matter whether that "X" in their book referenced buying their dream home, throwing a wedding, traveling the world or having a baby. No matter their dream, people often thought that they couldn’t afford to live the way they wanted to. My entire blog is based around the idea that that’s simply false. If there’s something you want, you can find a way to afford it.  In other words, you can afford anything.

What is the area of finance that your blog is particularly strong on (a particular demographic you focus on, etc) and how does your personal finance blog differ from others in the space?

I particularly focus on people who want to adopt a life that’s full of abundance rather than scarcity and deprivation. I don’t blog about extreme frugality or coupon clipping or pinching pennies. I believe in maximizing life and living an epic adventure. Money is there to serve you, not the other way around.

How do you generate ideas and choose what you want to write about on a daily basis/what helps you generate materials on a consistent basis? 

Most of my blog posts come from either observations, thoughts and conversations that I have with other people in my day-to-day life, or questions that my readers send me. I get about 100 emails a week from readers who share their wildest dreams and the obstacles that stand in their way. I believe my blog is different from many others in that I’m not obsessed with making your own laundry detergent and cutting your own hair and all of those other frugality measures, nor do I advocate get rich quick schemes like day trading. Instead, I focus on entrepreneurship and long-term investing as a means to being able to live whatever lifestyle you want.

What are the biggest struggles you have and what is your personal financial goal (both short term and long term?

I reached financial independence about two years ago, which means that the passive income generated from my investments is enough to cover my cost of living. In other words, I don’t have to work for money anymore.  I can choose to work-- and in fact I enjoy running a blog and an online company -- but I have the freedom that comes with knowing that I don’t have to. I don’t have any particular personal financial goals because I’m already financially independent and in a very strong place in life. My biggest goal is helping others achieve the same things. I don’t believe that there are enough resources on the internet that talk about financial independence and wealth building.

What do you see as the biggest impediment to most people achieving their personal finance goals?

I believe the biggest impediment to most people achieving their personal finance goals comes from limiting beliefs. When I talk about "limiting beliefs," I’m referring to statements such as "I’ll never be rich" or "only rich people invest" or "maybe when I’m in my 60s, I might have enough money to be as rich as my landlord," or simply -- and perhaps worst of all -- the limiting belief that your time is worth little-to-nothing. Many of the people who fall into the hyper-frugality camp, the ones who are clipping apart dryer sheets in order to save $2 a month, fall into this camp of believing that their time is worth nothing and therefore not using it to generate wealth.

What are some steps that readers can take tomorrow to begin improving their financial situation?

The steps that my readers need to take in order to begin improving their financial situations are unique to each reader. There’s no way I can make a blanket statement about all of my readers, because they’re all starting at very different points.  

Some people are already millionaires while others are in $100,000 of debt. Some people’s goals are to simply be debt-free while other people want to own multiple properties in exotic locations around the globe. Some people are taking care of their elderly parents or grandparents, while others are just graduating from college and trying to figure out how to negotiate the salary at their first job. There’s nothing blanket or standardized about personal finance, other than the importance of focusing on wealth building in the long-run.

What tools or resources do you rely on to keep your own personal finances in order?

I use Personal Capital to review my asset allocation and make sure that all of my accounts are invested in the way that I believe they ought to be. I also use both EverBank and SmartyPig to hold my savings, since both of those online savings account provide some of the highest interest payments that I have found.  

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