I was fortunate enough to get to interview Serena from the blog Fabulously Broke & Everyday Minimalist. She brings a unique perspective to saving time and money. I hope you find her tips and insight valuable. I am hoping to secure more interviews with more well-known bloggers in the future. Enjoy!
1. Please describe what Fabulously Broke is all about. How & why did you start your blog?
I started the blog in late 2006 (really, 2007) as a way to chronicle my journey out of $60,000 of debt and to talk about money and how it related to me as a person.
18 months later I was debt free and my blog has changed into more of a lifestyle blog (I talk about everything) with a hint of money talk that I don’t think is boring.
In 2009 I had to split off Fabulously Broke into another blog called The Everyday Minimalist
to talk about how I live as a minimalist and travel. Fabulously Broke was too small of a blog to really give the proper attention to minimalism, a topic that a lot of people seemed interested in.
I don’t teach anything directly, like talking about retirement plans and how they work… I think I talk about money issues and then indirectly, it makes you see how money can work for you, not against you.
2. So what is a day in your shoes like? Location, Age, Job, Interests?
Location: Canada, although I’m all over it right now because of my job.
Job: Business consultant
Interests? When I am not working (I love my career!), I blog, eat and sleep. I also enjoy traveling, and that pretty much covers what I like to do in life.
3. Ok, now the fun questions, what is your favorite cheap meals that you make at home and when you’re eating out/traveling?
A lot of my favorite recipes are located here: Fabulously Broke’s Recipes
But my favorite meals are just some fish on top of rice with some fresh chopped vegetables like tomatoes or chayote. When we travel, BF tends to cook for the two of us, or to come up with meals like great sandwiches with pre-cooked meats, or he cooks in the hotel room if we have a kitchen. He made fajitas once!
4. What is the one thing you own under $20 that has gotten the most bang for your buck?
My silver ID case minimalist wallet from Urban Outfitters. $15 CAD and I use it as an actual wallet. I love it!
5. What are your favorite money saving tips?
Don’t even go into the shops to be tempted.
Budget and track your expenses.
Use cash to feel the pain when you spend.
Maximize your credit card rewards cashback or points.
Delay your purchases for at least 72 hours to make sure you really want or need it.
6. Why do you think so many Americans are in deep debt? What do you think the solution is?
Most people will freely admit they’re deep in debt because they didn’t save enough money and they spent it on a lot of stuff they didn’t need. Others got into debt because of medical issues in the U.S., but being a Canadian, I am used to universal healthcare.
The solution? Stop shopping on impulse, make a budget, track your expenses and make a plan to get out of debt. Then save as much as you can, or at least build up a healthy cushion for emergencies so you aren’t caught off guard again.
7. I read you have embraced minimalism, how did you have this change in mindset? What are the benefits?
I only did it because I was traveling so much and moving so often!
It happened one day when I was in a hotel room (full kitchen included) with a single suitcase and I thought — Wow. I could live like this. Just a suitcase of my stuff, another one for kitchen things… this is possible, instead of having so much to pack, worry about and carry all the time.
Then I got back home, sold all my furniture and started paring down on my life. I didn’t even know it was called minimalism at the time. I just didn’t want to carry so much junk.
The benefits are mostly that I save money, made money selling my stuff, and now spend less time on packing. I’m also pickier about what I buy. I think about whether or not I can travel or move easily with it. 😛
8. What tips can you give our readers in simplifying our lives while saving time & money?
Simplifying your life isn’t just in the physical, it’s also mental:
Think twice before buying what you’re about to.
Use alternatives or substitutes before buying new items.
Be organized and make a plan (like going to the grocery store with a list and a meal plan, and not shopping blindly).
Say ‘No’ more often to commitments and activities.
Have 3 major but reasonably-sized To Do’s on your list per day and get them done.
9. What are you top 3 blog posts that every Mr. Cheap Stuff reader should read.
My best of posts are located here: Best of Fabulously Broke in the City
My top 3 favorites are:
10. Finally, can you give me your favorite tip(s) on how you use the Internet to save money or time?
It’s my entertainment. I don’t own a TV nor pay for cable TV (it’s included in my hotel rates, but I rarely watch it on my own) and I am also on the internet a lot with my two blogs, which are a free, fun activity for me.
I email a lot more often than I’ll pick up the phone to call someone, which saves me on long distance most of the time, and I price check everything I want to buy at all the different stores before buying it.
Lastly, I read blogs. There are some fabulous blogs out there that inspire me, teach me more about any subject I want to know about, and are more varied in selection or style of writing.