Debt Payoff Success Story: Anna Newell Jones

by Julie on February 29, 2012 · 17 comments

When it comes to inspiration for getting out of debt, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more inspiring than Anna Newell Jones. In January of 2010 she set out to pay off the most troubling of her debts, $6,000 of credit card debt. She went far beyond that and ended up paying off $17,911 of her debt in one year. She went on to pay off the rest of her debt in 2011.

Anna used a combination of a Spending Fast and a Spending Diet to accomplish her goal. Inspired by her accomplishment, I asked her if she’d be willing to do a Q&A with us here, and she graciously agreed. Here is our conversation:

Anna Newell Jones

Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Anna: I’m 32 years old and live in Denver, Colorado’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. My day-job is as a clerk for the state of
Colorado, I shoot weddings and portraits with my husband Aaron ( and I write the personal finance blog And Then She Saved (

Q. Where did your debt come from and how much did you have?

Anna: When I started my Spending Fast I had $23,605.10 in debt. It was made up of a combination of college debt, a loan to my parents (they took it out on my behalf so I could attend college), credit cards, and an over-draft account.  

Q. You implemented a spending fast in order to pay off your debt. What was involved in that?

Anna: There were quite a few things involved but the first thing I did (which was the backbone of the Spending Fast) was to create a “Wants and Needs” list and spend on the “Needs” side of the list only. (

Q. What kinds of things did you learn during the fast? Would you choose that approach again?

Anna: The biggest thing I learned was that having everything I want is not all it’s cracked up to be. I would absolutely, no doubt, take the Spending Fast and Spending Diet approach again. It was extremly hard but I was able to get out of debt realtively quickly (considering I didn’t think there was anyway I’d ever be debt-free and I thought I would die with my debt). I needed to see big results to stay motivated when it got tough and the Spending Fast method allowed that. 

Q. How long did it take you to become debt-free?

Anna: It took 15 months (why faster than I ever would’ve imagined).

Q. What are your goals now that you are debt-free? Have your attitudes about debt changed?

Anna: My goals are to stay of out debt, not slip back into my out ways of spending, to build a secure financial future, and to help others get out of debt too. My attitude towards debt hasn’t really changed… I still don’t like it and I still don’t want it hanging over my head;) I now know that I can implement the Spending Fast at any time and I also now know that debt doesn’t have to be forever.

Q. What message do you have for a person or couple trying to get out of debt?

Anna: Be committed to the process. It’s hard to change your life and habits so keep going even when it gets tough and even when slip-ups happen (it’s unrealistic to think that “mistakes” won’t happen). Take an honest look at your finances, be ready to change, know it will be hard work, and know that you are absolutely not alone. (The Community page on my site is a great place to walk through the hard times, get feedback, and share your getting-out-of-debt successes:

 Thanks for having me Julie! :)

I absolutely love Anna’s all out approach to debt reduction and appreciate her taking the time to share her thoughts with us here.

If you’re looking for information on paying off your debt, my absolute favorite resource for that is the debt snowball information in Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna February 29, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thanks for having me Julie!


Julie March 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration, Anna.


Audrey @ Mom Drop Box February 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Wow, that’s so awesome!! I like the idea of a ‘spending fast.’ Very inspiring.


Julie March 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

I do too, Audrey. Anna has me thinking a lot about wants vs. needs and spending only from the needs side.


Young Professional Finances February 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Great interview! I think it’s amazing when people are able to pay off so much debt so fast.


Julie March 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I do too, YPF. Her commitment is admirable.


Christa March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I like Anna’s comment about slip-ups. It’s great to be able to accept that they happened and get back on track. I agree that it’s unrealistic to never slip up.


Julie March 1, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I agree that bouncing back and getting back on course may be the most important part of debt reduction, Christa.


After College Money March 1, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Congrats Anna! I bet it feels great to relieve the debt off her shoulders.


Julie March 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm

It must be an amazing feeling, ACM.


Frugal work at home mom March 2, 2012 at 7:57 am

Great story I love hearing people’s success story


Janet March 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

Great interview! So inspiring.


Niki March 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I love Anna’s story. She really has quite the inspirational blog now. I remember waayy back when she had debt. She has really done a great job.


Tackling Our Debt March 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Excellent post! That is a lot to pay off so quickly. Good for her. I need to drop by her site and learn more.


Sakura March 8, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I love hearing success stories like this! It is very inspirational.


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