Interview - Almost Frugal: Kelly Rigotti turned financial blogger during maternity leave
She does not like to call herself a financial guru; neither is she a frugal queen. But yes she is almost frugal. You have guessed it right. I am talking about Kelly Rigotti of Almost Frugal, a frugality and personal finance blog written from the perspective of someone who almost has it all together. Though she writes on frugality, still she believes that there are many other things to work upon to become the "perfect frugal". Let’s read her interview and find out what’s her take on frugality and other financial issues.
Jason: From where did you get the idea of blogging?
Kelly: I was at home on maternity leave while pregnant with my third child. I decided to start a blog for the same reasons as so many other people: to keep far away family and friends informed of our lives. This is especially important for me as I'm American but live in France, so when I say 'far away', it really is far away.
Jason: There are so many topics on which you can blog. But why Personal Finance?
Kelly: After starting my personal blog, I got really into reading other blogs. And, as I was broke, really, really broke, I read a lot of personal finance and frugality blogs. I started learning more and more about the subject and began leaving longer and longer comments on some of my favorite blogs. Then I'd get frustrated when they didn't publish new posts more frequently, so I decided to start my own, non personal, blog. I was obsessed with personal finance at that point in my life, so writing a blog on the topic was a logical leap.
Jason: What do you do in real life and how’d you get started?
Kelly: Up until about 2 years ago I taught English as a Second Language and American Culture here in France, but it's a kind of dead end field (albeit quite interesting) and certainly very low paid! I wanted to change careers, so I decided to go back to school and now I'm a graduate student in marketing, finishing in about two weeks. I have learned a lot about marketing and communication through my blog, Almost Frugal, and thanks both to my masters degree and my blogging experience, I was recently hired as an online marketing and communication consultant for a software company in the region in which I live.
Jason: How long do you think this current economic situation will last and what do you think the answer to it is?
Kelly: You know, I'm not a financial expert, so I don't have any good answers (neither do a lot of financial experts, on the other hand!). But I think it will last at least another year. Both my parents are still working, in the United States, and they are quite affected by the current state of the economy. Luckily, in France, neither my husband nor I have personally had to fear for our jobs, although had I stayed in my past position as a teacher in a private company, I almost certainly would have been laid off.
I don't know what the solution to resolving the current financial crisis is, but my gut instinct tells me that it lays more in job creation and less in subsidies. If a person receives a one time $400 payment, that would be really nice, but it wouldn't have much effect over the long term. On the other hand, if an unemployed person finds a job that makes a huge difference in their and their family's lives.
Jason: We just noticed the tagline on your blog is, "Learning About Frugality." Do you think you've learnt everything about frugality?
Kelly: Ooh, la, no! Otherwise my blog would be called 'Perfect Frugally: I'll teach you all there is to know about frugality'! I am very much like so many other people out there... trying to learn about how to be more frugal, save more money, pay less on debt, while still enjoying living life and fighting against the consumer culture that says more, more, more, spend, spend, spend.
Jason: What are the three biggest finance mistakes you have ever made?
Kelly: Well, by far the biggest was taking out student loans to go to college. I had a wonderful undergraduate experience, which I value very highly, and without which I would literally not be where I am today (it was thanks to a college trip to France in 2000 that I met my husband). However, I often took out loans for living expenses, instead of managing my money more carefully. While those weren't responsible for all of my student loan debt, they tacked on about $10,000 worth, for a total now of about $57,000.
The second mistake was not educating me better about refinancing my student loans- I ended up having to do that because I stupidly got behind in my payments and I did it out of desperation. I didn't take time to really think, and although I might still have chosen to consolidate and refinance if I had better thought about it in advance, I regret not learning more about it before signing.
And the third? Trading in my two year old, nearly paid for on zero percent financing two doors Ford Escort for a ten year old, broken down Jeep Cherokee with a 60 month loan at 17%. Ugh.
Jason: Where do you see yourself 10 years down the lane?
Kelly: I don't think we'll still be in France, although I don't know if we'll go back to the US. But I'd like for us to be debt free and have a good block of savings for retirement. I don't know if we'll own our own house, as we like to be footloose and fancy-free, but building and keeping a large emergency fund is definitely a priority.
Jason: Please advice our readers some great tips on how to pay off the debt?
Kelly: You have to start. I know how overwhelming it feels to be out of control, not to want to open the envelopes that arrive in the mail. To think that because you can't save $500 a month, you shouldn't save $5. But the most important thing is to start, to develop a commitment to yourself to paying off debt and managing your money. After that, you can always find the method of budgeting, or snowballing, or gaming the credit cards that works for you, but it all comes down to one thing: starting in the first place.
Jason: Do you think blogging has changed your life in some way or the other?
Kelly: Blogging has very much changed my life. As I mentioned earlier, I now have a job that I wouldn't have gotten were it not for my blogging experience. I've also met a huge number of people, both in real life and online, and gotten to do a lot of fun things (like this interview, for one!) that I would not have done otherwise. Writing a blog has enriched my life, literally and figuratively, in more ways than one.
Jason: How do feel by becoming a part of world’s largest debt consolidation community now?
Kelly: It's great. Being surrounded by others who think like me, and are working towards the same goals towards which I'm working, is great.
So, do you think that Kelly is really a frugal expert? Please provide us with your views and comments on the interview. If you want to ask any questions to Kelly then do post your questions in the comment box below and we will try our best that she answers to your questions.