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007: How to Afford Anything by Hacking Your Housing Costs with Paula Pant

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Who is Paula Pant?

Paula Pant Afford Anything and her husband Will Sisk with PTPaula Pant quit her 9-to-5 job, built financial independence (so that she never needs to trade time for money), launched an online business and owns 7 rental property units.

She’s the host of the Afford Anything podcast and the blogger at AffordAnything.com one of my favorite websites.

Paula is someone who I lean heavily on for writing advice and real estate advice. I own a single family townhome and the information on her site has helped me build confidence as an accidental landlord investor.

She’s an excellent writer as well and speaks each year at FinCon typically on a writing or freelancing topic.

Listen on to find out about Paula’s house hacking strategies, her decision to take a two-year trip traveling the World, her secrets to better freelance writing clients, her advanced saving strategy for her HSA, and much more. Stick around after the interview for my biggest takeaways.

Listen to This Episode with Paula Pant

I hope you enjoyed that. A big thank you to Paula for giving us the gold today.

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Show Notes

[3:50] – The one thing Paula did that’s made the biggest difference.
[4:30] – Why focus on housing as a way to financial independence.
[6:00] – Paula’s background.
[7:30] – The specific strategies she’s used to find housing for less.
[9:30] – What she did with the money she saved in housing costs.
[11:00] – Deciding to become a master of her money after college in 2005.
[13:30] – Going from mini-retirement mindset to financial independence mindset.
[14:30] – How she saved $25,000 in three years to take her first mini-retirement.
[16:45] – How much she saved in her company’s 401k during her 3-year employment.
[18:45] – Why and how to travel the world? And is it even safe?
[21:00] – Where she went in 2008 and what she did on her big trip around the world.
[23:00] – Freelance writing as a bridge to financial independence.
[24:15] – Where she landed when she returned to the U.S. in 2010 and how she lived.
[27:30] – The best advice she got about freelancing and Paula’s favorite magazine.
[29:15] – The secrets to making six figures as a freelancer.
[32:00] – The tools Paula uses to manage her money and paying herself first.
[36:45] – Paula (and husband Will’s) annual savings goals through Roth 401k, HSAs, and SIMPLE IRA.
[38:30] – One area where Paula still struggles with her money.
[40:30] – Her health insurance choice and how she’s using the health savings account.
[45:15] – Paula’s impulse purchase into real estate.
[49:45] – Her real estate portfolio now and how much she’s making each month.
[53:00] – Deciding between real estate investing and traditional retirement investing.
[55:30] – Paula’s goals for the future.
[58:00] – How Paula feels about her journey so far.

Show Sponsor

This episode was sponsored by our guide to figuring out where to get your taxes done. In a recent article, I outline this decision, including the different prices for each service. Head to ptmoney.com/where-to-get-taxes-done/ to check it out.

Links/Terms/Concepts from the Show

Disclosure: All opinions expressed are our own. We are compensated by some of the businesses that we link to and review (e.g. TD Ameritrade).

3 Takeaways from My Interview with Paula

1. Paula didn’t need a home and mortgage to feel like a real adult.

She and her husband gave themselves permission to become real adults based on the “invisible things” they were doing. Is there something in your life you’re doing because you feel like it’s what an adult should be doing? Are you getting confidence from the things no one sees?

2. Using small bets give you confidence.

Paula didn’t take off on her two-year round the world trip without testing the idea first with a couple of small trips to places like Costa Rica. While you can certainly apply this concept to lifestyle decisions (which can impact your finances), you can use this approach directly for your financial life as well. Want to start investing? Just start with a small amount. Get something going, then see how it goes. Make bigger decisions later.

Contributing to retirement accounts is like paying the electric bill. It’s non-negotiable. This is my favorite takeaway so far from this whole podcast. The electric bill always gets paid. Is your retirement as important? Yes. Maybe not as immediate, but it’s certainly as important. So make sure you’re doing like Paula and paying yourself first. Hold those retirement contributions sacred.

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This show is part of the FinCon Podcast Network and was produced by Steve Stewart.

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One Comment

  1. Avatar David@MillennialPersonalFinance says:

    This is great inspiration. I used to have the mindset of doing what I thought I SHOULD be doing, but not necessarily what I wanted to do. This affected my finances, personal life, and even love life. But doing things for myself and saving money in a way that’s comfortable for me made me more confident!

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