Denver photographer Anna Newell Jones began to realize a couple of years ago that she was much too obsessed with things. For her, the need to consume manifested itself into a big pile of debt. That's when Newell Jones put her well-shod foot down, foregoing her need to feed on all the best things in life -- at least on the physical plane -- for something more precious: friends, peace of mind and just enough to live on. And it worked. On the strict program she crafted for herself , she whittled her debt into solvency, and by the same token simplified her life.
She also documented the whole thing in a blog, And Then She Saved, which serves as a guideline for others interested in making similar personal transformations.
Now, she's sharing again in real-time, by hosting the first And Then She Saved Clothing Swap, this Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. At Super Ordinary Gallery in RiNo. The idea is to bring ten nicer items from your own closet and trade for items brought by others.
We asked Newell Jones a few questions about the art of saving and the swap itself; her answers follow.
Westword: What inspired you to dream up your And Then She Saved plan?
Anna Newell Jones: I was so obsessed with things. I really wanted my priorities to shift, rather than the things. I tried budgeting, I tried cutting back, but it didn't seem to work for me. You make a little progress doing those things, but it's so slow. I wanted to do something extreme to stop spending, cold turkey, and actually see some results. In the end, I did see results faster, and I ended up getting out of debt.
How did you do it?
I officially started it with a spending fast in January 2010. I was able to go on a spending diet in 2011, then I restarted the spending fast.
What's the difference?
A spending fast means absolutely no discretionary spending of any kind. On a spending diet, I allow myself $100 a month for non-essentials.
Does your plan have a set of rules?
No, I try not to be preachy. I just tell people what worked for me. First, I made a wants and needs list, identifying my goals in life and my motivators, in terms of balancing what went on the list.
How did you come up with the idea for a clothing swap?
It started because I really wanted to go shopping, so I thought, "How do I get new items and not spend any money?" I knew that swaps were getting popular on East Coast, but I hadn't heard of any in Denver. Then, Tran [Wills] offered her space, and it grew; it morphed into something big. It turned out that so many people were excited about it, especially with the holidays coming up. I think that right now, we have fifty women coming. That's 500 items to choose from. But I think we'll keep it simple this time and make it more efficient for the next time.
What's it going to be like?
It'll be on the honor system: You bring ten items and you leave with ten items. Everyone arrives at 7; at 7:30 on the dot, the swap begins. At 9, if you still have something left that you came with, we'll donate it to SafeHouse Denver for you. And I think it'll be a lot of fun -- we'll have cupcakes donated by Pastel and a photo booth.
Do you think the clothing swap will become a trend?
People are realizing that they can live better with less, and they're not having to spend so much time on things. I think the idea will migrate from the east, and eventually, there'll be swaps for men's clothes, for children's clothes...it's just a great way to get new items without spending a dime.
To keep up with the Froyd's-eye-view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.