Interview with a Savings Expert: Ashley Jacobs

Wise Bread’s Community Coordinator, Ashley Jacobs, scours the Internet for the best personal finance and budgeting stories around. Along with leading Wise Bread’s weekly #WBChat, Jacobs connects with readers to discover the best ways to expand your income and meet your finance goals. Read on for some great advice!

As part of the Wise Bread team, you’re responsible for curating the daily roundups of the best articles on the web. How do you go about finding the most interesting posts online? What do you think makes a post particularly great?

There are tons of amazing blogs and websites out there producing fantastic content, so it can be extremely difficult to choose which articles end up in our daily roundups! I have a couple different strategies for finding posts, including checking out recent posts listed on the Wise1000 and AllTop Personal Finance News. I also like to go through the FinCon attendee list when it comes out to find new blogs or blogs that may not be listed on the Wise1000 yet that are producing great content and deserve a spot in a roundup.

I personally am a fan of articles that take on a list / number format. Many people tend to not have the time to read entire articles and, as a result, gravitate towards posts that make it easy to find key takeaways. I think articles that make it easy for people to quickly pull out key tips but also offer more in-depth explanations of their tips result in the best, most helpful articles.

You host Wise Bread’s Live Chats on their Twitter account, which generates nearly 1,500 Tweets an hour. To what do you attribute the chat’s popularity?

There are a couple main things I attribute the chat’s popularity to: content and consistency. We always try to select topics and questions that appeal to a broad audience, enabling anyone to join in and learn at least one new thing every week. We also are always consistent with our chats. People know they can join us every Thursday at 12pm PST using the #WBChat hashtag.

One other thing I think makes our chat successful is the fact that it gives people a safe outlet to discuss their financial health. Traditionally, finances have been a taboo subject that people were hesitant to talk about. The #WBChat gives people a judgement-free forum they can utilize to share information about their financial picture while learning how to improve their finances.

What do you most enjoy about these live chats?

Hosting these chats is hands down the best part of my job; they are tons of fun! It’s hard to pick just one thing I enjoy about our chats, so I’m going to cheat a little bit and list two:

It is awesome to hear the responses to our questions each week. We often have experts in personal finance tweeting their tips and tricks, so it’s great to hear expert advice on topics. For example, at a recent chat, Michael Babikian from Transamerica shared some extremely useful information about mitigating financial risks. It is also fun to hear our regular chatters share their answers to our questions. I can relate to many of the successes and/or difficulties our chatters share during the chat, and it’s nice to know that others are going through some of the same things with their finances that I am going through.

Also, it’s very rewarding at the end of the chat to hear people say they learned something new or that they got a lot out of participating. To know that a chat has helped even just one person with their finances is extremely fulfilling and makes me love my job that much more.

Speaking of Twitter, you have more than 34,000 followers! You must get a lot of feedback from your fans. What are a few money-saving tips you’ve learned from your followers that you were surprised to hear?

I’ve learned some really surprising things from our followers! People will do some out of the box things to save money. I’ve heard people share about:

  • Kissing someone to get bus fare

  • Using zip ties / duct tape to hold a car together

  • Eating expired food

  • Standing in line for almost an hour for a free burrito

  • Dressing up as a cow for a free meal at Chick-fil-A

  • Using soap to fill nail holes

  • Pulling out their own tooth to save on dental expenses

  • Taking out their own stitches

  • Washing and reusing ziplock bags

  • Losing weight to fit into old clothes

This list could go on for days. I’ve also learned unusual facts from our followers. For example, I remember being blown away during one of our chats when Cricket Wireless shared that 51% of people would prefer to just call their family instead of traveling distances to see them in person. Yes, this would save money, but I remember thinking that I couldn’t imagine just calling my family instead of seeing them during the holidays! In any case, there’s always interesting information and facts being shared on Twitter and I love hearing what our followers have to say!

Wise Bread covers a large variety of subjects on its site – everything from personal finance and life hacks to daily deals and DIY projects. Are there article subjects that are the most popular with your readers?

One of the most popular sections on Wise Bread is our credit card section. People are always trying to find the best credit card for their situation, so our credit card articles tend to get a lot of views. For example, one of our most popular articles right now concerns the best zero balance transfer credit cards. After holiday spending, people are looking for ways to transfer their credit card debt, so this article has been getting a lot of attention.

Another popular subject with our readers is our deals section. Every weekday, our editor compiles the best deals from around the web for our readers and we share these deals on Wise Bread, as well as via our newsletter. Our readers come to Wise Bread to be able to live large on a small budget, so this section gets a lot of interest because it enables them to do so by informing them of the best deals.

Our career articles also tend to be very popular. People are always interested in topics like job hunting, interviewing, getting raises, and finding alternate sources of income. Most people would like to be able to maximize their income so that they have more wiggle room in their budgets, so any articles that give advice on how to make more money are well-received by our readers.

The Personal Finance section of Wise Bread includes pieces covering debt management, banking, investment, and retirement. Are there any topics that you wish people would write more about?

There are many things I love about the personal finance blogging community, but one of the things I love most is that there are so many amazing writers who cover just about any topic you could possibly want to learn about. Everyone seems to have their “niche,” and when you look at the community as a whole, collectively everyone does a fantastic job of covering a broad variety of personal finance topics. As a result, there’s no specific topic I wish people would write more about!

Wise Bread offers readers a daily digest of some of the best deals currently available. What are some of your favorite ways to track down savings online?

Haha, how much time do you have? I’ll try to keep this short.

Whenever I shop online, I always run a Google search for coupon/promo codes to reduce the price of what I’m buying. Also, sites like CouponPal can help people save when shopping online by providing coupons to some of the most popular stores in the country.

Comparison shopping is another tactic I use to save. If I’m going to make a purchase, I want to make sure I get the lowest price and that means making sure I purchase from the website / store with the best deal.

I’m also a fan of Groupon. Groupon has saved me tons of money on my “want” items such as gym memberships, art for my apartment, dog toys, and even clothes.

Oh, let’s not forget Craigslist! That site is quite possibly the best way to get a great deal online. No joke, the majority of my apartment is furnished courtesy of Craigslist. From my couches to my dining table to my big screen TV and fridge, I scored some seriously amazing deals on items that were basically like new simply by looking at the for sale section of Craigslist.

The Career and Income section of the Wise Bread site has many helpful posts on the work world, including ideas for side jobs, tips on how to grow your small business, and ways to make more money a year. Do you think your job at Wise Bread has helped you become more income-focused?

Absolutely! It’s almost impossible not to become more income-focused when working for a blog that constantly produces content about how to make more money. I’m always reading the alternate income articles not only on Wise Bread but on other sites to learn how to increase my income and be successful in my side business. Working at Wise Bread has taught me about apps like Ibotta and Pact which allow me to make a little extra money doing things I already do (i.e. grocery shopping and going to the gym). I have also learned new ideas on how to market and grow my side business, Sitting for a Cause. It’s all about having multiple streams of income and working at Wise Bread has helped me implement that strategy into my life.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions today! Do you have any last words of wisdom for the CouponPal readers?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me! My final words of wisdom for your readers would be to take advantage of all the awesome blogs, sites, apps, and other tools out there to help you manage and save your money. There’s no reason to be confused about personal finance with the abundance of information and tools that are available to you. And, of course, be sure to check out our #WBChat every Thursday at 12pm PST!

Like this interview? Check out the rest of our Interview with a Savings Expert series. Have a question for an expert or someone you want to see interviewed? Tweet your suggestions with #SavingsExperts to @CouponPal!

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