Personal Finance Interview with Danielle Boler on Women and Personal Finance for Mint.com

Danielle Boler hopes to start a conversation about how women can make smarter financial decisions and live a fabulous life on her blog She Makes Cents.

When it comes to how women view money compared to men, Danielle says she believes women are more cautious - which can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, saving more creates a good cushion for emergencies and other unforeseen events, but it can also prevent big financial gain.

"Some believe it's because women are not confident in making big financial decisions. I'm inclined to disagree," she says. "When armed with the proper tools to make sound financial choices, women prove to be confident, powerful and commanding in their financial choices."

In the end, diversifying your financial portfolio (no matter what your gender) is important on every income level to make your money work for you, she says.

We recently checked out with the sassy blogger to learn more about her site and get her take on personal finance. Here's what she had to say:

Tell us about She Makes Cents...when and why did you start your site?

I was 25 years old and trying to figure out who I wanted to be when I started She Makes Cents.

She Makes Cents is a sassy site that is both my personal money journal and a money-saving resource for those who want to live a fabulous life while working toward financial freedom. It's not a couponing site or mommy blog, but rather something that people in all stages of adult life can find relatable, inspirational and informative.

I want all who read it to know that they aren't alone in their money struggles, and I want people to feel encouraged knowing that they aren't alone on the path to financial freedom.

The idea for SMC came after viewing the MTV documentary, True Life: I Can No Longer Afford My Lifestyle. The documentary followed a pair of 20-somethings as they entered the workforce, spent money as if cash flow and job security were permanent things, and hit rock bottom after they were no longer able to afford the lifestyle that their jobs and upbringing allowed. After experiencing this first hand, I couldn't help but wonder how smarter financial choices would have resulted in a better outcome. Like the people in the documentary, I felt financially illiterate in my new reality of adult life.

While the documentary birthed the idea for the site, I decided to launch after a series of money conversations between girlfriends. They wanted to know how I was able to pay my student loans a year in advance and purchase a house for my 24th birthday on an internship salary. Once they realized I added "start a blog" on my bucket list, my friends and family encouraged me to write about my experiences and what I learned during the process of paying down debt and buying a home. I've been blogging ever since.

Who should be reading your site?

Everyone! While yes, the language and tone lends itself to women, the information is great for everyone.

What's your definition of a fabulous life?

My definition of a "fabulous life" changes every day, but overall I would say being happy with what you have. That's not to say that one should become content, but rather grateful. I like the quote that says "What you have is what you once prayed for." It reminds me that it is OK to go after the finer things, but not to forget the fabulous people, experiences and things you have been blessed with. I had to realize that the Joneses are broke and unhappy. If I try to keep up with them, I will be too.

What do you do to make sure you can afford your own fabulous lifestyle?

I tell my money where to go instead of asking where it went (thanks, Dave Ramsey). I take care of ALL my bills first, and then I divide my money into different categories such as travel, gas and petty cash. Every paycheck, I put a set amount into a travel fund so that when it is time to take a trip, it is not a financial burden or knock against my financial goals. I use my petty cash for all other purchases: restaurants, shopping, city parking, etc.

Why is it important to you to work toward financial freedom?

The FREEDOM part of it. Most people don't believe that financial freedom is attainable. I do. I have a goal to pay off my credit card, student loans and mortgage within the next 10 years. Without debt, I believe I will be free to live life exactly how I see fit and, most importantly, without financial stress. It's a beautiful goal to have, and every time I hit a new financial goal, I feel more motivated and empowered to reach my next financial milestone.

Most people might think you are a super-frugal coupon clipper since you're a blogger who writes about money; what might surprise someone about how you spend money? What are your guilty pleasures, and how do you afford them?

People could be surprised that I don't actually clip coupons, but I am an avid user of online promo codes. I guess when you think about it, they are essentially the same thing. I love getting a good deal, but I don't sacrifice quality.

My guilty pleasure has to be home décor and home improvement projects. I'm always on the hunt for cute pillows, chic picture frames and knickknacks for my happy place - my closet!

What are some of your favorite money-saving tips?

  • Use cash, and if you can, trade your lower denomination bills for larger bills like $50 and $100. You won't want to break your larger bills, and you will be less likely to impulse spend.
  • The 52-week money challenge is awesome! The original challenge was to make a weekly deposit that reflects the number of weeks of the year. For example, on week one you deposit $1 and on week 27 you deposit $27 and so on. I realized doing it this way will have people shelling out the big bucks during the holidays when money is the most limited. I thought to myself, "Danielle, how can you find a way to honor the challenge in a way that will not hurt you financially?" Then I came up with the idea to create a "bingo"-style format. The bingo-style format is easy, and I have been using it to pay down my credit card.
  • Don't go all in when starting a new financial goal. If you give up EVERYTHING that you enjoy, then you will begin to resent the goal and start making bad financial choices or quit before succeeding.

What's been one of the biggest mistakes you've made money-wise that turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

I used to think that an emergency fund and a savings account where one in the same. It wasn't until I became a homeowner and a dog parent that I realized just how important it is to separate your emergency fund from your savings. I'm glad I learned this lesson fairly early on because I recently had to tap into my emergency fund for an emergency vet bill and again when a pipe sprung a leak and the air conditioner suddenly crapped out.

My emergency fund was a lifesaver that allowed me to handle the unforeseen emergencies without compromising my budget. However, you don't have to be a dog parent or a homeowner to have an emergency fund. The emergency fund is for ALL life emergencies that will come your way...and trust me, they will come.

What advice can you offer on creating and sticking to a budget?

The best advice I can offer on creating and sticking to a budget is to be realistic and disciplined. Don't try to overhaul your budget in one fell swoop. Set easily obtainable goals in the beginning, goals you can realistically achieve. By doing this, you will gain the satisfaction of accomplishing goals, which will then empower you to set more challenging goals and have the confidence to meet them. The discipline comes in being able to manage yourself and sticking to the budget in the face of all of the numerous sales and great deals that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Frivolous spending is a surefire budget killer. The best way to manage that is to manage you!

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