Afford Anything with Paula Pant, Episode #176

Paula Pant graduated college having no idea that self-employment and entrepreneurship were an option. She got a job as a newspaper reporter for a small paper in Colorado. She started going to journalism conferences that covered print, radio, television, and freelancing.

She dipped into some of the freelancing sessions. That’s when she learned she could be self-employed. She worked at the newspaper for three years and wrote freelance articles in the evenings/weekends. She made far more as a freelance journalist.

She left the newspaper and became a full-time freelancer. Then she decided to build out Afford Anything, which started as a blog and newsletter before becoming a podcast.

Paula’s podcast is now an award-winning show with more than 28 million downloads. It was named by the New York Times as one of “7 Podcasts Your Wallet Will Love.”

In this episode, she shares why her podcast has seen so much success, how you can learn to think differently about financial decisions, and why the notion of traditional retirement is antiquated.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…

  • Paula’s transition from newspaper journalist to self-employment [2:41]
  • Where the idea for the Afford Anything podcast came from [5:20]
  • Why Paula believes her podcast is so successful [10:35]
  • Why people believe that money is the root of all evil [13:56]
  • How to grab your copy of “Financial Planning Made Personal” [17:20]
  • How can those working to expand their reach improve their storytelling? [18:17]
  • Breaking away from conventional wisdom on financial independence [23:10]
  • Why travel should be a community-based endeavor [27:03]
  • What Paula did today that put her in the mindset for success [31:23]

Where the idea for the Afford Anything podcast came from

The notion of Afford Anything is that you can afford anything—but not everything. Every choice you make is a trade-off against something else. That challenges everyone to be thoughtful about what matters most.

When there are budgetary tradeoffs, you have to become crystal clear about your values. This applies to any limited resource—time, energy, and intentions.

When Paula quit her job, she had $25,000 in savings. She spent the next two years traveling to places where the US Dollar stretched further, places like Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Many of her friends said, “I’d love to do something like that but I can’t afford it.” Yet these same friends lived in homes with stainless steel appliances, dropped $14 on a glass of wine, bought expensive concert tickets, etc.

In reality, they should have reframed that statement to “I thought about doing that and decided it was not a priority for me.” It’s a far different statement.

Why Afford Anything has seen success

Paula blogged and released a newsletter for five years before she launched her podcast. She had already built a community. So episode #1 had over 5,000 downloads right out of the gate. What else lends to the success of her platform? Afford Anything doesn’t tell you what to do. They give you a framework for making decisions.

If you are given a step-by-step formula and told exactly what to do, it doesn’t help you become a better decision-maker. She shows people how to think. She draws interdisciplinary insights from adjacent fields to develop a comprehensive understanding of the human mind.

When we have a better understanding of our psychology, we can understand how money impacts us at an emotional level. That’s what connects with people over prescriptive advice.

Why people believe that money is the root of all evil

A cognitive bias is a combination of something innate, i.e. how the human mind works. For example, recency bias is the tendency to overweight something that happened recently. Cognitive biases are innate to every human.

Many of us were taught to view money as something negative. The most common phrase everything is familiar with is “Money is the root of all evil” (which is a misquote of a Bible verse). We’re taught that being rich is the equivalent of evil, greedy, and “bad.” When we internalize those messages, we think “I don’t want to be evil or greedy, so I shouldn’t want to be wealthy.”

Breaking away from conventional wisdom on financial independence

F.I.R.E. stands for “Financial Independence Retire Early.” According to Paula, Financial independence is the point at which your passive or residual income is enough. Once you reach that point, you can make decisions without money overshadowing them.

Paula believes that the “retire early” portion should be a completely separate entity from financial independence. Retiring early is one of a multitude of possible options that can come after financial independence. Taylor Swift isn’t touring because she needs the money. She’s doing it because she loves her career and the community that she’s built. She’s all-in on being a musician.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Paula Pant


Paula Pant is the host of the Afford Anything podcast, an award-winning show with more than 28 million downloads. It was named by the New York Times as one of “7 Podcasts Your Wallet Will Love.”

She is also the founder of Afford Anything, a personal finance brand with more than 75,000 newsletter subscribers.

She is a Knight-Bagehot Business and Economics Journalism Fellow at Columbia University.

Paula is frequently featured in financial media including Money Magazine, the Washington Post,, CNBC, Fortune, Marie Claire, Marketplace Money, Men’s Health, Real Simple, Outside Magazine, Cosmopolitan, the New York Times, and more. She’s spoken at the Talks at Google series and guest lectured at Georgetown University. She lives in New York City.

Connect With Mitlin Financial

Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.

Subscribe to Mitlin Money Mindset® on
Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts

Afford Anything with Paula Pant, Episode #176

Get in Touch

In just minutes we can get to know your situation, then connect you with an advisor committed to helping you pursue true wealth.

Contact Us

Stay Connected

Business professional using his tablet to check his financial numbers

401(k) Calculator

Determine how your retirement account compares to what you may need in retirement.

Get Started