Posted on June 17, 2016
20 Questions with Cait Flanders
20 Questions with Cait Flanders
When it comes to money, Cait Flanders is a girl who knows what she’s talking about. Cait became quickly well-known for chronicling her journey from being nearly $30,000 in debt to being debt-free in just two years! She also managed to save cash and do some extensive travelling along the way. Cait is an inspiration to many and, while she was originally known as the “Blonde on a Budget,” she now blogs over at her self-titled home on the internet. I’ve yet to meet Cait in real life, but the year is still young and I’m grateful that she has agreed to answer 20 questions for this week’s segment. Apart from being a financial maven, Cait Flanders is also a blogger, podcaster, nature lover, traveler, hiker, writer, and hopefully soon-to-be-published author! I’m excited to reveal more dimensions to her in this week’s post.
1. What are you really excited about these days?
So many things! My agent and I just submitted my first book proposal to editors at a bunch of publishing houses, so I’m anxiously waiting to see what will come from that. I’m recording the second season of my podcast, which will run all throughout the summer. And I’m also planning an extended road trip across the top of the U.S. and then back home across Canada, which I’m hoping to start in July.
2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?
Every Tuesday, my friend and I try to go on an “adventure day,” where we explore an area we’ve never visited and tackle a hike or two. This week, we went to Quadra Island for the day and did two hikes. The last picture I took is of the view from Chinese Mountain. It was beautiful!
3. Making yourself accessible through social media and blogging opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?
I’ve been extremely fortunate to not receive too much criticism from bloggers or readers – and I think that’s partially because I try to show, in my writing, that there is no one right way of doing things. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes in life, so I don’t judge what anyone else does in their own journey. We’re all just trying to do what’s best for us as individuals. Compassion trumps criticism.
The worst criticism I’ve received has been in the anonymous comments sections of news sites, like The Globe and Mail and Yahoo! I choose not to read the comments now, but still remind myself of two things: when people can write anonymously, they will say terrible things. And even the worst anonymous comment can’t outweigh all the positive ones you receive from regular readers.
4. What is your bottom line, number one, golden rule when it comes to blogging?
I try to reply to every single comment that is left on my blog, within the first few days of publishing a new post. I’ve always thought that if someone takes the time to write to me, they deserve a reply.
5. Everyone has a spirit animal. What’s yours and why?
A penguin! I have to live near a body of water, and I love to swim, travel and play. But I’m also extremely close with my family and friends, and would happily spend half my time huddled up near them.
6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?
Good question! I don’t know if I fit into any one clique or stereotype. I was friends with everyone, but was a bit rebellious and spent most of my time with the kids who partied a lot. I cared more about boys than homework (a B-student). And I was a tomboy – definitely not a princess! I was also valedictorian, but ours was based on votes, not grades. Does that paint a clear picture!? Haha.
7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business, what would you start?
I have so many ideas that my answer to this question would probably change drastically from month-to-month. Right now, I think I’d like to set up a retreat for women who want to learn from one another and spend some time outdoors. My dream would be to host it in Squamish, which is my favourite city in Canada. I’ve gone on a couple solo trips there this year, and would love to explore more of it with a group of inspiring women.
8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?
Everything Michael Jackson put out in the ‘80s (Thriller and Bad).
9. Blogging can ebb and flow for a lot of people. Where do you see your blog in 2021?
A few months ago, I might’ve said that I didn’t know if my blog would exist in another year – let alone another five years – but that’s because I felt trapped by the name of it. Blonde on a Budget was so young and pigeonholed me into feeling as though I had to write about personal finance all the time. But that’s only one of my interests! I rebranded to my name, which will never change, so I think I’ll still be writing in 2021. But my writing can be deeply personal, which will probably never change, so I can’t predict what direction it will go in.
10. If I was a highly-skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?
I usually just order water or Diet Coke with lime (so if you were a highly-skilled bartender, you would hate me, haha). I quit drinking in 2012, after recognizing I had a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve served you half a dozen Diet Cokes with lime. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?
I do still love greasy food though, haha. One big slice of cheese pizza with a white garlic sauce (instead of marinara) would fix me up.
12. In Victoria, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?
The Village! People actually have heard of it, as they have three locations – but each one is in a smaller neighbourhood, so the downtown brunch-goers likely don’t know it exists. I went to high school with one of the owners, and he’s told me they intentionally choose to open locations in areas where they feel they can get to know their customers and become part of the community. I love that. Plus, they have the best eggs Benny in Victoria.
13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?
I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends think I’m really busy. They see that I write my blog, have a podcast, teach a course, freelance, etc. And my Instagram feed probably makes it seem like I travel a lot. But truthfully, this has been one of the slowest and quietest years of my adult life. If I could guess, I would say I’ve only been working 25 hours/week for most of the year. I’ve been able to go on lots of day trips and explore more of Vancouver Island than ever before. And I still spend a lot of time in bed reading and binging on Netflix. “Busy” is definitely not a word I would use to describe my life!
14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?
I don’t know about movies, but I wanted to be Elizabeth Wakefield from the Sweet Valley Twins books when I was a kid. And I will always want to be Rory Gilmore. (Both were writers/editors.)
15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?
I would love to be a better cook – the kind who makes everything from scratch, and knows all the best spices and how to incorporate them into meals. I have a couple signature dishes, but tend to eat a lot of the same stuff every week.
16. Who are you most proud of?
I’m proud of everyone I know who intentionally chooses to live the life they want; that includes readers who take control of their finances, friends and family who have gotten sober, people who follow their dreams and so on. It’s often easier to just go with the flow and follow those around you, but it takes courage to live a counter-cultural life and do what’s best for you. I’m inspired by the courage of others.
17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?
It’s impossible to pick just one person. I could say my mom for being a hardworking single mom the first eight years of my life, my stepdad for quitting drinking 20+ years ago and never looking back, my coaches and teachers growing up, my bosses (I’ve always worked for women) and my friends. The list never ends, and for that I am truly blessed.
18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?
As a writer, my answers are so cliché, but I can’t help it! I’d invite Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed and Maya Angelou.
19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?
Do you want this mortgage-free house and property in Squamish?
20. Do you want this mortgage-free house and property in Squamish?
Yes, please! And you will always be welcome to drop by for coffee.
All photos are provided courtesy of Cait Flanders.