Candice: Hello everyone, welcome back to another video. I am so excited today because I have a very special guest with me, Michelle Schroeder Gardner for making sense of cents, and today we are actually at FinCon in 2018, so I’m excited to be in Orlando, Florida, and this video today is brought to you by Nefe at the video booth at FinCon. I’m excited to be sitting down with Michelle who makes over 100k a month from her blog. All right, Michelle, welcome!
Michelle: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. So, it’s good seeing you every year.
Candice I know. It’s so good to see you too. I feel like I know so much about your story, but for those of you guys who don’t know, Michelle actually makes over $100,000 a month from her blog, which is over a million dollars a year, which is like so mind blowing every time I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, that’s so crazy,” but you did not start there, you went to college. Do you have a master’s and undergraduate degree? Michelle: Yap.
Candice: You have?
Candice: Oh, three. Oh my gosh.
Michelle: Two undergraduate degrees and then my finance MBA.
Candice: Oh Wow. Okay. So, you have three degrees, you graduated college and then you were working in the finance industry?
Candice: But you were making good money there?
Michelle: I was. Yeah.
Candice: But you still felt like you wanted to make money outside of your job? So that you can pay off your student loan debt?
Candice: Which at the time it was $38,000 of debt?
Michelle: Yes. Too much for me.
Candice: Too much for you, and then you ended up creating the blog. I think I heard that you were reading an article on Glamour magazine?
Michelle: Cosmo Magazine
Candice: and then you were like, “I should start my own blog?”
Michelle: Yap. So that’s what happened.
Candice: Oh, that’s so like amazing. So, then you started your blog and I believe that you’ve made $100 in the first six months.
Michelle: Yes, and that was with like 30 hours of nonpaid work, like for the first six months. Like three, four hours. I was working– It was almost a full-time job and I was doing it for free just because I loved it.
Candice: So, you didn’t even know you could really make money from blogging?
Michelle: I had no idea blogs can make money when I started my blog, like I did not start Making Sense Of Cents to make money. It was just for me.
Candice: And you know, I was listening to a podcast on like how I built this and it was with Bobbi Brown from the makeup company when she started and she was saying that, when she was younger she was struggling. She was living in New York City, struggling to pay her bills in which she was creating her budget. She just felt like she couldn’t stick it and her dad told her, “Why don’t you stop focusing on creating a budget and cutting back and instead focus on making more money?” And that’s what you actually did.
Michelle: Yeah. One Stat I always like to tell everyone, which if you know me then you’ve probably heard me already say this, but that the average person watches like 30 to 35 hours of TV a week, and I always like to tell people that, because whenever I tell people my side hustling story, how I paid off my debt so fast, people always tell me, well that can’t be me. Like I don’t have time to make extra money, I don’t have time to learn how to invest, I don’t have time to learn how to save money, and I always like to tell people while you probably watched 30 hours of TV a week, but even if you don’t watch 30 hours, maybe you watch 20 hours a week. I mean that’s still a lot of time that you could be spending side hustling, reading personal finance blogs, investing and other things like that.
Candice: Yeah, that’s very true. We watch a lot of TV. I agree. There’s definitely time to get things done. So you were—At first, you were balancing both the full time job and then you and your blog?
Michelle: Yes. It was like 100 hours a week between the two. It was a lot.
Candice: Okay, and so like how long did it take you before you quit your job to go full time?
Michelle: So, I started making sense of cents on August 10, 2011 and it took six, seven months to make that first hundred dollars, and then it was about– It was fall of 2013 when I actually left my day job. So, it was about two years later when I realized that I could– Like my day job wasn’t the worst, but like I dreaded Sundays. Sunday through Friday was horrible. Saturday was the only day I enjoy it, even if I was off on Sunday, which I was, I still just thought about work the whole time, and it was like soul sucking it, like it just absolutely killing me. So, I decided since I realized I could make money through making sense of cents that I should try to keep growing that, because it was my passion project, and I can make money from it, I mean it just seemed like a no brainer.
Candice: Okay. So, for you right now, I know at the beginning you were like freelancing, but the majority of your income now comes from affiliates on your own products, add revenue—
Michelle: Sponsored partnership.
Candice: – Sponsored partnerships. Apart from your successful blog, were there any problems that you’ve faced that you thought to yourself, you know what, “When I’m make more money, I’m just going to solve this problem with the money”
Michelle: I guess– I mean, even to this day I still think about like, it’s hard to really think that I earned like six figures a month. I’m still in disbelief every month. I do my income reports. Everyone thinks like, oh, I just do it for like everyone else. I do it a lot for me. Like it’s great to look back on the previous month. See like what I said I was going to work on last month that I never got to, you know, so it’s like a great motivator, but it also lets me see where my money’s coming in, that I’m actually earning six figures a month because I still don’t believe it month after month. So, we’re still saving like an insane amount of money, and I think that’s because I’m still liking this disbelief phase, and I don’t know if that’ll ever end, but it’s great because I’m a naturally very frugal person, so I’m fine with it.
Candice: Yeah. Like even when I hit like, and you’re like super humble. When I hang out with you, I never feel like you’re like, “Oh no, like I have all this money, like I don’t even be here.” Like you know,
[laughter]. You’re like this down to earth, which I think is amazing.
Michelle: Thank you.
Candice: Even in the hallway, I heard somebody yesterday saying like, “Yeah, like all these, the money bloggers, they’re just like us, so they just have way more money.”
[laughter]. I’m just like, “Oh my God.”
Michelle: That’s so funny.
Candice: Yeah. So, do you feel like money was like a discussion growing up in your household?
Michelle: Money was definitely talked about growing up. My Dad was really good with money. My Dad’s no longer here with us but he still saved for retirement and I still remember being, like I always laugh when I tell a story, because for some reason it’s like one of the fondest memories I have of my dad, and it’s about, I was like six, seven or eight or something, and I remember there being a commercial on t.v. about credit cards, and I was just like, “Dad, I’m never going to go and credit card debt.” I was a weird kid apparently.
I’m just like, I’m never going to go into credit card debt. Like that just seems so sad. Like, “Why don’t you just save your money?” And I remember my dad being like, “Credit cards aren’t completely bad,” and this was like before travel hacking or whatever. He was like, you can use credit cards to your advantage. You just have to like, not pay interest, and I just like thinking about like little things like that. Like my dad just gave me like so many little tidbits about like, “Better work life balance, traveling, like being able to actually enjoy your money,” and stuff like that. So, he was really– He taught me a lot of nice little things about money.
Candice: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, yeah, we’ve often heard that con, my Dad’s no longer here either, but show he’s looking down, very proud of us.
Candice: So, do you feel like your parents– So they gave you the tips and they will also good with their own money? Oh, that’s great, and because I feel like a lot of people say that in order to be successful, you have to have a certain mindset shift, like is that true? Do you think your mindset plays a role in your success?
Michelle: I definitely think your mindset plays a role. I remember when I was younger I did a lot of like emotional spending. Like I would spend so much money on clothing even though I had no money. I definitely should not have been spending so much money on clothing and eating out and stuff like that, and I definitely think your mindset plays a huge role, especially if you are an emotional spender like I was. Or even if you’re just like not aware of your money. So many people aren’t even aware of like how much money they actually make after taxes. So, when we go to sync our wall, I make $40,000 a year, divide that by 12, that’s not the much money I make each month. It’s like, “No, there’s taxes and like lots of other little things that come out of your paycheck.” So many people aren’t actually aware of their money situation, like I talked to so many people who don’t even know how much their monthly mortgage payment is, or how much student loan debt that they actually have, and I think awareness in your mindset really plays into the big picture of it all.
Candice: Okay. Do you have any like favorite affirmations that you say to yourself? Are you affirmation person?
Michelle: No, I’m not.
Candice: No. Oh my gosh. Okay. I think that was interesting that you said at the beginning, like that fear of like the money never goes away. Like you’re always constantly saving more money, and I was talking to someone recently and they were saying that, they had an extra, like $2,000 sitting in their account and they were afraid, because they never had that much money in their account before, and they were afraid they were going to spend it. So, do you feel like, as you started to make more money that there were adjustments that you had to make with, even like your money habits? Managing larger amount of money versus a smaller amount of money?
Michelle: Not too much, has really changed over the years. When I earn money, it’s like it gets divided into different accounts, but for the most part, I just like put everything towards like a vanguard fund. I’m like a super lazy investor, but pretty much I’m just putting more and more towards investments, and just saving as much as I can.
Candice: First find out that you made a million dollars, how to do celebrate?
Michelle: I really don’t even know like, so me and my husband both played around the same exact time in 2013, and the first like three years we would celebrate like our one year quit anniversary. Every September we would go do something, and like the past couple of years we’ve just like completely forgotten about it. It’ll be like the day, like the month after and I’ll be like, “It’s our fifth year. Oh, I guess like right now, it would be our fifth year and we haven’t even thought about once.” So, it’s just like really funny because I remember the first year, like it was crazy, we just felt so amazing, we just spent all day talking about like, no alarm today. Like I’m not going to wake up, and stuff like that, but I now know things have definitely changed over the years. It’s funny.
Candice: Yeah. Okay. So, you don’t remember what you did to celebrate?
Michelle: Yeah. No, I don’t. Honestly, to me, I just love saving, and for me, the celebration is actually saving my money and like seeing it in my investment account. So, my husband always makes fun of me. He’s always like, “Michelle, you need a hobby. Like saving money is not a hobby.” So yeah.
Candice [laugh]. That is so funny. If you weren’t a blogger, what would you be?
Michelle: If I weren’t a blogger. That’s really tough. I definitely would not work in an office job again. I know that’s great– Full tons of people, but for me, I’ve really come to realize– Like I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur. I never thought I would run my own business, but over the years I’ve learned that I really, really love it. I love the flexible schedule, and everything like that. What would I be? Like, can I get paid to hike? I would like that.
Candice Yeah, you’re like definitely outdoors.
Michelle: I’d like to get paid to do like outdoorsy things. I think if I weren’t a blogger. I’d be a travel blogger
Huge Thank you to Michelle for taking the time to sit down and chat with me. If you’re interested in learning more about Michelle or checking out her Affiliate Marketing course you can find her at www.makingsenseofcents.com as well as on Instagram.
BUILD YOUR FIRST 5K!
No matter your goal you will need money to achieve it, join my free 5 day email series where I'll go over how to build your first 5k so you can reach your money goals.