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Hold on to your hats folks. The title is no joke. Michelle is an awesome blogger and a mentor to many. I was lucky enough to snag an interview with her for this series. You won’t wan to miss this!
- Could you tell me a little about yourself? What is your blog URL? Where are you from and do you have a family/are you married?
Hello! My name is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I blog about personal finance at Making Sense of Cents. I’m originally from a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, but I now travel full-time with my husband and our two dogs.
I’ve been hooked on personal finance for quite some time. I have two undergraduate degrees that are business-related, as well as a Finance MBA.
I started my blog in August of 2011 just as a hobby. I was living paycheck to paycheck, and while I worked full-time all throughout college, I didn’t put a penny towards tuition or my student loans. Instead, I spent my money on wasteful things like going out to eat way too much and clothing.
I heard about a personal finance website in a magazine, checked it out, and got hooked. I ended up starting a blog without any hopes of ever making money, because that was not why I started. Instead, I just wanted to be a part of the community and I wanted to keep myself accountable when it came to personal finance.
I ended up leaving my job as a financial analyst in 2013 and now I work for myself as a full-time blogger. My husband also works with me and blogging has opened up a ton of doors for us. It’s funny, I never thought I would be a full-time blogger!
2. Could you tell me a little about your personal finance story? When did you start your financial freedom journey and what made you decide to start on this path?
I moved out when I was 18, when my dad passed away (no, I did not receive any life insurance money or help), and was going through a difficult time in life. This led to ridiculous wasteful spending. Even though I’ve worked full-time since I was around the age of 14, I didn’t put a penny towards my student loans or college tuition because I thought student loans were just “normal” and that everyone had them.
Well, eventually I got sick of being “normal.” I didn’t want my life to be controlled by money, and I wanted to be debt free. I also didn’t want to hate my life and my job. So, I made actions to decrease my debt, make extra money, and more, so that I could live the life I wanted to.
Related post: How to Leverage Your Money to Create the Life You Want
3. How has your attitude changed since you started following a budget? Have you had to sacrifice a lot or do you feel that giving up certain things isn’t that big of a deal?
We haven’t had to sacrifice much. Even though our budget and spending are lower than ever, we are living a great life. We are now just much more smart when it comes to spending. Yes, I realize that we make a high income, but we are actually spending less than ever before.
4. What helps keep you motivated to following a budget?
I really just don’t like to be wasteful, so I like to think of spending in terms of both the money being spent as well as if the item is even worth it. We live in an RV now, so we have to be mindful of what we buy because we only have so much space and we can only carry so much weight.
5. What is the biggest benefit that you have noticed since starting and following a budget? Why would you encourage others to follow a budget?
I’m much happier now than I was before! I have realized that you don’t need a ton of money in order to be happy. We sold our house and donated a majority of our belongings so that we could travel full-time in an RV. This is our dream life, and following a budget and being realistic with money has helped us greatly.
I encourage others to follow a budget as well because it can help you stop being controlled by money. Instead, you should be in control of your own life!
6. What are 3 big tips you would give to others who are just starting their journey to debt freedom?
1 – Find ways to make more money. There are many, many different ways to make money, and this can then be dumped on debt to help you pay it off more quickly! I recommend reading my blog post 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money for ideas.
2 – Get rid of wasteful spending. When was the last time you analyzed and tracked your spending? I’m sure there are lots of things you could cut out of your spending and you probably wouldn’t even notice.
3 – Realize that money doesn’t make you. You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses or buy what everyone else is buying. Instead, do what you want to do and what makes you happy.
7. Were there any big struggles you have faced along the way or was there ever a time when you felt like giving up? What kept you going?
It was definitely hard when I was working 100 hours per week for a few years. I was working full-time as a financial analyst, going to college full-time, volunteering, working on my blog, managing a home, and more. It was tough, but thinking about the end goal made it very worth it! I knew that it wouldn’t last forever, and that helped keep me motivated.
8. I love your blog and all of the practical tips you give others to make money. What are some easy ways to make money? What is your favorite way to make money?
There are so many ways to make money! My favorite way includes anything at home, because that usually means that you can have a flexible schedule and there’s also no commute time. I recommend reading my blog post 10 Ways To Make Money Online From The Comfort of Your Home, for ideas on the different ways to make money from home. My favorite way of all time would definitely have to be blogging 🙂
9. Your income reports are awesome and so inspiring! What tips would you give others who want to make more money but feel a little overwhelmed?
Thank you! My top tip would be to just start. You will never know if it will work for you unless you start and put time towards it. Online jobs are not get rich quick schemes, you will want to spend time on them and build a legitimate business. If you are interested in making money blogging, I do have a great course that I just recently launched that will help you to increase your blogging income through affiliate marketing. You can find that here at Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. (UPDATE: Michelle actually made over $100,000 in the month of July largely from affiliate marketing. She is an affiliate marketing guru!)
(Becky: I have taken the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course and I highly recommend it. Michelle is known to be an affiliate guru and I have learned so much about blogging and about affiliate marketing! If you blog, you NEED this course! You can learn more about the course by clicking here. If you are interested in starting a blog, check out the tutorial on How to Start a Life Changing Blog in 7 Easy Steps. If you are ready to start a blog, you can sign up with Bluehost here.)
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