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Personal Finance for Beginners is excited to announce the launch of our Beginner to Blogger series.
Each interview will introduce a personal finance blogger who shares how they started their personal finance journey, what early obstacles or mistakes they needed to overcome, and how they’re still improving – even as an “expert” – on their finances today.
Our first interview is Michelle from Operation Husband Rescue. I’ll let Michelle introduce herself below, but she definitely has a story and goals that many couples and/or parents will relate to!
My name is Michelle and I write over at Operation Husband Rescue. I am a 29 year old stay at home mom that is on a mission to rescue my husband from the 9-5 grind so that we can all spend more time together as a family. My goal is to complete the rescue by the time (or before) my husband turns 50–he’s 36 now.
What prompted you to start focusing on your personal finances?
I think the seed was planted in college, when I had the option to advance to grad school in order to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. I ended up deciding against it because I couldn’t stand the idea of accruing more debt and spending the rest of my life trying to pay it off.
Since then, I worked to become debt free by paying off cars and school loans earlier than expected. However, I didn’t really do much else in the way of personal finance until I had my twin boys about a year and a half ago. My husband had to go back to work a very short week later, and I was left dealing with two infants on my own and no idea what I was doing.
It also made me really sad that I got to spend so much time with our babies, and he only got to see them for a couple hours a day.
That was when I said, “Ok, something has to change.”
So I started looking into personal finance and exploring financial independence and/or early retirement as an option for our family.
What was the greatest financial obstacle you faced or mistake you made during the “early days” of your personal finances? How did you improve the situation?
I think the greatest financial obstacle (and mistake, really) that I have had so far was when I moved to a city three hours away from my hometown and lived there in a rented apartment alone on a server’s salary.
I had gone to college there and ended up staying because it was fun and exciting to live smack in the middle of a big city. However, I couldn’t really afford the lifestyle and it would have been much smarter to move back to my hometown and live with my parents so that I could save money and remove myself from the constant onslaught of bills.
Eventually, I ended up doing that anyway because the stress became too much for me, but I should have done it earlier so that I could have saved more money. By the time I moved back, I had less than zero dollars to my name.
What is one area of personal finance that you still struggle with?
Right now we are really struggling with meeting our budget goals. Budgeting is new for us, so we aren’t used to being so strict with our spending.
Budgeting also requires you to be a little bit creative and have some self-discipline. After a long day of chasing around two little boys, it’s sometimes tough to stand in the kitchen and create a meal from whatever I have in the pantry that day. It’s so much easier to just order in. That’s where I have to remember our goals and just force myself to stick to them.
What does financial independence mean to you?
At its most basic level, financial independence means that my husband can downgrade to a less demanding job and spend more time with us at home. That’s the very least that I’d like to achieve on the spectrum of financial independence.
My ideal situation, however, would be that my husband can get out of the 9-5 entirely, and we can live solely on passive income streams that we have set up or revenue from any side hustle-type odd jobs that we may pick up (such as blogging for me). That way we can own our time completely.
Since making your personal finances a priority, how has your quality of life changed (happiness, relationships, career, hobbies)? What’s improved that you may not have expected, or what unexpected challenges may have surprised you?
I can only answer this question partially. Our finances are a little bit up in the air right now due to the fact that we are in the middle of building a new home and haven’t closed yet. Until we do, we aren’t sure where our mortgage payment is going to land every month.
So I can’t speak as to how our plan to save money/pay down debt has changed our life yet because all of our extra money is being funneled into an account that is going to go straight onto the down-payment.
I can say, though, that since starting my personal finance blog, I have been much happier and wake up every morning with a purpose.
That’s not to say that I don’t find purpose in taking care of my children every day, but it can get tedious and I am a person who can’t live happily without personal goals–not just goals for my children. I have truly enjoyed learning about personal finance, setting up some systems for when our financial situation is back in order, and just generally immersing myself in the personal finance world.
It seems like a really good fit for me and it’s made me feel ambitious and hopeful for our family’s future.'I have truly enjoyed learning about personal finance, setting up some systems for when our financial situation is back in order, and just generally immersing myself in the personal finance world.'Click To Tweet
What advice (money or career-related) would you give to a recent college graduate just starting their first full-time job?
Save your money!
I know it can be exciting to finally have a real salary after working crappy part-time jobs in college that paid next to nothing, but it’s worth it to just save your money. You have a whole lifetime ahead of you to spend.
Saving now, when you’re this young, is THE most important time to be saving. It will set you up for such a brighter future than immediately going into debt or spending just as much as you earn. Don’t fall into the consumerism trap. Save your money. I wish I had.
What is a common misconception or belief about money you’d like to warn beginners about?
That it’s a bad thing and that it can’t buy you happiness. Sure it can! It just depends on what you spend it on.
If you spend your money on a whole bunch of “stuff” like fancy foreign cars, fine crystal drinking glasses, a house five times the size that you really need, and buckets of caviar–then no.
That stuff is going to get old after a while, and you’re going to need to work your butt off your whole life to support that lifestyle.
But if you spend your money on experiences like exploring new cultures and places or helping others in need, then of course money can buy you happiness. All those things are lasting memories that you can look back and reflect upon as you move through life.
Also, money isn’t bad or evil. It can make PEOPLE bad or evil. Not the same thing.
In the last three years, what is one new behavior or decision that has most improved your financial situation?
Paying off my debt!
Within the last three years, I have paid off my school loans and a new car. I got a little help from my parents with the school loan, but the car I nickel and dimed the crap out of until that loan was gone. I paid it off in two years, when the loan was actually for five. Now, I owe nothing to anyone. Until I put my name on this house we are building, that is.
What is one item you like to splurge on?
My husband and I like to buy craft beer. We are a bit of craft beer nerds, and one of our favorite things to do together is trying new beers. In fact, it’s really what we bonded over the most when we first started dating, and it’s just become our thing ever since.
Our spending includes going to area breweries for a beer or a take-out growler, as well as going to local six-pack shops to see if they have anything new or seasonal. We have also gone to several beer fests, although we haven’t done that lately. We probably should spend less in this category of our budget, but it’s truly one of the things we enjoy the most.
I don’t really want to take that away from us in the name of frugal living. You do need to enjoy your life while working toward financial independence.
If you could give a personal finance book to everyone just starting their financial journey, what book would you give them?
I haven’t read that many of them…yet. I just read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and I am working on the Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley now. Because it’s the only one I’ve read all the way through and it seems to be THE BOOK on personal finance–I’m going to say Total Money Makeover.
What led to your decision to start a blog, and what has your experience been like so far?
I’ve always toyed with the idea of blogging because I love to write. I’ve started a couple blogs before, but never really had the right idea that would allow for basically endless content. I always got stuck after the first several posts.
This personal finance niche feels right for me, and it’s something I’ve really gotten sort of obsessed with so I’m finding it a lot easier to think up content to write about.
Also, as a stay at home mother with kids who aren’t yet in school, I don’t have a lot of ways to make extra income. Nothing is as flexible as I need it to be–except blogging. And it’s something that I’ve always kind of wanted to do anyway, so it was a win-win.
If you had to delete all of your blog posts except for one, which post would you keep and why?
I would absolutely keep the 10 Stupid Ways I’ve Caught Myself Wasting Money post. First of all, because it was just featured as “Noteworthy” on Rockstar Finance, which I am still sort of dying a little about by the way. Second, because I just like it. I think it’s a well-written post that really showcases what I can do as a writer and my writing style. I’m proud of it.
Thank you for sharing your stories and insights, Michelle!
Are you a stay-at-home parent who has found ways to bring in some extra income? Share your story below!