Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life series!
If you’re new here, this is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream lives. I’m starting to post these every other week — rotating with my YouTube videos. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.
I am soo excited to have Michelle on the blog today to share her story of designing her dream life through her online business.
Here’s a look at Michelle’s bio, to give you some context if you don’t know her: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance website that helps readers learn how to save more, earn money, and live more. She earns over $100,000 a month from her blogging business, and shows no signs of slowing down. She currently travels full-time with her husband and two dogs in an RV (soon to be by sailboat!).
Here’s a a look at how Michelle answered my questions!
Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”
I knew I was living my dream life when I was able to quit the day job I disliked in order to pursue my side hustle full-time. My business, Making Sense of Cents, has allowed me to actually enjoy my work, travel full-time, explore new places, go on amazing new adventures, have more freedom, and actually help people improve their financial situation!
We are saving an incredible amount of money too, because we no longer waste our money on things that don’t need to be spent on. Before, we would do a lot of “emotional shopping” due to us not being happy, and that led to so many disasters. We are able to retire whenever we want (before 30 if we really want to!), but we will continue to work because we really enjoy running Making Sense of Cents and everything else that goes along with it.
What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?
Life is really great and I’m so grateful for everything that has happened. However, before, I was extremely stressed about everything. I had a lot of things go wrong when I was younger – the big one being that my father passed away when I was a teenager, as well as dealing with difficult family problems. This all led to me growing up at a very young age – I’ve been working pretty much full-time since I was around the age of 14.
Even with that, I was horrible with money. While I didn’t rack up any credit card debt, I didn’t strive to be better than “average.” I thought that everyone had student loans, everyone had car loans, etc., and that was just a way of life. I didn’t really have any goals and I was living paycheck to paycheck.
I had around $40,000 in student loan debt. For some that may be a little, and for others that may be an insane amount. For me, it was too much, as my monthly payments were similar to my monthly mortgage payment. Due to that, I just couldn’t imagine paying that amount for years and years to come.
I learned how to make extra income, read personal finance success stories about people who retired extremely early, met people who traveled full-time, and more. Due to all of those things, I became super obsessed with the personal finance world because before I had such a bad mindset when it came to money!
What’s your lifestyle like?
My husband and I travel full-time. At the time of this interview, we are still in our RV, but we are about to switch to sailing and living on a boat. We have traveled full-time for several years now and it has been a blast!
We have seen so many different things, gone on so many beautiful adventures, hiked many, many mountains, sailed to numerous islands, met so many amazing people, tried delicious food, and more.
We used to own a “normal” house in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. While we did love that house, we sold it a few years ago and have been traveling ever since.
Life is really good.
How many hours per week do you work?
I work anywhere from about 5 hours a week to 60+. It really just depends on the week and what is going on. My dream goal is to never be above 15 hours a week! While I love what I do, I already earn a good income so I would like to cut back my hours so that I can focus more time on enjoying life and being present.
How do you make money?
You can see exactly how I earn a living in How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog. I earn around $100,000 a month and it breaks apart in the different categories below:
Affiliate marketing – $50,000-$140,000 a month
Sponsored posts and display ads – $5,000 to $30,000 a month
Product (Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing) – $30,000 to $70,000 a month.
Income varies month-to-month. My average month is somewhere around $100,000. However, In February I earned around $180,000 and in March 2018 I earned around $240,000.
- Side note – Michelle has a course where she teaches people how to make money with affiliate marketing called Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing.
How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?
It took me 6 months to earn my first $100, and after around one year I was earning around $1,000 a month.
But, I didn’t start my blog to make money, or even know that blogs could make money. Due to that, I wasn’t doing anything to TRY to make money. Once I realized that making money through a blog was possible, I switched gears, started taking my blog more seriously, and my income grew.
How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?
After 2 years of blogging, I was earning around $10,000 per month online and left my day job in order to become a full-time blogger.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
To focus! In the beginning of being a full-time blogger, I did so many different things to make extra money. I did this because I thought I had to in order to pay the bills.
I was freelancing like crazy, I had a ton of clients, and I was managing my own blogging business as well. My time was spread thin and I was spending so many hours improving other people’s businesses, that my own was hurting!
So, one day, about 2-3 years ago, I decided to fire ALL of my freelancing clients so that I could focus on what I truly wanted, and that was to be my own actual boss and focus 100% of my time on Making Sense of Cents and my own blogging business.
My income doubled or tripled soon after that, and it has been growing significantly ever since.
Plus, I’m happier than ever. Sure, not everyone wants to be their own boss. But, I have found my calling and this is definitely it!
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?
My top tip would be to create a plan, and go for it!
So many people regret things later in life and that’s because they played it boring and too, too safe.
But, you can be safe and take risks as well. And, so many people think they can’t do things and lack confidence in their lives. If you are giving yourself an excuse for why you think something isn’t possible, I want you to stop and think about WHY you are making those excuses, and how you can change that.
So many people in the world accomplish amazing things every single day, and many of those people started from a hard place.
A Final Note!
Michelle’s story is awesome! And I can personally relate to going all in on my blog. I ditched my freelance writing clients 2 years ago and my income has been increasing ever since. Going all in on my blog totally paid off.
THANK YOU to Michelle for taking the time to do this interview and giving so much detail about her financial life.
Michelle is an inspiration of what is possible!
Thank you, thank you, gf! 🙂
Are you inspired by Michelle?! Let her know in the comments!
P.s. If you want to learn more about blogging, here are a few free resources:
- How To Start A Blog (blog post)
- The Ultimate Guide To Blogging (page with all my blogging posts)
- How I Made $45K Blogging While Working Full Time (free eBook)
You can also get 5 days of a free blogging course sent to your email – just add your email to the form below!