Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life series!
This is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream lives. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.
I am soo excited to have Robert Farringon on the blog today to share his story of designing his dream life.
To give you some context, Robert’s bio reads, in part: Robert is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™. He’s the founder of The College Investor, which is the #1 resource for helping millennials get out of student loan debt and start building real wealth for their future.
Here’s a look at how Robert answered my questions!
Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”
I was able to quit my corporate day job worry free to spend more time with my family and operate my business and schedule on my terms.
What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?
For context, I’m married with two young children.
I worked as a Target store manager – which was a great gig, don’t get me wrong. It paid exceptionally well, and I loved what I did. The people were great and the job was “easy” from a stress standpoint.
On the side, I was blogging, and I would still hustle from time to time selling stuff on eBay.
The big drawback with retail is working nights and weekends. When I had no children – it was great. When you work weekends, you get a day off in the week, which is awesome for getting stuff done. But as my family grew, it became harder emotionally to continue to work nights and weekends. It was a point of struggle in my family.
Although I had my job nailed down, retail also requires that you be physically present. I would have to go in to simply lock or unlock doors. There wasn’t a way to outsource that.
As my side business grew (and eventually was out-earning my day job), I really couldn’t justify working both any longer. Paula Pant’s quote (or at least I heard her say it) is: “Show me your money and your time and I’ll show you what you value”.
How could I really say I valued my family when I was spending all this time away from them, AND I had plenty of money to change that.
So, finally, after getting up enough courage to break the traditional norms, I resigned.
What’s your lifestyle like now?
Today, I work from home about 20 hours per week, mostly nights when the kids go to bed and some dedicated time during the day.
We honestly don’t do much! We do our normal routines, I help out with the family (hopefully as equal to my wife), and we just enjoy our time together.
We do travel a bit more, and do more spur of the moment. With no boss to ask permission from, we can literally decide to go somewhere immediately. Recently, we took a trip to Arizona with just about 5 days of thought ahead of time.
That’s really enjoyable!
How many hours per week do you work?
It varies but I would say it’s about 20-30 hours.
How do you make money?
I make the majority of my income from the blog.
It earns money through advertising (affiliate, display advertising, brand partnerships) and through some small info products we sell directly.
Beyond the blog, I also do some business consulting to help brands position and market themselves to millennial audiences and online.
With my experience in the personal finance space, and running a large media site, this is a natural fit that I do a few times per year.
How did you get started?
I started The College Investor sitting in class in my last quarter of college. There wasn’t one specific event, but more of a confluence of several things that lead to me starting.
First, I’ve always been passionate about money and investing. Since I was a teen, I’d been side hustling, saving my money, learning about taxes, and eventually how to invest.
Second, I’ve always loved technology. I originally wanted to be a computer science major, but hated programming all day. Just because I didn’t go into that field didn’t mean I stopped liking computers and technology.
Third, when I was in college, I thought about joining my college’s investment club. However, when I attended, everyone was talking about penny stocks and it was more akin to gambling than investing. I was very jaded by this and was looking for an outlet to share my own investing ideas.
Fourth, I was reading other personal finance blogs and websites online. I soon learned about how to start a blog (from a blog I was reading), and decided to give it a try!
How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?
It took me about 2 years to make my first $1,000 per month. Looking back, it should have never taken that long, but I had no idea what I was doing and it took a long time to figure out.
How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?
It took 7 years before I crossed the 6 figure mark. Not to say that the years leading up were bad… and remember this was a side hustle!
Not really passive income though!
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out?
It took me a long time to gain traction when it shouldn’t have. A few things I would do differently that were really game changing for me:
- Network with others in your space. This was a big one for me. I blogged “alone” for the first year, which really made me struggle. I should have connected with other bloggers and people in the personal finance space. When I finally did this, it was game changing for me – in terms of traffic, knowledge, and income. That’s what allowed me to get to my first $1,000 month.
- Consistency: Starting anything requires consistency. I should have focused on writing 3x per week, every week, and built a good routine. I didn’t for about a year (also aligned with making more money). But once I started being consistent, I started seeing results.
- Be The Best: This is more important today than when I started, but I would try to create the best content possible. This will get you noticed. Write 3,000 words, have images and charts, do a video and a podcast. That level of effort goes a long way toward getting noticed. Plus, it allows you to connect in so many more ways.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?
Patience – there’s no such thing as an overnight success. It requires time, effort, and you have to put in the work.
I started working a job at 16, full time at 18, worked full time all through college, and still side hustled.
Even while working full time after college, I side hustled my blog and grew it to six figures.
By doing the work, putting in the time, you can achieve your goals and have your dream life. Just be patient and be intentional about the work you’re putting in.
Even when I worked my day job, too many people wanted the job after the entry level job. You have to start somewhere, gain the skills, and be patient. However, if you’re not intentional with where you’re gaining the skills and being patient, it could lead to future disappointment.
Finally, you’re young. If you’re under 50, you’re young. You have plenty of time on your side to achieve whatever dream life you want.
Where can people find you if they want more?
A Final Note!
A HUGE thank you to Robert for taking the time to do this interview!
Robert is a rockstar, and I absolutely love his work, particularly because of his mission around student loans and educating young people about money.
But I also loooove his advice about having patience. Seriously, I struggle with this so much. I just want results now. 🙂 He’s spot on with his advice, though. It’s worth the wait!
Does Robert inspire you? Let him know in the comments?
P.s. If you want to learn more about blogging, here are a few 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!