Christopher Guest Post: Making Sense of Cents

At some point in 2015, the idea for a blog was bouncing around in my head. I didn’t know much about blogging, but I admired a handful of blogs that I had discovered, and I thought I might try my hand at it eventually.

One of those first financial blogs I discovered while investigating whether or not it might make sense to start my own is the one featured here today. Michelle Schroeder-Gardner was in her fifth year of personal finance blogging (just as I am now) and she shared her monthly income from Making Sense of Cents with a blog post detailing the sources of her blog profits.

Wow!

Back then, she was talking about a low five-figure profit, but I wasn’t making that much more as a full-time anesthesiologist. A couple of years later, her money blog would bring 7-figures in annual profits, more than double what I ever made in my career in medicine.

The money’s not the reason I’m excited to share her blog with you all today, though. What I admire more is the fact that she’s been living life on her terms, as a financially independent woman with the kind of freedom and flexibility she has earned ought to be. She and her husband transitioned from full-time RV living to an oceanic life as they now live and sail on a catamaran with their dogs along for the boat ride.

 

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Christopher Guest Post: Making Sense of Cents

 

 

CGP_Making_sense_of_centsWhat in the world is a Christopher Guest Post?

Inspired by Nigel Tufnel, the character portrayed by Christopher Guest in Spinal Tap, I took Mr. 1500’s ten questions, and amped them up to eleven.

 

If you’re not familiar with the scene, take 50 seconds to watch this video and enjoy the dialog between Nigel and Rob Reiner.

 

I decided I’d start a Q&A of my own. Not satisfied with just ten questions, “this one goes to eleven”. Just like Nigel’s amplifiers.

What do you do (or did you do) for a living? What do you like best about your job? If you were a physician, what type of a physician do you think you would be? Why?

 

I am a full-time writer and blogger at MakingSenseofCents.com. Before doing this, I was a financial analyst for a small investment firm. I love running Making Sense of Cents – I enjoy being my own boss, being a writer, being location independent, helping readers improve their money situation, having a flexible schedule, and more. I feel very lucky that I get to do this every day.

The next question is hard – I have honestly never thought about being a physician. I think perhaps a psychiatrist would be the specialty that I’d probably be in. I was interested in psychology when I was younger, and while I realize they are different, it is also more closely related than other fields, haha.

Helping people with their mental health is an area that I think is very important.

 

[PoF: Yes, mental health is extremely important, and it’s been under siege for many in 2020. 

I have to admit that I have enjoyed being a blogger with the flexible schedule, location independence, and everything else you mentioned. It is very freeing compared to the old doctor job. You chose wisely!]

 

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Describe your blog and tell us why your blog would appeal to a physician seeking FIRE in eleven sentences.

 

  1. Making Sense of Cents is a money blog, but I also talk about travel, life tips, and more.
  2. I have lived on a boat for a couple of years now (you can find my Instagram here), before this I was living in an RV, and before the RV I was living in a house (which I have since sold).
  3. I don’t live a “normal” life, and I can help introduce people to reaching for their own dreams as well.
  4. So, whether that mean you want to travel full-time, or even part-time, live on a boat or RV, I show you that it’s possible (even if you don’t want to do those things, I’m all about helping you reach your own goals).
  5. I talk a lot about spending money on things that you value so that you can live your life to the fullest.
  6. I am 31 years old and I am financially independent, all through hard work on my own.
  7. I have enough saved to retire whenever I would like, but instead, I continue to work as I enjoy it.
  8. I don’t think managing and growing your money has to be extremely difficult, but that there are many basic things that people miss, which I discuss on Making Sense of Cents.
  9. I don’t think retirement/FIRE means that you must live a boring life in order to save money, instead, you can have a lot of fun!
  10. My writing style is personal – I try to write as though I’m talking to a friend which makes it more enjoyable for everyone.
  11. I regularly interview people on their debt payoff success stories, FIRE stories, travel (expat, sailing, RVing, etc.), and more, and it’s a fun way to learn about different ways to live.

 

[PoF: So we were supposed to be living on a boat right now, at least for the month it was going to take the Princess cruiseliner to take us from Los Angeles to Shanghai with a bunch of cool stops in between. 

Instead, we’re taking a “land cruise” pulling our travel trailer and camping in state parks where the weather is warmer than it is back home (Michigan). I recall you saying that you used to chase 70 degree weather year-round in your motorhome. I think that’s brilliant!]

What inspired you to start a blog of your own? Was there a particular event you remember that made you feel your blog had arrived? Any big plans for your blog in the future?

 

I started Making Sense of Cents very randomly back in 2011. It was all just a hobby. I didn’t even know that blogs could make money and I was actually an anonymous writer for around the first year or two.

I first found out about the personal finance community when I was reading a magazine that featured a personal finance website. I quickly came to love the personal finance community, as it was so friendly and everyone was openly talking about how to improve their financial situation. I found this extremely refreshing, and I learned so much!

I started my own blog to track my own personal finance journey, and to join the community of personal finance writers. It was all just for fun.

Eventually, I learned that I could make money from it. And, making money from my hobby seemed like a dream once I realized it was possible.

I felt like I had “arrived” when I left my day job to blog full-time. I have three business and finance-related college degrees, so quitting my day job to blog full-time was scary. But, I quickly learned that it was a great decision.

Other times include when I won the Plutus Award for Blog of the Year, as well as being featured on Forbes, Time, Yahoo, Oprah, CNBC, and more.

I don’t have any huge future blog plans. Instead, I plan on continuing to do what makes me happy – which is writing articles.

 

[PoF: I agree that the personal finance community has been awesome and very welcoming. I started five years after you, so I’m still a relative newbie, but as the five-year mark approaches, I don’t feel so new anymore. I think blog years should be measured like dog years. A year is as good as 7 in this business.

Those are some mighty strong accolades you’ve collected. My biggest accomplishment so far was drinking beer from someone else’s Plutus Award. [Thank you, Chief Mom Officer] ]

 

 

Give me eleven posts you think Physician on FIRE readers might want to read.

 

My Student Loans Are Fully Paid Off!

75+ Ways To Make Extra Money

Parents Paying For College – Is This A Good Idea?

How I Successfully Built A $1,000,000+ Blog

Should People With High Incomes Be Allowed To Shop At Thrift Stores?

Welcome To Paradise – We’re Living On A Sailboat!

Why Is Talking About Money More Taboo Than Sex?

How Elizabeth Reached Financial Independence by 32 And Moved To A Homestead

How To Start A Successful Blog In 10 Steps

Downsizing Your Home? Here’s How I Went From A 2,000 Square Foot House To An RV

Full-Time RV Travel With Kids – Are They Crazy?

 

[PoF: I remember seeing your monthly blog income reports. I think the first one I saw had you making something like $14,000 in a month and I thought that was amazing! By the time I started in 2016, you were pulling in nearly $1 Million a year. Simply incredible.

I hope I’m still allowed to shop at thrift stores, because we do, and, yes, I think traveling full time in an RV with kids would be a pretty good definition of insanity. It can be fun for a few weeks at a time, though!]

 

At what age are you most likely to retire (or at what age did you retire) from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?

 

I have enough saved to retire whenever I would like. I don’t know when or if I’ll ever fully retire from Making sense of Cents, as I’ve built a nice little business that allows me to work when I feel like it. And, I get to travel whenever and wherever I would like.

My husband and I are 31.

 

 

What does an ideal retirement look like for you? What will you do with your time when full-time work is in your rearview mirror?

 

My ideal retirement is not too different from what I’m doing now. Eventually, I imagine that I would be working less, and spending more time enjoying my travels. But, I think I have a pretty good mix right now.

Living on a boat is a lot of work, so having more time to dedicate to it would make it more enjoyable.

 

[PoF: I would imagine the boat life is a lot of work and at least a little bit scary at times. It’s good to hear you’ve found a good time balance. I’m still working on finding the right mix. Naturally, there’s never enough time to do all that I’d like to do, even without a normal job.]

 

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I’ll give you eleven sentences to dish out advice to a young physician. Any and all advice is welcome. We talk about personal finance, so money is fair game, but if you have advice on being a better doctor, a better parent / spouse / friend / human, we’re all ears.

 

If you have high-interest rate debt, please find ways to pay it off. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but I know of so many people with high debt amounts who think that they’ll just pay it off later, as their income rises. But, then their expenses rise as their income rises, and their debt just continues to build.

While paying off my student loan debt was difficult (and I know it’s not as high as the average physician, but please stay with me here), it was the best decision that I have made. It allowed me to pursue other dreams and goals in my life, instead of forever being bound by student loan debt.

Another big tip is to live the life that you want to live. So many people are fixated on trying to impress others, trying to live the life that others have planned for them, and so on. Instead, figure out what makes you happy and do what you can do to improve your happiness level. This may mean that you decide to go for early retirement. Perhaps you want to travel full-time. Simply do what makes you happy, instead of everyone else (of course, within reason!).

 

You’ve got eleven days to visit anyplace in the world with an $11,000 budget. Where do you go and what do you do?

 

I could have a lot of fun in 11 days with an $11,000 budget, haha! I don’t think I have ever spent that amount of money on a vacation before for myself. I would probably choose one of those over-the-water bungalows in the Pacific.

I would simply enjoy the area and the fanciness that comes with it.

I hope to visit those same islands with my own sailboat one day too!

 

[PoF: Those places make for stunning pictures. I think I could enjoy a long weekend at a place like that, but no matter how pretty that turquoise water is, I can only stare at it and the fishies within for so long before I’m ready to see and do something different. I’m not a good beach person, as you might imagine.

Now sailing to a place like that sounds interesting. A journey like that could be full of adventure.]

 

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Name eleven beverages you enjoy. You can be as general or specific as you like.

  1. Water (I am a big water drinker, haha)
  2. Lemonade
  3. Passionfruit tea
  4. Gose (sour beer)
  5. Sweet tea
  6. Unsweet tea
  7. Wine
  8. Bloody Mary
  9. Sprite
  10. Root beer float
  11. Mimosa

Okay, that was a hard question!

 

[PoF: This one gose to 11!

See what I did there?]

 

Now, eleven foods.

  1. Korean food (I’m half Korean and I love the food)
  2. Burrito bowls
  3. Spaghetti
  4. Tacos
  5. Sushi
  6. Candy (it’s a running joke that I am obsessed and eat far too much candy)
  7. Watermelon
  8. Cake
  9. Pizza
  10. Pie
  11. Stir fry

 

[PoF: We had Korean exchange students who were local university students, but we spent time with them at least once a week. One evening, they made dinner for us. It was quite tasty, but I’m pretty sure they used every dish in our kitchen! The Korean food tasted better when we sampled it at the university’s cultural festival and there was no cleanup we had to do. 🙂 ]

 

How did you first learn about PhysicianonFIRE.com? What one piece of advice do you have for me?

 

I think I may have found you after your website was featured somewhere. Or, it could have been Twitter. I have an awful memory!

I was looking at my analytics, and over the years I’ve noticed that you’ve shared a lot of my RV and sailing content. My top piece of advice for you would be to rent an RV or charter a sailboat, if you have never done so. I think you’d probably enjoy it!

 

[PoF: I know it’s smart to try before you buy, but I rarely roll that way. We bought ourselves a travel trailer over the summer when we realized our travel plans in Asia were busted.  We’ve got a boat, too, but it could easily be swallowed by the catamaran you guys use to sail the oceans blue.]

Thank you for taking the time to help us get to know you better. Happy sails to you!]

 

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Interested in hearing how other top personal finance bloggers have answered these questions? Check out a few of these Christopher Guest Posts:

 

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Have you got a 12th question for Michelle? Ask in a comment below!

3 thoughts on “Christopher Guest Post: Making Sense of Cents”

    • You’re welcome, and thank you for taking the time to share your story with my readers.

      The little house we have now (and the RV we’re traveling in at the moment) doesn’t have a dishwasher, so we’re pretty sensitive to the mess of a meal. I’m guessing it’s all handwashing on the catamaran, as well.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

      Reply
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