Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s Remarkable Journey From Financial Analyst To Personal Finance Blogger

The Fellowship of Penny Calling Penny
August 17, 2023
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner's Remarkable Journey From Financial Analyst To Personal Finance Blogger

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In a world brimming with financial aspirations, there exists an extraordinary story of transformation and empowerment. 

Meet the remarkable Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, who turned her passion for financial freedom into an art form, embracing her role as an influencer in personal finance. 

Michelle embarked on an exhilarating journey that led to the creation of a celebrated blog “Making Sense of Cents”. 

From crunching numbers as a financial analyst to transforming lives as a full-time blogger, Michelle’s journey resonates deeply with those who crave financial independence and boundless joy.

Shall we embark on this insightful conversation together? Let’s dive right in!

Q1) You have an impressive background with three college degrees, including a Finance MBA. Could you share a bit about your journey from working as a financial analyst to becoming a full-time blogger and entrepreneur?

After earning my college degrees, including my Finance MBA, I began my career as a financial analyst. I thought this was what I wanted to do with my life. 

However, as time went on, I wanted more flexibility and control over my own time and life. Around the same time, I stumbled upon the world of blogging. 

In 2011, I created MakingSenseofCents.com as a way to document my own journey towards paying off my student loan debt and finding a way to stop living paycheck to paycheck.

In the beginning, my blog was really just for me. I didn’t think I would make money from it, it was simply a way to learn how to improve my finances. 

Over time, though, I realized I could turn my blog into a full-time business. After around 2 years of blogging on the side, I left my day job to blog full-time on Making Sense of Cents. 

Back then, I was freelancing a lot too, as a freelance writer and social media manager. Currently, I don’t do any freelancing, and I only run my blog as well as my courses. 

I am so happy that I made the leap all those years ago!

Q2) Your blog, Making Sense of Cents, has gained significant recognition in the personal finance and lifestyle sphere. What inspired you to start the blog and share your financial journey and expertise with your readers?

I started my blog randomly after I had learned about the personal finance blogging community. 

I loved how everyone was cheering each other on to beat their financial goals, and I wanted to be a part of it.

I didn’t start my blog to make money. It was just for fun. I was anonymous and actually didn’t know that blogs could make money.

Q3) You’ve mentioned paying off $40,000 of student loan debt in just seven months. Could you dive into the strategies and actions you took to achieve such a remarkable feat? How did your financial knowledge and the blog community contribute to your success?

I did a few different things such as cutting back on my expenses and being more frugal. But, the main thing that allowed me to pay off my student loans quickly was finding ways to make extra money.

Thanks to my blog and the personal finance community, I learned about several different ways to make money, and I used as many of these as I could so that I could make as much money as possible in a short amount of time. 

Some of the side hustles I did included mystery shopping, answering surveys, taking part in market research studies, selling items online (such as clothing and electronics on eBay), renting out spare rooms in my home, freelance writing for other blogs, and of course, making an income from Making Sense of Cents. 

I was probably side hustling around 40 hours a week on top of my day job as a financial analyst.

You can read all about how I did this at How I Paid Off My $40,000 Student Loan Debt In Less Than One Year.

Q4) Traveling full-time in an RV and boat sounds like a dream for many. How did you and your husband make this lifestyle shift, and how has it influenced your approach to personal finance and financial independence?

We knew that we wanted to travel, and it was always a dream of my husbands to travel via RV. We looked at RVs one day and got hooked. 

We thought it would just be a part-time thing where we would take trips in it, but during the first trip we quickly realized that we wanted to live in the RV. And, the rest is history! haha!

We have now had an RV for almost a decade, and we also have a sailboat that we primarily live on. 

This change in lifestyle has definitely influenced our perspective on personal finance. 

With limited space in an RV and boat, we’ve embraced minimalism and learned to live with less. We value experiences and enjoy exploring new places as much as we can.

Q5) In your blog income reports, you’ve consistently highlighted earning over $30,000 a month from your blog. Can you shed light on the different income streams you’ve developed, including affiliate marketing, partnerships, and coaching? 

I earn income online through affiliate marketing, sponsored partnerships, and through selling my courses. 

My favorite way to make money blogging is through affiliate marketing. By promoting products and services that align with my reader’s interests and needs, I’m able to earn commissions on sales and sign ups generated through my referral links. 

You can learn more about affiliate marketing in my blog post – What You Need To Know About Affiliate Marketing For Beginners.

Sponsored partnerships are another way that I earn income through my blog. I collaborate with companies that help my readers, such as financial apps and side hustle opportunities.

Additionally, my online courses allow me to share my expertise for those who want to make money blogging as well. 

I started my courses  around 7 years ago because I was receiving many, many questions every single day from other bloggers. 

By creating an online course, I have been able to help thousands of bloggers make money with their blog.

Q6) Starting a blog as a hobby and then turning it into a thriving business is remarkable. What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers who aim to monetize their passion? 

I recommend focusing on writing consistent, high-quality content that your readers are interested in. 

Also, authenticity is key and you should share your personal experiences, expertise, and unique voice to make your blog posts more fun and enjoyable to read.

As you grow your blog, diversify your income streams so that you aren’t reliant on one form of blogging income.

Remember, success won’t happen overnight. Building a profitable and successful blog takes time!

Q7) Your blog content is known for its relatability and approachability, making personal finance more engaging. How do you strike a balance between financial education and making the topic fun and relatable for your audience?

Making financial education fun and enjoyable to read is very important to me – so many people think that finance has to be boring and I disagree. Some things I do include:

  • Breaking down complex topics into easily digestible content. 
  • Sharing my personal experience when I can so that readers can see a personal story and see how things actually work. 
  • Interviewing experts when I can so that I can use more real-life examples. 
  • Writing about topics that I myself find intriguing.

Q8) Making Sense of Cents covers a wide range of financial topics, from earning more income to saving effectively. Could you share some practical tips for young adults who are navigating their finances, especially given the financial challenges many face today?

Here are some tips:

1) Create a budget: I recommend understanding your income and tracking your expenses. This simple step helps you identify areas where you can cut back, save more, and prioritize financial goals.

2) Set up an emergency fund: Having a cushion of savings can give you peace of mind and protect you from unexpected expenses, such as a car repair, an unexpected medical bill, and more.

3) Find ways to make more money: If you have the spare time and need to increase your income, find a side hustle that will benefit you. This may include freelancing from home, finding a part-time job, or starting a business of your own.

Q9) You’ve mentioned your experience with student loan debt and the lessons you’ve learned. What advice do you have for those who are currently dealing with student loans or other types of debt and are looking to take control of their financial situation?

My top tip for anyone who has student loans is to find ways to make extra money. I was able to pay off my student loans quickly by side hustling like crazy. 

Yes, it was hard at times and I was working a ton, but it was so nice to pay off my debt quickly and never have to think about it again.

One key trend is the increasing importance of digital literacy. It’s important for young adults to understand online banking and digital security to protect their financial information and assets. 

Also, be wary of what you read or watch online, as not everyone has your best interest in mind. If in doubt, you should do your own research to see if something is a scam or not.

Bonus Question – Looking ahead, what are your future plans for Making Sense of Cents? How do you envision your role as an influencer in the personal finance space evolving in the coming years?

My plans for Making Sense of Cents are mainly to continue to grow and reach more readers so that I can help more people improve their financial situation. 

I plan on doing this through growing my email list, publishing high-quality shareable content, Pinterest, Facebook, and SEO.

Other than that, I am simply just trying to enjoy life and continue to earn a semi-passive income that I have built over the years so that I can have as much flexibility as possible in life.


So, there you have it – a peek into the amazing journey of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. But hold on tight because this is just the tip of the iceberg! 

Get ready because we’ve got a treasure trove of real-life stories like this coming your way. 

We’re right here, journeying alongside you in the world of personal finance. Let’s take this adventure together, one inspiring example at a time!

Got someone in mind whose story you’d like to hear? Drop us a line, and we’ll be more than happy to make it happen.


Your Financial Success Starts Here


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