Pursuing Slow FI While Paying Off Debt

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Michelle Jackson from MichelleIsMoneyHungry.com joins me to talk about her Slow FI journey.

We discuss the financial impact of growing up in a single-parent household, how she’s paid off $60,000 in debt, and how using her skills to make money online helped her reach Slow FI.

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Slow F.I.R.E. is a great alternative for those burnt out on or turned off by the financial independence retire early movement. Check out Michelle from Michelle Is Money Hungry journey on this podcast episode

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Michelle Jackson 0:00

My 72 year old self will appreciate the fact that I earned more so I could put more away, you know, for the future, my mom will appreciate my ability to help her if I earn more so that I can help her in the future. Like, there are reasons why I want to earn more and it's not so I can have a Fendi bag. It's for freedom.

Unknown Speaker 0:24

You're listening to the winning to wealth Podcast, where you'll hear real stories from real people who are on the path to building real wealth. These stories will show you how to earn more money, pay off debt, start investing, and make better money choices so you can build wealth for your future. Now, here's your host, Michael Lacy, what's

Michael Lacy 0:47

up what's up? What's up teammates, this is Episode 37 of the winning to wealth podcast. And this week, we're talking about paying off debt, making money online and pursuing slow fi and to do this brought on the creator of the podcast and blog. Michelle is money hungry, calm, Miss Michelle Jackson. Now, we've talked a lot on this show about pursuing fire, which is an acronym for financial independence retire early. And the basic concept of fire is essentially to find ways to maximize your savings rate so that you can have a high enough net worth, or even a high enough cash flow to become work optional for the rest of your life. And a lot of critics of the fire movement feel as if saving so much of your money can really limit the fun that you can have today, unless you make a higher than average household income. So what do you do if you kind of fall in that gap? Maybe you don't make a huge income, or maybe you do and you want to reach financial independence, but you also want to enjoy life now. That's where slo fi comes in. So we're going to have Michelle share her journey in whatever Took for her to get to that point, including how she paid off $60,000 worth of debt during the process. Now, Michelle mentioned a few different things in this episode, including ways that you can connect with her. So be sure to head over to the show notes page, which you can find at winning to wealth comm slash Episode 37. That is winning to wealth.com slash Episode 37. All right, let's jump right into this episode to learn how Michelle paid off $60,000 worth of debt while pursuing slo fi.

Michael Lacy 2:34

So Michelle, welcome to the show. I'm so excited to have you on today just to learn a little bit more about your story and share with the audience. So again, thank you just for being here today. I really appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much, Michael, for having me on the show. And I really do hope that my story is helpful and a little bit hopeful at this point in time. I think it's

Michelle Jackson 2:59

will resonate with a lot of people, especially right now, because of what's going on with the economy, even though that conversation seems to be not being had right now. Right.

Michael Lacy 3:11

So, you know, I like to always kind of start back at the beginning of things. So, can you just talk to me a little bit about how money was managed in your household, like when you were growing up as a kid,

Michelle Jackson 3:23

when you ask this question is really funny. I reflect a lot about the beginning, the Genesis, and as a little kid, I, my parents divorced when I was about six and a half, seven years old. And the thing that my dad did was he declared bankruptcy, which he really didn't need to because they don't have any money to be declaring bankruptcy. And so what happened is like with most women in that situation, when they talk about women and divorce, the the woman's income will drop significantly as a result Divorce that typically the trend is women go into poverty as a result of divorce. And so my dad pulled this financial maneuver and and it set a a precedent for the years to come. Unfortunately, my mom decided to go to university, she always had a love of learning. And I ended up going obviously with my mom to university to this beautiful little town where she got a lot of financial aid. And so it was this really weird experience where we were really struggling, but we were living in one of the richest cities, like towns in the United States to this time. So to those days when the richest places you could live in, but we were like we were struggling. And as a kid, I could tell that we were struggling in some ways, but it was confusing, because I would go horseback riding was YMCA and I I would do all these really cool things. And I was never hungry. Like it was never nothing like that. But there was an ongoing tension with money in the house, always. And so when I talk about like money in my life as a child, there was always a tension, because there was never enough. I

Michael Lacy 5:19

mean, let's talk about that. Let's explore that a little bit. So, I mean, what did that tension teach you, you know, going into adulthood? Because I'm kind of familiar with that. I mean, I grew up in like real life, poverty, you know what I mean? And so, it was different for me in that, like, we didn't have a lot of things and like, I didn't get some of the experiences you had. So it's really interesting to hear kind of that play out in your life. So I'm just curious kind of what did those childhood experiences teach you about money and handling money? And like, you know, how did you carry those lessons into adulthood?

Michelle Jackson 5:52

So it was confusing, and I think that part of it was my mom did not want me to struggle with money. So she wouldn't, or she didn't want me to feel a lot of the pain that she was experiencing. Right. And so what she did, which I really wish she didn't do, but she did. She wouldn't let me work when I was young. So I never like babysat. Or did those kinds of things like, I never earned, like pen money, if you will, as a young kid, because my mom was just like, once you start working and never stop, she she literally said that more than once. And I begged her Finally, because I had exclusive taste to only child by the way. And so I was like, Mom, like I really want to work and I'm tired of asking you for money. And, and I do think that some people are natural spenders and some are natural savers. And also think that some people are also under earners, right. And as well as other people who really attract money to themselves. It doesn't mean that that's a financial identity that you keep forever, but I do think that Some of us trend that way. And so finally, when I was about 16 and a half, my mom I wore her down, I was like mom. And so I wore her down and I finally got to get hired on at my first job making sandwiches at the food court and Tamra center, downtown Denver, and it was so awesome because I was making bank I was making 475 an hour. It was so awesome. was so awesome. But here's the thing, um, I didn't get the money management conversation related to earning that money. So I got the soft skills conversation, which I think is so important and serves it serves me so well to this day. Stuff like show up on time. Your word is your bond, do what you say, be ethical. go above and beyond like these wonderful soft skill conversations that I think in a lot of black families He's still really happen to this day. But in terms of like, okay, Michelle, you just got your first job. Why don't you, you know, save 12% every every month out of each check, that didn't happen. We didn't sit down and talk about retirement, that didn't happen. We didn't sit down and talk about managing debt and how to avoid that. Like none of that happened. Not because my mom didn't care about that, but because she had never had those conversations like with her parents, so she was learning on the fly. And I should mention my parents divorced after my mom was a stay at home mom for the entire time that they were married, which was the case at that time was very common. I'm a Gen X er, so I'm older than I look. So it was common at the time to have your mom be a stay at home mom, and my dad was in the military. So there's also that that's very relevant now, where a lot of moms are like, Look, I'd like to do this Some work or whatever, but we keep moving from base to base. And we lived in Japan for a couple of years. So when I was little, I started school in Japan. And so my mom's ability to work was really impeded by gender roles and notions in the house. And also just the fact that we were moving around. So she went from being married and a stay at home mom, to immediately having to, to care for two people like a primary wage earner or wage earner for two people. And there's a story and I kind of remember this happening that she shared with me when I was younger, and she was looking for a job. And we're in Denver, and she had take the bus with me, but she had no money. So she had to take the change out of my my piggy bank. In order to take the bus. I was free. So when I think about money and these money stories in my life, it's really there's a lot like that. That's a different conversation as someone who's like, yeah, you know, like grandma gifted mom and dad $40,000 purchase a house and I'm like, that didn't happen.

Michelle Jackson 10:11

Like, that's not my lived reality like that's that didn't happen. So that said, my mom taught me how to be scrappy. I can survive you know, like I That's great. That's a skill that honestly a lot of people wish they had right now to be honest. But at the same time, I also learned some things that I to this day am grappling with such as on how to earn more like not to be attracted to under earning and there's a reason why I call my project Michels money hungry. It's not about greed. It's about telling myself that it's okay to want to earn more. Because the other pieces with a lot of women of color in particular, a lot of the roles that we work are of service and it's kind of Tied to religion as well. I'm not religious, I believe in God, but I'm not religious. But what I've seen in my family because I have a lot of religious family members, when they talk about work and wealth, it's very tied together. And even though my mom's not that religious even with her, it's very, it's something I noticed. Right? So To this day, like for the rest of her life, I don't think this is gonna change. Money is hard. Money, Money brings pain, money is difficult. There's some things have gotten better. But in general, that's the life lesson that she's learned. And she's you know, she's grown. So at this point, I don't know that that's going to change nor that does she have the energy to change that mindset. For me, it's been a very challenging experience to unlearn a lot of these lessons. And it's taken a lot of self exploration and to get to the point where I'm at now where I'm very assertive about what I want. I've paid off a lot of debt because I had no money management skills. So I messed up my money. Yeah, messed up everything, not because of anything other than I just didn't have those skills. And now as as an adult, I'm like, you know, money is interesting, especially for a person of color. Money is habit and it's access. And recently, I released a podcast episode kind of talking about this. I'm like, you know, if you've got 80% of your habits, like 80% of your money, life is habits, you've got them good. But then the other 20% of your money is affected by other people making decisions about us such as hiring, hiring, hiring you at a fair wage that is equitable for the role that you're in saying yes to a mortgage that you've applied for, or no, because they've decided for some reason that you shouldn't get that mortgage. Or maybe you're, you're working hard in a role or you think that you should get a raise And they're like, sorry, there's no raise. And you're like, ah, and those decisions will resonate and affect you for years to come and your wallet. And I don't think a lot of people think about it in that way, like, how I can affect other people's money as, as an employer, as a supervisor, that kind of thing. And I've had a number of situations where other people have hit me in my wallet, because of whatever situate whatever issue they may have with me. And so there's a reason why I now work for myself, because I can under earn or over earn as much as I feel compelled to do so. And it's a it's a very freeing experience.

Michael Lacy 13:41

Absolutely. Absolutely. I get it. I get that feeling wholeheartedly. So, I mean, going back I know just something that you touched briefly on there was like, you know, you had you messed up your money at one point, you found yourself in a lot of debt. So can you talk a little bit about like what was happening in your life as you were racking up all this debt and First we'll just start off with like, how much debt Did you find yourself in?

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Michelle Jackson 14:05

At this point and July 2020, I've paid off over $60,000 worth of debt. The thing with that debt that was so difficult was the complexity of the debt. A lot of bloggers in the personal finance space, don't talk about this notion that I've coined called debt complexity. I think it's a very different conversation when you have one giant student loan that you can throw everything at, versus 30 plus creditors who are calling you emailing you texting you all, maybe the same credit or doing all of that in the same day. So I had a lot of debt complexity where I had a lot of little debts somewhere a little larger than others, but it was a lot of debt that grew over time. And I didn't just mess up my money wants Are you kidding? I had to learn the hard way more than once and you that occurred during college during graduate school, like I just, I never got the money management skills to not do what I was doing. So every time I'd messed up, you know, a couple years would go by and I could get credit cards again. You know what I mean? Like, it's nothing changed. I hadn't I didn't change, and then I had something happen. That really changed how I thought about the situation. So 911 I'll never forget, it actually was a little before 911 my mom actually lost her job in the airline industry. So that year, the airline industry, there was a lot going on. It was it just was proppy, if you will, for some reason. And she lost her job in that industry. And I'll never forget, one of the things we didn't realize was that the economy and how work was found was changing. So before you could like change jobs, really Easily, like, you could just be like, you know what I'm at will and I'm willing to go and I'm going to get another job. Like it was just very simple to move from job to job. This time, my mom couldn't find another job. And this is a person who'd been working since she was 12. So for some reason, she was really unable to find work. And finally, one day, she goes, Michelle, I, I'm not, I'm scared, and I need help, and I need to live with you. And I'm like, What? Like, are you kidding? Like, I'm in graduate school. I'm auditioning for dance videos or trying to become a Denver Broncos cheerleader. Like I'm doing these things, right? And having my mom live with me in a studio and one of the riches you know, neighborhoods and cities in the United States was not on my list. I'm working at Starbucks. I've got a financial mess, but you know, I can kind of avoid it because I have student loans too. And then this was a come to Jesus moment. Okay. So We're living in my studio on 22nd and canyon in downtown Boulder, Colorado. As long as I live, I'll never forget this moment in my life. And it was so hard, because my mom and this was before internet got really big, right? So she's applying for all these jobs and I would just watch all the rejection letters come in, over and over again every day. She had a great education, great worth work ethic, all this stuff and she could not get a job. And And recently, she even told me she's like, anything I could do I would do during that time. And I guess she got a job like a part time thing at a glass factory. And like, you know, hippies or like hippies there. So, so I'm like, what, and she would walk for half a mile to get to the place in the country, kinda, you know, and I was just like, oh my god. I didn't know that. And she told me that this year. So it was just a very humbling even talking about it kind of hearing my voice was a very humbling experience because no one else in my circle was having this happen. And I felt very alone. I felt very embarrassed. I felt very isolated. And I felt like I, what can I do to change this? Like we've done all the right things. We've done all the right things. We've worked hard, we've been ethical, we've treated people right and nothing works. And I feel like right now, as we record this, there's a lot of people feeling the same way. filled the same way and they're like, I did nothing wrong. And now, this Coronavirus has me, you know, either in harm's way haven't worked this little job I got or lost it. And so I really understand that and I and I was like, so lonely, because I just felt like no one else understood what this felt like. suck.

Michael Lacy 19:01

You know what, I want to stay right there. So but I also want to use this as an opportunity to inject coke in people because it's interesting that you just made that parallel with your life and what was happening in Corona right now. Because as you were saying that, like, I was already kind of thinking in that direction. So can you talk about, like, once you find yourself in that place, and, you know, it's feeling like overwhelming, it's emotional. It's all these things. So like, once you get to that place, like what do you do? Like what were some of the initial steps that you took to start kind of clawing yourself out of that place?

Michelle Jackson 19:37

For me, I just was so tired and overwhelmed. And again, I was getting a lot of contact from these people that I owed. So I never really had like, a safe space at home because I'd come over there be letters and stuff, and then I'd look at my phone like this is exhausting. And one of the things at the time that I was doing was I was taking dance classes. I was actually teaching in exchange for classes. So that was really helpful for me because I loved dance. And then I would, you know, enjoy nature because I'm here in Colorado, so I could go into the mountains and that kind of thing. So that was helpful. But one of the things that happened was I, I graduated from grad schools, and things just slowly were improving. My mom eventually moved out, things were getting better. But then, by the way, I bought a home which was random, so I bought a place I still live it out. But then I got a job. A little a few years before that, I got a job at a university. It took four months to even get hired on for that. So just as a side note, that was stressful. And it was weird because I like things are slowly coming together. And then the great recession hit.

Michelle Jackson 21:05

And I was just like, Whoa,

Michelle Jackson 21:08

like, but it was funny because I had a really secure job. So that, you know, I struggled all those years before I finally finally found a job that took four months to even get hired on to. And the type of job that I worked was at a university. But they hired me on as a state employee. And in fact, the way that they hired me on no longer exists in Colorado because it was so protected. Like it was such a good way to be hired on they don't do it anymore, because you can't get rid of people. So I worked that job for 10 years until I got burnt out and I was like, you know what I'm done. And it was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful job. I worked at a university and I loved the students that I worked with adult students learning English as second language. But I would say that because of all the I think that what people forget is there's a there's an energy that sucks up your brain energy, if you will, when you're managing debt. Like there's just a certain amount of energy that that that is a constant sense of distraction, because you have debt, especially if it's in arrears. If, like right now there are a lot of people who had debt that wasn't in arrears before before Coronavirus, and they thought it was perfectly fine. Now they're like, Whoa, my God, this is bad because they're starting to get the calls to get get in contact, whatever. So you can imagine having 30 plus creditors, that I was slowly but surely kind of trying to get stuff taken care of slowly, but I was trying to do several things. One, I had to find a job. I got the job, too. I had to just have things stabilize. Three I had to decide that like I didn't want to live my life like this. I didn't want to get married and have a conversation like this. I've got Like 47 like, I don't want to, I don't want to have those conversations. What I didn't realize was how long it would take to do this. I had no idea. And I'm glad that I didn't have a clue or else I wouldn't have tried. So I started reading books, I would I love the library I go, except with the exception of right now, I would go to the library every week. And every week I would find a new book and just read books. And around that time, I fell in love with personal finance blogs. And especially at that point in time, they were very story driven, and the way that podcasts are now and I loved, love, love the stories that I read a people who were just like me, and they may have been black, white, Latina, Asian, whatever. And I was like, wait, I'm not the only person who's who's had to support a family member. I didn't know that. I'm not the only person Who made a mess of their money and had no idea how to dig out of from under it? I'm not the only person who is a well educated individual who has no clue about finances, like that made me feel a lot better about myself. And I end it began a journey. And I was like, you know what i'm gonna i'm going to share my story and if it helps one person, great, great, one person out, you know, that that's a big difference because these stories helped me and I ended up becoming a part of a community online finance community. And it was funny because I discovered two weeks before they had their second event that they were going to be in Denver. And I was like, Oh my god, all of my like people to fangirl about are going to be in Denver. Like I got super excited. And it was only one like $100 it was super cheap and and included food. So I was like, I am so going to this conference. And I could walk there. And so I did. And I learned that one of the most important things, things about money, which is you can't do money on your own. And especially in a situation like mine, you need community. And so I found community and that was so empowering is so helpful to this day, I'm in touch with these people that I met that year. And that was 2012. It's 2020. Now,

Michael Lacy 25:29

so can you talk about that a little bit, because that's something that I'm big on something that we talked about on the podcast quite a bit is finding your tribe and like, you know, sharing our unique perspectives and becoming better and bettering each other. So can you talk about the impact that that's had on you.

Michelle Jackson 25:47

So knowing other people who literally have walked in my shoes, and very similar ways was a turning point for me, because I could share what was going on with Me and not worry about judgment and not worry about people say, Well, why would you help your mom? I wouldn't do that. I'm like, because that's epically what I would do and, like, I'm not going to explain this decision to you. And then people who are like, I believe in you, Michelle, I believe that you can do this, it might take a while, but we have faith in you and having that weekly connection. Especially when I got tired because let me tell you, I got so tired. Even recently, um, I'm at the last 50 $500 of unsecured debt. What happens the corona? So last year, I had the last 50 $500 for a year I'm gonna actually do a podcast episode about this. And I stalled out. I was writing an event for my business, I was doing other things and I just like any other human being, I stalled out and I shifted focus and I just didn't didn't get didn't get it done. And I'm Being able to talk to other people and be like, you know, they are so over this, I'm so tired. I can't believe I stalled out like this. And then being like, okay, sometimes that happens, just, you know, rest, and then get started again, that has been huge for me. So community, honestly, like I can't, I can't emphasize it enough. You need to be careful of the people that are in your world, you need to be careful about the people that you share your stories with. You need to be careful about the people you share your dreams with. So there are a lot of people out there who are listening to this. And they might be like, well, Michelle, why would you want to pay off all that debt? And I had to be very careful about who I let into my, my world into my mind into my energy so that I could stay focused on my goal because it was important to me.

Unknown Speaker 27:58

So you know, something that You've touched on also a couple times and I've picked up on it is, you know, you've named your project. Michelle is money hungry and you've talked about doing different things to grow your income. So can you talk about what was going on? or What were you noticing that made you like kind of transitioning away from, you know, a lot of people talk about frugality kind of as the end all be all when it comes to personal finance, but you focus on the earning more side. So like, why did that become important to you?

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Michelle Jackson 28:27

So in 2014, I just decided to leave my job. And then 10 years I was burnt out. I went from working with 100 students at any given time to 600 students, and these were adults. So they were international students. I was dealing with their immigration with their children with their stocking. I had a couple people stopped me. It was a lot. Okay, so towards the end of my job, I would go hiking out salary. I would go hiking for a couple hours a day during midday and come back when I felt like it. Um, I will say that the hiking for an hour like during lunch wasn't unusual for anyone in the organization. But I was like gone for a couple hours. I was like, You know what? I'll be back. All right. So, finally, the stress just got to me, I was like, I am exhausted. I'm sick of commuting. I'm sick of doing all this stuff for other people. I'm sick of people road blocking my professional development, which had happened in different ways in that job. So finally, I was like, I'm gonna just, I'm gonna try this online thing. I might be crazy, but I'm single, I don't have kids like, this is the time to take that risk. And so I bought it. I, this was a second. The third time I was like, I'm gonna quit in two years because I was just exhausted. I was having a lot of anxiety. I was having a lot of anxiety and depression. It was really bad actually. And I discovered that actually black women in particular I have a very high rate of heart attacks younger. And so I was like, if I don't do something, I'm going to die young. Like I really I really was not well. And so I bought a ticket. And I bought a ticket to leave Denver, so that I could go to Sydney, Australia. And I gave them my notice. And I don't recommend this. I gave them a long notice. And the only reason why I did that was I was the only person who did immigration. So we had to transition and a lot of the work and it was going to take a while I knew it was going to take a while to do. So I gave them like a four month notice and I was very well liked on campus like I had a campus wide party for me before I left, okay on a 30,000 person campus. So it was it was like, you know, I was well respected and I worked hard and to this day, the students I work with are still in touch with me. My student assistants that I managed are still in touch with me, my colleagues that who our friends are still in touch was with me. I was supposed to go to baby shower last weekend, you know, so we're still all in touch. And so the thing I'm at the point I'm making about that is some people feel like, well, if I quit, the world's gonna end and all this kind of stuff and you know what people keep on moving? they don't they don't even think about you twice, right? So, so I went to Australia and I was like, Okay, I'm gonna do this online thing. I don't know what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna spackle together, all these different jobs and just test things out. And so, I tried out being a virtual assistant and freelance writing, like I did all these things. Now, part of the reason why I was able to do this was frugality. Like I lowered my overall budget by about, I'd say about $13,500 minimum. So I lowered significantly my my overhead. But over the years, the thing that I learned was one I like what I like Don't like fast food. I don't eat it. I don't think about it. Like when people get in these like fights about fast food chicken, I'm like, What is that all about? So I have expensive tastes about certain things. You're laughing but it's true.

Michelle Jackson 32:15

I like certain things and other things I do not. And so what I learned during this process is there are some things I'm willing to say no to some willing some things I'm not, and that in order to live the life that I want to live, I have to be true to myself. I like what I like. I just like what I just like and move on from there and there's no judgment, it just is what it is. And so as I started getting deeper into this notion of entrepreneurship and learning to make money on my own outside of a regular job, one of the things I really kept thinking about was you can't out frugal stuff. You can't out frugal your debt. You can't out frugal inflation. You can't out frugal your future self So I've become very focused on not only helping myself learn to earn more and be comfortable with that, because again, there's this whole notion of being of service and attracting money, especially large sums of money can be seen in a certain light. I had to be like, for me to be of service to others, I can't be sitting there thinking my lights are about to be turned off. That's not good. You know? Like, right, my 72 year old self will appreciate the fact that I earned more so I could put more away and you know, for the future, my mom will appreciate my ability to help her if I earn more so that I can help her in the future. Like, there are reasons why I want to earn more and it's not so I can have a Fendi bag. It's for freedom. And we've just spent the last couple of months talking about Black Lives Matter. By the way, comma, too. To not in lieu of people get confused about this. And for me to assert that I had to also think about my bottom line. Everybody else does. Everybody else does. So I want people to be very comfortable, being clear with themselves about what money, what the role of money is in their life at security, as it is living as person of color in the United States is a very insecure situation consistently. So if I can at least have my money right, outside of other people, quite frankly, like I've become, I've doubled down on the idea of earning money outside of other people game on and I'm going to teach everybody that I possibly can so that they can feel empowered in that way too. And the more that I've learned how to make money outside of a nine to five, the more empowered I've felt. I've made mistakes. Don't get me wrong, but it has been a Game Changer, a game changer for me. Um, and during all this, I was still paying off debt. So if people, I would say, by the way that having the debt and quitting like I did was insane, but I did what it was, but I did what was best for me and I don't regret it. I don't

Unknown Speaker 35:22

gotcha, you know, and I love the fact that you kind of touched on like Black Lives Matter at that point because I did do an episode this month where I really asked the question and dug into like, is economic empowerment and financial independence? Or should it be considered a form of activism? And exactly, and I touched on that it's like, you know, we have to be our whole selves, in every area, you know, economically, health, all those things, be our best selves in order to create, you know, lasting change. And that's not to say that we won't experience racism or anything like that if we're wealthy, but it does aid in the fight for equality. So I'm glad you touched on that. Another thing that I want to touch on because we're at this point right now where, you know, we're talking about monetizing your skills and different things like that. Like there may be people out here who are like, you know what, that sounds good, but I just don't know what to do. So can you talk a little bit about just some of the ways that you're monetizing your skills and making money as an entrepreneur and you know, because maybe that will help somebody else's day try to figure things out themselves.

Michelle Jackson 36:28

So the thing I want to remind everyone is it's 2020 is 2020. And if you have a cell phone, literally a cell phone, because now everyone has a smartphone, no one has a flip, unless it's your awkward uncle. So if you have a cell phone, you have the power of the internet at the tips of your fingers. If you're not leveraging the internet in some kind of way to attract money to you. You are You are doing yourself a disservice. So one thing I would say is what is the thing that it comes easy easily to you, that people ask you about all the time. So that's one thing that you could literally sell. It could be that right now you are an amazing cook. Okay? And people love your food and they want to support a local foodie, a local local chef who focuses on vegan soul food, that's a really good one. And you're like, you know what, I'm a really good vegan Soul Food cook like maybe I should like go on Instagram and share some pictures and a link so that people can order boom, you're in business. Now, as much as I love vegan soul food, the problem will be you do have to, you have to factor in the cost for food and travel like to deliver. I prefer to sell things that I don't have to deliver it delivered online. So I do a couple of things because I have website a podcast. So I make money. With affiliate marketing, so if there's a product that I'm obsessed with, I love to do affiliate marketing, because all I have to do is get people to engage with a link, a link, they don't even have to do anything but click it, they don't have to sign up whatever depending on the type of affiliate it is, and I could make money. So about six weeks ago, I got thousand dollars just from an affiliate, you know, because people click the link and they purchase the product. But there are affiliates where they literally don't even have to purchase the product. And you can make money. You can make income on ads on your website. If you have a website. I do not have ads on my Michelle's money hungry site, but I will have ads because I have two websites. I will have ads on my Squarespace site which is about Colorado. I've had this website living in the background for a while and now and now I'm like, Oh wait, oh snap. Like this is this is the time to really focus on this. Because ironically my Colorado website is much easier to monetize than the personal finance one. So, as on that site, I have ebooks that I published both fiction and nonfiction, which I love. I'm obsessed with it. I get sponsors for my podcasts, or even written content. I do freelance writing, which I stopped doing for about eight months because it got on my nerves. And so I decided to figure out a way to leverage the same skill which was writing, but in it but in a different way. So that's how I got into writing more ebooks. And now, I do freelance writing again, but I only work with clients that I love. So it's been great because I can choose clients who are fabulous, who pay me good money. So typically, now I make between it's, it's ranging between 250 a post to 1000 and my monthly outlay is 1300 bucks. So, I don't I don't really need a lot to be like, Oh, good.

Michelle Jackson 40:05

Um, so I love freelance writing again, because I work with only clients who are really fun for me to work with was really cool topics. So one of the posts that I'm working on in July, which is hilarious, I'm doing a review on fanny packs for hiking. And when they told me I was going to do this review, I was laughing so hard because I thought it was hilarious. And I'm normally going to be hiking anyway. So I need equipment when I hike. And I'm just going to test these things out when I normally go hiking, then I get paid for it. So the thing I would say also is when you're looking to make money, don't leverage time, like be really clear about how can you do more with less time, you know what I mean? So if I'm already going to go hiking, and I can do this other thing at the same time, easily, why not like it's super easy. So I'm going camping this weekend, and I've been contracted to do a post about the outdoors and how COVID is affected how much I love it, because I couldn't go to the outdoors for three months because of our stay at home core team. So I live in Denver, that's 40 miles away from the mountains. We were mandated by the governor not to recreate further than 10 miles from home. So when I pitched the story, they're like, just share that. I'm like, that's easy. So I'm gonna get paid to share how hard it was to be at home. Looking at the mountains, it was so sad, I would just look at him.

Michael Lacy 41:32

Meanwhile, everybody's at home complaining about the quarantine for free. Like

Michelle Jackson 41:40

laughing All right.

Michelle Jackson 41:43

So so there's so many ways I created a course. So I created a course to teach people how to do the ebooks. So I'm creating a Academy or like a subscription based service. I'm actually going to launch one more In July or August, I have to decide the timing in the next couple of days just because takes time to set up. And that one is literally I'm going to teach people how I do what I do online, because I keep getting questions about it. So it's not random. It's not me just like throwing stuff at the wall. It's people have been asking me how I do stuff, but I'm not gonna do like, I don't do coffee meetups and all that because that's time I could be making money. So I have eight years of free content on my website. So I will refer people to that. But because I'm getting so many questions, I'm like, I need to monetize that. So if you're listening to the show, and you're like, I get questions all the time, about how I live my Zero Waste life. That's a product you can sell. And honestly, the thing that you sell could help yourself, help other people in your family who might be losing their jobs. It could be helping your spouse, it could be helping your kids. It could be helping your community but you have to value that Your time, so I do free things like my podcast and my website, but I also have to eat. And if you're clear about this, people typically are like, Oh, we get it. You know, I'm, I gotta eat. Right? And I've I did my time, you know, supporting my mom and as a studio. I'm good. I don't want to repeat that. So I need to make money. So let me repeat, affiliate marketing, courses, ebooks, coaching, Academy, ads, podcast, sponsorships, freelance writing, that's, I think nine. So there's just all these different ways that you can make money online without selling an actual product that you're touching. You have to do the work. You have to spend some time learning how to do it. You might not like earn tons of money in the beginning because that's just how it works. But every time I make Money I and I make more is so exciting to me. So I usually get asked about, well, why did you really get into ebook writing because I'd written a book a couple years ago, and it would sell. And I was like, excited about it. But then I wrote another book, and it sold $540 worth in one month. And the thing was, that was more than my mortgage. That made me like, feel like Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. This is exciting to me. And so I, that moment really stuck in my head because I was like, if I could duplicate even 200 bucks a month, that's like groceries. That's huge. So I averaged between 200 to about 1800 dollars a month just with the ebooks, not including anything else. And so now at this time, I feel very comfortable because I have income coming in independent of other people. In addition to doing projects with other people, I'll be fine.

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Michael Lacy 45:04

So so far we've talked about your childhood experiences with money and the struggles you had there. And then, you know, early adulthood experiences with your mom living with you and racking up debt and all those things. And then we've transitioned to you paying off a boatload of debt. And then also now you know, monetizing your skills and making income and doing all these great things. And I know you said you still have a little bit of debt left, but can you talk about just like, what are some other things that you're aiming for, you know, going forward from this point?

Michelle Jackson 45:39

So interestingly enough, I did a couple of things accidentally, that have played off really well in my life now. The first thing is, I accidentally became a part of what's called the slow fire community. So fire is financial independence, retire early. In my case, I knew That I didn't want to live my life. Like, for a long time, I was like, I hate how my life is in all these things going on and I want more freedom and more. I want it more of an ability to do what I wanted to do. I didn't mind working, like I don't mind working until I'm 70 doing stuff I enjoy, right? Like, that's fine. But I just never liked the idea of going into a nine to five like, I don't care about coffee talk, you know, all that kind of stuff that people care about at their work, like I could care less about it. I just want to get my job's done and go and go hiking or hang out at a coffee shop. And so one of the things that happened was when I quit my job in 2014, at the end of that year, one of the things I was looking for was the ability to live my life on my terms and earn money the way that I wanted to I wanted to visit my grandma when I felt like visiting her without having to ask permission to get a vacation. I wanted to help my mom out with stuff you know, like the kid stuff that you have to do for your parents without that being issue. I wanted to go skiing on a Wednesday and not have to deal with like, the crazy traffic on the weekend. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do on my terms and what happened was the past five years that's what I've been able to do. I've really had control over my life has it been easy? No. Um, but now I'm really becoming passionate about talking about this idea of slow fire. So with regular fire people talk about financial independence retire early usually have like some white dude bros, talking about how they made like a million couple million dollars and saved it after eating ramen noodles for seven years. And they're 32 years old and they're living on their terms. For most people, that's just not going to happen like that, because most people don't want to be eating bad ramen noodles for seven years. Maybe they're not working as well. As an engineer, in order to accelerate their, their savings over time, that kind of thing. For me, I think the opportunity to really take control of your life, especially in 2020, where everyone has to work home, for the most part is to find a job that allows you to live the life that you're looking for. There are a lot of people who have kids right now and they're like, we don't know what we're going to do with our kids. You know, and so maybe a job that allows them to work from home, and then they can have a nanny and I'm being serious, like a nanny or Au Pair or you pay your, your your parents to come in and help you with that might be an option right now. There are people who are like, you know, I could care less about like community at work when literally I just want to do my tasks, get them done, get paid and move on. I'm one of those people as social as I am an I'm an extreme extrovert, actually. I just felt like making money is making money and I don't need to be besties with people at work, even though ironically, I'm still really good friends with the people I used to work with.

Michelle Jackson 49:06

I love those people, they're so sweet. But in most job situations, that's not the case. Like usually you're working with people that that you really could care less about, that aren't focused on the same mission that you are. And who cares, like when you leave, they don't care that you left, you know, years later. So, for me, I want to help people really understand how they can leverage slow fire and build a better life like right now versus waiting until they're 52 to retire and spending 10 years of like saving money and that kind of thing in order to live the life that they want 10 years from now, you know, I mean, like, live your life now. Enjoy your life now. So I as hard as everything has been, I do not regret at all what I did because the the people were like, I'm all focused on fire. I'm like, I'm already living the lifestyle and I've been doing And it for five years, it's glorious, glorious. So just really getting people to understand slow fire the what that would look like in their in their life and what it would take to do that so that you can still save money and invest over time. So that so that you are securing your retirement and your life in the future. And quite frankly, if you're slow fire and you're going to be working, that's okay. I'm too young not to work. What are you talking about? Like I have to have tasks, tasks and things to do. But I also think especially for people of color, who deal with a lot of stress, like work related stress, people dealing with commuting, dealing with childcare, dealing with all these things that that you're kind of getting thrown at you. Being able to design your best life now and having people share how they did it. I think it's, it's what it's like being a Black Panther. where you're like I'm gonna assert my life and live life on my terms right now.

Unknown Speaker 51:05

As we go towards wrapping up, I do want to give you the opportunity to share what it is that you know you've already kind of touched on a little bit but just share some of the the tangible products that you have to offer and where people can find you if they want to connect with you as a result of hearing this interview.

Michelle Jackson 51:21

So I run the website podcast called Michelle is money hungry? I talk about lifestyle design, personal finance related topics. I'm particularly interested in speaking with people who monetize what they already know who are selling what they already know online, so you don't have to like go to school to learn this already like there there are things that you already know that you could be selling but you may not realize it. Um, I run an academy right now called make money with ebooks Academy and you can go to Michelle is money hungry comm backslash Academy To look at that, and that's where I help people publish, well write and publish in their nonfiction and fiction books and kind of learn how to leverage those types of works differently. I do that. And then I'm launching what's called the brand building lab, which I kind of touched on before, which is this whole idea of how do you do what you do online and just teaching people how to do that. So that's coming, I do not have a URL for that yet. So you just have to go to Michelle's money hungry, calm to kind of check that out. Keep an eye out for that.

Unknown Speaker 52:34

Awesome. Well, hey, you guys listen to this, be sure to go check out everything Michelle is doing. I'll be sure to link to that in the episode description for the show notes page. But also Michelle is money hungry, calm for all of her projects and everything that she's working on. But hey, Michelle, thank you so much for coming on and just openly and transparently sharing your story sharing your journey with this. I really appreciate this time that we've had together. And I know people that listen to this get to walk away feeling a little more hopeful, maybe with some information that they didn't have before. So thank you again for coming on and sharing.

Michelle Jackson 53:10

Thank you so much for having me on the show. And I do want to say like, I've had a lot of tough times, but I feel like I'm on the road that I'm supposed to be on. And I feel very blessed and thankful for all the people that I've met along the way and hopefully have also inspired as well. And if you are finding yourself in a moment, like I was where you're like, I've lost my job, my relatives lost my job this oh my god, like everything moves crazy. All I can say is take one step at a time. Stay focused, take breaks, be kind to yourself that you did nothing wrong. Like we like if we all had a book like a guide book, do everything right then Okay, fine, but we don't like we're imperfect human beings and we do the best we can with the information that we had. I had no information about money management. It took years to learn how to manage my money better. It may, it may take years to clean up a mess that you find yourself in. But you'll be able to clean up the mess, okay? And just believe that you can and and we're here for you, Michael and I are here for you. If we're not the right people for you, there are other people, especially now online who can inspire you with their story. So have faith, stay focused and you've got this.

Michael Lacy 54:36

Very well said Michelle, and thank you so much again for coming on and sharing your journey sharing your story with us. I really do appreciate it and to all you teammates out there listening as I mentioned, be sure to head over to winning to wealth comm slash Episode 37 because it is there where I will be sure to link to Michelle's blog, her podcast. Michelle is money hungry her Academy and So much more and all the different ways that you can connect with her. And now it is time for this week's win of the week. So Michelle talked about how finding a community of people really helped her start turning things around and start really winning to wealth. And so I want to point out like minded people not only hold you accountable and have the tough conversations, but they inspire you. They keep you motivated, they keep you encouraged as well. So this week, focus on finding you a tribe of people to cheer for you and root for your success. And then you In turn, be that same person for them. And if you're in need of a tribe like that, but you don't know anybody in your personal life, you can head over to winning to wealth, comm slash teammates, and join my private Facebook group. It's there where you can ask questions, you can get encouragement or even just popping in to celebrate a win you've had. And again, the URL for that is winning to wealth.com slash teammates. That is my private Facebook Group. But hey, that's all the time I have this week. So until we talk again, keep racking up those wins one at a time. Take care.

Unknown Speaker 56:10

You've wrapped up another episode of the winning to wealth podcast. To learn more about how you can start making winning money decisions head over to winning to wealth.com

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