Good morning everyone, and happy Wednesday! For this weeks Working Women Wednesday, I’m excited to bring you the second post in a series about successful moms. And I’m just as excited about the second interview in this series – with Hannah Rounds of Unplanned Finance– as I was about our first one with Mama Fish Saves.
First, a bit about this new series. When I was a brand new mom in the workforce, I was an avid reader of all kinds of stories about successful working moms. I was already the family breadwinner, and didn’t know other women like myself “in real life”. So I would read those stories in magazines (remember those?) and books, interested in seeing how other women did it. Now that I have my own corner of the internet here, I’m hoping this series can help other women – especially moms – see that it’s possible to both be successful and an amazing mom.
So without further ado, here’s the story of Hannah Rounds!
1. Tell us about yourself!
I’m Hannah Rounds. I’m a Christian, a wife, a mom of two kids, and freelance writer. Originally, I’m from Minnesota, but I now live in Raleigh, North Carolina. I love cooking, lifting, excel spreadsheets, and spending time with my family. I used to love reading, but I have less time for fiction these days.
2. Details Please!
Right now I earn around $70K per year working approximately 20 hours per week. My husband is a student, and I’m the main breadwinner for our family.
Prior to writing, I worked full time as a data scientist. I started earning $50K per year, but in my final year I earned $100K. I also earned around $1000 per month writing on the side.
We’re not yet millionaires, but we’re on our way. Our net worth is around $570K. In case you’re curious about our asset breakdown here it is:
- Investment Accounts: $360,000
- Cash: $80,000
- Primary House: $65,000 (Book Value)
- Rental House: $65,000 (Book Value)
3. How did you start your career?
I started working regularly at the age of 12. Babysitting, pet sitting, stuffing envelopes for my dad and other preteen hustles. I only point this out because by the time I graduated from college I had a decade of work experience including over 25 unique jobs.
My first meaningful work experience was as a waitress. I started waiting tables at age 16, and I realized that my sales presentation directly influenced the tips I earned. I also started teaching tennis lessons and finding other ways to earn as much money as I could. My senior year in high school I earned around $20K.
My parents and grandparents paid for my college education, so I was free to take less lucrative job options. I thought I would go into ministry when I graduated, and I took internships with Christian organizations. However, I ultimately decided that I wanted to work in a corporate setting upon graduation. My degree was in economics.
Upon graduation, I moved home to Minnesota and worked in a warehouse for a few months while I searched for a start to my career. My aunt knew a manager at Target (headquartered in Minnesota), so she introduced me. We met, and I learned that my future boss was starting the data analytics team for Target. I became her first entry level employee. I stayed at Target for 6 years always working in a data analytics type role.
Honestly, it’s hard for me to overstate how thankful I am for my former manager’s willingness to take a risk on me. I had some basic stats and software programming background, but that was it. Getting the first job is definitely the hardest. From there, hard work and skill matter more. CMO Note – this is so true! Finding someone that will take a chance on you at work and breaking into the field is the hardest step. Once you have that, as long as you do your job well you’re golden.
4. How did you get from where you started to where you are today?
The story of where I am today makes no sense unless you understand our priorities. Before we married, my husband and I agreed that we wanted a parent to stay home with the kids. We also agreed that he would probably be the breadwinner (since engineering is a stable high income career).
However, he hit a a career wall and we agreed it was time for him to return to school to get his PhD. At the same time, we found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with our son.
At the time, we agreed that our highest priority was to get Rob through school. Our second priority was finding a way for me to prioritize time with our son more.
We tried cutting back to the point where we could live on Rob’s $22K stipend, but it was not quite feasible for us. We could have supplemented with savings, but that made me really uncomfortable.
At that point, I decided that I needed a side business. My first 5-6 attempts failed, but writing about finance stuck.
As soon as I started earning about $1000 per month, we started planning for me to quit my job. After I gave birth to my daughter (March 2016), I quit my full time job. Now I’m a mom and a writer.
I’m still the primary earner for our family, but I have a ton of time with my kids. To me, that’s financial freedom.
5. Where do you want to go in your career – and your financial life?
I believe that you can have it all, but not all at once. Right now, I’m focused on my kids. My career has taken a big backseat. I get fulfillment from writing and researching financial topics. I enjoy serving my clients well and earning good money from my efforts. But it’s not my top priority right now.
In the future, when my kids are older, I want to put the focus back on my career. I have a handful of business ideas centered around helping people manage money. I also want to create the Uber of childcare (though if somebody else takes that idea in the meantime, please let me become a beta tester). Back when I worked in data science, I thought I wanted to climb the corporate ladder, but that’s not as appealing anymore. I’ve tasted self-employment and I think entrepreneurship is the next step for me.
The career goals are big, but my financial goals are bigger. Right now, my husband and I prioritize giving to our church and a few very effective poverty alleviation ministries. However, I want to give more and in a way that will have a profound effect on the world.
This desire is something that has been passed down for generations in my family. After a trip to Ukraine, my grandfather saw that divorce was destroying lives. He started a ministry that translated books on Christian marriage, raising children and a few other topics into Russian and Ukrainian. As a result, marriages were saved. Parents saw hope for raising kids. Lives were changed.
6. What’s the biggest challenge in being a breadwinning mom? What’s the best part?
The biggest challenge to being a breadwinning mom is that sometimes you have to choose your career over your kids.
The best part about being a breadwinner is that you can show your kids the value of hard work and teach them how to navigate their future careers.
7. What do you see as the key to earning such a high salary?
If you’re going to be an employee, there are only two keys to earning a six figure salary.
- You need to have skills that are valued by the marketplace (in my case data science).
- You need to work for an employer that values those skills. Bigger more profitable corporations tend to value everyone higher.
Now that I’m self employed, I see that the key to high earning with low time investment is top quality production. I cut out lower paying clients and bothersome clients more quickly than I used to. Already, clients come to me more than I pitch to others. However, I’m still not at the top of my field. With more practice I will be a top 1% financial writer. At that point, I’ll go after clients who are willing to pay 1%er fees.
8. Have you ever experienced issues in the workforce because you’re a woman? What did you do in response?
I have never experienced the horror stories that other women face in the workplace. Since Rob is still in school here in North Carolina, I only considered job offers here or working remotely with Target (which I did for several years).
When I interviewed for jobs here, I got a bad feel from a few companies (though I used their offers to increase my salary at Target), so I stayed away. I still get recruitment offers from companies based in the Silicon Valley. I plan to stay away from any company with a bad reputation for their treatment of women.
9. Saving and investment strategy
Right now, we invest in no leverage real estate and equity based index funds. This boring approach is effective for our lifestyle. However, I’m learning a lot about Fat Tailed Distributions, and I believe that I could increase our returns through implementing an options strategy. I haven’t had time to backtest even a basic algorithm. Thankfully, this isn’t important unless we start living on investment income.
10. Top three pieces of advice
- Goals, dreams, priorities, aspirations, plans, visions for the future. It doesn’t matter what you call it, you need to develop your “something” that gets you excited. You will waste your life, your money and your career if it doesn’t have a greater purpose.
- Budgets are a blessing. Call it whatever you want. Use whatever tool you want. But keep trying until you’re a budgeter (with your spouse on board).
- Save up enough money, so that you can easily skip a paycheck. That way, you can switch jobs with ease.
11. Where to connect
I Want To Hear From You!
CMO here again – thanks so much to Hannah for the interview! I found her story to be fascinating, and I hope it will help other moms out there that might not know others like themselves “in real life”. Be sure to leave a comment for her, and swing by her site!
I think it’s great how Hannah has built a financially lucrative, flexible, non-time-consuming career for herself to support her family while her husband goes through school. Making $70k working only 20 hours a week, leaving plenty of time for the kids while still supporting the family, is a win/win. If Hannah had chosen to work 40 hours a week, instead of 20, she’d still be pulling down six figures. But she made a different choice – one that supports her family, her goals to be home with the kids, and still brings in plenty of money. When her kids are older, she can ramp up her work if she wants – or she can ramp down! She has the financial flexibility and earning power to make choices that are aligned with her goals and dreams, which is what we all want when we reach Financial Independence. Why wait until then if you can do it now?
If you know anyone who would be a good candidate for this series (or if that might be you!), drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’m looking for moms that are breadwinners, earn six figures, and/or are millionaires. I’d love to connect and share more amazing stories like this!
If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by my new one-stop shop page for Breadwinning moms, featuring all my prior articles and interviews (plus some updates on prior interviewees!).
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