Good morning, and welcome to another fabulous Working Women Wednesday! Today I have a great interview with Mrs. Adventure Rich, from the new site Adventure Rich. She’s a breadwinning, six- figure mom working toward financial independence – just like me! So without further ado, here’s her story.
Tell us about yourself!
Hi! I am Mrs. Adventure Rich, an outdoors girl who cannot sit still! I am in my late 20s, married to my tall, handsome husband and the mother of an energetic 2 year old boy. I enjoy reading, adventuring outdoors (hiking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, skiing, you name it!) and playing with Excel spreadsheets. I am also active in our local track club (I’m on their 2017 Race Team!) and I enjoy training and competing in local running races ranging from 5ks to Half Marathons on a regular basis…sometimes pushing a stroller as I race!
I grew up in northern Michigan, went to college in California, stayed there a bit and recently relocated back to Michigan where I work remotely for my company. I am a business professional for a Fortune 40 where I support various business units in end to end strategic sourcing events (data and opportunity analysis, market research, RFx events, contract and price negotiations and vendor management). My husband works in facilities/maintenance management. As a result of our respective career paths, I make about 2.5-3X what he does.
2. Let’s get some details – how much money do you make, and how long did it take you to get there? And are you a millionaire or are you on the way?
I currently make just north of six-figures before an annual bonus that is calculated based on company, organization and individual performance. This is my first career out of college and I have been with our company for 5.5 years now. I started closer to the $60K point (yes- I do know how lucky I was to start with this salary!) and have steadily increased my salary through job promotions, performance incentives, and generally working my a$$ off.
My husband and I are at a combined net worth of just over $250k, so we are working our way up with the goal of hitting a million within the next decade and a half. We have tracked our Net Worth since January 2015, which has been an incredibly eye opening and motivating tool in our quest to hit seven-figures!
3. How did you get started in the workforce?
To be brutally honest, I fell into my career completely by accident. In November of my Senior year, an alumnus who held a senior management position in the part of the company I now work for decided to recruit at our college. This was a strange and risky move. I attended a college that only provided one major – Liberal Arts. We spent 4 years readings, studying, discussing and debating the “Great Books” in Socratic Method classes. No text books, no business classes, no Excel/PowerPoint use AT ALL (we only used Word for our papers…!). But we dedicated four years to learning how to think critically, intelligently challenge arguments, and work to find solutions to complex problems.
On somewhat of a whim, I decided to apply for the job that our company was recruiting for. It was entry level, but I still had to Google the job function to figure out what the hell the job was (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t really “get” my job until I was about a year into my career). So, figuring it would be good practice for future job opportunities, I interviewed for the job and was subsequently asked to complete a data analysis case study. Much to my surprise, I was offered the job before I started my second semester Senior year!
Once on the job, it was an interesting first year or so. It took time for me to get my bearings and to figure out how to work within such a large company (over 45,000 employees nationwide).
I was very blessed to be surrounded by a set of peers who were constantly helping me to learn and grow and a manager who did everything in his power to cultivate the talent of his young team (he had several recent grads who he was training and mentoring). While I enjoyed the work environment, I did not develop a passion for my career until I was 2-3 years in. It didn’t happen overnight, but I had a month or two transition where I remember going from “somewhat-knowledgeable newbie” to “solid individual contributor” with autonomy over my own projects and confidence to make decisions and move forward without constantly double checking with my manager. It was a freeing feeling and I began to dive deeper into the career path, investing time and energy into the job came to love.
4. How did you get from where you started to where you are now?
Over the first two years of my career, the company invested time, energy and resources in training, developing and mentoring me. It did not come easy at first, but I worked hard, pieced through the puzzles and eventually I began to see how things worked together more clearly. I became known in our department as a dependable, “can-do” person who was eager to learn. This greatly benefited me, and I began to receive promotions and pay-raises. I have been incredibly lucky to work with great peers and managers. My first manager (who I reported to for the first 5 years) is a very patient and generous man who is passionate about his team and the work we do. He not only guided and mentored me, but he encouraged me to take bigger projects, nominated me for an industry “30 under 30” award (which I won!) and selected me for a company-wide “future leader” training program.
During the past 5+ years, I also married my husband (about 1.5 years into my career), welcomed a son to our family (about 3.5 years into my career) and moved across the country to be closer to my family and for a new job my husband was offered (late summer 2016). The move was a big one for me. My manager went to bat for me and secured me the status of “off-premise worker”, working full-time remotely in the same role I held in California. So while my trajectory has not been too crazy from a career perspective, I am very proud of my accomplishments at work with all that life has brought my way on the personal/family side.
5. Where do you want to go in your career – and your financial life?
This questions is such a hard one for me… because I am still trying to figure it out myself! I love my career and, at this point, I hope to continue working in my field (and more than likely at the same company…it’s an awesome place!) for the foreseeable future. And while I am a ways off from managing a team, I do consider management a path I may want to pursue in the coming years.
On the financial side, Mr. Adventure Rich and I agree that while we both enjoy our careers and find satisfaction in work, we are actively pursuing financial independence. We work to combat lifestyle inflation, complete projects ourselves where possible/practical, and find pleasure in the simple joys life brings our way. If we do reach financial independence in the next 10-20 years, I’m not really sure what I would do. Possibly stay in career? Maybe step back from full-time work and take a part-time gig (coaching running/skiing, work at the local brewery)? Who knows??? There are so many factors that play into this that I try to focus more on what I can do today and make the most of my current situation.
So while there is much unknown in our future, my goal is to continue to work hard in whatever I am doing, expand my skillset and expertise to continue to better myself, pursue my passion for athletics and the outdoors, and spend quality time with my family. I look forward to the adventure!
CMO note – I’m in a similar situation, targeting financial independence for my early 40’s but I don’t yet have a clear view of what I’ll do once I reach that point. I have a lot of ideas, but I also know life can change a lot in 5-10 years!
6. A. What’s the biggest challenge in being a breadwinning mom? What’s the best part?
Overall, my husband and I have a good balance even though I technically bring home the substantial portion of our household income. We both work full-time and we both see each other’s jobs as equally important in our family equation. But this does lead to a constant struggle to balance (Ha! We are “out of balance” in some way about 99% of the time!) and juggle responsibilities at work and at home. Our biggest challenge is that it is exhausting! Life can get busy and before we know it, it has been months since our last date-night and ages since either one of us has enjoyed true “me time”! We try to combat this by scheduling in little breaks, date-nights and family adventures, but it is a constant challenge.
On the plus side, I do find a great amount of comfort and satisfaction in knowing that I have a tangible role in our family’s financial life and in working to achieve our financial goals. For example, we recently bought a home with 10 acres (our dream set up!) and it was very fulfilling to know that both my husband and I are working hard to pay off the house. There is a level of partnership we have experienced in working towards these common financial goals that is meaningful and exciting.
And on a completely practical level, there is also a security in the two income streams (pending we don’t inflate our lifestyle to match the money coming in!). We try to rely on only portions of each of our salary, knowing that there may be a day, planned or unplanned, where one of us will want/need to take a pay cut or leave the workforce. Being a breadwinner in a two income household allows my husband and me to set aggressive financial goals and chart a path together that we are excited to embark on!
6. B What do you see as the key to earning such a high salary?
While there are many factors that can contribute to a high salary (industry, company, degrees, location, etc.), I believe all of these factors would be useless without a solid work ethic and a drive to continuously learn in order to grow and improve yourself. I remember one conversation with a manager about his hiring philosophy. He explained to me that he wanted to hire individuals who were more than just “competent” at a job. He specifically looked for individuals who were willing and able to chart an upward trajectory, regardless of their starting point.
This means that, at times, he hires people who were not knowledgeable in our specific industry/career (like me!!!) because he sees their willingness to work their a$$es off, invest time and energy into learning, and always rise to new challenges. This work ethic and drive to be a little better or a little bit more knowledgeable each and every day is applicable to all career paths. While it may not be a sure-fire way to a high salary, it certainly beats your odds if you slack off and try to put your career on cruise control.
7. Have you ever experienced issues in the workforce because you’re a woman? What did you do in response?
It’s funny, I think most of my issues around being a working woman and now as working mother have come outside the workplace. At work, I have many peers and company leaders who are working mothers, dedicated to both their career and their family. I have been treated with respect and support at work and greatly value this environment.
The harder one has been in my social circles. This is where I get a lot more of the “oh… so, are you planning to STILL work after your son arrives?” or “It must be so hard/sad/difficult to go back to work and be away from your son”. In some ways I find it funny, but it is difficult to have these assumptions made.
CMO note – Yep, I hear you on this one! I’ve noticed the same thing. Although there is one woman at work who made a comment to me a few weeks ago about how “it must be hard” to work with three kids. Well, work is hard in general-that’s why they call it work, and that’s why they pay you to be there!
It can be hard not to respond too tongue-in-cheek, but I try to be honest and open about the fact that I truly love my family AND my career. I believe I am a better mom at home because I find a fulfillment and drive at work that translates to a happier “Mrs. Adventure Rich” overall. I do have times where I miss my son, especially when I am on business trips, but I balance that with trying focusing on him and his needs when I am home with him (plus- I try to FaceTime each night at bedtime to get a bit of family time in when I’m on the road). CMO note – I do that too.
Ultimately, choosing to stay home or return to work comes down to each individual’s situation. I cannot assume anyone is doing the “right” or “wrong” thing because I have no idea the intricacies, dynamics, and complexities of their situation. For myself, I have to trust that my husband and I are looking at our situation and making the best decisions we can with the knowledge we have. From there, I try to live our life and not to dwell on the comments from others or the doubts that arise from those comments.
8. Chief Mom Officer is primarily a personal finance blog – tell us about your saving and investment strategy
Oooh, I like this question! I was very fortunate to have several folks point me in the direction of personal finance and handling money wisely early in my career (see post here). When I was first hired after college, I opted-in to the company 401K, which conveniently is administered by Vanguard (one of the lowest cost custodians around!). I started small, taking advantage of the company match (5% by me = 4% by company) while I paid off my car and student loans. From there, I began to steadily increase my contributions while also saving for an emergency fund, then a wedding fund and more recently, a down payment fund.
Currently, I max out my 401K and use an HSA as an additional investment vehicle. We dedicate my husband’s paycheck to our mortgage, home improvements and savings. Our goal is to pay of our 30 year mortgage in about 17 years… before our son graduates from high school. In addition, we have a small 529 for college and are starting a savings account for “future investments” (TBD… toying with a rental property, but we may stick with index funds).
Overall- we are fans of the long game. We plan to invest steadily throughout our lives in low cost index funds, putting as much as we can towards investments and cutting our expenses with the goal of reaching financial independence. We try to delay gratification… purchasing based on needs vs. wants and saving up for things that fall into the “want” category.
9. What’s the top pieces of advice you’d have for someone just starting out in the workforce, or just looking to improve how they handle their money?
Starting out in the workforce:
Work hard, don’t be afraid to ask questions, soak up as much knowledge as you can, and always act with honesty and integrity. Oh, and don’t assume that you will immediately “click” with your job. As I mentioned above, it took me 2-3 years before I fell in love with my career…thank goodness I didn’t tap out after the first year and a half!
Improving how they handle money:
On the money side, there are many ways to tackle personal finance, but I find that tracking net worth is one of the most surefire ways for my husband and I to be consistent, keep motivated and track our progress. I write a bit more about tracking net worth here, but I would also suggest checking out the Net Worth page on Budgets are Sexy. It details JMoney’s philosophy and financial journey through net worth. You can also follow along with the net worth tracking of almost 200 other bloggers on the Rockstar Finance page!
10. Where can people connect with you?
CMO Here Again!
Thanks so much to Mrs. Adventure Rich for stopping by to share her story! I love how her boss took a chance on her – finding that first job can be the hardest because you don’t have the experience to get the job, but you need the job to get the experience. I had a similar experience when I joined corporate IT. I didn’t have any technical background – in fact I was an accounting major – but my new boss took a chance on me because he knew my work from others. And here I am over 15 years later, still in IT, now with plenty of experience under my belt. It’s amazing how time flies!
Be sure to leave a comment for Mrs. Adventure Rich, and swing by her site!
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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