Hi all! I have an exciting new twist on my breadwinning, six figure series today. At FinCon17, I had the great pleasure of bumping into J, who writes over at Millennial Boss and co-hosts an awesome podcast called the FIRE drill podcast with Gwen from Firey Millennial. She asked if I might be interested in featuring a non-mom on my site, and of course I said yes.
I’ve actually gotten a few requests to feature women who aren’t moms, and I think that’s a great expansion to this series. I originally started with moms because, well, that’s what I am, and I thought it would be great to hear the stories of other moms like me. But the challenges, and fun parts, of being the breadwinner, earning a high income, or having a high net worth as a woman without kids are very similar to those with kids. Additionally, I know for a fact that there are not many resources out there for female breadwinners (how do I know? I looked for them and couldn’t find them).
When you’re the higher-income earning partner, and a woman, sometimes you can still feel ashamed or isolated from your peers. It might be something that you never talk about in your day-to-day life, because you’re worried others will think you’re weird or your spouse/partner will feel badly about themselves. There are more of us out there than you think. I hope by sharing these stories I can not only help inspire others, but help spark conversations so people don’t feel so alone.
Now let’s meet the awesome J!
1. Tell us about yourself!
Hi, I’m J! I live in the Pacific Northwest and work in the tech industry. I was recently married last September to an amazing person who shares my love of the outdoors, fitness, and personal development. We met nearly six years ago and have lived in three different states since. We are parents to a really cute, and a bit misbehaved lab-mix and both have a love of blogging, but blog about different subjects.
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’ve made six figures since I was 25 years old and I’m now 28. I paid off $96,000 of debt which included a mix of my student loans, car loan, credit cards, my husband’s student loans, and Parent Plus loans my parents had. I’m now saving aggressively to pursue financial independence which may or may not include early retirement.
3. How did you get started in the workforce?
I had a liberal arts degree and took any job I could get after college. I then saved $7,000 living at home and built a website at night that I parlayed into a dream internship at the Olympic Committee. I swung that into a full-time offer with an associated company, and then later my first tech job.
My income went up and down during this time, but the experience was invaluable.
4. How did you get from where you started to where you are now?
After a bit of luck, hard work, and putting myself in front of the right people, I was promoted to manager at that first tech job.
I became a people manager very young (at 24), which was why I started my third blog, Millennial Boss. I wanted to help other young people who had people management responsibility very early in their careers. I shared some career tips such as How to Manage a Large Team and 5 Lessons for First Time People Managers.
I loved my job for nearly three years and I had an incredible mentor who taught me everything I know. I knew that I wanted to keep pushing though in both my career and my finances. Despite my high income, I had nearly $100,000 of debt.
Two years ago, I went to a conference for women in tech and switched into the high-tech industry.
5. Where do you want to go in your career – and your financial life?
When I started my career, I wanted to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I don’t have that dream anymore, but I’m still figuring out what my future looks like. I’m very inspired by executive and badass Bozoma Saint John, currently Chief Brand Officer at Uber and former Apple executive. Her Instagram inspires me every day.
I don’t think I’m meant to stay in corporate forever though.
I discovered the concept of FIRE a few year ago and have been aggressively pursuing it, but I never want to stop working by choice.
In addition to my job and my blog, I also sell products on Etsy and I cohost the FIRE Drill Podcast with a fellow millennial woman and good friend.
6. A. What’s the biggest challenge in being the breadwinner? What’s the best part?
Do you remember the Destiny’s child song, Miss Independent? It went something like “All my ladies independent, throw your hands up in the air” and also had the lines “the shoes on my feet, I bought it. The watch I’m wearing, I bought it. The car I’m driving, I bought it. Because I depend on me.”
That’s exactly how I feel about being a female breadwinner. I encourage all the female breadwinners reading this to put on this song and dance. We rock.
The hard part is the pressure of knowing that I am responsible for our lifestyle. I contribute 80% of our income currently and have contributed up to 95% of our income in past.
I used to be more stressed out about it when we had tons of debt and a large mortgage. Our financial picture is much better now so I’m less stressed.
I also appreciate that my husband is not as much of a money go-getter as me. Sometimes, I imagine what it would be like if he chased money the same way but I know that we balance each other out in the end.
He also is 100% supportive of me being the breadwinner and my career. We’ve moved twice since, and it’s actually put a hold on his career in some ways (which I feel terribly guilty about).
My husband has also taken on a lot of the housework, cooking, cleaning and dog-parenting responsibilities. I don’t do it and feel guilty about it, but I’m doing my best. Not having to worry about that stuff keeps me focused.
My friend actually gifted me this book when I got engaged, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, which is horrible offensive to female breadwinners but has actually encouraged me to reflect on perhaps taking a more traditional role in our relationship. I have read the book twice now and I’m torn.
Sometimes I feel like the Destiny’s Child song and sometimes I wonder if my life would be better or different if I wasn’t the breadwinner.
My favorite Netflix comedy special is Baby Cobra with Ali Wong. All female breadwinners need to watch this show on Netflix. You’ll die laughing, trust me. The best part is that she does the special 8-months pregnant and takes a few stabs at Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. It’s a bit raunchy but hilarious and spot on in capturing the pros and cons of being the female breadwinner.
6. B. What do you see as the key to earning such a high salary?
The key to earning a high salary is to work in an in-demand field. I had a liberal arts degree and got a masters in information technology online at night. I highly recommend that approach for anyone looking to get into tech, while still working. The best part is that my work reimbursed it.
7. Have you ever experienced issues in the workforce because you’re a woman? What did you do in response?
Of course. I’ve been harassed, mansplained, my ideas ignored only to have someone older and male-r say the same thing 5 seconds later.
The key is just to keep fighting and to get a sponsor.
8. Chief Mom Officer is primarily a personal finance blog – tell us about your saving and investment strategy.
I have a 401(K), Roth and Traditional IRAs, HSA, multiple brokerage accounts, high interest-online savings account, multiple checking accounts, the whole shebang. I also have an accidental rental property that we are waffling on selling or not when our tenant’s lease is up this Spring.
I invest mostly in index funds but I buy and hold tech stocks too. I’m interested in cryptocurrency but won’t dabble in it just yet. I’m saving a bunch of cash to possibly get a rental property next year to diversify.
I also have an Etsy business and a blog that brings in income, and a podcast that we haven’t monetized yet but has potential.
I read somewhere that the average millionaire has 7 sources of income and I definitely live by that.
9. What’s the top three pieces of advice you’d have for someone just starting out in the workforce, struggling with their career, or just looking to improve how they handle their money?
I already linked to my salary negotiation, interview tips above. In addition, I would say
- Create versus consume and if your resume doesn’t have what you need, build it yourself from scratch
- Skip the full-time MBA or grad school and do an online-tech program at night (or similar in-demand field program)
- Educate yourself on where you can save money
10. Where can people connect with you?
I blog at millennialboss.com
You can tweet at me @millennialboss or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also check out my new podcast at firedrillpodcast.com or by searching for “Fire Drill Podcast” in iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.
On our podcast, FIRE Drill Podcast, we interview amazing people who are on the path to financial independence or who have achieved financial independence to understand how they did it and what makes them tick.
We also try to bring on non-FIRE people who have really cool side hustles, passion jobs, or other interesting stories, with a big emphasis on bringing on amazing women.
For example, in Episode 2 of the podcast, we featured a woman who makes $8,000 per month writing Romance Novels to sell as a digital download on Amazon. In Episode 5, we featured a woman who quit her job to travel the world with her sister, and asked her how she got the courage to leave a well-paying job to pursue her dreams.
My favorite episode though is Episode 21 with Jillian from Montana Money Adventures who talked about her 5 mini-retirements, expensive world travel, but more importantly about her life as a foster parent and adopted parent to 6 kids. The conversation truly changed my life and I think everyone should hear her story.
It made me cry good tears and also made me have a conversation with my husband about potentially adopting kids in future.
I hope that these stories inspire other women to do amazing things with their life and career.
CMO Here Again!
Thanks so much J for coming on the site to do the interview! I love what you’re doing, and your advice rings so true to me. I also got my masters degree (MBA) part-time nights and weekends, reimbursed by my company, and I totally think it’s the way to go. Heck, that’s how I got my debt-free undergrad too, except I went full time nights and weekends.
Be sure to leave a comment for J below, and make sure to check out her site and awesome podcast!
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