Today I’ve got another entry in my world-famous Breadwinning moms series – the story of Jenny from Living Life, Loving Us. Jenny hacked her income to the six figure level in a really creative way – keep reading to find out exactly how – and has been able to pay off an enormous amount of debt in a short period of time. She’s hoping to move from FL back to Tennessee mountains in 7-10 years
Lets get to know her!
Tell us about yourself!
Hi! My name is Jenny. I’m a mom to our only little miracle, wife to an incredible firefighter, and an emergency room nurse for the past 8 years. Together my husband Jimmy, our daughter Sophia and myself live in South Florida. I was born and raised in the area and chose to stay here to go to college while my parents moved to Tennessee. Our family goal is to move to the mountains in the next 7-10 years so that our daughter can experience more of nature and have freedom to run.
We are lucky enough to have learned that life is more than just the things we own and have focused our energy on life experiences. We love food, travel, and finding ways to do what we love on a budget. I love budgeting so much that we created our blog to share our experience and tips with others!
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?
So my income has a bit of an interesting twist. This is all about six figure women and it’s not usually the norm for a nurse to make that kind of money, BUT by taking a little leap out of my comfort zone I have found a career hack that has brought my income from around $60,000 to over $100,000.
I took a travel nursing assignment about 50 miles away from home. I commute 3 days a week for 7 months out of the year. The extra 90 minutes away from my family on those days is well worth the significant pay increase. In nursing there are seemingly limitless opportunities, but, as with any job, you get comfortable where you are, afraid to move out of that comfort zone, and it’s impossible to get ahead without taking a little risk.
This has helped our family get out from under over 120k in debt that we accumulated thanks to some medical problems and our infertility treatments. We have gone from a negative net worth to over $200,000 in less than 24 months and are well on our way to financial independence and being the “millionaires nextdoor”.
How did you get started in the workforce?
Though I love nursing and am very passionate about what I do, I actually went in to nursing because I felt it was what I was supposed to do. Both of my aunts are nurses and after I graduated highschool it was just the next step to go straight in to nursing school. I even minored in creative writing because, in the back of my mind, I dreamt of writing children’s books.
After graduation I took an internship in a pediatric ER close to home. It was low paying and intense, possibly the hardest I’ve ever worked, but I was hooked! I loved the excitement, helping people on the worst day of their lives, and the flexibility my career provided.
How did you get from where you started to where you are now?
I would love to say there were a lot of twists and turns in my career, however, my trajectory has been pretty straightforward. I began my career in the internship program and have worked in an emergency room in some capacity every since.
The biggest thing I did was to never say “no” to something that would or could potentially add to my skillset and resume. I like to take courses, get additional certifications, and continually pick doc’s brains. There are two kinds of nurses: those who are complacent in their jobs and usually the ones who do not enjoy what they do and those that are continually learning, improving and changing. The latter are the ones who enjoy what they do, adapt well to change and ultimately are successful as a whole in the career.
I began my career as a full-time nurse, 3 days a week 52 weeks a year with full benefits, PTO and plenty of vacation days. However, after about 5 years in that emergency room I began to dislike coming to work. There were corporate changes being made, management became more focused on numbers than their staff, and moral was at an all time low. I did my best to be positive and adapt to the changes, but for the first time I dreaded coming to work. Time to make a change!
Everything seemed to fall in to place at the same time. We needed the money and I needed the change so I took a leap and applied for a travel assignment just south of us. I’ve worked here for over 4 years now, returning each season, and couldn’t be happier. I once again LOVE what I do.
Where do you want to go in your career – and your financial life?
Both my husband and I are very lucky. We both found careers that we not only enjoy, but that allow us to spend a lot of time with our family. I have started pursuing my Nurse Practitioner degree twice now. The first time I felt it was the next step after doing 2 years of emergency medicine and I quickly realized that I was not ready. I was not ready for the intensively research focused classes and all I wanted to do was be hands on. The second time was very recent. I saw it as a way to make more money while having full benefits. However, I took a good look at where we were, what our budget was, what our goals were. I make great money and have the ability to make more by working overtime or picking up a little side job, I LOVE what I do, where I work and who I work with. Why change? Why pay upwards of $60,000 (which we were cash flowing), go through over 2 years more of schooling, and put strain on my family life when I was in a place that brought me so much joy? So I dropped out yet again.
You never know what will change in the next few years, but I am fairly confident that I will continue on this path. There are countless nursing jobs out there and I can work anywhere our lives take us.
As far as our financial life, that’s a different story. We are continually striving to get to the next level. However, not in the traditional idea of making more money to get ahead, but rather by being more intentional with the money that we do have. We have got our savings rate up to 40%, hope to fully max out our retirement accounts and our IRA’s in the next year, and we are actually in the process of downsizing our home, once again, in order to decrease our monthly expenses.
All of these little steps are being done in order to reach financial independence and a modified version of FIRE. I don’t know if I will ever FULLY retire from nursing, but it will be incredible the day we have the option. For now, our plan is to continue to improve our finances all while living life to the fullest.
What do you see as the key to earning such a high salary?
I think the key of maximizing whatever career you are is being flexible and having great work ethic. If you’re not making what you want to make or doing what you want to do, you need to look for ways to make changes. Complaining about things doesn’t result in progress, just gets in your head and makes you more miserable.
Think outside the box, look for a path for your career. If you don’t see one then maybe it’s time to take a HUGE leap and change careers. BUT it’s not going to happen without some work on your part. Get that extra certification, go to those seminars, find someone you strive to be like and sit down and talk with them. It’s the little bit extra that will take your career to the next level.
Have you ever experienced issues in the workforce because you’re a woman? What did you do in response?
Luckily, I am in a female dominated career and have not had a problem due to being a woman. However, even in a female dominated area, males do make a bit more than women. I have not let this bother me and have simply taken different paths to get to the financial level that I am comfortable with.
Chief Mom Officer is primarily a personal finance blog – tell us about your saving and investment strategy
We keep 6 months of expenses as and Emergency fund. Which may be a little cash heavy, but it gives us peace of mind with our medical history. We also max out my 401k at my primary job and contribute to my 453b to meet the hospital’s match at my PRN job as well as maxing out my husband’s 457b, all pre-tax. My husband also contributes 10% to his pension. Although we will not rely on his pension for retirement it will be an added bonus. We have also opened up IRA’s but have not yet been able to max those out – next year goals!
Beyond that, we do the rest of our investing in a taxable brokerage account that we manage ourselves. We are, by and large, index investors. Our current asset allocation is about 85/15 stocks to bonds.
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?
For someone just starting out: put your heart in to what you are doing. Makes sure that you have passion behind the motions and you will succeed. If you are just going through the motions I can promise you that you will not enjoy your career and promotions and advancements will be harder to come by.
For someone struggling in their career: Take a good look at what you are doing. Do you enjoy your career? Are you struggling because you’ve lost that little spark or passion or are you struggling because it’s simply the wrong career for you? Make a plan, take a leap and make a change. If it’s your environment, find a job somewhere else. If it’s your career, start exploring others. Staying stagnant is not going to improve your struggle.
For those looking to improve how they handle money: Understand the WHY. Why do you want to make a change? Do you want to travel more? Do you want to spend more time at home? Do you want to retire at a decent age? What is your why? Once you identify that it will be much easier to stick to your financial plan. If you don’t know why you are doing something, it is impossible to stick to.
Come up with a plan. Every person and every situation is different. You need to come up with a budgeting or financial plan that suits your situation. Don’t compare yourself to others. Set your goals, set your budget and be proud of every step you take towards achieving that goal.
Always try to improve on yourself. Even though we are very comfortable where our budget is now and the money we are making, I’m always looking for ways to make cuts in our budget or get a little extra money on the side by doing things that make me happy. I make it a game of sorts to go under budget without feeling like we’re depriving ourselves. My favorite way is by saving on our grocery budget. I wrote a post on a few tips, but it’s an ongoing process. I’m not an extreme couponer or anything, just like to be creative and intentional in our eating these days. You can find my post at http://www.livinglifelovingus.com/index.php/2018/04/29/bust-through-that-grocery-budget/
Where can people connect with you?
You can find us at www.livinglifelovingus.com and on most social media platforms including Twitter at LivnLifeLovnUs, Instagram @Livinglifelovingus, Pinterest at Living Life Loving Us, and you can always email us at email@example.com. On our Facebook page Living Life Loving Us we’ve created a group called “Make Your Money Work for You” where we share tips and anyone can come and ask their budgeting and finance questions, share tips of their own and get a bit of accountability from the group on their way to financial freedom.
CMO Here Again
Thanks so much to Jenny for stopping by to share her story! I love having the opportunity to share stories of breadwinning moms, and I especially love how she hacked her way to almost doubling her income in a creative way. Thinking and acting differently than others will almost assuredly lead to success, no matter what your field.
Be sure to leave Jenny a comment, and stop by her site and check it out!
Want to connect with other money smart women? Join in my Breadwinning Women or Women on FIRE Facebook Groups and find other money smart women like yourself.
If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by my one-stop shop page for Breadwinning moms, featuring all my prior articles and interviews (plus some updates on prior interviewees!). Know someone that would be perfect for this series, or is that you? Hop over to my “Be Featured!” page to access the request form.
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6 thoughts on “Breadwinning, Six Figure Moms – Jenny”
So great to hear from Jenny. I live fewer than 10 miles from her, and have friends in nursing here in the area, so I definitely understand so much of what she wrote about the local hospital network. I can’t imagine having that commute during our busy season, especially at the end of a long nursing shift, but kudos for being willing to do it and earning 6-figures!
So neat to hear from someone local, and that you can relate to our seasonal traffic down here!
As you know the main hospital system in the area has a bit of a monopoly on the area. It makes it so hard for there staff to negotiate a decent wage. Unfortunately, it’s the same in many areas.
It was nice to have a change of pace with a new hospital system. Nothing is perfect, and on many days I may work harder than I did in my previous position, but the financial benefits for our family far outweigh any of the negatives.
Again, very neat to hear from a local and I bet if we talked for a bit we would find a connection in one way or another. This is a large area but small at the same time. Feels like everyone knows everyone!
Great example of how sacrifice (longer commute for higher pay) early on jumps starts your path to financial freedom a lot earlier. I know that was not an easy decision because commuting is never fun, but with that kind of bump in pay it helps to offset it.
It’s all about finding the balance. The drive is a bit of a hassle, adding an extra hour to hour and a half more than my previous job, but when looking at the increase in pay it’s well worth it.
You have to look at all angles before making any large leap like that, make sure things aren’t too good to be true, and know what you are trading off for the money. Make educated moves so you are far far less likely to have regrets.
Zero regrets here, in fact, as you may have read I honestly ENJOY the new job. Makes the drive even easier.
Lovely to read your story Jenny – I love how you are making strong decisions that are paying off really well for your family.
You took the extra travel time to earn more but also rejected extra studying as not cash flow positive.
Looks like you are on a great path, looking forward to following your journey.
Thank you so much. My husband and I have really both taken the same approach to our careers. We look at the value we would be adding both financially and to life as a whole before we make any decisions.
It’s amazing how many opportunities and options are available when you broaden your horizons. There are some very creative ways of making the best of nearly any career out there!