Woman Crush Wednesday – Personal Finance Style

I don’t know about you, but I love to be inspired. And inspiration is hard to come by these days.

But sure enough, when I set out to find some of the most inspiring women around, I ended up with this crazy talented group of women who have exceeded my expectations. From lawyers to freelance writers, to actors to stay at home moms, these women are crushing it!

Image by Ryan McGuire at gratisography.com

Image by Ryan McGuire at gratisography.com

I want to say thank you to all the lovely ladies that contributed to this post.

Without further ado, I present to you, Woman Crush Wednesday!


 

Shannon Headshot 2014Shannon from Financially Blonde

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?
 
I am a financial planner focused on working with clients between the ages of 25 and 45. I started my company, NextGen Financial, a little over a year ago after working with high net worth clients at a large retail advisory firm. I found that I enjoyed helping people build wealth rather than just manage it, and I also realized that bad money habits develop from an early age, and they are difficult to correct the older you get. If I wanted to make the biggest financial impact on people’s lives, then I needed to start to work with them from an earlier age.
 
2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?
 
Absolutely 1. Prior to starting my company, I worked in various fields of financial services and made a bunch of money, and that was nice; however, it didn’t make me happy. A few years ago, I knew I needed to make a career change, I just didn’t know exactly what it would look like. Then I started meeting all of these people who didn’t have enough assets to work with me at my previous firm, but needed financial help and guidance. After one meeting with one of the pro bono clients, she said to me, “You realize you are saving my life.” It was in that statement that I knew I needed to make a career change and help more people like her. In this past year of running my company, I have never made less in my life, and I have never been more happy.
3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful? 
 
I don’t know if I will ever get to a point where I declare that I am successful because I feel as though we should never rest on what we have achieved and we should always strive to dream and accomplish something bigger. So, I will say that I have accomplished many dreams thus far in my life; however, I still have more to go.
4. If you could start over, would you change your career path?
 
I wouldn’t change a single thing. I truly believe that we are meant to learn something from each step in our life journey. Looking back, some steps make more sense than others and some may never make sense to us; however, each one is important. Each lesson makes us who we are, the good and the bad.
 
5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?
 

You should absolutely follow your passion. I began my career following money, and it only made me unhappy. I was never satisfied and no matter how much I made, it never seemed like it was enough. Then I started pursuing my passions two years ago, and my life has changed dramatically for the better. As I mentioned, I do not make as much as I used to, but I wouldn’t trade all of the money I made for my clients whose lives I get to change for the better because I decide to follow my passion instead of money.


Agatha from Hey AgathaAgatha Kulesza

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I just sold my accounting biz of 12 years in December 2013 to focus on my online biz at HeyAgatha.com full time. I run a blog where I create weekly rap songs for entrepreneurial women and I also do business coaching. The entire point is to keep peeps inspired to keep going and have fun, because there are way too many opportunities to take entrepreneurial life too seriously. And why bother building your dream biz if it’s not fun? You might as well go get a job instead.

I decided on this because I love entertaining and inspiring women to do what they really want in their careers, even if it’s not the traditional or most rational choice. It’s something I struggled with for a long time so I know the pain of it all too well. I love being a geeky cheerleader for other women on this path.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I would say a 3. I need money to live and it gives me more options in life. But I spent my entire adult career (until 2013) doing work just for the money and it was totally soul sucking. I had a fancy lifestyle but I felt very unfulfilled. I wore a pair of golden handcuffs and wanted out! So now the money doesn’t matter as much to me. I chose to decrease my fancy lifestyle so I can have more freedom to truly build and do what I want to do with my business. I am so happy I made that choice because now my work fulfills me in a way that making tons of money doing accounting never did. And I know it’s just a matter of time before I build my income back up to where it was before!

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful? 

I do. I had a lot of monetary and professional success with the prior 3 accounting businesses I built, but I was courageous enough to let that go to build something I truly love. I always wanted to make choices as if I had $10 million in the bank, meaning the path I chose had everything to do with passion and not just money. I wanted to be loyal to my soul! And I can truly say that the life and career I have now is all about that. I live as if I have those millions in the bank and make choices from my heart and soul…and how many people can say they have the freedom to do that? I consider that very successful and I am deeply grateful!

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path?

No way. I learned so much by working in accounting and bookkeeping for over a decade. I had clients that were very small businesses all the way up to billionaires, so the amount of knowledge I have about business and money would have been hard to acquire otherwise. I am so grateful for the path I chose and how it lead me to this place, where I am so passionate about doing what I love.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

It depends on the person! Some people get very scared about not knowing exactly how much money they’ll have coming in every month, so to those peeps I say follow the money, unless you’re willing to do some serious changing to tame your fear. For the peeps that can handle the ups and downs of following your passion and will do whatever it takes to get there, go for it. Neither way is better than the other, just depends on what YOU want out of your life and career.


Mrs. Frugalwoods from Frugalwoods.comMrsFrugalwoods (1)

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

This is an interesting exercise for me because I never discuss my career on my blog since Mr. Frugalwoods, Frugal Hound, and I are all about achieving financial independence and retiring early. However, I am proud of the work I’ve done (even though I plan to quit my job in three years and move to a rural homestead).

I’m the manager of communications and donor relations for a large non-profit organization in Boston, MA. I chose non-profit fundraising because it aligns with my skill set and my desire to positively impact the world with my work. While that sounds a bit lofty, I do feel that my work helps my organization achieve its mission of bettering our world and providing access to educational opportunities.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I’d say 5. Since I work in the non-profit sector, I clearly didn’t do it just for the money. That being said, I did select fundraising in part because it typically represents the most highly paid employees within an organization. I also work at a large non-profit, which is able to provide a much more generous compensation package than a small, start-up non-profit.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I do consider myself successful in my career. I am fortunate that I’ve been in the same field since graduating from undergrad. Hence, at age 30, I have a full 8 years of experience. Due to this, I’m a manager at a much higher level than my age cohort. Most of my managerial peers are at least 5, if not 10, years older than me. And, some of the people I manage are 10 years older than me. While it’s tough to do, if you can pick a career at age 22 and stick with it, you’ll advance rapidly.

Further, I have a master’s degree in non-profit management, which garners a higher salary and is often accounted for in lieu of years of experience by hiring managers. Thus, my 8 years is compounded to more along the lines of 10 years given my advanced degree. Additionally, I didn’t stop working in order to earn my MA—I worked full-time at the university where I was studying in order to receive free tuition and avoid a gap in my resume.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path?

Probably not. I’ve been able to do good while doing well, which is the perfect balance for me.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I think I fall into the “follow your passion” camp with the caveat that earning potential is a real thing. Money is important, even if you’re a frugal weirdo like me and don’t spend a lot of it. It’s a reality of our world and I think pursuing a career with no concept of the compensation package is short-sighted. I am particularly cautionary about advanced degree programs in fields that typically don’t yield a high ROI. For example, my own master’s degree in non-profit management. While it made sense for me to earn my MA in light of my free tuition, I question whether the sticker price of my degree (somewhere north of $80,000) would be worthwhile considering the low salary commanded by most non-profit positions—especially those not in fundraising.

While this all might seem moot and anachronistic coming from me—since my plan to retire early is so clearly articulated—it’s actually integral and related to my decisions. I have a skill set that I can use throughout life, should I choose to ever work again or take on part-time, freelance, or volunteer work. Perhaps more importantly, I’m in a position and a field that I enjoy and believe in. Although Mr. Frugalwoods and I do want to move to a homestead, I’m glad that my traditional working career has been for organizations and causes I believe in and am passionate about.


Kendal from Hassel Free SavingsKRP Headshot

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I’m the Marketing Manager for a small business that creates and manages a series of money-saving websites and tools. I chose marketing as my career path because I wanted something that blended creativity with practicality. I’ve always loved writing, and initially declared Liberal Arts as my major in college. Two weeks before my freshman year began, I called and switched my major to business because I was afraid a degree in Liberal Arts would be too limiting.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

Probably 8. I’ve always been practical and I wanted to pursue a career path where a good wage wasn’t something I had to spend years trying to earn. I think writing is a more viable a career than it used to be thanks to freelancing and blogging, but it still requires an enormous amount of time and commitment. Don’t get me wrong; I worked hard to get where I am, but I feel like a background in business has made it easier for me to get my foot in the door.

That being said, I did take a pay cut to get the job I’m in currently. Ultimately, I was more interested in learning new skills than getting the biggest offer I could find. It was a risk, but definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Within six months, I was making more than I ever did in my previous position, and three years later I have a very comfortable wage, great benefits and a really cool group of coworkers.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I do consider myself successful, but my definition of success has changed over the years. When I first got started in marketing, I was 17 and working three hours a day for a local engineering firm. This high school gig turned into my job for almost a decade, and my definition of success was to become the youngest manager/partner/executive in the company. Upon graduating in 2008, the company offered me the position of Marketing Manager, and I was in charge of the department (of one!) for three years. I created a marketing plan, ran monthly and annual marketing strategy meetings, tried my hand at business development, and basically burned myself out.

When I found my current job, my definition of success changed. I wanted to find a healthy work/life balance in a position that challenged me. Within just a few months, I was the main PR contact for a billion-dollar shopping holiday, taking radio interviews and writing press releases and guest posts for media outlets. Then I found myself on the local news just six months after being hired, a task I never thought I’d experience. These proved to be enormous challenges and ones I never thought I’d tackle, but they’ve been instrumental in my personal and professional growth.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

No. Having a degree in business opens more doors than it closes. Having a practical training base and using it to further my creative skills and goals has worked well for me!

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

It’s a great question, and one that I’ve struggled with throughout my career. I don’t think there’s a universal “right” answer, either; I think it depends on the person. For me, following the money offers a steady income that helps me cultivate my passions without the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t yet know what I want to be when I grow up, but the foundation I’ve set and the career path I’m on will help me find out without too much pain and suffering.


Lauren from Write BudgetLauren

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I’m a freelance writer. I didn’t exactly set out to make this my career, as I had been working in other industries before, but it evolved into my main focus today. About 3 years ago, I was living overseas when an opportunity came up for me to make money creating web content from home, and things just took off from there. I’ve always loved to write and I’ve kept blogs for years now, so getting paid to do both is really wonderful. It offers me a sense of fulfillment, and flexibility and freedom that I couldn’t get from a 9 to 5. That works out well for me, because I love to travel.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I would have to say about a 3, simply because I didn’t really sit down one day and choose freelance writing as a career based on income. The great thing about being a web-based freelancer is that the earning potential isn’t limited. There are so many inspiring freelancers and entrepreneurs out there who share their earnings, and that really opened up my eyes to the possibilities.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

This is such a hard question to answer! I feel successful in that I’m really happy with what I’m doing today, and that’s half the battle. . I’m able to contribute financially to our family while being home with my 3 year old daughter, so that’s a huge plus. I’d like to continue to grow my income, accomplish more goals, and hopefully learn new skills that will help me to increase my earning potential.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

I wouldn’t change anything about the path that I’ve taken so far. However, there’s always the opportunity to grow in a different direction, and that’s something that I do think about. I’ll keep on writing no matter what, but I also don’t rule out the possibility of another career, too.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I really believe that if you have the opportunity to follow your passion, you should do it. Money is important, but it isn’t everything. Don’t inflate your lifestyle so much that you trap yourself in a career you hate but are stuck with just to pay the bills. Pay off debt, opt for simple lifestyle, and then pursue your passion. With any career, there’s got to be a balance between making a living and being happy. That’s the sweet spot.


Jordann from My Alternate LifeJordann-Brown-Photo-315x417

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I’m a marketing manager at a small renewable energy company on the east coast of Canada. I decided to go into marketing because I’ve always had a creative side – I love writing and art – but I wanted a career that had a lot of demand and potential. Marketing seemed like a great way to combine my creativity and my love for organization into a successful career.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I think I’m a 7 on a scale of 1-10. My earning potential after school was very important to me because I was paying for my own education, and I didn’t want to shell out $40,000 and have no job prospects on the other side. I did my research and picked a degree and school because of their high post-graduation employment rate. I even chose a co-op program to get some extra experience before graduation. That said, I still wanted to major in something that piqued my interest and that I was really interested in, so I chose marketing.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

Yes I do consider myself successful because I achieved the goals I set out to achieve: I’m employed full time in a job I enjoy, I’m getting paid well for my industry and I have enough money to do the things that I want to do. I think in the future, to remain successful, I’ll need to upgrade my education or continue to work hard to advance in my career, but right now, I’m very happy with where I am, career-wise.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

This is a good question, and while it’s easy to day dream about the road less traveled (I could’ve been a vet!) I can’t imagine doing anything but what I’m doing now. My career fits my personality, I get to travel, and I get to be creative on a daily basis. I love showing the best side of a brand and seeing people connect with my work. I love my career and I wouldn’t change it!

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I think that if you can find a way to make money from your passion like I have, you should pursue that opportunity. But not everyone can make money doing what they love, and I think you should follow the money if you can’t have both. This whole notion of loving your job is very new, and not something the generation before us even considered. The bottom line is that you need money to survive, and if taking a job won’t allow you to follow your passion to survive, so be it. You can always find ways to parlay your passion into a side hustle or an in depth hobby!


1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I’m Professor of Science and Innovation Dynamics, and Policy at a top ranking British university. I can probably be a bit more specific but I like to keep my academic career and my career as a blogger at some distance (though they can’t be completely disconnected).

At the moment I’m working on building internet-based and other businesses (I recently bought a taxi, for instance) so that by October 2018 I wouldn’t have to be employed if I don’t want to be. Some call it ‘early retirement’ but I have no intention of retiring – as in ‘not working and contributing value’ – early or not. What I want is to achieve financial independence so that my choices are not restricted by necessity.

It is very hard for me to tell you how I decided on being an academic (and a blogger)– it was all very natural. All I’ve always done is ask questions, search for answers and write. Being an academic fits me like a soft pair of gloves.

Blogging is just an extension of being an academic: being a blogger requires competencies that are very similar to the ones needed to be a successful academic: analysis, synthesis, creativity, writing and operating in communities of peers.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

This will be 1 – not at all. In fact, when I announced that I’d read sociology at university my mum called the ‘family council’ (this is how things traditionally work in some Southern European regions). I had to face aunts, uncles and cousins who were all singing from one sheet – ‘you’ll never manage to feed yourself if you study sociology’.

Thing is, I had attended a lecture at the local university by couple of well-known sociologists. I knew this is exactly right for me and I didn’t care at all about making enough money to live on – I grew up in socialist Bulgaria, you see, so material greed was something I wasn’t raised into.

I loved studying sociology and I still love what I do. Sociology – bashed it may be as a useless subject – when done properly gives one the edge in two ways: (a) makes you flexible and (b) teaches you to spot structures and patterns: perfect competencies for being an academic and making it in the network economy.

I believed, and still believe, that when you do something you love, you achieve a level of mastery that allows you to make a living; and, depending on the level of mastery, a generous living.

I read sociology, I have two Masters, I completed two PhDs and was awarded one (don’t ask, this is a long story) and have always earned exceptionally well. Because I may be a sociologist but I’m also a hustler.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

Yes, I do consider myself to be successful. This is why:

1) I have a personal chair in one of the top universities in the world.

2) I moved from one side of Europe (Bulgaria) to the other (the UK) and have a successful academic career. Very few social scientists move at early career stage and achieve international success.

3) My work as a scholar is known and recognised worldwide and affects several research fields (sociology of science, science studies and higher education studies).

4) I built a personal finance blog – The Money Principle – that ranks 3-4th UK.

5) The Money Principle just won the Best International Blog Plutus award.

6) I have wonderful family.

7) I run marathons and plan on running and ultra-marathon.

I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to achieve all that and feel humbled in gratitude.

Still, there is much more I want to achieve but the urgency is gone – I have nothing left to prove. I know that I (and you) can be successful in any area I decide to explore if I do two things: learn and do. Then repeat!

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

If I were starting now I won’t go for academic career. The reason is simple: the universities (at least most universities in the UK) are in crisis, which I expect will get even more serious with the latest developments in education, policy, teaching and labour markets.

This crisis is also a crisis of organisational identity that makes university leadership experiment with adopting productivity models more appropriate to a nineteenth century factory. Naturally, this makes universities pretty unpleasant employer and causes serious damage to creativity, be it in teaching or research.

I believe that today, the opportunities to be a scholar and educator are on the Internet. Reading Seth Godin’s blog and books will do much more for any budding entrepreneur and marketing from direct experience.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I published an article on The Money Principle in which I mentioned that when it comes to blogging ‘passion is over-rated’. This got me in quite a few friendly discussions with blogger friends who believe that passion is crucially important.

I didn’t mean that passion is not important at all. I do believe that we shouldn’t start with passion but with interest and value. There was time when I wasn’t even remotely interested in any aspect of money and personal finance. No interest, no knowledge, no passion.

Once I was interested, I started learning. Then I started messing about and experimenting; by messing about I learned more…Next thing I knew, I started becoming rather passionate about the whole ‘money thing’.

What I’m saying is, that in my experience it is best to start with interest and build towards passion.

Whatever you do, don’t start by simply and only ‘following the money’. Moneycomes easier when you are interested in and passionate about what you do to earn it.

When you have fun when working you become better at what you are doing. The better you become the more value you contribute. And the more value you contribute the more you can charge for it.


New Gravatar 4Hayley from A Disease Called Debt 

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

At the moment, I do a mash up of different things! After a long career in marketing and event management, I decided to quit not long after my daughter was born so that I could be there for her. She changed my whole perspective on life including what I wanted from my career. If I’m honest, the corporate environment never really suited me. So now, I work full time from home so that I can be there for my little girl too. I have a number of freelance jobs including freelance writing and social media management. In addition, I consider my blog an important part of my earnings now and I’m also in the process of setting up some passive income streams – I’ve recently become an Amazon author! In addition to all of that, I’m also a registered and qualified childminder (home day care provider), which means I earn money by looking after other children as well as my daughter when she’s not in preschool.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I would say that the income potential scored around 6 in my decision to do this. I knew I needed to earn a certain amount of money to be able make this work. We had bills to pay for and a ton of debt to pay off. However, I was also very conscious that I needed to find my own way of working that I was happy with, after ‘moulding’ myself into a career previously where I felt both trapped and stressed out too.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I’ve never really thought about this before, but yes, I think so! I believe I’ve learned more about myself and what I really want to do career wise in the last couple of years than ever before. I’ve carved a living out for myself working from home so that I can have the best of both worlds – being with my little girl as she grows as well as working hard to bring in an income every month. I think I’ve developed my skills and potential too from what I do now.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

I wouldn’t change anything. Even though the corporate environment didn’t suit me and I was often quite unhappy in my former career, I can say now that I learned so much from what I used to do. I had the chance to study Marketing and I developed a sense in pride in my work. I was always encouraged by senior management to push myself and put myself in situations where I was outside of my comfort zone at work. That’s what used to make me stressed out, but actually, pushing the boundaries is a great thing to do and I think I work so hard now because of that ‘be the best’ mindset. I love what I do now. Being self-employed offers flexibility and unlimited earning potential if I’m prepared to put the effort in!

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

Personally, I think following your passion is the better advice. If you can do something you love, you’ll most likely be successful at it. There are tons of ways you can follow your passion whilst also following the money! For example, if you enjoy handmade crafts, not only can you set up a business selling your products, you can create a website, do some affiliate marketing, write an eBook, tutor other like-minded people and much more.


Debs from Debt Debsdebt debs medium

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I’m a Professional Accountant, (CPA, CMA) but I’ve moved worked in all areas of Finance (Corporate Finance, General Accounting, Shared Services, Cost Accounting, FP&A, Business Support, Mergers and Acquisitions) as well as IT as a Project Manager (SAP and Finance application implementations) and now in Auditing and SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) Controls including SOD (Segregation of Duties) authorizations in business software applications.  It’s a funny story how I decided on this career and it started in high school.  I took a course on Business Machines.  It was like the equivalent of ‘Typing’ or ‘Keyboarding’ except that we learned to be proficient on an ‘adding machine’.  Remember those?  Sears Canada hired on the spot at 16 years of age due to my newly acquired skill after they had implemented a new computerized accounting system and were weeks behind on balancing all their terminals (cash registers).  This lead to my interest in accounting but also some super Math teachers piqued my interest in a University Math and Accounting Coop Program.  Combining work (which I loved) and school (not a big fan) was the right combination to sticking with a rigorous program.  I’ve never looked back despite wanting to be in a more physical career like policing or the military in my youth.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I would say 8.  I knew I did not want to have a career that did not have abundant job prospects and good earning potential.  But, it was important to me that I enjoy my work and I have succeeded.  Every new position was interesting and a challenge, even though some were lateral transfers with no increased salary.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I’m very hard on myself so I would say moderately successful.  I would consider myself successful if I was financially independent now.  However, I raised 4 wonderful kids and have covered a lot in my career.  I’m getting to the point where i can say, any other things I wish I accomplished are not that important anymore.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

Nope, absolutely not.  It’s been interesting, challenging and for the most part, lucrative.  My only regret is that I’ve worked for companies that have had financial struggles and this gets a bit old after a while.  Years with no increases can suck the life out of you when you are working hard.  Sometimes I wonder how my career might have gone if I had entered the police force.  These days with PTSD on the rise, I think that is a challenging career.  I’m interested in forensics, however, and have thought about how forensic auditing could combine my love and skills in finance with investigative passions.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I’m going to give a consultant answer (don’t you hate those?) – it depends.  If you need the money (no other income source from family – spousal income can be risky with the divorce rate today, dependents to support) then you need to focus on careers that are (a) have jobs available (b) provide an income that you can manage on realistically.  Having a degree in a field that does not translate into a job is very risky.  Follow the job market.  I’m a big fan of community college and trades professions over university degrees that do not lead to a profession.  You won’t get rich with accounting but you will be able to have a reasonable income.  Same with IT professions.  But you have to enjoy what you are doing in order to be able to stick it out.  Much of my working career, my jobs have almost felt like hobbies.  This has lead to workaholic tendencies which need to be kept in check.  However, you can compliment your job with a hobby that is a passion.  This will bring you the best of both worlds and balance in areas that it’s needed.  I’d like to think I’ve broken the stereotype that accountants are boring.  I hope you think so too! 😀


Natalie from The Finance GirlIMG_4139 2

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I am an attorney for a law firm in Cleveland, Ohio. I always knew I was going to go to law school because I didn’t like science, so medical school was out of the question. In my family, it was expected that we would go to professional school after college, so law school seemed like the best choice for me. I left medical school for my brother. And I do love school – if it was up to me I would stay in school forever. There’s nothing I like more than learning.
Currently, I work in the litigation group at my firm, but I would like to do transactional law, with a focus in corporate finance possibly. My passion is finance, so I’m trying to tie together law and finance. I plan to take the CFP exam next year, so I have something finance-related on my resume. I majored in political science in college, so convincing people I’m passionate about finance isn’t always easy.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

My earning potential factored into my career choice at about a 2. I really went to law school because it was expected that I keep going to more school, and I have always liked learning and school. Education is huge in my family. It’s more about being a professional and having a career than it ever was about money. (This is further supported by the pure shock of seeing my law schools loans after graduation.)This was good in the sense that I really made choices based on what I enjoyed and wanted to do. But it was bad because I was unaware of what taking out $206,000 in student loans would mean for my future. Money wasn’t discussed much at all in my family.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I consider myself as someone who is always striving for success. I would not say my past accomplishments make me successful or unsuccessful today. I don’t think of success as a destination; I think of success as a way of life. I make success a habit.
Success is two-fold. To me, success is defined as constant growth and integrity. Constant growth is about striving to be better and achieve more. It’s about having goals. I love getting out of my comfort zone, for example. Success to me is continuous. If I stopped having goals, didn’t read, didn’t want to achieve more, even though I would still be a lawyer, I wouldn’t consider myself successful in a year or two because I would have moving forward. To me, a life without goals sounds miserable.
The second part of success is about having integrity. This means that I am the best version of myself every day, and I do the right thing – no matter what. Being a good friend, a good sibling, a good person to a stranger — that is part of a successful life.
So, right now, I’m working toward success because I’m striving to grow as a person in my career, with my finances, in my health, and with my loved ones. In all areas of my life, I hope to be growing and moving forward. And at the same time, I hope to always maintain the utmost integrity.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

Interesting question! I think about this often. I think the answer for me, is yes, I would choose a different career path. I do not think law school is worth the financial burden. You don’t make nearly what you need to in order to pay off your student loans. (If there was some way I could’ve gone for free, then I would have kept the same path; it’s the cost that is the biggest deterrent and regret for me.)
Assuming I did have to pay for law school, instead of going, I would have started working for a company and sought an opportunity to get my MBA through a company-offered program. I really like school and would want to continue my education, but I would’ve considered the cost more if I could do it over again. And I most certainly would have avoided accumulating as much student loan debt as I did.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I don’t think you can do solely follow your passion or solely follow the money and be completely happy. I think you have to be smarter than that and do both. I think of it as a venn diagram. If your passions are one circle and the market place is the second circle, you need to pick what’s in the middle, where the two overlap. What I always say is to think about your passions (i.e., think about the things you enjoy doing) and then see which one provides the most value in the market place.
I really enjoy organizing, but I don’t organize closets for a living. I thought that closet organization wouldn’t provide the type of career growth and leadership opportunities that I wanted in the future.
But I also enjoy finance. And lucky for me, there are lots of ways to seek out career advancement and leadership in a career in finance.

Because we all enjoy a variety of things, I think it’s best to consider all the things you enjoy and follow the path that provides the biggest opportunity in the market.


1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

Right now I am freelancing online – doing things like writing for companies and aiding in the management of websites.

It was kind of an interesting path that got me here. I got married and had my two daughters at a fairly young age. I never graduated from college and therefore don’t have a degree. I worked as a bookkeeper for a small department store for seven years and then decided to try and make it as an insurance agent.

I quickly found out that while I was very good at the behind the scenes work at the agency, like helping people decide how much coverage they should have and getting them the best prices, that I absolutely HATED the sales part of the job.

I was bringing home somewhere around $300 a week. Not nearly enough to survive on, so I decided to create my own job.

I started pitching insurance related companies and asking if they needed any content created for their blogs or websites. Since I knew personal lines insurance very well I usually got the jobs I asked for.

In the meantime I started growing my blog and from there other companies have contacted me asking me to write for them. It’s been a snowball effect.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I’m going to say an 8.

I started freelancing right after I got divorced. I knew there was no way I’d be able to take care of my kids on $1,200 a month. Moving to another city to find work wasn’t an option for me either. The only way I’d be able to earn more money was by working as an independent contractor.

While it’d be nice to say that I chose my career out of pure passion that’s not really true. I saw an opportunity to earn more money and take control of my schedule – I decided to go for it.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

Success is such a relative term but yes, I’d consider myself successful. My mission was to create a job that I actually enjoyed doing that allowed me to pay the bills and then some.

I live in a very low cost area, keep my budget at less than $2,000 a month, and am able to save money each and every single month without working myself to death.

I’ve also cut my hours in half while making more than double (almost triple now) of what I did at the day job.

I am still actively working on growing my income. I’m grossing around $3k a month right now and want to get that number to at least $5k a month within the next year.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

No. I feel really fortunate. There’s not many people that I personally know who can structure their day around their family instead of their job.

The dead end jobs that I worked for so many years were what finally motivated me to take control of my career. I’ll be forever grateful for that.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

That’s a hard one. I think it should be somewhere in the middle. For one, your passion doesn’t always pay the bills. Secondly, you shouldn’t do something that makes you miserable just for the money.

I’m not passionate about everything that I do now. I enjoy it, but I’m not necessarily passionate about it. I try to keep people the focus of my life. I like what I do but I don’t want to get so engulfed in the online world that I’m not paying attention to my daughters or that I’m not emotionally there for my family.

I think my passion is my family. My daughters, my brothers, and just really being there for the people who I love the most – no matter how cheesy that sounds. And being able to schedule my work around my family makes everything worth it to me.

It’s all about personal priorities. We’re all different people with different values and different mindsets.

You gotta do what feels right for you.


 Nicola from The Frugal Cottagethe frugal cottage logo

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I currently work in education, and I wanted to do so from the age of 15. As someone who struggled a bit during my own time in education, I wanted to help other students so they didn’t feel so pressured. I did some work experience in the education field which cemented my choice of career at 16, and shaped my choices from then on. 

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

Maybe a 4? I didn’t choose to do my job for the earning factor – there’s only so much you can earn in the education sector in the UK, but I did it more for the joy of helping others.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I do and I don’t. In some ways, I am because I have a job that I like most of the time, my commute isn’t far and I get to spend time helping others and sometimes I even get a thank you for that! In other ways, I’m not particularly successful. My pay isn’t huge, and I’m towards the bottom of the ladder, so to speak. At some point I’d love to move up be a leader, but I’m quite happy at this stage just getting used to the demands of my job and enjoying the journey. 

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

I don’t think I would; although it’s hard at times, I genuinely like it. There are moments when you can see the penny drop for a student, and they suddenly get something that they didn’t understand before and are so proud of themselves . Nothing can beat that! 

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I think, ultimately, you have to do a job that you like, because otherwise your working days will become difficult to endure. I think that a good balance of work and money is ideal, but sometimes life doesn’t always work like that. As someone who has definitely followed my passion rather than following the money, I’d say that is better, from personal experience. 

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I work as a tax accountant for a large corporation. I never intended to become an accountant when I started college. I started off wanting to major in journalism. I decided that I would specifically like to become a business/financial journalist. So, while taking journalism classes I also started taking a few business classes. This first business class I took was an accounting class. Turns out, I loved accounting and something about it just “clicked” with me. I ended up graduating with a degree in both journalism and accounting. A rather strange pairing! I decided to pursue an accounting career.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I would probably give the earning potential a score of a 6. I would be lying if I said it didn’t influence me at all. I started school in 2007 and watched fearfully as the financial markets started to crumble. Every day I waited for a phone call from my parents with news that my dad had been laid off (never happened thankfully). I really started to crave some stability and I knew that a career in accounting would give me more stability than a career in journalism.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

Yes, I think I’m successful. I was able to graduate college, get a job, pass the CPA exam and get a new job. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am. I also have enough spare time to pursue my other interests like blogging and crafting : )

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

If I could start all over again, I don’t think I would change anything. I’m happy with my career. It’s challenging, stable and has room for growth. If I had to change degrees, I would probably have done something like engineering. I hear the jobs are in demand and pay better : )

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I thought about this question a lot during college. I was really conflicted between becoming an accountant or becoming a journalist for a short time. I finally realized that your job does not define who you are, rather it is just one tiny piece of the puzzle. Your success is not determined by what job you have and how much money you make.

With that being said, I think it is best to listen to your “gut” instinct – I think we all have it. Accounting certainly wasn’t a “passion” of mine, but I realized that I was good at it and could have a great career. I’m glad I chose this career path. If you can find a career where you can have both a little passion or interest and make money, then you are winning!


Femme from Femme Frugalityfemmefrugality button

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I work in a specialized field of linguistics in the field of education.  I was originally going to school for marketing, but got priced out of the whole college thing, and refused to take out loans.  I’m so glad it happened.  It forced me to look at what I would love doing on a daily basis, and if I could realistically afford the education required to obtain the degree.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

I’d say a 5.  The return on my degree has been fantastic, but I went to school very affordably, and I work in education.  So I’m not raking in big money.  If I ever wanted to freelance outside of education, I could make more, but I really love working with kids.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I can say yes.  I’ve reached a good place with my day job, and the blog has finally started to make enough money for me to feel like I’m being compensated decently well for my time.
That being said, I don’t think we’re ever done achieving.  I want to grow and scale the blog beyond what it is now.  I want to continue to learn and become the best I can be at work.  I think the idea of having “arrived” can lead to a lot of frustration, as there’s always another goal to reach.  But at this point in my journey, I absolutely feel fulfilled, and am forcing myself to be fully cognizant of that sensation.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

I wouldn’t.  There have been bumps along the way.  Stretches of working, moving, finding new positions, returning to school, breaking back into the field again.  But each pit stop has led to an experience that’s helped me grow as a person and a professional.  I wouldn’t trade those opportunities for growth for anything.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I think you have to find a balance.  If you truly hate going into work everyday, your quality of life is going to plummet no matter how much money you’re making.  If you’re doing something you love, but have tens to hundreds of thousands of debt and are making a pittance, your quality of life is going to go down, as well.  It’s important to realize that no matter how much you love something, some days you’re going to go into work, and it’s going to feel like work.  If you add in severe financial stress, passion may fade, and all of a sudden you’re drowning emotionally and financially.

Research the ROI on your education investment.  Not just on Glassdoor, but with real life professionals who work in the field each and every day.  If you can live the life  you want via a job you love, go for it.  If not, find a career path that you won’t be absolutely miserable in, and use the money to finance the life you want to live outside of the office.


Kayla from Shoeaholic No Moreshoes

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I work in agricultural lending in a rural community in the Midwest, USA. I went to school at an in-state university for Animal Science and Agricultural Communications. After taking some A&P classes, I decided being a vet was not for me and around the time of my graduation, there were no ag communications jobs open. I ended up taking my job in ag lending based more on location and the starting salary they were offering.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

8 – At the time that I accepted my job offer (April 2012) the earning potential was probably my number 1 priority, with location being a close 2nd. The starting salary was at least $2-3k/year higher than everything else I had looked at or interviewed for, and the job was located in my hometown which has a very low cost of living (relative to where the other jobs I was considering were located). In my mind, having a larger salary with a lower cost of living meant I could spend more on fun things like shopping and weekends away.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I would say I consider myself semi-successful. I go to work from 8-5 every weekday and do everything that is expected and asked of me to the best of my ability. I try to be a self-starter, seeking out new/additional things to do as I have time during the day. But, I wouldn’t consider myself to be fully successful in my chosen career because it’s not my passion and it’s definitely not something I plan on doing forever.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

This is a tough question. On one hand, yes I’d love to go back and enjoy my college years a little more rather than pushing myself to graduate a year early. Maybe if I had taken things a little slower I’d have been able to see what my true passions are a little more clearly. But with that said, if I could go back and change things I probably wouldn’t because then I wouldn’t be who I am now. I probably wouldn’t be in debt like I am (which would be good), but then I wouldn’t have started my blog, “met” all my awesome PF blogger friends, or found my passion for writing and started my freelancing side hustle.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I’ve done the “follow the money” and it isn’t really working out for me. Right now I have to be at work at least 40 hours/week and because it’s not something I’m passionate about I dread going every day. Unfortunately because of my financial situation (aka, my huge debt load) I’m going to have to keep working for the money until either my debts are paid off, or I can build my freelancing to the point at which it (combined with some income from another part-time job I have) can sustain me financially. Writing is my passion and I can’t wait until I can leave my FT job behind and just write every day for a living!


1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

Currently, I’m a financial coach– I teach 20-something women how to save money so they can follow their dreams! Before that, I worked in Human Resources in a traditional, 9-5, big office environment. I did that for about 4.5 years before realizing my heart wasn’t in it. I really wanted to start my own business and be my own boss. So I did just that– saved up enough to live off for a few years, quit my job, and started my financial coaching business!

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

Ehh, about a 6. I definitely don’t want to be broke, so I did want to choose a career that could make me money. But I was well aware when I quit my office job that following my entrepreneurial dreams would mean a significant pay cut, at least for the first few years while the biz gets up and running.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I definitely consider myself successful! But I also think there are different levels of success. Currently I’m successful because I made a huge decision to follow my passion and start my own business. Bringing in enough money to support myself through the business will be my next level of success 🙂

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

Definitely not. I’m one of those people that thinks everything in life happens for a reason. I needed to experience those 4.5 years of working in a “traditional” office environment to realize that it wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life! Sometimes I wish I had gotten into blogging earlier, and started building my business earlier, but then I remind myself, again, that everything happens for a reason 😉

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

You really should listen to both pieces of advice (is that a cop out answer? ha!), but honestly, I like “follow your passion” more than “follow the money”. I think you do need to pay attention to the money aspect (so you can pay your bills, duh) but following your passions will make you wayyyy happier than any amount of money ever will!


Laurie from The Frugal FarmerBlankL

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I stay at home, raising my kids and homeschooling them, and I freelance as a writer and am a published author.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

None.  I’ve known since I was pretty young that I wanted to be at home to focus on my kids and family full-time. As far as writing, I’ve always loved to write, but wasn’t sure I’d ever make money at it.  I’m so excited that I can have a second career (caring for my family and homeschooling the kids are my main career) that gives me an outlet for my creativity and makes money too!

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I do consider myself successful, because I’m doing what I want to do in life – I’m living my dream.  I think that is a major key to success.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

Nope.  Before I had the kids, I spent time as a house painter, a retail worker, a waitress, a bookkeeper, a cosmetologist, and I spent 15 years in mortgage and banking.  I gained skills from all of those jobs that help me today to be a great homemaker and business owner.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

I think one will be happier if they follow their passion, but there has to be some common sense there too.  If you’re going to follow your passion, you’d better have a plan as to how to support yourself while doing it, or else have a good hefty savings account.  I wouldn’t recommend following your passion if following your passion means you have to live on the streets and dig through the garbage for food.  Have a plan for following your passion, but make sure you’ve got the monetary means to do so and a plan for using your passion to make money if need be.


Ree from Escaping Dodge2012-09_ReeImage_367 (5)

1. What do you do for a living, and how did you decide on this career?

I help people live happier and wealthier lives. I wouldn’t say that I’m earning a “living” yet, but that’s okay. It takes time to build a business and because of what I learned and applied in my own life, I have the resources to see the process through.

As far as my career decision goes, I think my path chose me. You see, I was horrific with money even as a small child. I’d get a dollar and the first shiny object that took my fancy quickly replaced the dollar.

As a young adult, the problem escalated and I used Mr. MasterCard and Mr. Visa to shore up the purchases when my dollars weren’t enough to cover them. Bad idea. Enter stress. As I struggled to look like everyone else who was on the path to success, my debt grew.

Finally, I knew something had to change. My brilliant solution was to declare bankruptcy and get a clean start. Surely I’d be rolling in cash without all those bills. Again, bad idea.

Little did I know that things would be worse. I’d have to learn to live on what I made…WHAT? Turns out that my salary was barely enough to keep a roof over my head. I had $6 a day to live on after my bills were paid.

That’s when I got serious. I read and started listening to a mentor who had been looming in the background. I made some changes, things got better, then more changes and so on. As time went on, I became really good at saving and began to build wealth.

I worked in Corporate America for years and was lucky enough to have great bosses and engaging work, but I always felt I was supposed to be doing something bigger, something to help other people transform their relationship with money.

In my early 40’s I sat down and wrote out some life goals and then created a personal mission statement: To build and share emotional, spiritual and financial wealth. It really resonated with what I wanted to do.

When I was introduced to the idea of blogging nearly a decade later, I got really excited because I saw that as a platform for my message. In 2012, Escaping Dodge was born.

The name stems from this quote by Josiah Charles Stamp, “It’s easy to dodge our responsibility, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibility.”

I escaped dodge and I hope to help others do the same.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “not at all” and 10 being “my #1 priority,” how much did your earning potential factor into your career choice?

My answer is both a 1 and a 10…nothing in between. I say a 1 because even if there wasn’t a cent to be made, I would always try to help people grow and build wealth if they expressed an interest.

I also answer a 10 because I believe I can make a good living doing just that. Although, I will say that my approach to doing that has evolved over the two years I’ve been building the site.

3. Do you consider yourself successful? If yes, why? If no, what do you have to accomplish in order to consider yourself successful?

I’ll say both yes and no. Yes because I started. I didn’t just sit around dreaming about helping others. I’m doing it. I’ve learned new skills, improved my writing, made new connections and hopefully inspiring people along the way. The one thing standing between me and my perception of success is to actually generate a real income doing what I love. The goal is to secure speaking engagements, give workshops and webinars, write a book, etc. I also love the idea of building physical products and I’m working on some of those ideas, which I’ll document on my blog.

4. If you could start over, would you change your career path? 

Give me the grace to tweak the question: If you could start over, would you change your career path? Why?

The answer is simply “No.” I have made some colossal blunders in my life, but they have landed me here. They’re part of my story.

We have all experienced failure in our lives; much like trees loose leaves so new ones can grow. It’s how you view and failure in your life that sets people apart.

If I would change anything, it’s that I should have started earlier. The tools available to us today make it unbelievably easy to get your message out, connect and make a difference.

I keep thinking that I need to write a book called “Old Dogs; New Tricks” to inspire people in my age group to see the world in a different way, try new things and share their wisdom. It’s never too late to start… or start over.

5. When it comes to careers, there is a debate between, “follow your passion” and “follow the money,” which do you think is better advice and why?

As I say on my blog: Money. Has. Power. It can support or destroy your health, relationships, self-confidence and dreams.

It can go very right or very wrong at the extremes of either choice. Perhaps the answer is to start somewhere in the middle and feel your way to the edges. These things are rarely like a light switch: on/off; only one way or the other. You can do both until one emerges as the path that most resonates with who you are.

At the end of the day, if you know what you’re passionate about, work on building that career while putting food on the table.

Now, I know you’ve found your new woman crush today. Share what you learned in the comments below.

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