Michelle Schroeder-Gardner Talks Blogging, RVing, Money, and Fame

“How about Making-Cents-Dot-Com?” she says.

I type it in. “Taken.”

“Makes-Cents-Dot-Com?”

“Makes Cents or Make Scents?  Might confuse perfume seekers. In any case: taken.”

“To-Make-Cents-Dot-Com?”

“Awkward. How about Just-Making-Cents-Dot-Com?”

Bingo! I hurry to buy the domain from Hover.com, imagining thousands of internet sooners rushing for prized justmakingcents.com internet land.

Then I google “just making cents” to see if it would show up after existing for 5 minutes. (Can you tell I have no idea what I’m doing?)

A site called Making Sense of Cents appears near the top. I click on it. Uh oh. Somebody already did it. And they did it much better than I know how to do it.

Thus starts the story of one of my happiest blunders.

I did what we all do on a blog for the first time—read a blog post or three, then the about page. Wow. It’s won a lot of awards and the writer, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, has been featured in Forbes and The Huffington Post.

First reaction: Quit. Game over. What can I share that she already hasn’t?

Second reaction: Learn from her. I enrolled in her blog course and invited several friends.

Then I did something crazy. I emailed her. And then something crazier happened: she replied. Not only that, she agreed to do a Q&A for JMC!

When I read her posts (and as you’ll see in her answers below), I’m impressed by her approachable explanations of personal finance, her positivity, and kindness. I’m not only learning blogging techniques from her, but also her welcoming approach. Her kindness to a little blog like ours is something I’ll always remember if a new blogger ever reaches out to me.

Q&A with Michelle

JMC: You started your blog as a way to share your journey about paying off your college debt. With the cost of college rising and student debt increasing, what advice would you give young folks today about how to get out of debt?

Michelle: A few years ago, I made an action plan to pay off my student loans quickly. I had around $40,000 in student loan debt after I completed my three college degrees, and even though I worked full-time all throughout college, I didn’t put a penny towards my student loans. Yes, I had to support myself starting at a young age, but I also made huge mistakes of spending way too much money on clothing and food, as well as not having a budget of any kind.

For anyone who is in debt, my top tip would be to find ways to make extra money. EVERYONE (yes, including you) has extra time, even if that may just be an hour or two each day. You need to use this time to make extra money and then throw all of this extra money towards your debt. Before you know it, your debt will be gone!

Making extra money is something that I truly believe in, as it helped me to pay off my $40,000 student loan debt after just 7 months!

Speaking of making extra money, you’re the master of side hustles. Any fun or odd stories about any side hustles you’ve done?

Oh yes, I have done so many side hustles and it’s what inspired me to write 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money. I would say the most different ones were always mystery shopping related – it always felt so secretive and interesting to complete a mystery shop. Plus, I always got something for free, such as food or makeup!

You had one side hustle hit big: your blog. As you were building makingsenseofcents.com, can you share your worst moment as a blogger? How did you get past it?

My worst moment as a blogger was probably letting my blog take over my life. As a blogger, it is very easy to work 24/7 and make your blog your life. However, this can negatively impact other parts of your life. Don’t get me wrong, blogging is amazing and great, but you need a good work life balance as well! This is an area that I’m constantly working on, but just tearing yourself away from your computer and forcing yourself to step away is always something that helps me. Sometimes, you just have to call it a day and do something fun!

I can totally relate. I love writing for and engaging with JMC’s hundreds of readers and sometimes find it hard tearing myself away. You have hundreds of thousands of monthly readers. Has internet fame transitioned to real life (like, ever been stopped at a grocery store)?

Surprisingly, I don’t think I have ever been stopped by a reader. I don’t post a ton of photos of me on my blog or social media, though, so many people probably have no idea what I look like, haha. I did one time have someone email me asking for advice, and it turned out that I went to high school with them—what a small world!

A small world indeed, and one that you’re exploring in an interesting way with your RV. I just met a really accomplished lawyer who built a practice of over 300 lawyers, but left it to live in an RV for 5 years. She loved it. RVing seems to be a thing now. What’s the appeal of RV life?

RVing is SO MUCH FUN! There are so many different landscapes to see here, and we can bring our dogs everywhere with us. Can you beat that? Plus, you can bring your home everywhere with you! They love RVing, and we do too, so it is the perfect fit for our family.

We get to go on fun hikes every single day, rock climbing, mountain biking, road cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more. AND, we get to do this all from right outside our RV door as we always park somewhere with a great view.

That sounds priceless. Speaking of which, how has money changed your life?  What are you going to do with all this money?  Are you happier now?

We’re still the same exact people, just with high incomes.

I still wear shirts that have holes and I am still very conscious of spending money. Pretty much everyone we meet has no idea of our incomes and most either assume that we are either inherited a lot of money (since we RV full-time) or that we are hippies (funnily enough – also because we RV full-time, haha).

Yes, I am happier now 🙂 We’re just saving as much as we can so that we can continue to do what we want to do with our life. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still living a great life, but I now realize that a lot of money isn’t needed in order to live your dream life.

That dream life seems to be the freedom that blogging has given you. You’ve become an expert in teaching people how to blog. What’s one key advice you can give new bloggers in how to grow their readership?

Thanks! Yes, I teach people with my free How To Start and Launch a Money Make Blog course, as well as my Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. Blogging is something that I really love, so I am extremely happy that I get to teach people how to blog better as well!

One piece of advice for new bloggers is to always strive to only publish the best content. So many new bloggers are in a rush to publish blog posts instead of only publishing their best and promoting the heck out of them. You should spend 20% of your time writing content and 80% of the time promoting it- so that means that you need to focus on high-quality blog posts instead of cranking out too many of them!

Michelle’s tips on promoting: There are many ways to promote a blog. I recommend being active on Pinterest, learning SEO, engaging in the numerous Facebook groups and forums related to your niche (this will help to show others that you’re an expert), guest posting on other websites, and more.

That’s some great advice! It’s inspiring to read about the freedom blogging has given you and how (a lot!) more money didn’t lead to more spending—these are the values I’ve also found to be life-giving and hope both readers of makingsenseofcents.com and JMC will come to embrace.


Thank you for your time, Michelle! For JMC readers looking to improve their finances, or want more freedom by making your blog a business, makingsenseofcents.com is a great resource I use myself. Sign up for the free blogging course—there’s very little downside and extreme upside (a great trade!).


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