How One Blogger Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans

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This is a guest post by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance website. She helps readers learn how to earn more, save more, and live more. She sold her house in 2015 and has been traveling full-time with her husband and two dogs since. She documents her $100,000+ monthly income in income reports as well!

Tell me a little about yourself.

Hello! My name is Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of the personal finance blog Making Sense of Cents. I have three finance-related college degrees and I used to be a financial analyst. I left my day job to blog full-time back in 2013 and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Me and my husband sold our house in 2015 and have been traveling full-time since, too!

I love your blog makingsenseofcents.com. In case my readers are unfamiliar, can you tell them a little about your blog.

On my blog Making Sense of Cents, I talk a lot about different ways to make extra money, the best ways to save money, achieving your dream life, traveling (me and my husband RV full-time), and more. I love helping my readers learn how to earn more, save more, and live more!

When and why did you begin blogging?

In the summer of 2011, I started my blog with the aim of teaching people how to save money as well as journaling my personal finance journey after reading a magazine that featured a personal finance website in one of their articles. I became extremely interested in that website and my interest in blogging just grew from there. This is interesting and hilarious because before that same summer, I had no idea about what blogs were, that they could even make money, or anything along those lines.
I did not create my blog with the intention of making money blogging. It was all just a hobby and an outlet I then realized how much I loved blogging and realized that it was for me, so now I am a full-time blogger! I went full-time in October of 2013 and I haven’t looked back once. Blogging has completely changed my life for the better and it’s something that I recommend everyone try if they are interested.
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In what ways has blogging improved your life and your finances.

Blogging has greatly changed my life! I now blog full-time and am my own boss. I run a successful blogging business that earns me over $100,000 a month, and I expect it to grow well into the future (it’s not showing any signs of slowing down!). It also helped me pay off my student loans within just 7 months.

Is it really true you were able to pay off $40,000 in student loans by the age of 24? That is amazing! Tell us a little bit more about that.

Yes! I paid off my $40,000 student loan debt shortly after I graduated with my MBA. It was almost entirely due to me side hustling on my blog. It was a lot of work (lots of 100+ work weeks) but well worth it.
I worked full-time all throughout my undergraduate and graduate degrees, but still managed to have student loans. I’m going to blame it on the fact that I had to move out when I was 17/18 and I had to pay for myself to live, but honestly, I wasted a lot of the money I made as well on food and clothing. I was not smart with my money and I thought that student loans were “normal” so I just took them out.
The top thing I did to pay off my debt was that I found ways to make extra money.
Making extra money can allow you to pay off your students loans quickly because there is no limit to how much money you can make.
And trust me, you probably do have time in your day to make extra money. I always like to tell people that the average person watches 35 hours of TV a week and spends around 15 hours a week on social media. If you could use that time better and make more money with those extra hours, you’ll be able to pay off your student loans in no time!
Some of the things I did to make extra money include blogging on Making Sense of Cents, freelance writing for other websites, managing social media accounts for other companies, mystery shopping, taking surveys, and more.
Need a resource for student loans? Check out this guide to FAFSA.

Since you left your 9-5 to blog full time, you have had enormous success. In fact, you earn over $100,000 monthly with your blog. Tell us how you got to this point and the obstacles you had to overcome.

Thank you! 🙂 You can find all of my blogging income reports here. It took me around 6 months to make $100, around one year after I started blogging I was earning $1,000, and just a few months after that I was earning around $5,000 a month. I am now earning over $100,000 a month through my blog and I expect to just continue to grow well into the future. It’s crazy what this business has grown to – it all started as just a hobby, then a side hustle, and now this!

What do you wish you would have done differently in the process? Any tips for newbie bloggers striving to do the same?

I’ve made tons of blogging mistakes! These mistakes include:
  • Managing a bad work-life balance.
  • Spending too much time creating content instead of promoting it
  • Not starting an email list.
 
One big blogging mistake that I’ve noticed many other bloggers make is not making the effort to network. Networking is so important as a blogger. You should see others in the blogging community as your colleagues and friends, not your enemies or competition.

I would love to hear about the gorgeous RV you guys live and work in! The digital nomad life is a dream of mine, how do you guys make it work for you?

Haha thanks! We live and travel full-time in a 2016 Tiffin Allegro Bus. It’s a Class A RV and we love it. It’s not our first RV (we started with a different one), and we’ve been RVing full-time now for almost 3 years. We sold our house in 2015 and haven’t looked back – our RV is actually much nicer than the house we used to own so it was a pretty easy switch to make.

Where are your favorite U.S. destinations you guys have been to this past year in your RV and where do you guys hope to swing through this year?

We love pretty much everywhere that we go. Just being in the RV makes every place enjoyable, because it’s new and we get to bring our home with us! I pretty much love anywhere with mountains, a beach, and/or hiking. We have no idea what 2018 has in store for us. Our plans are all over the place right now, haha. You can follow my travels on Instagram here – www.instagram.com/michelleschro/.

Any exciting things in the works for makingsenseofcents.com? I personally love your Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course and would love to see more courses from you!

I have plans to create a course on sponsored posts on bloggers, and some products on the personal finance side as well. You should see at least one new product is quarter 1 of 2018 and hopefully another in quarter 2!

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing

I love Michelle’s Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course, full of lessons and strategies that she uses to make over $50,000 a month in affiliate income. It is the reason I make money blogging today with a blog that is just shy of 1 year old. I just started making a little over $1,000/month of affiliate income and I can’t thank Michelle enough for what her course has done for me. If you are going to invest in any courses as a blogger, this is the one to invest in. You also get lifetime access to the course and the Facebook mastermind group.

Want to start a blog but not sure how? Check out this post where I show you step by step how to get started!

 Who is Michelle?


pay off debt

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance website. She helps readers learn how to earn more, save more, and live more. She sold her house in 2015 and has been traveling full-time with her husband and two dogs since. She documents her $100,000+ monthly income in income reports as well!


Resources That I Can’t Live Without

Below are my top recommendations for saving money, making money and living a more frugal and sustainable lifestyle.

Nielsen: Nielsen will pay you for your internet usage. All you have to do is download their app and register your devices. It is noninvasive, will not impact your device’s performance and is 100% secure. Then you get rewarded for using the internet like you do any other day! I currently have it installed on all of my devices  and it is nice for a little extra income.

Swagbucks: Swagbucks is where you can earn points called swagbucks or SB that transfer into real dollars. Earn money by taking surveys, shopping online, watching videos, discovering content or downloading other apps. Every 100 SB = $1.00 USD.

Cashback Research: Get paid up to $75 per survey and $150 per clinical study. Sign up with my link to get $5.

HealthyWage: You can participate in individual weight loss challenges where you set a specific goal using their calculator and get paid when you reach that goal. There are also jackpot challenges where you compete as an individual or as a team and if you win you can split the jackpot, or step challenges where if goals are met you can split the pot of earnings.

Spent: Spent is a simple, intelligent and FREE expense management app that pays you cash back for virtually everything you buy. This app will learn from you to help you organize your expenses and gives you cash back for your purchases. If you have an iphone, download it here. If you have android, click here.

Ibotta: Get cash back for scanning your receipts or shopping through the app online. Sign up with my link to get $10 cash back on Ibotta.

Dosh: All the perks of a cash back credit card without having to actually get one! Just link your current cards to the app and get cash back! No receipt  scanning, no waiting for the bank to approve your rebate, nothing but instant cash back!

Digit: Digit automatically saves money for me when I am not looking. I like that I can trust it not to save money for me when I can’t afford it. The app evaluates my bank account to see where there is room to save and when to do it.

Stash: Stash consists of ETF’s for a minimum investment of $5. You automate your daily, weekly or monthly investment, track your retirement and tons more. Get $5 of Stash today with my link.

HelloFresh: We get 3 meals a week for $30 for the first week and $60 every week after. I did extensive research when it came to meal delivery services to try and out of all of them, HelloFresh was the cheapest with most quality and with the most variety. We love HelloFresh, especially their Italian sausage orzo recipe! Get $30 off at HelloFresh with my link.

$5 Meal Plan: Try meal prepping with $5 Meal Plan, a weekly meal plan service that can simplify your meal planning beyond belief for just $5 a month and for free for the first 14 days. If you have a specialized health need, they have several specialized meal plans to tailor to those needs too.

4 comments
  1. Hey Daniella!

    I have recently watched an interview with Michelle, she has really inspired me to keep blogging and going after my online goals with more passion than ever before.

    She is a testimony to the real power of blogging and internet marketing. This is possible to attain if you just invest in your knowledge and learn the art of blogging and marketing. Mega congratulations to Michelle and I look forward to learning more from her!

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring blogging story!

    Best regards! 😀

    1. Thanks for your input as always, Freddy! I agree, Michelle is truly an inspiration!

  2. Great piece. I love Making Sense of Cents. It’s a great blog. I love the list of resources you included here.

    1. Thanks Eryn. Me too!

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