How This 28-year-old Increased Her Net Worth By $20,984 in 13 months

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In June of 2016, I got my first real job. That meant that for the first time ever I actually had some money to pay my debts. Before that, my strategy was sticking my head in the sand and pretending that the pile of debt didn't exist. I'll be the first to admit that it wasn't exactly the best strategy.

By that time in my life I had moved into my mother's basement where my daughter and I shared a room that only had an inflatable bed and my computer desk - so I was in no place to care about debt payoff strategies. 

Flash forward two years later.

I finally landed a job where I'd have enough money coming in to cover my expenses AND pay off my debts. 

Like many Americans, I'm now paying for the mistakes I made earlier on in life. 

I decided to start reporting my net worth because I know I am not unique in my story. Many of us in our late twenties are paying for the mistakes of our vulnerable and naive teen selves so there's a ton we can learn from each other. 

There are three main reasons I'm sharing my money story:

  1. I want you to know that no matter how messed up your situation is, you can get out of debt. 
  2. I want to track my own personal net worth over time. 
  3. I want to share my unique story in how I'm getting my life together (and one day I will)

Let's get started, shall we? 

 

What is Net Worth? 

I was not born (or raised) with a huge understanding of money and what it's meant for (other than buying stuff) so I didn't really understand what net worth meant in practical terms until about two years ago. 

Basically its what you own (your cash, investments, home, etc.) minus what you owe (credit card, student loan debt, etc). 

 

What's Included? What's Not?

Tracking Net Worth can be a bit tricky because people can include (or not include) whatever they want so no two net worth statements will be the same.

 

What's included here:

  • Money That Pays My Bills - This is money that comes in... and then goes right back out. It's used to pay rent, phone bill, Netflix and other miscellaneous debts. 
  • Savings Account - I put a small percentage of each paycheck into a savings account.
  • Investment Accounts - My 401K through my job and a few robo-advisors.
  • Debts - The only debt I have left is my student loans. 

 

What's not:

  • Money that's not doing anything productive for my net worth -  I have three additional accounts that I put a small percentage of each paycheck into: travel savings, weekly household/grocery spending, and personal fun money. This is money that is meant to be spent on enjoying life now and plays no part in my future plans - so I choose not to include it in my net worth.
  • Cars - Some people choose to include the value of their car(s) into their net worth statements. There are two main reasons I don't do this: (1) I don't think your car is an asset in by any means (2) don't own a car because it's a money pit (and these days I'm more inclined to keep my money in my pocket). 
  • Homes/Rental Properties - Unlike cars I believe homes/rental properties can be a great way to contribute to your future financial freedom. While I don't have any now, I hope to start adding this to these income reports by 2019. 

 

How Much Money Do I Make? 

Now I know it's totally taboo to talk about how much money I make but screw that, I'm going to be 100% open and honest about my income with you because I believe the more we talk about our money stories, the more other people can learn from it. 

I can attribute my total money makeover to one person... Wendy. 

Wendy is a super badass (and that is literally the only way to describe her.) I met her through an ex-boyfriend and was immediately in awe of her badassity. She went ivy league for school, was making $90K+ at some bank, running marathons, had a booming social life AND somehow she was also the treasurer of the Young Dems Chapter. #BadAss

I had no idea how old it took Wendy to get there, but I knew one thing. When I grew up, I wanted to be Wendy. 

At 25 years old, I was barely making $30K/year, working 3 jobs as a babysitter, waitress and freelancer. (I was so exhausted on a regular basis that I once fell asleep at a full blown rave in the room reserved for people who can't hold their alcohol.)

On top of that, every dollar that came in went right back out. A lot of my friends were struggling so I simply thought that it was normal. I thought that no one really "made money" until they were older. I figured I'd make money one day in my forties after I gained experience, after I'd paid my dues. I was OK with my life.

Then I learned Wendy and I were the same age. 

The second I learned that my world shattered. The story I'd told myself to be comfortable with my struggle was no longer true. My age was not the reason I wasn't making money - instead it was my own limited mindset that was holding me back.

From that moment, my mind opened up to the fact that I, too, could get one of those high paying jobs. I went back to school, got a master's in marketing analytics and landed a job as a marketing analyst. 

My total annual income is $69K. 

I'm love telling people how much I make because I know my story can inspire someone the way Wendy inspired me. 

 

Cash Money

Here's the money that goes into my checking and savings accounts. It fluctuates over time because all the money that goes into my account gets immediately shifted to pay bills and student loans.

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My biggest downfall when it comes to my cash money (and why it's impossible for me to keep money in that account) is that I struggle with properly budgeting. Every month, when I inevitably pay too much out (on student loans or elsewhere) I just pull the money out of my savings, dump it into my checking and use it for more bills. 

In the future, I plan on moving my emergency savings to a different account to create a barrier between my savings and my checking. However, I don't plan on doing that until after my student loans are paid off. I believe this is the best move for me because the earnings on savings accounts is around .01% (or whatever) while the interest I pay on my student loans is 6% and my credit score is far too low to refinance at a lower rate. That means the most productive place for my money is in paying off these student loans.

Downside (for now) is I don't really have an emergency fund.  I'm OK with this because I do have a health savings account and great health insurance to cover me if I have a medical emergency. Also, I do not have a car or own a home so I don't have any physical property to worry about. 

 

Investments

The only investments I have (for now) are the pre-tax retirement account I have through my job and a few robo-advisors investment accounts where I stash some after tax income. 

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Acorns

Acorns is an investment app that helps you invest tiny amounts of money at a time (so it's perfect for investors on a budget). For every purchase you make, Acorns rounds your purchase amount to the next dollar and invests the change. 

My favorite thing about Acorns is if you happen to want to pull your money out of that account for an emergency  you totally can! However, it takes about 7 days to get the money back into your account so you're not likely to reach for that money for any immediate need. That's great because it can sit and grow a little at a time. 

Sign up for Acorns today and get $5 free. 

 

Betterment

Betterment is another online investment company that helps you invest small amounts of money. I am currently putting $50/month into Betterment and watching what happens over time. 

 

401K

I started to funnel money into my 401K the moment I got my first real job. I was super excited to start putting money towards my retirement. I finally felt like an adult.

I started off putting in 6% of my paycheck (because the company matches at 6%) and I set my account to automatically increase by 3% every year. Right now, I'm up to 12% of my income going into 401K before tax.  

 

Loans

The only debt I'm going to talk about here is my student loans.

Before I started my current job, I had so many debt collectors calling me that I couldn't wait to get rid of them. I had unpaid phone bills, car insurance payments, credit cards that had gone to collections, unpaid medical bills and about $4K that I'm paying back to friends and family that helped keep me afloat when I was at my worst. 

I spent the first 6 months at my job paying off all of my small debts and by December 2016 I was ready to start paying off my student loans. 

This report starts at the beginning of that journey.

 

Student Loans

I have a HATE ONLY relationship with my student loans (and I totally have a right to).

Side note: I'm going to hop on my soap box for a second to say what the United States does to students is CRAZY! At the age of 18 when you can't even RENT A CAR you're saddled with tens to hundreds of thousands in student loan debt. If you're a first generation college student like I was then you didn't have anyone to tell you about the important of choosing schools wisely or the impact of student loans on the rest of your life. Instead, you're way too busy celebrating your future success because you think degree=high paying job. #FalseAdvertising

Just for fun, let's take a look at the moment I started to include my student loans into my Net Worth.

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You see that GIANT dip right around December 2016?

Yup. That's what student loans will do to you. (Take notes, teens!)

Clearly, I hate my student loans so it shouldn't surprise you one bit that I decided in January 2017 that I'm going to pay off all $42K of my student loan debt in two years

I've done some pretty interesting things to get there: 

I sold my car.

I rented out my second bedroom to my friend's grandfather visiting from Africa.

I (voluntarily) moved out of my apartment to live with my aunt in New Jersey.

I started to look for more opportunities to make money on the site through:

Related: I record how much I'm actually making with the blog quarterly in my income reports. Read the most recent income report here

I have paid off $12,913 in student loan debt payments so far. 

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Going forward, I'm putting a lot more time an energy into creating new products for the blog and performing high at work as well because it's promotion time!!! #WishMeLuck

Any additional income will go towards student loan debt payments. 

 

Net Worth

My total net worth is currently -16,604.93 (reminder: this is including student loan debt).

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This is a huge accomplishment I have increased my net worth by $20,984 (about 1/3 of my pretax income) in just 13 months!

 

Tracking my net worth is my way of reflecting on my money habits and thinking about different ways to improve them.

What are you doing to improve your net worth?

How To Plan Your Week For Peak Performance + Balance + Happiness

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plan your week

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Have you ever sat back on a lovely Saturday afternoon, half way through a mimosa and a thrilling Netflix original and thought to yourself...

"What the heck did I do all week?" 

No matter who you are, you have 168 hours to do whatever you choose. Yet, some people appear to be living their best lives while others are watching time pass them by wishing they had more... time

Have you ever thought to yourself... 

If I had more time I could go on more trips. 
I could start that side hustle. 
I could spend more time with my family. 

If only I had more time. 

Here's a bit of reality for you...

YOU HAVE ALWAYS HAD MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME. 

It's just hiding away in all of the hours you spend on social media, the half-days that pass you by as you watch Netflix and every other choice that you make that does not align with your values and desires. 

Here's the approach I use to make sure I get EVERYTHING done on a weekly basis with time to crush my 9-t0-5 and run a profitable blog and love my adorable daughter and take care of myself (and everything in between) - without burnout.

 

First, PLAN TO Take care of your household.

The worst thing about being a super ambitious goal-getter is that it's entirely too easy to get lost in your work and lose track of the little things.

For example, there have been many weeks where I spent my free time working on my blog - and I'd totally forget to do grocery shopping. I'd find myself scrambling through cabinets to throw together breakfast for dinner three nights in a row. (It's not surprising I get hungry and have to eat, might as well plan for it right? )

With better planning, I could create a meal plan, eat healthy and have all the items I need. #NoScramblingNecessary

Here are things you can schedule in to make sure your home is taken care of each week:

  • Making a grocery list
  • Grocery Shopping 
  • Cooking 
  • House cleaning

To optimize your basic housework, create a time that works for you every week to do the same household chores. That way, it becomes more of a habit. For example, every Monday night after putting my daughter to bed, I do meal prep for the rest of the week. 

Put the time to take care of your home on the calendar first. 

 

SECOND, PLAN TO Take care of yourself

I'm not gonna lie here, with so many things that must get done (we must work, we must take care of our families, we must manage our finances, be half way decent romantic partners and whatever else life throws on our plates) it's very easy to forget that we are the lead character in the story of our life. 

No matter what you have going on in your life, steal some time back for yourself. You need that me-time to clear your mind and align yourself with what you really want. 

This can look like: 

  • Meditation
  • Bottomless Mimosa Brunch with friends
  • A massage or mani pedi
  • Curling up with a good book and hot tea

You should always put a little time on the calendar to take care of yourself. 

I recommend taking quiet time daily. Since I'm a parent, my "me-time" starts strictly at 9PM. I also have a no-work policy on Friday and Saturday nights. (I may not be out clubbing like I used to when I was 21, but I'm definitely going to sit on the couch and drink some wine.)

When will you take your me-time? Put that on your calendar.

 

THIRD, PLAN TO Take care of your relationships

Whether you're married (or have a super sexy new beau) it's important to plan some time each week to show them that you care. Maintaining a relationship (even those that are ten years old) requires an investment of your time.

I'd also wrap your relationship with your children into this as well. 

As a single lady with an adorable 10-year-old, I always make sure that I make time for her. That can come in the form of playing video games with her or spending hours on the couch watching all of her fav shows. 

When's date night? Are you baking cookies with your baby? Put that time on the calendar.  

 

FINALLY, PLAN TO WORK TOWARDS your goals

I know it's odd to put this last when you're planning your week for optimal goal-getting, but there's a method to my madness, I promise. :) 

When you know that your home is taken care of, you're not burnt out and your relationships are taken care of - you have more energy and focus to put towards your goals. 

That makes the time you set aside for your goals much more valuable because you can throw yourself into it with no distractions.

Set one goal for the week and then break that goal down over the course of a few days. That way you don't feel pressured to rush through your projects.

To break down your goals, start by asking yourself: 

  • What do I want to accomplish this week? 
  • What resources would I need to be able to accomplish this goal?
  • What do I need to do to accomplish this goal? 

Now, put time on the calendar to get the resources you need, learn any new material and do each step on your list of action items. 

Accomplishing your goals happens over time in small steps that turn into huge shifts and big wins when you string them together over time. 

 

Every week is another opportunity to get closer to accomplishing your goals but it's also another opportunity to spend time with loved ones and to care for yourself better. The beauty of planning your miraculous week is that you get to choose what your life will look like. You get to create the life you want. All it takes is a little planning. :)

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18 Epic Email Marketing Hacks To Turn Subscribers Into Paying Customers (without running a sale)

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From the moment I started to build Thrive Lounge, I looked for ways to put my entirely-too-nerdy-for-words marketing brain to work.

I started off marketing the blog through social media marketing. I spent months posting to Facebook, engaging in conversations on Twitter, creating beautiful images with 30 relevant hashtags and posting in real time on Instagram.

The only thing I gained from the hours spent on social were a few "likes" from people I'd never heard of, some "you go girl" DMs and countless "love what you're doing in the community" comments in response to a picture of me looking away and smiling subtly in a rustic alley. (After months of IG posting, I had mastered every version of the gaze-and-smize pose imaginable.) 

Still, I continued testing different marketing platforms. 

The testing FINALLY paid off when I started email marketing with ConvertKit.

What the heck is email marketing? 

Email marketing is when a business collects emails from prospects (people who might be interested in their product or service) to be able to provide additional value to them over time.

Email marketing is a bit better than social media marketing in my opinion because you have the benefit of knowing who is on your list - and can contact them at any time. This is totally different from social media where the only way you're reaching your audience is if the social media gods allow. On social, algorithms choose who sees your content and when, but through email the power is all yours. 

What is ConvertKit? 

ConvertKit is the email marketing service I use to collect emails through my site, manage my email subscribers and implement my marketing campaigns. 

I switched from Mailchip to ConvertKit 6 months into my blog and immediately saw a huge jump in subscribers, engagement from my audience (they were actually emailing me back for once) and sales! #WootWoot

Related: Six Simple Steps To Gain 500+ Email Subscribers Per Month On Autopilot

 

Making the Sale

The real change came for me when I created my first e-book and started selling the book - only to my email list. Within the first two months I had made $500 - JUST THROUGH MY EMAIL LIST (more than I'd made in an entire year before then).

Here are 18 ways you, too, can turn your subscribers who already know and love you into proud owners of your products.

I've divided the tips into easy, medium and hard options. Depending on how familiar you are with email marketing so you can start where you are and grow from there.  

 

Easy

These are some of the most simple email marketing tactics. Even if you're new to working with email or you don't really know what to email your customers, there is something here for you! 

 

1. Actually sell something

My biggest mistake when I first started blogging was to get started with absolutely no product to sell. I always thought that no one would buy my product and that people on the internet only want free stuff. It turns out that was not true at all.

The moment I got up the courage to create a product and put it out there into the world, I was able to start making sales. 

 

2. Write better copy

If you already have products to sell and you're letting your email list know about those products - and they're still not buying - then your copy might not be enticing enough. 

Email copy is the wording that you use to talk about your products and services. Try tweaking the way you talk about your products and how your product will add value for the person buying. 

 

3. Affiliate Links

Even if you have no product to sell, you can always start practicing by selling other people's products through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is where you tell your audience about products you're currently using - and if they click through your link to purchase the product, the company will pay you a commission or referral fee.

Pro Tip: Michelle Schroeder-Garderner is currently making anywhere from $30K-60K monthly in affiliate sales alone. I took her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course earlier this year and I'm currently in the process of implementing what I've learned. I'll definitely keep you guys updated once I start to see results.

 

4. Use the holidays

People are usually in a buying kind of mood around the holidays. Christmas and New years are always great times to remind your email list about your product, but there are several other holidays like Valentines Day or Mother's Day where people are primed to take out their card and start swiping for their loved ones. 

 

5. Sell in the PS.

I love adding a PS to my emails. It's a delightful way to add a little something extra to the end of an email. Sometimes sending an entire email telling people all about your product can be scary.

What if they don't like it or (even worse) what if they unsubscribe? 

If you're not ready to go super gangster and directly tell your audience about your product, you can always start small with a gentle nudge in the PS.

PS. If you're still trying to find your path and define your big vision, click here to order The Vision Board Planner Bundle. (#LeadByExample
 

6. Share Testimonials

One of the greatest ways to let your audience know how awesome your product is is to show them the impact your product is making on the people who have already bought it. 

Ask the people that have already experienced your product for a review and send a collection of reviews as an email to your audience. Not only does this keep them aware of the product, but it lets them know that you're not the only one who loves your product. 

 

Medium

If you've got a little bit of experience under your belt - and you've already tried a lot of the first few ideas - you'll want to give some of these intermediate emails a try. 

 

7. Teaching emails

The people who came to your website and ultimately signed up for your email list because they believe you had something of value to offer them. Maybe it's the information that you're offering or the easy way you break down complex concepts - either way, you want to continue adding that value to each one of your subscribers. 

Teaching emails are a great way to do this. 

Rather than sending a basic email talking about what you did this weekend teach them something new. This will help build more trust with your audience so that when you do sell something to them (maybe in the PS.) they are more excited about buying from you because you've already established yourself as a great wealth of knowledge and giving teacher. 

 

8. Helping above and beyond

It's pretty easy to help your audience above and beyond, you just have to look for the opportunities to do it. 

When someone emails you on your list, take the time to email them back. 

For example, I email all of my new subscribers and ask them about their goals so I can learn more about them. I always email back. I've been known to hop on a call or two with readers. Then I try to incorporate their goals, questions and feedback into the content I produce on the blog over time.

Listen to your audience and find a way to go above and beyond for them. These are your future customers so treat them with care.

 

9. Keep them engaged

In ConvertKit, you can create a sequence that will continue to share great information with your audience over time on autopilot. You can easily create a 10-email sequence to reach out to each person on your list and share a great article or teach them something new on your topic. 

That way, when you do email them to offer a product they're not wondering "who the heck is this emailing me?" Instead they'll be accustomed to seeing your helpful emails on an ongoing basis and , in turn, are more likely to open your emails and purchase your product.   

 

10. Selling Sequences

If you're constantly providing value to your audience, you're doing yourself a huge disservice if you're not taking the initiative to sell your product. People who are reading your content and loving your email list are probably waiting for your email about your products.

Create a selling sequence that will introduce your product to your subscribers and then strategically sell it to them in multiple emails. 

 

11. Hard Sell Email

I first got one of these emails from Marie Forleo when I ever-so-kindly signed up for more information about The Copy Cure product with zero intention to buy any time soon (I mean, it's $500 and my copy is just not struggling THAT BAD). 

After signing up I received weeks of emails where she gave me some great tips and advice for how to improve my sales copy + writing in general. I'm not gonna lie... those emails were pure gold! 

Then came the day when I got my last email and it was a hard sell.

Basically the email said "Hey, this is the last email, we've gave you some great tips - and that's only a small fraction of what's offered in the full course. Are you going to buy?"

Unlike a soft sell, where you're gently nudging your reader to buy your product, this one is very in yo' face. It lets your reader know if you're serious, it's time to buy. And if you don't want the product, there will be no more free tips comin' your way!

 

12. Cross Sell

Cross selling is when you take a person that has purchased one product and then offer them a different product. This can be an upgrade to the product they already have or a different type of product entirely. 

It's great to send a cross sell email to your current customers because these people have already trusted you once before in the past (and loved your product because it's super awesome).

If you're using ConvertKit, you can automatically tag people who have purchased your products and easily create a filter to only message those people to offer them a new product. 

 

13. Give away free stuff

If someone has never purchased any of your products before you can entice them to test it out by offering them a "fremium" version of the product. For example, if you're selling an ebook you may want to give away chapter one. 

This gives your subscribers an opportunity to learn more about what you have to offer at no cost to them - and you can put your product in front of them even more!

 

14. Reminder emails

Don't always assume people must not want your products because they didn't buy the first time you sent an email. I always send 2-3 emails (especially if it's a great time of year where my products can make a difference for someone) to remind people to grab my products if they want it. 

 

15. Time sensitive - by giving away a bonus

One of the greatest ways to get someone to get off their butt and grab their credit card is to create a sense of urgency. A common way to do this is by giving your audience a 24-48 hour sale, but I want to talk about one other way that's used less often. 

Give away a time-sensitive bonus to your product. 

For example, if you're giving away an ebook, throw in a 1 hour live group call that you only get if you buy in the next 48 hours. 

Often, people do want to buy your product and they're waiting for something. Maybe it's payday. Maybe it's for a huge need to come up. Offering a time-sensitive bonus could make today the day they buy.

 

Hard

These tactics will be a little more difficult for someone that's new to email marketing but it's perfect for someone that has already been using a lot of the intermediate methods and are ready to take their influence and marketing to the next level. 

I've also included my all time fav tip that helps me make sales on autopilot here!

 

16. Send out a webinar email

Webinars are a great way to connect with your audience in an authentic way that gets them to buy. First, you FINALLY get to show a bit of your personality (and your face) to the people who have been reading your content for a long time. Second, they get to talk back. (I love using Crowdcast for video trainings because you can create polls, have full on conversations in the chat window and pull people into the video!) Third, you get to strut your stuff and show your audience how much you really know and then anser their questions directly

 

17. Email the right people (using tags) 

There is nothing worse than purchasing a product... and then seeing an email that the product you JUST BOUGHT has gone on sale! As you start to make sales, you don't want to be one of those people.

Instead, use tagging to make sure that you're sending the right offer to the right person EVERY TIME. ConvertKit makes it incredibly easy to know who's on your list. 

 

18. Create automatons

Automation is the real MVP of email marketing. 

A visual automation in ConvertKit will track the entire customer journey FOR EVERY SUBSCRIBER ON YOUR LIST. 

For example, if a reader signs up to receive a vision board checklist on my site, my visual automation will put them into a welcome sequence that teaches them how to plan out their goals and create a vision board. Then they'll enter a sales sequence to sell my vision board planner. 

(Here's the best part.)

If they purchase the planner at any time, my automation will move that person out of the sales sequence and put them into a post-sales sequence that checks in on them, asks for a testimonial and supports them in accomplishing their goals. 

Once your customer journey is set up in an automation, you can continue to sell to each person on your email list over and over again - without lifting a finger. #Magic

 

Your email list is a gold mine. It's a place where you can build relationships, talk directly to your audience (whenever you want to) and give them the absolute best you have to offer. You'll notice that the more you provide value, the more people will WANT to buy your products. Email marketing is the best tool to get those products in front of them and make it super easy to close the deal. 

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