Jamila Souffrant 0:00
You're listening to the Journey to Launch podcast, How to Use Frugality and No Spend Challenges as Your Money Superpower to Accelerate your Journey Plus Side Hustle Tips with Jen Smith. Minus 10 seconds.
Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host jameelah. So frogs as a money expert who wants her talk, she helps brave juniors like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real Whoa. join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom.
Unknown Speaker 0:35
Jamila Souffrant 0:41
Hey, hey, hey Journeyers, Welcome to the Journey to Launch Podcast, I am back with what I hope will be an insightful, encouraging and applicable episode tips that you can use from this conversation to accelerate your journey to financial freedom. Now, if you couldn't tell already by the title, we are going to be talking about the dreaded F word frugality. Now, today's guest Jen Smith, she's the co host of the podcast, frugal friends and also the creator of modernfrugality.com. So if you can't tell already, Jen is all about frugality. And I must admit, when I hear that word, I get a bit like I'm not frugal like I don't know, I I tend to want to reject that label. But quite honestly, there are certain things I'm frugal about. And most people that I know that have reached amazing gold are just goals in their lives when it comes to money has had to be frugal at some point, or in certain categories in their spending or lives. So this conversation, we will be talking about frugality in a good way why it's so important that we all embrace the frugal side of all of us because it is going to help you on your journey to paying off debt to saving to ultimately reaching financial independence.
So Jen is on a mission to rebrand this entire concept. because quite honestly, it's not just about looking at it from a lens of sacrifice and limiting resources. But more that you are in control and optimizing for the things that matter to you for the energy, the time and money that you have using it to your best ability in a way that serves you not mindlessly spending it without thinking. So we're gonna get into all those things. Plus we do touch upon entrepreneurship. Jen is a full time entrepreneur and mom how to transition from a career in acupuncture to becoming a full time writer and now owning her own business writing for her own business and doing home business full time so lots of gems are going to be dropped in this episode.
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If you want the episode Show Notes for this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. in the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are in OG journey or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes so listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources and so much more. You can go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.
Hey journeyer So, today on the podcast I have Jen Smith, who is the founder creator of modernfrugality.com the blog, YouTube channel, and she's also host co host of the podcast frugal friends, if you haven't noticed already, frugality being frugal. Like Jen wears that as a badge of honor. That's her thing. And so I before we press record, I was saying, you know, Jen, we're going to talk about like the good things about frugality. Because I often find that sometimes people depending on where you're coming from look at it as like, why like, I don't want to be frugal. I want to live my life. I want to spend my money. So we're gonna talk about that plus your story to becoming a full time entrepreneur from being an acupuncturist. And you know, I'm so excited to get into it. So welcome to the podcast.
Jen Smith 4:55
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to share how awesome frugality is with people because it is it when you think of it and how it fits for your life, it can really be awesome.
Jamila Souffrant 5:08
Yeah, well, that's the thing where I think if certain groups, right, I mean everyone has a preference, I want to say like this is a buffet, you pick and choose what you want in terms of concepts that resonate. But there are just like some baseline things that need to happen when it comes to improving your financial situation or reaching your goals. And one of it is being more intentional with your spending. And so whether you want to call it intentional or frugality, like it's kind of like all boils down to this like a similar, same thing. So I think it's important to recognize the importance of conscious spending and just where our money goes, which I know you are a big fan of.
Jen Smith 5:42
Absolutely. And I think that's what we're trying to do on Frugal Friends is rebrand frugality away from hoarding and extreme couponing, and maybe all these negative connotations that come with frugality and make it kind of a means to an end. And make it more about like, I think it was me just searching frugality, and like finding the Wikipedia page and actually reading what it is based on. And I'm like, reading it. I'm like, Yes, yes. Like being intentional with your spending, being wise with your money, like, choosing what to spend on what you value. And all of these things. I was like, Yes, this is stuff I can get behind. why don't more people know about, like this side of it.
Jamila Souffrant 6:24
Yeah. And I think to like you said kind of the rebranding of it, because when I think it could have a hands on your culture, I think it depends on your how you grew up. Because on one side of the coin, frugality can be looked at, that's not what I aspire to, like, you know, if I see it, too, like if you came from maybe struggle, or had parents who were super frugal, and were denied a lot of things, when you come up and you get of age, it's just like, I want to enjoy life, you know. And so the word frugal, it's kind of like, that's not what I aspire to. But then when I break it down, and I talk to people who are doing things like what you did like becoming a full time entrepreneurs paying off the tons of debt you paid off, which we'll talk about, and other you know, my story and other people's stories, at some points, whether maybe it's not everything is frugal in your budget, like every line item. But there are some points where you are frugal like in me like I don't consider myself super frugal overall, but I don't spend in a lot of areas that other people do. So technically, I guess I am frugal, right, like, I got that too.
Jen Smith 7:20
And here's the secret. I don't really like outwardly consider myself that frugal, either. I actually love to spend money. I love to get my Starbucks coffee and get takeout. But somewhere along the way, when my husband and I were paying off $78,000 of debt, we did have that realization that it's you know, it's a buffet and you you pick and choose what you want. But there are some fundamental things. And reining in my spending was one of those fundamental things I did not have. And so I had to learn frugality. And so that was another reason why I became so passionate about it is because I feel like it's something that isn't inherent. And it's not just for people who are living paycheck to paycheck. This is a lifestyle that can be really embraced. And really further your financial goals, especially financial independence is one of those goals.
Jamila Souffrant 8:15
Yeah, so let's talk about that, because you brought up like, being able to turn it on, right, especially when you're paying off debt. And that, to me is the beauty of it. So I want you to talk a bit about your debt payoff story, like how much debt it was, how you got into it, and what things you did to get out of it. And the timeframe you did, because it truly is you can depending on your situation and say I'm gonna, like be super frugal in this area. And then lead up a bit when you reach a certain goal or you reached a milestone, right? So share that with us.
Jen Smith 8:42
Absolutely. So we started my husband and I, when we first got married, literally got home from our honeymoon, and I opened up my computer to start looking for side jobs. Because at the time I was the only one working Travis had to quit his job so that we could like be together when we got married because we were long distance for a little while. And I was making around $35,000 a year and we had $78,000 of mostly student loan debt, like four grand if it was a car. So I thought I could side hustle my way out of this. I was an under employee. So I was an acupuncturist. And there just wasn't 40 hours a week of work for me at my job. And I didn't want to start my own practice. So I had about 25 hours a week of work. And I had time to make more money and I thought that's what was going to get us out of debt. Travis was going to find the job. I was going to side hustle, you know, 4060 hours a week and we were going to do it. And then two months in of doing that I got shingles from just working myself like being too stressed. And so in, in my late 20s my body kind of developed some things where it doesn't respond as well to stress as it did in my early 20s.
And that was the first of those things and so I realized I couldn't side hustle my way out of this. And I had to also control my spending. And that is when I really got serious about, okay, what am I spending money on. And I'm not, I'm not a very balanced person, I'm very all or nothing. So for me, getting into controlling my spending meant doing no spend challenges. So I would do one month at a time, and I would just not spend any money on things that were discretionary. Obviously, I'd still buy gas, I would buy produce at the grocery store, but I would try and like limit what was in my pantry, and then just not buy any food out, coffee, whatever. And that was meant to save me money. But after doing a few of them, it actually taught me more about my spending habits, my mindless spending, my impulse spending, had taught me that the things that I thought I valued, kind of like eating out, I thought I valued food. What I really valued was the time spent with people getting that food. And it made me It forced me to get creative as like, how can I get the same results, but not spend the money. So it just forced me out of my comfort zone forced me out of my, what I thought the norm was and challenged me to change things up. And so I was able to, after these no spend challenges. Heck yes, I would go back to ordering my latte is because I just can't make a good one at home No matter how hard I try. But I was able to give up these other things that I thought I valued, but actually didn't. And so for me that became frugality. It was discovering what I don't value discovering what maybe society tells me I should value. But seeing what's real for me, and deciding what I really do value and holding tight to those things.
Jamila Souffrant 11:56
Oh my gosh, I love all that. And so here's some things that came up. Actually, we're speaking because in the personal finance space, I say this often, but like, you know, we focus sometimes, you know, really, it's for good reason on expenses and income. I mean, really, that's the two things that's going to drive your cash flow, right. But we'll talk a lot about expenses and cutting expenses, right. And then I feel like there was just like, kind of, and maybe it's me, but there was a view for me that okay, expenses are cool, but there's a limit to how much you can cut. And so income, like think about how to increase your income. But in your story, you kind of just proved the point that while there is no limit to how much you can make, and I believe in abundance, and you know, increase your income is important that sometimes the side effect of trying to increase your income can be a detriment to your health. Everyone's situation is going to be different in what they can withstand. But it seems like for you pursuing, like the increasing of income and keeping your expenses just as was not the route, right?
Jen Smith 12:55
Jamila Souffrant 12:55
And I think that's interesting realization for some people who may be trying different things, and they're going after the side hustle, they like I'm not changing my expenses. I'm just going to work more. But realizing maybe they're coming to realize like, wait, I don't think that's sustainable, right?
Jen Smith 13:10
Yeah, and it is a journey. So I would have never realized these things without the first step of getting shingles. And I would have never realized like my, like ability to make more money and increase my income beyond $35,000 a year if I hadn't started to try and pay off debt. And so all of these little steps, were integral to get me to where I am today. And I definitely always have believed that there is more money to be made than there is to be saved. But I definitely value the freedom I have to not budget as strictly because I actually don't love budgets.
Jamila Souffrant 13:50
Jen Smith 13:51
So being frugal. Yeah. being frugal allows me to not have a strict budget. And I love that freedom. So I just think there's there can be balanced between increasing income and values based spending.
Jamila Souffrant 14:06
Well, let's talk about that. I love that you just said because same same a bit because when you are more conscious of your spending, then I for all the people who are like not like I believe in budget or spending plan, I follow one I don't I'm not a person at this point in my life that checks it every day. It's more of a once a month thing because of where I am on the journey. Right? So if you're somewhere else you may be, you know, trying to pay off debt, maybe it's more something you check often. But what you just said because of your conscious spending, you don't have to be so tied into checking a budget often I think that's something that maybe some people are not considering when it comes to the benefits of frugality. So I want to just go a little further there and explore that.
Jen Smith 14:47
Yeah, I feel like I put in my time when we were paying off debt like for two years, even longer. I was checking my budget every day because that's what was required when we were trying to pay it off. So fast. Literally our starting salary was mine 35,000. And we only got up to 88,000. After side hustles and my husband's job, that's all we that max we made and our debt paid off, and we still paid off $78,000 in two years, just under two years. So you better believe we were checking that budget every day, we were very diligent. But that was kind of like the training period for us and our frugality to where is now our goals are further off, they're a little bigger, and they're not we're not trying to achieve them as at lightning speed. So I'm trying to live my life in the way that fits for me. And that is how I do it.
Jamila Souffrant 15:45
Yeah. And how amazing is it that you you went through that and I always say, sometimes, you know, you can have as much money as you want. But just saying for fun for fun go on spending freezes or no spend challenge is just to flex that muscle, not because it's like deprivation, but almost like as a sign of let me just test my strength or increase my strength. So that way I know I can turn this thing on and off if I want. And so can we talk a little bit about the no spend challenge is just in case, there's someone that's just like, hey, I want to try something like that. What is just a general construct of what that looks like for someone.
Jen Smith 16:19
So for me, I'm, I'm super passionate about you making your own version of the no spend challenge because I think when when you design it yourself, it gives you autonomy versus when you are following somebody else's rules, you break one and you're like, Oh, I messed up, I'll just start again next month. No, when they're your rules, you get to bend them, because nobody's perfect. I've never done a perfect no spend challenge. And I literally wrote the book, "The no spend challenge guide", it's a bestseller on Amazon.
Jamila Souffrant 16:52
I'll link that.
Jen Smith 16:54
So I literally wrote the book. And I've never done a perfect one. And so you just have to know that going into it. And do as much as you can to prepare. So for me, personally, my no spin challenges looks like I would still go grocery shopping and get fresh produce. But all of my like shelf stable things, I try and use those up and just kind of get produce to incorporate I was a vegetarian at that time. So fresh produce was pretty much all I ate. That was kind of something I didn't give up. And then I would obviously buy gas to go places and stuff. But I would not buy the normal things that were kind of that I almost felt guilty about. There's this kind of like, even if you put it in your budget, if you're trying to pay off debt, and you spend on it, there's still this like, kind of for me, there was a level of guilt. And I know some people can feel real freedom in a budget. But for me, it was still there. And so these little no spend challenges were kind of like my detox, undoing that, and so nothing discretionary. And I would try to be intentional about filling my time. So lots of times we fill our time with maybe going to TJ Maxx and walking around the store, Target, whatever your drug of choice, or going happy hour or something like that, even if they're low cost things. They're time fillers. And so I had to be really intentional about making lists of how am I going to spend my time in free ways. If somebody wants to hang out, how are we going to spend our time and freeways. So Facebook events, trying to find free events became like my second job. Because I still wanted to have fun. Like Initially, I didn't want to pay off debt because I didn't want to spend five years living under a rock because that's how long we thought it was going to take. So I was really prioritizing, like filling my time with good fun things. So I didn't remember how, like miserable it was to put all of my paycheck towards debt. So that was kind of like, and I would do that for a month. And then the day after it ended, I would always reward myself with a latte from some fancy place. Like that's more expensive than Starbucks. And that was kind of how I did it. But everybody's gonna have different things that cause them to mindlessly spend, or impulse spend, like some people are really pressured by familiale bringing stuff over for the potlucks or getting all the gifts for the holidays like family can be a real pressure and so sometimes that's more for something that not so much for me but so customizing your own challenge is really the best way to succeed with one.
Jamila Souffrant 19:36
Yeah, sounds like you can you know list out in a budget isn't this is why it's key because you can look at existing what you spend existing Li right now and your budget and then what you're going to cut out what you're going to commit to spending for the week or two weeks I guess. do you suggest people start out like at a smaller timeframes depending on if it's the first time so like only try it for the five days first, then two weeks? Yeah.
Jen Smith 19:59
So I just jump off the deep end, I started with a month. But now I say, Hey, why don't you try like Monday through Friday, because Monday through Friday is usually fine. And then maybe try one weekend, weekends tend to be, well, pre 2020 weekends tend to do really hard. So, I know 2020 was like a big no spend challenge for a lot of people. So starting with a week, starting with a weekend, and then building up to a month or if you're just really overzealous, you can start with a month, I did it worked for me.
Jamila Souffrant 20:33
The other thing about this is, you know, everyone has different situations too, because your ability to pay off debt and to succeed on no spend challenges can depend maybe on your environment, like your immediate home environment, like I would imagine, like I know you you had your husband at the time, but for like a single person, this may be that easier, because they also have things that pull them. But it's different for someone who's married with kids, right? Like, because I'm imagining if I want to do a no spend challenge in my house with the three kids and my husband, like, do I have to get him on board? That might be a fight. I just do this by myself like so maybe some people are thinking like, how do I fit this into my existing life where I have people that throw me off?
Yeah, and that's why you customize, you can absolutely just do it for yourself, you don't have to force your family to do a no spend challenge with you, it would be very difficult to force my toddler to do a no spend challenge with me, even though he doesn't spend much. But you can kind of offset some of the costs that you might spend on the rest of your family, just with some planning. So I know sometimes I'm in a pinch, and I have to buy a snack for my son while we're out because I forgot to bring one. But just writing things down and being intentional and planning can really point out when you're doing you know, it's been challenging and point out some of the inefficiencies that are in your schedule. And you can see like, Oh my gosh, I'm always forgetting snacks. Why don't I just put 10 in the diaper bag, and then I won't forget them. And then I like how you know there's a reward at the end. It's not crazy, but it's a reward and what you said about the pandemic for those who were able to save money by being home, but it's not the case for everyone. But there a lot of people who were able to when they saw like the decrease in certain parts of their budget, I just feel like there's going to be a reckoning, when the world goes back to a new normal. And people are going to be like, I saved all this money or I wasn't able to go out to eat and go to these trips. And I think people should really be budgeting for the rebellion that will happen after we've become hopefully a bit more free. You know. So I think that is something that we should all be aware of, for our budgets in the future. I know for me, I'm like, I know, I'm going to spend more money on travel after this is over. And events, because I felt like I was caged in a lot. So I want to be able to be free. And I just think I'm curious to see how that's going to impact people's financial lives over the next couple of years as we bounce back.
Jen Smith 22:56
Yeah, I and I think I read it, it's already been happening when I was reading about consumer spending over the holidays. It was higher, I think in q4 for 2020 than it was in 2019. And I don't have the article to cite for that. So I can't like say for sure. But I just remember reading something and being like, Oh my gosh, yeah, people are catching up. People who weren't we were able to spend in q3 are now all spending it in q4. And we're starting to see like spending pickup and hopefully, we can rein ourselves in with some budgets.
Jamila Souffrant 23:32
Yeah, hopefully, if there was money saved during this time, it's not gonna be kind of wiped away by the the overspending that might occur after. Okay, so what I also love about your story, Jen is just your transition. You were acupuncturist, and then you became a writer. And now you're a full time entrepreneur. So I'd like to go through that, that career transition, how you been able to do that increase your income, because I know I have a lot of listeners who are in that stage that may be doing something that is cool. One thing you mentioned when you were talking, you're like, I didn't want to open up my own practice. So but now you're your own entrepreneur, different fields. But I'm wondering like for you like was it just not that you didn't want to be entrepreneurs just that you didn't want to do that?
Jen Smith 24:14
Yeah, I didn't want to be tied to a building I've never desired like brick and mortar business. I've always been a little entrepreneurial. I've always wanted to work for myself, but I've never wanted to be tied to the rent payment of an office because that just seems a little too much commitment for me. I don't know what that says about me, but I loved acupuncture. I loved what I did. But when we got into paying off our debt, I think and I don't hear this talked about a lot when people talk about paying off debt, but I'm sure it is the reason gosh 80 90% of us get into personal finance writing is that when we were a year into our journey, I felt absolutely hopeless. Like we were making good traction, and everything was going, Okay. And I still felt miserable and hopeless, because we had completed a year. And I felt like our life was on hold. And we still had an entire other year to go. And I didn't know how to solve that problem for myself. So I just kind of started writing the things I learned in the past year, and put them on a blogger and post them on my Facebook. And people started saying, like, Hey, that was really helpful. I learned some savings tips that I didn't know before. And I was like, oh, okay, well, I'll keep doing this. And then that's how I found out like, blogs could actually make money. And I, I always wanted to do my own thing. But I just never knew anything past making $40,000 a year at a normal job. And so this really opened my eyes to the money that can be made on the internet, not tied to any brick and mortar space.
Jamila Souffrant 26:03
Yeah, you know, that's the thing. Everyone has a story to tell every single person can I always say, could take back their life story and put it in a book. But now you can put it in a blog, you could do it on a podcast, because the same thing is cathartic to like, just just share your journey, even if you don't have the answers, even if it's just like to write questions or attacks these questions, because other people have the same thing. So were you always did you develop your writing skills as you started to blog? Or did you What did you go to school for because now you do write or used to write full time for another site, and now you're writing for your own blog. But I'm wondering how you develop that skill?
Jen Smith 26:38
It was kind of natural, I don't know where it came from. I remember being in fourth grade, and writing a paper and my teacher being like, go show this to all the other teachers in the pot, it's really good. And that is the only encouragement I've ever had around writing. So because normally, it was like math and science to get like, you know, healthcare field degree. So I don't know where it came from. But I just started writing, and then it got picked up by a personal finance website. And they, they really liked it. And I started working for them, you know, on the side, and they offered me a full time position with benefits. And that was when I had to decide like, Oh, my gosh, do I want to I like writing? Will I like writing 40 hours a week? I don't know, I'm really comfortable here. But this is more money. And yeah, I have that like conflict of, do I leave what I know and start to do something new?
Jamila Souffrant 27:42
Well, that's actually a really good question that someone should ask themselves, because oftentimes, you're doing something on the side or for fun. And you're envisioning that this will be your full time thing. But do you want it to be your full time thing? Do you want that to be the thing that you depend on for money, because that changes everything?
Jen Smith 27:57
Yeah. And I had to, I had to put things into perspective, too, like, I had to have a plan B. So I said, if I don't like writing full time, I have the safety net that I actually could go back to my acupuncture job, I renewed my license to make sure that I could, you know, have it. So I had, I had the safety net. And actually, after a year of working, that company had a mass layoff. So I did, I was forced out of there, six weeks before I had my first child. So having having the plan B and I actually didn't end up going back to acupuncture, I just took the skills I had gotten from that company and shared them with a bunch of different websites and started freelance writing all over the internet. So yeah, it was taking advantage of being having my eyes open, to take advantages of opportunities as they came up, that if I wasn't looking, I wouldn't have seen them. But because I was looking, but not even actively pursuing, I was able to take advantage of some really cool things. workwise
Jamila Souffrant 29:08
and this is the beauty when I talk about the journey to financial independence is like, you know, I'm assuming you're not financially independent yet. But you paid off your debt, right. And without having done that you would have had less or felt like he would have had less options when it came to choosing between writing full time and you know, sticking with your career, your existing career, which is why I think for everyone that the dream, the goal is this big thing of having all this money that you never have to work but before you get there, you got to do these steps and as you accomplish each one, using things like frugality, like a superpower of frugality, you'll have more options. Like as you go like in the moment, you don't have to wait for the big payoff, like the payoff for you is that you made you you had the option you made that choice for yourself.
Jen Smith 29:53
Yeah, and you can afford to have the options change if you want them to because initially we paid off our debt. So that one day, I could be a stay at home mom. And we could be foster parents, because that's very time consuming, and emotionally draining. And I didn't want to have to worry about debt and working full time if that was something I really wanted to do. So that was initially why. And then I had my my son, and I realized I hate being a stay at home mom, I want to work. And so I got the opportunity to do that. I didn't have to go back to a full time job. But yeah, I just got the freedom to choose what because I could afford to put my son in daycare because we didn't have a debt payment.
Jamila Souffrant 30:33
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I think it's important to talk about that kind of as moms, you know, as working moms to like, be let's be clear, I'm being a stay at home mom. And working in the home is lots of work hence, which is why I don't want to do it. It's like I give it up for for the especially the teacher, like the people who homeschool our home like it's less than just being a mom itself is like a job, okay, and then adding all the other things are taken away, it doesn't even matter. So just props, all the moms out there, stay at home or not working outside the home or working in the home and watching their kids full time. But I think like you said, it is important as moms to have the flexibility because unfortunately, yes, if you're in a certain state, you will have less of it because you have less options. But it's so important for us to figure out ways in which that we can have more options, because it makes us better moms, it makes us better women like in the world, and then it directly affects our family and our kids and how we are with them.
Jen Smith 31:35
Absolutely, I am a much better mom, because I get to work on work that I like. And I have the freedom to do that. And that's beautiful.
Jamila Souffrant 31:45
And that's the thing, like everyone has their choice, I want a world in which people can just really choose what they want to do. So they're not just doing things for the paycheck, which I know a lot of people are kind of stuck in that place. Because even though I didn't necessarily like what I was doing full time, when I was working in corporate America, I know for a fact that with my co workers, some of them just loved it. And I'm like, That's for you, like good for you. And so part of me felt to like here I am sitting taking a spot for someone like who really wants to be here. And so that's why I just feel like maybe you don't like your job or career, but someone else would love it. And I just feel like there's a place for all of us. And I just think the world would be such a better place, if everyone just was really working and doing what they wanted to do versus what they were felt like they were forced to.
Jen Smith 32:28
And work would be better too. Because if people could do whatever they want, and they no longer wanted to work for oppressive companies and bosses, they would leave. And those companies would have to figure out how to better serve their employees, not just their bottom line. So it's definitely worth it for everyone, the entire ecosystem for us to have financial freedom,
Jamila Souffrant 32:48
right. So with now that you're, you know, working on your business full time, what are some things that you have realized or picked up in terms of making money like for your like self in the business, because it is different, like, you know, getting a paycheck from someone else versus like, now you're bringing home the money needed to account for taxes, pay yourself, What is that like now?
Jen Smith 33:10
It's an interesting life, for sure. And I, I was maybe one of the only people in, in our layoff that actually pursued freelance writing, because I worked with a lot of journalists. And so journalists want to work at newspapers, publications, magazine, stuff like that. And since I came more from I didn't come from a journalism background, I just came from, you know, blogging, freelance writing made a lot of sense to me. So I just jumped right into it. And I was like, Hey, everyone, pay me money to write for you. And I got a lot of clients from that. And then after a while, I realized that I didn't want to exchange so much time for money, like I could make a lot of money if I worked, and that was attractive. I love money. But it was also like wearing me down because I'm Ennegram three, I love achieving. So I just want to like achieve achieve, achieve and finish as many articles as possible. Again, it was bringing me close to shingles. So I'm transitioning more now to working on my own business, which isn't yet as lucrative as the freelance writing side. So it's this weird I'm in this weird transition where I see this like, this money on the table. And it's hard for me to say no to it, because I'm looking at money that's further down the road, but just not there yet. And I'm pursuing that. So it is this weird mind trip right now.
Jamila Souffrant 34:46
Yeah, that's interesting. So I want to talk a little bit about the freelance writing just in case there's some people who want to maybe pursue that like as a side thing or full time and then yes, I want to address the entire like giving up money that is not necessarily guaranteed, but that is there versus going after opportunities that take a longer time to bear fruit fruit, right? So like, it's like planting the seed and that seed could possibly potentially because it's your own thing, and less involves maybe less upfront work, or watching more upfront work and not enough for you right away rewards. But let's go back to the writing just in case like, Can you give us an idea how much like people pay per articles? And how are you able to navigate that?
Jen Smith 35:26
Yeah, it differs per industry. So finance is definitely one of the highest paying niches for sure. So that was nice. But I think when I started, I was writing on Upwork for 75 bucks an article. And that was when I was still working as an acupuncturist. And then I got a salary bump when I was just working full time. And then I went in and it was maybe like 150 per article, and then every time I'd get a new client a little bit more. So I've written articles that I've been paid like, almost two grand for, for one article, depending on how long it is. So it just it depends on the niche you're in, and how much time you've put in. But you can definitely there's no shortage of people who need content written on the internet.
Jamila Souffrant 36:16
And you just said you got it sounds like Upwork was a place that you started and as it as you build your portfolio, then you can start to show your work and charge more, and then hopefully connect to people who have the better position to writing opportunities.
Jen Smith 36:28
Absolutely. Yep, you got to have something to show and I had no degree in writing all I had was my portfolio. And so I had to make sure it was a stellar portfolio. And even if the job didn't pay, well, I still had to write a stellar SEO optimized article, so that higher paying clients knew what I was capable of.
Jamila Souffrant 36:51
And how did you and this is now I'm just like a wondering because writing a book is in my own future. And so I wanted to just understand how did you improve upon your writing skills? Was it using things like Grammarly or just really like you were like, literally, like, looking up? How to phrase sentences? Or was it an editor that helped you? How did you improve your own writing skills?
Jen Smith 37:11
Definitely, editors, freelance writing will definitely improve your writing, because you get your piece back from the editor. And you're like, Oh, I'm horrible.
Jamila Souffrant 37:21
Like, everything's like x out like,
Jen Smith 37:22
yeah, everything. Will definitely show you how bad of a writer you are. And then you just kind of start to learn things. For me, it was really helpful to be in an office for my full time job writing, because I could actually talk to my editors. So that was super helpful. But you can also have conversations virtually through Google Docs, which is really like, sometimes fun, sometimes passive aggressive, but so editors help a lot. And then when I wrote my book, I had an editor like, I did not rest on my own writing. And I tell people, like, I'm a writer, I'm not an editor, I am a horrible editor. Let me write your content, but you better have an editor for it.
Jamila Souffrant 38:04
Got it. Got it. That's good to know. And this is going back to now the entrepreneurial phase that you're in, and I don't think it ever goes away. But it's like the opportunities and what to take. So I just wanted to like, let you know that that's something that I believe, I mean, I go through that now it's like, should I say yes to this thing, but I don't really want to do it. But it's like the money is there versus you know, in terms of maybe it's like a speaking opportunity, but I'm just like or writing opportunity. And I'm just like, I don't really want to do that. And doing that takes away time from putting in work to something else I'm really excited about creating that does not have any money, you know, or is not making as much money.
Jen Smith 38:37
So, yeah, it's it's trying to find that balance between putting money into the budget and having time to really put in work on whatever you're offering. And make that really good. So that has the best potential to be profitable.
Jamila Souffrant 38:56
Yeah. Do you find that so we you know, we started this conversation talking about frugality and, you know, rebranding it in terms of making it a superpower to help you with your goals. Do you find that overall? Because you have this frugal muscle that's so well developed, that you swing too far in the direction of like, not investing in yourself or in your business? Because you're you know, you're always thinking about how much you can save?
Jen Smith 39:20
Oh, I feel seen. Yeah, I feel very seen. Yes, absolutely. It wasn't until last year that I actually started investing money in continuing education, and other like products like software's to make my business run easier. Like I was the queen of bootstrapping. And it's there. There's a point where you get to where that's limiting, like it's not good anymore. Like I don't definitely think people shouldn't take out business loans and stuff to start an online business. You don't need to do that or like, invest a bunch of money on ads up front, but I spent a lot of time limiting myself, because I wasn't investing in a virtual assistant. Wasn't investing in advertising, and then I would a little bit and it wouldn't work out. And so I'd stop it. So that money was wasted. But part of the entrepreneurial journey is that the money isn't wasted, you have to kind of spend money to learn things. And I didn't get that yet. Until just last year, and so I did, you know, spend some money that did not make me money back. But I learned big lessons from that, and where to invest that does actually make me money. So it's, yeah, nail on the head right there.
Jamila Souffrant 40:31
Yeah, I find that a lot, right. Like in the personal finance space, for those that are, you know, most people, if they're, you know, making a business out of it, like I see whether it's like, just like online community communities, it's always about, like how little they can spend are safe, which at a certain point works. But to get to that next level, you have to spend invest money, I just know that from experience, I'm just like, I wouldn't have been able to get to where I am now. And I know there are other levels for me to achieve. And it's going to take money investing, and those might work out and they may not, but I have to be willing to take the risk.
Jen Smith 41:04
Yeah, it's so hard for new entrepreneurs, though, because I didn't grow up around any entrepreneurs, everybody just worked their nine to five, and retired. And so I had no, and there are so many more options now. So like, I felt like I was going in totally blind. So I didn't know what to spend money on. There were a lot of opportunities, but and maybe I wanted to, but I didn't know what was a good value, what was worth my money. If I spent $2,000 here, is it gonna be worth it versus 2000 over there. So I just didn't spend it at all, it can be overwhelming when you're trying to figure out what's the best investment for your money. But I would say like first and foremost for me, was investing in education for myself on things. So I knew you know what was going on, so that I could hire like a VA, just for 2025 hours a month, and get some things off my plate but still know what was going on with her. So I wasn't clueless and just handing everything to her. So that that was that's kind of like my starting point where I feel comfortable with and now I'm trying to progress beyond that. And I'm learning trying to learn what's beyond that.
Jamila Souffrant 42:16
Yeah. And then think about to like, for those who are balancing this entrepreneurship side hustle with their personal finance goals are paying off debt. It's like, Okay, I have $500 do I use this to pay off the debt, or invest in the next part of my business, which may be hopefully would then help me pay off more debt later on? So I think you know, and I think it's a case by case situation, it's not just a blanket scenario answer.
Jen Smith 42:43
Yeah, that's the hard thing. It is so person to person you really, the math answers, like you're not going to get an accurate math answer in entrepreneurship. So you really have to go with your gut and see what feels right. And you might be wrong. And you have to be okay with that too.
Jamila Souffrant 42:59
Yeah. Okay. So, Jen, this is going to be I'm going to give you like one last opportunity to rebrand frugality for my audience who some are like yeah, I'm down with frugality. You know, I saved money. Or for some people are just like, I wonder if my life So Jen, this is your chance to tell them why frugality is a good superpower to develop.
Jen Smith 43:18
Frugality is not meant to make your life more inconvenient. It's just something that maybe make might not make it the most convenient. So, frugality is being a good steward of your resources. So that yes, that means money. But it also means time. It also means your energy and the natural resources we have around us. And so sometimes, it's easier. And you know, sometimes it's cheaper to take the easier route out. Sometimes you do have to spend a little bit more money to spend on things that are quality, or things that will give you some more time, or, you know, be better for the environment. So you just have to know for you what is being a good steward of my resources, what does that look like for me and when you can find that out and you can write it down and you're confident in it. Then you are living in your frugality.
Jamila Souffrant 44:12
Love it. Okay, Jen, tell everyone where they can find out more about you your blog and the podcast.
Jen Smith 44:18
Well, right where you're listening to this podcast, you can just search Frugal Friends podcast, my friend Jill and I, we talk about all kinds of ways to save money but also in the context of just buying less so minimalism and we also try to weave in sustainability, and kind of impulse control and psychology. So all of that for Frugal Friends podcast every Friday, and then I am at modern frugality on all social media. On tik tok a lot right now, but um, yeah, and modernfrugality.com, Amazing. Thanks so much, Jen. Yeah, thanks for having me.
Jamila Souffrant 44:57
Okay, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Jen let me know if we helped you reframe what frugality can look like in your life. Maybe you're already on the frugality train. You know, my goal for all these episodes is to give you options to open up your eyes or your lives in a way in which you may be never perceived or thought of something before. And so when it comes to being more intentional, spending your time, energy and money in a way that feels good, I hope that you can wear their frugality badge with honor if you choose to do so, you know, I'm going to embrace my inner frugal girl, because I am definitely frugal in a lot of areas of my life and honestly, in some places I'm not. So you choose and do what works for you. Hopefully this episode provided some more insight and especially for my side hustlers entrepreneurs out there, you enjoy that conversation about, you know, that fine balance when it comes to investing in yourself business, taking on projects, getting that extra money, versus the long haul and investing in long term payoffs that you might not see right away. I mean, this is something that a lot of us entrepreneurs are facing and going through right now. So if you found this episode to be useful at me, I'm at journey to launch on Instagram. Jen is on Instagram also at modern frugality. Let us know what you think what you think of the word frugal. Are you frugal? What do you frugal on the most in your life? And what are you not gonna be frugal on? What are you spending on without, you know, any reservations? unapologetically.
Don't forget, you can get the episode Show Notes for this episode by going to journey to launch comm or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart.
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