Today I have the this week’s installment of our segment: Interviews with money experts. I talked with Laura from Everyday by the Lake.
Without further ado, here’s the interview.
Could you give an introduction of who you are and how you came to start your blog?
I’m Laura Gariepy, a 33-year-old MA native living in Central FL. I live with my fiance, his mom, and my cat.
I have my MBA and am currently pursuing my DBA. I have been in human resources for the last 9 years or so in a variety of capacities and industries.
I recently decided to quit my full-time job as an HR Generalist so that I could spend more time with loved ones, finish my doctorate degree, cultivate other income sources, and just live a less hurried and harried lifestyle.
As it stands now, I can maintain my part-time work schedule (15 hours per week from home with flex scheduling) conservatively for the next 12 months. I likely can maintain it for 18 months — if there are no major unanticipated cash outlays.
I decided that my current semi-retirement arrangement would be interesting to chronicle and could add something to the FIRE community. My blog also has a lifestyle component to it– showing my travel adventures and the joys of living on a lake.
The blog is part passion project, part avenue to make new connections and friends and (hopefully) part income stream down the line.
Do you and your fiance have similar money philosophies?
Initially, we did not.
He has been very frugal the entire time I’ve known him. My previous laissez-faire attitude towards money drove him nuts. I can’t blame him for being upset.
At my worst, I had to rely on him financially because my spending got in the way of meeting my real obligations (aka paying the rent). I’m fortunate he stuck around long enough for me to smarten up.
We are now in sync money-wise and it’s much less stressful. We’re both focused on using dollars to attain maximum utility and joy.
Any tips on money and relationships?
My biggest money/relationship tips would be:
- Be transparent. Don’t lie to your significant other about money. It can make a bad situation worse. A long time ago, I would hide purchases from my fiance. Now I tell him how much I have in the bank when certain bills are going to be paid, how my investments are doing etc. I don’t tell him because I messed up before and I’m now obligated. I tell him because sharing this information keeps him informed and makes our relationship closer. He tells me how he is doing with his finances as well. It enables us to plan together.
- Have separate and shared financial goals/accounts. We pool resources to fund everyday life and the adventures we go on together, but we also have funds that are ours alone. For example, he uses his funds to upgrade his car into its ideal state. I use my funds to build my website as a creative outlet and future income stream.We are careful to ensure that our individual pursuits do not compromise our main goal of having a nice life together, but the separate goals/activities help us retain our identities and independence.
How have you learned about finance and what’ve you learned?
I learned finance by royally messing up my finances! I abused credit cards, overspent constantly and failed to pursue scholarships. I have a post that details my fiscal shame.
I’m now much more frugal, know what I have going out in relation to what I have coming in, and hardly use credit cards (and pay them in full each month).
After you learned your lesson, what were some things you did to get yourself back on track?
Once I realized how my poor money habits were ruining my future, I got honest about my financial position. I started tracking my income and expenses. I made sure I paid my bills on time and rebuilt my credit. I started saving a ton of money– at times over 25% of my post-tax income. I also started spending in alignment with my values. I splurged on things that made me happy and I cut spending on literal stuff that didn’t matter. I have a blog post that discusses the best money changes that I’ve made:
What are some lessons you hope to pass onto the next generation?
Two very big takeaways:
- Unless it’s basic food, clothing, and shelter, you really don’t need it now. Giving in to impulse purchases can really put you in money trouble. Sleep on the purchase. Consider– will it even add value to my life? Do I want it– or is it just trendy to have? Is it worth it? If you’re working– how many hours of labor will it take to pay for it?
When you consider that you are literally trading your life energy for some item, your perspective changes. Having consideration for your future self is hard when you’re really young– it’s why most kids have to fail to really get it. I know — it happened to me. But if I can get just one kid to buy into what I’m saying, I’ll be happy.
- Get scholarships and grants. Work to put yourself through school. Please, I beg of you. I owe more in student loans than I do on my house and my plans to actually retire are severely hindered by this debt burden. I will still get to the finish line and likely still ahead of some of my peers, but when I think of how much faster I could get there if I had managed to finance my education better, it’s painful. Trust me. Finance your education with dollars that you don’t have to repay.
What are some things you’ve learned in completing your MBA? What about things you’ve learned from your doctorate program?
What I remember most from my MBA program was really learning about the connections between business functions. I started looking at businesses more holistically.
This sounds really simple, really obvious but my educational background before starting this degree was in Psychology and my work experience in childcare and retail. I had major gaps in my business knowledge prior to these studies. It was an a-ha moment for me that has enabled better critical thinking about anything business related.
From my doctorate program, I’m really learning a lot about research. Types of research. How to design a research study. How to carry it out.
I am currently working on my dissertation so I’m attempting to put together all of those pieces into a meaningful contribution to the business body of literature.
Did you attain scholarships for your MBA and DBA? If so, any tips on getting scholarships?
Unfortunately, my degrees were financed via student loans. I was fortunate to have tuition reimbursement available to me via my employers for part of the time I was pursuing these degrees. That helped me quite a bit.
I definitely encourage the pursuit of scholarships. I truly wish I had put more effort into that. I also encourage folks to pursue employment with companies who offer a tuition reimbursement benefit.
Do you have any tips on student loans?
In terms of applying for student loans, if you’re going to be eligible for grants, file your FAFSA as early as you can. The grant funds are limited and late filers may not receive the benefits.
In terms of paying them off, check with your loan service to see if you can control how your payments are allocated. Often, the debt is broken into sub-loans with different amounts due and interest rates for each.
If you can determine how your payment is applied, you can attack either the smallest sub-loans first or make your initial focus paying off the sub-loans with higher interest rates. This will help you feel in control and give you a sense of accomplishment as your sub-loans are paid off.
What is an app, a book, and a blog?
- I’m pretty boring when it comes to apps. My favorite finance app(s) are those that link me to my accounts. I like being able to see my balances and transactions any time. I like having that instant and constant knowledge of my financial position.
- As far as a book goes, I have to go with a classic. Your Money or Your Life really struck a chord with me. Admittedly, I am not following all of the steps that were outlined. I more take the philosophical nuggets and try to live by them. I really try to consider the utility of each purchase. I consciously ensure that my spending in alignment with my values and I am acutely aware that what I buy is actually trading my life energy for what I’m acquiring. Powerful stuff.
- I started reading FIRE blogs about a year before I quit my job. They really made me take the time to consider different possibilities. I saw that people were blazing different paths for themselves and were really living life. It was very inspiring.While I read many, many blogs, and still do, one that stands out is Our Next Life. I find Tanja’s writing very relatable and I admire how prolific she is.
Is there anything else you would like to add that would benefit the reader?
Be conscious of what your dollars are actually getting you. You are trading over 2000 hours of your life per year to get those dollars. You owe it to yourself to make sure you’re not wasting your hard earned cash– because if you are, you’re wasting your life, too.
Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?
My website is https://www.everydaybythelake.com
I’m on the major social platforms:
That concludes my interview with Laura. I hope you gained some new insights into how to improve your Financial Health and grow your Wealth. Come back next week for my interview with Scott from Making Momentum.
So readers, what was your favorite point made here? Anything you want me to follow up with Laura about?