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We see them everywhere. The numerous articles outlining the majors you should take if you want to earn big. Better yet, those listing the majors you should avoid like a plague if you ever want to make money.
Today we dig into the Super Power of an exception to this rule. Meet Erin Lowry. A Journalism and Theater double major graduate, who turned her passion for writing about money into a lucrative business, that’s even earned her a book deal with a major publisher.
If you were to liken yourself to a Super Power (any gender) who would it be and why?
I guess I don’t have one super hero. It would be a combination of women that have changed the narrative in such a way that women like me are able to do what we do today. Women who were just out there at a time when it wasn’t okay for women to be vocal. I appreciate them for doing the groundwork for women like me in historically male-dominated industries.
As a woman writing about money, did your upbringing in any way play a part in this?
My father played a significant role. I would label him as a feminist. He only had daughters and he did a very good job at making sure that we knew how to be self-sufficient. He would teach us lessons about money using story telling.
I remember when I was 7 I wanted to earn some money. My mom was having a yard sale and I wanted to sell Krispy Kreme donuts. And so my dad agreed to be my funder, giving me the money to buy the donuts. At the end when I had sold all my donuts he said I needed to pay him his money back, and pay my sister for her labor in helping me sell. I had only $15 left after paying them and he said “that is your net profit”. I felt so cheated. That is one of my foundational lessons on money.
Did you expect you blog to be such a success?
Not at all. I started Broke Millennial primarily because I was talking to some friends about money and realized how stressed they were. And it surprised me why they were so stressed because a lot of them came from relatively wealthy families. Money wasn’t an issue for them growing up. Additionally, they had stable jobs and were making crazy money.
Most of them had no concept of a budget. They just hoped there was enough money left at the end of the month in order to pay the bills. This was mind-blowing. So I started asking questions like “why aren’t you talking about money?”. “What’s your experience with money?”; “what’s your relationship with money?”. I really just found that most people wouldn’t talk about it because it would completely stress them out.
And since money didn’t stress me out, even though I was only earning $24,000 and working 3 jobs to do that, I decided to write about it.
The reason money didn’t stress me out was because I understood how it works.
Why did you think it was that you were eventually able to succeed financially given that your starting salary was so low?
I didn’t graduate from college with a degree that was expected to earn me a bunch of money. My degree was not engineering or finance or any other money making degree. I graduated with a Journalism and Theater double major, so my financial prospects were not great immediately.
To me my money maker was that I always worked and placed value on hard work.
However, the biggest aspect to my financial success was that I would always ask for what I wanted. I think that so few people, especially women, are willing to demand what they want or what they are worth.
If you want something and if you can prove that you deserve it you have to ask for it.
I was also willing to take risks and literally created my own job at the companies I worked for. I increased my salary by $20,000 because I proved that I was worth it. And at that point I was making good money at my regular job and I was freelancing on the side.
You need to go after what you want and get really good at your craft. You are going to get paid really well if you’re really good at what you doing.
What advice would you give to someone considering keeping their full time job and starting a business on the side, just like you did?
I would say that if you are very risk averse in life, a really good way to practice entrepreneurship is to have a very stable job that’s giving you the health insurance, the retirement package, the salary; and then dabble into something on the side. And slowly build that business up. It’s like you’re testing without a whole lot of risk involved.
A lot of people say that you have to go wholeheartedly. However, I strongly believe that it depends on what the business is.
But if you going to do it on the side then you do have to be patient. Most things are not an overnight success.
Can you please tell us more about the book and what we can expect from it?
The book is called Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together. I can describe it as a choose your own adventure guide to personal finance. Every chapter of the book is written to stand on its own you do not have to read it cover-to-cover if you don’t want to. What does is that it spans the evolution of your financial life.
The book will in the beginning lead you on your psychology regarding money. Why do you think the way you do about money and what’s your relationship with money. Then it addresses other issues such as how to build your credit score, how to handle credit card debt, how to set a budget, banking fees and how to avoid them, how to get better deals on your savings account, talking to your partner about money, student loan debt, friendship and finances.
Ultimately the book ends on addressing the question of whether you should hire a financial planner. I believe that by following at least 2 steps in each of the chapters of the book, you will more than recoup the cost of the book.
What is the best advice on money that you’ve received in your life and what’s the best advice that you can give to anyone reading this today
The best advice I was ever given was the power of negotiating. Although saving is very important, so is knowing how to increase your earning potential. Negotiation is a big part of that. The best advice I would give out is to know your worth and never undervalue yourself. And more importantly to figure out what that means. You need to develop this important skill in your twenties, of knowing what you are worth and how to aggressively ask for it early in your career.