Erin Lowry of Broke Millennial discusses why she is going to invest in herself—and her career—in the coming months.
When it comes to finances, do Grownups behave by nature or nurture? For me, both influence my behavior to save aggressively. My parents and early financial role models were frugal, but the need to save was more than just modeling what I saw at home.
There was something inside me that made it feel painful to spend money, so much that I started hoarding money as a child. I would hide all the cash I earned from watching the neighbor’s cat, or the $20 in a birthday card from my grandparents. The money would go into a Hershey’s candy tin that got stuffed in the back of my closet for safekeeping.
Of course, I’ve upgraded to several different FDIC-insured savings accounts these days—but the fervor for saving lives on. Which is why it’s been a painful—but necessary—decision for me to gut my savings (and therefore my overall net worth) over the coming months.
Reason 1: Investing in my Business
In mid-2016, I took the risk of leaving a steady job with a good income to branch out on my own. The overarching goal was to build my brand and support myself with income from freelance writing and speaking engagements. As part of building my brand, it became clear I needed to overhaul my website and upgrade from a free template to a sleek design that will encourage people to stick around—and come back for more. Not to mention, a new site will look more professional and hopefully land me more speaking gigs.
As someone not particularly keen on DIY when it comes to technology, I plan to outsource a lot of the work to professionals who can do it right the first time (instead of me wanting to body slam my laptop into a wall, which happened when I previously tried to overhaul my website solo).
Reason 2: Promoting my Business
Another big moment of 2016 occurred when I landed a book deal. The deal came with a decent advance for a first-time author, but it all got tucked into a savings account for me to use solely on promoting the book. While it looks great on paper to have fattened up my savings account, I’ll be draining most of the advance to try and make the book a success.
The money will go toward a mix of promotional items to offer up with the book in order to encourage people to pre-order a copy, hiring a team to help with the launch, and covering some travel costs associated with promoting the book.
While I have no delusions about getting rich off this book, a successful run could help broaden my existing business by booking more speaking opportunities and events, as well as make it easier to get another book offer.
Reason 3: Expanding my Business
As I continue to earn my money primarily as a writer with the occasional speaking opportunity, I’m keen on diversifying my income streams. This will not only help offset slow months for freelance writing, but can also prevent burn out.
The first way I want to expand my business: podcasting.
A podcast won’t generate income initially, but if it’s successful it can provide some revenue. Mostly, it will just serve as a way to continue building the Broke Millennial brand’s reach and keep me sane when I have writer’s block.
The other option is sell a product. This is, of course, a much trickier option. First is the debate about which kinds of products, then potentially finding a manufacturer and a way in which to sell the items that won’t be a complete time suck. I’ve made some Broke Millennial-branded merchandise, so I can be a shameless walking billboard—which has resulted in random people on the street asking where they could buy the tote/sweatshirt/shirt, so that’s a promising start. If a small test run of selling branded merchandise proves successful, I may expand the business that way as well.
Reason Four: Grooming
Unfortunately, I can’t do TV segments or events wearing my comfy joggers and a favorite hoodie with my unwashed hair up in a messy bun (like I do while penning this article). Instead, I need to invest in a handful of flattering and TV-friendly outfits. (Adios, patterns.) I’ll also need some good—but not expensive—makeup. It’s often easy for men to wear the same suit with different ties, but women need multiple outfits or the media reel becomes one long clip of the same outfit in different settings—and agents will say that’s a no-no. The pink tax strikes again!
Building my business throughout 2017 will cause quite the hit to my savings account, but hopefully it’s simply a momentary dip that lays the groundwork for a successful and profitable year—one in which I’m thankful to have invested the money and not crying over my net worth tracker in December 2017.
Erin Lowry is a Millennial personal finance expert, speaker, and author of the book BROKE MILLENNIAL: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together. Based on the successful blog, the book is a choose-your-own-adventure guide to personal finance that uses wry humor and real-life examples to demystify the basics of money for Millennials. Lowry lives in New York City with her spunky rescue dog Mosby.
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