Sherry is a STEM consultant and entrepreneur. By the age of 36 she grew her wealth and became a millionaire. We connected with Sherry to learn more about her personal challenges and tips in becoming financially independent.
Q: What is your current position/role and when did you first develop an interest in finance?
A: I am a freelance consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I started developing an interest in finance when I was $60K in debt, right out of school. I had to put a deposit down on my first and last month’s rent on my first apartment ever, and I didn’t even have the money. I had to borrow the last $2000 from my student loans ($60K!), and that was my wake up call that something was seriously wrong. It wasn’t okay that I had been working all this time, sometimes two jobs at once, and I only had $500 in my bank account.
Q: What challenges have you faced with personal finance?
A: Getting out of debt was one. It was a steep learning curve at 23 to understand what a budget meant, what ‘fixed’ versus ‘variable’ expenses were – these are all ‘common sense’ things but they aren’t really common sense until someone explains them to you. I never had a good financial role model and I decided I would learn as much as I could about my money.
Q: If you could give advice to your 18 year old self about managing your money, what would you tell yourself and why?
A: Invest your money immediately, at least 50% of your income if you can (although I moved out at 19, so I didn’t have a lot of disposable income). I would also tell myself to budget, track my expenses, read up on compounding interest to motivate me, live frugally, and not get into so much debt by living it up in college.
Q: What is your top tip for budgeting?
A: Track your expenses. Start there. Create a budget, and figure out what it is you’re spending your money on. In your head you may think most of your money goes to rent or food. In my case, I was shocked to realize after I started tracking that I was actually spending most of my money ($500 – $1000 a month) on just shopping when I didn’t even have the money to spend.
Q: What do you think is the most critical step to ensuring financial independence?
A: Financial literacy. I keep separate accounts from my partner (we have a 7-year old together), and we will always have separate finances because we have two different money management styles. He is more laissez-faire, unconcerned with “small” amounts (anything under $500) that “cause trouble and are a hassle.” I am the type of person who signs up for bank promotions to get $300, and will use cashback as much as possible to get even $1 back on something I am buying. I also like knowing my own personal progress, so I track my income (both main job and side incomes), my spending, and my personal net worth (currently $1.1M), all of which I reveal at the end of every month & summarize yearly on my blog Save. Spend. Splurge.
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