Momentum Series: Operation Husband Rescue – Blogging On A Mission
We’ve made it to feature #3 in the Momentum Series – an interview series to share the stories of bloggers from across the personal finance community.
The goal is to showcase their story, the wins, the losses and the actionable advice and tips that others can take value from. Whether that be conquering debt, maximizing their career earnings, their own road to financial independence or health & wellness strategies that keep them on the right path.
Today’s Momentum Series interview is with Michelle, the blogger behind Operation Husband Rescue.
First off, a big thanks to Michelle for setting some time aside to take part in this interview.
If you want to connect with Michelle:
Well let’s get the interview rolling, here is Momentum Series: Operation Husband Rescue – Blogging On A Mission.
My name is Michelle and I am a 29 year old stay at home mom to twin boys who are about 1.5 years old. I got married to my husband, HB, about 3 years ago and we live in a home in Pennsylvania. We are in the process of building a new home for our family and plan to move sometime in June. Our hope is that this new home is going to be our forever home, because moving is a giant pain in the you-know-what.
My blog is called Operation Husband Rescue and the purpose of the website is just that: to rescue my husband. He’s trapped in the 9-5 grind and I want to pull him out so that we can all spend more time together as a family.
The motivation to rescue him really came to me when our twins were born. My husband had to go back to work full time just a week after their birth, and I was left to fend for myself with two newborns. Plus, I had a terrible birth experience that I nearly didn’t make it through, so I was in bad shape myself. All of that, coupled with the fact that my husband only gets to see his kids about 2 hours a day due to his work schedule, provides my motivation to keep striving toward financial independence.
On my website you’re probably not going to find some of the sophisticated investment articles that you may find on other personal finance blogs. I am really just getting started in this world, and I haven’t even gotten my feet wet yet. I’m kind of learning as I go, so everything I write is going to be written from a perspective of a beginner. I also have written some articles centered around family life–money saving recipes, mom stuff, twin mom stuff, and the like.
My educational background does not intersect with personal finance whatsoever, unless you count racking up student loans. I went to college in Ohio and graduated magna cum laude with a double major bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Psychology. My dream job would be a clinical psychologist that works with criminals/studies criminal behavior; however, I didn’t want to accrue more student loans in grad school.
Instead, I worked in an office as clerical staff for a little while, then took an online college course to get my Paralegal Certificate.
When I left the workforce to be a stay at home mom, I was working as a paralegal in a social services office. It wasn’t the worst job I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t the best either. It really didn’t matter though. It was just a means to an end because I kind of knew that I was going to end up a stay at home mom eventually when I took the job. My husband and I got married right after I started the job, and were planning on having kids fairly quickly. So I wasn’t really thinking “career” at the time–I just needed a job. And I wanted something that was a specialized skill that I could possibly use later on a part-time basis and still make a decent wage.
After I got pregnant, my husband and I’s decision for me to stay at home with the twins was made pretty easily. I didn’t make a ton of money where I was, I was working 40 minutes from my house, and my husband makes enough to support us comfortably. We didn’t want to burden our family members with our kids every day and we absolutely did not want to pay the outrageous fees for childcare. Being a stay at home mom is hard work and can get very lonely, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else. We are very lucky to be in the situation that we are so that I can stay at home with the kids.
I’m also very lucky that I am likely not going to have to go back to work at least until the twins are in school. At that time, I may get a part-time job unless my blog really takes off into something that could generate some income. That would obviously be ideal, but I’m not going to depend on that happening. There’s so many other great blogs out there that people can choose to read instead of mine!
You’re on a mission to rescue your husband, not in the explosion or action-packaged fashion of a Bourne or Bond movie, can you explain the mission at-hand?
The mission to rescue my husband certainly isn’t as exciting as a Bourne movie, but it is exciting enough for me! My husband works way too much. And when he’s not working, he’s answering emails, phone calls, or logging onto his laptop to work remotely. It’s ridiculous. He works in a corporate environment, and it seems like every time he gets a new project or a promotion, more of his personal (and family) time gets taken away. I’m not against working hard, but at some point there has to be an end–no matter how much money you’re making.
When I was working, I was making a bit over $40,000 a year. That amount of money certainly isn’t going to light the world on fire, but it definitely would fast-track our journey to financial independence–and my husband’s rescue. However, due to my stay at home mom status, I’m no longer in the position to work a “normal” job that’s going to pay me a salary like my old one did. So, instead, I’m just going to have to hustle.
By hustle I mean that I own my own reselling business that I operate out of my home. I also have been working our family budget to try to conserve as much money as possible. One day, I’m hoping that my blog will generate some sort of income to throw into the mix. Getting into freelancing is one of my (near) future goals. My husband and I plan to start investing in real estate properties and index funds once we get our house built and finances settled. Honestly, I will juggle a million little things if it means that I will be successful in rescuing my husband, finding financial freedom and owning our time. I am a woman obsessed.
My hope is that my husband will be able to leave the working world, or at least the full time working world, by the age of 50–he’s 36 now. That is what I consider a successful rescue mission.
How were you first introduced to the financial independence movement and community?
I sort of stumbled upon the financial independence movement while I was looking around online for people who were feeling the same way that I was.
Ever since I graduated college, I had this feeling that I didn’t want to be some cog in the wheel. I was dissatisfied with the job prospects before me and I just couldn’t believe that going to work every day and basically living for the weekend was actually what I was expected to do for the rest of my life. I couldn’t accept it. I wouldn’t accept it.
But it took me a long time to wrap my head around what I was feeling–which was pure rejection of the societal norm. My family is working class through and through. I didn’t know anyone who was thinking the way that I was–or at least anyone who said it out loud. So I looked online instead.
And that’s where I found my people. I think the first website that I read was retireby40, and then it was Mr. Money Moustache and Root of Good. It only took 3 websites for me to be like “Yes. This is it. This is what I’m feeling.” And after I realized that people were actually doing this, leaving their jobs early and living their lives on their own terms, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. It kept me awake at night. I needed to at least try for that quality of life.
What was your initial life plan or thoughts on money and retirement before shifting your mindset and starting this mission?
I didn’t really have a life plan. Ha! That sounds bad, but I was never a “life planner”.
I had vague hopes to find a decent job, a husband, and to start a family eventually but that was about as far as I went. After I graduated college, I was really lost. I moved out and back in with my parents like 4 different times and I was having a difficult time trying to find where I fit into society. I attribute this mostly to the rejection of the societal norm that I was feeling. I didn’t want to work some crappy job that I hated for the rest of my life, but that’s precisely where I was heading. And I was feeling pretty horrible about it.
I graduated college when I was about 22 and I met my husband when I was 24, so I didn’t have a lot of time to feel bad for myself before things started to get better. Once my husband and I moved in together, my future became a bit clearer, and I was able to better pinpoint what I wanted out of life. And I wanted to own my time. This was my first clear picture of my future retirement. I wanted it to be fully funded and earlier than normal.
What are the initial strategies you and your family have put in place to complete the Operation Husband Rescue mission?
Right now we are mostly just working out the kinks of a budget and doing some theoretical planning. As I mentioned, our finances are a little up in the air due to being in the middle of building our home. We haven’t made our down-payment yet, so all of our extra money is being funneled into an account that’s going straight toward that initial payment.
Our current planning mostly looks like deciding whether we should pay off the mortgage or start investing with our extra money every month. We only have one debt left besides the mortgage, my husband’s school loan, and we plan to pay that off in full once we sell our current home.
I was originally leaning toward paying off the mortgage, but now I’m thinking that we can make a higher return in the market than our interest is going to be. I really hate having debt laying around, so the decision isn’t set in stone quite yet. We need to make some more spreadsheets. We are a spreadsheet family.
You’ve been reselling on eBay for close to a year now and do a great job highlighting that path on your blog, how is that momentum building and do you have any strategies to share for pushing that further?
I’m actually going to be revamping my entire business plan very soon. While we are getting ready to list our current house and move into our new one, I am going to be liquidating my inventory as much as I can so that I have less to move. I also am trying to make some extra cash to put on the down-payment. Once my inventory is down to bare bones, I am going to be examining how my business operates.
Right now, my business is shamefully disorganized. My first priority when I started selling was getting my inventory up and my store filled. I didn’t pay much attention to having an inventory system or creating a designated eBay space in my house that would allow me to have all my things (tape, bubble wrap, mailers) in one easy-to-grab area. This created a problem for me later when I had over 400 items in inventory and a ton of poly bags, mailers, tape rolls–and no time to organize it.
So my plan is to create some sort of inventory system and make myself a designated area in our new basement where I can operate my business smoothly. I also want to look at branching out to other platforms like Poshmark and Mercari in order to minimize the fees I pay to eBay. I can only list so much on eBay before I have to start paying per listing, and that can add up very quickly.
Hopefully all of that will allow my business to earn more revenue. As it stand right now, the disorganization is really stunting the growth of my business. I’m realizing that it’s really hard to grow something that isn’t already streamlined.
Have there been any major challenges along the way with eBay?
It’s mostly just been a time challenge. Working on eBay requires a lot of time and effort. I have to go source the items, measure them, check them for flaws, list, and ship everything myself. eBay’s listing process is rather thorough and takes a lot of time just for one item. That’s one of the reasons I am hoping to branch out to Poshmark and/or Mercari in the future–I have read that they have easier and faster listing processes.
Other than that, it’s been pretty smooth. There’s a learning curve in the beginning, especially around shipping items and learning the different mail carriers and their rates. However, eBay is a pretty easy platform to learn. I don’t have too many complaints.
Do you have any tips, advice or recommendations for someone look to resell or start their own eBay business?
The biggest tip I can give is to realize what you’re getting into. eBay is not easy money. You have to put in a LOT of work to get to the point where you’re getting consistent sales, and even then sometimes you will have bad weeks.
eBay also isn’t what it used to be. There’s a lot of people reselling on the platform now and the competition is fierce. That means that you’re going to have to price competitively and possibly take less for each item, unless you find something that’s very rare. You really do have to work hard for your money.
What are your short-term financial goals for the family?
Get our finances back in order after the house purchase and start implementing a solid plan to save and invest for our financial independence. Work out all kinks and find what works for us.
Operate on auto-pilot with our budgeting and saving/investing plans, but make changes as necessary. Save for and look into purchasing our first rental property.
Purchase our first rental property, have a good sum of dividends coming in monthly, and really start to see some progress in creating those passive income streams.
What are your long-term financial goals for the family? How are you going to achieve these goals?
Our long term financial goals are really just to be self-sustaining. As I mentioned, we’d like to reach financial independence by the time my husband is 50. That gives us about 14 years. I’d like to have passive income streams mostly from the stock market and from rental properties, and possibly supplement our monthly income with blogging, freelance writing, and/or odd jobs.
I want my husband to do whatever the heck he wants to do for a living too. If he wants to sell donuts at the local Krispy Kreme 3 days a week, I hope that we are in a financial situation where he can do that.
What was your biggest “financial win” or moment of clarity in the early stages of your money journey?
We are still in our early stages of our money journey! The thing I’m proudest of so far is really taking control of our finances by creating a budget sheet. We can’t do a lot with it yet because it’s going to change once we get our new mortgage payment, but it’s a big step for me to just write down our spending. It seems really simple, but I’ve tried to do it several times before and always gave up before the month was over.
When I was working we had a lot more money going in and out in several directions. Extra take out lunches, extra gas charges, money being spent on work clothing, etc. Now that I’m not working and, frankly, barely leave the house our spending has slowed down a lot and it’s easier to keep track of. It’s nice to actually know what your money is being used for every month.
Have you made any major financial mistakes? If so, what was the outcome and what did you learn from these mistakes?
My biggest financial mistake is not moving back into my parents’ home after college. I waited a year or two, living paycheck to paycheck and saving absolutely no money whatsoever. If I had moved back in with my parents sooner, I would have been a lot better off.
That experience taught me that doing the “cool” thing isn’t always the best thing. The reason I didn’t go straight back to my parents’ home was because I was living in a big, bustling city all by myself and it was a lot of fun. I’ve always loved big cities, and it had been my dream to live in the middle of one for some time.
Unfortunately, bills aren’t paid with hopes and dreams. I desperately needed to be realistic–and I wasn’t. A lot of college kids move back in with their parents after they are done with school in order to save money, and I don’t know why I thought I was so special. Maybe it was a little bit of pride too, but there’s no shame in using your resources to save money.
If you could give one or two pieces of advice to other stay at home moms (or dads) who might also be looking to accelerate or support their financial independence path, what would it be?
Be endlessly optimistic. It can get really easy to slide into a place of “I have no options and I can’t do anything about it” because, well, your options are really limited. There’s not many jobs, if any, that provide the flexibility that you need.
That’s when you have to be a little creative. And being creative usually means taking an unbeaten path. Blogging, selling on eBay, freelance writing–these are all great and flexible ways to make money, but they aren’t the norm. And working outside the norm can be a lonely road to go. That’s when you need to be your own biggest cheerleader and know that you can do it. You can make something out of nothing. You can make options out of no options.
What are some of the most influential resources that have shaped your current money mindset or financial situation?
I’d say mostly my parents. My parents are not spenders. They have always lived modestly and never outside of their means. My dad is one the biggest reasons that I am wary of credit cards because he has told me a million times “not to spend money that I don’t have.” He prefers to deal in cash–he’s a smart guy.
As I mentioned before, I found out financial independence was even a thing when I stumbled upon Retire By 40, Mr. Money Mustache and Root of Good. I think they deserve a lot of credit as well. Other than that, I’m just a frugal person by nature. Over the last few year especially, I’ve really grown to hate spending money. Even my mom thinks I’m cheap–and she told me so!
What are your goals with the Operation Husband Rescue blog?
My main goal with the blog is to give me an outlet to talk about financial independence because I think my family is going to get tired of hearing me blather on about it eventually! I also want to create a place where other people in my situation (stay at home moms or dads) can find inspiration to start their own journey toward financial freedom.
Has starting the blog helped you achieve any personal growth or supported in developing specific skills?
I haven’t had the blog for very long, but I have noticed that it’s made me more accountable. I’ve been posting our monthly expense sheets, and I find myself saying “do we really need to spend money on this?” more often because I know that all my readers are going to see it on my monthly expenses post! I don’t want to talk the talk and not walk the walk.
If you could recommend 3 Operation Husband Rescue blog posts for Making Momentum readers, what would those be?
- Operation Husband Rescue: is a great place to start because it gives you a solid idea of why I started the blog and why I want to steer my family toward financial independence
- What Sold on eBay: because it gives you a picture of what my eBay business looks like
- 10 Stupid Ways I’ve Caught Myself Wasting Money: this one is my most popular post thus far and it’s just a fun read
Any final pieces of advice or recommendations?
Don’t be afraid to be a crazy person! I am 1000% a crazy person and I know it. I have huge ambitions and giant dreams for myself and my family and I go after them at full force. Some may not understand my goals or think are attainable–but I don’t care. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about my goals. They’re mine, and I believe that I can achieve them–that’s all that matters.
Besides, the most successful people are always considered crazy until they achieve what they’re working toward–and then they’re just a genius.
Any special shoutouts?
I’ve met a lot of super nice people in my short time working within the financial independence movement. FIRE pursuers are one of the most friendly and inclusive groups of people I have met.
However, one person in particular has helped me a TON for nothing in return. He’s answered a bunch of dumb newbie questions that I’ve had, helped me promote my posts, and even allowed me to guest post on his website despite never having done it before. His name is Michael Dinich at michaeldinich.net and he’s become a great friend.