Michelle-Schroeder-Gardner. As I have indulged more into the blogosphere, this is one name which consistently popped up. I looked up Michelle and I realised that her story is absolutely inspirational.

Michelle started her blog – Making sense of cents – in 2011. Today she is pretty well known in the industry for becoming a blog millionaire. Yes, you read that correct. She has cumulatively earned over 2 Million USD from the blog through various means like affiliate marketing, display ads, sponsored posts and her online course.

She is extremely open about her income and publishes a detailed report every month. Anyone wishing to study blogging as an alternate career will find these reports and her tips a great resource.

What I like about it

While the monthly blogging income reports at “Making Sense of Cents” are hugely popular, it takes nothing away from the initial purpose the blog started out with – personal finance. The web site is beautifully laid out and well organized with neat categories like – budget tips, save money, side job ideas, pay off debt, extra income to name a few.

Michelle also writes about her personal life and choices with enough details to engage any reader. So, if you go through the blog, you will glean an insight into the time when she decided to quit her unsatisfactory job for a full-time blogging career after establishing it to a stage where it was earning her more than her day job. She talks candidly about the advice and the reaction of surprise from the people around her, particularly her work colleagues for the unconventional move.

She is also someone who has ditched the conventional lifestyle of staying put in one place for a life of travelling and living in an RV (Recreational Van) with her husband.

All in all, I am pretty inspired by her journey and the blog is one on which I binge (sometimes guiltily thanks to the amount of time I end up spending on it) a lot.

One Big Post

Having read hundreds, if not a thousand personal finance posts by now, there are very few that surprise me. However, Michelle’s post – Frugal, Cheap or Thief? Are you smart with money or actually a thief? – with a lot of crowd-sourced opinions was fantastic.

Where do you draw the line between frugality and theft?

I have often seen people being very smart in the way they practice frugality. But enough of us do not know where to draw the line when it comes to being frugal. Michelle raises the pertinent question about what does it mean to be frugal and can it be at the cost of a healthy conscience?

Would you call using something and then taking advantage of a store’s return policy frugality or theft? I stand with the opinion that it is most definitely theft.

What about when you are out with an NRI relative and ensure that you do not mention that the person is an NRI so that the negotiator at the other end doesn’t charge you a premium knowing it is cheap enough in dollars? Is that negotiation or cheating? I place it firmly in the space of negotiation.

My mother taught me to be honest and fair when it came to negotiations. When as a teen I had to take a cycle rickshaw as the school bus used to drop me far from home, the standard price was 5 rupees for the ride (yeah it was years back, hence 5 rupees). I started telling the poor rickshaw drivers that I didn’t have any more money to bargain to the price I thought fair. However, my mum was pretty specific that all I needed to do was stand my ground and not lie in the scenario.

While every one has varying yard sticks on what constitutes as cheating, theft or frugality, there are some universal lines that any healthy conscience will not let you cross. Here’s hoping you find that comfort level for yourself 🙂

Two other blog posts:

  1. Why Is Talking About Money More Taboo Than Sex?
  2. 15 reasons you are broke and can’t save money

You can connect with Michelle on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and email