Inspiring Money Stories: 3 Successful Businesses At 30
We’re excited to introduce you to Mandy today! She has a lot to share about how she’s successfully started three businesses. During this time, she and her husband have paid off his student loans, bought a new house, and started a family. As busy as she is as a wife and mom, Mandy enjoys a career running her own real estate team and she’s helped her husband build a thriving chiropractic business. And a year ago, they opened a childcare center!
Feel free to ask her any questions in the comments or just say hello.
Inspiring Money Stories: Mandy
1 ) Introduce Yourself to The WwM Readers!
Hi! I’m Mandy and I’m 30 years old. My husband, Eddie is 32 and we’ve been married for 5 years. We have two kids — a daughter who is almost three and 1-year old son. My husband grew up in Canada and I grew up in upstate New York, both in suburban areas.
We paid off all of my husband’s student debt in less than 4 years from the day he started his Chiropractic business. I didn’t acquire any school debt thanks to an athletic scholarship! We only have mortgage debt on the two buildings we operate our businesses out of, as well as a mortgage on our personal home.
2) Did your family’s money situation influence you as an adult?
My father is a banker, so he is naturally very conservative about money. He and my mom never spoke about money in a flashy, desirable way. They focused more on ways to be smart with saving our money (not eating out, loving to find a deal, etc.) If we did anything extravagant or bought something it was always special which made it extra fun.
I never paid much attention to money until I went to college — in a very ‘preppy’ environment. I started to realize that people behave and act differently in an attempt to show their financial status. And I suppose the same goes for my hometown. I feel my parents never pointed that out or made it something I recognized prior to this point — which I was grateful for and strive to do with my children!
3) What was your post-secondary experience and the start of your career path like?
I received a scholarship to attend a private school to obtain my Associates Degree in Leadership Studies and Business Administration. My husband received his Associates Degree in Canada which is amazingly affordable but earned his Chiropractic Degree In New York. We ended up with over $150,000 in student loans from that degree alone.
After graduating, I had a very strong degree but felt very ‘lost’ as to what my next steps would be. After a few applications and searching around, I really felt drawn to working in a gym in membership sales. It was a perfect blend of being active while being in a competitive environment.
During this time, I also was teaching exercise classes and I started a lacrosse camps and clinics company. After about a year at the gym, I knew working late nights wasn’t the ideal situation for me, so I began looking for something else.
Real estate was appealing since it seemed as though the harder you work the better you can do and I’d have the freedom to build a business. After a little bit of research, I made the jump to start my real estate career at age 22! The gym membership sales truly helped me in understanding business concepts including training, scripting, being service oriented, and asking for referrals and follow-ups.
As I was getting started in real estate, I was easily working about 60–70 hours a week and didn’t make much money for the first two years. I continued teaching exercise classes, running lacrosse camps, clinics, and trainings, and I was an assistant for a local college women lacrosse team.
Anytime I would earn extra income on the side, I was very focused that it was all with the intent of ‘surviving’ another week in the real estate business. I think often as entrepreneurs are starting out, side jobs are very appealing and are the quick and easy fix from being completely broke. I was offered many full-time jobs during this time but felt so focused on real estate I was able to confidently turn them down.
4) Tell us about your income performance over time and involvement of your partner in your financial matters?
Growing up being heavily involved in sports, my jobs were inconsistent. I’d help coach or run clinics but paychecks had to last a long time. This mindset carried over even when I was making money consistently. Saving came easily.
When I was working at the gym, I made mid $20,000 with performance bonuses — while working long, sporadic hours gym-life entails. I do recall other employees talking about how they would always go to the mall after they got paid — it was an interesting perspective because for me, I never really knew when payday was or put much focus on it. My biggest expenses at the time were sharing an apartment with a close friend and having a car — yet I was still able to save over $10,000 during the course of that year.
When I made the decision to get into real estate, I was very aware that this money needed to last me 4–6 months — the average time frame expected before making commissions in real estate. I actually didn’t make any money the first 8 months!
The first year in real estate, my net income (after the expenses of starting and running the business) was easily under $15,000 — despite me working morning, noon and night, 7 days a week. I never was completely broke because I had an excel spreadsheet of everything I was spending. I also projected spend in the coming months. And I was so aware of every penny that when I would meet clients at a Dunkin’ Donuts, I wouldn’t even get a muffin.
My budget and commitment to not spending went as far as refusing to turn the heat on the ENTIRE winter. My roommate and I were so proud of our nearly non-existent energy bill — until our parents came to the icebox of a home we had with browned bananas, frozen toothpaste and us dressed in hats and gloves watching TV. They gave us a loving scolding.
My parents would casually drop off frozen chicken and a gas-card so I would come home. They’d give us a gift certificate so Eddie and I could go on a date whenever they could. We weren’t ‘broke’ — but we were very careful about every penny we spent. Eddie and I recall for an entire year our ‘romance’ consisted of all-you-can-eat buffet deals so we could eat enough food for the entire day for $9.99, a bowl of cereal and a banana!
The second year, my income increased to over $50,000. However, in real estate, one month you could have 6 closings, and the next none — so I still behaved as if I wasn’t making any money. The biggest challenge for me at this time was with commissions, as I had to set aside money for taxes. My father guided me in creating separate bank accounts for taxes but I still never felt like any money was “mine” until I paid taxes. This helped me to save. I do feel I was out of balance living so tightly — it created a lot of unnecessary stress in my heart. Within a few years, the business broke the six figures mark and I started to see more consistent income coming in.
Around the same time, it was clear my husband and I were in this for the long haul. With Eddie still a student, I recall making the conscious decision for us to no longer use his credit card. We had moved in together, so I insisted that I was in control of our finances. I took over the living expenses, groceries, and nights out since we knew it didn’t make sense to pay interest on it later.
We joke that his mother always handled his finances, so I just fit right in. But he saw the way I handled my own finances and trusted I would put us in a strong position. We decided to buy a mixed-use building where Eddie would open his own Chiropractic practice on the 1st floor and we’d live on the 2nd floor.
We did take out a commercial line of credit for his business to get it started. He felt his own pressure in starting the business but because we were so used to living on just one income, we were able to take calculated risks with his business because we weren’t relying on it. We feel these risks helped set him up for great growth. He focused on growing his practice while I handled all of the accounting for our family and our businesses.
I kept a very close tab on all spending but since we lived off a budget for so long, we were very accustomed to living simply. He never likes to know his income, he loves to focus on just serving as many people as he can. It can be tough to give up control, and it’s a lot of pressure on me, but it worked for us for several years.
This past year, we opened up a daycare and I had to turn the reins over to a bookkeeper who has been incredible. I was just WAY too behind. I do find that not looking at the numbers every single second like I used to impacted our bottom line. There was a lot of pressure on me but I knew I just couldn’t physically get everything done — so it was just a loss I had to cope with and know was necessary.
In terms of any additional tips, I do think when you’re starting a business you really have to take the spending slow and get very deep into your numbers. The more you know your numbers, the more you can assess risks that are necessary to take in any business — ie. making your first hire, purchasing new equipment etc.
5) What do you think is one of the most difficult money challenges for women?
The biggest money challenge for me is just having all the pressure. I know it sounds simple, but I had to the be the one saying when we could buy a new house or when we could go on a vacation. I feel grateful that my husband did allow me to take over the expenses — but it’s a lot!
6) Did you have a big “aha” moment related to your finances?
The big AHA moment for me was when my husband and I were renovating our mixed-use office space. I had a complete breakdown (my quarter-life crisis!) because we had one unexpected expense after another. We had to live out of a tiny room, stay with my parents, shower and get ready in a construction zone with no lights or mirrors.
My income would make it so we’d be fine financially but I FELT broke and realized that money doesn’t “fill you up”. It was at this time that I was saved by the Lord and the first time I really started to separate myself from my income. I recognized that money doesn’t make or break anyone. We started to get serious about tithing and focused on savings not to have it in our bank account but with the intent to help more people — through real estate, chiropractic, eventually a daycare, church and other organizations. The less we’ve focused on ‘having’ the money the more we’ve made!
The biggest mistake I would say is that I checked out too much from my finances this past year. I was just ‘too busy’ and when I dug back into it, I found huge expenses that I didn’t even realize were set to recur. We had a payroll glitch and I just didn’t have the time to focus on it. I should have made that more of a priority even when I was busy with a million other things!
7) What tools, apps, or programs do you use to keep track of your finances?
Quickbooks & excel! I know it sounds simple but I started living by excel and filtering into quickbooks. Also, having separate bank accounts for your business checking, business savings, and business taxes is HUGE to be able to separate commissions. I also started to pay myself a salary so I am able to really budget even when I have high or low income months.
Try to find other people in your industry or those who live around the same threshold as you and compare finances. Don’t be afraid to speak openly to someone you trust about money. In the company I’m with, they are all SO open about percentages for expenses. This allowed me to create a clear, realistic budget based on other people who have experience and success in the industry. Compare goals to actuals at least once a month and share your AHA’s with you person/partner.
8) What does your work-life balance look like?
I turn work-life balance into work-life presence. I love this term because I think the biggest thing that robs us (especially women) from satisfaction is that when we’re at work we’re thinking about our spouse/kids and when we’re with our kids/spouse we’re thinking about work.
Once we get ultra clear on what satisfies us, we need to make a game plan. For instance, you may be a woman who needs to be with their children all day every day OR you may be a woman who can have 1–2 hours a day with her children and feel completely satisfied. It is SO important to look inside ourselves and not at our friends, our mom, or social media as to what works best for us.
Once clear on that, arrange your schedule so you have that ideal timeframe with your kids/spouse. Then, STICK TO IT! If a client calls when I’ve set time with my husband, I call someone in to support me to work with that client.
When I’m honoring the schedule that is ideal for me, I’m able to know that when I’m at work, if I’m ever feeling mom/wife guilt, I can easily push that worry out because I know my schedule is set to have time with them. The same goes for work. When I’m with my family and I’m writing an email in my head, I push it out knowing I have my time set aside to complete that task.
This is a work in progress for sure, but my quick guide to how I’ve been improving on my ability to find satisfaction balancing life and work — being present in both areas!
9) What advice would you give to a friend who struggles with money?
Get very clear on your goals — starting with the end in mind. I would ask what are the biggest, craziest goals you could ever dream of. Then, I would get ultra clear about what that looks and feels like — to really see if that is a goal worth working toward. For some people, that is having a place of their own, for others, it’s buying an island! Whatever it is, know that it’s YOUR dream and be confident in that.
Then, I would break down what it would take to accomplish the goal (how much needs to be saved, how much debt needs to be paid off to improve credit.) Identify your current state and create a realistic timeline of when things can be accomplished. The clearer the goals, the easier it is to say YES or NO to things that either align with that goal or don’t! After that, it would be having milestone check-ins with that friend, holding them accountable to create new habits around their finances.
10) Is there anything else you’d like to share with our Women who Money readers?
I’m a firm believer that the money we have in our bank account is not ours. It’s money God gave to us to use, to serve people. The more we’re not tied to money being important, the more we are free to use it. Focus on serving and providing value to the people around you, and it will come to you!
The WwM Team’s Key Takeaways from our Interview with Mandy:
- Parents holding back their comments about others’ wealth and status helped her to see people more as equals
- Side gigs help pay the bills so you can skip other full-time offers and concentrate on the business you’re building
- Tracking every cent mattered and helped her develop a saving habit — which paid off when she had a variable income
- Living off one income and using a budget helped them grow a stronger, more customer-oriented second business (before they started a third successful business!)
- Sometimes you have to give up work that matters. Keep an eye on it but find someone competent to relieve some of the stress you are facing
- Work-life presence helps you excel and find happiness in whatever you are doing throughout your day
- Talk to people you know about money. Learn from each other and share freely.
- Taking on an abundance mindset makes you wealthy in more ways than one!
- Get clear on your goals, figure out your current state, and chart a realistic timeline. Don’t go after things that aren’t clearly aligned with your goals and dreams.
Thanks for sharing your story of building businesses and shifting your mindset, Mandy! You’re an inspiration!
Originally published at womenwhomoney.com on July 20, 2018.