March Peer Profile: "My Parents Helped Me to Prioritize Fun, but Never Go into Debt For It."
Last year, we started a feature on Hello HENRYs called Peer Profiles - a series in which we interviewed millennials about their approach to money + what has influenced the way they manage it. We think there is so much value in having conversations with friends about money! It shouldn’t be taboo + we guarantee that you can learn something new, even from your most financially clueless friends. We hope that our conversations inspire you to break the ice with your own peers!
For this month’s Peer Profile, we were so excited to meet with Heidi, one of our favorite local travel bloggers! Heidi seriously does it all. Not only does she have a full time job as a Marketing Supervisor, but she also runs a successful travel blog – HMG Travels The World – and co-owns a wedding planning + rental business. All while managing to travel the world + remain financially responsible. We met with Heidi at Café Louvre in Downtown Edmonds. We hadn’t been up there in years, but it was the cutest downtown area by the water with lots of shops, cafes + restaurants. We will definitely be back!
Hello HENRYs: We’ll start off with something easy! Money, along with most sensitive subjects in life, is always easier to discuss over a few drinks. To help our readers get to know you a bit better, what’s your go-to drink order?
Heidi: An IPA is my jam.
HH: You definitely live in the right part of the country! So many amazing craft beers + breweries. I’m sure there is always somewhere new for you to try! Getting into the topic of finances, we feel like most people’s attitudes are at least, initially, shaped by their childhood + how their parents managed money. Can you speak to that?
HG: Growing up my parents had – and still have today – differing perspectives on money +how it should be spent which actually helped keep everything in perspective for me. It keeps my approach pretty balanced today. My dad was definitely the person to emphasize saving for the future, while my mom had more of a “YOLO” approach + wanted us to really enjoy life. Their opinions together have helped me to prioritize fun, but never go into debt for it.
HH: How did they help you learn to manage your money?
HG: My dad was the first one to get my siblings + me started with a savings accounts. He opened them for us at young ages. He also started buying stocks, in our names, when we were pretty young. He would bring us to the shareholder meetings. While we didn’t always understand what was going on at that age, it was inspiring to be in that environment + start getting familiar. None of us opened credit card accounts until we really understood the responsibility + what we were getting into. My dad made sure of that.
HH: We love that!! It’s so important to talk to kids from a young age about money. Even if they don’t completely understand at first, they will be so much more familiar down the road when it really matters. Our mom always talked to us about retirement savings, as early as middle school. When Lauren was 18, she opened an IRA + even though she didn’t understand all the fundamentals, she knew it was important + ultimately a step ahead of her peers. You obviously learned how to save + manage money, but did you learn how to splurge or treat yourself too? What do you remember your parents splurging on?
HG: When we were really young, my parents mostly splurged on just creating a great life for us kids. Always making sure we were able to be in sports, music, all of the activities + hobbies that we wanted to try. My parents split in 2000 + at that time, my mom started taking us on vacations. This became what I saw as her biggest splurge + inspired my love of traveling too.
HH: That’s so great to hear! It sounds like you, just like us, were really shaped by your childhood + how your parents handled their finances. As you’ve grown up + lived life on your own, how have you applied that? What has your smartest financial move been?
HG: I think becoming a homeowner really early on in my adulthood was a very smart move. My parents helped me with the down payment on my first house with my ex. When we split, we had made a profit on the house + ultimately decided to sell the property and divide the earnings. Rather than use the money frivolously or on other things, I used the money from the sale to buy my second house – a condo in Edmonds. Ultimately, I sold that condo when I remarried + we purchased a townhouse together. I got super lucky with the market each time + appreciate my mom pushing me at such a young age to buy a home.
HH: Three homes by age 30 + to have made a profit on each one is great! Our parents have found great success through home ownership, specifically investment + rental properties. They have built a great portfolio + we both knew that it was an avenue that we wanted to get into early as well. What we were most excited to talk with you about is your diverse professional life. Talk to us about having your own side business.
HG: My business partner + I actually work together in our 9-5 jobs as well. We both knew that we had a passion for wedding planning + that it was something we wanted to get into down the road. We never really sat down + created a business plan at the beginning. We’ve been working on the business for about 2 years now + are just now beginning to talk about more strategic, business related questions – like which credit card to use + how to manage the finances of our business. If I had to come up with one “money mistake,” it would probably be not having a solid plan for the business when we started.
HH: That totally makes sense though! Especially when you’re just starting something as a hobby or passion. You don’t always think through all of the logistics or make things super planned out at that beginning! Now that you’ve been in business for a few years, what have you learned + how has the business grown?
HG: 2017 was our first full “wedding season” in business + we actually booked 8 weddings that first season + have started to build a decent following. From this experience, we learned that what we really enjoyed was the design component of weddings. We have transitioned more into the rental side of the industry – table linens, etc.
HH: That’s so cool! Super impressive that you were able to book so many weddings right out of the gate + all while still working a fulltime job. We love to hear about other women pursuing their passions + seeing if it’s possible to turn it into a career. You obviously run a travel blog as well. Our readers hear our travel + money tips all the time. We’d love to share a few of yours!
HG: One of my biggest tips is to choose a credit card that rewards you for travel. I personally use the Alaska card. I always save my companion fare, as well as my miles for the biggest or most expensive trips. For example, this year I used my companion fare to go to Hawaii – one of the further destinations that Alaska flies. Then for redeeming or using the miles, I’ve found it most worthwhile to use Alaska’s partners. For our honeymoon, I was able to use my miles to book our fare on Emirates. Lastly, for first-time trips to major destinations like Europe, don’t try to do it all. Pick 2-3 places you really want to go to + enjoy those. You can always come back!
HH: We are totally on the same page!! Earning miles is great, but it’s so important to use them well. It makes us cringe to see our friends blow all of their miles on something small when they could probably get to Europe or Asia for a similar amount if they explored airline partners. (HENRYs – we have a post coming soon to help breakdown when you should use your miles vs. cash + how to make your miles go far!)
To wrap up, we always like to know what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
HG: Petra! I’m working on convincing my husband to go!
HH: We would LOVE to go! I’m sure you’ll find a way to use your miles to get you there too! Thanks so much for meeting with us! We know that talking money isn’t always easy or fun, but we really enjoyed our conversation + know that our readers will love getting to learn more about you too!!
If you, or someone you know, would be a good fit for a future Peer Profile, email us + tell us more at firstname.lastname@example.org !