Live Large + Go BIG – Q&A with Stefanie O’Connell

By Andy Hayes

After a weekend full of gratitude, we’re back to our bi-weekly Q&A with our favorite authors in the personal finance space.  Today, we’re talking with Stefanie O’Connell, millennial finance expert and author of The Broke and Beautiful Life.  As Stefanie says, “The life you want, no matter what it looks like, has a price tag.”  What she says is true – but Stefanie helps you figure out how to get the life you want, and not be ashamed for setting BIG financial goals and taking action to make them happen.

So with that, let’s talk more with Stefanie.

In your own words, what does it mean to “live large?”

Living large means living a life that aligns with your values. Is what you’re doing in the day-to-day in alignment with your big picture dreams and priorities?

It’s easy to get caught up in the habits and routines of the daily grind, but if we don’t take the time to step back and make sure those habits and routines are still in service of our greater goals, we can find ourselves veering off track.

Most people only take the time to do this kind of self-reflection once a year, just before the New Year, and because of that infrequency they often find themselves disappointed with where they’ve arrived asking, “How did I get here?”

I think about how my daily actions play into my dreams and goals nearly every day, and I absolutely love my life – where I am today as much as where I’m going, because I’m constantly adjusting to keep maintain that alignment.

What are some of the personal finance challenges unique to millenials & generation y?

Millennials have been subject to some pretty abysmal circumstances- the post-recession job market and record student loan debt to name of a couple doozies.

That said, millennials are also at the forefront of unprecedented opportunity.

A financial education can be had for free from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Tools to encourage savings and investing facilitate affordable financial planning. Lucrative businesses can be launched for next-to-nothing. It’s a new age of accessibility that presents extraordinary opportunity for financial greatness.

You are featured so often as a speaker/expert. Two part question: what’s the most common question you get (how awkward if I already asked it), and how do you answer it?

People always want the ONE tip, the thing they can do to get started and be smarter with their finances. My answer is always surprises them with the simplicity of it – writing down everything you spend and everything you earn. That’s it. I remind them that when you’re looking at a map, you have a destination, but you need to identify another point before you can plot your route – the “you are here” mark.

Having a tangible representation of your spending and earnings laid out in front of you is your financial “you are here” mark. Only then can you begin crafting the plan to take you to your desired destination.

And, what’s the question that you aren’t getting asked but you wish you were – and what’s your answer to it?

Hmmm… maybe, “What’s been the most beneficial outcome of your personal financial journey?” Answer: Making more money. Total game changer.

I was very frugal and financially knowledgeable, but without a critical level of earnings, I was never able to get ahead in a substantial way. Now that I have, I feel immensely liberated and joyous. Who says more money won’t make you happier? 😉

You’re at a dinner party, and the host mentions to the group that you’re in the finance space. Another guest (that you don’t know) asks you what’s the best piece of advice you’ve learned since you started blogging. What do you tell them?

Go big. You don’t need permission.

I spent so much time working for $30-40 on pieces that would take me hours. My whole mindset has now shifted. I’m targeting four figure projects. I’m pitching top media outlets. I’m building relationships with leading industry experts and positioning myself as the go-to in my niche – there’s a ton of value in that.

My work isn’t all that different and I’m certainly no different, I’m just approaching everything from a place that demands greater value. It really comes down to making that mindset shift and owning it.

Love what Stefanie has to say? Then follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Thanks again for joining us today!

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