"Before entering college, I was already pretty freaked out by the idea of student loan debt," she says. "Because even by then I was a total finance nerd. I read everything I could about money management in middle school and high school."
Ms. Richards decide to go forego any student loans and earned about $10,000 a year selling Cutco knives (the $10,00 along with her piano scholarship was enough to cover tuition costs). She graduated debt-free in 2013 at age 20.
She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in financial economics and worked for two years as a financial advisor. "I figured, I love finance, I'm passionate about helping people, and I have this really strong sales background," she says. "So I figured it would be the perfect fit for me."
She started with a salary of $36,000, then made $42,000 in her second year.
"My expenses were about $1,500 a month," she says. "And since I didn't have student loans and I was super, superfrugal, I was able to save over half my paycheck even then."
"I realized I wanted out of this, but I still wanted to help people with finance, because that's what I love to do," she says. "It took me a few years to figure out how to eventually get there."
After the two years as a financial advisor, Richards bounced around for a few years and finally landed as a financial analyst at a manufacturing firm in 2016 with a salary of $75,000. Three years later she retired from the 9-to-5 workforce at the age of 27 to focus on her income-generating projects.
"Before , we didn't have any other income streams," she says. "We didn't have side hustles. We didn't have passive income. We were both just working the hustle of the 9-to-5 jobs."
The couple decided to buy a duplex in Louisville that cost $100,000 as an income property.
"Each of us put $10,000 from our individual savings in to get us to that 20% down payment," Richards says. "That came from the money we had been saving over the years."
The couple expanded their real estate holdings aggressively, purchasing six properties (a total of about 40 units) in two years.
"If you have a [real estate] license, you have a slight time advantage because you can literally get notified of properties that are being listed in real time," she says. "So there were times where I had a search set up that if something, that if a property met my criteria, it would immediately email me if something was listed. At times I could be out to that property within 30 minutes of it being listed and be the first one to make an offer."
"Any time we would close on one of our properties, basically we would fully deplete our savings to buy a property, but then I would immediately get a commission check back for thousands of dollars," Richards says. "Sometimes it would be like 10 grand. So that would jump-start the savings for the next down payment."
"I started thinking about writing a book in early 2017 because all my family and friends were coming to me for financial advice," she says. "I also began to wonder, well, why aren't they reading books or learning on their own? And then I had this epiphany that, oh yeah, personal finance is boring for most people. It's overwhelming, it's complex, it's dry. So I thought to myself, 'How can I make this topic fun and sassy and simple?' And that's where the idea for 'Money Honey' came from."
Richards did some research and found out "if you self-publish on Amazon, you can earn 35% to 70%," she says. "So I figured, why am I going to pay [traditional publishers] essentially, if they're not going to really do anything to help me market my books?" (Traditional publishers only pay about 10% to 15%).
From that book, along with her follow-up, "Passive Income, Aggressive Retirement," Richards is making about $4,000 a month in royalties.
Richards also offers an eight-week online course, which is another source of passive income for the couple. The course, which costs $497 and is called "Get Your Financial $hit Together," generates about $4,000 a month in profit for Richards.
"We wanted to create $10,000 a month in passive income. Now it's $16,000 a month. Our expenses are probably $8,000 a month, on average," she says. "We love to do things like travel. We travel a lot. We live in a pretty big house. We just wanted to be comfortable and be able to go to REI and spend money without worrying about it."
"Now it's about working when, where, and if I want, and my passion just happens to be working on this business that I've created writing books and teaching women about financial literacy. So that's how I spend the majority of my time," Richards says. "My husband, on the other hand, has chosen to keep working for now, because he is a rare human in that he loves his career. He loves his job. He's very fulfilled by it. So for him too, it's about working because he wants to, not because he has to."