Money pro tips Q&A with Miss America Camille Schrier

Myelle Lansat


Myelle Lansat

Myelle Lansat

News Editor

Myelle Lansat is a news editor at Policygenius, where she writes the Easy Money newsletter and covers insurance and personal finance. Previously, she was a personal finance writer at CNBC and Acorns, and a reporter for Business Insider.

Published April 2, 2020 | 7 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

News article image

Camille Schrier made history when she won Miss America 2020 — the first year the pageant eliminated its infamous swimsuit competition and focused solely on social impact initiatives, personal statements and interviews.

After receiving the crown, she embarked on a 365-day tour of the country, delivering keynote speeches and meeting fans. But that recently came to a halt because of the novel coronavirus. Now, instead of being on the road, Schrier’s isolating in her parents’ Pennsylvania home and brainstorming ways to virtually promote Miss America.

With her extra downtime, she’s catching up on emails, researching future speeches and developing a series of videos showcasing science experiments for kids. (Schrier, who has a B.S. in biochemistry from Virginia Tech, is pursuing a doctor of pharmacy degree at Virginia Commonwealth University.)

She’s also taking advantage of the extra downtime for self-care and rejuvenation.

“I love cooking so I've been cooking with my family, doing home workouts and catching up on my sleep so when I go back out, I’m rested and ready to go,” Schrier said.

Want alerts about our Pro tip profiles? Sign up for our Easy Money newsletter, sent to your inbox each Friday.

What’s the most rewarding part about being Miss America?

Miss America is an iconic brand in this country. It's been around for nearly 100 years. I put a face to the brand, and I’m progressive about what Miss America is. I'm a scientist — I did a science experiment for my talent — and I redefine what Miss America looks like. That's the most rewarding thing. I want the little girls to see me and know that Miss America is a scientist.

What’s one financial lesson you’ve learned as Miss America?

I went to grad school right after college and have never had a salaried job, and now I'm basically making a six-figure salary as Miss America, which is part of my prize package. I've never made this kind of money in my life, and I need to know what to do with it in a responsible way. I think that if you don't understand finance, you can have the best job in the world, and still really not be in a great financial situation.

Here's how you can protect your wealth from an (un)expected windfall

What’s your current money goal and how are you working toward it?

I am hoping to learn how to invest my money in a way that is responsible and financially beneficial. This has been hard for me. I've never been comfortable with the risk of investing, and my goal is being more familiar with investing and learning how that can be beneficial for me. If I start investing as a young person I’ll be setting myself up for later in life. I'm working with my parent’s financial advisers and I'm putting that money in the appropriate places so that when I'm done with graduate school, the money will work for me.

New to investing? Here's how 5 certified financial planners manage their personal portfolios

What's the best financial advice you’ve ever received?

To start saving really early. My parents opened a bank account for me for my first Communion and I deposited all the money I received. When I was 18, I had enough money to buy a car without having to get a car loan. I still have that car today, because why do I need a new car? It still works. It's a white 2011 Ford Edge — it's a mom car and we call her The Turtle.

Learn more about how saving early can lead to retiring early

What are your top budgeting tips for pageants?

The intent of competing in the Miss America organization is to benefit financially from scholarship dollars. It’s an investment to go and compete in state or national competitions, and if you want to make it financially beneficial for yourself, you don't want to spend more than what you're winning. I think of it from a ROI perspective.

Borrowing, buying things secondhand and looking for sponsorships are my top tips. Gowns can cost thousands of dollars. I bought one gown from a friend and probably saved around $1,500. The gown I wore to Miss America was upwards of $5,000, but I didn’t pay for it because I looked for a store that was willing to sponsor me — and I was able to save a lot of money.

You don't need a $5,000 gown to win Miss America. You can totally win if you wear a $100 dress. You can spend all the money in the world on clothing, but if you can't communicate, you're not going to win.

What’s the best thing you ever spent money on for a pageant?

My interview suit — the joke between me and my mom is, my mom wants to spend a ton of money on my clothes and I'm like, ‘no we can get this for cheaper.’ But this particular suit, made by Elie Tahari, was probably the most expensive suit I’ve ever worn. It's quite literally something that is timeless and I can probably wear it for the rest of my life. It was an investment piece and that was my splurge and it was worth it.

I think it made my interview, because if you're in something you really really love, it makes you feel that much more confident walking into a room.

And it's a pantsuit! Everyone went into the Miss America interviews in dresses, and here I am in a pantsuit. I wanted to be different, so I'm like: ‘This is me in a suit.’

What’s one thing you refuse to splurge on?

I only use drugstore makeup and I reuse my fake eyelashes. If I buy a pack of four, that’s not four uses — that’s a year for me. I just clean them with soap and water so I don't get an eye infection, and I keep reusing them until they break. The first time I ever bought foundation that wasn’t from a drugstore was for Miss America.

What’s the hardest part about being Miss America?

I think constantly traveling — literally going on a work trip for a month and coming back and going on another work trip for a month for an entire year.

It’s about managing the logistics of what I bring with me, staying healthy, eating well, maintaining a workout routine, and managing life on the road constantly. I’ve learned to adapt my life to living in hotels, and it doesn't always go as well as planned. Like eating healthy and going to the gym on the road is a struggle. But this is a year-long struggle, and then I'll go back to all my routines.

What’s your biggest work-while-traveling hack?

Mostly with packing — I only bring two pairs of neutral shoes. Because shoes are really heavy and I only get two suitcases, so a neutral pair of heels and a neutral pair of dressy shoes and a pair of sneakers because no one cares what you’re wearing on your feet most of the time. I also always bring a snack in case I go to a hotel and can't find anything healthy to eat.

What’s in your wallet?

I have three wallets because I travel so much. I have one for every day, a massive tri-fold normal-sized wallet, and one that only has gift and store cards.

The one I actually use has cash, my credit cards and my insurance card. That's it. Those three things because I try to keep weight off of things when I'm traveling.

My other one has so many different things in it. I have those baggage claim stickers from luggage, I have an AAA card, Panera Bread and Target gift cards, Costco cards, eyeglass prescriptions because I wear glasses — and I have all of my prescriptions from all of my eyeglasses. I have a tiny periodic table in there, which is not surprising. I have my own business card, and then I have this emergency alert cart because I have Ehlers Danlos syndrome, and that's my alert card if someone finds me.

Third one is completely full of gift cards because I have so many gift cards, I keep them separated in their own wallet so I don't have to carry them around all the time

This interview was lightly edited for style and clarity.

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko