“Women get together and we discuss men, children, and our lives over a glass of wine. But how often do we talk openly about finances? We say, ‘The Lord will make a way,’ and that’s true. But I’d like to empower myself.” Whether you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties or fifties and beyond, it’s not too late to get started. This quote is from an article in the February’s issue of ESSENCE Magazine.
So often we get together with our friends and loved ones to talk about life and all of our issues. But how often do we discuss financial struggle, along with the importance of saving or budgeting? It wasn’t until my last year of college, when I was about to graduate, I realized the importance of saving and how I should’ve done that during my journey.
After finding out about the Live Richer Challenge (a free, online financial challenge created by The Budgetnista to help women achieve 7-specific financial goals in 36 days. Currently over 15,000+ women in all 50 States and 52 countries, have signed-up and participated in the LRC.) and hearing her on the panel at a financial education event; I had the pleasure of interviewing financial educator, Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche. The Budgetnista has been featured in The New York Times, US News and World Report, the TODAY show, PBS, Fox Business, MSNBC, CBS MoneyWatch, TIME, ESSENCE Magazine, and FORBES. She regularly blogs about personal finance for The Huffington Post. She has also been has been a featured speaker at American Express, Princeton University, Wyndham Worldwide, Columbia University, Circle of Sisters, MegaFest, The United Way, Prudential Financial Inc. and many more.
Below you will find a few highlights from the interview where you’ll get to know a little more about Tiffany, as well as get some useful tips on how to get your finances in order.
Miss Jones: How did you decide to start this journey? (Entrepreneurship)
The Budgetnista: Life decided for me. I was a school teacher for ten years. The school I was working for lost funding and everyone lost their jobs. I was relieved because I knew it was time to move on, but I was scared as well. You can do all of the right things and still be without a job.
Miss Jones: For those who may not know, tell us a little about your business.
The Budgetnista: I have a financial education firm, which helps people with basic finances. My audience is predominantly women. I work with sets/groups of people and companies. Because I was an educator, I am able to teach in these settings. I’ve worked with companies like Prudential, United Way, and more.
Miss Jones: What life experiences growing up contributed to the career path you have now?
The Budgetnista: I grew up in a household with my father, who was a financial banker. My father always talked to my sister and I about finances. When I got my first job, I had to talk with him about my paycheck. So I was able to master that at home. The rest was natural progression. I taught preschool, which played a part. The younger the age, the better to teach. College age students have knowledge, while preschoolers have no knowledge at all. You have to teach them everything, and that’s the best place to start. If you can teach preschool effectively, you can teach anyone.
Miss Jones: did you ever think you’d write a book?
The Budgetnista: Yes, I always though I would but I never knew what it would be about. When I was teaching, the parents would come in around nap time and I would help them with their finances. As I was helping them, I would write it down. And eventually u wrote a book about it.
Miss Jones: Did you ever think the LiveRicher Challenge would be as big as it is now?
The Budgetnista: Yes and no. I thought it was a great idea, and would be great to do. The I thought to myself, ‘it’s too much, no one’s going to do this.’ It was the same with my book. It humbled me. What the challenge is doing now, is something I dreamed of.
Miss Jones: What are some of the goals you’ve had?
The Budgetnista: I ultimately wanted to have a business and fully support myself. I wanted to make a certain amount of money a month. I wanted by book to be a number one seller. I also wanted to be featured in certain publications. And I was able to accomplish all of these. There are still some goals I have yet to reach. I would like to speak at ESSENCE Festival, as well as be a branch certified one day.
Miss Jones: How were you able to accomplish these goals?
The Budgetnista: Putting one foot in front of the other, without overthinking. I’ve learned to do what you know, and the rest will come after. When you do what you know, the more you learn. Two, always keep positive people around you. I call those people in my life, the dream catchers. Keep people around you who have their own business. You’ll be able to learn from them. Also, keep honest people around you, that’ll let you know when you’re doing too much. Remember why you started, and don’t be afraid to look for assistance when you need it. Learn when to ask for help. It can cost you time, money, and happiness when you try to do everything yourself.
Miss Jones: Many people growing up, as myself, were never really taught to save, and are now struggling with the transition and mind shift. What are some tips to get back on track?
The Budgetnista: 1. Discipline. Decide how much from your check to save. It’ll get you to practice. Ask your job to take out $10 out of $100, and send it to another account through direct deposit. 2. Start with saving goals that are fun. For example, specifically saving for a vacation, a car, or an apartment. You can either go to a concert, or live home with your parents forever. Find what motivates you, even when you want to spend. 3. Open up an online savings account, which allows you to magnify your money online. Banks such as Capitol one 360 and Ally banks offer great online accounts. And it is only a savings account. Separate accounts for specific goals. Whether it be a travel or a car account. These online accounts take 2-5 business days (unlike a regular bank) to transfer money. So it forces you to save.
Miss Jones: What are some of the most important steps to becoming financially stable?
The Budgetnista: First, imagine you’re in a ditch. Just stop digging. Stop using your cards. Stop eating out. Find the issue, and take a step back. Bring things back in order one at a time. Be sure to create a budget, it’ll help you see where your money is going. Try the Live richer challenge. Miss Jones: How can one save and still enjoy your life? Looking well, vacationing, but still have funds saved?
The Budgetnista: Budget. Including travel, clothes, etc. Look at what you want. Take out bills first, and put 10% into your retirement account. With the first check of the month. From 90% figure out how much the things you need are, how much will you save, and how much will you do for fun stuff. Retirement should always be first, then emergency savings, bills, then fun. When there’s no money left, you’ve made poor choices. If you want fun, lower your bills.
Miss Jones: How do you build your credit score?
The Budgetnista: Your credit score is broken up into five different components 1. Inquiry. Which is when someone else looks at your social security number, if you were applying for a credit card etc. You should save it for a car or student loans instead of applying for multiple credit cards you don’t need. Even if you don’t qualify for the card, points are still taken off of your credit score. And that’s 10% of your credit score.
2. 10% of your credit score is debt.
3. Length of credit history. And that’s 15%. Keep your oldest credit card open. If you’re in college or fresh out of college, let your parents put you on as an authorized user. Where they are the primary user and also pay on time.
4. Utilization. Which is how much are you using. This is the thing that brings most of it down. Using too much of what you’re given. Keep your spending under 30%.
5. Payment history. Which 35%. Keep your payments down. Always pay what they ask when they ask. Charge a card with something small regularly and pay it off in full every month.
Miss Jones: What are some of the best budget plans that you’d give others? Is the Mint App a good budgeting tool?
The Budgetnista: From what I’ve heard about Mint, its pretty good. However, my book The One Week Budget, I give a great way to budget. Set it up and automate it. Separate checking account for bills. Second account not attached, so that all of your bills are taken from one specific account. One should typically have at least three separate bank accounts. A savings account, an emergency account, an online savings account, and/or a regular checking account.
Miss Jones: Is there any advice you’d like to leave with us?
The Budgetnista: It’s not as hard as you think, it’s just about practice. With time it gets easier and easier. But only if you get started.
Tiffany, The Budgetnista, was a pleasure to talk to. She is going around the world sharing financial tools that can ultimately change someone’s life. She offers financial education to companies, small groups, churches, and universities. You can visit her website to invite her and find out her pricing, thebudgetnista.com. Also purchase her books The One Week Challenge and Live Richer Challenge. Lastly, follow her on Instagram and Twitter @thebudgetnista and continue to find out ways to get your finances in order!