This week on Focus on a Frugalennial, I had the opportunity to interview LaTisha Styles with YoungFinances.com. LaTisha is an author, speaker and all-around millennial personal finance expert. She is literally EVERYWHERE sharing her knowledge and making sure that young adults are getting started on the right financial footing. After you finish reading her interview here, head over to her site…or her YouTube page or her published posts, or her daily Periscopes to get more tips from this money maven. I told you she’s everywhere!
The Frugalennial: Your site (Young Finances) is a great resource for millennials looking to learn more about their finances but can you tell how the site came about and what type of information will people find when they visit?
LaTisha Styles: I started Young Finances after I graduated College and was having a hard time finding a job. I had just gotten a degree in Finance and the economy was not doing well at all. So instead of crying over the fact that I couldn’t find a job, I decided to create my own job and Young Finances was born.
What we do is teach simple personal finance for millennials, recent college graduates and young professionals. We cover budgeting, debt, investing, credit…you name it we’ve covered it – even down to insurance and taxes.
TF: Since your degree is in finance, did that translate into successfully managing your finances from the beginning, or did it take some time for you to get things in order?
LS: It sort of happened at the same time for me to be honest. I started teaching everyone what I was learning and then I really started getting serious about cleaning up my personal finances and reaching the net worth goal that I had. That’s sort of where it started. I made a point of paying off my debt and within 3 years, I was able to pay off over $22,000 worth of debt.
TF: What are some of the specific sacrifices that you made during those three years?
LS: I went to what I like to call an all cash budget. Before, I was using a credit card and spending anywhere from a $1.20 to $1.30 for every dollar that I earned. Going to a cash budget forced me to only spend what I budgeted. In reality, I was really living off 60-70 cents of every dollar, because I was putting so much towards my debt in order to pay it off. I was also saving and investing in a retirement account at the same time.
TF: Was there a specific point that made you transition from using credit cards?
LS: I just sort of got fed up. But I guess to be more specific, it was when I was getting out of college. I had always used credit cards while I was in school and never had a problem because I always had a part time job. There was always a way to make the payment. But it was when I got out of school and I didn’t have a job to fall back on, I was having a hard time making my payments. That was when I realized that I shouldn’t have this debt hovering over my head, because if I didn’t have that credit card debt, I would not have been so stressed looking for a job. I would have been able to find and do and work almost anything, but because I had the credit cards it was just an added stress.
TF: Is there anything that you consider a non-negotiable splurge or something that you’re just going to spend on, no matter what?
LS: I definitely take the time to put money aside for travel. Travel is my guilty pleasure…my fun money. So, I have a travel account. Each time I get paid I put aside a little bit of money in my travel account. Then once it’s large enough for me to take a trip, I’ll use that to buy a plane ticket or what not. So I definitely save for fun, and that’s something that I even did it while I was paying my debt off. There’s nothing like putting money aside for yourself, while you’re taking money and paying others. It just makes you feel so much more in control of your money.
TF: How would you determine how much you would put aside?
LS: It was sort of arbitrary – something small. It started as $50 every pay check, so I knew that I wouldn’t miss it. It was something small enough to where it wasn’t going to hurt the rest of my budget. I think the year I went to the Bahamas, I got a $300 round trip plane ticket, and then I stayed in the hotel for maybe 2 nights. So it worked out.
TF: Any additional advice or tips that you would like to share?
LS: Don’t be emotional with money. That was something that really took me some time to learn and to figure out. Money is simply a tool. It has no feelings. It doesn’t care if you can’t pay a bill. It doesn’t care that you can’t earn enough. It’s an innate object. So I had a point where I was crying over the fact that I didn’t have enough money to pay my credit card bill. After I hit that rock bottom point I just realized that money doesn’t care, and it’s simply a tool. From that point I just started to use it the same way, that you would use a hammer to build a house. You figure out what you want to do with it and then you hold it in your hand, and you’re in control of it. So my final advice is to remember what money is, put it in its place, and use it to reach those goals that you want to reach. Don’t allow it to control your emotions.
Want to find out more about LaTisha? Check out the links below!
Instagram: Young Finances
YouTube: Young Finances.