Financial Fitness

How to Get Good with Your Money — with Tiffany Aliche (the “Budgetnista!”)

Tiffany Aliche

“Do you have children? Do you have a partner? Do you pay your bills? Do you manage at a workplace? Those things are hard. Investing is nothing in comparison to living your life as a woman. I promise you. You’re already killing it, and so you can invest. It is a confidence issue but not a capability issue.”

—Tiffany Aliche, personal finance expert and author, Get Good with Money

Over 1M+ women live richer because of Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche – former teacher turned personal finance educator and best-selling author. This episode, perfectly timed for Financial Literacy Month, will explore how you can find peace, safety and harmony with your money no matter how big or small your goals and no matter how rocky the market might be.

From budgeting to investing, saving plans, and her newly released book Get Good with Money, we will cover a lot of ground so you are prepared to take control of your finances and make your money work for you now!


 

This Month’s Guest:

TIFFANY “THE BUDGETNISTA” ALICHE is America’s favorite personal financial educator, and author of Get Good with Money. The Budgetnista is also an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The One Week Budget and the Live Richer Challenge series and most recently, a children’s book, Happy Birthday Mali More. Through her company, The Budgetnista, Tiffany has created a financial movement that has helped over one million women worldwide collectively save more than $250million, and pay off over $200 million in debt, purchase homes and transform the way they think about their finances. These women that participate in this global (Live Richer) movement call themselves, Dream Catchers. Tiffany credits her experience as a preschool teacher for 10 years in Newark, NJ for defining her purpose behind The Budgetnista…education. In 2019, Tiffany transformed her commitment into legislation when she partnered with Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight to write a bill that was later signed into Law A1414 (The Budgetnista Law). This law made it mandatory for financial education to be integrated into all middle schools in New Jersey. To further her mission, Tiffany created and teaches numerous financial classes both online and in person. The Live Richer Academy is her signature platform with tens of thousands of students learning how to maximize their money and upgrade their life. She also blogs about personal finance for The Budgetnista Blog, and co-hosts an award-winning podcast, Brown Ambition. The Budgetnista and her financial advice have been featured on Good Morning America, the TODAY show, PBS, TIME, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, ESSENCE Magazine, FORBES, Fox Business, MSNBC, CNN/HLN. She is also the featured financial expert for the popular daytime talk show, The Real. Today, Tiffany continues to break down barriers. She was the first (solo) Black woman to grace the cover of Money Magazine (Feb. 2021).

 

Our Host:

CELESTE HEADLEE is a communication and human nature expert, and an award-winning journalist. She is a professional speaker, and also the author of Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving, Heard Mentality and We Need to Talk. In her twenty-year career in public radio, she has been the executive producer of On Second Thought at Georgia Public Radio, and anchored programs including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She also served as cohost of the national morning news show The Takeaway from PRI and WNYC, and anchored presidential coverage in 2012 for PBS World Channel. Headlee’s TEDx talk sharing ten ways to have a better conversation has over twenty million total views to date. @CelesteHeadlee

 


 

Additional Resources:


 

Episode Transcript:

Celeste Headlee:
I think one of the things that’s so compelling about your story is not just the advice but the fact that your advice is coming from this place of deep knowledge, and by that I mean it hasn’t been a really long period of time since you were in financial trouble.

Tiffany Aliche:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Celeste Headlee:
That’s part of your story. You got laid off in 2008. You had to move back in with your parents.

Tiffany Aliche:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Celeste Headlee:
Can you tell me, how did that thought process go for you? I mean, was there ever a moment when you sat down, you’re living with your parents again, and you had to say to yourself, “How am I going to get out of this?”

Tiffany Aliche:
No. Absolutely. I remember feeling, honestly, a state of despair. That’s probably the only … I was sad. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed, and I think if you mix all of those up in a pot, it was despair, because I didn’t think I could get out of it. You know? I thought that I’d messed up, that my short … my mistakes were too big to climb out of, and so for a minute there, I stewed in those mistakes. I was like, “You’ve lost your job. It’s a recession, and you’ve lost your home, because you couldn’t afford the mortgage anymore. You’re literally back home with your parents. You’re 30 now. I don’t know how to do anything else but teach.”

Tiffany Aliche:
That’s what I felt, and they weren’t hiring teachers, because with teachers, if you lose your job in the beginning of the school year, it’s not like a classroom can be open without a teacher, so they had already done their hiring. I just remember thinking, “It’s just, this hole is too deep, and so should I just give up?” I remember feeling especially bad because I thought to myself, “You had more money the last time you were in this room as a teenager than you do now at 30.” You know? But what it took for me, it-

Celeste Headlee:
Oh my God.

Tiffany Aliche:
I know. I was just like … You know how you just like, I mean, when you’re feeling really sad for yourself, you’re just like … I was just going in, like, “And then, and another thing.”

Celeste Headlee:
Oh yeah.

Tiffany Aliche:
You know?

Celeste Headlee:
Yeah.

Tiffany Aliche:
It was really unhealthy, but I just, I think it’s important to share that, because there are people who are listening who are actively doing that now, who there’s been some financial misstep, or there has been … I mean, maybe quarantine took your job, or your industry is no longer profitable, whatever that is, and you are in the despair part of your journey, where you’re using all of these things as a weapon against yourself. You’re telling yourself how bad you are, how you … “How could I have made this mistake,” all of these terrible things that are just not helpful. The truth is, yes, is there some responsibility, like, “Well, you know, Tiffany, you could have done this?” But, I mean, I could not have anticipated a housing bubble. Who could anticipate quarantine? The first time I ever heard of a pandemic or the last time was a movie. Who can anticipate a worldwide pandemic? You just can’t, and sure. Could you have a little bit more savings? But even that, let’s just say you were super responsible, and you had a year’s worth of savings. It’s been a year. It’s been a year, and if you were still out of work, then what?

Tiffany Aliche:
I’m here to do to you what my best friend Linda did for me. She had been calling me for some months, and I’d been avoiding her because of the shame. I finally picked up, and I was going to pretend like everything is okay like I always did. She just asked me, “How are you doing? You haven’t picked up the phone in a while,” and I was like, “I’m fine.” But she knows, just like most best friends know, and she’s like, “Yeah. You don’t sound fine.” I just started crying and just unloading all of my financial fears and shame, and Linda was like, “That’s it?” I just didn’t understand. I’m like, “What do you mean?” She said, “Well, Tiffany, so many of us have been struggling. Do you watch the news?” or, “Honestly, we just turned 30. I mean, I don’t know about you, but everybody else in their 20s was a hot financial mess. You were the only one that was navigating from a place of financial responsibility in our 20s.”

Tiffany Aliche:
So she basically was like, “Welcome to the club. There’s a lot of room in here,” and she started laughing. It gave me the permission that I needed to forgive myself. And so I’m going to Linda you. That’s it? Oh. You have foreclosure? Okay. Yeah. Me, too. Oh. Credit card debt? Yep. Did that, too. You’re thinking about bankruptcy, or you’ve already been through it? I didn’t go through bankruptcy, but I was just on the cusp. Okay, and? You know? Okay, and? Okay, and? Okay, and? Whatever it is that you’re navigating through, there is a way out. You’re not the only one. You know? They’re just not. There’s so many people. I promise you your neighbors are struggling. There are friends who are not admitting it, but they’re having a hard time, as well, family members who are pretending everything is fine, but it’s not fine. You are not the only one. In fact, you’re part of the majority. Most people are having a hard time, but now, it’s time to ask yourself, “And what will I do about it?”

Tiffany Aliche:
That’s how I built the The Budgetnista, because it was, “What will I do about it?” I started to dig my way out and build myself back up, and in doing so, I started to help other people. I started The Budgetnista over 10 years ago, and since then, over one million women have been helped because someone gave me the tools I needed to say, “Okay, and forgive yourself, Tiffany. It’s okay.”

Celeste Headlee:
I mean, not only have you helped a lot of women, Tiffany, but, I mean, you have a book that just came out. The book has done incredibly well. You are the January cover of Money Magazine, something I assume you couldn’t have imagined back in 2000?

Tiffany Aliche:
No. I could never.

Celeste Headlee:
It seems like, having looked at the book, it seems like one of the things that you learned was to stop saying, “I’m in debt.”

Tiffany Aliche:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Celeste Headlee:
What’s the problem with saying, “I’m in debt”?

Tiffany Aliche:
Because it makes it seem like debt is a place and that … It gives debt too much power, right, because it makes it seem like debt is a place that you’re almost locked into, and you’re not. You have debt. Heaving debt is lighter. Having debt is … At any moment in time, you could not have debt. But being in debt, it just, it … Words mean things, and they’re very powerful. It helps you to stay in bondage to that debt, and so I tell people, “Don’t say that you’re in debt. Yes. You have debt, but honestly, you have other things, as well.” Because no one ever says, right, “I’m in wealth.” Right?

Tiffany Aliche:
Or, “I’m in savings.” Right? Because we give debt so much power, and so, instead, I reject that. I tell people, “It’s okay to acknowledge that you have debt, but you’re not in debt. You don’t …” that, “You are bigger than your debt. You’re not in it.” And so that’s honestly … The reason why I wrote Get Good with Money, my new book, is because I thought to myself, because I was a schoolteacher for over 10 years before I started The Budgetnista, and the teacher in me was noticing that the people that I was teaching, largely women, that they were succeeding in silos. I used to teach preschool, so it’s like I’m teaching, and they’re only learning letters, or only learning numbers, or only learning shapes.

Tiffany Aliche:
So I found that the women that I was serving, they were … This woman would have excellent credit but no savings. Another woman would have all the savings but was not investing. Someone else was getting out of debt but didn’t have a good budget. The teacher in me, it just, I got teacher anxiety, because I thought, “They’re not holistically learning. That’s not enough. You have to know your letters, shapes, numbers, and colors before you leave if you’re going to be a strong student.” And so there are 10 components that I felt that, in order to be a strong financial student, that there are these 10 components, and I wanted to write a manual to help you work through them, no matter how much you made, no matter what you did for a living, no matter what your … where you were currently. That’s why I wrote Get Good with Money, to be that manual.

Celeste Headlee:
I am going to use my own story, because I think it’s probably similar to some other people’s, especially women, which is that the pandemic, I lost over half my income because of the pandemic. In order to make up that other half that I’ve brought in, I’ve had to hustle. Right? I had to pick up some freelance, and I had to pick up other work. I’m not at a place where I had built that cushion, and it’s gone. So what do I do? What do women like me … Because you and I both know that the pandemic, women, we have really suffered financially and in terms of employment during the pandemic.

Tiffany Aliche:
Yeah.

Celeste Headlee:
What do we do as we move forward?

Tiffany Aliche:
So there are two things that I’ve been sharing that women should do, including you, Celeste. It’s one, asking for help, and the second is to get creative. So asking for help. Sometimes, your municipality is going to have some sort of help. Is it that you ask your landlord if there’s some sort of forgiveness? Is it reaching out to the people that you owe your bills to to see if they have a hardship program? You should leave no stone unturned when it comes to asking for help. Is it leaning into family and friends? I would make a list of everything I spend money on and ask myself, “Okay. Is there aid here?”

Tiffany Aliche:
Your credit card company might say, “Okay. We’re going to freeze your interest rate.” Your mortgage, we already know that the American Rescue Plan recently passed, so there’s a moratorium where you don’t have to pay your mortgage, I believe, until September. I want to say September 21st, or 29th. Right? And so that’s help. You want to lean into those resources that are around you. They’re there to help, and set aside ego. Set aside shame, because, I mean, at this point in time, we are in an emergency state.

Tiffany Aliche:
Then, two, getting creative. To your point, you have to hustle on the side, and that’s what it’s going to look like, that it’s going to look like … There are some people, if you currently have a job, there are people who are hiring if you are in certain positions. A friend of mine just switched over to a new HR position. I know folks who are in the finance field. Right now, things are, things in personal finance are actually picking up, because when the economy starts to do poorly, that’s when that business picks up. There are way more entrepreneurs now, because people have started their own businesses. So if you’re interested in helping people get organized, there’s … I was just looking for an admin, and so many of my friends are looking for admins, as well. So getting creative of how you can show up.

Tiffany Aliche:
I know a young mother. She’s got two little ones. She started to learn how to get procurement. She’s an engineer, and she used to work for these retail stores and get all of the resources needed in order to build in-store displays. So she’s like, “Oh. I know how to secure and procure materials,” and so she took all these procurement classes. Now, she reaches out to different municipalities, “Who needs pencils? Who needs balls? Who needs this?” Then, she finds them and sells them for more than what she secured them for. She’s also now helped other people write their own proposals. So that’s how she’s making money on the side while she’s home, homeschooling the kids alongside them taking classes online. So people are getting really creative now, and that’s what it’s going to look like. There is no one size fits all. It’s going to be about leaning into your skillset, and sometimes, it’s the skill before the skill.

Tiffany Aliche:
I know another young woman who was actually an analyst and super, super … Her name’s Tracy. She’s very detail-oriented. I was looking for a publicist, and I know how detail-oriented that she was. She was like, “But I don’t know how to do this.” I’m like, “No, no. It’s mostly about just keeping up with who did you reach out to, are you a decent writer,” and she was, “pitching in a specific way, and keeping detailed notes about show said what and when.” She’s since been my publicist for about a year, and she’s nocking it out of the park, because she leaned into her skill before the skill. She has a skill as an analyst, but the skill before that was really that … her attention to detail. And so asking for help and getting creative are the two things that I say to lean into, Celeste.

Celeste Headlee:
I want to dig a little bit deeper into this, because one of the reasons people don’t ask for help is because of the shame that you mentioned earlier. People don’t … They feel bad about asking for help. Sometimes, one of the last things they will do is talk to family members and ask for money. How do you get past that, this hesitancy to say, “Can I have a loan? Can I get some help?”

Tiffany Aliche:
I struggle with this, as well. I have a … Well, Dr. [Green 00:16:49] is really my coach, but she’s a therapist, as well. So I asked her that question, “How do I get past shame?” She shared with me something so profound, and I’m going to share it with you, Celeste, and everyone listening, that the antidote for shame is voice. She said, “You have to give voice to the thing that you’re ashamed of, or shame will take over. Shame thrives in silence. Shame thrives in fear. Shame thrives in … When you decide that you’re going to be alone, and you push everyone away because you don’t want them to know, shame thrives in those environments.”

Tiffany Aliche:
And so the reason why I was able to get past my financial shame when I lost everything during the last 2008/2009 recession is because I told Linda … I didn’t know that’s what I was doing, but I was giving voice to my shame. In doing so, it allowed me to free myself from shame. Shame was like, “Uh oh. She’s talking about it. Uh oh. This is not good. Tiffany is sharing,” and the more I shared … I shared some more and some more and some more. And so you have to find your Linda, a safe space and place that you can share your shame, give voice to your shame. It’s the reason why I started Dream Catchers. Dream Catchers is my community of women that we lean on each other. We help each other. There’s a million Dream Catchers worldwide. Half of us hang out on Facebook. We’ve got this Facebook page called Dream Catchers: LIVE RICHER with The Budgetnista, and-

Celeste Headlee:
Which, I should mention, is free. You can find it, but-

Tiffany Aliche:
Free. Yep, absolutely free. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Celeste Headlee:
But it is private unless you’ve joined the group.

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes.

Celeste Headlee:
Yeah. Okay. Okay.

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes. Unless you join the group. It’s totally free, and it’s been so for the last 10 years and will continue to be so. It’s private, though, to your point, Celeste, because … But you still have to be mindful. There’s a half a million people in there. So it’s private to the outside, but anyone inside can certainly see your posts. But I will say this, that I’ve got amazing admins, and we do not allow any negativity. But what I have found is that everyone doesn’t have a Linda in their life, but there are a half a million Lindas in that group. You can post anything, anything, like, “I don’t know how my children are going to eat.” Someone who was just in that position is going to share with you how she went and got through it.

Tiffany Aliche:
You might post, “My husband lost his job,” “I’m not sure how to navigate with my teenager financially.” Anything you post, there’s someone who is either experiencing the same thing and is giving your encouragement or someone who has experienced it and worked their way through it and is walking you through it, as well. It’s an amazing, amazing place, and so you have to give voice to your shame. If you don’t have a special person or place in your own life, you’re welcome to join us at Dream Catchers.

Celeste Headlee:
One of the first things you talk about in your book is how to figure out the source of your financial troubles. In other words, is it that I don’t make enough, or is it that I’m spending to much?

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes.

Celeste Headlee:
How do you do that?

Tiffany Aliche:
One, you have to start with a budget. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite, but it’s my fav. A basic budget is just this. It’s a list of everything you spend money on. Right? So you could pull out your debit card or credit card. What do you spend money on? How much does it cost you monthly? Then, I want you to code that list. Start with the Bs. Put a B next to any bill. A bill is anybody you have a financial obligation to, right, any organization. Then, you’re going to put a U in front of the Bs that are like utility bills. Those are bills that fluctuate based upon your usage. Then, everything else after that is a C. Those are what I call your cash/choice bills, so these are bills that you really have a choice over how you spend your money here, and these are your cash expenses. So now that you have that-

Celeste Headlee:
Sorry. I want to interrupt you just for a second, because you have to be careful here, because a bill that’s like … Let’s say you pay a service to pick up dog waste from your yard, right, or mow your lawn. That’s a bill, but it’s also a choice. Right?

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes. It is a bill that is also choice, I mean, so you … It doesn’t have to be an exact science, but I would say, for your bills, you can still count that as a B. You know? I always say it’s something that you’ve made an obligation to and that if you didn’t pay it, then it would be an issue. That’s how you know. If someone walks your dog, and you don’t pay them, there would be an issue there. Because what you’re really trying to see is where you have the most control. Although, like the dog walking, you might say, “You know, that’s a easy bill that I can …” Because there are some bills that are fairly easy for you to get rid of, but typically, most of your bills are not as easy to reduce or minimize as your cash expenses, so like groceries, grooming, entertainment.

Tiffany Aliche:
This is where you really can do whatever it is that you want. There’s not a set amount that’s kind of been allocated to these things, and so once you figure out your Bs, your UBs, and your Cs, then I want you to start doing the math. I want you to add up all your Cs and compare it to how much all your Bs and UBs cost. If most of your money is going towards Cs, then you have a spend-too-much issue, because most of your money are really going toward things that are not financial obligations but really where you have the most choice. If most of your money are Bs and UBs, that’s where most of your money is going toward, then you might have a don’t-make-enough issue, because most of your money is going toward financial obligations.

Tiffany Aliche:
And so that is just a, almost like a preliminary test to see, “Do I have a don’t-spend-enough … don’t-make-enough issue or spend-too-much issue?” And so feel free. Then, you can move some things around to your point. You could say, “You know what? I’m actually going to move my dog walking over to the Cs. Does that make a difference?” You’re free to do so, but we’re just trying to get a high-level view of, “Is most of my money spent on obligations or just the things that I have, really, the biggest choice over?”

Tiffany Aliche:
Because here’s why we do that, Celeste. When I was a preschool teacher, I did not understand that I had a don’t-make-enough issue. When you’re frugal, and you say that you don’t have enough money at the end of the month, your normal knee-jerk reaction is to save more. I was like, “You know what? I don’t have enough to do the things I want to do. I just need to cut back more.” But I didn’t have a don’t-make-enough issue. I mean, I didn’t have a spend-too-much issue. I didn’t. I was already cut back as back as I could be. I had a don’t-make-enough issue, and had I know that, I wouldn’t have reduced my life even more.

Tiffany Aliche:
So it took me about a year to get and understand, “Tiffany, you have a don’t-make-enough issue.” So then, I was able to look at solutions differently. Instead of saying, “Let me trim back even more,” I started to babysit and tutor, and I made an extra $6,000 a year doing so. So that’s why it’s important to understand, “What is my true issue? Do I not make enough, because most of my money’s going to bills, or am I spending too much, because most of money’s going to my cash expenses?” and then only focusing on those solutions. Frugal people don’t need to cut back more, and people who are making plenty don’t necessarily need to make more. They need to cut back.

Celeste Headlee:
How do you, then, decide what your priority, your fixed priorities are? Right? Let’s say that I have a number of commitments, and I want to bring down the amount of debt that I have. How do I know which one to work on?

Tiffany Aliche:
If I’m looking at my budget, this is why I love the coding of the budget, right, the C, the B, the UB. Because if I’m like, “Okay. I actually want to cut, I want to trim down my debt, and I know I have to find some money from my budget,” I don’t go to my fixed expenses first. I don’t go to my bills first. That’s where I have the least amount of control. I’m going to go to my Cs first. I’m going to say, “All right. Cs, get in line. You know what, Tiffany? You know how to redo your own hair. You know what, Tiffany? You know how to … You don’t have to get a manicure every week. You know what, Tiffany? You don’t have to get Uber Eats every other day. Let’s work on our Cs.”

Tiffany Aliche:
Once I reduce my Cs on paper, how much money do I see left over in my budget? Is that enough? If not, let’s bump up to UBs. That’s where we have moderate level of control. “Okay, UBs.” These are utilities. Right? “Okay, water. Okay, electricity. What can I do to kind of bring some of these things down, my usage down?” Once I make the changes on paper, is that enough money in excess for me to put toward savings or debt? No? Now, we can look at the Bs.

Tiffany Aliche:
Okay. These are bigger changes to be made. “Okay. My rent. Okay. My …” You might say something like, “I’m in a one-bedroom now, but when my lease is up, I can move to a studio and save $200 a month. I can refinance my home. I can have a higher deductible on my car insurance.” I don’t want people to start on this end, because these are bigger, heavier choices. You always want to start making choices with your Cs, then your UBs, then your Bs, and that’s how you prioritize where you’re going to find that excess Money from if you have a spend-too-much issue and you really need to cut back on your spending.

Celeste Headlee:
If you are looking for new work, as so many people might be now, either because they lost their job or were laid off or for whatever may be the reason, how much should the salary enter into it?

Tiffany Aliche:
So you’re saying if you’re looking for new work?

Celeste Headlee:
Yeah. If you’re having to look for a new job, how important, as a priority, is the amount of that salary?

Tiffany Aliche:
It’s extremely important, but not just the salary. Right? Before, this is what I did. I remember I did this years ago, when I was first starting as a preschool teacher. I kind of added up my bills and saw what my take-home pay needed to be just to cover my bills. Let’s just say my bills at the time were $2,000, and I said, “Okay. I want to save, though, $500 a month, so I need a take-home pay of $2,500 a month.” This was 21-year-old Tiffany. I went to this site called PaycheckCity. It’s still up. It’s free, and you can work your way backwards based upon your state. You can put in take-home pay, and it will tell you how much money that you need to make annually.

Tiffany Aliche:
What’s so great about that is that we … It’s not like I can just say, “Well, what’s $2,500 a month times 12 months?” That’s not your actual take-home pay. There’s so many things that come out of your pay, and PaycheckCity does those calculations for you, even based upon how much your state taxes are going to be. And so I was armed with that number. Let’s just say it was $40,000 a year. That’s what I needed in order to really get the take-home pay that I wanted. Now, I know, “Okay. I cannot take less than $40,000 a year in order to maintain the current lifestyle that I have.” But also keep in mind, you want to think about things like insurance, benefits. Do they have a profit share program? Do they match your retirement account like 6%, if you put in 6%, they put in 6%? So consider other things, like insurance, like I said, in particular. My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for the last two years, and I’ve been doing IVF, in vitro … Don’t get me to say it. In vitro fertilization?

Celeste Headlee:
In vitro fertilization. Yeah.

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes. You’d think I would know after two years. But so it’s been … Honestly, we’ve probably spent close to $200,000 in insurance money.

Celeste Headlee:
Oh my goodness.

Tiffany Aliche:
But thankfully, not out of pocket, because my husband works for the city, and he has state benefits. So what I say, I’ve probably spent less than $500 out of pocket, just in copays, because I pay $10 every time I see the doctor. So imagine that. I mean, I saw one time that all the medicine, all the shots that I had to take just for one cycle was $80,000, and I paid nothing for the medicine.

Celeste Headlee:
Wow.

Tiffany Aliche:
So insurance pays an Incredibly important role in when you’re looking for a job, as well, so do work backwards for what you must make in order to make your life work, but also consider other things like insurance and benefits. That’s equally as important.

Celeste Headlee:
In reading your work, it’s so clear that you were a teacher, because you make things that, for many of us, are so scary and complicated seem quite easy to understand. We wanted to do a lightning round with you if you’re up for it.

Tiffany Aliche:
I am. I am, and thank you so much. It warms my teacher heart. I sent out a book to a fellow educator, and they were like, “Tiffany, this is so good.” I laid it out intentionally so it was very easy to anticipate what the next step was going to be. I give you homework assignments along the way that are easy to implement. I give you all the tools and resources. I kept the student, the reader in mind, and how are you going to navigate this book without feeling intimidated? So yeah. That just warms my heart.

Celeste Headlee:
It’s totally true, and I think for many people like myself, financials are things we don’t really want to think about or talk about. So you definitely take some of the fear out of it. But we have these five phrases or words, and I want to see, what’s the first sort of tactic that comes to mind when I say these things? Is that okay?

Tiffany Aliche:
Okay. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Celeste Headlee:
Okay. The first one is debt management.

Tiffany Aliche:
Debt management. Phone calls?

Celeste Headlee:
What do you mean?

Tiffany Aliche:
Well, because you’re going to have to brave it and speak to your debt collectors. That’s what I would think of. Right? Because I had debt collectors call at some point, and so if … Sometimes, that’s part of debt management, that you’re going to have to put on your big girl pants and talk to the debt collector and work something out.

Celeste Headlee:
Okay. Yeah, but nobody really likes to do that. The next one is budgeting.

Tiffany Aliche:
Fun and say yes plan. I really like budgeting, because your budget, to me, is your say yes plan. I know people think of budgets as deprivation. It’s not. Think about your budget like your mom. You say, “Mom. Could I eat breakfast? Can I have dessert?” She says, “Yes, when you finish your dinner.” “Mom, can I go outside to play?” “Yes, if you did your homework.” So your budget is there to say, “Yes, when/if/or.” And so people get mad at the when/if/or, but at the end of the day, your budget is working in your best interest just like your mom.

Celeste Headlee:
Okay. The next one is saving.

Tiffany Aliche:
Foundation, and so savings is a foundation for you to be able to invest later on down the line.

Celeste Headlee:
Okay. Yeah. That makes sense, because that allows you … That actually gives you even more freedom. Right?

Tiffany Aliche:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Celeste Headlee:
The more that you have in saving, the more freedom you have. Okay. That makes sense, and how about this? I know this one is coming up for a lot of people, and they are discounting it, because they feel it’s not possible to do this during a pandemic, and it is this, negotiate a raise.

Tiffany Aliche:
Go for it, and that’s what … That’s the first thing that comes to mind, and you absolutely can. If you’re not keeping a go me file … That’s the name that my sister used to call her … She has a notebook that whenever she added value at her job, financially or otherwise, she would write down in her notebook the day, how she added value, and she would call it, “Go me.” And so you should have your go me file. It might be a file on your computer. It might be a notebook, but someplace where you are keeping track of how you’re adding value, especially if you can quantify that value, like, “I did this thing, and it saved the company $100,000. I did this thing, and it made the company $20,000.”

Tiffany Aliche:
So when you go in to ask for your raise and to get your reviews, you’re not really asking for a raise. You’re merely saying, “Hey, I have done this, is what I brought to the table. This is the value that I brought.” I’m merely saying, “I want to be compensated for the value that I brought,” so yes. I think it’s possible. Go for it, and make your go me folder.

Celeste Headlee:
Okay, and here’s the last one. I also feel like people may be not thinking about this during the time of struggle or during a time of pandemic, frankly, and that is investing.

Tiffany Aliche:
Don’t wait. The thing about investing is that the beauty of investing is compounding interest, and that’s when your money makes money on your money. Let’s just say you invest $1 today, and by next year, it grows to $1.10. Then, you’ll earn interest on the dollar and the 10 cents the year after that, so now it’s $1.30. Year after that, you earn interest on the dollar, the 10 cents, and that extra 20 cents, so now, you’re at $1.50. Compounding interest is when you earn money on your money. But if you never invest that dollar, that dollar just sits there, it literally loses its value due to inflation, which is the devaluing of money over time. That same dollar can’t buy the same thing year after year. It’s worth less and less, and so you must invest, not even to grow wealth. Just to maintain your current life, you must, must, must invest.

Tiffany Aliche:
They say women, so few women invest, and it’s really a shame, because women think that they’re not able. But I’m here to tell you as a teacher, it’s not a capability issue. It’s a confidence issue. Somewhere along the way, including myself, you receiving messages to say that investing is hard, and I say this. Do you have children? Do you have a partner? Do you pay your bills? Do you manage at a workplace? Those things are hard. Investing is nothing in comparison to living your life as a woman. I promise you. You’re already killing it, and so you can invest. It is a confidence issue but not a capability issue.

Celeste Headlee:
However, I mean, I do want to touch on, quickly, before we end our conversation … I could probably keep talking for a very long time, but it’s especially difficult for women, and it’s especially difficult for women of color.

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes.

Celeste Headlee:
So much of that is out of our control, that the system has been set up in a way to stack the odds against us, and that can … We can absorb messages. We can absorb the messages that we’re being sent, that we are worth less money, for example, that we are not capable of doing things, that if we end up with a lot of debt, if we have a catastrophe, a financial catastrophe, that’s because we deserve it, that we should be ashamed of it. How do we combat? These are not just the voices that are in our head. These are the voices that are all around us. So how do we silence them?

Tiffany Aliche:
Well, one of the ways to do so is to seek out other financial voices. I mean, I didn’t necessarily want to step into doing The Budgetnista at first. I was helping family and friends, but I realized that, as a Black woman, people needed to see me. I couldn’t believe the reception from other women, especially black women. So many of them were like, “Oh my gosh, Tiffany. You’re like my friend, my sister, my cousin, my,” now, “auntie,” now that I’m 40. I’m like, “I’m not auntie yet. I mean, I am aunt to my niece and my nephew, but not to a 30-year-old.” But so it’s important that other faces are shown, so let’s … For example, my picture’s on the cover of my book, and I’m not going to lie. I fought against it at first, because I was afraid that folks wouldn’t buy a book with a Black woman on the cover, a finance book.

Celeste Headlee:
Oh. Man.

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes. It was even in my … I really was like, “No. I don’t think it’s a good idea,” and Penguin Random House, who was my publisher, said, “No. Especially because you’re a Black woman, you need to be on the book cover, that women who are walking through those aisles need to see other women.”

Celeste Headlee:
Good for them.

Tiffany Aliche:
You know? I’m so glad that they did.

Celeste Headlee:
Yeah.

Tiffany Aliche:
So that’s one, is seeking out. There’re way more voices that are out there right now, thank goodness. That’s one, and two, education cures so many things. If, for whatever reason, you’re feeling like you are not capable of investing, there are so many courses. I have an online school called the Live Richer Academy. There’s so many courses that you can take. There are podcasts that you can listen to. I have a podcast called Brown Ambition, but there’s amazing ones that talk about money, like Earn Your Leisure, In The Vault. These are podcasts that talk about money, and so … There are YouTube channels. One of my favorites is called Minority Mindset. So it’s super important to educate yourself starting with the basics and taking that baby step.

Tiffany Aliche:
Something else that would really help women, as well, is that I believe that women work best in community. Don’t go it alone. You and your girlfriends, you might say, you know … I have a WhatsApp channel called The Wealth Channel with a couple of my girlfriends, and we share financial news with each other and what we think it means and dive a little deeper. There’s one person, in particular, Carol. She’s really good at investing in stocks, so when she finds one, she shares it with us. She explains why it’s so good. And so find your safe place to lean into other women to work with you on investing.

Tiffany Aliche:
There are opportunities, also, for you to invest in kind of like a set it and forget it kind of way. If you’re investing for retirement, think of a target date fund. These are mutual funds, which is a basket of stocks, bonds, and other investments, that are invested on your behalf, and the closer you get to retirement, your target date, the more conservative your investments become, because they know you’re going to need your money soon. So that’s on the retirement side, target date fund, and on the just investing for wealth side, consider mutual funds or an ETF. An ETF is called an exchange-traded fund. What these are is a basket, again, of stocks that you can put your money into. You might just say, “Hey. I’m going to choose a mutual fund that focuses on technology,” or, even better, “I’m going to pick a ETF, and exchange-traded fund, that focuses on a particular market index fund.”

Tiffany Aliche:
So a market is like the S&P 500. That’s 500 large companies in the United States that are traded on the market, and you can say, “I’m going to google ETF for S&P 500. That’s the market.” Just put your money into that every single month, and it’s going to do what the market does. Over time, the market has always won, so if you just did that, 50 bucks a month into a mutual fund, or 50 bucks a month, you purchase that S&P 500 ETF, that’s it. You don’t have to pick individual stocks. 50 bucks a month, 100 bucks a month into your target date fund. It’s literally just that. Starting with just that, you’re going to be much better off than most people.

Celeste Headlee:
So last question for you. since you said that education solves so many things. You had a big win in this area a couple years ago. In New Jersey, at least, they passed the Budgetnista Law with the help of Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, and this makes it mandatory in the State of New Jersey for middle schools to teach financial education.

Tiffany Aliche:
Yes. That was-

Celeste Headlee:
What’s so great about this law?

Tiffany Aliche:
Because I, when I was teaching preschool, I used to teach age-appropriate financial education in the classroom, and Angela was a friend of mine before she became an assemblywoman. When she won her seat, she said, “I want to focus on education,” and I told her, “There’s a law in place for New Jersey for high school students and financial education, but no law for elementary and middle school.” So she said, “Let’s change that,” and I didn’t even know that, as a citizen, I could play a role. It was like a civics lesson, like Schoolhouse Rock! (singing) sitting on Capitol Hill. Right? Remember that?

Tiffany Aliche:
And so we worked together on crafting the language for a bill. We met with constituents and the committees. She presented it, and it passed in 2019. I understood that it passed, but I didn’t really understand just what a big deal it was until my neighbor who lives around the corner, Rihanna, she has a daughter in middle school, and we’re really close to … Her daughter calls me Aunt Tiffany, and she was doing her homework. She knows I used to be a teacher, and Olivia, her name is. She said, “Aunt Tiffany, can you help me with my homework?” and I said, “Sure.” I was looking at her homework. I was like, “You guys get money homework in school? You guys get money homework in school.” It was my law in action, that here, Olivia, this beautiful little girl is learning about money in middle school because of that bill, and so yeah.

Tiffany Aliche:
It just, it’s things like that, that’s the legacy I want to leave. I want to leave a legacy of a three-prong approach, that I helped with … to bring forth knowledge, because if you don’t know better, you can’t do better. I helped to bring forth access to financial education, because I believe in partnering with other people that can help open those doors, and I helped to bring for a community, my Dream Catchers that I welcome all women into and some men. But I always remind men that, “You’re a guest of a guest.” But knowledge, access, and community, as it relates to financial education, that’s the legacy I want to leave, and I’m hoping with my new book, Get Good with Money, that it really solidifies that legacy.

Celeste Headlee:
Tiffany, thank you so much.

 
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