Alexandria: I am so excited today. We have Tiffany Aliche, AKA The Budgetnista, on the podcast today. She’s going to really be talking to us and getting us in touch with the finance community. Tiffany is an award-winning teacher of financial education and is quickly becoming America’s favorite, my favorite, personal finance expert. She’s a blogger, she’s a co-podcast host, a speaker. And on top of all of that, she had time to have started an online school, which is the Live Richer Academy that teaches women how to create, implement and automate their personal financial freedom. Thank you so much for carving out time with us on the podcast today, Tiffany.
Tiffany: Thank you for having me. I’m excited.
Alexandria: Today, we have a couple of topics we’re going to touch on, but I want to kind of set the stage for a couple of people, because our listeners are the financial professionals that are sitting with the consumers. I know sometimes, or at least I’ve heard you oftentimes on TV, on radio and podcasts, talking about the consumer’s position. Today we’re going to really kind of touch on that from the financial professional and how they can be doing better for the consumer. And so I want them to just get to know you a little bit better, so can you share how you became interested in teaching finance.
Tiffany: My father was a CFO and an accountant, so finance was really a part of my life since I can remember, myself. And he taught my four sisters and I about money regularly. Even now if I call him, he always asks how the business is doing, he wants to know quarterly numbers. Even now in his mid-70s, he’s still coaching me financially. I just never … As a kid, I didn’t know that most kids weren’t getting that, and so probably about high school.
Tiffany: But especially college, and that’s when my roommate had debt collectors calling the room, and it wasn’t her fault. Her parents opened up credit in her name and weren’t able to keep up with it, and so as a result, she had bad credit even though she didn’t even know what credit was. And so that was kind of like the opening for like, “Huh, there are people who are struggling with this, and these are things that I’ve learned. Let me share.”
Tiffany: And so at first it just was me calling my dad, “Hey, daddy, such-and-such had … The guy called the room and he said this. What do we tell them?” You know, “Hey, daddy, her parents said they don’t have the money so what do we tell him?” And then from there, my dad saw I was really interested, so I started taking classes, reading books, just really ingesting as much as I could at that personal finance, for no other reason other than I wanted to get it, I wanted to understand it. I wanted to do better myself and I wanted to help my friends.
Tiffany: It started off like that, but I never thought it was going to be anything. I just ended up being kind of like the go-to girl for money for my friends, and I thought that’s what it would always be. I went to school for business, I had a number of internships and I hated all of them, and I realized I didn’t want to work in corporate America. Because I’m pretty fun, and silly and lighthearted, and I was like, “This is the place where your soul goes to die,” at least mine anyway.
Alexandria: Oh, man. That’s funny.
Tiffany: You know? And I was like, “Yeah, I don’t want to do this.” I remember, because I remember I was graduating and I’d gotten … Well, I had gotten offered a job at one of my internships. It was good money, especially for back then, and I remember thinking, “Oh my God, I’m going to literally …” I felt like I was going to die, like, “I’m going to die here,” and so dramatic and like 1920. I’m like, “I can’t take the job. I’m going to die. What am I going to do?”
Tiffany: And while I was on campus, I’d work at a childcare center. I always babysat, taught Sunday school, that kind of stuff, so I always loved kids, but when I was on campus I actually taught at the campus childcare center to make extra money, and I really enjoyed the kids. And I remember thinking like, “Maybe I’ll be a teacher,” but I was nervous to tell my parents because my parents are Nigerian, and it’s like you have your choice. You could be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer or pharmacist, everything else is a drug dealer.
Alexandria: Oh, no.
Tiffany: You know?
Tiffany: I mean, you’re like, “Oh, I want to be a teacher.”
Tiffany: “Oh, so you want to deal drugs?”
Tiffany: It’s like, “No, I want to … What? I want to be a teacher.”
Tiffany: That’s the equivalent.
Alexandria: Yeah. You’re like, “Not that extreme, not that extreme.”
Tiffany: Yes. But I had already made up my mind. I was not taking that job, so I didn’t, and so I secretly took this job at a childcare center, because at the time I didn’t … Although I had my bachelor’s degree in business, I didn’t have … You have to have a teaching certificate in order to teach in the older grades, so I said I’ll go back to school, which I said, and in nine months I had my teaching certificate so I could teach. But I really ended up loving preschoolers, and I said, “You know, I’ll stay for a year or two, then I’ll elevate to middle school, high school.”
Tiffany: No, I ended up staying for 10 years and I loved it. But what it taught me … I mean, it is invaluable. It is the single most determining factor of why my business does well now, is that, those 10 years teaching preschool, because it taught me how to teach, it taught me patience, it taught me how to present, it taught me how to deal with a difficult customer.
Alexandria: Those kids have a really good way of doing that. They can persuade you.
Tiffany: Yes. It taught me how to be engaging, entertaining, it taught me how to educate, because you have to think there’s no harder sect of people to educate than preschool, because that’s when they’re just starting to get awareness, but not enough that it makes it easy for you. If I tell you, “This is an A like an apple,” you’re like, “Okay.”
Tiffany: I literally have kids say, “What’s an apple?”
Tiffany: You’re like, “Oh, my gosh. Okay.”
Alexandria: How do you explain that?
Tiffany: Yeah, so now I have to explain the apple. It’s like, “Well, you know, you bite into an apple.”
Tiffany: “What’s bite?”
Tiffany: You’re like, “Okay.”
Tiffany: So, it started off with A and now I have to go all the way back to the thing, the one thing that you do know, and build on that, so it taught me that patience of figuring out where you are, honoring and respecting that, and building from there in a nonjudgmental way. It taught me kindness and empathy, and so it was just the best time.
Tiffany: After the recession, the recession hit my 10th year, 2009, and I just remember thinking like, “Well, everyone loses their jobs, but not teachers.” That was not true, because I ended up losing my job because it was a nonprofit-based childcare center and they lost their funding. But in that time, right before then, I bought a condo when I was 25, I’d saved like $40,000, I was making $39,000 a year, I bought a car in cash. It was two years old, a little Nissan Ultima, I bought it for like $5500, so I’d made all these great financial choices.
Tiffany: I moved in with my sister, I was 23, and so I saved on rent. My rent was only $550, my share of the rent, because our apartment was … It wasn’t even an apartment, it was a house. We found a woman that actually owned a childcare center next door to the house, so she was more concerned about the right people living there than charging a lot of rent, so it was $1100. And it included utilities, so I literally made these really great financial choices. Then, right before the recession hit, I invested with who which I thought was a friend of mine, he ended up taking me for all of the money that I had, basically, and then I ended up in like $35,000 worth of credit card debt, because it was a credit card scam that he pulled on me.
Tiffany: But I could have recovered from that, but then the recession hit literally right after that, and then I lost my job. And then I had just finished my master’s, so I finished my undergrad degree with really no student loans. I think maybe I owed maybe, I want to say, $2000, $2500, and I paid those off, and so I was debt-free. But then I was like, “I’m going to go for my master’s in education, maybe I’ll be a principal.” Then I realized I don’t want to be a principal, so now I owe $50,000 in that, in my master’s, bought that house for $220,000, my condo. And then the $35,000 scam from my friend, and then the recession, then losing my job. I went from financially perfect to a hot financial mess.
Tiffany: It took me two years to emotionally get over it, so I did almost next to nothing for two years as far as trying to work my way through all of the debt that I was in, and I ended up moving back home with my parents, I lost my job to foreclosure. But after I kind of got over myself and realized that lots of people make mistakes financially, it’s not a character flaw, it’s just a human mistake, and I started building, like digging, my way out, because I actually had the solutions.
Tiffany: I knew what to do, but my shame was keeping me from seeing them, and then I looked to the left and to the right and I realized that so many people needed assistance. As I dug my way out, I brought people along with me, so my friends, and then their friends, and then their friends, and before I knew it one of my best friends said, “You should charge people.”
Tiffany: And I was like, “Could I do that?” At first I just started charging people doing one-on-ones, “Sit with me and I’ll do the budget.” But that was hard, because I would do your budget one-on-one, and then your budget would be like -$500 and that would be at your house watching your kids play, and then I look at the budget and look at you. Then I was like, “You know what? You can actually keep this $50.”
Tiffany: They’re like, “Are you sure?”
Tiffany: And I’m like, “Girl, yes.”
Alexandria: “You need it. You need it.”
Tiffany: Yeah, so it was real … That was … It did not work out, because one-on-ones are really tough, because it was a struggle. And so I thought, “Okay. How do I create … How do I help these same people but not be a financial burden on them?” That was a really big thing for me. And so a mentor of mine said that I should look into contracts and I said okay, so I ended up emailing everyone on my email list, it was maybe 50 people, and one person emailed back.
Tiffany: I was doing a lot of volunteer work when I was unemployed, a lot, so I volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club, the United Way, every nonprofit you could think of, YMCA, small ones, little ones, I did a lot of volunteer work. Because I’d find that I can reach clarity when I’m giving. Whenever there’s a lot of things happening and I’m feeling overwhelmed or just depressed or just it’s too much, that I know that I am focused too much on myself. It’s like the Tiffany Show, everything is Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany.
Tiffany: And so the best way to reach clarity is to help, for me anyway, other people solve their problems, because one, it lets me set aside mine, and two, it lets me be less selfish and be like, “Well, what you’re going through is not as big as you think.” And then three, what it does is as I’m working through other people’s problems, sometimes they mirror my own and I’m like, “Oh,” because I can easily find a solution for you when I can’t sometimes find that solution for myself.
Tiffany: And so that’s what I found during that volunteering stage, so when I emailed that list, a lot of them were from persons I’d volunteered, so they knew me. And the woman who ended up emailing me that, she had taken over a position from a woman that I knew at the United Way, and she’s like, “Oh,” I think her name was Amy, “Amy doesn’t work here anymore. My name is Catherine. I’m the new program director for the United Way.”
Tiffany: And I was like, “Well, can I meet you?”
Tiffany: And she said, “Sure.”
Tiffany: So, I came and I met with her. As I was running out the door, I grabbed my new book, The One Week Budget, and I was like, “You know, you never know.” And so we ended up just connecting, me and Catherine. We’re still really great friends today. And she was like … I ended up giving her a session, because we were just … When you’re a teacher, you’re always teaching, so we were talking about like, “Oh, what I could do for the United Way.”
Tiffany: And she was asking me personal questions, like, “What about this?”
Tiffany: And before I knew it, I put aside what I came for and I was like, “Girl, let’s do your budget right now.”
Tiffany: And we did, and she was like, “Oh, my God. That was so great. Can you do that for staff?”
Tiffany: I was like, “Sure.” I mean, I had never done a staff training, because I was a preschool teacher and now unemployed.
Tiffany: And she said, “What about next week?”
Tiffany: I was like, “Do you guys prepay? Kidding, kind of.” I wasn’t kidding. I wasn’t kidding.
Alexandria: “Kidding but here’s my bank account. Thank you.”
Tiffany: Right? Because I was staying at … By then, I had moved out from my parents’ house and I was sleeping on my sister’s couch, and she was like, “It’s been nine months.” I spent like a year with my parents, a year with her, and she’s like, “I kind of want my place back.” She had a one-bedroom. And so, like, I need rent money, you know?
Tiffany: And so they did pay. I think it was like … It wasn’t much. I want to say maybe between $300 and $600, and so at the next week I came in and I was like one thing … I mean, there’s a lot of things that I’m not great at, but one thing I am really good at is teaching, because I’d mastered teaching. You know, there’s a 10,000-hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book, I think it’s the Outliers, but he’s one of my favorite authors where the rules is that it takes about 10,000 hours for you to reach the mastery level of a skillset.
Tiffany: Serena Williams got her first grand slam title, I think she was 16, she started playing tennis at age six. And so 10,000 hours typically is around 10 years, so I had taught the hardest sector of the population to teach for 10 years straight, five days a week. And so by year 10 I was a master teacher, and so that’s one thing I can stand strong on, so by the time I walked into the United Way I didn’t know everything, but I knew how to teach. If I know something, like if I know how to tie my shoe, I can break down how to tie your shoe that a three-month-old could understand, you know?
Tiffany: Once I understand it myself, then that’s the hard part, is getting myself to understand it, because then I can teach it. And so that’s what I did, and I just have a unique teaching, I guess, profile where it’s fun, it’s educational, it’s entertaining, it’s everything. And then by the end of it, people, like the staff, had told the other staff that didn’t show up that day how great it was, and she was like, “People are literally complaining, and they can’t believe they missed out and it’s not there. Can you come back?”
Tiffany: I was like, “Can you prepay?”
Alexandria: Oh, my gosh.
Tiffany: I was like, “Can you prepay?”
Tiffany: “Can you prepay again?”
Tiffany: And so we both laughed, but she did, and so I came back again, and she was like, “Wow. Could you do this for the community?”
Tiffany: And then it was like light bulb that those same women that I was sitting with one-on-one that couldn’t afford me, they could come to these classes for free. And then the United Way could pay me, and then there wouldn’t be this kind of feeling of like, “Oh, dang. I’m charging people who can’t afford it.” And so that’s how I got my first contract, and so that’s how The Budgetnista really got up and running. I mean, now the consumer pays me as well, but that’s how I kind of cracked the code. But really, for me, it starts off as service first.
Alexandria: That’s amazing. There’s just so much to unpack right there, but to really kind of point out the first thing you touched on was really how you felt like I’d just invite that energetic person, fun, like there’s just no way you could have been in a corporate job in a cubicle in front of a computer and never speaking to people and serving them. And that is the huge thing I take from it, is that people that make up that finance community are huge on serving people, and it just happens to be serving them in helping them with their finances.
Alexandria: It kind of makes me think of the next thing of kind of your identity you’ve started and your personal brand within The Budgetnista, but I’m always very curious because you’re a financial educator and you have this business. What is it? What makes up your business, you have a whole bunch of employees that are helping? Or do you have other financial educators underneath you? Are you doing all the education? How does that look like for your business within The Budgetnista?
Tiffany: It’s really expanded. In the beginning, it was just me, so I only taught what I knew. If you’re like, “Can you teach me how to invest?”
Tiffany: “No. I’m not the Investinista, I’m The Budgetnista.” I believe in transparency. I’m not going to be like, “Oh, let me read a book about it and try to.” No, only what I felt really good that I had mastered, which was … In the beginning, it was literally just budgeting and saving, then I was like, “Oh, I’ve mastered paying down debt. Oh, I’ve mastered this credit thing,” so I added that on. And so that’s my core, so it started off as me doing the education.
Tiffany: The Budgetnista business, it’s an enterprise, but the core business when I first started, it was Tiffany speaking and teaching, it was books, it was I might do seminars or panels, and then sometimes people would pay me to write curriculum and stuff. Because that’s the one thing when I got my master’s, it was in education, and so I know how to write curriculum and all that kind of stuff. That’s what I learned. NASDAQ has a financial education curriculum, I wrote that.
Tiffany: That was kind of like the core, but it was definitely like I was the business itself. And I remember maybe I want to say four years ago, I said, “Okay, I can’t possibly just do this.” Oh, I also do spokesperson work, so I do brand ambassador and spokesperson work, so I work with brands. For example, I am the financial wellness ambassador for Prudential Financial, and I love that because with Prudential Financial, one of the things they’re really leaning into is that they are a financial wellness company and they want people to fully understand that.
Tiffany: It’s not about a magic number, it’s not about how much you have, it’s really about that using money as a tool to the life that you want to get to. Once they kind of decided that’s what they wanted to be, I jumped on board to be their financial wellness ambassador. Things like that, that’s The Budgetnista, but it also could be exhausting, because if I am The Budgetnista, the end-all, the be-all, the rooter and the tooter, then I was like … Then I had to ask myself, “Okay. How do I expand from there?”
Tiffany: I started my online school about four years ago, the Live Richer Academy. And I realized that I didn’t want to be the sun, moon and the stars. Instead, what I did was … Because one, two, my knowledge is limited, I can’t be an accountant and a CFP and a CPA and a financial advisor and … You know what I mean? It’s like going … I live in Newark, so sometimes we have the corner store where you can get gold chains, chicken, a do-rag and a cold soda. Oh, and-
Alexandria: Everything is right there.
Tiffany: Every … Yes, and with nothing well.
Tiffany: Right? And so I didn’t want to be what I call a buffet business, or at least for me, I didn’t want to be a buffet provider, so with the Live Richer Academy, what I did was I reached out to financial experts that specialized, and I said, “Can you teach your expertise?” And I have yet to get a no, so I reached out to a CPA that I know kills it out there, he teaches taxes, my personal attorney teaches setting up your business, my friend Catherine, she’s now the CEO of the United Way, teaches funding for nonprofit.
Tiffany: I have all these amazing experts that literally just teach their expertise, which is so great because a lot of the pressure is off of me. Because one, I can’t possibly know all those things, so now you get this amazing expert, that this is literally what they do with their life and this is what they’re coming in to teach that. And so the academy does really well. It’s a multi-seven-figure-a-year business, and it’s been since it’s first … It took about a year and a half for it to make its first seven figures.
Tiffany: But also because of the building of The Budgetnista. The Budgetnista is about 10 years old now, so you figure for six years I built this brand and it was easier to branch off because of The Budgetnista. And now I still have a marketing company, because sometimes brands will come to me in a different way, so with The Budgetnista I’m the sole owner. With the academy, I have a business partner, and then with the … With my marketing company, I have that same business partner, his name is Jebril and he’s a marketing genius, he’s our CMO.
Tiffany: And so when it comes to … If you want to hire me to do a spokesperson gig, that’s one thing, but if you’re like, “Hey, we’ve got this product and we will pay you per person that signs up,” so a product they already believe in, then that’s the marketing company, so that’s kind of like the third arm. And of course I have a podcast, and I also have a foundation, but the core kind of income-producing components of The Budgetnista enterprise, including all of those businesses, is speaking, teaching, curriculum, ambassadorship, the academy and marketing.
Alexandria: And you may have touched on this. I mean, you don’t want to be the all everything, but it’s like you have a team that helps you with all this. How many employees do … I mean, this sounds like a huge business. I mean, you say it’s seven figures business. I mean, is that a lot of people that are behind the scenes? It’s really amazing to see how much growth that you’ve come, just like you’ve said over the 10 years. But how many people does it take to really run a business like that?
Tiffany: Right now, we’re at about 25 core business … Core people who work. And then I would say probably another 10, 15 that kind of we just call them when we need them.
Alexandria: Yeah. Wow.
Tiffany: You know? Like, “Oh.” Like Hector, Hector does a lot of my book, like the graphic design for the book, so I might hit Hector up once or twice a year, depending, and so yeah. Yeah, it’s about 25 of us, and I have lead team members, we’ve got a finance team, we’ve got a content team, the Live Richer Academy has its own team, and then we’ve got a marketing team.
Alexandria: That’s amazing.
Tiffany: Yeah. Honestly, and it’s so crazy because the growth has happened within the last two and a half years, so I would say three years ago it was me and Jebril and maybe an admin, and now we’re … And three years later. Because in the beginning, the first six, seven years of The Budgetnista, it was really just no one. Really, I would say for the first five years, just me, and then maybe year six Jebril came on, and then it’s not until about three years ago that we really started building a team and that’s when we saw the growth to seven figures.
Alexandria: You’ve been touching a little bit about how you don’t want to be that buffet business or provider, you want allow people to really be in their own space of what they are experts in. And that’s even for yourself, where you’re like, “I’m budgeting things, I got that down, and that’s my specific niche.” What would you say is kind of how you define differences? Because I’ve noticed this amongst consumers, that it can be very hard to tell what the difference is between financial professionals, because you have your insurance agents, you have the people that work at Prudential, you have wealth managers, you’ve got financial educators. What would you say is kind of the differences that you see amongst people and how they work with consumers?
Tiffany: Let’s just start with an accountant, right? Your CPA. Their core, at least for me, my accountant … Well, I think that most people think that your accountant is just there to help you with your taxes. But for me as a small business, my accountant is there, yes, to help me navigate my tax burden, to help also help fully help to lower my tax burden. But also, too, a good to me, a good business CPA, is also going to look at your business overall and offer some suggestions about what you can do.
Tiffany: I’ll give you an example. There was a switch that we made, I think it was when I switched from LLC to S Corp, but recently made the switch from S Corp to C Corp. When I went from LLC to S Corp, that is just the way the IRS looks at you as far as paying taxes. And so because of that I was able to drop my self-employment tax, which depending on how much you make, may or may not work out. Carlos, my accountant, is always doing the numbers, and so he was like, “Okay, now’s the time to make the switch. You’ll save $100,000 in taxes.” And so I did.
Tiffany: And so we went from S Corp to C Corp recently. We saved $100,000 in a quarter. That’s how much, how big of that. Your accountant is there to look at your overall, whether if you’re a business or not, but just to kind of look at your overall life and your financial desires and choices and this and that and figure out how they can help minimize your tax burden for the most part.
Alexandria: You’re seeing more and more how tax professionals are becoming even more of a real need amongst your financial picture, but it’s also kind of … And why say from the consumer perspective, because they … You know, you watch TV a lot, and these big companies have these huge marketing budgets to put out what an advisor is or what a financial planner is. And so that’s why I’m curious why a person would go, “All right. I need to work with an advisor at Prudential,” versus maybe, “Why wouldn’t I just work with Tiffany and The Budgetnista?” Why wouldn’t there be … Is there a difference to you on how you would work with it?
Tiffany: And honestly, they ask all the time, and I’m like, “I can’t do that.” I know why they ask, because I’ve built the trust, and so people ask … I mean, literally a day does not go by. If I did one-on-ones I could be a millionaire just on my own. I mean, my net worth is seven figures, but I could just make seven figures if I was willing to just do one-on-ones, because people are like, “Whatever. I don’t care how much it is. I will pay you.”
Tiffany: And I’m like, “Well, one, I don’t have the expertise to guide you in what you’re going to need in insurance and investing and retirement, and that’s just not what I do as a financial educator. I’m just here to give you the tools and the resources and the education you need, whether the education comes from me or another source, the education you need to transform your life and to achieve your goals.” Right? To me, that’s my role as a financial educator.
Tiffany: But a financial advisor is really there to provide these concrete tools, so okay, this is the investment vehicle, this is the insurance plan. And so as a financial advisor this is what I share with people when they reach out to me, is that’s what the core things that you’re going to get from your financial advisor, and they can help you to navigate what tools are going to help maximize whatever goals that you want to reach as it relates to retirement and investing and insurance.
Tiffany: I just hired a CFP, a financial planner. I’ve been looking. Honestly, I have not had great luck with financial advisors. And so a financial planner, I feel like, takes a more holistic view, so my financial planner when I interviewed probably 15 different people over the course of like two months to find the right person, because this will be my third or fourth person in the last three years. Because people overpromise and under-deliver.
Alexandria: I think that is the truth.
Tiffany: Yeah, so I honestly … It’s just been crazy. Here’s the thing I look for in any financial professional. Because I’m an educator, I look for an educator, meaning not that you would be a teacher in your past life, but if you’re annoyed by my questions, then why are you here? That is the biggest pet peeve, “I can’t ask you questions? I’m just supposed to give you my money. Oh, okay. No, thanks.”
Tiffany: You know? I tell my audience that all the time, that you are looking for someone that actually enjoys educating you on the process. I’m asking these questions not because I want to do it, because it’s my money. I want to learn the why, why about that. When I find someone like Carlos, my accountant is amazing, I’m not even … I have sent Carlos so much business I’m not even allowed to speak his name. The fact that I even said his name, he’s going to be like, “Tiffany!”
Alexandria: Hey, we can blurb it out, it’ll be, “Ka-bluh,” and you’ll keep talking.
Tiffany: No, he’s fine. I mean, like, you know.
Tiffany: Because honestly, that’s how much business I’ve sent Carlos, because Carlos is amazing. Carlos is like a throwback in that he’s the type like back in the day, like a doctor who will come to your house to check in on you, that’s the energy Carlos gives you. Carlos literally has clients that are making $100,000,000 a year, and yet when I come in I feel like I’m the $100,000,000 a year client. Because I thought, I was like, “Well, that’s because Carlos and I are really cool.” No, girl.
Tiffany: I remember I went to a BBQ because we had mutual friends, I went to a BBQ and my attorney was hosting it, and he was saying something like, “This new house is so amazing. Shout-out to Carlos for helping me.” Everybody was like, “Yes! Carlos!” Carlos was everyone’s accountant in that room. I was like, “Wait, Carlos, you cheater!”
Alexandria: I know, and that’s what I thought. I was like, “Wait a minute, I thought I was your client, Carlos.” You looking to the right and left and that person’s a client, too. You’re like, “This ain’t right.”
Tiffany: Yes. And here’s the thing, I have modeled my business after Carlos, and so every financial expert would do well to do the same. For my CFP, I was looking for, one, an educator, one yes. I wanted somebody who what I love about my … Not CFP, but for my CFP, and she’s also a CPA, which I like, but she’s got extensive knowledge about taxes, she’s a team player. Because I have a CFO for my business, my chief financial officer, but Carlos gets on the phone with my CFO, my attorney, and now he’ll get on the phone with my CFP, my planner.
Tiffany: I wanted somebody who was going to be a team player, I also wanted someone who I could grow with. I’m not looking for somebody, quite honestly, who is 85 years old, because I’m like, you know, I’m 39, so you don’t have to be 39. If you’re 60, that’s fine, but I didn’t want somebody who was at the end of their career who was going to pass me on to someone else.
Alexandria: Yeah, so true. And so one thing you did talk about is kind of what the profession could be doing to help a person. You have a Tiffany that walks through your door that’s like, “Hey, I’m wanting to find someone who fits my mold and fits who I am to help me better understand my money.” And what do you think financial planners or this profession could be focusing on to help build their personal brands? Because I think a lot of people are struggling with that, of they don’t know who they want to help, or they are just figuring it out, or they’re just casting a wide net and saying, “I’m going to be that buffet to everyone,” and it’s actually maybe hurting them. What kind of advice would you say you have for them on that?
Tiffany: I would say that there’s this great TED Talk that I rewatch every few years. It’s by Simon Sineki I think his name is. Let me see if I can find it, because it was just really great. I just really rewatched it. And I think that most people work from the outside-in, meaning that they’re looking for … His name … No, Simon Sinek, S-I-N-E-K. It’s How Great Leaders Inspire Action, that’s what it’s called. The TED Talk was not very long. And so he talked that really truly great leaders start with the why, then the how, then the what. Most people start with the what, then the how, then the why, meaning that if you’re … Here’s the thing. I’m The Budgetnista. Why is your client coming to me knowing that my business name is The Budgetnista, asking me to do your job?
Tiffany: And I’m like, “Well, I don’t do that.”
Tiffany: “Well, could you just still?”
Tiffany: Since I’m telling you that’s not my expertise, I wouldn’t even know where to really start outside of what to do with myself, and you are willing to take the risk with me. Why? They have to turn you away. Why?
Tiffany: People ask me, “What bank do you use? What bank should I use?”
Tiffany: I mean, and when I tell you the questions they ask and it’s like, “Why is that?” It’s because you have to start with the why, you have to start with the … I think not enough people start with the, “Why am I helping?”
Tiffany: People feel you. If they feel that I’m just another number, I’m just another … What sets The Budgetnista apart is that there is a sense that this is a person and a brand that actually cares about you. The why is I am here to serve above all else. The what is I choose … Or, the how is through education, and the what is financial education. Starting with that why, because here’s the thing, I could be teaching dog tricks, I could be teaching natural hair solutions. It wouldn’t matter, because my why is the same, it’s I am here, specifically women, to help women live better lives.
Tiffany: The what and the how are only important as it relates to the why. Have you identified your why? Do people know it? Do they feel it? Is it intrinsic? And so when you do that, so now that’s why I’m able to say I’ve got 20 different ways that we make money, I have an online school, okay. I have a planner, okay, I have a book, okay, I have a channel. You know, I do spokesperson, I do all of this stuff, because it’s like Nike. They started with a sneaker, now we’re drinking Nike water and wearing Nike watches. Why is that? Because there is a core belief that they have been able to translate. You can sell anything once you’re able to do that, and so I think that’s really the key. If you want people to care about your business, they have to first know that you care about them.
Tiffany: When someone sits down with me, the very first question, because I don’t do one-on-ones anymore unless it’s an extreme circumstance, so my first question is always, without fail, is, “Tell me your story.” And so because that gives the person just the opportunity to be like, “And my dad, and then my mom, and then my husband, he left,” because they want to get that out, tell me.
Tiffany: And so from that, because if I just say, “What are you here for? You need a …”
Tiffany: For example, a friend of mine, let’s call her, I don’t know, Anna. Anna hit me up and she’s like, “Girl, I need one, two, three.”
Tiffany: And I was like, “That’s what Anna thinks she needs,” and I said, “Oh, okay, Anna. Well, tell me your story.”
Tiffany: And then she starts to unpack her story, this is like preschool teacher Tiffany, and that I can listen to a three-year-old and really understand what’s wrong. And, “No, no, no. What you’re really saying is you’re upset because Jaheem doesn’t want to sit with you anymore.” But it took him a while to get there, but you have to honor the process of that unpacking, because that’s where you build trust, that’s where you build rapport, so I’m listening with my preschool teacher ear and patience. And okay, and pulling out more, and, “Well, what else did mommy say? Well, what else happened on the playground? And he didn’t give you the ball? Okay.”
Tiffany: You know, like I’m pulling out more and you’re feeling more and more relaxed, and then you’re sharing it. And then from there, while you’re speaking, I’m also pulling out what’s really happening, because then when it’s all said and done and I’m like, “Well, Anna, you said that you needed a retirement plan, but what it really sounds like is you need is that you haven’t started saving yet.”
Tiffany: “Oh, that’s true.”
Tiffany: You see? It’s that component of building that trust. There’s been times when I’ve spoken on the stage, and I will preschool-teacher Tiffany on the stage, which means emote, sympathy, empathy, kindness, love as I’m teaching, and then I will go to the bathroom and then the waitress would be in there and be like, “Oh, my God. Thank you so much. I just won $20,000 in the lottery and I’m not sure …” The waitress.
Alexandria: In the bathroom.
Tiffany: Right, in the bathroom, and I haven’t told anybody. I don’t want to tell my sister because she’s going to want to borrow … Can I give you my … When I tell you everyone tells me their business, it’s literally like three years of just me talking about the business?
Tiffany: “And then mommy said and then daddy …” Like, everyone tells me some of your fave, fave, faves are in my inbox telling me all of their business, because you know what? I’m Ms. Tiffany. You can tell Ms. Tiffany anything. She’s not going to be mad, she’s not going to shame you, she’s going to listen with kindness, she’s going to give you this virtual or in-real-life hug, and then she’s going to say, “Let’s figure it out. Let’s figure it out.” And so that’s what, to me, I challenge. And no, it’s not an industry of hugs and kindness and well, that’s why I said industry that’s struggling, quite honestly.
Tiffany: And I’m not saying you have to physically give someone a hug, it’s how do you get that energy across. Because if you want people to trust you, you have to build trust, and I think enough people don’t do that. They’re just going for the … I can’t tell you how many people who I know who have great money, make great money, but they don’t have a financial plan or advisor. They’re like, “I don’t trust it. Can you do it, Tiffany?”
Tiffany: “Well, when you open that leg of your business, you let me know.”
Tiffany: And I’m like, “I’m not going to open that leg of my business.”
Tiffany: Well then, I’ll just be-
Alexandria: I’ll just be without!
Tiffany: For real. I know people making seven … Who are in the seven figures who are without. That’s crazy.
Alexandria: That’s huge. That trust piece is so real, because I can just hear, I’ve heard the conversations. It’s like we’re trying to build this rapport when a new client comes into your office, and you’re asking a whole bunch of questions, but it’s like it’s checkbox questions, you know?
Alexandria: Like, “Your favorite color, you’re alumni. Oh, you’ve done this, you went to this school. What your career’s in,” but none of those questions really go, “All right. At the end of this meaning I felt so authentic to talking to Tiffany today that I could call you and tell you anything, whether it was regarding to finance or not.” Like, that trust never is actually built in those first couple of meetings, and it’s really sounding like where the game-changer is doing that, really focusing on that. It’s like yeah, you need to know your clients, but they also need to trust you to share. They have to feel comfortable enough to do that.
Tiffany: You have to build, like I said. I’ll give an example. I didn’t pay my first two years in business, I didn’t pay my taxes because I was broke, and I remember I was afraid, so Carlos had been calling me and texting me and, “Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany.”
Tiffany: And I was like, “La-la-la.” You know, I went to ShopRite and I was shopping, this was two years in, and Carlos was in the aisle. I tried to turn around.
Tiffany: He said, “Nope, you come here.”
Tiffany: I was like, “What?
Tiffany: He’s like, “Tiffany,” he said, “I did your taxes already.”
Tiffany: “Me? Why? I didn’t ask.”
Tiffany: “I did your taxes already.”
Tiffany: I’m like, “Carlos, I don’t have any money.”
Tiffany: He’s like, “Well, how much do you think that you owe?”
Tiffany: And I was like, “I don’t know, like $40,000.”
Tiffany: He was like, “You owe $8000.”
Tiffany: And I was like, “Oh, that’s not so bad.”
Tiffany: He’s like, “You would have owed $5,000, but those fees.”
Tiffany: And I was like, “What?”
Tiffany: He said, “I asked the IRS to put you on a payment plan.”
Tiffany: That’s what I mean. That level of … You don’t have to stop somebody in the grocery store, but how do you build that kind of energy when someone trusts you like that? And honestly, it doesn’t … It’s not something you can fake. You have to be trustworthy, so if you’re putting on, even if someone can’t see it with their eyes, they can feel it with their heart. Best to believe that folks can feel you, the real you, so if you really don’t care, if you really are not interested in helping and serving, people can feel that and they react to that whether they even know it or not. It starts with really developing that. I don’t know if you …
Tiffany: Maybe you want to start doing volunteer work. How do you develop that inner component of yourself that truly does care, that puts service above all? Because when you do that, I mean, you’d be surprised. People used to tell me all the time that I could never run a successful business the way that … Because we put people first, then purpose, then profit. Sometimes we don’t even make a profit off of some of the stuff and people tell me that I’m crazy as as it is all, and now they’re like, “Wait, how are you making $4,000,000 a year?” With all the giving-
Alexandria: Yeah, how do you do that?
Tiffany: “You’re giving all this stuff away.”
Tiffany: And I was like, “People come to us and give us money.”
Tiffany: I didn’t start the academy thinking … I wasn’t going to do it. They literally said, “Tiffany, I want you to teach me this. I need you to do it.” I built it based on when people say, “I need to give you money in this capacity.”
Tiffany: I remember when I did … I do these free financial challenges every year, somebody said, “Can you make it in book form?”
Tiffany: And I was like, “Well, they’re free online. Why would you do it in a book?”
Tiffany: They’re like, “Girl, can I give you my money or not?”
Tiffany: And I was like, “What do you all want?”
Tiffany: So, I did it in book form. In three days it hit number one on Amazon in my category and made $10,000. And I was like, “Wait, what?”
Alexandria: Wow. Excuse me?
Tiffany: When you build that kind of rapport with your clients and your customers, making money is not going to be the hard part. You’ll be Carlos who can’t even take on new clients.
Alexandria: Yeah. You kind of talked about this when you were reaching for about the community aspect and how you build your Live Richer Academy community. And one thing I had noticed that I really love, and I’m like, “How do we get financial planners to really see that community?” is even when you’re not talking, Tiffany, your community is talking amongst themselves and sharing.
Alexandria: And oh, it’s not interesting and exciting and fun to talk about money, where that is such a huge issue for a lot of families that they don’t talk about it. And then financial planners are working with people as they walk into their office very nervous and scared because they don’t want to talk about it, but they probably leave still feeling the same way. How do we change that within our communities of our clients to build them to be excited and empowered by money?
Tiffany: Well, it starts with sharing your story. I mean, I don’t know what laws prevent or help with this, but sharing your story first. The truth is, we don’t have an issue. Sometimes we have to talk about stop oversharing, I had to face the truth. For real, we have a Facebook group of about 400,000 women, and there’s times that I have to message someone, like, “Sis, you’re sharing a little bit too much now. Somebody from your job might see this and be like, “Hey, she’s working on her side job at the job.” You know?
Tiffany: I mean, I cannot go to Whole Foods without someone stopping me and us talking for 10 minutes about how I helped them with their credit score. And then them telling me, like I said, people I’ve never met, “I was late last week but I’m doing better.”
Tiffany: I mean, people are telling. But you have to create the environment, and then here’s how. By one transparency, transparency, transparency. When someone shares providing feedback that is nonjudgmental, that is solution-oriented, so you can be what I call my father who was when I used to steal milk as a kid. He’d be like, “We don’t have milk money. Do you have milk money?” so someone fusses.
Tiffany: Or you’re my mom who you steal milk as a kid and the first thing she did was reach to get a paper towel, so are you a paper towel person? Meaning like solution for … Because here’s the thing, after my dad finished going off about milk money, that’s what he went to do, get a paper towel. You’re going to get a paper towel anyway. Can we just cut right to it? My mom was very solution-focused, so creating a paper towel environment, the thing happened right to the solution, non-judgment, kindness even. People are hard enough on themselves, they don’t need you to beat them down too. They know they overspend, they know they didn’t make all the right choices.
Tiffany: And I’m not here to judge that, I’m here to say, “Okay, and?” That’s my favorite, “Okay, and?” And you know, I took the money out of my 401(k) even though you didn’t tell me to do it.”
Tiffany: “Okay, and?”
Tiffany: That was my mother, and, “Mommy, I got a C on that test.”
Tiffany: “Okay, and?”
Tiffany: “That means we have to go to see the teacher to see if you could do some extra credit, and no TV tonight.”
Tiffany: It was always forward-moving, creating a safe environment for someone to share, because you’ve shared as well, so I did a lot of sharing in the beginning so that way people felt comfortable to know that they are not alone and that you don’t have to be perfect. I’m not perfect and yet somehow I’m here. That’s really the key, paper towel person, solution-oriented, creating a safe environment that when someone shares, there’s no judgment in your voice, in your responses. And transparency, transparency, transparency.
Tiffany: How do you illustrate it to folks that they’re not alone? Letting folks know, “Well, you know, I know a doctor who doesn’t have any money in their retirement and we’re working on that too. Don’t worry, you’re not alone out here.” Letting people know that, because people mostly think that they’re the only ones going through something, and once they realize they’re not it just makes them feel just a little bit better. But yeah, it’s not that people are not talking about it.
Tiffany: And here’s the thing I always say, too. You want to … Because I see sometimes, some of my friends are CFPs or a CF … They’ll be like … You know, they’ll do this thing where it’s like, “Nobody is dot-dot-dot.”
Tiffany: “No. Nobody is dot-dot-dot with you.”
Tiffany: And it’s hard to accept that people are stopping me in Whole Foods, I can’t tell you how many stores this is, slip me an extra soda on the plane, because they’re like, “Thank you so much, Tiffany. I got my budget.”
Tiffany: I’m like, “What?”
Tiffany: The TSA agent, I forgot about a water in my bag, and she’s like, “Girl, you left this bottle of water. Budgetnista, by the way, girl, you know I got $200 saved?”
Tiffany: I’m all like, “What?”
Tiffany: If you’re having that trouble, first owning it and saying they’re not telling me, because once you own it, you can fix it. I used to tell myself when no one wanted to pay me to speak, and I would get pissed and be like, “Well, that’s because they don’t have the budget.”
Tiffany: That’s not true, because if I was Oprah or Michelle Obama, they would have the money, so that means they don’t have the money for me. Once I owned that and said, “How do I illustrate my Oprah? How do I earn someone paying me?” Now I can make $60,000 … Not $60,000. Oh, I wish. $20,000 to speak gig. Right? Because it took me years to illustrate my Oprah.
Tiffany: Instead of saying, “Oh, they’re just not paying anyone.”
Tiffany: “No, no, no, no, not anyone. They’re not paying you. Tiffany, they’re not paying you. Why is that? Let’s fix that.”
Tiffany: That’s what ownership in the industry too, where, “Oh, it’s a dying industry.” Quite the opposite. The audience is growing larger and larger and larger of people who are interested in financial education. I mean, I have never seen so many financial educators in the industry as I do now. And so what does that tell me? It means that the audience is growing, so if your business is not growing, then there is a disconnect there. But the good thing is that you have more and more people who would hire you if you would only make the connection with that.
Alexandria: You’re talking about that connection and how the amount of people that are growing as far as consumers. You have successfully been helping hundreds of thousands of people, people stopping you on the plane, people stopping you in Whole Foods. People know who you are, you’ve been successfully helping them. Why do you think it’s so difficult for financial planners to be helping the masses the way you do?
Alexandria: Just some background on average, some planners are only getting one to three ideal new clients for their firms, and they’re saying that, “Oh, and then we don’t know how to help the masses,” or, “We just haven’t found a way to charge them or be a profitable business.” What do you have for advice for that? Because you clearly have shown that’s not the issue, it’s not. You’re able to help the masses. There’s a disconnect somewhere. Where do you see that?
Tiffany: Well, also to be fair, I know that there are some fine … Not financial. There are some legal hindrances to the industry, where you can’t post certain things even on your own personal Instagram page.
Alexandria: Yeah, no testimonies and … Yeah. There is this … and that’s what’s kind of concerning, because it’s kind of like, all right, there’s this level of regulation. But even outside of the regulation, it’s like is it difficult to find a way to charge someone a fee and it still be profitable for the business that you can help people besides just those who have money? You know?
Alexandria: And that’s the concern, it’s like, “Oh, I can only help you once you get wealthy.” And it’s like that sounds really crazy, “I only go to the doctor when I’m healthy. I don’t go see him when I have the disease.”
Tiffany: Well, answer this. I’m not sure legally or financial … As a financial planner or financial advisor, are you allowed to charge for … And I don’t know, probably not. Say if you were to have a class, are you allowed to charge for that, or no?
Alexandria: As long as people … Because they work with their compliance department, right? Everyone has their compliance person, and if that’s how they’re going to put themselves out there, of, “Okay, we are going to put on seminars or educational workshops and charge a fee.” Because that’s what it is, it’s breaking it down to, “How can we get paid in different ways? Is it through a fee? Is it commission? What ways are we charging a fee, and is it right for the consumer?”
Alexandria: I think as long as people are able to work with their compliance, because you’re able to go do the seminar, so it’s like you just have to put in probably extra effort to work with your compliance people in advance rather than maybe deciding like, “Hey, let’s do a webinar,” and then you do it tomorrow and you charge people. They’re going to have to go through the hoops of preparing in advance, and maybe they don’t get to do it tomorrow, but they’re able to set it up for a month or two out. Maybe it’s just that the timing isn’t there, but yes, they could be doing that and charge people a fee.
Tiffany: Okay, because to me, one of the best ways to convert someone is to educate them. That’s one of the best ways. Is it Zales? I think. No, no, I think it’s De Beers. Anyway, diamond people, years, years, years ago when they … Diamonds used to not be just the thing that they are now, and so one of the ways that they made diamonds really … I think it was De Beers, how they made them the premiere go-to for wedding, engagement rings as they did this whole campaign on education, the three C’s, cut, clarity, color. This is education, education, education, so now all of a sudden … Plus, too, they made diamonds scarce even though they’re really not that scarce. They made diamonds seem scarce.
Tiffany: But education, if you ever try to sell a house by yourself, by far, you have for sale by owner out, a local realtor, if they’re worth their salt, will drop off a packet for you about how you can do it yourself. You know, for sale by owner, “Here’s a packet.”
Tiffany: All you have to do is these 20,000 things, and then you’re looking at it, you’re doing the education. What does it make you do? “Let me call that realtor. Girl, I ain’t about doing all this.” Right?
Tiffany: And so education is key, because one, it builds rapport, it builds trust, and it also builds your expertise. When you’re educating someone, when they’re ready to pull the trigger or they’re ready to make a move, they’re likely to go to you because who would know better, the person that showed them. And so that’s what I would to suggest to start up. That’s why I was wondering, because I really don’t see, quite honestly, too many financial advisors doing classes, whether they’re in person or online, so starting with educational components.
Tiffany: I don’t know on social media if you’re allowed to share. Even if you went to compliance and said, “Hey, I would love to share, these are 52 statistics, or stats, or whatever that I would like to share once a week.” That’s why I’m getting 52, I get them all upfront, or 100, whatever, and they get cleared and this is what you can share on your social.
Alexandria: Whether they’re charging for it or you’re handing it out for free, just overall it sounds like the profession could be doing better on educating people first. And not educate or waiting to educate them until they walk through their door and they become a client and then you educate them, but really educating them before they even know who you are or even know what a financial planner does.
Alexandria: That’s exactly right.
Tiffany: No, I agree, because that’s what we do. So many, because it builds what’s called a funnel. The opening of any sort of marketing funnel is free things, free, a blog, social media, maybe it’s a podcast, so people enter into your universe through something for free. And then from there you illustrate your Oprah by providing greater value, and you might say, “Okay, so you’re in my funnel, you paid nothing, but I have a book. It’s $10.”
Tiffany: “Okay, I invested $10. Oh, this book is good.”
Tiffany: And you’re like, “I’ve got a class, it’s $30.”
Tiffany: So, you’re deeper into the funnel, so as people go into the funnel, less and less people will advance to the next level of the funnel, because not everyone … Some people stay at free forever, some people will get down to the $30 class and stop right there, but as you advance into the funnel, if you know it’s like a funnel, literally the opening gets smaller and smaller because less and less people will fit through. But along the way as a financial advisor you can ask yourself, “How do I monetize along the way?”
Tiffany: That way the end goal of the funnel is for me to be your financial advisor, you can’t just go from free to financial advisor. How do you monetize some of these smaller streams of revenue along the way? Because you’re more likely to get someone who has invested in a book than a class, than a whatever. You know, I don’t know, let’s just say it’s a planner or something like that, and then get to the actual session with you. How do you educate people along that way?
Tiffany: And two, something that you could do, and this happened when I found my financial planner, Angelee, when I was interviewing folks her name came up like four different times, so are you also shining in your own industry? People were like … Because when I told them what I needed, I mean, I wrote like a four-page manifesto of what I needed in a financial planner.
Alexandria: I love it.
Tiffany: All of my, like, where I was, how much money we had, everything. Everything I could think of, anything, every nickel, penny, dime, I made this, we paid this, we did this so that everything because I wanted. And I sent it to the financial planner, like I wasn’t playing. Before I interviewed them I was like, “Here’s my manifesto. Here’s what I believe, here’s what I think, here’s what my money is doing, here’s where I’m confused.”
Tiffany: That way, if you can’t handle this manifesto, you can’t handle Tiffany. I sent it out as kind of a pre-interview, and then people literally bowed out, and they were like, “You need more than I’m able to do, but you know who would be good? Angelee.”
Tiffany: Literally, three our four people said that, and I thought, “Huh.” And I was like, “We’ll see.”
Tiffany: I interviewed Angelee and she blew me away with her, just her knowledge overall. And I just said, “Wow, this is who I …” And not just her knowledge. It’s like she was an educator, she understood, she listened. I didn’t feel judged. Because I’ve been burned before I was like, “I don’t even want you to manage my money. I want to manage my own money, meaning you’re going to be commissioned on that. I will pay you your flat fee, I’m going to manage my own money and my own account.”
Tiffany: You know the people who are like, “Yeah. Well, that’s not … ” Because of course they’re thinking about, “Well, dang, I’m going to miss out on that commission.”
Tiffany: Angelee was like, “That’s fine.” Because I’m sure she’s thinking, “If I build this rapport with Tiffany, after a while, girl, she’s not going to manage all the money, it’s a lot. But I need to get my part in more.”
Tiffany: And then if I build this where I’m teaching her how to do it on her own so much so that she’s like, “Wow, Angelee really does know her stuff. This is not some gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. We’re going to be at this for a while. I can trust her.” Because that’s what I’m really saying. Remember when I told you tell me your story?
Tiffany: What I’m really saying is everybody else was a gotcha, gotcha, so now I’m not doing it anymore. I’m not really saying I don’t want to manage my own money. She understood what I was really saying is, “I need to build trust with you before that happens.” And so that’s why that … I still like to say building rapport in your own industry, does everybody kind of know you as someone they could refer people to. It doesn’t have to be that … I’m not talking about someone who does the same thing as you necessarily, because why would they send people to you? I’m talking about do CPAs know you, do other financial educators know you.
Tiffany: To this day, I struggle with who am I going … People ask me all the time. I have maybe one or two financial planners and financial advisors that I feel comfortable sending people to. Why is that? I have 800,000 at my disposal in 100 different countries, but 90% of them live in the United States. And I venture to say at least 20% or 30% of them are looking for the next level of financial experts, and I don’t know where to send them, so they sit.
Tiffany: Because I’m not sending them to the wrong person, I’m not. I’d rather not send you to anyone, because I’ve interviewed so many and I was like, “Are you kidding?” For myself, I just got [inaudible], and the jury’s still out. We’ll see. We have our first call tomorrow. But first I gotta call my husband. But isn’t that crazy?
Tiffany: That I’m in this industry for 10 years and I have a hard time finding people that actually care, not just say you care, that are actually going to help and believe in you if you don’t have a ton of money that are actually going to educate. And so it’s a struggle. I don’t know where to send them. I would love to. And of course, everyone’s like, “Oh, send them to me.”
Tiffany: I’m like, “Illustrate your Oprah. I’m not sending them just to send them. Illustrate your Oprah.” I don’t know who’s out there to send them to you. Quite honestly, even my friends who have a lot of wealth, no one … Everyone knows Carlos the accountant. How come I don’t know Carla the CFP? Why is her … You know what I mean?
Tiffany: Meaning that if I ask my friend who’ve been making seven figures, why is she not over head, over heels for her person. She’s like, “Oh, John is all right, girl.”
Tiffany: I’m like, “Well, God, I don’t want him.
Tiffany: That’s kind of scary when I really think about it. It’s just kind of coming to me now when I really think about it, that honestly I don’t know anyone who was like, “Oh, my gosh.” The way I feel about Carlos, I don’t know anyone who feels about that about their CPA, and I’m not sure why. I guess that’s the industry’s question to ask themselves, and maybe there are a handful of people who are like …
Tiffany: I’m not trying to be hard on this industry, but I’m just telling you the real so you can see on the other side what folks are saying so you can say, “Well, that’s not going to be me. I am going to be the Carlos of this industry. I am going to stand out with my service and my kindness and my understanding, my lack of judgment as far as judging folks. I am going to overextend myself. I am going to be the go-to, I am going to be someone who can’t even take on new clients because people are beating down my door.”
Tiffany: When I tell you the window is wide open, let me become a CFP or financial advisor. The door is open for superstars to roll through. This is a great time, because there are not that many people who are shining in it, so this is a great, amazing time. You could really make a name for yourself, because I don’t know any go-to people.
Alexandria: That’s amazing. Listeners, you heard it. You get right, okay? Because this door is wide open and the opportunity is there for you. As we kind of wrap up today, thank you again so much, Tiffany. We have a financial planning association activate Facebook group, and we did a little bit of pre-work for this podcast today where we allowed everyone to basically shoot me a personal message or put up on the Facebook group what questions you had. And of course, there was a flood of questions from our listeners, but I just grabbed a couple quick, fire-response questions for you. I know if it goes too long, you’ll be like, “Mm-mm (negative), they going to have to listen to a webinar.” Just say it like that and they know where they need to go, to your website.
Alexandria: The first question is, what is your personal thoughts on the use of credit cards?
Tiffany: I used to think credit cards are the devil. I no longer think so. Credit cards are a tool, like a hammer. A credit card can be used to build your financial house. A credit card could also be used to destroy your financial house, just like a hammer can be. And so really, credit cards are as good as the person, or as helpful as the person, wielding it.
Alexandria: Second question. What advice do you give to students and their parents as they get ready to go to college dealing kind of with the cost and the planning of how expensive schools are now.?
Tiffany: College is an investment, an investment investment. The purpose of investing in something is to what? To at worst break even, to at best get a return. You have to think about colleges that, so if you … I had a Spanish teacher who went to Princeton, a Spanish teacher that went to Princeton. What is the return on that investment? She maybe has $150,000 worth of student loans and now you’re a Spanish teacher, and she went for Spanish teaching. It’s not like, “This is where I am.”
Tiffany: There’s nothing wrong with being a Spanish teacher. I was a teacher. But what I’m saying is, think about that’s not the return on investment doesn’t make sense. Whatever amount you’re going to pay for college in student loans or otherwise, asking yourself on the other end, “Will there be this financial return? Am I going to spend half a million dollars for to become a preschool teacher?”
Tiffany: You don’t need to spend half a million. You could still be an amazing preschool teacher without having to spend all of that money, so just be conscious. College is an investment, not just of time and energy, but of your money. And if you’re going to spend money on college, then the capability of making that money back on the other end has to be clear. And if not, figure out a way to spend less. Do you start at a community college? Do you need to go to an Ivy League for this particular profession? Will you be able to get a job that’s going to be able to pay this back? And if not, rethink spending it. Not to stay you don’t have to go to college, but rethink spending it at that school in that way.
Alexandria: The last one here is, what is the biggest obstacle you’re seeing people have with saving?
Tiffany: I mean, I guess the obvious is not dipping back into it. If I make a suggestion, it’s to make your savings inconvenient, because inconvenient money gets saved. Whether it’s something putting it in a CD, I just do this thing, this helped me, I would say it increased my savings by like 80%. I put my money in an online-only savings account, and what that did was … I believe in three major financial institutions, credit union for borrowing, a regular brick-and-mortar big bank for convenience, so like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, that kind of thing, and then an online-only bank. Right now, I’m using Ally, but there’s Capital One, there’s a bunch of online-only banks.
Tiffany: There’s a website called Magnify Money where you can find the best online-only bank that yields the highest interest. Putting your money in an online-only bank, do not open up a checking account there, just a savings account, the only way to get your money is to link it to your checking account at your regular brick-and-mortar convenient bank. If you want to send money, you send it through your bank. If you want to get money back, it has to come back to your regular bank. That’s about a 24-to-72-hour wait.
Tiffany: If you’re at Target like we’ve all been and you want something really, really bad and you look at this label and you’re like, “Ah, where my money?” There’s no way for you to physically go get your money, you have to wait that 24 to 72 hours to get your money. It will cut your impulse buying dramatically, with your money at least, with your actual money now. I can’t control how you swipe that credit card, but you won’t be able to spend your savings easily. Make your money inconvenient, because inconvenient money gets saved.
Alexandria: Thank you so much on those little tips. I almost sound like there was some planners on here having questions about their personal life-
Tiffany: Just because you do, it doesn’t mean you don’t live through it, right?
Tiffany: Yeah, sometimes the hairdresser has messy hair, you’re like, “Oh, girl.”
Alexandria: That is the truest point. You’re like, “Wait a minute. You’re doing my hair?” And then just like I said, this podcast is for the young professionals that are out there that are getting into the profession and just trying to help navigate themselves in their first several years. Or we have the firm owners on here listening on how they can better support their young planners. Is there any last tips you want to just leave for our listeners that are young professionals that are interested in joining the profession, or knowing more about what you do?
Tiffany: I’m hoping you got into this industry because you want to serve, so serve. You know what I mean?
Alexandria: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tiffany: So, serve. You don’t need permission to serve, you don’t need expertise to serve. Meaning that, of course, to be a financial advisor or planner, yes, expertise, but I’m talking about just as a human being, that if you want to serve, then serve. Don’t let, “Well, I just need this. I just need …”
Tiffany: No. You can still serve. You can still listen, you can still care, you can still teach the little bit that you do know. And so I think that we get so wrapped up in the, “What’s in it for me?” you know, like, “I just want to make this amount of money.”
Tiffany: Which there’s nothing wrong with making “this amount of money” but know that you’re not the only one who’s asking, “What’s in it for me?” Your client is asking that, too. If you’re both thinking, “What’s in it for me?” no one is receiving. And that you should be asking yourself, “What’s in it for my client?” as well, and put that above all else and you will have to drive people back with a sword.
Tiffany: I’m telling you, if you put the, “What’s in it for my client?” and you reduce the friction of them, of getting to you, meaning it’s easy to find you online, that maybe you’re on LinkedIn. If people have to hunt you down and look this way and look that way to work with you, then that’s not going to bode well, so reduce the friction for your client to connect with you, make it easy for the people you do work with to share you because you’re so amazing.
Tiffany: And serve, put service above all else. I promise you, you do that, then you’re going to be able to help clients that don’t have enough, because they’ll be offset by the clients that you do have that make more than enough. It’s okay to mix and match with both. Everyone doesn’t pay me, but they all get helped. All 800,000 folks don’t pay me. Maybe it’s only 20% that are really keeping the business afloat, but we still get to serve all 800,000, and that’s what’s most important to me.