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In this episode, Chelsea speaks with financial educator Yanely Espinal about her biggest money cautionary tale, growing up in Brooklyn and going to an Ivy League school, and dealing with credit card debt when you weren't afforded a solid financial education growing up.

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Hello, everyone.

It's Chelsea. And before we get into this week's video, I wanted to let you guys know about an exciting new thing we're doing at TFD.

It's called the Studio at TFD, and it is a series of digital workshops around all sorts of topics, from money management to mental health, to organization, to entrepreneurship, and everything in between. We've got several amazing events coming up and you can find out more about all of them at See you guys there.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Financial Confessions. I am here with someone that we at TFD have known for some time, and a lot of you guys probably know, as well. She is highly requested and someone you guys are also in big numbers a fan of.

So I'm very excited to say hello to her. But before I do, I want to say a quick hello to our beloved partners with whom we make every episode of The Financial Confessions. If you guys don't know about Intuit, you definitely know and probably have used some of their amazing products, things like QuickBooks, Mint, Turbo Tax, et cetera.

And they are the makers of all of the tools that help make your financial life more efficient, more goal-oriented, help you keep track of all the things that are normally difficult to keep track of. Everything from the specific budget categories to your invoices, to everything you need that kind of slips your mind and is easy to forget about. I personally am someone who never ever liked doing manual financial management.

I don't like spreadsheets. I don't like pen and paper budgets. It's just very difficult for me, and so I never did it.

But like seven years ago, I downloaded their free app, Mint, which helped make budgeting into something that for me now is totally effortless. I'll get into a little bit more about Mint and some of their other products later in the show. But for now, as promised, we have a very exciting guest.

She is a YouTuber, a financial educator, a personal finance expert, a teacher of teachers, and someone who is all around very, very good to hear from. Her name is Yanely Espinal. Hi, everybody.

Hi. So welcome. It's so nice to finally have you here.

I'm excited to be here. This is really cool. It is.

As I mentioned, you have kind of been in our orbit for a really long time. You're someone who also is a YouTuber. Tell us a little bit about yourself, how you came to the PF world, why you're on YouTube, how all that happened.

Yeah. So it's funny because a lot of people will find me on YouTube at MissBeHelpful and say, wow, like your channel has so many videos about credit and about investing and saving money. You must have studied like finances in college.

And it's actually the total opposite. I never had a financial class of any sort. I never had a business class, personal finance class, marketing, like nothing.

I just had the traditional economics in high school course, which teaches you general plan demand and nothing else. So it was like, OK, how does this apply to my money? But I went off to college on a full scholarship, which I'm so fortunate to have gotten in.

I was definitely that nerdy kid who just always got 90s and I wanted to impress and please my parents and make them proud. And so I was really into academics. And I made sure like I always had a really good GPA.

I wasn't playing around when it came to my tests. My friends were always the ones texting me like, when is the test? When is this due?

When is that due? And it was really just on top of that aspect of my life. And then I got a full ride to Brown University.

There, I was surrounded by just-- well, so for context of growing up in New York City in a very poor home, like immigrant household parents, on government assistance, 8 brothers and sisters, plus me. So really a specific type of home environment with very limited financial resources. And then going from there, being plucked out of this like barely there's any space for you to get plugged onto the campus of an Ivy League school, and I was just in awe of the opportunity.

It was amazing. But also, it was immediately like I felt that I didn't belong there. The way I talked was different.

The way I dress was different. The way I act and I'm so loud, and like it was-- I just felt like this isn't where I belong. And I was immediately like, I need to go back home.

But my parents pushed me like, no, you got there because you deserve to be there. Don't quit. You're not going to come home.

And so how I felt like I could fit in and be comfortable there was to look like everyone else and be like everyone else as much as I could. So went to the bank, got a credit card, got a second one, got a third one. Bought everything that I thought I needed to look the part that I belonged there-- the MacBook, the UGGs, the Longchamp bag to put my MacBook in.

And it felt right at that time. And then a couple of years later, no student loan debt, almost $20,000 in credit card debt, beyond 22% interest rate. And I didn't know what that meant, like my parents don't have credit cards, don't have bank accounts, don't-- they're just with cash is how they function.

And so I really had to figure that out on my own. And that-- my first job out of college was teaching. So I was teaching third and fourth grade in Brooklyn, not too far from where I grew up.

So the community was very much like, I felt right at home. And just at that time, I started realizing like, all the teachers in the school building would go and buy lunch every day. And I was like, I don't know if I could keep up with them because I'm trying to pay off my credit card bills.

And so that's when I started like packing my lunch and trying to do things that were purposefully helping me save money. And I started reading books about personal finance. I did the Suze Orman.

And I did all the intro stuff, and that was really what changed my life in terms of like teaching me how to get out of the credit card debt, how to actually save money. And then I was like, you know what? I wish this content was there for me earlier, one.

And two, I wish that I didn't have to read-- sorry, Suzy, I love you-- but boring books about just cut and dry facts about money. And I think a lot of the writers that exist now in the personal finance space do the best they can to spice it up. But I think there was an element missing of just being like-- just be yourself, like just stop talking about this with all the financial jargon vocabulary technical terminology.

Like that's how I felt like I had to be when I was at Brown. And when I come home and it's good to be myself with my friends and my siblings and my-- like my-- I don't talk like that. So I wanted to just be on YouTube and not be that kind of a stuffy financial channel.

So I just started being like, guys, this is what I do to get out of credit card debt. This is how I fix my finances. This is how I saved money.

And if I could do it coming from a family that-- the type of family I came from, then anybody could do it with an average salary. So that was really how I got started. And then it just took off from there and grew on its own.

I feel like such-- I so identify with your story about Brown. I had a very similar experience, not-- I did not go to an Ivy League school. I didn't even go to college.

But I went to-- I went from a pretty like working class neighborhood. My family did not have a lot of money growing up. We lived in a very working class neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina, where like everyone was like me.

No one had nice things. So it was like-- I didn't even like-- I don't think I ever knew we were really poor, because I just didn't know there was anything else, to then living in a very, very wealthy community and going to a school where kids were driving BMWs and Audis to school every morning in high school. And I did the exact same thing right down to the UGGs and the Longchamp bag, like I-- as soon as I turned 18, I got the credit card.

I got all that stuff that I felt I needed to fit in and to look a certain way. But interestingly, I don't know if this was your experience, but for me I never felt good in those things. Like I never-- it never made me feel the way I thought I would feel because I still felt different.

I still felt like everyone knew I was poor. You know what? I think I feel like I did a really good job hiding that.

Like I don't think people knew how poor I really was in college, because I had Jordans. I had all the name brand things. I had a North Face coat, like I had all the things that my friends had.

And granted, I was in a program that was like, it was kind of clear that my family wasn't as wealthy. But I don't think anybody really got the sense that I was just straight up struggling the way that I was. And like, for example, I was working at the pizzeria on campus.

Like anybody who went to Brown between 2009 and 2011, like 2008, 2007 to 2011 know I was at the gate. Like that's the pizzeria where you'd find me flipping pizza, like telling people what to do. I was a supervisor on shift almost every night.

And that was my primary source of cash that I used to pay my credit cards off, or at least the minimum, and then to have cash when I need it. But the money that I did earn at that job, which was like minimum wage back in 2009 and 2010, was like $7 an hour. So I wasn't making a lot.

And I would always take some of that cash and send it back home to my parents. Because even though, like most kids, their families were sending them money, for me, I had to help my parents. And so I always was very aware that I had a completely different experience from a lot of my friends.

Like they'd be like, oh, I need money. I'm going to tell my mom to put some on my debit card. I'm like, your mom puts money on your debit card?

Wait. Tell her to put some of that on my debit card, too. Like I need money.

Parents are just giving out money? And it just-- I knew that I was different, but I tried really hard not to let anyone else know. And so, I don't know, I think I was very comfortable in the community.

Also, like being a person of color and I really camp is, you-- everyone, because of the students of color kind of gravitate to each other. And so it was like very much like a black and Latino community that I was a part of. And so it felt like, yeah, we kind of-- like they know me.

I'm comfortable here. Like I found my tribe. And then it just worked for me, and I didn't really think about like the terrible choices I was making financially, or that how irresponsible I was being on a day-to-day.

I just was like, nope, this is going to be my life for four years, and then I'll figure it out when I get my job after. So I was kind of concealing a lot of what was going on, I think. Do you-- when you have that experience when you first wanted to leave, aside from obviously the conversation with your parents where they were like, no, you have to do it, how did you find, outside of buying things you probably shouldn't have been buying, how did you change your mentality around it, your behavior around it?

Because I think a lot of people have moments like that. Maybe not necessarily quite as extreme as leaving an Ivy League school that they got a scholarship to. But they're in a situation where they feel like I just can't make this work.

How did you kind of go from wanting to leave to making it work and graduating? I think it was definitely like a little bit mental and a little bit of like, you just have to take action. So for me, my mindset was very much like, at, first I was full blown into depression.

I'm not even going to deny that. My roommate that I had my freshman year would go out, there was like a freshman ice cream social. And I remember this like it was yesterday because she was getting dressed.

She's like, you're not going to the social? And I was like yeah, yeah, I'm going to go. I'm going to go a little bit later.

I'm going to call my mom. And then she walked out of the dorm room. As soon as the door slammed behind her, I just sat on my bed and started crying.

And I just cried that whole night. I didn't even go to the social because I was like, I just don't fit here. It was my mind was playing tricks on me.

Like why would you even go? You don't-- you're not going to find any friends. You don't fit in.

Like they don't sound like you. You're not-- it just-- I kept resaying these things over and over again that I didn't belong there, that I wasn't going to have fun and that I should just stay in my room. And I did.

Until eventually, I'm like, you know what? I could keep talking in my room, could keep like festering in this depression that I'm convincing myself of that this is happening, when really I haven't even tried much. And so then I finally kind of said, you know what?

The next time there's a freshman social event, I'm going. And then I-- when I was walking out of the building, so luckily, everybody from my building, which was like a certain dorm that I lived in freshman year, was going together. And so we're all walking.

I was like, oh, you guys are going to the social? Like, yeah. I was like, I'm going to come, too.

And so then I just joined people that lived in my building. And so that was like my first group of friends. I didn't stay friends with them long because it was just because we lived together.

It was like friends of convenience. But eventually, I met people through like other social student groups. And like I joined the step team, which I was always-- I was a stepper in middle school and high school in New York City.

Public schools, there's always a step team. And so I was like, I'm going to find a step team and kind of just put myself out there to do the things that I felt like I would enjoy that would help me to feel like I did fit in, whether it's finding others like you-- for me joining a Latino dance troupe, like I was like [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. I feel like I'm at home, even if I'm not.

And so I had to actively do the things that would help me feel a little more at ease and more comfortable. But mentally, I also had to shift my mindset and say, stop repeating those negative things to yourself, because you haven't even made an effort to see if you can make friends and you're already telling yourself it's not worth it going out. What was it like going from Brown back to Brooklyn?

That was interesting because I feel like my friends saw me differently. And that's hard. That's hard.

Like even today, most of the friends that I had from kindergarten, middle school all the way through high school that we maintain friendships even through college. Once I came back, for some reason, it's like I have one of my friends that's the same. All the other friends sort of those friendships just sort of dissipated.

And I think it's because-- I don't know. It's hard-- it's hard to-- I don't know. People have insecurities.

And when you're having conversations with people, sometimes they'll just assume that, oh, you don't get it. You went to an Ivy League school. And I'm like, but I-- like that-- we grew up together.

Like just because I went off to a different school and I had a different experience doesn't mean that we had to drift apart. And I think some people, it just changes their perspective about you or their impression of you, especially because I started working right away after college, because I joined Teach for America. So they place you at school and you start teaching immediately.

So I was making like $40,000 right out of college. And that year it was like right after the great recession, like it was 2011 when I graduate. And we were kind of in the thick of it.

So a lot of my friends couldn't get jobs. And they went to really great schools, state schools that are really well known and couldn't get a job. And here I was like right out of college back home, working $40,000 a year, which today might not sound like much, but for someone-- At 22, that's a ton.

That's a ton of money for somebody in New York. And so I was just like-- I felt really bad. And I think it kind of definitely put a dent in some of the relationships that I had.

And especially made it hard for my family, because they just saw me as like, oh, now that you're back, you're going to give everybody money. I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, let's make one thing clear. I have some credit card debt to pay off.

Like I'm not here to just be giving out money. But I think it's hard for a lot of kids that are first generation, go off to college, especially if you go to a really prestigious school and come back, your family sort of sees you as like the one that made it. Like you're going to come back and help us all.

And you have to-- it's a hard conversation to have. But I had to kind of really set boundaries and say, I have to handle my situation before I can help anybody. And I'll do what I can, but I will kind of draw the line.

Like I'm not going to let people dictate how much I provide. I have to say, this is what I can do, and then this is where we kind of got to-- you have to understand that I have so many other things going on, too. So, yeah, I think it's important to have that conversation early on when you graduate so that there's not this like expectation put on you that you're probably uncomfortable with.

Because once that expectation is set and you start like complying, it's going to be really hard to undo what you've already done and to kind of uncondition people to-- from expecting money from you. If you've already been in the habit of giving money, you've got to kind of set that boundary early. I always find it so fascinating when people talk about-- because people love to talk about the American dream, and anyone can make it, and obviously, there's some like, OK, let's be clear.

That's pretty uncommon. But also even for people that it does happen for I feel like we never acknowledge that ascending class to becoming upper middle class, wealthy, what have you, or even just stable middle class is very different when you're doing that with parents and relatives who are also at that place or better, versus getting there. And you're the only person from your family who's in that place who has that stability.

So not only often are you responsible for helping someone, or feel obligated to at least offer. Because even sometimes people won't take it, even if they need it. But also, you don't have, in most cases, nearly the same level of financial education that a person of that same class with similar parents would have.

And I don't know, I do feel like it's important to-- like you said, to set boundaries and to say this money is mine and I have to do what I need to do before I can help someone else. But I also feel like even for people who are ready to maybe help someone, that's such an uncomfortable thing. Oh, yeah.

It's so awkward. It can feel embarrassing if you're helping people who are older than you, or even siblings, or peer relatives. And that's something that we really have no tools to navigate.

We don't teach people who have changed class how to then navigate possibly helping, whether it's with education or resources, the other people in your family. So what are some of your pieces of advice there? Yeah.

I think it's two things. So one, I sort of alluded to what I mentioned already, which is for me, this is what worked. I had to sit down and say, OK, mom, I know that you need help with my little brother's Catholic school, or with sending money back home to Dominican Republic for her sisters and brothers and my dad's sisters and brothers-- so my uncles-- but I have to do all of these different things.

And I literally sat down with my mom and showed her my spreadsheet and was like, these are the things that I'm trying to get done. And this is the money that comes in every two weeks. So by the time I do this, this, this, and this and this, I have this much money left.

I'm willing to give you $75 a month. If you can make that work, every month on the 15th, no matter what, I will give you $75 every single month. But once I give you that, till the next month on the 15th, I just-- don't even ask because I literally can't-- you can see my plan.

There is no dollars to give. Like I'm doing my-- the most I can. And so once I was fully open and showed my numbers and my plan and my budget, my mom was like, wow, OK, well, like I see that you have a plan.

Like I think even for some people-- like my brother would come in the back on hearing that conversation, he's like, oh, like maybe I need a plan. Like he doesn't have a budget, and he's like four years younger than me so-- which is fine. He kind of came to it on his own.

But, yeah, like that was not only having that clue conversation being open about the money, but it was also a model like, hey, do you have a plan like this? Like do you and dad sit down and go over how much of the cash you bring in is going to get groceries, and how much is going to electric bill, and how-- like how do you-- have you guys been doing this, like ever, in your 30 plus years of marriage? Probably not, right?

And so just being a model of like I have a plan for every dollar was huge. And then the second thing is like really being consistent with not just the funding that you can provide, if you are giving money for support, but also beyond that. There's so many other resources that I provided to them that wasn't cash.

So like physically being there with my mom, sitting down next to her to help her figure out what bank was right for her or where it was right for her, when she finally wanted to open a checking account. She never had one. And then my brother wanted to get a loan.

I was like, I can't give you the cash, but I will sit down next to you and try to find a personal loan that will be the best you can get with your credit score and not charge you an origination fee, right? And he didn't even know what that was. I'm like, origination fees are fees that pretty much in 2020, 2021 beyond, you don't have to really pay because there's so many personal loans that don't charge those types of fees anymore.

So it was important for him to hear me say that, and for him to have me next to him helping him through that. So I think even if you can't-- even if you're not in the position where you can actually give money, or if you are, that's great. But couple that with being a resource in other ways.

Showing your budget, helping them budget, showing them the good resources that you can trust online. How to decipher between a financial institution that's predatory and one that's not. What are the types of questions that you should be asking when someone's offering you financial services.

Like I think these are the types of things that I've been able to give them more than anything else that has probably made more of an impact than me giving them $150, right? Because that's how the saying goes is, you can teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for life, rather than giving him food, right? So it's important for me to teach them the skills that I've developed through reading books and watching videos that I feel like are really the things that fundamentally changed me, rather than someone coming along and just pay-- helping pay off my troubles, and that wouldn't have changed me.

It would have changed my situation. So that's, I think, what I would focus on. What about for people who have family members, let's say, who need help but won't ask or won't take it?

That is hard. That's like my mom. Oh, my goodness, that woman, she like-- every time I go to her house, I see little things where I'm like, mom, why didn't you tell us that you needed this like replaced?

It's like I don't like to-- I don't like to bother you. I don't like to-- you guys work so hard for your money. I'm like, and what about all the diapers that you changed when I was a little kid.

No, I don't want to bother you and I did, like it's like you-- it's not a bother. But she really doesn't-- she feels shame that she has to ask her kids for money. And I see it every time we have these conversations.

But there have been times where I will invite her to go out. And she says, well, I don't have good clothes to wear. Like all the stuff that I have has holes in it or it's been washed too much and it's all-- it's not good quality anymore.

Then why didn't you tell me and we would have bought you a new outfit? And that's not a reason to not come to an event. She has nine kids.

Between the nine of us, one of us could have got her a new dress. But the shame around not wanting to ask for help. And so I think for me the big thing that I do is I'm always checking in.

I will always-- like now, my mom's using WhatsApp. Oh, goodness. So she would send me pictures of Jesus and Mary every day.

I'm like, oh, god, thanks, mom. It's like-- so I'll text her back, or I'll be like thanks, mommy, happy Thursday to you, too. Do you need anything in the house-- food, clothes?

How's everything? Like just really checking in because I know she's not going to initiate. She's not going to initiate that conversation.

So showing her that I'm constantly checking in with her like, hey, do you need anything-- money, clothes, new food, like do you want me to do a Fresh Direct order and send it to the house, like what can I do that will help? And then I find that sometimes she will say, oh, well, actually, I have been running out of oil and rice. I'm like, OK, cool.

I'll order it for you. But if I don't ask, she won't tell, and she's not going to initiate it. So I find that I really have to make an effort to check in on her every now and then and make sure she's OK.

So just check in on your people, like it's hard to ask for money. It's so hard. It's all hard to ask for a lot of things.

But like in general help, asking for help is-- you have to be really vulnerable to do that. And vulnerability, as we all know, is really, really hard for people to willingly experience and put themselves in that position. How did-- how did growing up with nine siblings impact your life, your financial approach?

Oh, financially, interesting. I don't know. I was going to say like my life approach, I could answer that.

Well, let's do both. OK. Let's start with the life approach.

Like one, I am the least selfish person in the world to a fault. Like I will give and give and give and give whatever you need. Like if you're in my house, I'll be like, oh, you need-- you need a bathing suit?

Here, I got a couple. Or you want to wear that? Yeah, I have an extra pair.

So I'm just like that with everything. And I've met people, friends of mine, who've been like the only child or have come from a smaller family that are not like-- they are very particular about their things. And it's like in my house, you couldn't-- you could not afford to not share.

We would share clothes. We would share like hairbrushes. We would share like the bathroom, like the mirror, doing make-up at the same time, all the girls.

And like it was always just like we don't have-- we can't afford to not share. Like we have way too many people with too many mouths to feed and so much going on, we shared beds. Like there were bunk beds two girls per bed, and the boys all slept in one room.

So it's just this constant like, we are a community. We are one. We're a group, and we are tribe, and whatever one gets, we all get.

And we kind of like share with each other. But I realized that that started to hurt me financially. And one quick excerpt, or story, an example of this was when I graduated and I was doing Teach for America, a really good personal friend of mine, like family, friend, and we went to like elementary school, middle school together, and then two different high schools.

But we stayed friends. So I come back home after college, and she and I became roommates with a third roommate, as well. And so we're in the community where I grew up.

It was a very comfortable environment. Everything was safe and fine. And we were having a good time.

And then she started opening up about her family's struggles. And that her little sister was not going be able to go back to Penn State for her last semester because-- or for her sophomore or junior year, because they couldn't get approved for her student loans. She couldn't get approved.

Her sister couldn't get approved. The parents had really bad credit. And so she asked me if I would be willing.

And I was like, I mean, I have really good credit because I don't have student loans. And I cosigned a student loan for someone else who is like-- she wasn't even my direct best friend. She was my best friend's little sister.

And so that was sort of this degree of separation between us. It's not like I could keep tabs on her, because she was not really my best friend. So it's really hard, because I didn't know what I was doing.

I was just reading through the fine print, not really reading it, and then I just submitted the application and I was approved instantly. So it was like, I think it was $13,000. And I was like, oh, that's a big amount.

But in my mind, I'm like, but it's in her name. I just kind of-- I just co-signed. I just helped her get approved, not knowing what cosign means.

Anybody out there who doesn't know what cosign means, it means that you are fully responsible for that other person's debt in the event that that person can't pay. So you are essentially saying, if she doesn't send the money, I will. That's what you're saying.

And I had no idea. I was like 21, or 22, before my MissBeHelpful journey. And so I made a huge mistake.

And then when she graduated, when she was supposed to graduate, she was a little bit behind on credit. So she couldn't graduate. So she graduated six months late, extending the loans.

And so by the time I finally got the first letter in the mail saying that her first payment was due, it was over $17,000. And it was nearly $20,000. So on top of my $20,000 of credit card debt, another $20,000 in my name.

And I'm like, why is this coming to me in the mail? This is her debt. So I started looking up co-sign student loan, Sallie Mae, and I realized what I did.

It was horrible. I was trying to coach her to improve her credit so that-- because if you-- she-- if the person who's primary on the account had really good credit and made payments on time for 18 months, then we could submit an application to get me released. And so I would-- that's was-- that was my first big goal with her.

I was like, OK, let's do this for a year and a half. And then I can get released. But it wasn't working because her credit wasn't good, and she wasn't able to make payments.

I was making payments for a while. And that nightmare, guys, seriously, a nightmare. Don't ever cosign loans for people.

Not your boyfriend and not your like best friend, like nobody. And so we got basically-- what we ended up doing was, I sat down with her family and I said, this is really a financial burden. It's messing up my credit.

I can't get an apartment. I-- so many things are hurting me because of this. I need us to figure out what we're going to do.

And so then she and I kind of teamed together and found a essentially consolidated all of her student loan debt with a new lender. And essentially wipes me off the Sallie Mae loan, moved all of her debt into one new lender, and then she made her monthly payment. Which is-- it was hard because then no more friendship with her sister.

Not-- like it just be-- it was one of those things where money can really ruin relationships. And that's why I think the healthier the conversations, the earlier conversations you can have, the healthier the outcome is going to be, and the relationship is going to be. So I think financially, I was way too willing to share-- to help-- yeah, of course, I'll share my credit with you.

Of course, I'll apply to this thing, too. Because growing up, my mentality, especially in a lot of Latino cultures, is not just the way I grew up. I think this is very pervasive.

Latino X across the board, we are very community based-- community based culture. Like it's for us. It's for all of the people.

If I make something, I'm going to reach back and help my people, as well. If I am successful, I'm going to share that success. And I think we have to start to think like I've started to think recently about, how does that serve me, and in what ways does it serve me?

But how doesn't it? And we have to be sort of willing to be sort of critical of our culture and say like, well, that can help you in certain aspects, but financially, you shouldn't be just signing loans for everybody. And so I think I've started to really become a little bit more critical and strategic about the financial moves that I make, and making sure that I put myself first.

Because I can't help anybody if my credit's on-- if my credit's ruined because of a move like that. That is a crazy story. Right?

Oh, my God. I was like-- I didn't breathe through that whole story. That is crazy.

I have made every mistake in the book, you guys. Every mistake. Not to pry, but it is like really rude of her sister to not be friends with you anymore over that.

Yeah. That is terrible. I think what it is is that whole time I was like very adamant with the family that we had to figure it out.

Like I can't be on this anymore. And she is like, we all didn't know what we were doing. Like we were all desperate to get this kid through college.

We all were sort of victims in the situation. I'm like, yeah, but y'all are her blood relatives and I'm not. So I feel like if my little brother needed money and you co-sign the loan for him, at this point realizing what happened, I would take full ownership and try to figure out a way to get my little brother off your credit, right?

I feel like she wasn't doing that. And that's what was getting me upset. I'm like, dude, I'm your friend.

You have to like take responsibility and help me clear my name because she's your sister, not mine. And I think she was offended by that. And like she kind of saw it as like me putting all this pressure on her family and not empathizing with the financial troubles that her family was going through.

I was like, I empathize, but I also have my own financial problems. Like so-- yeah, it was a tough one. Yeah.

Wait, how much money did you end up paying? Probably over $3,000 out of pocket. Because the first thing I did, which was so dumb, was as I first started reading, I was like, oh, so the real problem here is the interest.

Because that's when I start first learning but I was like, if the principal balance can actually be tackled with the payments, then you'll actually start chipping away at the debt. But because there's so much interest, so maybe what we should do is just pay off all the interest. So I went in and like paid off like 75% of the interest.

And then I asked their dad to contribute the other 25%. So together with her dad, we essentially wiped the interest and just brought it down. And so that was thousands of dollars right there.

And then at that point, her dad felt kind of bad because he saw how much I'd put in. And he was like, I'm going to start paying you back slowly every month. And so he would send me like $100 bucks, $200 bucks, whenever he could.

And then he just stopped. And I was like, oh, hey, your dad was sending me money, but he's not anymore. And they were like, yeah, yeah, and he had back surgery, he had a lot going on.

And I said, OK, well, I mean, we've got to be communicating. And so that-- I think that was the big thing, too. It was like we weren't talking about it.

And then finally I just-- I stopped making the payments and I had her start paying when she finally got a job. But she was working at Best Buy. Like I knew like-- I was like you're not going to be able to pay like $400 a month.

So I was still putting like $200 every month, when I could. And so, yeah, definitely over $3,000 out of pocket that I never saw back. Lesson learned.

Everyone listening to this right now is just like jaw dropped in front of their screens or in AirPods. But it's horrible. I know.

And that's what a lot of people were telling me, they're like, that's messed up. Like maybe it's a good thing that you guys aren't friends, because you don't want a type of friend-- like that-- she's like showing you her true colors. They should have been so grateful.

They should have been like trying to do everything they could. Like you said, if it was your brother, you would've figured it out. But the fact that she wasn't and she was just mad that you weren't being super empathetic, it's like maybe that's a red flag.

And so I kind of just say, you know what? Life happens the way it happens. Maybe it was not meant to be a friendship that I took into my future with me.

Just got to say it that way. I have to say, I would-- I mean, I would do a lot for family members. I mean, a family member of a friend, I don't know.

You'd have to be a pretty damn good friend. And even then, that's like such a risky situation because like, if you're not a part of the family, you have very limited means to like put pressure on them. Whereas, if you're part of the family, you can be like involving a lot of other people in the family.

But I think even for people that I was absolutely closest to, the one thing I would never do is co-sign on a loan. I wish I knew that when I was 20. Outside of like, I don't know, you're-- I mean, your spouse, you're really signing together regardless.

But I don't-- yeah, I can't think of any situation where I would co-sign on a loan just because in some ways I would-- the only situation I would do that is like if I were like, let's say, there was a loan that I was similar to that, like paying education for a close relative. At that point, I would rather just be like, this is my loan and I'll take it up with you later. But waiting for the other person to pay for it, knowing that if they don't pay for it, you're also responsible for this debt that's in default, like-- That's the part that drives-- like that's the part that probably drove me crazy the most, which is why I decided to just start making payments.

Because I knew that at least if I set up an automatic $200 a month payment, I could sleep better at night knowing that I wasn't going to ruin my credit over-- this wasn't going to ruin my credit. But every time I logged in to see if she had made a payment, and then she didn't make a payment yet, and tomorrow's the due date, so that means I have to make a payment, like that-- those moments stressed me out and gave me so much anxiety. And thankfully, I was privileged enough to have a steady paycheck coming from my teaching job that I could set up an automatic payment.

But that $200 could've been going into my 403(b), could've been going to my parents who desperately needed it, could have been going to my own savings account. I mean-- and so it just-- I think back to it, I'm like, oh, I should never co-signed that loan. Never.

Well, anyway, that is crazy. So tell me about what you do on YouTube. Yeah.

So for-- once that happened, I finally figured out like how to figure out-- like I figured out credit, I felt like. I figured out credit. I went from like a really low 500 something up to almost 800 in just a year and a half of like paying-- making sure I was paying on my payments.

Really making sure that I wasn't spending more than I could pay back. I was really paying attention to those five factors that make up your credit score. But the thing is, I had never seen those five factors until my credit was already shot.

And I remember I tried to get an apartment to move out of the three bedroom, and the landlord was like, your credit alone is not good enough. You're going to need somebody, a guarantor or a co-signer, or a roommate. And so I was really frustrated.

And I was like, I don't understand why my credit's not good. And I looked into the credit score, went onto Credit Karma. I created an account.

And I was like, how come I never saw these terms before? Like I never knew payment history was a thing. I never knew raise credit to limit ratio utilization, which is what I call it.

I never knew that the more accounts you have or the more hard inquiries, the worse your credit-- like it really pings your score every time. Nobody taught me those things, even though I was able to get a credit card at 18 with no questions asked. So I realized like, oh, like some of these things I definitely me having to take individual responsibility for what I was doing, because it was just irresponsible.

But some of them I was actually pissed. I was pissed at the system, like how can you let an 18-year-old sign on the dotted line something that they don't understand. You don't like verbally explain it to them.

No one talked to me except to say like, oh, yeah, just make sure you always pay your minimum every month, you'll be fine. That's what the bank teller told me when I got my first credit card. Oh, my god.

Awful. So I felt like really frustrated. And I was like, you know what?

I'm going to make credit really simple for people. So I started putting videos out there, started with just credit. Like, hey, guys, this is how I increase my credit score.

And within a couple videos, I saw like 500 subscribers. I was like, what's going on? I haven't really done any marketing.

I've never done any like sponsored ads or any company like ads or anything. So I was like, I don't understand. I guess it's just that people really need this information.

And they need it in a way that is easy to understand. Like I was just like super straight up in your face, loud, colorful, like here's the pie chart. That's what that means.

That's what that means. Any questions? Like it was just no nonsense.

And I think people really gravitated towards that. And I just started to see people saying this worked. Oh, my goodness, I paid off all of the balance that I had due on my credit card and I saw hundred point increase.

I'm like, there you go, because you're utilization dropped significantly. Like that is a huge piece of your credit score. And just by planting these little educational seeds of like these little facts about your credit score and how it works, people were really drawn to that.

And so then once I started kind of getting tired talking about credit, I was like, I don't want people to think of me like the credit queen. I was like, I want to talk about other things, too. So then I started having my saving and like my savings habits.

And then eventually when I had enough of an emergency fund, I started investing. Then I also started talking about my own investing. Like what I had learned and how I invest and why investing is important.

So, yeah, then it kind of just became an all purpose personal finance issue. Like I talk about all things money and personal finance related. If you've been wanting to do things, like raise your credit score, understand your credit utilization ratio, your debt to income ratio, all of those really important factors for when you're doing something important, whether it's renting an apartment or maybe even getting a mortgage, or getting a loan, doing something big that will necessitate a really deep dive into your financial health, you should check out the app Turbo.

It's totally free and perfectly complements your budgeting strategies to help give you that extra high level look at all of the various factors that someone like a lender is going to look at. Often, when we go into these situations, we don't realize until we've already asked the question that we may not be qualified for the things that we're looking for. So making sure that you start to analyze these factors and improve them well before you go to make the big ask, or do some big financial thing you've been waiting to do, is key to ensuring that you're never going to be caught in a situation where your financial reality doesn't match your financial aspirations.

So check out Turbo at the link in our description, or our show notes, and start getting that bird's eye view on your money. So obviously, you talked about how as a community, you mentioned that the Latino community tends to be community oriented, in some cases to a fault. In your work both on YouTube and in your day job, which we'll talk about, have you found that there are specific needs for the Latino community in terms of personal finance education ways in which they're underserved?

Specifically, questions that come up frequently, things that our audience should know about and know that they're not alone in? Absolutely. Definitely, the number one thing I notice is being under banked is huge, or unbanked.

Unbanked is obviously a huge problem. It just means that you don't have a financial institution where they can service you and you put money away, you just deal with cash. And sometimes that's by choice.

Most of the time it's not. And I think so many factors can lead to being unbanked, like language barriers and the feeling uncomfortable when you walk into a financial institution, feeling not welcome. And there's a lot of different things culturally that I think can contribute to it.

But I think the huge thing is that when you are underbanked, you are being charged so many fees. Because you might have a bank account, but like for example, when my mom finally opened her first bank account, I was trying to tell her not to go with one of the big banks. But it was really hard to not go with a big bank, because she lives in a neighborhood where the only ATM machines available to her are the big banks.

You walk into a Duane Reade in New York City, there's a Chase Bank ATM. You walk up the block, there's a Bank of America. But it's really hard for her to find a credit union in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Like it's not-- it's not common. So for her, it's sort of almost makes more sense to save money by going with a big traditional bank. And so once she finally opened her Chase checking account, she called me up so frustrated because it had been like two months she was just trying to not use the debit card, and she saw like $10 less than what she had.

And I was like, oh, I bet you I can tell you what it is. There's a management fee. There's a bank-- there's like a monthly fee that comes with the account.

Like, mom, you need to look at your statements. Did they tell you if there was a fee? She's like, well, she told me if I had $50 in there, then it wouldn't be a problem.

And I had $50 in there. I'm like, OK, did you at any point drop below $50, like $49? Because if you did, they're going to charge you the monthly fee.

And she was so frustrated just by that thinking that you have $49 and then you check your account and you have $39, that doesn't sound like a lot to a lot of people. But in the situation that you're in a low income community where every dollar can really be stretched and go far, that is so frustrating. And so she just immediately became disillusioned with her Chase account.

Like she closed the account. She was very frustrated. So I'm just going to go back to using cash.

I don't want to have a bank account, because they're just going to hit me with all these fees. I was like, no, mom, you see, this is why I was trying to tell you that it's about the institution that you choose and the right account for you. And it's just like I find that there's such a distrust.

Now, like there's a lack of trust in financial institutions. There's also like a complete lack of financial literacy. So not understanding what the APR-- what does APR mean?

How much interest are you getting in your savings account? Most don't know, especially when it comes to investing. I think I was literally reading two weeks ago the 2019 Hispanic wealth report, which said that outside of 401(k) contributions through an employer, Latino community in the United States only has-- only 4% of the Latino community in the United States invests in the stock market, in stocks and bonds-- 4%.

That means 96% of our community is not taking advantage of the greatest generator of wealth in history. So we're so obsessed with real estate. And we're so obsessed with cars.

And we're so obsessed with things that, it's like, yes, some people can be successful in those in that-- in those areas. But long term over the course of your working life, the stock market is the number one way like you-- to retire with dignity. And so it just pains me every time when I do workshops, or when I'm talking to people from my own community, that I find out that they are either completely uninformed or completely afraid, like fear the stock market.

Oh, that's too much risk. I'm going to lose all my money. And just-- it's proof that there's not a lot of education and clarity around exactly how does investing work.

Because there are tons of strategies you can use to lower the risk that you take when you invest so that you're not afraid that you're going to lose all your money. So it's just definitely a need for more financial literacy. Services, of course, are needed, but for sure, I think the education has to come first so that people know what are the questions to ask when I'm looking for the right institution.

And what are the things to look out for and watch out for? What a predatory type of behaviors that I should be aware of? And if there's a language barrier, it makes it even worse.

So having Spanish service, like Spanish speaking agents at-- or bank tellers and stuff is really important. It's always weird to me when I go to a community where like 90% of the people in that neighborhood speak Spanish, and there's not a Spanish speaking bank teller. What do you mean you don't have somebody speak Spanish here?

Doesn't make sense. Like you're not serving the community so-- oh, but they can call this number. So it's really frustrating.

There's a ton of factors, I think, that contribute to it. But I would say that the top ones are for one, it's the language barrier in underbanked and unbanked communities. And then also, that lack of financial literacy specifically when it comes to investing.

Very true. I-- it's interesting, my husband's obviously-- obviously, no one's ever seen a picture of him, but my husband's not Latino. But he is an immigrant.

And I also think a lot of people don't realize how expensive it is to be an immigrant. There's all this talk about being an immigrant, the proper way. And let me just say direct to camera, no one could have been more on their SHIT than my husband has been, and he was kicked out of the country in March.

So just because you do everything right does not mean that you're going to necessarily get the result that you want. But even when you're doing everything right, it is incredibly expensive. Yes.

It is a massive expense. And a lot of the expenses associated are things that we're talking a couple dollars here, a couple dollars there, to fill out certain forms. If you need to expedite something and you don't have a choice to expedite it because they're now saying like, if you don't get it in by this deadline, you're not considered for this year.

All of these things that you were saying earlier, $49 to $39 might not seem like a lot, but for some people it's massive. And these fees associated with just getting that paperwork in and just doing everything. And God forbid you need to get a lawyer involved is often the case.

And we're talking tens of thousands of dollars. These are expenses that I think a lot of people they don't understand. And I think often really hand wave away in terms of thinking, well, you should just prepare for that expense.

But I think a lot of these expenses, and that's not even counting the obstacles of working and becoming financially stable in a country where it's your second language, it's not your culture, all that, like even that aside, just the process of installing yourself. What are your options to rent an apartment when you don't have a credit history? What are your options for transportation for all of the basic resources that we take for granted.

Getting on an insurance plan. And so I don't know, I mean, I want-- it's frustrating because I think even for the most comprehensive financial education that does really take class and access into account, which I think more and more are doing, it's still a pretty narrow-- like it already assumes you're an American citizen born here with two American citizen parents. That's right.

Which is already far and away a very, very different situation from a huge community of people. So I think it's good to talk about those specific things. What-- tell us about the work that you do with teachers.

Yeah. So full time-- after being a teacher full time for a few years, I was really frustrated by the situation of not being able to pay off my credit card debt. And I was working so many jobs all day out.

And I put this up on my YouTube channel. I talk about it on MissBeHelpful all the time. But I was tutoring outside of teaching on weekends.

I was also taking like virtual teacher, like on-camera screen instruction gigs with like all these different digital learning companies. Like anything I could get-- babysitting on Thursday night, Saturday and Friday night, like to make extra cash just so that on top of my paycheck I could afford to get out of debt faster. And it took me 18 months to pay off $20,000 of debt.

So that was me like going full out, like saving 50% of every single check that I got, plus of any side income that I got. And I just realized this is not sustainable for me. Like I'm not-- like I didn't bust my butt in school, be one of the top academic performers, so that I could come back home and pretty much live paycheck to paycheck like my family has.

What-- how does that make sense? And so I was just-- I felt so frustrated. And I started looking at other jobs that I might potentially want to do.

I was still-- I'm still like I'm always through and through going to be a teacher and educator at heart, and so I wanted to stay in education. But I moved over to a nonprofit management. So I started working with education companies but managing different nonprofits and working with growing their partnerships and things like that.

So I was a program manager for a little while at a reading literacy intervention program, which is amazing, if anybody is looking for a volunteer opportunity virtually, I think they are taking virtual tutors right now at Reading Partners where you can like tutor a kid at a public school who's behind in reading on Zoom, which is awesome. And so I did that. I helped them manage their programs.

And then I kind of started thinking, all right, I need to take a break to figure out what I want to do. And during that time, I was just doing MissBeHelpful. I took a trip to Barcelona with my boyfriend.

I saved enough money and gotten out of debt, so I was fine financially to do it. Treat yourself. Yes.

You do live once. So with balance, I was able to like figure out, OK, let's go ahead and take a trip that we've always wanted to take. So I was in Barcelona thinking about what I wanted to do.

And I couldn't figure out if I wanted to just do YouTube full time? Do I want to like create something else? Like what do I want to do?

And then I got in touch with a company, a non-profit reached out to me, called Next Gen Personal Finance, which for short, NGPF. And they were doing something amazing, which I had always recognized was lacking from the education system, but didn't know anybody was working on the problem, which is to require a full semester of personal finance instruction in every single public high school. So not just economics and biology and English language, arts, but-- English language arts, but you had to take personal finance.

Otherwise, you can't graduate from high school yet until you take it and pass it. And I was like that would be amazing. Imagine having turned 18, getting a student loan contract and already understanding how student loans work.

Already understanding how credit cards and banking works. That would be a game changer. What if you already have a Roth IRA set up by the time you're 18 because you learned about it in high school.

That-- like we're talking about game changing financial moves that can be taught in the classroom in schools all across the country. And so I started to connect with them and we did some contract work. I helped do some like school workshops.

And I think I've visited over 100 public high schools and did financial literacy workshops. And the kids were just-- like they want it. They want to talk about money so bad.

They were so interested in these conversations. And so then they said, how can we get more of these schools to be aware of this program? Because they have a free curriculum, free lesson plans, activities, games, projects, teachers-- like assessments for teachers, everything that a teacher would need to teach this class is free on the website.

And people just don't know about it. So I was like, OK, I think I can join and probably help out a bit. And I've been with them two years now.

In July of 2020 will be two years with the team. And it's been amazing. I mean, I've been able to travel all across the country.

And so right now, obviously, since we're in COVID times, all of the training that I'm doing is on via Zoom. So I will jump into a Zoom call. There'll be about anywhere between 50 and 200 teachers from anywhere across the country logging in, because they need to learn personal finance themselves.

Because if you've never been taught, how are you going to teach it? So we're essentially just doing content, just teaching them, the investing terminology that they need to know and teaching them credit repayment strategies. And like literally just teaching them what they're going to go and teach their students.

And then we devote a couple of other training sessions to resources. So like, OK, now you know how investing works. Let's take a look at some activities, games, and projects that you can use to teach this content now that you know the content.

So it's kind of like content and resources and strategies. And so it's been awesome. We've done like, I want to say like, over 60,000 hours of professional development training.

And most of those hours we're doing COVID, because teachers were desperate for online instruction since they're like one day the next, they have to teach via Zoom. And it is hard. So we've been supporting teachers, which has felt really, really good.

And the mission overall, which I am so, so passionate about, is that by the year 2030, all 50 states will require this full semester of personal finance. So right now in 2020, the number is six out of 50 states require a full semester of personal finance. Like, no, you can't take business or economics, and then that counts for personal financial literacy class.

That doesn't count. Those are different topics. So the only class that will check the requirement is a personal finance class.

And that's, sadly, only happening in six states-- Virginia, Utah, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina just added it so that's something to be proud of totally. But, yeah, it's the latest state right now to just add it starting this fall. So it's-- there's momentum and there's work to be done, but I just don't think a lot of people know this is a problem.

Like for example, a lot of the media put out statistics saying 21 states have financial literacy classes. That's not true. It's like if we underreport this, like if we over report the data, people don't think there's a problem.

Because that seems like, oh, we're almost halfway there. But that's not true because that includes classes that have, let's say you teach a marketing class and you spend the first two weeks talking about budgeting. That will count as a personal finance class because you include budgeting for the first two weeks.

But it's actually just a marketing class that covered budgeting for two weeks. That's not-- like you can't cover investing, saving, budgeting, credit, checking, insurance, like all of that, in two weeks. There's no way.

So you need that full semester. So, yeah. Anyway, I could talk like this forever and ever and ever.

But that's essentially what we're trying to do is make every single state commit to having that full semester class for every single kid. How do you-- I mean, this is, I know, kind of a big question. But it's such a topic right now.

What do you-- how do you feel about all the parents right now with kids in school are really freaked out about what the fall is going to be like. They don't know if their kids will be in school part time, full time, not at all, worried about what that would mean for the kids education and for their ability to wear all that stuff. What is your point of view on all this?

How are-- do you have any words of wisdom, advice? I mean, it's definitely a scary time. So I'll definitely sympathy-- I mean, I have to say like that is very valid.

If you're at home freaking out a little bit, you-- I am fully validating those emotions. They are rightful emotions to feel right now, because this has never happened before, ever, ever, ever where we literally just stopped going to school, stopped going to work and did everything at home. And my heart just goes out to, especially single mothers and single fathers.

But like if you're a single parent in a household and you have to go to work on your computer and your kid also needs your computer, and you only have one device at home, you don't have enough money to get another device, and that, I mean, as a teacher, you can get really frustrated when the kids don't show up to the Zoom calls or when the parents aren't communicating back with you. But imagine what's happening in these households. This is-- these are unforeseen challenges that I can never understand that.

I would never-- I've never been a single parent with two, three, four kids where, mommy, my class starts at 1:00. But I have a meeting so you need to read a book. But I need to be on this call.

And then there's one device for all of you. I mean, it's really hard. So I think the biggest thing right now is leverage as much as you possibly can, your community.

Like one of the things I've been doing to help my sister who has three kids. And granted, they have the privilege of having mom and dad at home. But there are two boys in kindergarten that are twins and one girl that's three.

They're also so sweet. But they're a handful for her. And when her husband's off at work, she's like, ah.

So what I would do is if I have a lunch break, I will call her or text her and be like, hey, let's get on Zoom and I will just be like, hey, let's go over some words together, or let's-- I want you to grab a book that you have and read it to me. And just giving them an opportunity to engage in some sort of educational component in their day, and give their parents a break, and keep their brain engaged. Because I think one of the worst things that parents can do right now, which I do not blame a parent who does this at all.

No shame, no judgment. But overdoing this is problematic. I mean, I'm just going to say that as an educator.

Putting your kid in front of an iPad to play games that are not educational at all. And I've seen this with my family, with people on the subway, with my friends, with just, here, honey, just here, just play this, just to keep you busy. And it doesn't engage their brain in an educational way.

So it's detrimental. And then on top of that, they're not really getting the structure of a school day like they normally would. Like come into school, I unpack my book bag, I put my things on the cubby, I show-- I grab my book.

They have these routines in classrooms that are really conducive to structured learning. And so when they lose that completely, and on top of that they're not engaging in academic and educational content, we're talking about their brains are literally going backwards. And so that can be really scary.

So if you're a parent out there and you're watching, like do everything you can to leverage your community. If you haven't-- if you're in a group chat with family, hey, is anybody free tomorrow during their lunch hour who can just jump on a Zoom call? I'll set up the link, just to kind of chat with my little buddy about what he's learning in school, or whatever, just to kind of keep them engaged.

And they love to talk. Kids love to talk about what they're doing in school with their family and friends. So I think just getting them to spend more time talking about educational content is huge right now.

Even virtual learning, I mean, we're seeing early signs-- early data coming out that's saying it's not working, which is really scary. But I can understand that. Like when I was in the classroom, it was really freaking hard to get all 30 of my kids to pay attention to me at the same time.

Classroom management is hard. Teachers are so underpaid and so under like-- Yes, they are. --oh, my goodness. And I think now parents and the general public is starting to open our eyes to how frickin' hard it is to teach kids.

Because you have to do it at home. Well, so now people are starting to be like, whoa, we need to triple teacher salaries. We need to quadruple.

We give them a million dollars. My goodness. Like how did they do this with 30 kids in a class?

Yeah. So I mean, if you're in a public school in New York City, you've got 30, 32 kids in a class. So I think, yeah, definitely just trying to increase the amount of time that they're spending thinking about educational content, talking about educational content.

And there's this podcast that I heard a couple months ago on Freakonomics. I think it was-- oh, I can't remember the name. It does Early Education Come Way Too Late.

So this tidbit, I'll give, which I think was awesome, that I share all the time was there's three Ts. It's tune in, talk more, and take turns. So if you tune in means like just stop talking and just tune in and listen to what your kids are saying.

Like, mom, I really like Superman. OK. He really likes Superman.

Now, I'm going to get Superman books because that's going to help him want to read more, right? Talk more, like get your child to talk more. So why do you like Superman?

What about Superman do you like? Getting them to open answered questions. Not, oh, you like Superman?

Yes. Now, the conversation is open. That's a closed ended question.

That doesn't help grow kids brains. So open ended questions, why do you like Superman, what is it about Superman that you really enjoy? And then what are some things about Superman that you might want to-- what characteristics about Superman that you might want to have?

Get them to talk more. And the last one is take turns. So when they finish talking, you express, well, actually I really like that, too.

And because that language that you're using is modeling for them how to talk and think. So tune in, take turns, talk more. That is-- those are the three Ts that I think if you're at home with your kid and you're kind of like freaking out a little bit, and you just implement a little bit every day, do what you can with what you have, and hopefully, soon enough we will all be back to, quote, unquote, "normal." That's really interesting.

Kind of by chance, almost every woman that works at TFD are mom's, a teacher. I don't know what the statistical significance of that is, but somehow they're all teachers, except for Holly's. But everyone else is.

So at least six-- at least six out of eight people, that's crazy. That is crazy. That's a lot.

But they're all teachers and it's so funny because they've all been kind of dealing with it in different ways. One of them just retired but-- and it's like, oh, my god, I cannot believe that the year I retired all of this happened. It's like I couldn't even see my kids and say goodbye to them.

So that's horrible. Like my mom is having such a hard time with it and she's possibly-- the school that she's actually working at is closing after this year. So it's like-- it's just all over the place.

And every single one of them has had just such a story to tell about how difficult it's been. But hopefully, listen, hopefully this will be improved soon. On a last note, what have you been doing to stay positive and motivated through these crazy times?

Yeah. I think definitely for me it's like it's so hard we're not connected to people. I mean, for the first few weeks of quarantine, the biggest mistake I was making was just disconnecting from people and just focusing on like being productive.

Like I was like, OK, I got to get all my content out for MissBeHelpful. I've got to do these deliverables for my job, shift over to Zoom, and I got to make sure that I'm working on. I got to make sure that I'm packing my meals and I'm taking my vitamins and I'm eight hours of sleep.

And I wasn't talking. Like I wasn't checking in with my friends and family because I was just so consumed by like being successful during quarantine. And now I'm like, OK, that's important.

But these human connections are so important. So finding time to Zoom with my nephews and nieces, for example, is a really sweet thing that I've been doing that has helped me so much to feel like we're in person again. And being active in my family chat, which is something sometimes I try to avoid because there's too many people up in there.

And a lot of Jesus and Mary means. But like-- I'm like, OK, let me be part of it a little bit more actively, and just be in touch with more people because it's a really hard time for a lot of people. And even just hearing someone checking on you can make a huge difference in their day, in their week, in their month.

So I've been trying to be a lot more actively connected to people that I care about. But then in terms of just me physically in Myspace, I try to switch it up, sit down, stand up, like when I'm working because oh, my goodness, sitting down all day long is torture for me. It's torture for me.

I like I need to be moving. On an average day at my job I get like 21000 steps on my Fitbit. And that's like going up and down the stairs, catching the subway, running to this meeting, going here, going there.

By the time I get home, I'll be like, babe, to my boyfriend. I'm like, hey, I got 20,000 steps. How about you?

He's like 3,000 steps. I'm like because you've been sitting on this chair all day. Like you just went to the bathroom and back.

Like-- so I think for me it's trying to really be mindful about my physical body. So I'm not like here all the time hunched over working all the time. And I'm just trying to do a little bit of everything.

So balance my time. Make sure that I'm spending time doing things that I love and enjoy, doing things that I need to do, even if they're not super fun. Filing my taxes two weeks ago was torture.

Oh, most like, oh, god. This was actually the first year ever that I made over the threshold for the Roth IRA and I wasn't aware, because I've been doing a lot of speaking engagements and virtual workshops, which, great, I'm not complaining. Thank the Lord.

I made enough money this year to like cover everything. But I had to learn about a recharacterization for my Roth because I put too much according to my income. So even though I'm a personal finance expert, I'll be learning new things all the time.

I didn't know what a recharacterization was until this year. So you're really spending time to learn about things like that. And then also just to just kick back and find time to relax.

You have to like just chill sometimes. Because if you're just constantly on the go, go, go, go, go mode, everyone knows that your mental health will suffer. So you have to find time to take a nap.

Like in my apartment, we do not have a mattress and I know this is going to be really weird for some people. We do not have a mattress. We sleep in a hammock.

But I'd say-- Stop. What? I sleep in a hammock with my boyfriend.

It's a giant hammock. And in the day I just stopped working. So I'm like, you know what?

I need a break and I'll go take a nap in my hammock. Because it just brings me so much joy. And you just need to pause and recharge sometimes.

I'm going to assume, based on what I know about you, that this is not a situation like you couldn't afford a mattress. No. You chose the hammock.

I need to know more of it. Why? So, OK, so actually it started with my boyfriend.

We were sleeping. And we had a regular Casper mattress that we had just got when we changed apartments. I had always slept in a regular like mattress.

That wasn't super-- maybe like $300, $400 bucks. I don't know. I had cheap mattresses my whole life.

But when we moved in together for the first time, we bought a Casper mattress for the new place. And he would just keep waking up with back problems, like every single morning, he'd be cracking his back a million times, cracking every direction. And I'd be like, that does not sound good.

What's going on with your back? It's scary. And so then he started researching online like what's going on with his back.

And the more he read about it, the more like being flat on your back was essentially the solution to help alleviate back pain. So he bought like this Japanese roll out mat and tried to sleep on that. And that was like being helped his back, but it's kind of painful, does like sleep flat on the ground.

But it did help like relieve some of the pain. And so then he kept reading, digging into like weird black hole stuff about like back pain. And somehow, I don't know where, but he found out about this whole community of people who like sleep in hammocks at night.

And it has since cured their back pain. And is apparently like, obviously, you have to do it a certain way. Because if you sleep in the hammock the way people think you should, like a banana shape, that's bad for your back because you're curving it like a U.

And so you don't want to do that. You want to actually tilt your body on a diagonal angle in the hammock so it forces your back to align-- your spine essentially aligns. And so then you're able to sleep with your back straight.

And then, of course, because there's two of us, we have to cuddle like koala bears. But if you don't like cuddling, then this is probably not for you. I don't know, like I'm just-- I sleep like a koala.

Like I can-- if I'm cold, I will not be able sleep, like I have to wear socks, fuzzy socks to sleep, and I can-- because if my feet are cold, my head is cold, I'm not going to be able to sleep well. So being like wrapped up in a fluffy comforter in a hammock and then it sort of rocks and sways so you-- it's like-- I don't know. It is for me, I got to say.

I don't know if I'm going to be doing it in five, or 10 years from now, but we've been doing it for about two, almost three years now. Have not had a mattress in my apartment in the past three apartments. OK.

So last-- last hand in question. Because I feel like I could understand this if I were solo. I feel like it kind of sounds nice.

Yeah. But with two people like, aren't you constantly like squishing together? Yeah.

So I would say there is like-- I don't know-- probably have to ask him to make sure. But like me, five or six go to cuddle positions for bedtime. Like you-- like it's like either my head's here or like where-- or like I'm on this side or that's like this-- these very clear positions that will like be seamless sleeping throughout the night.

But if you don't hit one of those specific cuddle like sleep through the night positions, it's going to be annoying, because you're going to be turning around and trying to get comfortable to that, and then the hammock is kind of like-- so you definitely want to make sure you're in a good position right when you're about to go to bed. And for us, we usually sleep all through the night with maybe one of us going up to go to the bathroom. So it doesn't happen very much.

Try not to drink a ton of water before I go to bed, too. But, yeah, I mean, and once you figure out positions that work for you comfortably, I-- sometimes, I go to just fall asleep, knock out. And then when I wake up in the morning, I open my eyes and I'm in the exact same position from how I fell asleep.

It's so weird. And I'm like, oh, my Harry, I'm swaying. It's so nice.

Like I want to just go back to sleep. So, yeah, you've got to have your comfortable sleep positions to make it work. Getting up to go the bathroom seems like it'd be crazy.

Yeah. It was annoying at first because then the hammock sways and the other person. But then eventually, we got used to it.

And now, as soon as the other person's back from the bathroom, we just get back in our comfortable position and knock right out again. Wow. This is a level of intimacy that I didn't even know existed.

So I'm for sure going to be Googling this as soon as you leave. And also, I need to see a picture of what the hammock is. Oh, for sure.

I got to. Because I'm picturing the one that was like hung up in like our house like between two trees and that was not-- Yeah. You've got to have a thick cotton durable one like this really big Brazilian hammocks are the best for this.

And then it's just hooked onto the wall. But I-- maybe I should just make a video on MissBeHelpful about this, too. Because I will share this with friends, and they'd be like, oh, what?

So I'm like, guys, is it that crazy? Maybe it is. I don't know.

So it is time, as you guys probably have guessed by now, for our beloved rapid fire questions. Feel free to pass if you don't want to answer any of these. But I think you will.

What is the big financial secret of your industry? I think with educators, the biggest thing is that you don't know anything about investing in retirement. And so the sad thing that actually happens in the world of education is specifically teaching, teachers, is that your 403(b) has things in it that you have no idea what's in it.

And the fees can be literally eating away half or more of the money that you've been socking away for retirement. So when it comes time to retire, you go digging through your retirement paperwork, you don't have half as much as you thought you did. And that is so heartbreaking.

I think more teachers need to be vocal and aware and request more help with figuring out their 403(b)s, which is essentially a 401(k), but for a teacher, or for someone working in not the private sector. What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? Good question.

I definitely do not get cheap when it comes to massages. That is my one thing where I'm like, look, I work hard. I work a lot.

I walk a lot. I work out a lot. I go-- Sleep in a hammock. --I sleep in a hammock, like I do this a lot of things where physically I need to really-- so I get like deep tissue massages every chance I get.

And especially when I'm traveling, like if I'm on planes a lot, doing teacher trainings all across the country, that's when more so it matters. I haven't been able to do one since like February because of quarantine, which is torture for me. But I did invest in a Theragun so that I could give myself as close to a deep tissue massage at home as I could.

And I can't wait to be able to go back to like a legitimate masseuse. But massages, I definitely splurge. And wine, probably wine is like my other thing.

And then where I am cheap, girl, my hair and nails, I don't-- look, I am not like a girly girl, like I look-- my hair looks crazy. My nails are not polished. I do my own eyebrows.

I do literally thread my own eyebrows. I just get Chapstick. Like I'm not the kind of person who's going to put on a full like-- I don't-- that doesn't matter to me.

What has been your best investment and why? I would say, for sure, it was buying Suze Orman's book, Women and Money, for $9 at Duane Reade-- or I think it was like Walgreens or I don't remember. But I was in line to buy like candles and shampoos and lotion, whatever things I normally spent money on that I didn't need everything.

And then I was waiting in line and I looked over and I saw a bunch of magazines and a bunch of books. And the one book that popped out to me was Women and Money, because I was like I'm a woman. And I'm really struggling with my money right now with all this hidden credit card debt that I had.

So I picked up the book and probably like a few minutes it took me to read three or four pages. And I was like, OK, I'm buying this. And it was $9 and well worth it because it helped me to get rid of my credit card debt.

It helped me learn what a Roth IRA is, and I started investing in my early 20s, which is-- no one in my entire family invests outside of like if they luckily have a job that offers them a 401(k), maybe they just defaulted into whatever it has without really understanding it. And so I'm the first person to be like an active-- take active control over my long-term investing plan, which is exciting because now I can teach that to everybody else. What has been your biggest money mistake, and why?

It's probably a tie between the cosigning and all the credit card debt, just like, mean, I don't know, because I think the cosigning probably wins because I literally didn't enjoy doing it. I didn't-- the process wasn't-- I got nothing from it except like I was just trying-- I just was trying to be altruistic and just do something good for somebody else. But getting all that credit card debt, like it helped me feel good in college.

It helped me fit in how I thought I did. And it helped me have a certain experience that I will never forget. And it also taught me how to get out of it.

Like because of that, I learned how to fix my finances and actually learned more about. If I never had graduated with any debt, would I have picked up women and money? Would I have started learning about credit scores?

And would I have-- probably not, because I wouldn't have had a reason to. So even though it was a big mistake, it was a mistake that sort of helped me tremendously in my life to end up becoming a financial educator. So probably the cosigning.

I agree having heard both. What is your biggest current money insecurity? I think it's my parent's retirement.

It just kills me every time I go visit them and I'm like, I'm sorry I don't have enough money to take you out of this house yet. Like that-- I mean, they have managed to rub together pennies with my uncle and my dad to actually get the house. But it is definitely not a good condition.

And it's a super old house in Bushwick, Brooklyn and it's just like, I don't know, I feel like they feel stuck there. I would love to like with my siblings all be able to like get them to like either Dominican Republic to retire, or like another Florida or something like that where they can enjoy a nicer quality of living than walking outside and smelling garbage and seeing rats. But welcome to New York City.

I mean, between all of the siblings and your plus ones, I think you're like-- you're like a basketball teams worth of people, like-- Seriously. But at the same time, like each one of those people have their own like-- know so-- I don't know. It's just that's the thing.

And I'm the only one, except for one other sister of all the five sisters that doesn't have kids. So I feel like I don't know about other cultures, but in Latino culture, there's this big thing where like the youngest of all the girls, of all the daughters, is the one that usually kind of takes the parents in their retirement and old age to support them. So my mom, I'm just like, oh, so there's no chance mom is going to have another baby girl ever?

Does it have to be me? But so that's probably the thing that keeps me up at night. Like will I be able to prepare myself for a time, but also like help them?

Because they're already pretty much retirement age. My dad's 70 and my mom is 61. And you're the-- so you're the youngest?

I'm the youngest girl. I have three younger brothers who are all a mess. Are your parents like breathing down your neck to have kids, or are they like we have enough?

They are. But they also kind of like stopped because they get the point where I'm like, I don't want kids, stop bothering me. But I mean, I say I don't want kids but like who knows the future will bring.

But right now, I cannot imagine my life with a child with me all the time. Like even for like the next 10 years, maybe, I can't imagine it. But maybe that'll change.

But I always tell people that I don't want kids. I don't want kids. I'm just saying like that I like my sister is having her first kid, and I was like-- because there's only the two of us.

And now you get to be auntie. I love being like, oh, my goodness, the best thing ever. You get to leave when they're getting fussy.

If you get to like come when they're so cute, read to them. And like be like the really fun and cool auntie. Like they love coming to my house, they love having sleepovers with me, and they see me as like not mommy.

So like the-- I don't know. It's like a different relationship, I think. You get to like spoil them and give them so much sugar.

Exactly. And then you just deal with their sugar every now and then. I'm like, OK, now go back to mom.

That's the best. I like borrowing kids is the most wonderful thing. And how we had a relationship.

For sure. It's great. What has been a financial habit that has helped you the most?

Putting away money before I even see it. That has helped me so much because I know myself and I have a really hard time controlling myself, like when I really want something or when I feel like I deserve something, I can just be like, oh, no, but I'm going to get it because I deserve it. And so if the money's not even visible to me, I literally forget.

And so what I've done is automatically contribute a lot of money, like I probably put too much away, but it's because I know that if I don't feel it, if I don't see it, I'm not going to feel it. And so it's better to just let it grow now that I don't have kids and that I'm not married and that I don't have all these crazy obligations. I put away like over $1,500 every single month to different investment accounts before I even-- the money even hits my checking account.

That's awesome. Good for you. And last question is, when did you first feel successful and what does that word mean to you?

I think successful for me, I mean, I'm a teacher by training and at heart. So as a teacher, you have to like really-- if the lesson planning is to plan your entire year. So that's called like your scope and sequence, like your full year.

But then you also have to like plan out your units. And then each unit has a set number of lessons that you have to plan. So you are just inherently a planner all day, every day, planning every single minute that you're with your kids.

And when you finally get that plan to execute that plan to the team the way you visualize it when you were planning it, all the work, all that it's so worth it and you just feel like, yes, like that's like the biggest success you could have. Because there's always hiccups. There's always something or you have to, oh, they're not getting it.

So now I have to add another lesson and adjust my instruction. It's not going to fit in the scope and sequence, and I have to add a few days and figure out how to make up for lost time. And when everything goes exactly as you plan from start to finish, it is an amazing feeling.

And so I feel like that to me is like real success. Obviously, I felt successful when I graduated from an Ivy League school, guys. That's like a big accomplishment for a kid like me.

But I think when I started really planning what I wanted to do, and then like saw that plan through, that's when I really felt successful. Obviously, MissBeHelpful was one of those. Like I had a vision for a channel.

I just created it on my own. And in it-- it's semi-successful. And I think like I haven't really done much of like any type of advertising or marketing or affiliate stuff.

And so if I did put more energy into that stuff, it would only grow more. So, yeah, I think probably first time was like finishing college, getting my masters, like those are things I'm proud of and I feel like are tokens of success. But definitely, putting a plan together for myself and seeing it through the end has been more of a source of success for me these days.

That's awesome. Well, where can people go to find out more about what you do, watch your YouTube channel, all that stuff? Yeah.

So on YouTube, it's MissBeHelpful. So M-I-S-S-B-E Helpful. And then I'm also on Instagram at MissBeHelpful, Facebook, Twitter.

Not as active on other social media besides like Instagram. But I'm still on there. And then my website is

So you can find me there, as well. Well, I thank you so much for coming. You're actually the last guest we're filming with this season.

And I'm so excited we're ending on such a great note. It's so great to finally have you here in the office. And if you guys are thinking about maybe one day having an office of your own, doing a small business, a side hustle, a startup, I highly recommend you check out QuickBooks.

It is the accounting software that we have been using for years now at TFD to get our money straight, understand who owes us, who we owe, manage payroll, manage benefit, all that stuff that you need to do you can have it at a glance in QuickBooks. They have a nice cute little dashboard where every morning when I wake up, I can log in. I can see how everything's going and make sure there's not like an outstanding person who hasn't paid us yet or something, make sure we're doing everything we need to be doing, and just generally get that sense of peace of mind because before QuickBooks, we literally were-- I was trying to do TFD's accounting with an actual paper and pencil.

And that was a true mess, let me tell you. Let alone, when you have eight people on payroll, that it's not a sustainable system. Let me put it that way.

So QuickBooks has definitely, definitely changed how I manage my small business. And even though I do have more of the small business structure, even if you are just freelancing, side hustling, generating self-employed income, you are a small business of one and should be taking advantage of the bookkeeping software that will allow you to better run your business. And if you can't wait to get started with QuickBooks, check out the link in our description or our show notes.

And as always, guys, thank you so much for tuning in. And don't forget to come back next Monday for a brand new episode of The Financial Confessions. Bye, everyone.