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In this episode, Chelsea speaks with Carmen Perez of Make Real Cents all about making it through quarantine financially, leaving her Wall Street career for the startup world, bringing personal finance to Tik Tok, and paying off student loan debt.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to a brand new episode of The Financial Confessions.

I am here today with a woman who has a very exciting and interesting story both in and out of personal finance that I'm really excited for you guys to learn about. But before I say hello to her, I want to talk to you guys really quickly about our beloved partners with whom we make every episode of The Financial Confessions.

We work to produce TFC with a company called Intuit. And if you haven't heard of Intuit, you have undoubtedly heard of some of their fantastic products. They make things like QuickBooks, Mint, Turbo, all of these really cool, convenient, often free apps which allow you to reach your financial goals more efficiently, to understand your finances at both a high and at detail-oriented level, and to make sure that you're doing the right things every step of the way to get where you want to go.

Intuit's products have been transformative in my own financial life, both individually and as a business owner. And I'm excited to talk a little bit more later in the program about a few of their specific products. But before I get into that, I would like to get back to my guest.

And if you cannot wait to get started, check out the link in our description or our show notes. So as promised, we have a guest today who has a very exciting and unique story. She is, I would consider, a PF influencer of her own.

She is someone who worked in the financial space, who transformed her own financial life, who makes interesting personal finance TikToks that we all love at TFD, who taught herself to code, and totally changed careers. A lot to discuss here, her name is Carmen Perez. Hello.

Hi, everyone. Welcome. Thank you.

Thank you for having me. So obviously, that's quite a resume and that's only like the quick hits. Tell our audience a little bit more about who you are, your story, et cetera.

Oh, man. So, do you want me to start like--? At the Big Bang OK, so the Big Bang. 2016 I was working in finance.

My financial life was a hot mess. There's no other way to describe it. It was just ridiculous.

What were you doing in finance? So majority of my roles have been within anti-money laundering compliance. It's a mouthful.

A lot of people think it's really interesting. Basically when you sign up for a bank account, typically these are high net worth individuals that we're looking at. But just to give you an example, when you sign up for a bank account, we do our due diligence on, hey is this person actually using the products that they should be using?

Are these suitable? We dive into you to make sure you're not doing anything illegal and then we eventually approve your account to have you onboard at a bank. So that's what I was doing for the longest time.

So in 2016, working in finance, hot mess. Decided to get my finances together and then I got sued for my student loans, which was tons of fun, loads of fun. Can you explain that a little more?

Oh, man. Basically, quick story is I didn't take care of the things that I needed to take care of. And I ended up defaulting.

The student loan company that I had one of my student loans with defaulted my student loan while I was a full time student in school. I didn't take care of the issue. Obviously, it was a mistake, something that should have taken care of.

I thought it was a simple mistake that they just got mixed up. No need to address it. I let it go.

Let it go for the longest time until 2016 when it hit me really hard with a lawsuit to pay it off. So that was the Big Bang. It was like now or never.

I need to get my finances together. This is something that needs to become really important, because also, my livelihood is dependent upon my financial background. To this point in 2016, I had already had a job offer rescinded from a big investment bank, the top investment bank, let's say that, because of my credit.

In finance, credit is a very important piece of your background for your employment. If you don't have good credit, you're viewed as a flight risk because you're handling people's money in some capacity. So that might encourage you to transfer some money into your own account to cover your obligations.

So that's why credit is so important-- To have good credit in the finance industry. So up until this point, a lot of stuff had happened, because of my credit and because of the default. So the Big Bang was getting sued and then I said, hey, I need to switch gears.

I need to start getting my finances in order. Did that, fast forward. This is the quick story.

Two years, nine months, paid off $57,000 of debt and said, OK. Now I can get out this industry that has not been like the easiest thing to be in. Do you want me keep going?

Yes, please. OK. So, I had always wanted to transition out of finance.

Love finance in theory, but in practice, working on Wall Street, it's not for the faint of heart. I think especially for women, especially for women of color, it's not easy. It's not an easy industry to be in.

I had risen to the ranks of assistant vice president and just wanted to take my career in a different direction. But that's all I had ever known was finance and my identity with that and a lot of people that work on Wall Street identify with their position, their salary you know and what they do in the bank. And I was over it.

So I said, OK, now that I'm out of this debt. I've only kept this job because it was going to pay off this debt. Now I can look and start exploring other options and figure out what I really want to do.

And that's where coding came into play. So I started teaching myself how to code. Started saving as much money as possible because I wanted to start teaching myself how to code and then transition into a coding boot camp, so I could really gear up, and really learn technology, and really learn a full stack, and just get more in-depth knowledge as it relates to coding.

So saved a bunch of money, teaching myself how to code on the side, and then quit my job to get a full time, 100% scholarship for an immersive program in Stanford. It came up like-- It was just a great timeline for me to be able to take advantage of this. I had been saving the money, so I left.

So you are now a student at Stanford? No, sorry, so I ended the program. It's only three months.

It was an intense program to learn full stack coding. I would say the program gives you a good foundation on how to code and just how to get things moving, a website, how to built an application, and then you have to dive in deeper from there. So I ended that in December, got a job in the tech space at a startup, here in the city.

I was working there until May and then got laid off. So, yeah. Little Miss 'Rona strikes again.

OK, wow. So what were you doing at the startup? So there, I was doing all the front end web development.

And I was the first woman on the team, which is great. There was a couple other guys there, but it was a scrappy start up, really cool. And the startup was really based around getting people jobs in the production and film industry.

So what the app did was basically-- production crews could post jobs on there. Crew members could go and look for jobs. They could post their profile and all that stuff.

So I was in charge of doing all the mobile, or excuse me, the web build out. They already had a mobile app and I started doing the website stuff. And that's usually how it goes in tech.

You pick one or the other. If you have the resources to do both, you do both. If you don't-- And do you also consider yourself now a personal finance educator?

Yes. I think from just all of my background. So I have my degree in finance, worked in finance, obviously, for roughly nine years and then switch out of that.

And I think with all that experience, coupled with my own personal story, absolutely. Tell me more about working on Wall Street. What do you want to know?

Give us the gos. The good stuff or the bad stuff? The good bad stuff.

Like the juicy stuff. The juicy stuff. Let's see how much I want to disclose here.

There's definitely a club. And it's hard to break into that club. I constantly saw women struggle to fit that mold of like, well, I don't want to cry at my desk or I don't want to come off as too bitchy or, it's just trying to find this right balance whereas the men on Wall Street-- there's no protocol for them.

It doesn't matter. So I've heard stuff I just interviewed someone. They have basic intelligence.

That was coming from my boss that I sat close to, and he was referring to a woman. I've heard do all the rejects go to this particular university? It's just this level of arrogance and cockiness that I just can't describe.

Like I've personally had it. I worked at-- did my internships at Goldman. And I've had someone ask me, well, what school did you go to again?

Because I raised some kind of issue. And it's like-- What? Why would that even-- why would that even matter?

You know, it's funny. I think lot of people sort of tell themselves that after 2008, everything changed. And I feel like that's not true.

No. Were you on Wall Street in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 crash? Yeah.

So, that's where I was actually doing my internships. I did an internship at Goldman in '07 and in '08. And I was on the floor when everything was happening, when Bear started tanking.

And some of my friends actually from school were in their first year-- they were first year analysts at Lehman Brothers. So that was a hard-- I had a great experience at Goldman, but you do come across these different personalities which are more prevalent. I'd like to say there are more sharks on Wall Street than you'd think.

There's more wolves in sheep's clothing than you get this rosy picture of. So, you go in and it's like, oh, we're preaching diversity and we have all these LGBTQ-- Affinity networks. --and you know the Black Affinity Network, you have all this stuff, and then there's no resources. There's no way to access that stuff.

They don't let you or allow you the time to even attend some of these events. It's a bunch of lip service sometimes. So I don't know.

Must have been interesting to be at Goldman Sachs specifically in '08. Yeah Obviously, some of our audience might be familiar with the fact that they came out pretty well, relatively speaking, through-- All of it. Anyway, you guys should watch Margin Call.

It's really good. Margin call is one of those movies-- Actually, give your opinion on Margin Call. Margin Call, I think, was-- And it was crazy because during the time, so I was still a junior at this time in finance and we were starting to really get into some more of the really intricate investment vehicles.

One of which was the credit default swap, which I had an opinion on. I talked to my manager at Goldman. I said, hey look.

Don't you think this is a little weird. I was reading this paper by Warren Buffett and he said it's kind of a bubble. And then literally, like a few weeks later, that's when everything started going haywire.

You were Zachary Quinto. So, no. On my recommendation, watch Margin Call.

It's a real thing. It's really interesting. Just to get in the nuances of what happened during the crash and it was a lot of things all at once.

Yeah it was-- Not just mortgage back. Yes, that's true. It's interesting because my husband and I had a really long conversation after watching that movie and The Big Short in a narrow span of time, which leaves you with a feeling of like, is this system even redeemable?

Is there a better version of these entities? And I think that's an interesting debate. I feel like there's kind of both sides to it.

And obviously you know we operate-- TFD's a small business. We operate in a free market. We benefit from fairly limited regulation in some areas.

But on the other hand, you see things like that and how they were able to happen. And the fact that even a relatively quote unquote "good person" is so easily sort of taken into a system with the wrong incentives. That you sort of wonder, well, how could reform really happen if it didn't happen on a grand scale in '08?

And I'm curious what you think about like is it possible to reform? How should that reform happen? I mean, so the financial markets have been around forever and a day, you know.

JP Morgan, or Pierpont, JP Pierpont, or-- [INTERPOSING VOICES] Is it John Pierpont Morgan? Yeah there we go. I know that from The Real Housewives of New York and Sonja Morgan, so this is not like very fancy knowledge but continue.

So I think like reform would it be helpful? I mean, some of these instruments are just so widely-- If you really dig into the history around the credit default swaps and who came up with it, it was an analyst, I think, at JP Morgan a few years before all that stuff had happened. And I think my biggest thing is a lot of people use these instruments not knowing the ramifications down the road.

Similar to kind of what we were talking about earlier. Not to go off topic, but this vaccine, you just don't know what's going to happen. You don't really know what power you're wielding until you start doing it. and then it seems really conducive to your efforts, because you're making the bank money, but then you don't know what that trickle down effect looks like.

So I think reform, I mean people really hate regulation, especially in the financial markets. But I do think a level of-- that so hard to-- cause I am for reform, but do I think that it's really going to help the financial markets? I don't know.

I mean, and that's coming from a compliance perspective, where my position was specifically created out of the US Patriot Act from 9/11. So, adding all that money and putting all that money into back office functions to combat terrorism and money laundering stuff, that actually affects the market a lot. I don't know.

Have you seen that Netflix movie? I think it's called Money Laundering? No, but I will now.

It's so good. I was like that's literally what I did for my job. I tried to tell my friends and I was like, that's what's fun and interesting.

But that kind of stuff does affect the market. So I don't know reform and I think restrictions around the market, I have just mixed reviews. I'm very kind of middle of the road on that.

Yeah. Yeah and you know, I also feel like at a certain level, what you talk about in terms of the culture, the personality types, because I feel like even if there were more regulations and I think there should be on a lot of things, those kinds of personality types and that you know sort of fratty boys club, everyone's kind of pushing each other to be the worst version of themselves, to me that's going to take you to the worst place in any industry. Unfortunately, the financial sector has such a massive ability to destabilize the rest of society, but look at Hollywood.

You know? Look at the mentality and the behavior that was not just accepted, but rewarded in a lot of cases or encouraged in a lot of cases. And obviously, the consequences there were I guess you could say, somewhat limited, although it's horrible to say limited when you're talking about massive amounts of sexual harassment.

But you still see that kind of culture and that kind of behavior in any industry is going to sort of toxic spiral down to the worst place. And so I do think on some level, there has to become-- The more people who are brought into the fold of being aware of finances, on both a personal and macro level, will hopefully start to change the kind of people who even participate in these systems. Because unfortunately, outside of the fact that the people who gravitate toward Wall Street often are of a certain stripe and have a certain kind of behavior.

Most people outside of that community don't really know anything about this. They don't understand financial markets. They don't understand even, really, the basics of retail investing.

And so, you are able even more to get away with bad behavior because the average person, even when you talk about 2008, has no clue what actually happened or who really was responsible for doing it. So all of that to say I feel like people need to learn more about this. No, but that's a great point, because there's so much, like it seems like this secrecy.

Because it's like, ooh, they work on Wall Street. What does that mean? They must have something we don't.

Yeah, or something. And I want to make this clear. All the people that I work with have been brilliant.

They were excellent. For the most part, I've come across very good personalities. A lot of people that are still my friends.

But there are nefarious actors in the industry, in any industry, right? And I do think that there's this veil of secrecy around banking where they're trying to make it more transparent. But, when on MSNBC, you hear all these different terms.

MBS, or mortgage backed securities, or CDS are this short and we're going to go long here. The average retail person doesn't know. What does that mean?

What does that really mean? Yeah and so it allows people to get away with stuff that they shouldn't. You know, it's interesting.

Maybe this is like-- and not to be like a therapist here, but I have noticed a motif in your story is that you went from one industry that is very male-dominated, very oppressive to women, people of color, LGBT people, et cetera, and then you went to a tech startup, which I'm sure the techs start up you worked for was great, but that's also an industry that has a massive, massive problem with this. Do you feel like you are drawn to those industries specifically? That's a really good question.

You can feel free to lie down if this is like-- I know. I need to get on the couch. No, I do think-- So to thrive in finance, I do think you need to have a certain personality.

There's some baseline, probably Type A, which I definitely am. But I think that what just attracts me the most, like finance was great in theory. I really like how it affects the markets, or moves so much of-- It affects so many industries, right?

So that's why I wanted to get into it. Other than all of the money that you can make, you can make an exponential amount of money in finance. I have the same idea with tech.

So I think that's what-- Finance was challenging in its own ways and it can move markets, literally move markets, and it affects so much of just the world. I see that same wave in tech. Tech is taking over.

Tech was taking over finance. So, I just like the things that have massive impact. There we go.

Maybe that's it. There's my couch session and now we're talking about this great point. No, but I think it's very interesting, because I totally agree and I feel like that's also part of the reason why I was interested in personal finance, and media to an extent.

But I think that, to your earlier point about a lot of these initiatives in these industries being very superficial and more about, like I'm personally very interested in-- We've seen a massive wave of female-owned female-founded, or female-led companies come under huge fire for really bad employment practices, abusive behavior, discrimination, all that kind of stuff. And even just a couple of years ago, all these same companies, even as recently as this year, all these same companies were getting puff pieces and getting highlighted in the industries and speaking keynote at South by Southwest to highlight women as leaders. But then you realize that, unless you are fundamentally changing the relationship that we have to workers in general, and to each other, all you're going to do is raise up people who happen to look slightly different into the exact same power structures and they're going to be incentivized to do the exact same things.

And in some ways are even more effective at doing it, because they can use their identity as a reason to say, well, I can do it. So you should be able to do it too. Phenomenal point.

I mean, that's like my pet subject, because it really frustrates me. And I think tech, I think, is the new frontier of that, right? Because they'll say, you know, well, anyone can learn to code.

And obviously, you're proof that that's true. But in so many of these companies, it's not just that-- My husband works in tech. It's a great example. 90+% of his team is male and I've socialized with them.

It's 15 dudes, you know, eating chicken wings and talking about things that they're interested in and, in my opinion, maybe going out a little too late sometimes, but either way, just even the social dynamics are so, like you said earlier, you have to become a part of it. You have to conform yourself to that. And there's no real move towards sustainable inclusivity.

So what in your mind are ways in these spaces that these types of organizations can be more inclusive in a real way and change these dynamics. I think it really starts with all of the systemic policies that they have in place, and really changing the thinking of, we need to bring much more diversity to the table, where the default should be we should have that here already. We shouldn't be looking to meet a quota or we don't have enough of x, y, and z.

The thought process should be in always the default. Do we have enough, like not enough diversity. This room needs to be diversified, period.

And I think that would be a great place to start. I do want to go back to your point of the women in the puff pieces, because do you think it could be more of like, women are under a microscope all the time, whether it be in tech or within finance. Everyone's waiting for that one particular woman to fail.

So I don't know if it's like more of where all this information is coming out about these women, where it's happening all the time with men, it's just now, oh, we have this woman founder. We're just waiting for something [INAUDIBLE].. I'm not saying what they're doing is OK.

That is really an interesting point to me and it's one that I thought about a lot, because a lot of journalists that I follow who cover these industries have made that point. These behaviors are bad and should be called out. They should be held to account.

But they are not, in most cases, doing anything that isn't happening at every single one of their competitors. They just happen to be a female founder. But I will say I think the bigger issue is that you create these idols.

You put them on a pedestal by highlighting them as, you know, an example of a sea change in an industry or by, I hate to say it, but automatically coding their company as feminist. We saw this with so many companies, you know? A feminist version of WeWork, a feminist underwear company, a feminist luggage company, a feminist media, like all of these things were immediately coded as being not just female-led, but also inherently socially progressive and inherently inclusive.

And I don't think, in most cases, they ever earned that title to begin with, if you looked at their practices. And these are all slightly different stories. But in general, what you can tell when the story comes out, and like Outdoor Voices and Away are two really good examples of that, where from inception at these companies, you had these female leaders who were exhibiting really, really, I would consider-- I mean, I don't want to use too charged a word, but definitely behavior that should have been addressed.

Inappropriate workplace behavior at minimum. And yet, early on in both of these companies, you had, I mean, massive amounts of press, PR play, for specifically, the angle of, we have a feminist company now. And so, I think that's probably a bigger part of the issue.

I think no one's ever been under any illusions that most of these male founders were not good guys. They were not having a really friendly workplace culture. They were not inclusive.

And they were never put on that pedestal. So I feel like not putting the female founders on that pedestal to begin with is probably the better way to go. Don't give them undue credit.

I agree with that. Absolutely. I'm thinking about-- what's her name from Theranos?

Oh my God, Elizabeth Holmes? Well, she's actually like a con artist and probably a sociopath. I feel like that's a whole other level.

I have no idea why she just popped in my mind, but-- But the press That she got. --that was someone that got propped up very high. And I mean, I don't know if that's like hubris, or that's one of those things where, by default, because you're getting propped up so high, you feel this pressure to perform. And then you're just phony.

OK. So I do feel that in Elizabeth Holmes' case, that was like, Bernie Madoff levels of fraud and like, this should never have been allowed to happen and it was crazy. But to your point, I think that the only reason it was allowed to thrive to the extent it was, was because of the novelty factor of her being like the female Steve Jobs, essentially.

But did you read that book, Bad Blood?

did not. You have to read it.

I saw the whole docuseries on her, but I haven't-- It is crazy. It's so crazy, because in all of the press about her-- It was like, in a lot of situations with, you know, companies that have products that are like, maybe they're poorly made or it's like a financial black box or like, you know, I mean, even like schemes that are difficult for people to understand or there's nuances or maybe they cut corners, but whatever. What she was doing was against the laws of physics and could not have happened.

But because so many people, I think, first of all was the PR thing, but also a lot of people were just like, maybe I just don't understand medicine. You know? And so she just got a free pass to do something that never existed.

It's the craziest thing. Yeah, that's very true. Well, maybe she thought she was like, bootstrapping this, and just really-- because you know, some tech entrepreneurs, and now that I'm starting my own thing, you hear stories of, and this is not illegal.

It's not what she was doing, but maybe she had this in her mind where, I think the owner of the stitch boxes? I don't know it. The clothes, it's like on Stitch Fix.

Stitch Fix. Yes, sorry. Stitch fix.

She put out a Google spreadsheet, was filling orders that way, and then manually calling up, it was something along those lines. I don't know if it was her company, but one of those kind of like, mail boxes, where you get closes, clothes. Closes (LAUGHS).

Where you get clothes in the mail that you may like and you can pay for them if you like them. Maybe that's where she thought, you know with Theranos. Because she was performing the test, right?

Like she was going out, but saying that these machines were working. But they were trying to do them in the lab as quickly as possible. So you're saying, she was like, this will work itself out before we go to market.

Yeah Oh, that's horrible. OK. I'm sorry, but it's one thing to do that with clothes that people try on at home and another do to with a freaking blood test.

I'm not justifying it. But maybe she thought-- Because she really was trying to embody Steve Jobs, right? So she's like, I'm going to be bootstrap-y.

I'm going to, you know-- Like will it into existence. Yeah, I'm going to figure this out. We can do this.

And I think, she just got too much of the tech side. Because that happens in tech right now. I mean, but that's more of like, you validating customer experience and is this what customers will even use at a very rudimentary level.

So if I can just work this concierge service for you and then eventually transition that into an app, is that something that you'd like? And people are like, heck yeah. But her services-- Sorry, not to go off on a tangent, but I know why she popped in my mind.

Because we're talking about founders and that's just a bad actor. That's just outside of just being a woman. Like that whole thing was a fraud.

Yeah. That's con woman territory for sure. But maybe that's breaking a glass ceiling in its own way.

I mean, have we had a billionaire woman, like a female Bernie Madoff, female con woman billionaire? That's a great point. And I'm happy she has that accolade.

Yes. Trailblazers come in all forms. Respect where it's due.

So tell us about your new project. Yeah. So, I am doing this while unemployed and trying to figure out can I get another job, which I will.

So applying, doing all that stuff, but I'm building out a product that will help with money. It's a budgeting product. And that's where I'm like trying to build out a team and it's funny how you say we need to change these practices.

Because I think that all the stuff that I learned and took away from finance, in that industry. I want to be the complete opposite and rage against the machine in that regard. So I was actually talking to this one guy that I wanted to come on, and he dressed up like really nice.

And I had actually worked with him in finance and then he switched out of finance and started getting into coding. Dressed up really nice and I said, I'm in a tank top. My hair looks a mess.

I have my glasses on. I'm sweating to death, because we don't central air in our house. I have a fan on me.

It's going. And I said, hey look. This is not the realm that we used to be in.

None of our experience, I don't want you to ever take this that way if you want to like come on and help me build this out. It's going to be the complete opposite of what you know. There's going to be structure and framework, for sure.

I'm taking the good pieces. But to your point, trying to change that system because it's propping up people where they came out of those systems and they're just perpetuating those bad habits that they learned along the way. I mean, hopefully I'm not doing that.

But yeah, that's how that's how I'm building out my product. It's from my personal experience, coupled with trying to-- And I told him. I said, you know, the big things that I want to take away from all of this and instill in this company is diversity and inclusion.

That is at the top. I'm aiming for an all-woman board, initially. If I can get that in the door, that's my goal.

And so far, it's working. But I just want to get those different pieces, because I think that should be the default. I think diversity drives innovation and that's where finance and technology have just lacked so much.

Because you can get so much out of diversity. Differentiation in opinions and thoughts in the room lead to something magical. I totally agree.

Our company is all women and it's a source of joy every single day. So wonderful. But , you know, it's interesting.

A lot of people will make the argument that it shouldn't matter. And I find it so frustrating to listen to that argument when we already exist and operate in systems where we have such an enormous default, male default, white default, you know, in many cases, older. It's almost like we've all taken for granted, we've all taken that as normal, as the default.

And as anyone who is not those people to be sort of almost intruding on that sense of normalcy, which is how you'll get people making comments like, OK, we need this many. OK, but then what you're saying is that you need 90% of the other one. You know, because we're still sort of othering anyone who is not in that mold.

And I'm curious, what would your response be to why is it important for inclusion? Why is it important to have real diversity? Why is it important to have an all-female board?

Well, that's back to just diversity drives innovation. And I think that, my big thing is, I've volunteered all over the place and just have seen so much disparity in wealth, and just obviously the racial wealth gap here in America, and you see-- How do we know the person that's going to cure cancer is not in some remote village in, I don't know, Tanzania somewhere. But because of lack of resources, because of access to resources, that may never come to fruition.

And I think that, by having diversity, and just making that the default, it's not a matter of I want this many or that many, this is where we're at. There needs to be representation in the room from all sides. Of the world we live in.

Yeah, of the world we live in. So we can make sure we're building the best product. And the best product, meaning we're trying to market this to everyone, not one specific demographic.

That's very true in terms of who gets the resources to be able to realize their potential. And it's funny to me that people are so offended by, let's say, someone who might have gotten into an Ivy League school with a slightly worse test score, because they are of, let's say, an ethnic minority. But they're not at all bothered by the massive amounts of people in that school who are legacy.

Who had maybe also not as good test scores, but who had a massive advantage to get into that school because their parents and grandparents went, or maybe they donated a wing to a building, or maybe you know their father's on the board of some massive company. Those privileges, that access doesn't bother anyone, but as soon as you have someone who Came from a-- Profited from what is it? Affirmative action.

Yeah, affirmative action. Yeah. And that is suddenly a reason to say, oh, everything should be exactly equal.

OK, well then, get rid of the legacy admissions, which is probably responsible for a quarter of the people at these schools. Or no one's bothered by 60% of wealth in this country being inherited, in some form or another. You are dropping gems.

You know, you got to keep these stats on hand. You are dropping-- So I want to give you a quick example, because this would happen in Wall Street. I got asked on behalf of my company to go to this symposium for compliance.

And it was all the big wig people at these very senior levels, high level positions, at these big investment banks. And it was at the Harvard Club. I would have never been able to get in there if I-- You either can only, from what I understand, you have to graduate from there, or you have to be invited to get in there.

And then you get in there and you see, it's a gorgeous club. Like, it's really cool. You're like, this is really exclusive.

There would have been no other way for me to have experienced that or get exposure to it. And then you're sitting in a room where it's like 80% male, 80% white male, all seniored high level, have the opportunity to network with each other and then you take it down to, well, there's you know, 20% women. I could probably name five people of color in this massive hall, in the Harvard Club.

But then you just see like, well, if we have this group think on one side and I hate to like put it all to that, but if it's like 80% white male, money laundering and terrorist financing. And you're locking out so many more that may understand a demographic, may have had personal experience, I don't know. It blows my mind.

It boggles my mind. That's what I was going to say first. Why people, like you said, want to fight against like affirmative action whereas you have nothing to say about the legacy and all these systems that continue to perpetuate themselves and lock people out of so many things.

Where that opinion of what really matters the most. It needs to be in the room. Absolutely.

And it's like, do you really think that it just so happens by chance, and by pure merit, that 80+% of the people who deserve that kind of position, who deserve to be making these decisions, just happen to be white and male? It's just statistically, they happen to be the most qualified 80% of the time. The world is half female, more than half female.

How could that be possible? But you know, I think, it's also when we look at-- My husband, as I mentioned before, I mean, you guys know this. This is no surprise to you.

My husband, we've been having a go of it with immigration and I don't know if you guys have been following, but they have really come down on immigrants this year as an attempt to preserve American jobs. I'm not going to derail this conversation with an exploration of why that's the worst possible thing they could do and solves nothing. But suffice to say, it is and it is.

It is and it does. But a lot of people in this nightmarish canceling and stopping all the H1B visas, all the J1 visas, all these visas that are crucial to not just all of the immigrants who benefit from them, but are also crucial to American innovation, they have been-- The number of stories that we've had written, not just pointing out the number of American enterprises that are massively successful, that have changed the world, that we're founded by immigrants, or children of immigrants. And people will accept that, but they will not accept that there is something inherently valuable in having so many different perspectives and what that brings to, as you said, innovation but also just disrupting the way things were being done before.

I mean, we're seeing a massive disruption in how work is being done through COVID, and the innovation that's going to come out of it is probably going to be stuff we can't understand for years. But for some reason, we're OK with accepting that the way we did things deserved to be disrupted if it's because of, let's say a pandemic. But we're not willing to accept disruption if it's slightly, or hopefully significantly, changing the demographics of how we're doing this work.

So obviously, we are talking today to someone who is striking out on her own and starting her own small business. And as a small business owner, I could not more recommend the program that I have been using for years now to manage our business finances. And that is software called QuickBooks.

Basically, QuickBooks is a software that integrates with all of the various ins and outs of your small businesses finances. That means things like your accounts, your payroll, your invoicing, your P&Ls, everything that you need to understand your business, to manage it well financially, and to make sure that you are both getting paid on time, and paying people on time. And do remember that if you are a freelancer, you are a small business of one and can still greatly benefit from something like QuickBooks, even if you're not freelancing full time.

Every morning, when I start work, I log into QuickBooks and get a quick view of how the business is doing via the dashboard that it presents you with which gives you that snapshot of your business's financial health and has helped me many times prevent what could have been a big problem if I had somehow allowed it to go unnoticed. So suffice to say QuickBooks has been integral to meeting a successful small business owner and I believe it could be very helpful for you too. If you want to learn more about QuickBooks, check it out at the link in our description or our show notes.

So, you mentioned that you've got sued. Tell us about that. Tell us about that.

What was that like? It wasn't a fun process. I think-- 0 out of 10, would not do again.

Yeah. 0 out of 10. Wouldn't recommend it. (LAUGHS) So, I think my biggest thing, and that's why I wanted to start the platform, because at this point, that was rock bottom. Getting sued and getting the notice, you cannot DIY yourself out of a lawsuit.

It just doesn't work. I don't recommend that unless you're a lawyer. So I got a notice in the mail.

Didn't know what it was. It just says, notice. And then it says, your name, it has this court date.

It was Queens County. I was in Queens at the time. Queens County Court.

Plaintiff, defendant, and then it says you have however many days or something. It says this is what is going on. So, you owe this much money to this person.

You have to respond to this notice. So, I'm like, what is this? So I started trying to Google some of the terms on the paper, because I didn't know this is how a lawsuit starts.

They've filed a complaint. Now you have to respond. If you don't respond, they can get a judgment, apparently or something.

I'm not a lawyer, so none of this is legal advice, but if you do respond, it has to be in a very legalese kind of wording and all this stuff. So you got to just make sure you know what you're talking about. And then they come back and it starts going back and forth.

And then eventually, either you go to court or, if you don't respond, they try to get a judgment, a default judgment on you, saying like, OK now we can garnish your wages. And that's what usually, not usually, but what happens to some people, because they don't respond to these notices and then it's like, oh default judgment. You know, the lender goes and like, they haven't said anything.

They go to the court and say, hey, can we get a default judgment. They haven't shown up. They're not here.

It's like, Yeah. And then your wages get garnished and all that jazz. Your taxes and all the stuff.

So I got that notice. I started Googling. I said, OK, this is how a lawsuit starts.

Try to find a lawyer. Didn't really have the money for a lawyer at the time. But my bonus was coming through, so that helped out a lot.

Taxes were coming through. I knew I was going to get a tax refund so that helped. Got her on the phone and I said, hey.

I have this really weird situation. And I don't know how else to describe this to you, but I need help getting out of this, not getting out of it, but just buying some time. I think I'm getting sued.

So she looked over the note. She said, yeah, you're getting sued. And I told her this story.

And I don't think that she believed me at first. So what I told her was, and this is why I say, just handle the hard things. I told her this story where I went to school.

I went to Rutgers for a year, took out this student loan. Then I transferred to USF. That's where I ended up graduating from and when I transferred there-- And this lawsuit story won't apply to 99% of the people that default.

This is just a rare case that happened to me. I took out the student loan, transferred to USF, and then when I'm there as a full time student, I had been since I had started college, I'd concurrently been a full time student. So, there was no breaks.

It was fall and spring semester, back to back. And I said, I took out this loan and now like I remember getting default notices in the mail when I was a junior in college. And I was like, that's when I said, it has to be a mistake, because I'm still a full time student.

And you know, when you're 20 and you're getting these notices, it's scary as hell. I didn't want to bother my mom about it. My mom's a single parent.

At the time, she was paying off her loans. And it's just not something, you know, when you're 20, you're grown. You don't want your parents in your business.

It's not something I wanted to bring to her. Then as you go toward 30, you're like, OK. You can be in my business.

Where's the birthday card money? Yeah. I'm shaking the card.

No, so I just didn't take care of it. And I knew that it was a mistake, obviously. I knew it was a mistake.

Eventually, I end up calling them and I said, hey, I've been getting all these notices. What's going on? I'm a full time student.

This doesn't make any sense. I think, at the worst case scenario, I'm supposed to pay this back like the day after I graduate, but I'm a full time student. They're like, oh, well we haven't been able to see you in the system.

You need to send us proof that you're a full time student. Cool. Do that.

Which that made no sense to me, because I was at a public university. And for whatever reason, my lawyer, fast forward to 2016, was able to pull me up in the National Clearinghouse immediately. I pulled myself up, so I'm like, that's strange that you guys couldn't find me.

Sent them proof. And mind you, that default had already gone on to my credit report. So this particular company, I was actually reading stuff about them yesterday, clearly and I think people-- I went on a rant yesterday about this student loan issue, because I think some people were kind of like, making fun of the fact.

They're like, oh, this girl wants to be a personal finance person after she get sued. It's like, no, I've worked in finance. I have my degree in finance. that's not, you know.

And not saying that you need to have any of that to be a personal finance person, but you get what I'm saying. I lost my train of thought, but-- Your rant about student loans. Yes, rant about student loans.

So, I think I just didn't have the ability to-- I was overwhelmed. I didn't want to handle it. Call them up.

They said, OK. You send us your proof. You'll be taken care of.

Mind you, I had already experienced damages at this point, because I moved back. Try to get an apartment. Something was going on with my credit.

I'm like, OK, whatever. And I had to put out a bigger security deposit and I just kept it moving. I didn't think to check my credit.

None of that. Then I'm getting these notices. Finally work up the courage to call them.

They say, send us the proof. So I send in the proof. Done deal.

And then I just let it go. And I shouldn't have. Long story short, I shouldn't have.

Fast forward to then 2016, obviously, clearly I defaulted. My lawyer's trying to buy me time. I started saving all the money that I could.

I got on a budget. I started changing my finances around. Paid it in full, but my lawyer had a really big issue with that.

Because she said, you know, they had already caused you material damages of which they had violated the terms of the promissory note before anything had even happened. By a simple clerical mistake and this happens all the time to a lot of people, whether it be like their credit reports, because there's so many Americans that have-- What is it? Like three out of five Americans have some mistake on their credit report.

Maybe I'm making that up. I might be lying. But I know there's a statistic around it.

But you know, I was looking at this loan company yesterday. They are known for mishandling payments and all this stuff. So did it happen to me, yeah.

It's unfortunate. And I should have handled it when I should have back then. I was overwhelmed.

I was 20. I didn't know what I was doing. That wasn't my focus.

I was trying to get through school. I was trying to work full time. That was the last thing on my mind, of paying this bill that I just brushed off as a mistake.

So, yeah, I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy, defaulting on a student loan. Do you feel like that experience had an impact on your ability to pay off a lot of debt in a short amount of time? Yeah.

That was the rock bottom. Just because, back to our earlier conversation, there's just so much contingent upon-- So at the time, I was at a bank where you had, like any most banks, you have to self report if you get a judgment. And then that means that you get called into HR and it's like, hey, what's going on?

And you are at risk of losing your job, which then has a domino effect, because then how am I going to go to another bank if I have a judgment on my credit report, which they're going to pull and say we can't give you this job and then there's my livelihood. So, yeah it sparked. That had a major impact in saying, like you need to save as much as you can.

Stop fooling around and get this taken care of so you don't actually lose your livelihood. Because then what am I going to do at that point? 2016, I don't know. Carry the 1, plus the two, I don't know, I was like around 28.

I'm making this up. Somewhere around there. Then what am I going to go back to school and try to get my teaching degree?

What am I going to do if my background is in finance? How am I going to make that pivot? I told you, I identified with that and that was my world and everything.

So that's all I could see. Yeah. You, obviously, I mean both from paying off the $57,000 of debt, from teaching yourself to code, you are someone who clearly has a pretty high level of personal discipline.

I am tired just listening to these stories. I'm exhausted. I'm like, how could you manage the time for all of this?

I could never, or I feel like I could never, do something like pay off that amount of debt, and teach myself something as life changing as pivoting careers and learning to code. I don't think I could do either of those, but I definitely couldn't do them at the same time. How do you keep up the energy for that?

Keep up the motivation for that? And do you feel like you are good at holding yourself accountable? Do you have external sources of accountability?

What's the secret sauce? Yeah. So my secret sauce, it's terrible.

It's just one of those-- I hate to say it, because it's one of those things where I constantly feel imposter syndrome, but there's always these really cool milestones that everyone on the outside looking in, looks at and say, like man, she's achieved a ton. And for me, it's something that-- we're getting on the couch again. I'm going to sit down and get my tissues.

It's something for me that I need to work on, because it's always one of those things that's just the self-actualization is always very fleeting. So you get to these milestones and it's like, whoa. What do I do next?

Because I thought this was going to be fulfilling. I thought this was going to be like, now I've made it. So I'll give you an example like Forbes.

I got an article in Forbes. And it's like when you're younger and you're reading Forbes, that's really cool. Not the actual magazine, it was the website.

But you see it, you're like, I never thought in a million years that I'd be there. And now it's like, well, I get in there. I celebrate for a day.

It was really cool. You see yourself online. You know, it's not a Myspace page or Facebook feed.

And then it's like, OK. Well, what's next? Same thing that happened at the various investment banks that I've worked at.

They're all big names and it's like, OK. Well, what's next? I didn't think that I was going to do that.

I was like, oh, can I get this promotion? OK, well, what's next? And it never seems good enough and I don't know if it's just ambition, but that's why I said my secret sauce isn't for everybody.

It's something that I definitely have to work on getting comfortable with like these really cool achievements. And not saying that's where I have to stop, but I have a hard time celebrating those for an extended period of time. And I think it's just motivation.

Yeah, just never feeling fulfilled and that's kind of sad too. I don't know if that makes any sense. No, it does, but on a day to day basis.

For example, learning to code. I feel like I would just, every morning, be like, I should really learn to code today and watch TV or not do it. Because it's one of those things, I think, it's a very unsatisfying task in the short term, in the sense that you have to put in lots of effort in small doses over an extended period of time for which you will not see the results for quite some time.

Do you have specific times of day you do everything? OK. So sorry.

I went all like, very macro. No, I mean the fact that you're never satisfied with yourself, is probably a pretty good motivator. I think it's very macro.

OK, so to the micro point. Every day, anything like paying off the debt and all that stuff, it's all external factors, right? So I'm like, I want to switch careers.

Either I can get up and watch TV, not get up early and not code, or do everything that everybody else is doing and continue to be very unhappy with spinning this week, this month, this year, going into a place where I was literally some days on the verge of crying. So it got to that point, where on Sunday, I would dread, I'd be sweating really bad and just I don't want to go. Like, I just can't do it.

I don't want to do it. So you get to that point, where it's like, anything that I control, within my grasp, I'm going to try everything to do that. So every morning, when it came to coding, I would get up extra early before work, trying to put in as much time as I could.

So I would get up about 5 o'clock. I would code until 7:00. I'm always bummed when that's the.

Answer I would code until 7:00, get home, code some more, go to sleep, and repeat. And then, that would be like to similar things. So when I'd stop coding, then I'd look at my budget, makes sure I'm on track.

I was obsessive about it, because that was the other thing that was going to get me out of this situation that I was in. It's like my budget was like my lifeline. So yeah, the smaller motivation was definitely like next step.

What am I trying to do? You know no one's going to come and save you, so you have to take action and do it yourself or it's never going to happen. Now that you say it, it feels like kind of intuitive to set a pretty tedious personal goal while also trying to save a lot of money.

Because you've basically eliminated your social life. OK. That is so against everything we say at TFD.

You can have an extremely fulfilling social life while also saving a lot of money. But let's be honest, you're also probably cutting out some social activity. And you're probably trying to distract yourself a lot, because there are probably going to be a lot of things when you're saving a ton.

Like you're not traveling as much. You aren't going out as much. You know, all that stuff.

So, maybe that's the best time to be doing it. But I wonder, did you share your really-- Because obviously, you must have pretty radically changed your lifestyle in order to save that amount of money in a couple of years. Did you share that with your colleagues at all or your friends?

So yeah. A few of my co-workers knew that I had this side blog and I was working on this stuff. Everyone that was close to me knew my motivations, and that I wanted to get the hell out of there, right?

So they knew that. And a lot of my friends, too. They became really supportive when I was just like, look I'm unhappy with what I'm doing and I want to get out of this.

And the only way that I can do that is if I put in the work or I save the money unless you're going to pay my bills. So there are just some things that I'm going to have to say no to. And then similar with my wife.

She realized in the grand scheme of things, like when I was like, this is my goal. You're the one at the end of the day that has to deal with all of the train wreck that comes home. So the faster that we can work on shifting all this, the better.

And yeah, so it wasn't like a huge-- like we're making sacrifices and all that stuff. Like everybody got on board, because everyone knows like I'm this money person. And I think they were happy to support it, which was made the whole transition much easier, because they knew.

I was like, you guys know every single day, every time we meet up, you ask me about work and it's something that I don't want to talk about. Yeah, I don't know. That was cool.

I will say, I had it easy with my friends. It was just like, no I'm not going to do that. Or my co-workers knew, like my shoes were falling apart.

I would not pay $50 to buy new shoes. And this is like documented. A lot of my followers, just cracking up about these shoes.

They were going to start a GoFundMe. Just so they can take-- I was like, it's not important. I don't care.

I don't want to even impress anyone here. I don't care. Everyone that personally is close to me, knows what my goal is, so they know that's why I'm not buying new shoes.

That's hilarious. I will also say, I feel like anyone who's been debating going on a radical savings goal, or debt repayment goal, do it now, man. There's nothing to do.

Like turn COVID into an excuse to save an insane amount of money and not even feel FOMO about it, because what the hell else were you going to be doing? Let me say, if you are unemployed, this doesn't apply and I have such deep empathy, obviously. But if you are lucky enough to have your employment during COVID and have been considering going on an aggressive savings/debt repayment goal, use this time to do it.

I feel like everyone has been, again provided you have your income, everyone has been unintentionally saving a ton of money these days. Like my husband and I were looking at Mint the other day and were like, whoa. Good job.

And that's something that I feel like could also be helpful in somewhat lessening the sadness about it, you know? I mean, I'm sure everyone on some level-- I mean, every single person I know, much including myself, I'm sure you, have probably somewhat big plans this summer that were canceled, a trip, weddings, family visits, activities, vacation, all that kind of stuff, that is gone. And it is so easy to feel like really, really upset about it.

But why not try to channel that into something where you can be like, OK, I'm turning 2020 from like the lost year into the year where I managed to do all of these things that I otherwise put off. Especially saving money. So I did dry January and now I'm doing dry July, and this app tracks how much money you can save.

And I know alcohol sales have gone through the roof. That's the one area where people aren't saving money on, but I thought about it on the drive here. I was like, oh, this is nice, because it tells you.

I mean, you punch in the numbers, but so far this month, I've saved $100 and something on alcohol. That's nice, especially in the city. Yeah, I know, especially in the city.

I'm actually going to, there's a place near here where it's like a good combo, because obviously, dining out is still a very fraught thing. But it's like, you get your stuff at the window and then you take it to a table, which is nice. It's like you sort of feel like a human being, but also you're not like putting [INAUDIBLE] It's curbside, but yeah.

Anyway, suffice to say though, it's like a tiki place and it's like $15 for a drink, which you know pre-COVID in Manhattan, you're like well, that's just what drinks cost. And now you're like, excuse me? I have not paid this much money for anything in four months.

It's like this recalibration in the city where you learn stuff that is just not normal outside of the city. Like, you can go to Florida, you buy a drink for like-- You get a $2 beer, whereas here it's like $8 or $9. For a can of beer.

Of Bud Light. Of Bud Light. We're in Missoula, Montana a couple years ago when we were filming stuff for TFD me and my co-founder.

And we went to this bar's happy hour with the whole team that we were working with, and I swear to God, their happy hour was like $1 drinks. You bought like $150 worth of stuff and everyone's like-- We're so used in Manhattan to being like, oh $10 glass of wine? This is a good happy hour.

We've gotta come back here. I don't know. I feel like this has to change.

Also, OK, this is not to drag this particular place, because I actually love this place and their stuff is really good. But I'm sorry but can we not slightly lower the price, if there's no more service. Everything's in a takeout container.

You guys are saving. Can we pass the savings along to the consumer? Anyway, all of that to say, I do feel like, you know, it's interesting because I think at first, when we all had that feeling of like, oh well we'll just stay home for a month and then everything's back, like we maybe felt like a strong sense of FOMO but at least speaking personally, I don't miss that much anymore.

You know? Because I feel like I've gotten used to the idea that this has to be it for awhile, you know? Which is a really powerful feeling for saving money, because I feel like nine times out of 10, when people spend money that they otherwise want to save, it's because they have a sense that saving, even if in the long term, it could represent some something so much bigger, doesn't have the same value as that thing they wanted to do.

And now, you don't have that problem. So when did you fully pay off your debt? So, September 2018 is when it was all done.

And I was broke after that, obviously. So I guess you didn't change your lifestyle that much. So I transitioned from paying off all that debt, then back to just saving as much as I could, because I know my next goal was, OK, we're going to quit.

So my wife was like, you know, now we have another hurdle to get over? Yeah, this is like-- I signed up for my banker. Yeah.

I signed up for like, roughly two years. I knew your plan was get out of debt, but now we're extending that? Because then I was trying to save as much as I could.

So September 2018. Yeah just because you become debt-free does not mean you become rich. You're pre-rich possibly, but I was broke after paying off all that debt.

So you start square one, at least like a clean slate, and then I just started trying to save as much as possible so I could quit my job. Got it. Well, I mean, I don't know.

I think, it's so fascinating, because I feel like you had a situation where something was bad enough to make a really meaningful change and I feel like for a lot of people, using professional situations as an example, it's pretty bad, but not quite bad enough to push them. What would your advice be to someone, because we get this question all the time, people who are on the fence about changing careers, leaving their jobs, all that stuff, like what is your advice to those people, in terms of like practical advice, but also, how do they know that it's time to leave? So definitely when you want to cry your desk, that's number one.

I don't know. I feel like you always feel it in your gut and if you aren't living authentically, or truthfully, to yourself. And maybe it's out of circumstance.

Mine definitely was. That's why I had to do it. Those were the golden handcuffs.

I was stuck to my desk, because of my debt. But I think that you know when you-- My biggest thing was I always put on a costume. I felt like I was putting on a costume when I go into work, like it wasn't me.

Like I could say all the right things. I could present all these good ideas and just be like stellar, but it was never something I really enjoyed. I was just maybe, possibly, good at it.

So, I don't know. I think outside of feeling horrible about just going into work, I think that you deep down, you've just got to tell yourself the truth about where you're at. And if you think it's like OK and it's something that maybe when I explore stuff on the side, that you can live with your job, then great.

But I think with mine was I don't want the next 10 years to look like the past 10 years. And life is too short to kind of settle for, if you don't have to, this kind of mediocre, or middle of the run, I basically hate my job, but it pays the bills for me to be able to do other things. And I think I just I couldn't bear that for myself anymore.

I was living a lie for so long and it is like I can't do this anymore. And now I'm trying to go back into finance, because at this point, I just need to get a job, but-- (LAUGHS) I think that's my best advice is just be truthful with yourself. And you'll hear it.

It's not this loud voice that's screaming at you. It's that small whisper that you constantly feel every single day. It's like, saying hey, like you should be painting that painting.

You should be writing that music. You should be teaching those kids. This isn't for you.

And then trying to find some way to pivot to that. And I will say it was scary as hell changing careers. Now I've paid off my debt.

I've saved a bunch of money, and I'm in a good career. I'm making more than I've ever made in my entire life. It's taken me this long to make that.

So, you know that's something also you gotta be cognizant of. It's taken years to build up to this salary. And now, you're Leaving that entirely.

I'm just going to throw it up. Yeah, throw it all behind. Throw it to the wind.

And that was really scary. I don't think, especially me being such a security-oriented person-- Finance is great for that. You get good benefits.

You get good money. You're good at what you do, but you hate what you do. You're fine.

And a lot of people live in that space. But yeah, changing careers was really challenging. So I think exploring those other options for anyone that's maybe looking, or thinks they want to change careers, but they aren't 100% sure.

I still have my days, and COVID has not helped, where I go back and forth, like did I make the right decision? And it's hard for me to know if I did, because now I've gotten laid off from this tech job. I'm unemployed and I'm trying to navigate in this space where a lot of people are just in limbo themselves.

And I question that daily. Did I make the right decision? Did I make it at the right time?

Did I make it at the wrong time? You know, so, I think you'll go through that, but it's crazy, because if you kind of trust it and you follow it, I think everything has led me up into these really fantastic and phenomenal events that have just-- Once I listened to the universe, because it was saying, girl, you got to go. Jump.

Make the leap. I finally did it. It's opened all these doors and I'm like so stressed out about it, but there's been so many great opportunities that have come out of all of this.

So I'm like, why am I questioning this? I'm still alive. I'm healthy.

And I don't know, but that's just a piece of practical advice. You will struggle with the fact. Did I make a good decision?

Is this right for me? I don't know. You know, I'm leaving.

Again, I was leaving finance, great salary. Is this going to work out? And so far, it has.

So I don't know why I'm whining about it. You're not. It's a big issue.

So, on that note of big life things, we have our [IMITATES RAPID FIRE] rapid fire questions. What is the big financial secret of your industry? Let's say, Wall Street, your former industry.

No one has it figured out. Everyone is literally just faking it until they make it. That's reassuring.

What do you invest in versus what are you cheap about? Invest in travel. Cheap about clothes.

All things clothes, cheap about it. Where's this outfit from? Old Navy.

My mom got me these Abercrombie jeans for Christmas a couple of years ago. They've been game changer. I've gotten paint on them, don't care.

Old Navy. Look at that. And yet, you rock it.

Thank you. What has been your best investment and why? My wife's wedding ring.

That's so sweet. Wait, who proposed to whom? We were proposing to each other, but we didn't know that we were within like a month apart.

Long story short, I call her brother. I said, hey I'm going to ask your sister to marry me. Are you OK with that?

And he goes, Yeah, it's great. When? And I should have known then.

I'm like, Jesus, that's really abrupt. I was like, I'm gonna do it like, you know. I did in December and he's like OK.

OK, great. Yeah, absolutely. I was like.

OK. Thanks. I should have had some indication.

Anyway, she proposed to me before. So, we were at least on the same page. That's adorable.

Wait, did you run and get your ring and be like-- I still left it as a surprise for her. I did something for her in Brooklyn. Yeah That is so sweet.

Damn. What has been your biggest money mistake and why? I think you guys could guess that one.

Getting sued. Yeah, getting sued. My default, biggest mistake.

What is your biggest current money insecurity? Being unemployed. That's a good one.

That's tough. understandable What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most? Budgeting, hands down. Love it.

Love it. Love that budget. And when did you first feel "successful" quote unquote, and what does that word mean to you?

We just talked about this. When did I first feel successful? When I got my job offer at Morgan Stanley, moving from Florida to here in 2013.

That's awesome. Where in Florida, by the way? Tampa.

That's cool. So, thank you so much for being here and where can people find more of what you do? All things Make Real Sense, right now.

Yeah, so make, real, and then cents, as in like C-E-N-T-S. We'll have that everywhere in writing, so you guys will be able to find it. And you also have to tell us how you make TikToks. 100%.

So, right now we've kind of been off, because the data thing. But I'm gonna get back on. I have so many ideas.

I'm writing them all down. Plenty of content to go. Yes, go continue to teach the TikTok teens means about money management.

And before we head out, I wanted to give one last shout out to our beloved partners and tell you about an app that has been life changing for me for more years than TFD has even existed. As Carmen mentioned, budgeting is probably the most important financial habit you can have. And for me, someone who does not enjoy spreadsheet making or manual budget tracking, the app, Mint, has been totally, totally transformational to me.

It's totally free, by the way. So that's an important reason to check it out, but basically, Mint syncs up with all of your various accounts, cards, et cetera. It helps keep you on track for your financial goals.

When you set a budget, it gives you alerts if you're going over budget in a certain category, and helps break down into neat little charts and graphs exactly what each month is looking like. For me, it has done all the heavy lifting of understanding my personal finances, and relieves so much of that stress that there's something I'm forgetting, because it's all synced up and it's automatic. So if you've been wanting to get a hold of your budget, check out Mint at the link in our description or our show notes.

And as always, thank you guys for tuning in and we will see you back next Monday. [OUTRO MUSIC]