Over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing a series of personal finance bloggers that I enjoy reading and asking them about their journey with debt, savings and money in general. I hope you find each of their unique stories as insightful and revealing as I did. Most importantly, I hope we can all learn from their experiences with money.
This week I have had the pleasure of interviewing Latoya Scott @ Life and a Budget.
Latoya is no stranger to debt, as she is on a mission to pay off $79,000 in student loan debt and encourages other millennials to do the same. She is a writer for hire who loves talking about budgets and money. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Rockstar Finance, and My Fab Finance. You can visit Latoya’s blog site at Life and a Budget or follow her on Twitter
Tell us about your ‘money story’. Has this story changed how you manage your money today and how?
Unfortunately, my money story isn’t that uncommon. What was uncommon for me during my freshman year of college was actually witnessing my friends write out a budget for the money they earned from working their part time jobs. What was uncommon was witnessing them actually making more than the minimum payments on the credit cards all of us had in our wallets. What was even more uncommon was seeing how responsible they were with their money.To say it was culture shock would be an understatement. All my life I’d saw others struggle with money — barely managing to pay the minimum on the debt they owed. I saw cars being repossessed. I’ve seen multiple individuals file bankruptcy. I’d witnessed my fair share of loans being taken out so I could have school clothes and school supplies. I’m not complaining, nor am I talking down on others as if I’m now all of a sudden better than them. I’m just simply stating the facts.To come from that type of financially illiterate background and to see my peers, who I was forming lifelong friendships with be responsible with their money — well, it amazed me! I wanted to be like them. I needed to be responsible. I wanted to have my financial act together. However, my journey still didn’t begin there. I’m thankful for my friends because they modeled this behavior for a long time before I finally conformed.My exposure to those who were responsible with money gave me my first glimmer of hope. I had some growing up to do and I made a lot of mistakes. One of those mistakes was filing bankruptcy. After that experience, I knew I didn’t want to end up in bankruptcy court again.I wanted to become financially literate, not just for myself, but for my children. I didn’t want to pass on the same mistakes I’d learned growing up. I wanted to break the generational financially literacy curse that’s still plaguing the majority of my family. I’m not going to stop educating myself and I’m not giving up hope that one day more of us will be responsible with our money.
If you could give 3 personal finance tips to anyone, what would those be?
There are some essential elements that have helped turn my money story around.My first tip would be to change your mindset. I stopped believing I was broke a long time ago and I’m so much more happier. I can afford anything I want, the important question is rather I really want it.Tip number two would be to always save something for yourself. No matter how small. There is nothing worst than working and not having money for yourself for emergencies or even a little fun!Tip number three…well, when you read my answer to question number four, it will all come together.
What is the smartest thing you did with money and why?
The smartest thing I would say I’ve done so far with money is contributing to a 401k plan. I started about 9 years ago, albeit, I did stop contributions a few times along the way. I try not to dwell on this though. I know many people my age who don’t contribute to a 401k. I know people in their late 40’s and early 50’s who don’t contribute to 401k plans. In my family, I stand out like a sore thumb. I’m a saver and I’m proud of it.
What is the dumbest thing you did with money and why?
The dumbest thing I’ve ever done with money would have to be when I was in college. You would think it was taking out $80,000 on student loans, but nope, wasn’t the case. I was head over heels in love with someone who didn’t love me back. I did everything to try to prove my “worthiness” and this included wasting my hard earned internship money over the summer trying to buy someone else love. If he needed me to pick him up, it was my gas being used up. If he needed food, it was me going through the drive-thru to purchase him food. If he needed cash…yes, I handed cash over to him as well. Whatever, you do — never think your money should be used as a tool to buy anyone’s affection (Yes, this is my 3rd personal finance tip!)
If money was not an object, how would you spend your time?
Honestly, I don’t know! I think everyone expects you to have an answer to this question, but sometimes that just isn’t realistic. I know there are things I value – things that mean a lot to me, but to say I would spend my time doing more of that one certain thing is unrealistic for me. I can say I have a set of values and I would have more time to adhere to them. Those values would include spending time giving my children “real-world” education. I love going places with my kids and more time would definitely allow us to do this.Other values include helping others, not in any specific capacity — I just like feeling useful. Last, I value experiences, so a vacation or two (okay, so maybe a hundred) would be in order.
What is your blog theme and why did you choose to start blogging?
My blog theme focuses on life with debt and how managing your income and side hustling can help you overcome it. I started Life and a Budget because I wanted to figure out ways to realistically pay off my debt and actually have a life.When I try to be strict in certain areas of my life, I always fail! Being strict with my spending and being extremely frugal just don’t interest me. I don’t live a life of excess anyway and feel if I tried to cut anything else out, I’d totally lose it. So, i needed a way to bring in extra income and I decided to use my voice at LAAB to garner attention and land writing jobs. I’m glad I did because it’s totally working!
If you could recommend a book to someone, what would it be and why?
I read a lot and it’s a shame I can’t think of one book I would recommend. I have a lot of favorites and they are mostly by fiction authors. I just recently started focusing on increasing the amount of personal finance books I’m reading and so far my favorite has been The Wealth Cure by Hill Harper.
If you were given the opportunity to have a one-hour lunch with anyone in the world, whom would it be and why?
Of course, influential people that come to mind would be Beyoncé or Michelle Obama, but I’m going to cut it straight with you. When asked this question, the first person that pops into my mind and the person that I totally wish I could have a little of their wisdom would hands down have to be no other than the late Tupac Shakur. The man was wise beyond his years. He wasn’t just a rapper. He wasn’t just a “thug”. He was revolutionary. I would definitely learn a lot!
If you could have a ‘do-over’ in any area of your life, what would that be and why?
If I could get a ‘do-over’ I think I would been a little more aggressive with my student debt earlier. I’m thirty-two now and I’ve been out of college ten years! I had no idea people were out here side hustling their debt away and it honestly never occurred to me to get an extra job and pay extra on my student loans before I got married and had children. It’s sad, but true. I would totally jump back ten years and be through with student loan debt. That is the only thing I would do-over. Everything else has been worth every heartache — after all, there has been more than enough joy to over shadow it.
Is there anything else you would like to share with everyone?
Girl, I think I’ve wrote an e-book. I’ll leave it at that😊 Thanks so much for having me. You really made me think!
Categories: Guest Posts