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How This Woman Paid Off Over $90,000 Worth Of Debt Without Drastically Changing Her Lifestyle
Money Talks

How This Woman Paid Off Over $90,000 Worth Of Debt Without Drastically Changing Her Lifestyle

With 2024 around the corner, a lot of us are starting to think about future goals. What new ideas do I want to bring to life, or what am I currently working on that needs improvement? I’ll be transparent in saying that improving my finances has been an ongoing challenge. I mean, sure, I’m generally stable. But “stable” isn’t enough to invest how I’d like or significantly save as desired. And while it’s not everyone’s favorite subject to bring to the dinner table, I realize a lot of my peers are facing the same problem. Especially in this economy, chile.


That’s why I was super excited to speak with personal finance coach, author, and certified financial instructor Rachael Hanible, a 36-year old Philly-native who has paid off over $92,000 in debt, saved a year's worth of her income, and sports a credit score of 846. In this conversation with xoNecole, she shared her finance journey, along with a few helpful tips for the girlies trying to make money moves (cues, Cardi B).

First, I have to say paying off over $90,000 worth of debt is amazing. Can you tell me a little bit about that journey? How did you cultivate it, and when was the moment you knew you wanted to change your situation?

It was a mixture of a few things. There was some student loan debt there. Plus, I had a car note and credit card debt. I grew up poor, but I never felt like that was God’s plan for my life. I always said I was a millionaire-in-training and spoke about the things I’d do when I’m wealthy. And I woke up one day with an idea of being debt-free, even though I didn’t know anyone who was. I was in school working at a convenience store, making $8/hr. when I had the bright idea. But after I finished college, I revisited the thought, and that’s when the plan started.

"I grew up poor, but I never felt like that was God’s plan for my life. I always said I was a millionaire-in-training and spoke about the things I’d do when I’m wealthy. And I woke up one day with an idea of being debt-free, even though I didn’t know anyone who was."

So many of us want to do that but struggle to make it a reality. What was your process? 

I got a job doing accounting after my college job. One day, I just calculated all of my debt and discovered how much was being added to my student loan daily. In my mind, I just wanted to cut down the days that I owed that money, and I applied the same principle to my car note. I started with an extra $5 to my student loans and an extra $20 to my car note. And I was consistent with that idea as I continued to find and grow more income. Now I’m almost 13 years in with no car payment and 11 years with no student loan debt.

Did you always have a good relationship with money?

No (laughs). I went to school for business law, and one of my first assignments was to get a subscription to Wall Street Journal, but I held on to it after the assignment. I started to read about investing, ROTH IRAs, and more. They were mentioning words I never heard before, and that started my journey to learning more.

Just curious, what was your biggest splurge before you got here?

Probably shoes. I have over 100 pairs of shoes (laughs).

You gotta treat yourself sometimes, right? 

Girl, not that much (laughs).

Photo courtesy of Rachael Hanible

Well, did you ever work any crazy jobs to get by? 

Nothing too crazy because I’ve always been big on integrity over income. But I used to teach Excel classes in my apartment. People from churches would send their registration list, I’d reach out, and they’d come to my little one-bedroom and learn.

It’s giving hustler more than crazy, but I can appreciate the full-circleness of it all. Because, today, how much do you save monthly? 

Right now, my major goal is to pay off my 30-year mortgage in eight years, and I have one more year to go. So I’d say I’m averaging about $3K a month toward saving or putting toward my home loans.

That’s incredible. But I’m curious – it’s hard enough to shift your finances the way you did. What triggered you to transform this skill into a business? 

For years, I was helping people, and that continued to grow. People actually told me I should start charging – so I did.

You offer a lot more, though, right? Talk to me about your multiple streams. 

Yes, it started with that one thing: talking and helping people. But when you solve one problem, people will send you bigger problems. So, it developed into classes for kids. Those sessions start at age three and go all the way to college-aged. Also, I’m an author and teach about real estate, budgeting, and credit.

What’s been your biggest business challenge so far? 

Even though it's a sexy subject now, no one wanted to talk about this years ago. In the beginning, people didn’t wanna hear from a Black woman with no kids and no husband about financial literacy. For whatever reason, people felt like those things didn’t make me relatable. Like, of course, she can do this if she doesn’t have kids. It was difficult; that was something I really had to fight through.

Ugh, that's ridiculous. Did you have a person or tribe to confide in? Who do you talk to? 

Yes, I talk to my mom. She’s a pastor. Then there’s my big sister, who is a mixture of the church and the streets and, of course, my best friend. She’s all the way left (laughs). I come to them for business and relationships. They are all fair and give me encouragement.

From working with diverse clientele, have you picked up on any popular unhealthy spending habits?

The habits are connected to the mindset. The mindset controls your access. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t feel like freedom, luxury, or wealth is for us. Whether we have $5 or $5,000. I think once we shift that mindset, we’ll be able to hold on to it more.

"The habits are connected to the mindset. The mindset controls your access. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t feel like freedom, luxury, or wealth is for us. Whether we have $5 or $5,000. I think once we shift that mindset, we’ll be able to hold on to it more."

How would you define wealth?

I define wealth as freedom and options. There are people waking up to do things they don’t want to do because they need the money and people going to sleep not doing what they want because they don’t have the money. Wealth is being able to make decisions when and how you want.

Okay, it’s time for you to teach us your ways. What investments do you currently have? Can you give us exact names? 

Sure, I have a traditional 401k, Roth IRA, brokerage account, and a high-yield savings account. And every month, money goes into everything I just mentioned.

When it comes to investing, I’ve heard conflicting advice. Some people say you should start making investments as soon as you have consistent money coming in, and others suggest waiting and building more first. What’s your perspective?  

I think we should have an emergency fund, especially now. You need something you can access quickly. For my clients, I always suggest setting a freedom number in case something happens. And then, after that, we do an even split of investing and saving. Inflation isn’t going anywhere, so we have to make our money grow.

"Inflation isn't going anywhere, so we have to make our money grow."

Photo courtesy of Rachael Hanible

And when it comes to budgeting, how detailed do we need to be? 

Very. There are so many of us that work so hard for our money and don’t know where it’s going. Small things can go a long way. A lot of us are throwing small amounts of money away every day; that can add up, especially if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck or have big goals.

What needs to be included on that budget? Can you share a must-have? 

Build for fun in your budget now and freedom for the future. You need a healthy balance for it to be successful and realistic.

Do you have a money mantra that you swear by?

I still say I'm a millionaire-in-training. Now I have all my kids in class saying that. And I end all my classes by reminding people that even though they now have the knowledge and inspiration, only they can make the decision to change.

What’s been your biggest lesson through this process?

God takes care of the people who take care of His people. When I first started, I didn’t have the jazzy marketing and photo shoots, but people could tell my heart was connected to this. And I think that’s why, after ten years, I’m still getting new clients, contracts, and etc. There’s so much content about how to make your business grow, but the most important thing is to care and be passionate about what you’re doing.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Do something that you would do for free. People say you’ll never work a day in your life if you’re doing what you love. That’s not true. There’s gonna be some piece of your purpose that you’re not gonna like. But if you’d do it for free, that will tell you everything about longevity and if you’re doing it from your heart.

Things you’re gonna learn: taking the stairs is essential. If you try and take the fast lane, you’re gonna get to some levels you’re not prepared for. So, do it for free first and take the stairs.

Finally, what is your ultimate saving goal?

I don’t want any debt. Also, being able to make sure my mom is comfortable – she’s had some health challenges. I want to be able to do what I love without worrying about bills, and I want to be able to serve the people and not count pennies in the process.

I think it’s safe to say she’s well on her way.

To learn more about Rachael, connect with her on social media at @peptalks_ and visit her website at rachaelhanible.com.

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Feature image courtesy of Rachael Hanible

 

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