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The 25-Year-Old Real Estate Agent Who Makes $30K A Month In Supplemental Income

Ariel talks having a blessed financial support system, advocating for financial literacy and the importance of paying yourself first.

Money Talks

Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they get it.

When I was first introduced to Ariel Adams, it was in a small cafe in Brooklyn, New York when she was interviewing me for an intern position at The Lotus Agency, the entertainment management company she incorporated shortly after graduating from the University of Miami in 2016. Though she was no more than a year and a half my senior, I knew that Ariel was more than just her blonde hair and vivacious energy. Even working as her social media intern for her artists in the brief time that I did, I always knew that Ariel had an ambition and spirit that would catapult her into success.

Adams successfully navigated through the music industry as an artist manager for three artists and generated millions of streams on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube for her clients. Now as a Deputy Director at an engineering and technology company by day and entrepreneur after hours, the Maryland-bred bag securer is the dynamic 25-year-old social media guru who uses her online presence to encourage financial literacy. Known as 'The Money Realtor', this Virginia-based licensed real estate agent created "From Instagram to Instant Money", an e-book that outlines how to optimize Instagram and monetize your social media following to leverage any product or service.

Courtesy of Ariel Adams

In her e-book, Ariel treats readers to an in-depth explanation and breakdown of her tested strategies to build and monetize one's social media brand. In no more than 30 days, the 37-paged guidebook generated $40,000 in revenue through social media sales alone. Her business-related Instagram account, which focuses on real estate, investing, and personal finance tips, was the catalyst of success of "From Instagram to Instant Money".

In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Ariel about having a blessed financial support system, advocating for financial literacy and the importance of paying yourself first.

On how much she makes in a year and how much she saves:

"I make six figures at my 9-5 and supplemental income with my digital products business. I average $30,000 a month from my digital product sales alone. I save 25% of my income each month. I invest 15% of that into the stock market and 10% between a high-yield savings account and 401(k)."

Courtesy of Ariel Adams

"I average $30,000 a month from my digital product sales alone. I save 25% of my income each month. I invest 15% of that into the stock market and 10% between a high-yield savings account and 401(k)."

On her definitions of wealth and success:

"I define wealth as financial freedom. To me, when you are no longer stressed over money and are living comfortably, you are wealthy. You more than likely have multiple sources of income, you don't rely on one paycheck, and own cash flowing assets. Your money makes money.

"I define success as being proud of oneself. Are you happy with your career? Are you proud of your inner circle? Do you have a well-rounded life full of joy? Do you have time for yourself and do you get to do what you want? If you answered yes, you're successful. It's not about notoriety, it's about self-validation."

On the lowest she’s ever felt when it came to her finances and how she overcame it:

"There was a point I was completely dependent on my parents after my first business didn't make enough cash for me to have a living. I studied entrepreneurship in college, so the first thing I did upon graduation was incorporate a business. I was entrenched in the music industry where I managed three independent artists. It had its moments of success, but the pay was inconsistent. There was a point it couldn't run itself and therefore I had to reevaluate myself financially. I didn't feel low per se, but I felt like I failed. I decided to apply for a career that offered consistent pay. My current job is flexible, so I am still able to work on my own businesses while being employed. Now I have multiple sources of income; it was a great decision."

On her biggest splurge to date:

"I bought a BMW X6 for my birthday! I hit $45,000 in digital product sales and used some of that money for the down payment. I bought it because my other car was seven years old, it was time for something new and current. I also felt like I deserved it!"

On whether she’s a spender or a saver:

"I am both. I make sure to follow the 50/30/20 rule. This rule says to allocate 50% of your income to needs (bills, food, rent, etc.), 30% to wants (dining out, clothes, entertainment, etc.), and 20% to savings. I tweaked it a bit as I allocate 25% of my income into savings and more than half of that gets invested. So, as I make sure to stack my stock market portfolio and 401(k), I also make sure to have fun and spend my money because I budget for it!"

Courtesy of Ariel Adams

"I make sure to follow the 50/30/20 rule. This rule says to allocate 50% of your income to needs (bills, food, rent, etc.), 30% to wants (dining out, clothes, entertainment, etc.), and 20% to savings. I tweaked it a bit as I allocate 25% of my income into savings and more than half of that gets invested."

On her savings goals and what retirement looks like to her:

"I'm currently saving up for my first home. I'm aiming to have a 10% down payment. I am also contributing to my retirement. I'd like to have an early retirement. Retirement to me looks like having the ability to travel whenever and wherever I please in luxury!"

On the importance of investing:

"Investing is extremely important to me. I advocate for financial literacy and investing is something I always preach. According to Forbes, only 36% of African-Americans participated in the stock market, and this includes retirement accounts. I think it's so important that we educate our community and learn how to multiply our money! I currently invest through Robinhood in blue-chip companies (Microsoft, Apple, Nike, etc.)."

On her budgeting must-haves:

"As mentioned, I follow the 50/30/20 rule. It's been a lifesaver. I budget my income accordingly and make sure I pay myself first. Paying myself first just means putting money into my savings and investing the instant I get a paycheck."

On her intentions behind multiple streams of revenue:

"I'm involved with multiple businesses, so I have multiple streams of income. I have my 9-5 salary, digital product sales, real estate commission, freelance income (graphic design, content creation, and consulting), affiliate marketing money (where I get a percentage of other people's products I sell), stock market dividends, and royalties (from musicians I still help out). I read somewhere that the average millionaire has 7 streams of income. At the beginning of 2020, I wrote down my goal of having more streams. I started off with just my job and royalties. I became a real estate agent to earn extra cash, invested more into the stock market, and launched my digital products."

On unhealthy money habits and mindsets:

"One unhealthy habit I had was not tracking where my money was. I didn't budget, I barely checked my bank account, I didn't have automatic deposits into my savings – I had to establish all of those things. Once I came up with a system and studied different financial rules of thumb, I calculated what I needed to do in order to multiply my money. I set up automatic transfers into my high yield savings account and Robinhood investment account. Making it automatic made it easy. My money grew tremendously. I've never been as financially responsible as I am now."

Courtesy of Ariel Adams

"I didn't budget, I barely checked my bank account, I didn't have automatic deposits into my savings – I had to establish all of those things. Once I came up with a system and studied different financial rules of thumb, I calculated what I needed to do in order to multiply my money. I set up automatic transfers into my high yield savings account and Robinhood investment account. Making it automatic made it easy."

On her money mantra:

"Pay yourself first. If you change your mindset from 'I can't afford this' to 'How can I afford this?', it'll motivate you to find the possibilities of earning and obtaining what you want. There is an abundance of money in this world and you can get your piece."

On the worst money-related decision she’s ever made:

"When I was a music manager, I paid for an artists' opening slot for a tour. It was $10,000, everything I had. The headlining artist canceled the 23-city tour two days before the start. I never got my money back and I've been in the litigation process for the past two years since the incident. I learned to 1) only invest my own money into myself, 2) don't bank your entire net worth on one thing (that's just gambling), and 3) establish contracts that a lawyer should draft."

On her budget breakdown:

Courtesy of Ariel Adams

How much do you spend on rent? "$3,150."

Eating out/ordering in? "$70/week."

Gas/car note? "$1150 for my car note. I haven't filled up the tank yet since it's a new car! 23 MPG and it takes premium, so I'd estimate $50-$60. I work from home a lot so my gas doesn't need to be filled up so often."

Personal expenses? "Monthly massages, $80 per month. Nails, $70 every two to three weeks. $10 eyebrow threading every two weeks, and $50-$150 every so often for clothes shopping."

For more of Ariel, follow her on Instagram/@themoneyrealtor.

Featured image by Instagram/@themoneyrealtor.

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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