Podcast

Episode 48 – Tiffany Aliche, “The Budgetnista”

From a very early age, Tiffany Aliche understood the value of a dollar (and a power bill). But like so many of us, she made some financial missteps that led her to reexamine her own views of money, and how she manages it. Today, Tiffany, aka “The Budgetnista,” inspires others to manage their money in a way that helps them reach their goals and turn their dreams into reality. Today, Jessica and Tiffany have an incredibly helpful and practical conversation about spending, saving, and taking control of your financial life!

tiffanyaliche

Jessica: Hey, everyone. It’s Jessica Honegger, founder of the socially conscious fashion brand, Noonday Collection. And this is the Going Scared podcast where we cover all things social impact, entrepreneurship, and courage. This week continues our Restart Series where we are talking all about how to get back up again. And today’s story is such a powerful story of restarting. Tiffany Aliche has a powerful story about saving, saving, saving, buying her first condo in her early 20s, losing everything, getting in debt, and now she just bought two houses this year in cash.

Y’all, her story is so powerful, and now she trains and teaches other women in regards to finances. She’s the author of two books, The One Week Budget, Live Richer Challenge. She’s been featured in The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, Today Show, PBS, Fox Business. I’m personally in love with her. I met her at a conference. It was so serendipitous and I just … this conversation is golden. So, I cannot wait for you to tune in.

So, this is the most fun. I wanna tell everyone how we met. So, Tiffany and I were both speaking at a conference called the Texas Conference for Women, which is like, I don’t know, they’re like 8000 women there. There were a lot of ladies.

Tiffany: There were, yup.

Jessica: Lot of ladies. There were people like Reese Witherspoon and Brené Brown and Luvvie. And we were sitting at the book signing table together. Tiffany was on my right. And I gotta tell you, there were not really too many people in my line. So, I was feeling a little insecure. And then I was like, "You know what, I am not gonna cave in to these feelings, I am here in this moment. I’m gonna get to know the woman next to me." And that is where it all began. Tiffany and I started chatting. I fell in love with her. And you guys, this is gonna be such a gift today because we’re gonna talk about dollars today. So, Tiffany, welcome to the show. Why don’t you just first give everyone the 101 about who you are and what you do?

 

A Finance-Friendly Upbringing

Tiffany: So, I am Tiffany Aliche, but I’m much better known as the Budgetnista, and I teach financial education specifically to women. So, you know how Beyoncé has like the BeyHive.

Jessica: Oh, yeah.

Tiffany: So, my community, they call themselves The Dream Catchers. And there are about 700,000 dream catchers worldwide. And we collectively work together to live our richest life.

Jessica: I love it. I love it. I have to say the queen bee recently wore earrings from Kenya. Now they’re not … I don’t know. She got them from Noonday. But I’m telling you that they are the exact earrings that we carry. They’re called the Maasai earrings.

Tiffany: OK.

Jessica: Oh, yeah, girl. So I was feeling really close to Beyoncé.

Jessica: It’s pretty amazing, pretty amazing. OK. I wanna know where this comes from because … you know, especially here in America, I find that money is a little bit of a sensitive topic, but you seem to be very fluid and able to teach others about it. So, tell me a little bit about your growing up and where this came from.

Tiffany: Well, I was really fortunate in that I grew up in a household where money was talked about freely. My father was a CFO and an accountant. And he and my mom honestly made it a habit to talk to us about money. I’m one of five girls. And I can remember every Thursday we would have like … it was a family meeting. But we always talk about the state of the family’s finances. And so, I just got to be very comfortable with it. And it wasn’t really until I got to college that I realized that so many of my friends were struggling with it. And that’s when I started sharing my information and what I learned at home.

Jessica: OK. I need you to back up just a little bit because I don’t know many people that have a state of money financial discussion with their family on a Thursday night. And I have three kids. Are you a mom yet?

Tiffany: No, not yet. We’re trying though.

Jessica: OK. OK. You’re gonna be there someday. Oh, God, Tiffany, we can spend the whole time talking about this, but what does that actually look like? Like what are you talking about? Like what are they saying and then what are some of the practices that you had as a child and teenager around finances?

Tiffany: So, it could be as simple as just them taking out the bills. I can remember specifically that every time the electric bill came out, my dad would put it on the dining room table because you have to walk by the dining room table in order to get to like the other parts of the house. So, he would highlight the total, how much the bill was. And he would put the bill from the month before and the current bill. So, as you walk by, it was everyone’s responsibility to see, "Are we spending less or more."

Jessica: Wow.

Tiffany: Mm-hmm. And if we spent less, he’d put that money toward like a vacation or sometimes during the meetings we will talk about that like, "OK. We wanna go on vacation. This is how much we have saved. Where can we go with the amount of money that we have saved?" So things like that or if you knew that we all played the sport. So I played tennis. And so I knew that I needed like tennis gear. So it was our time to kind of bring up what we needed and how much it was gonna cost and where it would come from. And so as a result, what it did was it really taught me how to speak about money without fear or shame. So, once you take that away, you can find solutions to whatever your financial problems are pretty quickly. And so, I am indebted to those money chats because it just sets the tone for the way I live now.

Jessica: That is incredible. Do you remember some of your first jobs to save for tennis?

Tiffany: Yeah. I used to work at Mandy’s. I don’t know. I remember like well now everybody goes to Forever 21, but it was like The Forever 21 before. And then also two, I used to babysit a lot. I used to cat sit. I remember my next-door neighbor had animals. I had a bike with baskets on it. So I used to deliver papers. I used to work at the library. I mean, I was …

Jessica: You were working.

Tiffany: Yes, I was.

Jessica: You were a hustler.

Tiffany: I was.

Jessica: OK. That’s awesome. Now, tell me this. Did your parents say, "OK, here like you’re gonna have to pay for this"? Like I’m trying to understand … when did they come in and sort of like support or give you a little gray? So like, "We’re gonna give you a little bit towards this, but you need to make up the rest." Like, what are those conversations look like?

Tiffany: So, in the beginning, of course, when I was really young, they paid. So I can remember wanting like a bike for my 10th birthday. And my dad made me do the family budget. And so, he just called out numbers and I added them up on his calculator and I subtracted it from what he and my mom made. And then he told me what amount that he was gonna save and what amount he was gonna invest and what was left over. That was my bike budget.

Jessica: Oh, my gosh.

Tiffany: Mm-hmm.

Jessica: This is blowing my mind that he did … to have this sort of very tactical, granular conversations with your children and really letting the entire family own the finances.

Tiffany: Mm-hmm. And then when I got to be, they really didn’t look for us to like … I didn’t contribute to the household but buy anything for ourselves until we got our first job. Typically about 14 or 15 like you go … we went to high school and got your working papers. And during the summer, I used to work like … and sometimes it was like … it was work, but really it was like education. So, we would go to like computer class and they would pay you or as a camp counselor.

And so, it was my job, every pay period, I had to sit down with my dad and show him how much I had deposited into the bank and how much I’d spent in on what. And then we would use some of that money towards school clothes. So, my mom bought our school clothes, but he wanted to teach us that "Well, those school clothes that you really want so like she’s gonna buy you the basics. But if you want super cute things, you’re gonna have to pay for those things yourself." So, if you spend all of your summer money on my cookies, cakes, and candy, which I did, then you’re not gonna have cute school clothes. You’re just gonna have the basic. So it was a really good lesson.

“It was my job, every pay period, I had to sit down with my dad and show him how much I had deposited into the bank and how much I’d spent in on what.” Tiffany Aliche on learning finances early.

Jessica: Were there any other basics like that like school clothes where you also … did you eventually buy like your own toothpaste and stuff like that?

Tiffany: No. For those things like my parents pretty much took care of those things. But it was really like the things that were above and beyond the basics then that’s going to be you once you started working. So, if you wanted … I remember I wanted a pager when they first came out. My dad was like, "Absolutely not. I’m not paying for that." So, I saved my money and I got that myself. If I wanted something that was like I said, beyond, you know, like the five shirts, three pairs of pants or whatever, that my mom was gonna buy. If I wanted name brand sneakers, I definitely had to pay for that because my dad was not buying name brand sneaker. So, it was just a good lesson. Honestly, it taught me because rarely did I use my money on like those extras because it was kind of like, "Well, I don’t wanna use my money for that." It made wearing those types of things not important to me because I wanted to spend the money on something else. And so even to this day, I don’t wear name brand clothes because it just doesn’t move me to spend my money on that. So instead, I rather spend my money on experience.

 

Abundance and Responsibility

Jessica: OK, another question. My daughter actually right now she’s seventh grade and she is just started babysitting and she’s saving up for her first phone. And I, as a parent, am like really rooting for her and I am just … everything’s going into that jar. You know, every cent that she’s earning is going into that jar, but then I’m also having a little bit of a crisis. And this is something you and I talked about when we first met is that we love generosity and we want to live generously. We want to give to others. We want to give out of an abundance. And I’m like, "Oh, my gosh, I’m not teaching her to also give from that money." How did that form in your conversations as a family?

Tiffany: No, definitely we gave. We donated. We went to church every Sunday. And so, we had to … when we were younger, offering came from my parents. Although, I’m not gonna lie, when I was younger, I sneak my little quarter at of my envelope and use it at the store until I realize that…

Jessica: That is awesome.

Tiffany: Because I didn’t fully understand it. It wasn’t until like, you know, I think every year or every month or whatever, they give you kind of like a tally of how much you gave to the church. And my dad was like, "Why is your balance lower than your sisters." And I didn’t realize that they gave him the balances. I know. Needless to say, I had to pay that back.

Jessica: I just want … a little I know of your dad. Yeah. OK.

Tiffany: No. It would definitely. Well, one, my parents lead by example just like you do and that they really gave back to their community. So I got to see it physically like in real life. Family’s play …

“My parents lead by example just like you do and that they really gave back to their community. So I got to see it physically like in real life.” Tiffany Aliche on learning finance generosity and abundance.

Jessica: So, would they say like, "We are giving, like we are doing this," because … you know, my husband and I are doing a lot of things. My kids know like the big one we give. Actually, a poll percentage of our income aside from giving to our church, we give to an organization called International Justice Mission and actual percentage of our overall take home. But then there’s also these little things that we’re doing for people that just need a little extra support. My kids don’t know we’re doing that.

Tiffany: And they should because one of the things … saw I can remember I think it was high school the first time that I really gave from a space of like, "Oh, I get it now." So my parents are from a village that did not have its own running water. And the first year that we went, I realized that people like kids especially and especially girls would have to walk to the stream, which was two miles away to lug home water. And the reason why a lot of girls in countries like Nigeria where my parents grew up don’t go to school is because they have to get water. They have to fetch water because the family needs water. And so I remember the first time I went to Nigeria, I walked with them to the stream. You know, I pushed the wheelbarrow as far as I could. And then I was like, "I can’t. This is too hard." You know, we filled it with water, and we walked back. And I remember thinking, "Wow, you do this all day long."

And so when my parents came to my sisters and I and said, "We are going to actually build a fresh water well in the village." And then we’re gonna make the well live because you have to run it with energy and we’re gonna allow people to pump water for free twice a week and they can collect their water so that way girls don’t have to go fetch water. You know, anyone can go to the pump, line up, get your water for the week and you’re good for the week. And when my parents asked us to each give $500, which is big money when you’re like a teenager.

Jessica: Well, yeah, that’s huge.

Tiffany: But it wasn’t … because they made it real for us like, "I got to go to Nigeria." It was…

Jessica: Were you born in America or Nigeria?

Tiffany: I was born in America in New Jersey.

Jessica: So, you’re born in America. So, this was a trip, which, by the way, that was an investment for your parents to take all of you guys. How old were you when you first went to Nigeria?

Tiffany: I have to be about maybe like 18. So that was an investment.

Jessica: That’s huge. And all of you guys went together?

Tiffany: Yes, two parents, five kids. So, you’re thinking … you’re looking on the low end, a ticket is $1,200. On the high end, it could be upwards of 200… 2000, I mean.

Jessica: So that’s where you really live the day in the life like this is how my parents grew up. And, of course, you really internalize that. And so, the whole family contributed and created now a well for the community that your parents grew up in.

Tiffany: Mm-hmm. We had like a world water organization come out to test it to make sure that it was … the water was indeed fresh because you have to dig below a certain level to make sure because what was happening is that I would see all the people in the village whose bones were bending until you can see … it’s almost like, you know, like when they say you’re like a cowboy. They’re like bow legged. You know, like their legs grow out. So, I would see that. I would ask my mom who’s a nurse, "What is that?" She said, "It’s rickets. It comes from water sometimes that’s not fresh." And I thought, "Wow."

It just really hit home because giving became not just this kind of random arbitrary thing. It became … because a village is your family. So, the first time I went … so my last name is Aliche. And there’s like no Aliches in America that I know other than my mom, my dad, and my sisters. And so, we’re walking in a village and my dad’s like, "Oh, this is Michael Aliche." And I’m like, "Oh, my goodness." I literally said this, "My last name is Aliche. And this is, you know, Silvia Aliche. Oh, my goodness, my name is Aliche." And it took me a minute. He was like, "Tiffany, like everyone in the village is Aliche." I didn’t know that that that’s how … well, this is how, one, a village literally is your family, an extended family. And so, my mother’s village was neighboring. And that’s how you know when you’re marrying so you don’t intermarry, that you live together as a family and then you marry maybe two villages over, you know. So knowing that we were building this well for Aliche, for my family and how that was gonna transform their lives, so it set the tone for the rest of my life to be a giver.

Jessica: Oh, my gosh, that’s powerful. I don’t know if you know this, but I have a son from Rwanda that we adopted and I’m taking him back for the first time.

Tiffany: How old is he now?

Jessica: He’ll be 10 when we go back. It’s for his 10-year birthday. And he has been begging, begging, and really looking forward to it. And he’s been to Africa before because Noonday Collection, we do work in Africa. So, my kids have actually been with me quite a bit on international trips and to meet our partners, our business partners, but this is gonna be a whole another trip. And, you know, I just … already he just has just a lot more of that bent towards empathy and like he’s really good with little kids. Like there’s just something in his story that I know that his legacy is going to be powerful. I mean, his story is powerful, but his legacy is gonna be powerful. That’s powerful because you’re able to be connected to this tribe of yours. When did your parents move to America?

 

Recognizing Opportunity

Tiffany: Because, well, one, like my grandmother, didn’t know how to read or write and she wanted the best for her children. And so, she passed when my dad was 19. And he just knew, "I wanted to come to America." My dad is really smart and a really hard worker. And so, he got here I think in like his mid-30s. He’d known my mom in the village and back then you didn’t date instead you wrote letters. That’s the courting. They were writing letters before he left and, you know, he promised that, you know … I guess, it was kind of like a pre-engagement that like, you know, "One day I’m gonna make it to America and I’m gonna bring you," which is like saying, "You know, one day I’m gonna, you know, make it to Hollywood and be a superstar," like this just someone like a village boy grew up in like … you know, the way my dad grew up with nothing, that just seems like an impossible dream, but he is someone who does not quit, who does not stop.

And so, he came to America and he did indeed bring her. They both have their masters and they had us, you know. And it was someone’s kindness. And my dad was a part of a church here in New Jersey. And there was a lawyer and his wife and they sponsored my mom on behalf of him because you can’t just … he was an immigrant himself. You can’t just bring someone off your word. So their generosity helped to sponsor my mom and she came just for opportunity, you know, like the United States … so my dad always said, "This is one country where…" I mean, you can’t lose if you work hard that there is, you know … because there are instances in Nigeria. When I go back to my village where my parents are from, you can work really hard and not succeed. Not because you’ve done anything wrong because there’s just no opportunity. There’s a job for 50 people and 5000 apply, you know, but here in the United States, if you work hard, there is … failure is not an option if you work hard, like you might not get every single dream, but there are dreams available to you. Yeah. So, they came here.

Jessica: Sorry, I’m interrupting. I had just tears in my eyes because that is … you know, my business Noonday Collection, we are creating work opportunities, job opportunities for people living in communities like what your dad grew up in. And I used to be so passionate about education and that’ll change the future. But then I realized that if people don’t have jobs and … that’s what you see. You hear these stories about people that are just good, hardworking people, but then they don’t get paid that. There’s worker exploitation or there’s just a lack of jobs that actually can pay the bills. And that’s what Noonday is doing. And it is such a contrast to America where you can get some sort of job here, you know, and the fact that you can be 10 years old and start babysitting and earn money. I mean, that’s a radical concept for anyone probably outside of the West. So, your dad comes here, and he’s like, "We’re gonna create opportunity and a new future for our family."

Tiffany: Mm-hmm. That’s exactly what he did. You know, it’s just like I watched them. And when I go back and someone says, "Oh, your parents put me to school or well, parents helped to build this church or your parent…" I realized like, "Wow, that…" So to me, money is a tool that you use to help to bless other people. So to your point about like your daughter, it’s good to one … I shouldn’t have say I’m not a mom. I mean, I call myself a bonus mom because my husband has a daughter and she’s 12. With her, you know, one of the things that we do is that she has these three like coffee can. So when she earns money, she put some in her spend jar about 70%. She puts 10% in her gift jar and then she puts 10 to 20% in her save/investor jar. So when it’s time for her to spend, she knows she can only pull from her spend jar.

And the gift jar, I allow her to choose what do you wanna … you know, are you wanting to donate to, I don’t know, like an organization that helps animals? Are you wanting to give to an organization that helps kids, whatever her heart leads her to do? But that way she understands that that money is indeed a blessing, and in every blessing, there’s excess because you’re supposed to enjoy something that you’ve been blessed with, but you’re also supposed to share that excess. And so that is the nature of a blessing.

“Money is indeed a blessing, and in every blessing, there’s excess because you’re supposed to enjoy something that you’ve been blessed with, but you’re also supposed to share that excess. And so that is the nature of a blessing.” Tiffany Aliche

And so just teaching her that … I mean, she doesn’t love it that she knows that all the money like I get $100. Yes, but 70 goes to spending, 20 goes to saving, 10 goes to giving. And so, it’s just gotten to be a habit for her so she can understand really the flow of money in the way that … because giving activates abundance then once people realize that like, you know, money is not a thing that you can look … you can look at money and realize that it’s not something… it’s not a tool for lack. It really is a tool for abundance and abundance for yourself and those around you.

 

Meet a Noonday Ambassador!

Jessica: Hey friends, I’m going to interrupt this awesome conversation for a hot second. So, you guys know that I am the founder of the socially conscious fashion brand at Noonday Collection. And at Noonday, we are passionate about entrepreneurship that changes the world. So we partner with Noonday Collection Ambassadors. Ambassadors launch their own social impact businesses, they earn an income, and they make a difference for the Artisan families that Noonday partners with all over the world. And I have a Noonday Collection Ambassador with me right now. Katie, welcome to the show.

Katie: Thank you so much.

Jessica: So Katie is a full-time child life specialist during the day. But I guess that wasn’t enough impact for her because she also decided to launch her own business as a Noonday Collection Ambassador. And Katie, I’m curious, why is it important to you to be able to do both?

Katie: Well, as a child life specialist, I get to help kids and families cope with the hospital that looks a lot of different ways over the course of the week. But I was really missing that global impact part of it. I had been to Thailand. I’d heard about human trafficking and really, the woes of poverty and didn’t know how I was supposed to make an impact until I went to a Noonday Collection trunk show. And that’s when I knew that I really needed to be part of this company to be able to make that global impact with the time that I have and the abilities that I have.

“I really needed to be part of this company to be able to make that global impact with the time that I have and the abilities that I have.” Katie on why she became a Noonday Ambassador

Jessica: So, tell me what your ambassador business gives you that’s different from your day job.

Katie: Well, I have been able to travel with Noonday. I have been able to use my income to give back to organizations that I really care about. And I’ve been able to really make an impact globally. When I go to these countries as Noonday, I am able to see the impact that we’re making in communities, but on top of that, I’ve really been so encouraged and blessed by the Ambassador community. And not only that, I’ve then been able to encourage other women to join us in this global impact. And that has just been an amazing, amazing opportunity.

Jessica: Well, I for one, am so glad that you said yes. And if you’re listening to this right now and you’re thinking, "Oh, my gosh, I feel so similar to what Katie is feeling and I wanna be a part of this," we want you to join us. Katie and I would love to have you in our Noonday Ambassador sisterhood. So, head on over to goingscared.noondaycollection.com to see if this is a right fit for you. We would love to have you, so head on over. It’s goingscared.noondaycollection.com. Thank you so much, Katie, for joining us today. And back to the conversation.

It has not always been a smooth financial journey for you. So, I do wanna get into … I know eventually, you’ve lost some money. But I also heard that you saved $40,000 on a teacher salary. Can you tell us about that because that kind of blows my mind?

Tiffany: I know. You know, I was such … sometimes I look back at myself and I think to myself like, you know, I was just such a strange 20 years old because like most people don’t think … you know, because, like I said, it was a household that I grew up in.

Jessica: Yeah. But most 20-year-olds hadn’t been to Nigeria and given $500 for a well where their family still resides.

Tiffany: This is true. Experiences like that are critical.

Jessica: They are.

Tiffany: So, I think I was a … I just graduated college and I decided … I’d gotten like a degree in business but I hated my internships. And I knew I wanted to live a life of service, so I decided to teach. And so I was teaching pre-school in Newark, New Jersey, and I was making about $39,000 a year. And my sister and I were roommates. And I think our rent was almost about $1100 a month. And I bought a car like a year or so before but I bought it in cash. And so I didn’t have the car note and plus my insurance wasn’t high because I didn’t owe anything on the car. It was mine in full but then my insurance was like $52 a month. So, I started planning. And, you know, this is so important for young people when they’re first starting out on their independent journey that the way you set your finances up is either going to haunt you or help you. So I was like, "OK. I started with the car, saved my money, bought my car in cash." It was like $5,000. It was two or three years old. But what that meant was no car note. What that also met was low car insurance. OK. That’s the first setup.

Second setup, where am I going to live? I don’t wanna live with my mom and dad anymore. But at the same time, I don’t want a super expensive apartment. So I got a roommate, my sister. So now instead of my rent being 1100, my rent was 550, you know. But you see from there you start to … so even when it came to my furniture, I said, "I don’t want a furniture bill." So, I didn’t have anything in the house until I could save to buy it. So, I’m like, "OK. I want this bedroom set." You know, until then its air mattress so I can save. And also what I found is that if you went to local mom and pops, you can negotiate. But what if I got the floor model? What if I did…? You know, so things that were maybe … I think my bedroom set maybe was gonna be $1,500. And I was able to negotiate down to about 800, because, one, I was paying in cash, and two, I got the floor model, but now I don’t have a bedroom set bill. And so, I started to set my stuff up.

Jessica: Do you still have that bedroom set?

Tiffany: You know, my younger sister actually still has it. I was just looking at the other day like, "I know this bedroom set." She like, "Yeah, it’s the one from when you moved out." I was like, wow. But setting myself up like that, so what that meant was I think I was … I can’t remember how much I was getting paid every two weeks, maybe like, I don’t know, $2,000, something in that range. I don’t know, maybe 1200 but whatever it was, my income was … my expenses were half my income because of the way I had set my life up. So, I was able to save half of my income. In about two and a half years, I had my full salary saved. And I was like, "Well, I think I should buy a house." So, I bought a condo, a two-bedroom condo. You know, it was because of…

Jessica: Now, at this point, did you have credit cards? How were you tracking your spend? Did you have an Excel sheet at the time? I know this was a while ago. How were you actually tracking?

Tiffany: I was super old lady. This is not … like I remember my sister probably it was like…

Jessica: It was like cash envelopes?

Tiffany: Yes. I remember it was using cash envelopes.

Jessica: Yeah, girl. I’ve been there. I’ve been there.

Tiffany: I was somebody’s grandma. And it was until my sister was like, "You know, you can do this in Excel." I’m like, "Show me."

Jessica: Tell more.

Tiffany: So literally, I had an envelope like I would get paid at work. I had an envelope like … they knew like my coworkers were fascinated by me because I would sit down during payday and put my rent money in my rent envelope and put my, you know, my insurance envelope … my insurance money in my insurance envelope. And so, I use an envelope system and then I had this big wall calendar where I would put down like, you know, deposited this amount of money on this day. And at the bottom of each calendar, I would put down the total I should have in my savings account. And so, it just kind of like motivated me to keep going. And so, it was literally just paper and pencil and envelopes and then I moved up. I use Excel now. So, then I moved up to Excel to make it easier. And instead of envelopes, I opened a bank account. So, I have a separate bank account for bills. I have a separate bank account for spending and separate bank account for my savings goals like I have a house account and a car account. So, I still use the envelope system. It’s just digitized now.

 

Playing with Credit

Jessica: OK. OK. Let’s talk about credit cards. Do you have a credit card? If you do do, when did you first get one?

Tiffany: Yeah. So, I got my first credit card when I was 18 in college. My dad said, "Go get a credit card. Here are the rules. One, you are not to use it except for books. If you use it for other than books, you will pay the balance in full." So, because he said, "I will pay your credit card, because you’re in school, your job is to be a student. So as long as you use it for books and student things, I got you." So I tried to sneak. It was like, "Oh, let me just swipe for McDonald’s once or twice." I came home and he was like, "The bill is on the table." And he said, "You owe me the whole thing." And I’m like, "Oh my goodness." I never did that again.

Jessica: My dad paid for my gas in college and I would like … I would like do a little grocery shopping at the gas station. Sometimes that didn’t go over very well.

Tiffany: So that was my first card. And I still actually have that card because he was trying to build credit for me. And so, I had that card. I was excellent with credit up until about 26 when I met who I thought was a friend of mine. He ended up being a scam artist. And I was scammed into digging myself into $35,000 worth of credit card debt.

Jessica: Wow.

Tiffany: Mm-hmm. So, I never had credit card debt before. So, I didn’t even know how to deal.

Jessica: So, walk us through that, like, walk us through that story. And thank you for being vulnerable and open about it. My husband and I have been in serious credit card debt. It’s part of our story of how we started the business and everything. But yeah, can you share a little bit more?

Tiffany: Sure. He was what I thought was independently wealthy. This is when you’re young you think, because people have nice things, they must have money. So, you know, I didn’t know that clearly he … I don’t know if he was just scamming everyone he knew. So I reached out to him. And I said, you know, "Hey, you know, you’re doing really well. How do you make money?" He’s like, "Oh, I invest." And I said, "Oh, well, can you teach me?" And he said, "Well, the first rule of business is to use other people’s money. So, do you have a credit card?" And I said yes but my limit was low. But I had excellent credit because I’d never … I’d always paid off my credit card in full like my dad taught me every single month. And he said, "OK. We’ll open up two other credit cards and pull the money out. It’s called a cash advance." I didn’t even know they’re like the worst because that’s when you pay the highest interest. "So pull that money out. And we’re gonna invest that money." He supposedly owned stores that we were gonna buy merchandise for and put it in the stores. Then we’re gonna sell it and get our money back tenfold according to him.

Jessica: So, it was a business plan that made sense.

Tiffany: Yes. Well, sense but nonsensically.

Jessica: Not not sense.

Tiffany: Yes. I mean, like, you know, in general. But like he was like, "You’re gonna make…" He said $2,100 a week for two years. So it was … Yeah. I was 20 something.

Jessica: Your brain was not fully developed to that point.

Tiffany: Yes. And I was foolish enough to not because I was like, "Oh, I’m so gonna surprise my dad with how smart I am." So I didn’t tell him. I know. So if I would have told him, he would be like, "Tiffany, this is scamming 101." But I didn’t tell him. So, I’m like, "I’m gonna make these big girl decisions on my own." And so, I did that, pull the money out. Now I have credit card debt. And I waited for my first payment. And I waited, and I waited, and it never came. The first year, I just used to like call him all the time and say, "My money, my money, I need it." Like, I’m just paying the minimum because I’ve refused to acknowledge that I had made the mistake and the choice. So, I said, if I just pay the minimum, it’s not like accepting responsibility because it’s not my responsibility. This is what I told myself, which is not true. And so, for a year, you know, I did nothing but pay the minimum and then the recession hit. And then I remember saying, like, "OK. Tiffany, if you can save $40,000, you can pay this off in a year." And so, the moment I decided that, the recession hit and my job closed its doors. And now I was unemployed. So I have a house, student loan debt, $35,000 in credit card debt, and almost $300,000 in debt. I was with no income.

 

Restarting with Empathy

And it was like, oh, that’s one of the darkest periods of my life. And I just remember calling my sister asking her, what does she think I should do? And she said, "Well, What’s the worst case scenario?" And I said, "Well, then I lose my condo." She said, "What would you do if you lost your condo?" I said, "Well, I guess I’d have to move back home with mommy and daddy." And she said, "Why don’t you do that now?" You know, and I remember being like, "I didn’t even want to tell my dad." I just like … I told my mom. And so, she said, "Of course, you can come back." So I just started moving my things into the basement of like, my parents have like a little basement rec room that has a bedroom. So, I started moving my things in. And at first, my dad said, "Oh, you gotta keep some things here for storage." I said, "Something like that." And then one day, I was there every day. And he was like, "Wait, What’s going on?" I was like, "I kind of moved back home.

Jessica: Did you at one point sit down with him and tell him everything?

Tiffany: No. I was so ashamed to say. It was until years later that … because of the recession, he just assumed, "Oh, we know Tiffany lost her job because of recession."

Jessica: But he didn’t know about the debt.

Tiffany: No. I wrote a book though called The One Week Budget where I talked about the debt and I talked about how I worked my way out and like my whole budgeting system. And before the book came out, I didn’t want him, his friend, or somebody to say, "Hey, did you read this part about Tiffany being scammed." So I gave him the book, told him to read the last chapter and that we would sit down in about an hour. And so that’s how he found out like … I know, years later.

Jessica: What was his reaction?

Tiffany: He said, "You know that was a scam, right?" I’m like, "Yeah, I think I picked that one."

Jessica: Did he say like, "Babe, like how come you didn’t tell me"?

Tiffany: Yes.

Jessica: He did.

Tiffany: He was. He was upset … you know, because my dad is like … you know, he’s a dad of five girls. I know. I know. And so he has always been so protective over us. And I can tell that he was so upset that he didn’t protect me from that, that I didn’t give him the opportunity. And he was like … I could tell that he was like, you know, "Who was this guy? You know, I wish I would have known. I could have protected you had I known." But I needed to learn that lesson honestly because up until then, I didn’t … wasn’t making any financial choices. I was making his choices for my life. And so, I needed to make mistakes on my own to learn from them so I can…

Jessica: Yeah. You even got into this scam because you said you wanted to like prove how amazing you could be with money to your dad.

Tiffany: Exactly.

Jessica: Wow.

Tiffany: But it was a really good lesson because of that because honestly, up until then, I was helping my friends based upon my dad’s advice, but I didn’t have true empathy. I was sympathetic where I was like, "Oh, wow, you know, you’ve got debt. Oh, wow," but in my mind, I was like, "Why?”

Jessica: Like, "You fool."

Tiffany: I’m not gonna lie, secretly, yes.

Jessica: Yeak I know you were.

Tiffany: I know. So, God would only humble you when you need it. And so it was like, "OK. Learn this lesson the hard way, Tiffany." So now I was super empathetic because I had lived through it. You know, I ended up losing my house eventually anyway. When people come to me, I’m like, "Oh, yes, let’s do that. Mm-hmm, credit card debt, me too, girl. Oh, for closure, check that off the box too. Moving back home to parents, me too." So, I’m super empathetic because that was me. So, I know the fear and the shame like I can feel them. And I can feel like the women that I helped, my dream catchers, because like that was me. So, I know how you’re feeling. And I know how to like to show you how to work your way out in a way that also includes how you’re feeling and honoring how you’re feeling.

“God would only humble you when you need it. … I’m super empathetic because that was me. So, I know the fear and the shame like I can feel them. And I can feel like the women that I helped, my Dream Catchers, because like that was me.” Tiffany Aliche

Jessica: Mm-hmm. OK. So, you’re back at home now. Your dad is not quite sure exactly what’s going on. And what happens now?

Tiffany: So, it was then that I was like, "OK. So, what are you gonna do with your life, Tiffany?" And I did not wanna go back to the classroom. Although I love the kids, the administration was too much and I didn’t want … I told myself, "I don’t wanna teach anymore. I’ve outgrown it. I wanna do something else.” So, I tried everything under the sun. I tried party planning. I tried everything, and I realized that every place I went … and I did a lot of volunteer work because no one was hiring like, you know, mid-recession. And so, I ended up volunteering a lot. I was living off unemployment and living at home. And then what I realized as I was volunteering is that every time I volunteered somewhere, someone would somehow figure out that I was really good at budgeting because despite the recession, despite not having a job, I still was like still managing my money pretty well considering all of the circumstances. And so, someone would figure it out and I end up doing a one on one with like the janitor or the principal or wherever I was like, you know, they were like, "Oh, Tiffany, I heard you’re really good. Can you help me?" And then one day my best friend was like, "You should turn that into a business." And I was like, "Well, one, I don’t know how to run a business, and two, no one’s gonna pay me to sit down and do their budget." And she said, "Well, you don’t have any money now, so you might wanna try."

“Every time I volunteered somewhere, someone would somehow figure out that I was really good at budgeting because despite the recession, despite not having a job, I still was like still managing my money pretty well considering all of the circumstances.” Tiffany Aliche

So I did. I told people, you know, “I charge to sit down to do your budget.” And honestly, I didn’t make any money in the beginning because no one had any money. You know, I come to your house and work with you and meet your kids and meet your spouse and see that you were negative $400 when we were done. And I would think, "I can’t take money from a family with negative $400 a month in their bank account." And so, I thought, "Well, how can I help people that can’t pay for my help?" The places I volunteer for, I reached out to them and say, "Well, if you will pay me, I’m going to the community and serve." And the United Way was the first one and they said, OK. And so they sent me into the community over and over and over and they paid me and I was able to say, "Hey, guys, I can teach you how to budget and save and get out of debt and fix your credit and it’s totally free and, you know, the United Way is paying for it."

And so that was the beginning of how I structured my business of how do I offer my services to folks who can’t afford it? Yeah. But it’s funny because the thing that will bring you there is the thing that will keep you there. And that’s why when you and I met, I was struggling with getting beyond the all the free that I do, you know, because of that initial like the way I initially started my company.

So the United Way allowed me. So I moved out of my parents’ house and a girlfriend of mine like said, "Hey, there’s a bunch of us who are like kind of post-recession or during recession like kind of like refugees. And, you know, we’re all living in this house and it’s 500 bucks a month for a room." And I was like OK. And so, we were all in like our early … our late 20s, early 30s, and we were each renting a room and this house was like five- or six-bedroom house. So that was like kind of like the next place that I moved to in because I was still thinking like that same 20-year-old Tiffany who was like, "Well, I’m gonna buy a car in cash and I’m gonna get a roommate and apartment … and a roommate for my apartment." I was still thinking like her, like, how do I keep my overhead low. So $500 a month, I could afford that because I knew now I wanted to build this business. But I didn’t wanna have to worry about paying for an expensive life. And so, I started using social media to teach financial education. More organization started reaching out. My audience grew and grew and grew. And my business grew and grew and grew. And that’s where it led me to today. I mean, the business does well. I definitely know that we can do even better if I get out of my own way.

Jessica: Well, you’re getting out of the way. You’re getting out of the way.

Tiffany: Yes. We are, you know.

 

Monetizing Our Giftings

Jessica: Yeah. You know, what you have to give it is radically valuable. And I think sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have. Like sometimes the things that come most naturally to us, we don’t value them because we think, "Isn’t everyone like this?” or “this comes so easy." And yet I think the things that we are often most passionate about or the things that we are really good at are the most impactful thing that we have to offer the world, and then you gotta figure out how to monetize it. So, when did you begin monetizing it as opposed to just having this, you know, where community organizations are paying for you to go into the communities? How have you begun to monetize it?

“Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have. Like sometimes the things that come most naturally to us, we don’t value them.…the things that we are often most passionate about or the things that we are really good at are the most impactful thing that we have to offer the world.” Jessica Honegger

Tiffany: Well, I started with my book. I think it was like 2011. I was like 31 then. So, I started with … that was the first kind of like piece of it’s not free because I felt to myself, you know, "People can’t be mad about paying for a book." It took me until about three years ago really that I started monetizing beyond just the book. So, I started an online school called The Live Richer Academy where I wanted to help women take their finances to the next level. And that was like really my first like time of me going to my audience and saying, "Hey, this online digital thing costs money, like right now it’s $9.99 a month," which is way lower.

We’re actually gonna increase the price threefold in 2019. But it was three years ago. So that was like, what, five or six years in the business before … Yes, before I had the courage to say, "Tiffany, you can charge, you know." And not that I wasn’t making any money, but it was mostly companies paying me. But I was not charging my audience because I felt … I don’t know. I felt guilty. I felt bad because I kept seeing my audience as Tiffany from post-recession Tiffany. And I forgot that if I grew, how could they not grew as well.

Jessica: Yes. We’re not in a recession anymore. And you are not just practicing. You have serious expertise now. And you are worth being paid for that expertise. And your audience needs to make that investment because I think when we make that investment, we also are more responsible. You know, it’s like the same reason that your parents made you save to buy your first bicycle. You know, and it’s like when you save, and then you invest in someone who’s gonna help you with your finances then you treat your finances a lot more responsibly.

“And you are not just practicing. You have serious expertise now. And you are worth being paid for that expertise. And your audience needs to make that investment because I think when we make that investment, we also are more responsible… When you save, and then you invest in someone who’s gonna help you with your finances then you treat your finances a lot more responsibly.” Jessica Honegger

Tiffany: My audience actually like has begun to demand it like, you know, they’d be like, "Well, Tiffany, you know, I’d like to buy from you. What do you have?" And it took them to do that. So, like the online school was because I was like, "Oh, we should do a free like investment club." You know, they were like, "Well, why is it free?" How are you maintaining all of them?" But I thought, "Wow, Tiffany."

Jessica: Like you’re teaching how to get out of debt? Like are you still …? So tell me, have you been able to pay off the debt?

 

Balancing Budgets for Abundance Rather Than Scarcity

Tiffany: Oh, yes. So, I am 100%. My husband and I bought two houses this year in cash. We paid off my parents’ house, which they could not believe.

Jessica: You bought two houses in cash?

Tiffany: Yes. And this year, because I told you, I’m saveaholic.

Jessica: You’re a saveaholic girl, wow.

Tiffany: You know, it’s not all good, though because even now I’m trying to give up … It’s a habit of fear about like, "Oh, my gosh, like what if the recession happens again. I wanna make sure I have enough." So, I had too much. But I said, "OK. So, we have to invest this somehow. We just can’t have all of this money floating." And the opportunity to purchase a foreclosure half off came up and we wanted to move. We live in an apartment now. We wanted to move. The house was I think valued about like 380 at the time and we bought it for 180. So, you know, like more than doubled our money and then the city was selling tax deeds of homes they wanted renovated. And so, it’s a tear down, but we were able to get a second property for $10,000, and we’re gonna knock it down and put up a two family house. And that’ll be some reocurring income for us. And then my mom retired this year. My dad’s been retired for maybe like 10 years. And I could tell that even though my dad had … he created a really great retirement plan. My mom retired about two years early. She just could not do it anymore. She’s a nurse, and nursing is very hard.

Jessica: That is, yeah.

Tiffany: And she just like, "I just can’t do it." My dad was prepared but not fully prepared because he was like, "Oh, I have two years and we’ve got …" You know, my mom was, you know, obviously working and making great money. But now they had to scramble to prepare. And I got the sense that things were tighter than they’d like, you know. So, I told my dad, you know, "Do you have a budget?" And he’s like, "Of course, Tiffany, like who taught you." And I said, "Well, can you show me? You know, can you show me your budget?" So, he showed me.

Jessica: Look at you. Look at you.

Tiffany: I know. It was full circle. And so, then he … So he showed me his budget. And then he showed me his take home like he and my mom now make us retirees. They were $1,000 over every month. And I said, “Daddy”. He said, "Well, I mean, you know." And I said, "No. Well, like how much is the mortgage?" And I think the mortgage was like $1,700 a month. I mean, not including taxes and everything, just the bare mortgage. And I said, "Well, how much do you owe left on the house?" They bought the house at really great price but they had taken money, like they pay for all of our schoolings. Almost all of us have our masters. So they had taken money out, you know, for that. So they owed about $120,000. And I said, "Well, if I paid…? Do you wanna stay here?” Because I didn’t know if they wanted to sell the house and move to maybe a condo, something smaller because it was our childhood home? And they’re like, "No, we love the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful area. We do wanna stay here."

So I asked him, "Well, if I pay off your mortgage, you know, would that make you guys feel more comfortable?" And he was like, "Yeah, but you can’t pay off our mortgage." And I was like, "No, no, daddy, I have it." He couldn’t believe it. He was like, "I don’t…" because I … I mean, to be all the way honest of all the sisters, I was the mess up, like, "Oh, Tiffany, you didn’t do your homework again. You’re coming home with another note from school saying you talk too much in class." So, like I wasn’t like a terrible kid, but I was a chatterbox. I hated doing my homework. I never did my chores. So I was always like that, like I was the irresponsible one, like well my sisters are like really responsible, especially the oldest, oh, my goodness.

Jessica: Where do you fall in the five?

Tiffany: I’m second, second oldest.

Jessica: OK. OK.

Tiffany: They always knew that I was smart and then I would, you know, get out into the world and do well enough but they didn’t expect like what I’m doing now because not Tiffany, not that she won’t even make her bed, Tiffany.

Jessica: You’re giving me so much hope right now for my 12-year-old daughter. Oh, my gosh.

Tiffany: It’s the ones that are hot mess. I tell my mom, "I was just like you were hot mess." I’m like, "I was and now look."

Jessica: Look at me now.

Tiffany: I could tell they couldn’t believe it. My dad was like, "Isn’t that gonna bankrupt you?" I said, "Daddy, I may not your daughter? Would I pay off your house and bankrupt my family? No." I don’t think he believed it until … it was like the day after my birthday. And so, I don’t think he believes until I called, and I paid it off. I mean, of course, you know, my husband and I because … the way my husband and I lived, we live off his income and saved and invest mine. So it wasn’t just a me decision. I have to, of course, ask him how he felt about it. He was like, "Honestly, if my mom was still alive, I would wanna do this for her and then you don’t get…" you know, like when your parents … you’re lucky that you have the opportunity to do for it your parents. Let’s do it. And so, you know, we did it. And I could tell my dad could not believe it. Like he’s like, "Well, you know what, I’m gonna wait for the paper to come in the mail, and say it’s paid off." And I remember he called me, and he was like, "It’s real." I’m like, "Yes, Daddy," like even now to every month they call me just say every … I mean, my mom and dad text me go, "I just wanna say thank you so much." I guess every month that normally the mortgage would be due, it hits them like, "We don’t have a mortgage."

Jessica: Tiffany.

Tiffany: Yes. So, but it’s that whole circle of being a blessing that money is a tool for you to, yes, live your best life but to help others in your life live their best life as well. And it’s just … I mean, I just know that the more I have, the more I’m able to do. And so, that’s what kind of pushes me forward to not be afraid to like ask for more from my audience, because we give right back to them. I started a nonprofit to give back a million dollars back to the audience by 2020. I really believe in a life of service.

“I just know that the more I have, the more I’m able to do. And so, that’s what kind of pushes me forward to not be afraid to like ask for more from my audience, because we give right back to them.” Tiffany Aliche

I mean, I know you’ve heard of Mr. Rogers. Everyone’s heard Mr. Rogers, but I remember this is the PBS documentary that I watched when I was 21 and graduating college and not sure what I wanted to do. And I didn’t know he was a pastor, and they did this awesome documentary. And I remember thinking to myself, "I want people to feel about me the way they feel about Mr. Rogers." Everyone loves Mr. Rogers, you know, kind just like … just such great energy. And I remember when they were interviewing him in his office, there was a plaque he had on the wall and it said, "The purpose of life is to live a life of service." And I took that with me from … I’m 39 now, and I made that my mantra for life that truly I believe the purpose of life is to live a life of service.

“Truly I believe the purpose of life is to live a life of service.” Tiffany Aliche

Jessica: This is a podcast that I am going to go back and re-listen to because she gave some serious quotes and I love how she just really correlates money with this life of giving and that we’re not supposed to be afraid around abundance, but money and giving is what unlocks even more abundance. And really, she challenged me to start thinking about where can I be saving, where can I pull back in order to be able to get and invest more?

If you want to keep up with Tiffany, which I know you do, you can find her at the budgetnista.com and you can also follow her on Instagram @thebudgetnista.com. If you wanna start taking control of your finances, she is your guide. She is your leader. She created the Live Richer Challenge, which is a free online course. And as you heard, she has other online courses that you can pay for and become part of her community. So, go check her out.

Before we go, I just wanted to remind you guys to leave a review on iTunes. When you leave a review on iTunes, it enables more people to find the Going Scared podcast and to hear conversations like Tiffany’s today, which is such a powerful conversation. So, go head on over to iTunes. Leave a review. All of this content is for free and we just so appreciate it as podcasters when you can go and leave a review as your just appreciation for the content.

Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb and Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. I’m Jessica Honegger, until next time. Let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.