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Budgeting for the Holidays with Dannielle of First Gen Money

This is an interview with Dannielle founder of First Gen Money.

Where are you from? Born and raised in New Jersey. I’m the daughter of immigrants from Ecuador. First-generation Ecuadorian.
Where do you live now? New Jersey
What do you do for work? I’m currently transitioning from being a marketer in a tech startup to the entrepreneur space and also make a pivot into an entirely new industry.
Do you have any side hustles? First Gen Money is my current side hustle and I’m going to pursue writing and getting into the network entertainment industry (TV).
Salary (if comfortable sharing): I believe in being open about money, so I would love to share. I currently make $95K at my current role, and during my immediate career transition, I will be making $0 dollars.
How much student debt are you tackling (or have tackled)? I am debt free! I paid off about $35K in 2019. I started actively paying down this debt in 2017.
How did you start your early career? I’m a first generation college student, so I was not aware that looking for jobs before graduating was a good idea. It took me six months to get a full time job, and that job wasn’t something I was super passionate about. During the six months, I interned at a non-profit organization getting paid $15 a day and I supplemented that income with a restaurant job. The job was a project management position at a translation company, and I wasn’t super excited about the job but I saw the job as helping me make money to pay off debt.

What was your financial situation growing up?

I grew up not hearing about money in a positive way. Many times, we asked ourselves if “we will have money for this or will it put us under.” My dad is a pretty savvy guy and knew how to make money work for you (real estate) but we still lived paycheck to paycheck. My extended family also faced debt and even declared bankruptcy. I knew I didn’t want to fall into any of those traps and wanted a positive mindset around money.

What is your money advice–particularly during the holidays?

Be open and have honest conversations with your family and friends. What are the expectations around gifts? My family and I have practiced purchasing one gift for the adults and something small for the kids, and this has helped everyone feel less stressed around the holidays.

Don’t get into debt for holiday gifts. Giving gifts is not representative of our love and appreciation for our families.

What are some budgeting hacks you’ve tried that have worked for you?

I don’t budget in the traditional sense. I prefer to use a combination of the spend money method, which makes you pay yourself first, and the zero based budget. I understand how much I have in my checking account during X month, and then I add that to the income expected that month (I take the amount that I receive after taxes, health care, and 401k payment). From that amount you subtract what you will place in your savings, investments, and your bills- rent, phone, utilities, etc., what you are left with is your spending money.

What are some money habits you adopted?

I’ve adopted track spending. It changed my life. It was the first thing I did when I started my money journey in 2017. I’m mindful and intentional about where I spend my money. I’m passionate about sustainability so I am interested and okay in spending my money for that. I am intentional about what I buy and bring to my home. It has helped me not spend money buying things won’t need a week from now.

What are your three pieces of advice for folks beginning their wealth journey?

The first is adopting track spending. Take a look at your money and observe what happened in the last three months. What are some trends you notice? Did you go on a spending spree after a rough week at work? When did you spend a lot on weekends, what was going on?

Second, ask questions about your benefits at work. Talk to the HR team about your 401K or IRA’s. Get access and use accounts at your disposal

Third, ask for more money and don’t be afraid to negotiate. Latinas and other women of color are significantly underpaid. Remember that we need to get paid for our future success.

Need support not spending more than you can this holiday season? Join our Snowball Wealth community on slack. You can sign up to join our community of women who are on a mission to build wealth and break bad money habits!

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