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Adrien of Don’t Be Broke Be Woke emphasizes the need to truly understand your financial situation if you want to become financially independent. How can you figure it out? Budgeting.

Check out Adrien’s Instagram, podcast on Spotify, and/or podcast on Apple!

Q: What is your current position/role and when did you first develop an interest in finance?

A: I am an executive at a fintech company working in sales. I am also the CEO and creator of the Don’t Be Broke Be Woke podcast and Instagram. I use this platform to teach others and help people to understand finances on a very basic level. I know there is a lot of information about finance, but to me it is important to share the basics that people can easily understand because a lot of it seems complicated.

Even though I’ve worked in the finance space most of my adult life, I didn’t have a specific interest in personal finance until about eight years ago when I was evicted, lost my job, and and had my car repossessed all in the span of four months. That is the “light bulb” moment that woke me up to the need to have a better relationship with money and finances.

Q: What challenges have you faced with personal finance?

A: I’ve always looked at money as something that you make, spend, borrow, and pay. I would borrow money and I would spend money. I would upgrade things and buy things that I didn’t really need.

Eventually, it catches up to you because the more you borrow and spend, the less you have for yourself. So, you end up borrowing more and more and the more you borrow the more in debt you are. Then, you end up in a situation where you don’t have any money to pay for your debt and you start to lose things.

My relationship with money has always been that I will have more later as I continue to work and grow, but in the meantime I’ll keep borrowing until I get more money. I think that is a very common thought process for people, that I’ll borrow now because I’ll have more money later so I’ll be able to pay. That is the opposite thought process that people should have.

Q: If you could give advice to your 18 year old self about managing your money, what would you tell yourself and why?

A: I would tell myself two things:

One, credit is powerful but it can be destructive. So, don’t use it until you make enough money to where you can use credit as a way to use someone else’s money to pay off what you’re using now. Some people initially assume that credit is something you need to do to make up for the fact that you don’t have money. In reality it’s the complete opposite.

When you start making money and you don’t need credit is when you should start using it because you are able to use someone else’s money to get what you need while your own money continues to grow through investments, etc.

Two, if you can read any books on investing, do it. If you start reading books about investing at a very young age it will change your perception of what investing is and what the entry points are. Then, start investing about $20 a week (or however much you are able to).

Check out our two books to learn more about personal finance!
Q: What is your top tip for budgeting?

A: I know budgeting doesn’t sound enjoyable, but if you want to be better with money the very first thing you have to do is understand where your money is going – what is coming in and what is going out. People always assume they know where their money is going, but you need to take a piece of paper and write down all your income and all your expenses. By completing this first step you are able to visualize your income and expenses. The second step is using this list to recognize either what expenses can be eliminated or how your income can be increased – or both. 

Lastly, budgeting is not as restrictive as people think it is. Your budget is not there to tell you what you shouldn’t buy, it is there to tell you what you can afford. If you make a budget and you do it well, you will know how much you can afford and how much you can spend.

Q: What do you think is the most critical step to ensuring financial independence?

A: There are a variety of different steps that help you ensure financial independence, but there are two very important ones.

One, what is your current financial situation? If you can’t answer that question then there is no way for you to get to financial independence.

Once you understand that, the second critical step is to invest your money. You can’t really reach financial independence by just saving money, it could happen in a sense, but for you to get there quickly you have to be able to put your money to work for you (i.e. in the stock market or real estate for example). However, you can’t invest if you don’t know your current financial situation because then you will not consistently invest because you don’t know where your money is going or where it is coming from. So, knowing your financial situation will help you establish goals to invest which will help you reach your financial independence goal.

You can understand your financial situation by creating a budget and determining how much you can save and invest over a certain number of years. So, it means, are you budgeting? Because if you’re not there is no way you know your financial situation. You can easily use some apps (or possibly even your bank account) and immediately find out where you are financially.

Q: If there anything else you would like to add?

A: If you are young, the sooner you can start investing the better. As you get older, it is important to take control of your finances and make sure you understand where your money is. Usually, the only way to retire early is to increase your income stream through a side hustle or by finding ways to make passive income to save quicker, invest more, or pay off debt sooner.

At the end of the day you have to have the mindset to want to make these changes. It is very easy for people to tell you and for you to recognize what you need to do, but you have to want to do it and complete the action to achieve financial independence.

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