Raya is the founder of City Girl Savings. She offers financial advice as she helps women to reach their goals by promoting financial literacy through educational content about budgeting and spending.
Q: What is your current position/role and when did you first develop an interest in finance?
A: I have always been interested in money. My mom got my brother and I bank accounts when we were little and I balanced a checkbook when I was 16 just because it was fun to see the numbers adding up.
I ended up going to school for finance and have my bachelor’s degree in finance. So, I always liked money and the thought of adding things up and seeing what could happen with it. But it wasn’t until I hit financial rock bottom that I realized that there’s so much more to it than what’s happening in your bank account. When I started finally doing the right things with my money and started seeing results is when I really took a liking to it and made it my mission to help other women do the same. Now I’m a finance coach, I run City Girl Savings, and I teach women how to create and stick to realistic budgets and financial plans so that they can reach their goals.
Q: What challenges have you faced with personal finance?
A: My biggest challenges were overspending, living paycheck to paycheck, and debt.
There’s so much more to money than just knowing what to do with it.
You have to understand your emotions, how you were brought up, and your triggers that can cause you to overspend. If you don’t recognize those things you’re just going to be out and about swiping your card. I was one of those people, I lived in LA and I was just consumed by what it meant to be living in LA, so I was constantly buying things I couldn’t afford because of my own insecurities. So, I would say overspending was probably the biggest challenge I had to face, and the overspending led to debt that caused me to live paycheck to paycheck. Once I got my overspending under control, I stopped living paycheck to paycheck and eventually paid off all of my debt.
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 say to start thinking long term instead of just in the moment with money. If I could talk to my 18-year-old self right now I would say, “as you go to swipe your card, think about the ramifications that it will have on your future. You may think you want to go take that trip to Vegas right now, but in two months from now you’re going to want or need something else.” So, just think a little bit more long-term than just “YOLO” in the moment.
Q: What is your top tip for budgeting?
A: Most people have a negative stigma around budgeting. They hear the word “budget” and they just think, “I’m cheap, I’m broke, I can’t do this or I can’t do that.” That’s actually not true, budgeting is simply creating what should be happening with your money.
My top tip is to include fun spending in your budget.
This is where most people don’t succeed because they make their budget so rigid and their numbers so tight that there’s no room to enjoy life. But, when you kind of open the door a little bit and give yourself a moderate amount to spend on whatever you want every single month it makes sticking to a budget actually sustainable.
Q: What do you think is the most critical step to ensuring financial independence?
A: There are three critical steps: discipline, sacrifice, and delayed gratification.
Those three things are critical to financial success because the reality is – unless you win the lottery – results won’t come overnight. You have to be disciplined and you have to be willing to say “no” to things. That’s where the sacrifice comes in, you have to be able to say, “I’m not going for the instant high or spending my money right now, instead I’m opting for delayed gratification so that when I do finally reach my goals and financial independence is mine, I can truly enjoy it.” But you can only get there, you can only think like that, if you are disciplined and you are willing to sacrifice.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
Be graceful and gracious with yourself on this journey to financial success because it’s not an overnight success, it’s not a one and done, it’s going to be a lifelong trek.
But it’s so worth it and as you start seeing results and accomplishing goals, it’s going to make it so much easier to continue doing that. However, no one is perfect, so in the beginning just make sure that you’re being kind to yourself and you’re bouncing back as quickly as you can.
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