Y’all, I accomplished two of my latest big financial goals–I paid off my Tesla a year after I bought it and we finished building our smart home! It’s time I shared my story of how I did it.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I talk a lot about money; my own personal finances, and how being financially savvy can help you live your best life. Understanding money from an early age is what ultimately helped me live my best life. I got to where I am today because I was taught how to budget, save, and resist spending temptations. It’s something everyone can learn how to do and I’d like to share with you my personal stories and tips on how I managed my finances.
My latest resource for learning about finances is SunTrust’s free 21-day Best Life Challange that’s basically designed to empower you to take the same kind of steps that I took to live the life I wanted. So before I start my story, I’m officially challenging YOU to do this and get your family and friends to do it with you too – they’re daily challenges you can do on your own time and it’s for anyone who wants to get their finances together and on the right track. Plus it’s a free resource so take advantage of it.
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FINANCIAL LITERACY ISN’T USUALLY TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS–SO HOW DID I LEARN?
My story begins when I was a kid. Growing up, financial literacy wasn’t taught in my community. Thankfully my parents taught me good money habits when I was a kid, but not everyone has access to that kind of information during their childhood which can sometimes lead to financial struggles later on in life.
My mom taught me credit card responsibility and the importance of saving for retirement and my dad was super frugal – like I grew up on pawn shops and thrift stores y’all. Between the two of them, I grew up understanding the difference between needs and wants and why it’s so important to make financial security a top priority.
That’s why I write these posts about the need to have these kinds of open conversations about financial literacy with your friends, family, local community, and especially the young people in your life. If it weren’t for these open discussions, I might not have gained the kind of financial confidence that led to me being able to pay off my dream electric car, build my dream smart home, and ultimately live my best green life.
ENTERING ADULTHOOD DEBT-FREE
So before I even left for college, I already had a financial vision thanks to what I learned growing up. I applied for scholarships so I could walk away from college debt-free. I used scholarships to cover my tuition and worked all throughout college so that I could pay for living expenses and build up my savings.
A lot of times young people start out their adult lives in debt because of student loans and credit card spending. It sucks. I interviewed college scholarship expert Darren Morgan from Arkansas Commitment the other day on my Instagram Live and he dropped so much knowledge about how students can access free money for college today. A lot has changed since I was in school, but the opportunities are still there.
HOW I SAVED AFTER COLLEGE
I graduated in 3.5 years and started working full-time in the creative field. My salary wasn’t very high in the beginning of my career. But it increased over time and no matter if I was making a little in the beginning or a lot more later on, I always prioritized saving my money. I would adjust my lifestyle according to how much I made.
In order to save, I asked myself what were the things that mattered to me the most. In my early 20s, it was traveling the world and buying my first home. So in order to make those things happen, it was imperative for me to stick to a budget. For example, when I was in college, I had to eat right? But I established a monetary limit on food. I gave myself a $20 grocery budget that I strictly adhered to. Even after I graduated and was working in corporate America, I continued to budget my money. I bought generic everything. I made my own lunch. I barely wore makeup back then—and ladies y’all know how expensive makeup can be. Didn’t really care about buying new clothes. My skincare routine was basic at best. I used my video and photography skills to work on side projects to bring in additional income.
I also moved in with my parents for a little while so I could save up to buy a home, because that was my goal in my early 20s–to buy my first home. And at the age of 25, I met that goal.
THE INVESTMENT THAT MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
Now this part of the story has everything to do with why I was able to get to where I am today. The house that I bought was a foreclosure and it was roughly half the price of what it originally cost. Because of my strict budgeting and good money habits, I had saved up enough for a significant down payment and shortened the life of the loan so I could pay it off sooner.
A few years went by and I met my husband who was also very financially savvy. We were both good with money in very different ways. For example, he brought something different to the table that I wasn’t very educated on—which is stocks and bonds. Between the two of us, we were able to join forces and take our financial confidence to a new level in order to conquer our dreams together. In 2016, we got married and had a debt-free wedding because again – we budgeted for it and stuck to it.
After our wedding, we diligently went right back to replenishing our savings. Now during this time, I was also coming up with a plan to quit my job. I had been working tirelessly on my blog and personal brand during my free time and I had gotten to a point where I was so passionate about wanting to inspire people to live and travel more eco-consciously. So my plan was to save up enough money to support myself after leaving corporate America.
So I saved and saved and saved, and in 2017, I officially put in my 2-weeks notice. I quit. Just like that. I felt pretty confident because I had enough in savings to last me a year and a half. So I figured, okay I have a year and a half to get my business off the ground. But that was until…I bought a TESLA.
I purchased an electric car to REALLY live my message of sustainability that I had been talking about. Thankfully, I still had enough in savings left to sustain me while I worked on my business. My timeline had just shortened a little. No biggie. So I wasn’t too worried about it. Until…we decided to build a new HOME.
All of a sudden, my savings I thought I’d be relying on to keep me safe as I pursued a career in building my own successful personal brand suddenly went away. It was the push I needed to really hustle and make my dreams come true. But I was still building my personal brand and audience, and I needed more time to find success in that avenue. So I had to get creative. I found financial confidence by analyzing my existing skillsets to see what kind of business I could launch to make money while I was working on my ultimate dream career.
I have a professional background in video so I started a video production company. I paid my friend to do my website. I did some free projects for a few businesses to populate the website with more examples of my work. Word of mouth got around, and through referrals, it ended up being a success! I brought in enough clients to make money to support my new sustainable lifestyle as a luxury electric car and smart home owner.
I was doing all of this as my home was being built. After 10 months of building our new home, we put my old home on the market. And this is where the story ties together. Remember I told you it was a foreclosure and I got a great price on it? Well, I sold it for about 2.5 times what I paid for it. So I was able to put that profit from my home sale towards things that mattered to me like really beefing up our savings, putting it in investments, and towards supporting our sustainable lifestyle, which for me, meant paying off my electric car.
IT WAS SCARY, BUT IT WORKED OUT
So that’s how I paid off my Tesla a year after I bought it. On top of the home sale profit, we had also already been saving rigorously and putting money aside specifically for our smart home project. To make things even better, not too long after moving in, my personal brand also really took off and I now am able to make a full-time living doing exactly what I quit my job to do instead of having to rely on the production company I created in the meantime as I was working towards this dream.
I’m grateful it all worked out. I’m not going to lie, it was scary, but I remained confident in my ability to pursue my dreams and thrive financially. Now I’m living my best life with my dream home, dream car, dream career, and I get to do it all with my extra dreamy husband.
HOW TO GAIN FINANCIAL LITERACY AND LEARN WITH OTHERS
That’s my story of how I took a leap of faith and quit my job and gained financial confidence during a time of uncertainty. It’s really important to me to share this kind of stuff with you because all too often, people are afraid to talk about finances. It’s a real problem!
The only way we can get better is to openly discuss topics like this. You should be talking about this stuff to your friends, family, and communities to help both you and those around you thrive. Here are some ideas:
- Start a money book club where you and you friends pick a good book about money and meet up to discuss it.
- Be like my cousins who just started an annual family financial literacy night where they get together to play games and talk about 401ks.
- Listen to money podcasts.
- Follow money experts on social media and YouTube.
- Ask the local organizations in your community to host financial literacy workshops (reach out to churches, libraries, etc).
- Share the SunTrust 21 Day Best Life Challenge with your friends and family
When you take people with you on your financial journey, that’s how real change happens.
That’s why I’m really excited about this partnership with SunTrust, because financial literacy is an important part of life and I want to see more people out here living their best life. While money can’t buy you happiness, being financially confident can bring a lot of happiness to your life as it has to mine.
Being good with managing money created options for me to build out my dream life. For anyone who’s reading this and you’ve been following my travels, my Tesla adventures, my smart home journey – then I want you to know that understanding money and how to manage your finances is a big part of how I’ve been able to do all this.
So do the free SunTrust 21 Day Best Life Challenge with me. When you sign up, do the awesome activities and daily challenges to help you budget and identify what you need to do to set yourself up to live your best life. Trust me, it’s so much easier to live life to the fullest when you’re financially confident. When it comes to enjoying those special moments, it’s not about how much money you have, but what you do with it that counts. Studies show that if you focus your spending and savings around what you personally value, you can feel more fulfilled in life.
Your budget is a plan that allows you to spend your money the way that fits your lifestyle. Whether you use an app, a spreadsheet or even a pen and paper to track your budget, be sure your spending categories match what matters most to you.
For me being an entrepreneur and living a sustainable life, my budget revolves around figuring out how to best support my business and maintain my commitment to sustainability in a financially responsible way.
Here are some questions to ask yourself on your financial journey:
1. What are the three things that matter most to you right now?
2. What are your personal money beliefs?
3. What’s gonna help you reach that next level of financial confidence?
YOU GOT THIS
Be sure to follow my Instagram @heyashleyrenne where I’ve been sharing my updates as I take the 21 Day Challenge.
You got this. And if you don’t think you do, it’s cool, I got you. Let’s do this 21day best life challenge together and I’m excited to continue sharing these Money Talks with you. If you have any questions at all or you just want to chime in with your own story of a dream you’re working towards, please drop me a comment or question below.
I hope you found this inspiring and helpful as you move on to your next phase in living your best life. Keep on thriving and living an adventurously green life!