Hot dog! Wow do I have a great interview for you today. Bola from Clever Girl Finance shares some personal insights into what makes her who she is. She has an amazing story and her site will blow you away. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Let’s talk a little bit about who you are and where you are coming from. Tell me about your money journey? What got you started in learning about personal finance?
My journey with money really goes back to the way I was raised. I’m originally from Nigeria and growing up my parents were always giving me money advice; They would always tell me things like “pennywise, pound foolish”, “Don’t ever be a liability on anyone especially not a man”, “Be your own back up plan” and “Own your own” and so good money management was always in the background of my mind.
I would say my pivotal experience with money was watching my mother being able to pay for my international college education in Europe and the states in cash even after my family had gone through a financial downturn where my dad had lost his job. My family was not rich; They just planned well and my mother was and still is a super hard worker.
What would you say the biggest money obstacle has been for you to overcome?
Right now, I’m a saver yet also a spender. I know I could be saving a lot more but then I feel that there also has to be a balance. I can’t save every single penny but sometimes I start feeling guilty for spending money too even though I know I’m good at saving money.
How has overcoming that obstacle changed you?
I’m continuously trying to find balance when it comes to saving and spending. It has made me obsessive about reviewing my long-term goals.
Are there any obstacles you are still working on?
In the last year my biggest focus has been on my business so I have less time to spend money on me. It’s been a great way to not have to really think about my vices.
There’s a moment in the Godfather 3 when Michael Corleone is trying to get out of the “Family Business”, and he says: “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in.” What is one bad money habit you just can’t seem to shake?
Right now? It’s the grocery store……I have a pretty flexible grocery budget and I keep getting sucked in with all the flashy pretty new organic food products to try on my kids….
If you were to start your money journey all over what would you do differently?
I would have saved so much more money – with no student loan debt, no kids and being in the same situation that I was, I had every opportunity to save so much more. I would learn as much as I could about investing as early as I could and I would have retired by now.
But in retrospect, I think I needed to make the mistakes I made with my money because I needed to learn those lessons otherwise that money would found other ways to leave me anyways. I think that’s how life works.
I’m ok where I am now and the decisions I make with money now are because of what I know based due to the mistakes I made and I can teach my children about money based on those lessons I’ve learnt.
What is your proudest money accomplishment?
I’m proud of being a saver. In May of 2004, I graduated from college and got a job with a starting salary of $54,000. In 2008, 3.5 years later I had saved over $100,000. I did it by contributing to my employer sponsored retirement account, keeping my expenses low, saving half of my salary, and starting my own side gig that earned me $40,000 in the first two years.
Who is your money hero?
My mother. The fact that I have no student loans is not something that I take lightly at all. The burden of student loan debt is not a joke and the fact that she was able to give me that gift means the world to me. I intend to do the same for my children.
What was your worst money mistake?
I have quite a number but these two take the cake (#2 being the worst):
#1 – Applying for my first credit card in college without caring or understanding my crazy interest rate of 24.99%.
#2 – Owning a very large and very expensive designer handbag collection (stupid) that I barely used and held on to for years before eventually getting rid of. I was able to sell most of it for what I bought it for or a little more but when I think about the fact that this is money that could have been working hard for me if invested, it was wasn’t very wise at all.
What was your first money lesson?
Don’t loan money to friends if you can’t afford to lose it. I learnt this as an early teen when I loaned my pocket money for the month to a friend who was starting a candy business with no plan. She borrowed money from a bunch of friends, never started her business and decided to buy new clothes instead. I never saw my money again.
What money habits do you see in yourself (or others if you are perfect) that make you cringe?
Spending money on things I don’t use especially in my closet (e.g. my former stupidly large and expensive unused handbag collection) makes me cringe because I hate it when I waste money like that especially now that I’m older and wiser. Becoming somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to my closet has helped a lot. Now I consider “cost per wear” in every wardrobe purchase and have done that for a few years now. If I will not be using it I do not purchase it. Also The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is an amazing book and helped me put things into perspective.
Would you classify yourself as a Spender or a Saver?
I’m both. But in order of priority I’m a saver first. If I’m earning money, then I’m saving a percent of it before I spend any of it and there’s no two ways about it. When I don’t save. I get worried and ancy. I have a huge fear of not having a fall back plan and so I have to save come hell or high water. So if I’m earning money. I’m saving first before spending.
What’s the one personal finance book that had the biggest impact in your life?
Smart women finish rich by David Bach. This was the first personal finance I book I picked up shortly after I graduated from college and I literally read it to shreds and then had to purchase another copy. It introduced me to concepts I didn’t understand and would ordinarily have never really thought about – retirement savings and what my 401k was, the latte factor and how saving small over time could actually be a big deal. It was an amazing book for young Bola.
Ok now for some non-money questions. Let’s get a glimpse of what makes you who you really are.
Give me a list of your top 5 foods?
What is your favorite drink (alcohol or non-alcohol)?
A shirley Temple – don’t judge me
What kind of daily traditions or habits do you have?
Praying every day – my faith holds me together
Spending time with my family
Which group do you fall into:
Apple or Samsung?
Coke or Pepsi?
Coke – poison yet I still drink it lol
Coffee or Tea?
Night owl or morning bird?
I’m a night owl by preference but my twin toddlers force me to be a morning bird. I pay dearly.
I’m a huge music fan, what’s one (or more) of your favorite albums?
Right now I’m listening to:
Tamar Braxton – Calling All Lovers
Bryon Tiller – Trap Soul
Ed Sheeran – X
Beyonce – Lemonade
What’s the one movie you could watch over and over again and never get tired of it?
Kung Fu Panda – The 1st movie. I didn’t think I could but my kids have made me watch it at least 50 times and it hasn’t gotten old yet.
What book are you reading right now?
Yes you can by Joel Osteen. It’s super motivating and just what I need as I have a long list of goals I want to accomplish this year!
Finish this sentence with the first thing that comes to mind
I would rather have money in the bank, than be broke – any day!
Do you have a favorite quote?
One of my favorite quotes is my Oprah – “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are”
Where can people find you online if they want to get ahold of you? (Think social media accounts)