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From Extreme Poverty to DIY Wealth and 2 Full-Time Incomes w/The She Wolfe of Wall Street

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast
49 min read
From Extreme Poverty to DIY Wealth and 2 Full-Time Incomes w/The She Wolfe of Wall Street

Wealth-building isn’t a pre-formulated path for most people. For those raised in poverty, the thought of financial stability seems like a far-out dream. Achieving financial independence or early retirement basically becomes an afterthought, or a fantasy only someone else could achieve. Without basic financial literacy and education, you could spend life aimlessly wandering without saving, investing, or thinking about a more promising financial future.

But Amanda “She Wolfe of Wall Street” Wolfe did the opposite of that. Amanda was raised in extreme poverty, going long stretches of time without food, clean clothes, a shower, or school supplies. From a young age, she knew that most of her problems stemmed from a lack of money. The best way to solve that? Go to school, work hard, and make more money, so she could never feel poor again.

But, when Amanda started bringing in a full-time income, her so-called “savings plan” went out the window. Set on not making the same mistakes as her parents, she revamped and reverse engineered her spending to match her savings and investing goals. She did this purely through DIY financial literacy and tenaciously asking questions. It paid off, and now she boasts a social media following of over 100,000, with two full-time incomes and a large reserve of retirement savings to boot!

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to The BiggerPockets Money Podcast, show number 329, where we interview Amanda Wolfe, the She Wolfe of Wall Street, and hear how she went from childhood poverty to adulthood wealth to conscientious money management.

Amanda:
I didn’t like the situation I was in. I was like, “I don’t want to live a life like this. It has to be different. So what life do I want to live? I don’t even know what else exists out there.” I would say even into my adult life there’s things that I’m constantly learning, like, “Oh, I didn’t even know that was an option, whether it’s entrepreneurship or starting your own business. So wait, regular people do that? Wait a minute.” I feel like my eyes are constantly being open, but at the time it was just, “No, I know I don’t like that life, so I need to copy the life of what other successful people are doing where I would enjoy a life like that. They get to go on vacations.”

Mindy:
Hello. Hello. Hello. My name is Mindy Jensen, and with me as always is my analytical co-host, Scott Trench.

Scott:
You really do a number with these intros, Mindy.

Mindy:
That was terrible. Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else, to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you are starting.

Scott:
That’s right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, or start your own business, we’ll help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so you can launch yourself towards those dreams.

Mindy:
Scott, I’m so excited to talk to Amanda today. She has a story and a half. Holy cow. She could have very easily sat back and said, “You know what? I grew up poor, I’m just going to be poor my whole life.” But she didn’t.

Scott:
Yeah, I think you’re going to be really impressed with Amanda and how much of a take-charge person she is and how much responsibility she’s taken for her life. A lot of folks that come from a situation like what she grew up with would’ve had a very different outcome with money and in many other parts of her life. It’s just truly remarkable to see the life that she’s built and the wealth that she’s accumulated over the past 10, 15 years.

Mindy:
Absolutely. She was so intentional. She recognized that she didn’t necessarily know how to accomplish something, so instead of just saying, “Well, I don’t know how to do this, I’m not going to,” she sought it out. She saw other people doing what she wanted to do and followed them, mimicked what they were doing. I just love her tenacity. She is going to go really, really far because she just refuses to not be successful.

Scott:
What a remarkable journey and just so excited to share it with everyone today.

Mindy:
Amanda Wolfe, the She Wolfe of Wall Street, welcome to The BiggerPockets Money Podcast. I am so excited to talk to you today.

Amanda:
I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Mindy:
Oh, I want to jump right into it because I cannot wait to tell your money story. Where does your journey with money begin?

Amanda:
Oh my gosh, okay, we’re going to have to take it back a few years. I’m not going to say how many years, but we’re not to take it back a few years. I’ll just be transparent, it’s going to start off a little [inaudible 00:02:58], but it turns into a happy story. For me, money is one of my first memories in my whole life. I grew up very, very poor. My parents were addicted to hard drugs growing up, so I went without a lot of basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. Growing up, I was bullied a lot. I would wear the same clothes to school every day and not shower for months and would beg grocery stores and gas stations for food. I’m talking very poor.
As you can imagine, kids made fun of me as kids do. And so, at the time, I didn’t totally realize what was different about my life versus theirs. I just knew something wasn’t right. When I would ask my mom for things like, “Well, can I get new clothes?” or “Can I get school supplies?” or “Why doesn’t Santa come to our house?” it was always, “Well, it’s because we don’t have money for those things.” And so my five-year-old, six-year-old, seven-year-old brain that was very little would be like, “Okay, well I need to find a way to get money because it seems like the kids who have money have houses and beds and cool posters on their walls and have birthday parties, all the good stuff.” And so I thought, “Okay, well I just need to do really good in school, because if I do a good job in school, then I’ll get a good job. And if I have a good job, then I’ll have money for those things when I’m older.”
Literally, my kindergarten brain, that was what it was, is I just need to do really good in school. And so, that was always my goal, is I’m going to get all As. I’m going to be top of the class. I was going hard. I do that all through elementary school, and it was not easy. I went to, my gosh, how many? I think 11 schools within three years. I mean, I hopped around a lot because we were moving all around, but it was still like, “I’m just going to dive right in and do the best I can at school.”

Scott:
Were you moving around the country or in one region?

Amanda:
Actually, I lived in North Carolina up until I was three, and then in Kentucky until third grade. And then Kentucky to Illinois, and that’s when really the chaotic moving started. My mom had me super young. She had me at age 16. I think that when she had me, obviously I don’t remember back in those days and I don’t really have anybody to ask, but I think that she probably had a little bit of help probably from her parents at the time, and then got into her young twenties and had this elementary school kid. We were just moving all around, I think, while she was trying to live her version of her best life. But we were moving around Illinois a lot.
And so, moving all around, and then I get to high school and I finally get my own apartment. I’m grinding really hard, working three jobs trying to save as much money as I can for college because education was always the goal starting from kindergarten. So I get to high school. I’m trying to navigate the college application process and get accepted to the University of Illinois, which was the most joyous day ever. I graduate from college with $35,000 of student loans and some credit card debt and a decent paying job. I didn’t realize how much money I made until after my first year when I got my tax return. I was like, “Wait, I made $77,000? Where did all of my money go? I have $35,000 of college loans still. Those haven’t moved even though I’ve been making payments. I still have this credit card debt. I made that. Where’s all my money going?” That’s when I realized, “Okay, wait, I thought I was just going to get educated and I was going to have money. It seems like that’s not how that works, so I have to learn about this stuff.”
So that’s the story of what led me to where I am now, but that’s the progression of how it started early on.

Scott:
So going back to high school, were you paying rent on an apartment at this point in time?

Amanda:
Yes. It was towards the end of my junior year, yes. I had a roommate. I was paying rent.

Scott:
So you were putting yourself through high school and then college on top of that. What was your workload during this period of time?

Amanda:
Oh, it was a lot. I worked at Pizza Hut. I worked at Shopco, which is a Kohl’s type of store, and then an antique store for a little while. I was in Steak ‘n Shake. I mean, I was working lots of different serving jobs just trying to… Because especially at that age, you could usually only work so many hours at one place, so it’s not one place would give me more hours. So it was me. It was a matter of just surviving, like, “I know that I have to get to this next stage, but I got to get through this first.”

Mindy:
Were you emancipated?

Amanda:
Yes.

Mindy:
Okay. At what age did you emancipate yourself?

Amanda:
It wasn’t technically until 17. I did live with some other family members after my mom starting towards the end of middle school. I lived with a couple, and then I moved, and then I lived with a couple more. And then just nothing was overly stable, so that is when I moved out.

Scott:
Let’s hear about college. What was that like? You were working full time through college in addition to being full-time student?

Amanda:
Yeah. I mean close to full-time, it was 35 hours a week. And so, I will say college for me because nobody in my family went to college, I didn’t know what to do. I actually had just a couple of friends who were decently well off in high school, and I just literally copied whatever they did. So they were like, “Oh, I’m studying for the ACT.” And I’m like, “How are you doing that?” “Well, my dad got me a tutor.” I’m like, “Well, I don’t have money for that, so I’m just going to go online and see what kind of tests they have.” I went to the school public computer, was like, “What kind of practice test do they have for this ACT? I think I need to do pretty well on that for school.”
I started doing what I could for that, saved up money for the TI-89 calculator that you needed for it. And then I just would follow what they did like, “Oh, I’m going to go on a college visit.” I’d be like, “Can I go with you?” And she’d be like, “Yeah, sure.” So I just tagged along with friends when they went on college visits, basically just tried seeing what are other successful people doing? I’m just going to copy that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have even known where to go.

Scott:
That is truly remarkable, that-

Mindy:
That is.

Scott:
… [inaudible 00:09:22] right now.

Amanda:
Thanks.

Mindy:
Having the presence of mind to do that at age 16, at age 17. “Oh, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.” So instead of just sitting back and saying, “Well, I don’t know what to do, so I’m not going to do anything. I’m going to look at what other people are doing and I’m going to copy them.” That’s awesome.

Amanda:
Yeah. I think because I just knew so young that I didn’t like the situation I was in, and I was like, “I don’t want to live a life like this. It has to be different. So what life do I want to live? I don’t even know what else exists out there.” I would say even into my adult life, there’s things that I’m constantly learning, like, “Oh, I didn’t even know that was an option, whether it’s entrepreneurship or starting your own business. So wait, regular people do that. Wait a minute.” I feel like my eyes are constantly being opened, but at the time it was just, “No, I know I don’t like that life, so I need to copy the life of what other successful people are doing where I would enjoy a life like that. They get to go on vacations or whatever.” Yeah, that’s how I got through that.

Scott:
Wow. So you learn how to be self-sufficient and literally take care of yourself at 16, 17 years old, including paying for all the necessities of life and going to school. Then you put yourself through college working multiple jobs and graduate, frankly, with only $35,000 in student loan debt from a pretty good college completely, essentially, on your own. That is absolutely extraordinary. And then you’re complaining because you’re making too much money and you’re spending it afterwards. What year did you graduate college?

Amanda:
2009.

Scott:
2009.

Amanda:
You said something that I think that’s really important as well, which is I only had $35,000 in loans. That is because my freshman year of college, if you live in the dorms, usually you have… What are they called? The dorm leader or whatever. It’s another college student who’s one grade older. What are they called? The RA, the residence assistant.

Mindy:
All right, got you.

Amanda:
Yeah, so I got my student loan information back, and I saw this money and I was like, “Wait, I’m taking out all this money.” I went and knocked on her door and I was like, “Can you help me navigate student loans?” She was like, “I don’t even have student loans, so no. But my dad is a wealth management advisor, so let’s call him.” We literally called him. He walked me through what subsidized loans were versus unsubsidized loans. He’s like, “You don’t have to accept the unsubsidized loans. Take only the subsidized if you can, and just try to work part time. If your grades starts slipping, then do the unsubsidized.” But honestly, I would’ve had double the loans if I had not followed his advice.

Mindy:
Do you remember his name? Let’s shout him out.

Amanda:
I don’t remember his name, I’m sorry, I know. It’s funny how you have just these pivotal moments in your life that completely changed your life, and I don’t even know his name.

Mindy:
Shout out to the RA’s dad who took the time to explain this, because, yeah, you could have had a boatload of debt. You could have seen all of this free money available and taken it out and gone shopping and had crazy amounts of debt when you graduate.

Amanda:
Yes. I have lots of friends who did that. I feel really lucky that that got explained to me so early on.

Mindy:
Okay, so yes, you were lucky it got explained, but you also took the initiative to seek somebody out to help understand. Because I think that the student loan industry is filled with criminals who don’t properly explain this to 17 and 18-year-old kids who are taking out these giant loans not even knowing what they’re doing.

Amanda:
Absolutely agree with you. 100% yes.

Mindy:
Well, because I’m right, you have to agree with me. It’s filled with-

Amanda:
You are right. It’s criminal. I mean especially the private student loans that exist out, I mean, mine were federal government student loans, they were fairly low interest rates, but I see some of these people now, some of them are at 12, 15%. I’m like, “How is this even allowed?” But yes.

Mindy:
That is absurd.

Amanda:
Agree with you a thousand times over.

Mindy:
Okay. Let’s look at all of the things that are stacked against you. You graduated in 2009. I don’t know if you know this, but there was a huge recession going on then.

Amanda:
I did. I thought I was just a terrible interviewer. I was like, “Nobody wants to hire me.” I paid $100 to have my resume written because I was like, “I clearly don’t know how to put a resume together.” And $100 in college dollars is like $10,000. Yeah, it was tough.

Mindy:
What did you study in college?

Amanda:
I double majored in communications and Spanish. I really wanted to travel, and I’d always been interested in learning another language. My favorite music is like ochako music, and so I love just all of that. So, studied abroad in Spain for about eight months, so I ended up double majoring in those two.

Mindy:
So when you graduated high school… Oh, I’m sorry, when you graduated college, you went and got a job…

Amanda:
Yes.

Mindy:
… finally. How long did it take you to get that job?

Amanda:
Oh my gosh. Graduated in May, started in September. And even though that doesn’t sound like very long, I will tell you, it felt like three years because, all of a sudden, was like, “Okay, I mean, I don’t have anywhere to live now because on campus your apartments end right when the school year ends.” Luckily, I had a friend who was still living with her mom over the summer. She was going to save up a little money, she started right away. But her and her mom let me live with her for those few months until I got a job and she had saved up money and then we became roommates in the city. But yeah, it was not that long, but I’ll say it felt like a really long time. It was a sales job.

Scott:
You said this job went really well. You made $77,000 in your first year with this job.

Amanda:
Yes. I had a base salary. It was… I’m probably not going to say it perfectly, but I think it was 38,000, and then the rest was bonus. I got it throughout the year, so I didn’t really realize… And then the taxes were taking… So I didn’t really realize what my total income was because I wasn’t following a budget, really, of any type. Before that I had just been scrimping so much, and then I got to that point and I was like, “Oh, I can go buy myself a vodka Red Bull or whatever you drink at 22. This is cool.” And then I got my tax return. That’s when I was like, “Wait a minute. I have no savings. I’m in the same place I was last year. What the heck is going on? I thought everything was going to change when I got this great job.” Yeah, not how that works.

Mindy:
If you keep doing the same things you were doing before, you will have the same results you had before.

Amanda:
Exactly.

Mindy:
So if you weren’t saving any money before and you’re not saving any money now, it doesn’t just all of a sudden multiply in your bank account.

Amanda:
No. And people are like, “I’ll be better at saving-

Scott:
I feel like there were a couple of well-deserved Red Bull vodkas there.

Mindy:
I agree with that.

Scott:
Yeah. I think you get a pass on this first year.

Amanda:
I do, yeah. But that’s also why I’m like, “It’s not true.” People are like, “Oh, well, when I start making more money, then I’ll be able to save.” I’m like, “I can tell you at firsthand experience that is not necessarily… ” I mean, sure, to a degree, if you are literally so paycheck to paycheck and at the bottom of the barrel, sure. But for most of us, that is not the case, I can tell you after my first year of working woman, it was not.

Scott:
So you have this revelation in, I’m going to guess 2011, when you’re doing your taxes for 2010, is that right?

Amanda:
Yeah, I would say that was about right. Yeah.

Scott:
Awesome. What changes? What do you decide after you realize, “Hey, I should have been building wealth now.”?

Amanda:
I started the job, like I said in… it was September of 2009. I went to this training class in Florida. I [inaudible 00:17:10] from Chicago, so I went to this training class in Florida which was super exciting, my first job, got some new clothes from Target, was ready to go. We’re setting up all of our HR stuff and this older guy next to me was like…I was filling it out and I was like, “What the heck’s a 401(k)?” He’s like, “Just put 10% into it.” And I was like, “But what is it?” He’s like, “Don’t worry about it. You’ll just be happy you did this. And then mark that button that says increase it by 1% every year.” I was like, “Wait, so I’m just giving them my money? I’m going to get less money?” He’s like, “Yeah, but it’ll be worth more later, just trust me.” I was like, “All right.”
I followed his advice, literally not even knowing what a 401(k) was. And then after that first year I was like, “Okay, I need to understand how taxes work. Why do I still have the same amount of student loans even though I’ve been paying $260 every month? What is the difference between statement balance and current balance on my credit card? And why is that not going down? What is this 401(k)?” So that is when I’m like, “I need to figure out what the heck is going on with all of this money that I’m making.” That’s when I really started just digging into stuff. I mean, for my 401(k), it was held at Fidelity. I literally just called Fidelity and I was like, “What is a target date fund? What is this? What is my money going into? Is 10% enough?” I just started calling and asking questions. I called Chase. I’m like, “What is current balance and statement balance? What is this minimum?” I just started asking lots of questions. It wasn’t perfected in a week or a day or anything like that. It was years before I would say I got really good at it, but it was really just asking questions.

Scott:
This is so awesome. Give us an overview of the journey here. You’re asking questions, it’s a couple years, how does that look? What happens to your student loan balance, your credit card balances, your investing patterns? Where’s the next phase of your journey?

Amanda:
My first was like, “Okay, well I think I should have some savings because what if I lose my job tomorrow?” So then I worked on building up an emergency fund, which if you follow any personal finance people, they’ll say that’s the first thing you should do. For me, that was the first thing I did, was like, “I need to have some cash savings.” And then I hid the bank account because I was also guilty of constantly pulling out of my savings. I was like, “I need to not even be able to see it.” So when I called Chase one time, I was like, “Do you have any tips on how to not pull money out of your savings because I don’t know what to do?” She’s like, “Oh, just hide it.” That worked for me. So that was a good job.
I mean, it was little things like that over the years, and then I decided to not aggressively pay down my student loans with my regular paycheck but rather to use my bonuses because those were above and beyond what my regular paycheck was. So then I started using chunks of those, not the whole thing, but just chunks of it to start paying those down. They were low interest, but they were still giving me a lot of anxiety because, like I said, they were like $35,000. That is so much money. I don’t like owing that much money. I started just taking chunks of money, paying those down over the years, but not so aggressively that I didn’t have any money to do anything else.
And then I allowed myself to still do some fun things on this journey. I love traveling. Like I mentioned, I studied abroad, so I made sure that I still had money to travel and go out with friends, but I actually made a budget for myself. It was like, “Okay, I have this much to spend. Well, if I want a new outfit for girls’ night sushi on Friday, then I can either do that or this thing.” So I started just living within my means a little more, I would say. And then obviously, as the years went on, I made more money. I started increasing my investment amount, paying down the loans a little faster, and leaving more room for fun as well.

Scott:
What would you say is the next milestone in your journey? You’re making extraordinary little wins in all these different areas, but what does this picture look like in 2014, for example, or 2015?

Amanda:
Sorry? What does the picture look like in 2000? Oh, you mean from back then? So yeah, I would say for me, my biggest personal hurdle has always been my money mindset. Growing up super poor, you just don’t forget what it’s like to not have enough food or a shower. So money has always been a constant source of anxiety for me. I’m afraid that I’m just going to lose all my money one day and not have anything. I would say that I got better, how I mentioned, I started traveling a little bit more and being okay spending some of my money. I got to a point where I went too all out that first year. Then I went to a point where I halted everything and was like, “Oh my gosh, I need to save everything. But then I didn’t have any fun. I didn’t like that either.” And then I got to a point where I would say I was able to balance it a little bit more and be like, “Okay, wait, no, I’m doing okay. I’m tracking all right. My student loans are in a really good place. When I Google, it seems like I’m doing okay.” And really just allowed myself to, like I said, live life a little bit while still saving and investing.

Mindy:
I think that’s really important. I think people get on this path and they’re like, “I am going to all-out pay down my debt and not have any fun.” I mean, I don’t think they think about it as not having any fun. I think they think of it as, “I have $35,000 in student loan debts. I’m going to throw every single dime I have at that because I don’t want this debt anymore.” In the grand scheme of life, if it takes you an extra year or two to pay off your student loans and you have a more enjoyable life while you’re doing it, that’s going to make you want to continue. All of these people that are on this debt pay down journey and they don’t see any progress or they’re just miserable every minute of the day because they’re not having any enjoyment in their life at all, it’s going to make it so much easier to be like, “You know what? Forget it, I’m just always going to have debt, and that’s just going to be a part of my life.”

Amanda:
Absolutely. I will say, going back, knowing what I know now, if I were to go back, I would not have rushed to pay off those student loans. I would’ve worked on the money mindset first because, I mean, honestly they were all below four and a half percent. They were all really low. I think a couple were four and a half. Some of them were literally 2%. So for me, I would’ve prioritized investing that extra money and probably just made my minimum payments for longer rather than throwing chunks of money. I wish I would’ve thrown extra chunks of money into a brokerage account or worked to max out my 401(k) more.
I’m happy I did what I did, but I would say, going back, I am not the person who is ever going to say every single person needs to be debt-free. I think if you have a low interest rate, your money can work harder for you. That’s what the wealthiest people do. Most of them use debt as leverage for other things, right? So even financing a car, people are like, “You financed your car?” I’m like, “Yeah, I have, I don’t know, $2,000 left on it.” “Well, why don’t you just pay that off?” Why would I? It’s a 1.9% interest rate. I’m just making my monthly payments and living my life over here. For me, I probably would’ve not done that now, but at the time, it’s what I needed, and so it made sense.

Scott:
When did you pay off your student loan debt?

Amanda:
I remember exactly where I was sitting. I expected confetti to explode out of my computer, and it did not. But what year was that? I was 26, so nine years ago. Oh, I just did the age thing, but yeah, nine years ago.

Scott:
Awesome.

Amanda:
So what year is it? Whatever year today minus nine years.

Scott:
So in 2013. What did your situation look like? Have you had all your student loans paid off? Is your credit card paid off? You have 2,000 on your car loan at that point in time?

Amanda:
Yeah, so the credit cards were paid off. I had done a good job of not racking up debt because now I understood how those worked. The student loans were paid off, but it was the first year that I lost all my roommates. They all got engaged and married and didn’t want to live with me anymore. So I got my own place, which was significantly more expensive. So it was nice to get rid of that monthly payment to put toward that because my cost of living had increased. But I had a really sweet apartment. I did the thing for two years where I had the floor to ceiling windows and I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to soak up every day.” I sat in that apartment more than I probably have anywhere else just enjoying what I had.

Scott:
And that’s in Chicago with a nice view?

Amanda:
Yes.

Scott:
What’s going on with your career during this time period?

Amanda:
This is also, for anybody listening, my biggest financial mistake I’ve ever made. People have asked that before, about to tell you right now, it is staying at the same company for way too long. I stayed at my last company for 12 years, which I think there’s a fine line between job hopping and overstaying your welcome. Even though I moved positions a bunch of times in the company, I absolutely was just so underpaid that I started getting very salty and just wasn’t a great situation.
Like I said, I was moving jobs within the company. And so, that was all good in keeping my interest, if you will, but I was so afraid to leave a stable job because I was like, “Well, I know everybody, it’s remote, that’s great. I mean, this pays better than no pay.” And it comes back to that scarcity mindset and just the need for stability. I knew enough people that if anything ever happened to a role I’d easily be able to find another one. And then finally it got to a point where I’m like, “I have enough saved, if I were to lose my job, that would suck, for sure, but I have got to go for something more.”
And so, I actually only just left that company of 12 years back in September of last year for a new company and a tech job. For anybody who’s been sitting at your company for a traditional corporate job, I would say, I know that it’s different if you’re in healthcare or teacher or something like that, but in a corporate job, if you’ve been there for more than five years, it’s probably time to at least explore.

Scott:
Would you give us an idea about the percentage change in income you got from changing jobs?

Amanda:
Double.

Scott:
Wow. 100%. Perfect.

Amanda:
Yeah, way more.

Scott:
That’s unbelievable.

Mindy:
No, it’s not. It is sad, but it is not unbelievable. There are a lot of people that we have talked to who say, “I change jobs every year, every two years, and I get a 25% increase. I get a 10% increase. I get $50,000 more when I leave the company just because the new hire… ” I saw this tweet recently, it’s like, “The new hire of budget is so much more than the retention budget.”

Scott:
Another issue for that is that many times companies will have a role that they’re hiring for and they don’t have a place for you to go in that, right? So they may not have been, “Hey, there’s no role we have for Amanda that we can promote her to that level for.” Another company has that role. And I think that’s another huge component of what’s going on with some of these massive raises.

Amanda:
Yeah. I think it was, to your point, Mindy, just probably being in that 3-7% pay increase every year and just needing to get out of that rut. And also, I just pivoted to a higher paying industry in general. So I think it was probably a couple of factors. And even though it was double, I was definitely underpaid at my last job. Especially because it was like during COVID, I just let it go because I felt like I liked the stability, but I would say that was a-

Mindy:
I’m going to give everybody a pass who stayed through COVID, because why would you leave in the middle of a pandemic that we haven’t had for 100 years and leave a stable job and go jump someplace else?

Amanda:
Yes. Agree. I used that time to start my She Wolfe of Wall Street business, so still good happy things came out of it. But yeah, absolutely was like, “Need that stability, for sure now.”

Scott:
How do you think that your personal emergency reserve or your savings account… I always wonder if there’s a relationship between the size of that and the willingness to go and explore these other opportunities like that. Was that at all true for you? Did that play a factor, or was that irrelevant to your decision to stay for a long time?

Amanda:
Yeah, so I’ll say that, first, when it comes to your emergency fund and just how much you should have, I’ve always been probably a little more on the conservative side, had a little more cash. Women, we tend to hoard cash more than we should. I knew that about myself, but I will say when COVID happened and I just remember when all the markets just collapsed, I threw 75% of my cash into the market at that point because I was like, “This will recover. The stock market’s never not recovered.” So I used a bunch of my liquid savings during that, and then was like, “Okay, but now I need to rebuild it up.” So it was risky. I stayed with the company, but I did deplete a bunch of my savings. Once it got to the point post COVID, I was continuing to dump as much money into the market as I could.
But when it came to the point of now I need to look for a new job, I did increase my savings a little bit more because I’m like, “What if I get there and hate it? What if I’m so miserable when I get there.” It’s not the case, I will say. You hear the grass is not always greener on the other side. I think sometimes it is. It was the change I needed. But yeah, I was a little bit worried because I’d been there for so long that it wasn’t going to be the same, and I saved a little bit more of.

Scott:
Awesome. We jumped to when you paid off your student loan debt, and now we jumped ahead another nine years to where your job… Any important details in between, any milestones that we should talk about?

Amanda:
I’ll say, honestly it was… I don’t want to say boring. So if any of my friends are listening to this, nobody’s boring, but I will say safe. I stayed as safe as possible. I kept my job. I invested my 15% now, I think we’re up to, or 16% into my 401(k) because it’s going up 1% every year. I was doing things very, very safely, allowing myself the one vacation a year or whatever. But I would say compared to where I am today versus then, that was very much still survival mode, I would say. And now I’m to the point where I can say, “Wait, I’m tired of surviving. I’m ready to thrive. Let’s do this. How can I push myself out of my comfort zone?” I think that honestly, going for a new job last September was just one piece of the pie. It was getting myself out of my comfort zone of, “I’ve been in this company. I honestly could probably retire here at 62 like everybody else does and be just fine.” But it was like, “I’ve got to give something up because I’m wanting a little more out of life.” So yeah, I jumped a little bit because it was just a stagnant time in my life.

Scott:
What was the output of, as you described it, safe? Was that a 401(k) balance, an emergency reserve, steady job? Was there any other stockpiling of wealth, debt-free? What did that situation look like?

Amanda:
Yeah, so my safe was having, I think it was maybe a little less than three months of savings. I probably should have had a little bit more at that age. But about three months of savings. I had no credit card debt. My goal was to pay that off every single month. But I loved my points, so I was still using that, but just a more efficient way now, doing my one vacation a year, like I said, maybe a big vacation and then a weekend trip or something. And then just doing my nine to five. I will say, I’ve never been the person who only has one job, so I’ve always had some type of a side hustle.
During that time, I was still doing side hustles and everybody would be like, “Wait, I mean you make fine money, why are you doing a side hustle?” I’m like, “Because I need more of it. Why not?” I mean, I drove for Lyft for about three years. So during that time when I was by myself, when I didn’t have roommates, I would drive for Lyft on Fridays before I went out or Saturday mornings if I wasn’t doing anything or Sunday. So I would drive on the weekends. Or if there was a Chicago Bears’ game on a Monday night, after work, I would rush and do three rides and make a couple hundred bucks. I was still always grinding during that time trying to increase just my overall wealth in general.
But yeah, I did a bunch of side jobs like that, whether it was that or selling stuff on Poshmark or thrifting. I opened a gym at 5:00 AM three days a week, so I would do that before my day job, then sometimes go Lyft. Like I said, I mean it was very much still survival mode. I don’t think that’s healthy for anybody to maintain for any extended period of time, but it was like, “Okay, I don’t have enough money, how do I get more?” Always.

Mindy:
You’ve said a couple of times that your money mindset was a huge hurdle to overcome. Have you overcome that? What have you done to really work on that? Because I think that’s going to be something that you’re going to struggle with… Maybe not struggle, but it’s always going to be in the back of your mind, like, “Oh no, what if?”

Amanda:
Absolutely. I will say that, and I think everybody has their own money mindset, whether it’s they lived in too much of abundance or too much a scarcity mindset, and I will say that mine, it probably will never go away to your point. But I am in a position where I know exactly how much money I have. I know exactly how long I could live off of that money. I know exactly what accounts I could pull from if all hell broke loose and I lost my job and my business crumbled and my husband left me. I know where I could pull money out. I know exactly all of that. So I think that for me it was just really facing my finances head-on. Knowing exactly what money was going where and why it was going into those types of accounts brought me a lot of peace.
So whether it’s the flexibility of the Roth IRA, I know I can pull those contributions out if I need to. I don’t want to, obviously. If you’re listening to this, don’t want to, but you could. I know I could take a loan from my 401(k) if I absolutely needed to. I know I could liquidate my brokerage account if I absolutely needed to. I know I have cash in hand. For me, it’s just knowing what I have where and why.

Mindy:
I love that. You say, “I know how much money I have. I know all of these things.” It’s one thing to have the money there, but if you don’t know how much it is, if you don’t know where you can pull from, yes, you can pull from your Roth IRA in a pinch, it has to be a really big pitch, please do other things before you pull from a Roth, but in a pinch, you can pull from the contributions and pay no taxes. Do you pay fees? I’m having a brain fart right now.

Amanda:
Yeah, so you don’t pay any because you’ve already paid taxes on your Roth IRA contributions, right?

Mindy:
Yes.

Amanda:
So you can pull from your contributions for a qualified expense. You just can’t pull from the gains until after it’s been five years. Yeah, you could. Again, you don’t want to, but to me, I think, “Worst-case scenario, okay, we’re going to pretend like I’ve depleted my emergency fund savings. We’re going to pretend like no job is on the horizon. We’re going to pretend like the brokerage account is now gone. Now what? Now we can pretend the contributions to the Roth IRA are gone. Okay, now we can take… ” So it’s almost like my crisis plan. Hopefully none of those things will ever happen, but it does make me feel better because I’m like, “Okay, no, that’s probably not going to happen. But if it did, I’d be able to live, I mean, for a very long time.”
At this point in my life, I could not save any more money and I could still retire at traditional retirement age. I don’t have enough money to stop working forever and not make any more money, but I would be okay. I think, for me, that is how I get through the mindset of like, “Oh my gosh, everything’s going to crumble.” Like, “Well, if it did, what would you do?” And I think it’s just walking yourself through those steps.

Mindy:
That’s a really good exercise. Take the accounts that you have and prioritize them. That’s everybody listening. Take the accounts you have, prioritize them in what’s the most advantageous for you to pull from tax wise and ease of access wise, and just make yourself a financial plan so that you can be more conscious of where your money is and how you can access it in an emergency.

Amanda:
Right. I think all our minds tend to go to worst-case scenario. For me, it was literally detailing out worst-case scenario. Zombie apocalypse has happened, what are you going to do? So hopefully those things won’t actually happen, but what would you do and how long could you survive on what you have, I think has helped me, I should say.

Scott:
A transition in the way you think about money, you articulate it as moving away from a scarcity mindset to something that’s more around abundance happened, it sounds like, in the past year in particular. Could you walk us through that? Could you also maybe walk us through what’s going on with the social media empire that you began constructing around this time as well?

Amanda:
Yeah. Well, thank you, empire, that’s the goal for sure. It’s definitely been a total source of joy. I would say that, yeah, it’s probably the past year-ish is when the social media account actually became fruitful, if you will. I started it during COVID, like I mentioned. Why I started it was because earlier in the year at that last company where I told you I was there for 12 years, I led-

Scott:
What is the name of the account and all that for people who are not familiar?

Amanda:
I started She Wolfe of Wall Street during COVID. It really stemmed out of the fact that at the last company I was there for 12 years, like I mentioned, I built a financial literacy course, because what happened was I started talking with friends and coworkers and realizing that nobody knew anything about money management. I just assumed people learned it from their parents. Because I didn’t have parents growing up, I’m like, “Well, everybody must have learned this from their parents.” Apparently not the case.
I built out a corporate finance course for those who were new managers and learning how to manage a budget. And then I built out a personal finance course for free, don’t recommend ever doing that for your companies, guys, but it ended up being really good for a lot of people, and thousands of people ended up taking it. I got so many messages like, “Oh my gosh, this was better than anything I ever paid for.”I got $100 gift card from my company saying, “Thanks for building this.” So yay for that.
But then afterwards I was like, “Why the heck did I just do that? I should have built one for myself.” But I was like, “Where would I even put this?” I was talking with a friend, and I was helping her with some of her money stuff, and she’s like, “You are so good at this. Why don’t you just start an Instagram or something?” I was like, “I thought about it, but I’m afraid that people will make fun of me.” And she goes, “Well, who do you think is going to make fun of you?” I was like, “I don’t know, my friends?” And she’s like, “Well, then they’re not your friends. Friends don’t make fun of each other for that. Give me your phone. What name did you have in mind?” I was like, “Well, my name is Amanda Wolfe,” Wolfe with an E at the end. I was like, “So I always thought She Wolfe of Wall Street would be cool. I feel like personal finance is so geared toward men. This would call out that we got a lady here, let’s talk money.”
She’s like, “Oh my gosh, it’s available. Yes, you’re going to learn how to do this.” I’m like, “I don’t even know how to make a post. I’m not a social media guru or anything.” It was at that point I’m like, “Okay, well, I just did this whole course. I know how things are laid out. I’m just going to start posting stuff.” I started posting stuff, and I would say that I started it in, I think it was August of 2020 through December of 2020. I just took it casually. And then in January of the new year, you got your New Year’s Eve resolution, and I was like, “I’m going to work harder on that Instagram account.”
I had about 2,000 followers last January, and that’s when I was like, “Okay, I’m going to find out what do people feel like they need to learn about? What are they interested in?” So that’s when I really started becoming a little more strategic with the account and trying to put out some better content, if you will, that just resonated a little bit better. And then did that for a year. During that time, I also took on some one-on-one coaching with people. I just got to learn about a ton of different, unique circumstances that I haven’t faced in my own life, whether it was people going through divorces or single moms or having tons of tax debt or going to jail. If you ever go to jail, by the way, you have to pay a lot of money when you get out. I didn’t know that.
So it was just crazy situations that people were in, I just learned so much. And then it got to a point where my following got bigger and my coaching list got bigger, and it was just overwhelming. And so, I was like, “I need to learn how to scale this.” And so that’s when I was like, “I’m going to create courses.” And so, the courses actually just started selling earlier this year, but that’s the evolution of it. It was I was nervous to start it. “Oh, wait, people are interested. Oh, wait, now brands are coming to me. I’ve been putting this content out for free. I’ve already been talking about them. They want to pay me to put something up? That’s really cool.”
And so, it turned from just a little side hustle where I made some money on the side to, “Okay, whoa, now it’s almost like a second full time job.” I work on it on the weekends, in the mornings before work, after work, so I’ve replaced my Lyft driving and my opening the gym at 5:00 AM with my She Wolfe of Wall Street business. But yeah, it’s been another thing that just totally pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to see something that I didn’t even know existed, because running your own business is no joke.

Scott:
Well, it’s no surprise that it’s going. Your content is amazing. So anyone who has not yet checked it out, go check out @shewolfe, with an E, ofwallstreet on Instagram. There’s tons of good stuff there, lots of good tips. And then I love the little mini budget reviews that you do. I’m not sure what you call them.

Amanda:
Oh yeah, the budgeting series, yeah.

Scott:
What are they called?

Amanda:
Oh yeah, it’s just a budgeting series. So essentially what I do is I have people submit their information like how much money they make, how much they spend in a whole bunch of different categories, what their goals are, and then I break down what I would do with their money if I were them.

Scott:
Love it.

Amanda:
I think it’s interesting to see how much money people make in different jobs and how they actually spend their money, because getting financially naked, if you will, with your friends and family members can be a little uncomfortable. So just seeing what other people are doing with their money, I think, can be pretty eye-opening for people since it’s a black box, if you will.

Scott:
Well, congratulations on the incredible new job, the abundance mindset, and the side business or the second business that you’ve got here that’s exploding and I think will force a hard decision on your career in the next couple of years here, if it’s not already on that. I’d love to hear a little bit about how you invest today just in terms of percentages. You’re invested in stocks, 401(k). How do you think about where you allocate the dollars that are coming into your life on a personal level?

Amanda:
Yeah. For me, and if you’re listening to this and you don’t have this much money, don’t worry, but I shoot to max out my 401(k), max out my HSA, which is just a unicorn account that I think people don’t realize you can actually invest in, do a backdoor Roth IRA, and then the rest in the brokerage account. I would say that I’m a very boring investor, if you will. I have about 7% right now, I don’t know, it changes a little bit when the individual stocks go up and down, but about 7% of my portfolio is in individual stocks. I mean, about 5% are in bonds. And then the rest, honestly, are in just a mix of different index funds between just like the S&P 500, a couple mid-cap, small cap. But I keep it fairly simple. And then, oh, 2% in crypto. That number has also been changing.
But yeah, I mean, I keep it fairly boring over here.

Scott:
Used to be 3%.

Amanda:
Yeah, it was 4% at one point, 5%, I don’t know. Now it’s down to 2%. I have just considered that if that goes up, cool, if I lose all that money, it will not financially devastate me by any means. But yeah, I keep it pretty boring and lazy. I’ll say that the thing that I have not ventured into yet, that I’m very interested in, that’s going to be my goal for next year, is to get into real estate investing a little bit because I’ve been playing it safe over here and I’ve built up a healthy nest egg. I think that’s the next step for me. I got to learn first, though. I’m working on it.

Scott:
Awesome. We know some people in that area.

Amanda:
I’ve heard that.

Mindy:
Yeah, there’s this website called BiggerPockets.

Amanda:
I’ve heard that.

Mindy:
You mentioned doing a backdoor Roth. Are you doing a backdoor because of income limits or for other reasons? I guess, what are the other reasons? I guess it’s just income limits.

Amanda:
Yeah, so it’s income limits. You cannot directly contribute to a Roth IRA if you make over 144,000 if you’re single or over 214,000 if you’re married, and that’s combined income if you’re married. You cannot directly contribute to a Roth IRA. So what you have to do is… It has a very sketchy name, but it is a perfectly legal tax loophole that exists. Essentially, what you do is you open up a traditional IRA. You open up a Roth IRA. You put your $6,000 into the traditional IRA. You don’t invest it, which goes against everything we usually talk about. Let the funds settle, and then there’s a convert button. And then you can invest the money in the Roth IRA. So yes, it feels like very unnecessary stuff. But if you make over those income limits and you want to be able to take advantage of that tax-free growth, you have to do the backdoor Roth IRA.

Mindy:
You said $6,000. Can’t you do more than $6,000? Is that the mega backdoor? And then that is why you would do…. As soon as I said, “Oh, there’s no other reason,” of course there’s other reasons, to do more into your Roth than you would normally be able to do.

Amanda:
So if you’re over 50, then you can send an extra 1,000 toward it. But then a mega backdoor Roth IRA, that is different, and your company has to actually offer that. That’s not something that you can do yourself. A lot of tech companies offer it, so you could take advantage, but a lot of companies don’t. I would say that, I don’t know, it’s the hot newer thing, but you can contribute more money that way up to in the 50-ish thousand.

Scott:
Does your company offer a Roth 401(k)?

Amanda:
They do.

Scott:
Why do you go the backdoor instead of contributing to the Roth 401(k)?

Amanda:
I do a mix. Again, that’s why I said if you don’t have enough money to max out your 401(k) and do your Roth IRA and the HSA, I do have an order of operations that I would prefer, but if you have the money, then I would say do it all.

Scott:
What’s that order of operations that you prefer? Yeah, sorry.

Amanda:
Yeah, my order of operations, okay? First I would say, get your employer match. That is literally… people say it’s free money, but no, it’s literally part of your comp. When you were hired, they factored that into your package. If your company matches 4%, you put 4% in because that is a dollar for dollar return. So that is first. My second would be to do the HSA. So that’s 3,750, I believe, if you’re single, but you do have to be on a high deductible healthcare plan. Without going into a hundred different details, an HSA is different than an FSA. So an HSA stays with you forever, but you do have to be on that high deductible healthcare plan, and you can actually invest that money. So that’s second.
And then next would be to max out the Roth IRA so you can get that tax-free growth. And then I would go back to your 401(k) and/or brokerage. I would say that if you don’t then have enough money to max out your 401(k) to leave some money for a brokerage account. I personally like to have a little bit of money in a brokerage account, especially if you’re like 20s, 30s, 40s, because you have a lot of life ahead of you still, and you don’t know how things will change for you. I think that having almost like a savings account on steroids for future things can be really powerful. So I would like to say, go back to the 401(k), but leave a little something for the brokerage account.

Scott:
I love that order of operations. I think the only place where I would even have a question mark is in the last step. Do I go back to the 401(k), or I max out the Roth 401(k) at my work? I think that just depends on your long-term outlook and goals. I think that’s fantastic. But you, luckily, don’t have to make all those trade-offs because you can just go down the whole stack, it sounds like.

Amanda:
Yeah, but I haven’t always been able to go down the whole stack. When I haven’t been able to, that’s when I’ve made those decisions. As far as the Roth 401(k) versus traditional, nobody has a crystal ball and knows which things are going to look like in the future. So even though I’m in one of the highest income tax brackets, I still put some into the Roth 401(k) just because I like getting some of that tax-free growth.

Mindy:
I am going to give you another thing to look at when She Wolfe of Wall Street starts generating income and you don’t have any full-time employees, the self-directed solo 401(k), because then you can put in even more money. I think [inaudible 00:50:32] is coming out with a book about the solo 401(k), and that is a super fun account, but you can’t have full-time employees other than your spouse.

Scott:
Don’t worry, things get better when you have employees though. You just have more fun games from a retirement planning perspective. There’s all sorts of things you could do with pensions and profit shares and all that kind of good stuff.

Amanda:
Yeah, no, that will be an exciting day for sure. I mean, even to this point, like I said, entrepreneurship and owning my own businesses, it’s still very much new territory for me. People are like, “Come out with a course for entrepreneurship.” I’m like, “I’m still learning a little bit. Give me a minute.” Because I get that it is confusing even if you’re an aesthetician, you own your own business, there’s so many things that and so many people out there who own their own business that it can get complicated. But to your point, there’s also really powerful accounts out there that exist that can help you just completely catapult your wealth, but you got to know about them, you got to know what to do.
I also think hiring a great accountant is one of those things that costs you money but makes you richer because they know all of those tax rules and they know how to make your money work best for you, especially in some complicated situations like that, but yes. I’ve already been actively working with my accountant on how I can best protect as much of this income as possible.

Scott:
Yeah, the accountant’s really great and then the fee-only financial planner can help a lot in this spaces. So if you’re ever thinking about setting the setting one of these up, I would recommend strongly not working with a commissioned financial… You’ll have to have a financial planner most likely to set the plan, and if you get a commissioned one, they’re going to set up one that is great for their income. If you get a fee-only person, they’re going to help you with a lot of the new one, because there’s so many trade-offs to make when you’re setting up these self-directed plans. And when you have employees, it gets even more complex.

Amanda:
And fees are a thing I watch out for because I know just how much that can eat into your wealth over time, so those will definitely be questions I’m asking.

Mindy:
Yes. And you can find a great fee-only financial planner at the xyplanningnetwork.com. Okay, so in terms of your total net worth, how is your portfolio split up in terms of retirement accounts versus after tax brokerage, non-retirement accounts?

Amanda:
Yeah. I will say that it is around a 60/40 split right now, because I only started aggressively investing in a brokerage account within the last five years or so. So this whole time I’ve been really consistent with the retirement accounts, which is great of course, where I’ve been preparing for my future, but I didn’t really start investing that much in brokerage accounts until the last five-ish years because I quite simply didn’t have the extra money, didn’t totally know what I was doing, was still living within that scarcity mindset, like, “Is this the right thing to do?” And then I realized later on, if you’re one of those people who also have not opened a brokerage account, it’s just a different type of account. You’re buying the same thing. I think once I realized that, I’m like, “Wait a minute, why have I been doing this?”

Mindy:
You’re not alone. We talk to a lot of people who’s almost entire net worth is in their pre-tax retirement accounts. We talk to people who are on the path to financial independence and retiring early, and your traditional retirement is part of your early retirement and you need to fund that. But you also need to fund your early retirement if that’s your goal. I love that you have money in your brokerage account now.

Amanda:
Absolutely. That’s what I was saying earlier. I think it’s so important to have some money in a brokerage account, even if you don’t know if you’re going to retire early. Because you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to happen in five or 10 or even 15 years. So having some money that is good. And then, of course, you can always do a Roth conversion ladder, which is something that hopefully I’ll be able to implement in my life, just be able to access some of those retirement funds a little bit earlier without the fees as well.

Mindy:
Okay. In terms of your monthly spending, how much cash do you keep on hand and where do you keep it?

Amanda:
I personally have my account set up like this, so I have two checking accounts, one regular savings account, and a high yield savings account. So my two checking accounts, and one checking account, I have all of my necessities. It’s been set up like this for so long that it’s now just on autopilot. But my necessities, so it’s going to be anything that automatically comes out or is a bill, which most of them are. So it’s going to be my housing, my car payment. I buy dog food automatically twice a month. That comes out. So anything that’s pretty much automated and I know exactly how much it is comes out of this account one.
And then account two is my spending money. I have already paid myself first, if you’ve heard that term before, I’ve already paid myself first at this point, so I have money from every paycheck automatically go to all of my different accounts. And then I have my money split into checking account one of necessities, checking account two things I’m swiping. So that way, even though I’m using my credit card throughout the month, I know that before my next paycheck, if I have spent $2,000 on this credit card, I know that I should have $2,000 in that account too. And if I don’t, then that means I’m overspending on my credit card because account one is for all the bills, so this is my spending money. It’s a no budget budget, if you will, so that I don’t have to neurotically track going out to eat versus shopping. It’s just like I get $2,000 to spend on whatever because the bills are taken care of.
That is how I have those two. Then for my just regular savings account, I have about one month of expenses in there just in cash, just in case I did overspend or I suddenly need to take some cash out. And then the rest of my savings, not investments but my savings, is in a high yield savings account. This is going to be my additional… I have about four additional months of living expenses in a fund, so my emergency fund, then I have some other things. Well, I just got married at the end of June, so I did have a nice fat wedding account, but that’s been depleted, but it was worth it. And then vacations like the honeymoon. So any beauty things that I want, any big thing that I’m saving up for, I’ll have little buckets of savings over there so that I don’t touch it but I also know what it’s for.
So that’s how I have my money organized, and that’s about how much cash I have on hand. I’m not adding anything to my emergency fund at this point, but if something happened and I needed to pull from it, I would add to it. Otherwise, all my extra cash gets invested. I mentioned my spending account, that checking account two where all of my spending money comes out of it, so if I didn’t spend that much that month and I only spent, in this example, 1,000 of the 2000 and now my next paycheck comes, well, I know I have extra money in that accounts and I can just invest it, or I can add it toward another savings goal, if I’m saving up for, I don’t know, a Chanel purse or just something that I really want or whatever it’s going to be.
That’s how I have it structured, and that’s how much cash I keep on hand. Like I said in the beginning, women tend to hoard money, so you should come up with a routine for you as well that if once you get above a certain limit, cut yourself off, you’ve got to invest that money.

Mindy:
Well, what I’m hearing you say is you have thought about it. You think about where your money’s going. You consciously are putting only this much in. You’re aware of what you’re spending, even if you’re not tracking it to the degree that other people are. I’m currently tracking my spending super, super, super granularly, but that’s an experiment that I’m doing right now. You’re aware of where your money’s going and you’re aware how much is coming in, how much is going out, how much you have. Like you said earlier, “I know exactly how much money I have, and I know where it is.” This is all very thoughtful. I think there’s a lot of people who are in a position where they don’t have any money and they don’t know why. You have a lot of money and you know why, and it’s because you’re intentional with everything you’re doing.

Amanda:
I think it’s the scariest thing is just looking at it at first, right? I mean, the people I’ve sat down who have debt and we sit down and look at it and come up with a plan and I’m like, “Okay, girl, you’re not doing so bad. You can actually be debt-free by Valentine’s Day.” It’s August right now. And she’s like, “Wait a minute, how, wait, what?” Well, let’s look at it like, this isn’t so bad. I think it’s one of those things like sometimes we build up situations in our head if maybe you’re in not a great situation, you probably have just built this up so much in your head. I think if you sat down and looked at it and came up with a plan, it probably wouldn’t be as bad as you thought. Or if it was, coming up with a plan to get out of it, like, “You know what? It’s going to be a two-year journey, but at the end of the two years, I’m going to be done with this.” I think that that just brings a lot of peace. But you got to look at your accounts to be able to get to that point.

Mindy:
They don’t go away just by not looking at them.

Amanda:
No,

Mindy:
In fact, they get worse.

Amanda:
Compound interest works both ways.

Mindy:
That is a great place to stop. Amanda Wolfe of the She Wolfe of Wall Street, please tell people where they can find out more about you.

Amanda:
You can find me on Instagram, She Wolfe of Wall Street, and that’s Wolfe with an E. There’s a lot of imposters, you got to be careful with the finance accounts. She Wolfe of Wall Street on Instagram, or shewolfofwallstreet.com is my website. I post things about free classes that I’m hosting, courses, just other things that are going on. You can catch me there, or pretty much any other social media account, TikTok, Twitter, et cetera.

Mindy:
Okay, Amanda, this was so much fun. Thank you so much for your time today.

Amanda:
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been awesome.

Mindy:
We’ll talk to you soon.

Amanda:
See you.

Mindy:
All right, Scott, that was Amanda Wolfe, the She Wolfe of Wall Street on Instagram and her website, the shewolfeofwallstreet. I love her so much. Holy cow, her story is incredible.

Scott:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean from childhood poverty to emancipation to paying her way through high school and life to paying her way through college, bothering to find out about the and outs of personal finance. By the way, I thought the only part of the episode where I would even use the word naive for a second was when she thought that most kids got taught about money by their parents growing up. But everything has been self-taught. This entire journey is something that she figured out for herself. Wow, it is just so fun to see the rocket ship beginning to take off here in the last year after a decade of hard work, of grind. She called it playing it safe, but it was grinding, it was building a really strong financial foundation that is preparing her for this awesome new career, a side business. Sky’s the limit for her. We’ll watch her take over the world over the next 10 years here.

Mindy:
Scott, I think my favorite part of her story is when she said, “I realized at the end of my first year that I had made all this money, but I didn’t have anything to show for it. So I looked at my bank statement and my credit card statement and all of these things, and I didn’t understand what this stuff meant. So I called up the companies and I asked them questions.” Who does that? I love that she wasn’t embarrassed to ask the questions. If you want to know the answer to a question, ask the question, and don’t ask somebody who isn’t going to be able to give you the answer. Call up Chase. Call up Fidelity. Call up whoever and say, “I don’t understand this. Explain it to me.” And if they can’t do it, say, “Give me somebody else who can.” Ask the questions that you want to know the answer to. That was brilliant. That is a great tip. If you don’t know the answer to something, ask and keep asking until you understand the answer. I love her.

Scott:
I think that’s what’s fun about the story is that was in 2009, 2010, and that’s not a long time ago, but it’s right before all these blogs and forums popped up around financial independence with that. And so, that mentality, I think, was harder to get those types of answers. Now, if you have those questions, yes, like Mindy said, call or post it to the Facebook group or post to the forums, and you’ll get answers to those questions. It’s really easy to do that. You’re just giving yourself a huge disadvantage by not asking these things, about how to find them. And then someone just points you that one link, “Oh, now I’m ready to go. Now I found the rabbit hole and can go down it.” It’s so hard to get that entry point into this stuff if you don’t have someone just pointing in the right direction, helping you out.

Mindy:
Absolutely. Oh, I love her story so much. Like I said in the beginning, I love her tenacity. She is going to go so far.

Scott:
We shouted out the RA’s dad who helped her with their student loan debt, but how about a big shout out to all of the support reps from Fidelity and the bank that told her to hide her bank account? I mean, these are huge tips, one by one, that we got throughout the journey.

Mindy:
Yep. Shout out to everybody who helped her on her journey and shout out to everybody who helps you on your journey too. Okay, Scott, should we get out of here?

Scott:
Let’s do it.

Mindy:
From episode 329 of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, he is Scott Trench, and I am Mindy Jensen saying, got to go, buffalo.

 

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In This Episode We Cover

  • Escaping childhood poverty through basic financial education
  • DIY financial literacy by asking questions others are too intimidated to
  • 401ks, Roth IRAs, HSAs, and other tax-advantaged investing accounts
  • Tweaking your “money mindset” to place yourself on the path to building wealth
  • Amanda’s biggest financial mistake that, once corrected, increased her income two-fold
  • Building your emergency reserves and using them to catapult your investments
  • And So Much More!

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.