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How Snowball Wealth Motivated Me to Start My Financial Journey

How Snowball Wealth Motivated Me to Start My Financial Journey

This story is from Nina Rodriguez, a member of our community and ambassador for Snowball Wealth. She paid off her credit card debt and has great tips so you can too!

How did you hear about Snowball Wealth?

I am from Glendale, California, where I work as an associate property writer in commercial property. I attended Arizona State University through The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. Typical out-of-state tuition is $30,000+ per year, but I paid $15,000 per year because of the program. I started taking my finances seriously about two years ago when Snowball Wealth opened its beta program. Since then, I have paid off my credit card debt and am on my way towards building generational wealth.

What was your financial situation growing up, and how did it impact your financial decisions moving forward?

Growing up, I lived in a lower/middle-class income household. We had our basic financial needs met, but now that I’m older, I realized that money was never discussed. Although we never had to worry about food being scarce, my parents avoided discussing debt. I think many Latinos and maybe just people of color use the avoidance coping mechanism when dealing with their debt. They don’t want to talk about it or deal with it, and they think it will just figure itself out.

At the age of 19 was when I had to start taking financial responsibility. I paid rent and any other expenses that I needed to cover. I’m thankful that I lived in Arizona during college, where rent was so much cheaper; however, I started using my credit cards to go out to eat, and it racked up over time. I thought it was okay to pay the minimum amount every month without considering the amount of interest that accrued.

What was your financial situation before and after you graduated?

While studying at Arizona State University, I worked part-time at a startup in their customer advocate team. After I got my degree, I got a job in Glendale, which allowed me to move back home with my family. After graduating, I chose to move in with my family because I had credit card debt, an auto loan, and student loans, so it would’ve been challenging to manage to live independently.

What financial decisions do you wish you would’ve done differently?

I wish I would’ve advocated a little more for myself when discussing salary. At the time, I didn’t consider the fact that I was moving from Arizona, which had such low taxes. I realized that my paychecks looked almost the same as when I was getting paid significantly less in Arizona. I would advise people who are moving from one state to another to negotiate and take those things into account.

What was the most challenging thing about managing your finances?

Having to come to the realization of how much debt I had in total. I think it’s an ego thing because you don’t understand how you let yourself accumulate that much debt initially. When I first started thinking about my debt, I felt defeated and thought it would take me two years to pay off some of my debt, but it actually took me nine months!

When did you start taking your wealth-building seriously?

I tried to organize my finances for many months! Friends would send me their budgeting spreadsheets and explain how they manage their money, but it just never worked for me. It was overwhelming! I first had to figure out how much I was even spending before figuring out my monthly budget.

I heard about Snowball and the Co-Founder, Tanya, on a podcast. They were looking for people to interview for their beta program. I signed up because I didn’t understand my student loans and needed financial advice. A few months passed, and I didn’t hear back, so I reached out to them again. My persistence paid off because Snowball Wealth reached out to schedule a call. Pearl helped me with financial planning-- that was a game-changer for me! I started using the Snowball budget template regularly, and I also had monthly check-ins with Pearl to see if I was getting closer to my financial goals.

Download our free budget template to get started.

What are your financial goals?

My main money goal is to continue saving this year and hopefully buy property sometime soon! I still have my student loan, which I’m hoping will be done soon. However, I have less than $3K left to pay off my auto loan, which isn’t too bad.

What are your personal finance hacks?

I have to constantly remind myself that “hay comida en la casa.” which is basically, “there’s food at home.” One thing I will say is that a lot of my spending habits have changed. I’m not the best when it comes to setting a budget and sticking to it, but I like to see where my money is going. I will check it on mint and see where most of my money went, and I simply adjust for the following month.

I also believe that you should consider paying off your debt before you start fully saving. Because if you start saving while you have high-interest debt, it doesn’t make mathematical sense.

What are three pieces of advice you give to people who are on their debt-free journey?

  1. One thing I like to ask myself before I buy anything is, “can I make this, instead of buying it?” and I apply this to almost everything- I love DIYs! I would recommend seeing if there are any ways that you can save yourself money.
  2. Don’t feel bad if you can’t go out during the weekend or go on trips. It may feel crappy at the moment, but in a few years, you will feel better about the money you saved.
  3. Talk to your friends about money so you can see that they are probably going through the same thing. Community and support really help.

Nina is a part of our Snowball Wealth community on slack. You can sign up to join our community of women who are on a mission to build wealth and break bad money habits! Make sure to mention Nina’s story sent you!

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