Stay informed with our COVID-19 updates Learn More
  • Blog
  • It's Never Too Late to Tackle Debt and Build Wealth

It's Never Too Late to Tackle Debt and Build Wealth

It’s Never Too Late to Tackle Debt and Build Wealth

This is an interview with our community member and ambassador, Zarina Citlali.

Overview:
Where are you from? Mesa, Az
Where do you live now? Los Angeles, CA
What do you do for work? Retail & Brand Manager at MADE by DWC - a nonprofit social enterprise
Do you have any side hustles? Social Media Management
Salary (if comfortable sharing)? $58,000/yr
How much student debt are you tackling (or have tackled)? Graduated with $54,000, currently at $34,000
How did you start your early career? AmeriCorp VISTA at a nonprofit to help pay off my undergraduate loans

What was your financial situation growing up?

Both of my parents are artists, so they never had a steady income. We were very lucky to be middle class, and since my mom had a great understanding of finance, she was able to stretch our income and taught us to start saving at an early age.

How have your views on money changed over time?

I’ve learned to be more focused on the long term, and appreciate savings and investing, more than getting the instant gratification of spending money on nonessentials.

Can you tell us a bit more about your financial progress and what your goals are?

My main financial goals now are - Pay off student loans by the end of the year and to save up and buy a house.

Get our buying a home guide here.

Can you talk a bit about your financial situation when you graduated from college?

I was extremely lucky to have minimal debt from undergraduate (Less than $5k) which I was able to pay off completely through my AmeriCorps VISTA Education Award. I later went to graduate school and took out $54k to pay my tuition. I’ve been working on paying off these loans by the end of the year.

What are some budgeting hacks you’ve tried that have worked for you?

I use an excel workbook to track my spending and assign a budget for every spending category.

Download our free budget template here.

What are some of the strategies you implemented to pay off your debt?

Snowball - tackling largest debt first. Paying more than the minimum payment amount.

When did you start taking your wealth-building journey?

I started my debt-free journey in 2018, and I would say I’m just now starting my wealth-building journey.

What are some money habits you adopted?

No emotional spending, making a list of things I NEED so I know what I don’t need, saving for big-ticket items.

What would you tell your younger self?

It’s never too early to get invested in your investments. And you don’t need another pair of shoes.

Money mantra?

Money comes easily and freely

What are your three pieces of advice?

  1. No debt is “good debt”
  2. Pay yourself first
  3. Debt Free is Freedom

What inspired you in regards to wealth building?

Knowing that wealth is generational, so I need to get my shit together for my kids!

Apply to join our community to meet Zarina and other like-minded women who are on their way towards financial freedom.

Related categories

Sign up for our newsletter for monthly financial tips!