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Why I Value Financial Independence, and How I Plan to get There as a First Gen College Grad

Where are you from? Los Angeles, CA
Where do you live now? Los Angeles, CA
What do you do for work? I’m an Associate Marketing Consultant
Do you have any side hustles? Hmm, I tried a couple of things! I got paid to design a website for a life coach, but I didn’t like web design enough to grow it into a long-term side hustle. I recently published a book, so I’ve been getting some money here and there from it. I think side hustles are a great way to make extra money, so my 2022 goal is to find a side hustle that I can do consistently.
How much student debt are you tackling (or have tackled)? I am tackling 17K
How did you start your early career? I graduated from SJSU in December 2019 with my B.S in business analytics, so I would say I’m still early in my career. I needed my role to fill my love for creativity and community building so I pivoted searching analyst roles to marketing roles. I started an internship with Snowball Wealth and then took a role as a marketing consultant.

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

My parents divorced when I was nine and after that day, money was talked about constantly. My mom reminded me that my dad wasn’t providing financially, so I couldn’t have a lot of the things I wanted. My mom had two jobs at the time and my dad was a mechanic, so I knew it was a big sacrifice when I would actually get the toy I wanted for my birthday or Christmas. My dad eventually stopped visiting and my mom filed for child support. Child support was about $100 a month and my mom used it to pay bills, so I was encouraged to make my own money.

I found ways to make money by selling the guavas from our guava tree, selling fuzzy pens to my classmates, and as I got older, babysitting and doing random jobs for my mom’s friends.

Throughout my childhood and adolescent life, I saw a lot of financial instability - I went from living in a four-bedroom house to our family going bankrupt and living in a garage. The financial instability I experienced led me to choose a major that would guarantee a job because I thought it would result in financial security. I fear the possibility of losing everything or depending on someone else, so I value financial independence and consider myself to be very career-focused.


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

When I graduated from college, I was working part-time at the Marriott Hotel, and three months later, the pandemic hit the U.S. The hospitality industry was heavily impacted by COVID, and while I wasn’t laid off, I wasn’t scheduled to work since they scheduled full-time workers first.

I applied for unemployment which helped A LOT. It covered all of my living expenses, and there was also enough for me to save some cash, which I used to pay off my credit card debt. I then landed an internship at an amazing FinTech startup (Snowball!). I think my time at Snowball really catapulted my financial well-being. I learned different budgeting methods, debt strategies, when and how to refinance student loans, investing methods, and it opened my eyes to what was financially possible. (Our student debt tool can help you see your options and give you a personalized game plan!)

Eight months later, I was offered a contractor opportunity to make $10K a month and I did that for 4 months, before getting a full-time offer at the firm.

What are some money habits you hope to adopt in 2022?

Some money habits I hope to adopt in 2022 are becoming a savvy shopper and paying myself first. When it comes to spending money, I tend to swipe, swipe, swipe without looking at the price. I want to learn how to plan ahead and become a savvy shopper, so I can feel confident that I made a smart purchase.

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

1 - Sacrifice short-term gratification. Tanya, founder of Snowball Wealth said in a blog, “sometimes getting to a financially secure place will require sacrificing short-term gratification!” And I love this because I think it can be applied to life in general!

2 - Get yourself a money community! It’s comforting knowing other people are on the same journey as you and that they’re available to offer encouragement and advice. (Money is stressful. That is why we’ve built a free community of women to support each other. Join our free community here.)

3 - Stick to your plan. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the strategies, but don’t get paralyzed by all the choices. Set a clear plan (check out our free goal setting worksheet) and stick to it. Snowball offers financial consulting in its premium program that can help with personalized financial planning.

As the first-generation in your family to invest and build wealth you gotta learn from people who’ve done it. Financial Advisors charge a percentage or flat fee and only work with super wealthy people to begin with! With the Snowball Wealth membership you get direct access to a Certified Financial Planner for a fraction of the cost so you can build wealth like the wealthy!

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