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Episode Number: 164

Episode 164-The Pursuit of Financial Liberation, Social Justice & Entrepreneurship w/ Ysanet Batista

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Jamila Souffrant 0:00

You're listening to the Journey to Launch Podcast. The Journey to Financial Liberation, Woke Entrepreneurship, and Social Justice with Ysanet Batista.

Recording 0:13

Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest, and build real wealth. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one.

Jamila Souffrant 0:40

Okay, journeyers, it's a celebration. If you're caught up on the podcast, maybe you're just new to the podcast hello, your journey or now then you know, or maybe you don't that it is the anniversary month of the podcast so it's July 2020. It marks the three year anniversary month since we started the show and so helps us ring this special I'm really excited to talk a little bit more about today's sponsor of the podcast who has been sponsoring us all month, You Need a Budget, also known as YNAB. Now I know at first, the word budget seems to be restrictive. But in fact, when you use a budget the right way, you will experience a level of freedom you've never had before with your money. That's what happened when I started to use YNAB to budget years ago, I used to feel guilty when I spent money and I didn't really understand how my everyday purchases or spending habits impacted my long term goals. But once I discovered that financial independence was a thing and something I could pursue, I just wanted to figure out how I could do that I wanted to figure out how we can save and invest more of our income, while still living a happy life right now. So finally tracking and seeing what was coming in our income and what was going out our expenses allowed us to adjust our spending in a way that balanced our desire to spend in the now but also our desire to accomplish that our long term goals. So now with my budget, I have much more control and the guilt of not knowing how I'm doing is gone. Every month, my husband and I proactively decide how we're going to spend our money using the budget. And that's why we use wine app to keep us accountable. And I think you should get YNAB try. Wine app has a proven four rule method that allows you to zero in, stay focused, and give every dollar a job so that your money is working hard for you. And you can spend it on things that matter the most. Budgeting is not restrictive, you won't be spending less you will be spending right? I highly recommend you check out you need a budget also known as wine app, give it a try for free 34 days no credit card required by going to youneedabudget.com/journey. Now for this week's episode of the podcast. It's a special one they all are very special. But it's really special because I get to interview a journeyer just like yourself, someone in the middle of their financial freedom journey making progress and I've always found that when I've done it interviews like these where I talk to people just like you in the middle of it, it resonates more, because you get to hear from someone who's maybe a couple steps ahead of you, who's still figuring it out. So Ysanet Batista is a Dominican American raised in between Harlem, New York and the Dominican Republic. She has a love for her culture, social justice and cooking which led her to start her own food cooperation business called Woke Foods. And it explores Dominican based plant cuisine, being a business owner and community activists and made her more aware about money and the systems that created it and run it. By the way, Ysanet is also a member of the Money Launch Club. You'll hear her talk about the Money Launch Club and the impact it's had on her life and her journey since joining. So you'll hear more about that later in the episode. But for now, here's what I want you to know. Now, there is still time to sign up for my free class. If you're listening to this in real time, this episode comes out July 15. I know some people you may rush to download and listen to it or maybe you're listening to this later. But if you are happening to listen to this before July 16. I'm holding a class on Thursday, July 16, that you can still join. It's totally free. And I'm helping you map out how you can reach financial independence. So there's still time to join go to journeytolaunch.com/freeclass to sign up. And if you happen to listen to this after that date, don't worry, check out Money Launch Club. So I am opening up doors to the Money Launch Club the following week. So we're going to be open until July 23. So again, Ysanet is going to talk all about it we're going to talk about this a bit in the episode but if you want more information and you want to join us join me in Ysanet come to moneylaunchclub.com. All right, that's all I got. Let's go right into this conversation with Ysanet.

Okay, journeyers really excited because we have one of our own on the podcast. Today, Ysanet Thank you so much. Ysanet Batista. Gotta say your last name to give you some respect on your name. joining us on today's podcast, I'm excited about it because Ysanet is not only a true journeyer, she listens to the podcast, but she's also in the Money Launch Club. And I've known you for a bit now. Ysanet like you listen to the podcast, I see you on social, you have your own business. So it's pretty cool like to see your business grow. Also, while you are tuning in with your finances, but then you're also on the Money Launch Club. So I feel like I know you on another level versus maybe just someone who listens like externally to the podcast. It's like because we meet once a month, and you update me on your goals. And we have all these conversations within the money launch club that I feel like I know so much more about you. So I wanted to bring you on the show because I think it's really important when people who are in the journey share their perspective, versus maybe like an expert or someone who's saved already a gazillion dollars, right. Like, let's talk to people who are actually in it. So I want to welcome you to the podcast and I'm excited to have everyone hear your story.

Ysanet Batista 5:57

Thank you Jamila. I'm excited to be here and honored that he thought to invite me.

Jamila Souffrant 6:02

Everyone in the Money Launch Club is amazing. But you're like a star member.

Ysanet Batista 6:08

I go on it. So often, I really try to like get the most out of it because there's so many different tools. So I just, I really like engaging with it, because they also keeps me on top of my own financial journey.

Jamila Souffrant 6:21

Right. And I think that's the amazing thing about the Launch Club, and we can talk about that a little bit later. But that fact that you're like, so self motivated, because, you know, with things like that it's online, it's self paced some of the work that's in there, you can literally like you, it's up to you to show up the information and support is there. And some people just don't have the time or they can show up like once a month or once every couple months. And they're like, I got what I needed. I had this question, or I needed this and they're fine. And some people need more of that. And so I think it's just amazing that you utilize it in a way that it works for you. But before we talk about the Money Launch Club a bit more, I do want to talk about you. You lived in New York. Now you're In Florida, right, but you have your own business. And before we press record, you were saying how you found me and Journey to Launch. So can you talk a little bit about how you came across the podcast and wanted to like, get your finances together?

Ysanet Batista 7:14

Sure. So my story's a little bit different from others. So my background is actually comes from my community organizing work. And part of that is looking at the different systems of oppression that like that marginalize people color and black people. And this was around the time that the cages were they were putting like immigrant children into it, like the current administration at the border. Yeah. So I started to look into how these things were happening, and how they were getting all this money to do this. And so that I went into a rabbit hole of divesting and I was like, wow, like my money, even even if I'm not really rich has an impact on the decisions that are being made statewide. And so I decided to to make a new year's resolution. This was January 2019, I made a new year's resolution that I was going to get my finances in order in order to have more decision power in terms of the U.S. economy. And so I put it on Facebook, that I wanted to better understand money and finances and I wanted to also do it in a way that was ethical. I wanted to learn from other People of Color are the Black people. And so a friend of mine who I went to college with, who I don't even talk to tagged your podcast. And then from there, I went on another rabbit hole, found your private Facebook group. And I joined and yeah, so simultaneously, I started divesting from large bank institutions that were loaning money to immigration detention centers or private prisons or oil pipelines, like, basically all the evils of the world. I started divesting from those fans but while simultaneously learning about, well, it doesn't matter where I bank like money money so like, where do I how do I handle it? How do I organize it so that I can create wealth, but also create generational wealth for those that come after me? So that's how I got into it. And then I mean, it's been like a saving grace because I've been able to find community in this process and you're in the Money Launch Club like really holds me accountable.

Jamila Souffrant 9:43

Now it's true like you know, you do get like a renowned sense of when it's new, the beginning beginning of the year, like you want to, like, you know, make a relative resolution and do something. But coupled on that when you have like such a mission, like you know, you you had a clear view that you wanted to make your dollars work for to you and to better the world and your community. And so you had a clear mission, which is why I always say once you have like an internal drive or moral compass driving you for something more than just like yourself, like while going on the trip is fine. And having that be your goal is fine. When you find that like deep level, like oh, no, the community, the world is depending on me to like, make sure my money is doing the best it can then it's like a different type of motivation.

Ysanet Batista 10:27

Yeah, for sure. I thought always that people have a lot of money, like rich people had an impact on how things happen. And it's true. There is a lot of power that wealthier people hold, but I also have power and I have also internal power, which is a little bit different. And it's really important to understand your why. And before I didn't really care or had a why and then once I found it, then it was really hard to kind of shake it off and I just had to like, go forward.

Jamila Souffrant 11:00

Yeah. So can you talk a little bit more about your background? So you're living in New York when you I think you find the podcast and my stuff. But where were you financially? At that point? Were you single? And I'm asking like the more personal questions because sometimes like it matters how on if you're on this with a partner trying to figure it out or you're by yourself, or like the fact that you lived in New York, very high cost of living and the industry here and you did community work, which is typically not associated with like high salary. So if you could talk a little bit more about like the just the makeup of who you were when you started this journey?

Ysanet Batista 11:32

Sure. So I say that I've been learning a little bit of our finances since probably 2016. I was doing AmeriCorps, which is a program that you don't get paid a lot of money. It's I was going to pay like maybe $900 to $1,000 a month, and that was really tight living in New York. Luckily, I was living or friends who will charge me very little rent and while also doing AmeriCorps that's when I started more actively community organizing work and started doing work around Black Lives Matter. Other work related to to the Dominican community and racial equity within within us. And then, yeah, it was like really, really struggling with my own home and like not having money to buy healthy food. And then sort of wondering like, why that was. And that's kind of what got me started to learning more about the economy and finances and how it weaves into all parts of our lives. I wanted to like a finance class on my bank had my local bank had, and at the time, I was making like $12,000.

Jamila Souffrant 12:45

In New York City.

Ysanet Batista 12:47

In New York City. I don't know how I survived but I did. And it wasn't easy. There was a time where I also experienced like homelessness in New York and was couch surfing or floor surfing amongst friends houses, and then I started my own business. And it was like a side hustle to make up for the lack of money that I was making on working in like organizing work and education. After AmeriCorps, I found that I really was interested in food, specifically plant based food. So that's how I started my business Woke Foods, which focuses on Dominican plant based food. And specifically we were I was really interested in providing healthy meals to other community organizers because the work of hosting events on doing protest like educating, organizing and community takes a big toll on your on your body and your mental health. So that's how like that was the idea of Woke Foods like providing food for people on the ground, that we're doing this important, important work. So starting that business was hard. I used like this probably illegal, but I use like half of my food stamps, to buy the food for like the catering or the meal prepping. And then the other half, I would use it for myself. So I required budgeting, because I had to like budget, my how much money I was going to spend every month on myself, and how much I was going to put into into the cost of goods sold for the business. And then over time, I realized having my own business, I had a lot of money, trauma, and a lot of scarcity mindset, and that because of community organizing work, and because I was you know, educating myself on systemic oppression and racism, I had this deep belief that money was evil. That money was evil. That was my belief, but then so understanding better and I was like well, or one of an elder actually asked me, well, what would a million dollars in the hands of Ysanet that look like? I was like, wow, if I had a million dollars, I would do X and Y and Z. And then the conversation was like, well, it's not that money is evil, is that there are certain people who use money to hurt communities, but money in your hands could look different. That's when things are really shifting for me. As for my work as for my value within my business, within my jobs, I was working like five different jobs, still making like $11,000 $12,000 even after AmeriCorps, I stayed in that income bracket. So I had to make a hard decision, kind of started focusing more on my business and then got one part time job plus my business that could really support me. So that's when I started going up to 30,000. And now I'm in the I'm in the 40-45 bracket. But I am still I am single. I don't have any children. My family does not depend on me cuz I know that's the story of some other people. So I kind of just spend my money on on me and my goals and my business and some of the organizing work that I do.

Jamila Souffrant 16:10

Oh my gosh, Isa net like everything you just said, I have so many just things I want to like, comment on, because hearing your story, like I didn't know that detail of your story that you had some homelessness in your experience and how little like you made to start. So what did you go to school for?

Ysanet Batista 16:28

I went to school in Providence, Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University. It's a private university. And so I took out a lot of loans. I studied Hotel and Tourism Management and also food service. So I've worked in that industry. Yeah, but working in hotels and and catering. So I was like, 16.

Jamila Souffrant 16:50

Yeah, yeah. And you said something that you know, with the whole food stamps thing, which first of all, I would think like that is the best thing you could do with it. Your food stamps, taking some power back, and like trying to make away whether that meant like then you ate less or whatever, you know, like that you were like sacrificing so that you can like build a business like I would think they should give you extra money for people who you know, because we are full of beautiful ideas and things that will change this world is we don't have the capital sometimes you don't have the capital or the support. And so imagine like that. And so I just think that's amazing. Like, if that's illegal, then everyone should be trying to they could do something like that because I stick is commendable. So Wow.

Ysanet Batista 17:34

Yeah, I use all the resources I could I got a job at a farmers market and at the end of the farmers market, all the extra produce, I would take home. Like I was like, where are the resources? I signed up for like a five month startup business boot camp to start my business it was free. And yeah, like I found a lot of different resources. A lot of my friends were sending me resources and I would just sign up for everything and really like hustle. Yeah, I think that's what I would say like I hustled my way through, through getting out of out of poverty and out of like that income bracket that was really suffocating me and allowing me to, to shine and to call for my community what I all that I had to offer.

Jamila Souffrant 18:19

Yeah. So how did you? How did you go from I know, like, I know, you said you, like had a couple of like smaller jobs that weren't really paying much. How did you go from the $11,000? Just like as the work on the side, because your business like takes a lot of your time. How did you go from that to now making like in the 40s, which, you know, is significantly like more like in New York, you know, that still not that much because of the cost of living, but how did you manage to make that climb to do that?

Ysanet Batista 18:52

I did a few different things. The internal work happens when I read this book. I can remember the name of it right now, but it was something around like, your self worth determines your net worth, or something along those lines. We'll have to find it in some send you the name of it specifically. But that book really caught me out on a lot of things. I really was like, Okay, yeah, I definitely don't charge people what I should charge for the services I offer. And then it was hard because the service that was offering was to the community members. And so I just kind of decided to switch things around. And we started I don't want to backtrack my business, I decided to make it a worker cooperative business, which is a business model that was used a lot by by black people in the south during segregation. And it's just like, the idea of collectively like owning things and working together is you know, connected to like my ancestors. And so, it wasn't just me. I had other people that were working alongside me, but because I was the founder I, I was doing like the majority of like the heavy lifting. So we decided to shift and started offering catering to like nonprofit organizations, foundations. And so like charging those people that had budgets, tht had money to pay us and so and we also got like a Fiscal Sponsorship through a nonprofit so I was able to apply for grants. And so a combination of those things it really required me to required me and my, my fellow workers to, like really reimagine what business could be like in order to stay with the niche way that we felt we did our business. So that's how that started. And then there was one time where I decided to work a full time job and my side business only lasted for like three months because I was dying. Yeah, and then I found a part time job that paid really well that was paying $30 an hour for me to take the most I've ever gotten paid in my life. And then to stay with that. I was like, I'm just gonna stick to my part time job and my business. And so I was working full time for my business and then part time with the nonprofit. And that's kind of when I had to really buckled down with like my finances. Not that I ever, because I've never made that much money. I've never been like a spender. I've never been a person who buys like a lot of clothes, or I've just I don't do that. And so budgeting wasn't that difficult. It's just like the discipline and the practice of doing it. That was the hard thing for me. So I don't I don't know the answer of like, how that shift happened, but I do think that it was a mixture of like, the internal work, and then also utilizing the resources I had around me.

Jamila Souffrant 21:56

Yeah, and I don't think it's ever just like one thing you know, like, it's always like these combinations of these small things. But the biggest influence is the internal work like you had mentioned about the way you thought about money. And that all like stems from the way we were brought up our culture, our culture, that we're raised in our neighborhoods, all these things that like matter with the way we think about money that can include some self sabotage on how much we earn or make or decide that we're worth, right, especially when you have your own business. I mean, it happens to like if you work in corporate America, and you're trying to maybe negotiate a salary, but especially when you as a business owner setting prices and you're serving customers, people like you, it's a little different, like when you're working with with a big business. Maybe you don't feel as bad when you're just like, Oh, I'm just gonna charge as much as I can versus well, like, I feel like I should be helping but not realizing that this is helping. And then the fact that you have more money, the more that you're able to do with it. That's the goal, right? Like so it's not a bad thing if you have money.

Ysanet Batista 22:58

Yeah, it was great because then the idea idea was for us to hire people that had a really hard time accessing jobs so I was able to hire my grandmother who's an immigrant. And her job was more like a home attendant. And you know, to cook like you don't need to know like English, like you don't need a lot of things. A lot of people a lot of women in my community like just know how to cook that's all they that's what they do. And so I was able to hire my grandmother and other people like my grandmother and just hire other community people and pay them you know, we were I start paying people $20 an hour for catering and then it goes up depending on what on what the service that is other providing. And so because I was able to kind of understand more the value of what we were offering and going out and mixing in I wouldn't say like I was only going after businesses and nonprofits but like mixing in and prioritizing like them for a bit. So then we can return to more community based work was like a really good tactic and so we did that I was able to then hire more cooks, pay them what they're also worth. And then that over time started to make the grants. And then last summer, we were able to do like four or five free cooking classes for people that lived in affordable housing. Because we took that break. And we're like, okay, let's focus on like, get going after going after the big contract money, the big contracts, going after the big contracts, and getting ourselves stable enough, the foundation, and then we can do the community based work without, but I did have to, like, stay vigilant to my why and the purpose, because I know sometimes I've seen other other companies go after the big contracts and kind of stay there. And so I had to stay really vigilant to not just stay there but like return ready to the purpose and so a combination and have that balance.

Jamila Souffrant 24:58

That's amazing. Amazing. So you brought up also another good point about just money and the way it's, we think about it. And as much as in the personal finance space, it's like, oh, well, you know, like, make sure you're watching what you spend and all these things. Sometimes it's just like the ink the income is the problem. You are doing the best you can with what you're making, but what you're making is not enough. It's not like I'm going out and buying expensive things or eating out often. It's literally I'm working with what I have and what I have is not a lot.

Ysanet Batista 25:29

Yeah, that's what I appreciated about you, Jamila and finding your podcasts out there wasn't that shaming that I was seeing other finance community so gone, like, stop going to Starbucks, and it's like, I don't even go to Starbucks. I don't go to Starbucks. I cook at home on I'm a chef like, I also, you know, started getting into farming. I'm like, I'm growing my own food. Like I'm doing everything that I can like it's more than that. It's more than that. It's a combination of like, internal trauma, but also like the external systems that really make it hard for people like me or people at the margins to really succeed like financially and economically. So it's it's not just it's not just one thing. It's very it's layered. And that's what sometimes people don't other people in the finance world don't understand.

Jamila Souffrant 26:17

Yeah. When you did make the decision to say, All right, I'm listening to the podcast I like I love you know, I'm loving what's happening. When did you feel like you wanted to take it a step further? Like when did you say to yourself, okay, like I have I'm making headway with my business and I have these money things going on. And I do want to go back to like, maybe some of your debt cuz I think that will be relatable for some people like because you mentioned you had a lot of student loan, which, I mean, most people still are dealing with a lot of student loans. And then what makes those worse is that you have student loans and industries that the degree you never really use, and it was like overpriced and oversold to you and you had like, no clue. So I guess I want to talk about that first, what were your money goals when you started to listen and like want to get more deeper into the journey to financial independence?

Ysanet Batista 27:07

For me was credit card debt I had about $11,000 in consumer debt. And the high interest of the credit cards were really, really like killing me. And I just felt like I couldn't, I would make payments and then the interest would hit and it was like, that was literally half my payment. And I just felt like I was in a hamster wheel. And then the student loans also because I made so little I was already on an income based repayment plan. So I didn't have to, like pay them monthly but I would see kind of the interest increase. So interest was like, Ah, it was really hard. Like, it's like the evil thing. I'm just like, who created this I this idea of interest. It's terrible. It's terrible. And so that was really my struggle. Also, a bigger thing for me is that I had to have housing insecurity like having my own home was really important for me. So I was like, I really want to pay this consumer debt this credit card debt because I'm throwing so much money to that and like what would it look like to throw that same amount of money into like a savings account? So I can like own my own home or my land?

Jamila Souffrant 28:19

Yeah. And with that, so as you are like realizing, okay, this is possible I'm, I'm assuming that you you started to realize that you could make headway with your finances and like pay off debt through maybe some of the stuff you were hearing like on the podcast and do your own work. But what made you decide to go from Alright, I'm gonna just like listen to the podcast, and then Oh, wait, there's this thing that feels like doing on the side or, you know, in her business that I need to like join, like what made you feel like, you want to take the next step to join the community, the Money Launch Club?

Ysanet Batista 28:50

I needed accountability. And I needed a community that was talking about these things, because a lot of my my community is connected. is more connected to like organizing work and social justice. The conversation around money are very focused on capitalism and how and it's and it's evil in its evilness. But there wasn't really a conversation about how to use money to create space to create a little bit of freedom in our lives. And so that is a conversation that is coming, it's being more talked about now, but very rarely and so I needed a community, but I also wanted a community of people that looked like me. And so that's how I ended up. I'm like, No, I'm definitely gonna invest in this. Because I was like, the time you know, the time you were charging specific amount, and that amount is what I would spend on like, I don't know something else. I was like, that's not that much. And because I have my own small business. I really like to funnel my money into other small businesses. So I will say if I'm gonna learn and get information on want to pay this this black woman for it? Because she's worth it. And obviously this podcast is giving me so much I can just imagine what being part of some exclusive membership community will will give me an offer me. And so that's why I joined and that's exactly what I feel I got out of it, I still get out of it.

Jamila Souffrant 30:19

And one amazing Thank you. And you know, as you're talking, I'm like, Yeah, for me. Not since I think especially since having my own business and seeing progress in like my skill sets how much I have the potential to earn right now. And like, I realize how much more value I get like you can't have a business or it's hard. If you are the kind of person who looks at someone who and that has money and says they're not a good person or that is evil that then you would have it it's hard if you're trying to earn money yourself, whether it's a side hustle and your job, looked down on or judge like another business owner making money right like you happily then invest in things that you find value in. Because you understand that it's an investment, it's something that is going to like, pay you back more than what you're putting in. That's the whole point is providing you value. And so I, when I realized that in myself, like I started investing in courses and coaches and systems for my business, it made it so much more clear. Like, yeah, if people find value in what I'm doing, like they should pay, because I had some of the same hang ups, especially earlier on, like, with Journey to Launch like, Oh, no, like, I can't like charge for this or this amount. And then I'm realizing but like, how are you leading this community talking about earning if you can't earn, like, so I feel like part of my story is also going to be how I make this work. And so I can't be afraid to like say, Hey, guys, this is a product or this is a service that I have this, this is the investment for it and be afraid to like promote that to you guys, because then how can I turn around and tell you guys to succeed in your own businesses, ask for your own raises if I can't do that in my business, right?

Ysanet Batista 32:01

Yeah. And I I personally see it, I feel the effort that you put into, you know your brand. And yeah, everything from like the visuals that make it easy to understand things. I'm a visual learner. So I appreciate all the visuals that you offer. To just the quality of the information, and also the broadness of how we can access the information, you know, through your through, you know, the freebies, through the podcast through the membership community, like this many variety of things that you offer. And I because I've been following you for a long time. I've seen you elevate what you offer, and it's good. It's always been good quality. And so it's like, yeah, this is definitely worth it. In my mind. We're going to question how much she charges because she's, she's going to charge what she needs to charge. And I think that's something that I also like, I didn't think like that before, but now I do. Like I don't question how much people charge for things, especially people of color. I'm just like they're charging what they what they need to charge If it's something that I want, I'm going to budget for it because it's worth it.

Jamila Souffrant 33:04

Exactly. I love that love that. So the thing that you brought up, which I think is pretty important is the accountability part of it. So in the Money Launch Club, like there, there's programming we have like monthly classes and events. But what I find is I had this thread in the launch club, because I always like to dig down into, like, why people choose to join and why they stay and all this. And, you know, I was expecting because there's this course right now, that's still included in the Launch Club. Right. And I think it's like one of the most valuable things in it, that it's included with the Launch Club, because it's like the 10 step program. And people go through it at their own pace. And they're all these like things that you help you map out your path to financial independence. And most people were just like, accountability support community, like that was what like for them was the sticking point. It was somewhere like you just said that they can be and I think that sometimes you know, you listen to the podcast and if you're making I would say this, if you are the kind of person who is listens to the podcast, you're just like, boom, I'm just like going out, I'm doing it like, I can be in my own like world and make this work, then fine. You may not need something like a Money Launch Club. But for the people who find themselves starting stopping, knowing that they should be doing something like you know else, but they just don't, because no one's kind of like helping them along the way kind of thing like, then this would be something that you should consider. So I want you to talk a little bit more about the accountability because I know to what I love about this community, Money Launch Club is that we have other members that are local. So I know you were like meeting up you like with other members, Cassandra right. She was on the podcast before and you you guys talk offline like it's real community.

Ysanet Batista 34:41

Yeah, I you. You mentioned earlier that I'm like self motivated, to some extent I am but honestly, it's because I have a lot of accountability. Because I have community. And so in this financial independence journey, I have this community of Money Launch Club I really like that one of the things that you offered us or you push this tool was finding an accountability, buddy. And so that's how I found Cassandra. And she was living in the Bronx, and I was living in Harlem. So we were living near each other. Yeah, we just decided to meet up in person. And I really liked it because we went to this black own bookstore in the Bronx, if we were also like, you know, like off, like, you know, funneling money into that bookstore while we were meeting. And then my, one of my best friends, Bianca was also on a similar journey. I was like, Hey, I think you should join the Money Launch Club. And I think I really like how sometimes exclusive money launch club so I was like, the doors aren't open yet. When they do open, I'll let you know. So she joins and then I asked to turn Oh, come on, come join our meetings. She also lives in the Bronx. And so yeah, we've been meeting like for I think six months now. We actually have a meeting today. So we meet the first Wednesday of every month, and before quarantine it was in person but now we'll be over zoom And it's just amazing. Like we just come into those meetings and like, go through our sheets that you have for us. So we go we always have our sheets ready. And we go through them and we figure out what are our goals? What are we talking about? Like what are some things that we're going to do this month that to be different, we talk about just feeling like you know, I'm feeling like really impatient, I'm feeling really motivated, whatever things come up and it's also getting nice because I Cassandra recently bought a home and she's our age you know, we're not we're in our in our mid 20s or mid 20s well I am about to turn 30, and a few months, but it's all like amazing to see someone that is from my culture, who's from my community and who is similar to my age, like achieving this thing and like I know her and she's like not offering me and Bianca tips because we're also interested in homeownership. And so I really appreciate like how chill down to earth and relatable is so yeah, so yeah, self motivation but also accountability and resources that one time that you had the Atomic Habits author James Clear on the podcast. Yeah, that episode really changed things for me. And it was just I think Cassandra was like, listen to this episode. And then you think then we we had to read the book and the book club. And honestly, that book was really what has kept me so on top of like, my habits. And so I think it's a combination of accountability community and also resources.

Jamila Souffrant 37:31

Yeah, so one of the things that Ysanet just showed if you're not watching the video, so I have these accountability sheets and just resources for people that while you can come into Launch Club and set your goals and what you accomplish, I was like, I need to create something that people can like print out so one of the things that you showed was this monthly goal setting sheet that we use to like really declare our goals and members used together. So I'm so happy that you guys actually like I was like, are you every time I like post something like print this out. I always remind people to print it out to make sure they know what there, but the other thing that we do is we have a book club meeting every other week or every other week. Yeah, right like we can read that fast every other month in theLaunch Club so Atomic Habits was one of the books so we try to stick to books that will help reinforce our habits our mindset, our just our finances and self development because sometimes this is like how many personal finance books can you read? So I try to like I try to talk about like more like and pick things that are more broad. But yeah, I think that the you guys showing up together in that way, like priceless I love that you guys are still even continuing doing it now that you're not even in New York, especially with quarantine anyway, we wouldn't you would guys wouldn't have been able to do that.

Ysanet Batista 38:42

Yeah, I mean, Cassandra is my friend now like, that's my girlfriend like, and also happy that like, I met her through the through the Launch Club, and it's like beyond Money Launch Club and money. And so yeah, just really grateful for the the community aspect of it.

Jamila Souffrant 38:59

Let's talk about like stats because people are like, okay, like Kumbaya like she's like, like she has a friend now right? Like, which I'm sure people are are excited but and maybe hopefully would want it right in their own like circle like, yeah, I need to like strengthen up like the people around me and like we're talking about money, but let's maybe talk about some other like the actual things you're able to do with your finances right cuz I know when you said you had credit card debt, you had some student loan you didn't own that. But what were some of the things like your goals coming in to the community because you've now been a member since like January 2019. And where are you now like with some of what you've accomplished, if you can share that?

Ysanet Batista 39:34

Sure. So I started with about 12 to $11,000 of consumer debt. I am now down to $3000. And I have also been able to open a retirement account with a Roth IRA, which I don't invest like to the max every year but I'm just trying to get to the habit of it so that when I am making that money or when I stop when I stop throwing money to consumer debt then I can funnel it into the retirement account. I think also, I never knew about the fight financial independence retire early movement and even when I got into your community, I saw it, but I dismissed it because I didn't feel like that's something I could do. until I reached the 10 steps, the calculator to reach financial independence number and the flex independence session. And I've like filled out that sheet you had in there and I was like, oh, wow, I can really retire a 45 if I if I could, if I stay consistent. And so that was definitely now something I'm aiming towards. So it's it's it's something it's a part a part of my life. I will I will be financially independent and retire early. What else? Oh, my credit score went up like 100 points. When I started Money Launch Club now I think my credit score was like 650. And then it's like 741. Now, right?

Jamila Souffrant 39:51

Which is extremely important for you because you want to buy something.

Ysanet Batista 41:02

Mm hmm, that was really helpful. And then I also just because interest was such a big headache for me and paying off my consumer debt or my credit card debt, I was able to do a balance transfer loan. And so now I don't the debt that I'm paying back, it's that though that $3,000 is still from that one credit card, but I don't have to pay that, that 27% balance. Now my interest is like 10%. So that was really helpful. Yeah, this month, I'm focused on opening a 401k. And then I also started to learn about like real estate and multifamily home purchasing. So that's the journey that I'm starting to, to research this month. And it's just so much that has happened because because every month you make us think about goals is like okay, what am I going to work on this month. So it kind of elevate each month. So And also, I think I'm also learning to be patient with my journey. Because there's so much, there's so much to learn. And so I'm like, Okay, you know what, like retirement and investing in retirement, something I'm super focused on right now, but I can, I can do a little bit, or other things I didn't know about rainy day sinking funds. Now I have one. Now I have like $300 in there. And that's cool. Building my emergency funds is also something that I have, I think it was just like opening different accounts and budgeting for for those versus before, it was just like a savings account, which savings before in my mind was like a checking account. But now it's like no savings account. You don't touch it. It just you know, stays there. And it goes in a high yield interest account. And so little things like that have been have been really helpful. And then the last thing has been the student loans that episode that you had. David was his name.

Jamila Souffrant 42:56

Yes, David Carlson.

Ysanet Batista 42:58

Mm hmm. Yeah. Well, the student loans. Wow, that blew my mind because I really was. So the student loans are really a big headache. So learning about his approach to student loans and that everybody should approach it that way. But I like his approach. So I'm going to do it, how he says how he said to do it, because I have $70,000 worth of student loans. And I just kind of feel like if I'm gonna, if I'm going to earn $70,000, I rather invested into a home or to some land, versus like paying for a student loan. So I guess mapping out my journey and then tackling things Little by little, and like, doing like the bigger picture like okay, 2020 is for this 2021 before this, and 2021 and so forth.

Jamila Souffrant 43:46

So and So David. So that's the other thing that we do Launch Club, we invite guests who are on the podcast to come back. Sometimes they're not guests, but sometimes they are and they teach a topic so David did come into the Launch Club, and talk about student loans specific for Launch Club members. And they were able to ask questions, which is what I love about diving deeper, like what I'm able to do because I could talk to people sometimes on the podcast like, for hours, but they don't have that kind of time, right? Or I want to ask more specific questions. So being able to come into the Launch Club so they can like help people and or teach more and share their experience and story is amazing. And the other thing about just like the, you mentioned, like really briefly, like the not knowing that you could reach financial independence, so one of the things so there's the 10 step course right now that's included with the Launch Club, and it literally maps out like when you do the 10 steps, all the things that you need to do to consider how you're going to use financial independence the things that end the money side of things like how much you need and what I find is that before you consider because if you think about why I'm gonna need like $2 million before I can be financially independent, that's a lot. So I when I came up with one of the steps it was how do we calculate this financial independence number but then show you like that you can plug and pull it put in numbers and different scenarios that you can make this work based on flexibility. So part of that is where you're referring to where you could plug in your numbers. And I've had so many people say, Oh my gosh, like I didn't know it was possible until I looked at this worksheet or took the 10 step course. So that's why I feel like part of it is like blind spots, right? There are some things that you didn't know at all. And when it came to maybe you student loan or like high yield accounts, like small things, but they're so important. It's like these little blocks that make up the structure.

And I find that, yes, we want to focus on the big things like I just wanna be debt free. I just want to like have a million dollar business or are these things which are amazing to want to do. But there's so many other little things like the practical day to day, things that you need to work on that sometimes you don't even know until you're in communities where someone could say, Hey, did you think about this, or I have this going on? Oh, I didn't know that. That was possible. Let me learn more. And that's what I love about the space, the Money Launch Club in the community. So when it comes to your business, I do see want to like talk a little bit more about that. So people can, like follow you and your journey because you're still in the middle, right like, of making that successful. I mean, it already is like, I feel like the mission is amazing. So can you just talk a little bit about what you see for yourself, and then where you see your business and your finances going, like what your goals are for yourself over the next year or two?

Ysanet Batista 46:19

Sure. So my big focus right now is saving the money I need to to do two purchases. So I want to purchase a property in New York City, but I also want to purchase the land and build the house back in my hometown of the Dominican Republic. So I'm actively doing that right now. And so I hope that that both of those things can happen in the next two or three years. And one of the things I want to do with the property I purchased in New York City is also be able to house my business so that Woke Foods can have a brick and mortar. It could be like a cafe or big farming space, calm enjoy. plant based food while also hang out and that it could be like a farm to table or more like urban farm to table situation. And right now where I was kind of doing that, like in my apartment in Harlem, I did like a dinner where people had for for seatings like a restaurant. And so I was like experimenting, like how it could look like and that's where I got the idea. I was like, you know what, I'm going to purchase like, multi family home in Harlem, and I'm going to use one of the floors to like the bottom floors have a garden and in a cafe space for Woke Foods. And so yeah, so I imagine myself kind of being in both places simultaneously. And I definitely need to hire a new shop because I'm the one that like does most most of the cooking and the menu planning. And so thinking about how to train other people to come in and not just work for the business but also feel like they have like a stake and an ownership in the business. And building my emergency fund. That's one of the things I used my simulus check for, put it in my emergency fund. And if any other stimulus check comes it's also going to go to the emergency fund. Another goal of mine is to focus full time on my business. Because right now I work part time for another organization, which I love. And it's great, but it would just be really nice just to be able to dedicate myself full time to my business.

Jamila Souffrant 48:29

Yeah, I love that and I'm you know, I'm like rooting for you all the way I'm sure after this, they're gonna people like, we want to see you win too Ysanet. So the other this last question I do have is for anyone who's like on the fence, or has some doubts about maybe being able to pursue their goals or like the idea of the Launch Club, but they're not sure like, Is there anything or that you would say that you were able to overcome? Or that would encourage someone to really like bet on themselves in this way and invest if they see this as something or feel this something that could work for them.

Ysanet Batista 49:00

Sure, I mean, I think something I've told my friends who I've, you know, I promote this all the time to my friends because I also see them, you know, in their own journey and are like struggling in their journey. It's like you don't do it alone. You don't have to do it alone. You can do it with other people. You could do it alone, but I don't know how I don't I just feel like it could take a little longer and it could feel like kind of alone. And so you should just do it with other people. And it's an investment. It's not even that much money once you start like getting into the budget of it if and if you're like thinking, oh my God, it's, it's, you know, I don't have the money for it. That's exactly why you should join the Money Club because it will help you find the money for it. Well, you start getting into the, into the into the framework and and so the sessions and into the, you know, like all the different offerings that the club offers us.

Jamila Souffrant 49:56

Amazing. Thank you so much, Ysanet. Now, please tell me where they can find you more about your business and follow your journey.

Ysanet Batista 50:04

Sure so people can follow my business page it's called Woke Foods like stay woke. And we have a website called wokefoods. Coop and then I have a personal page where I I have like a highlight where I I walk people through my journey of financial independence and that's @ysanetbatista both on Instagram.

Jamila Souffrant 50:28

And I will share all this in episode show notes. Thank you so much Isa net for coming on sharing being so like open sharing your story. I know this will inspire and motivate a lot of people so thank you.

Ysanet Batista 50:38

Thank you Jamila.

Jamila Souffrant 50:44

Okay, journeyers. I really hope you enjoy that conversation Ysanet and that it further inspires you to go after your goals. No matter how long the journey seems, every step you take on it matters. And so hearing from Ysanet helps further inspire you. One more thing , Ysanet after we stopped recording she told me that she recently launched a podcast and I told her I'd give her podcasts a shout out. It's all about money and it's called Free the Bag. So check out Ysanet's podcast. I'll also include that in the episode show notes. If you're listening to this in real time, it's not too late to sign up for the free class on July 16. So if you listen to this, as soon as the episode comes out, you still have time to join us at the free class where I'll help you map out your journey to financial independence. Go to journeytolaunch.com/free class and then check out today's sponsor, YNAB who can help you get your budget all the way together by going to youneedabudget.com/journey. Now by the time you may be listening to this, maybe it is past the time that the free class occurred. Don't worry, the Money to Launch Club doors then will be open. I'm opening them for one week. So for the week, up to July 23. And if you want for more information about that just go to moneylaunchclub.com This is what Ysanet talks about joining the community that helps her reach her goals, the support, and you know, check it out. We are welcoming you here. We are waiting for you to join us.

Alright now until next week, which by the way, next week will be a really special episode because I'm labeling that the anniversary episode where you'll get to hear voices like yourself, who are listeners of the podcast on the show. Wait for that that's happening next week, but until then, keep on journeying journeyers.

Don't forget if you want the episode shownotes. To get any of the links mentioned in this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com or click the description wherever you're listening to this to get the link to the show notes. And if you want that free Jumpstart Guide to help you on your financial freedom journey, text launch to 33777 text launch to 33777 to get your free guide today or go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart if you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show. One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen. Whether that's Apple podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you're not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple podcasts, rate review and subscribe there I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm @journeytolaunch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love love love interacting with journeyers there. Three, support and checkout the sponsors of this show if you hear something that interests you, sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So show them some love for supporting your girl. Four and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it. Until next week, keep on journeying journeyers.

(This post may include some affiliate links)

After graduating from college with over $70,000 in student loans, Ysanet Batista went straight into public service. Unfortunately, her career did not pay a high salary and she found it difficult to live and eat in New York City. At some points, she faced food insecurity and homelessness. Her struggles forced her to find ways to make more money and led to her starting her own food cooperative business called Woke Foods. She merged her love for cuisine with her passion for social justice and is forging her own path to Financial Liberation. 

Ysanet is also a member of the Money Launch Club (moneylaunchclub.com) and shares how joining the community allowed her to pay off debt, find support and stay accountable on her journey

In this episode you will learn: 

  • Where you can find a community of like-minded people support you on your journey to financial independence and retiring early (FIRE)
  • Why it’s so important to know your WHY
  • How to know when your income is your problem
  • The importance of budgeting no matter how much you make
  • What you can accomplish as a member of the Money Club
  • The benefits of an accountability partner, and more

Special thanks to YNAB for sponsoring the podcast in its 3 year anniversary month. Get your free 34 trial of YNAB today (no credit card required to sign up) by going to youneedabudget.com/journey

I'm listening to Episode 164 of the #journeytolaunch podcast, The Pursuit of Financial Liberation, Social Justice & Entrepreneurship w/ Ysanet Batista! Click To Tweet

Sign up for the Journey to Launch free class on July 16th here.

In This Free Online Workshop, You Will Learn:

1. What the elusive term of Financial Independence really means

2. The FIVE major stages you must move through on the journey to reaching Financial Independence and how to identify where you currently are on the journey

3. The barriers stopping you from reaching your goals and how to eliminate them

*It’s a virtual meeting so you can join us from anywhere by registering here.


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