Episode Number: 212

Episode 212- Using Side Hustles to Earn an Additional $100,000 a Year and Paying Off $39,000 of Debt with Jannese Torres-Rodriguez

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Show notes


Jamila Souffrant 0:00

You're listening to the Journey to Launch podcast Using Side Hustles to Earn an Additional $100,000 a Year and Paying Off $39,000 of Debt with Jannese Torres- Rodriguez.

Intro 0:15

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.

Jamila Souffrant 0:40

Hey, hey, Journeyers. Welcome to the Journey to Launch podcast if you weren't aware, yes, you are not a journeyer. That means you're on this path with me to financial freedom and independence. So buckle up, we are launching together.

Now if you are all caught up on the podcast, even if you're not that's okay. But last week, I had on Aisha Moore we talked about how to decrease stress and increase self care on your financial freedom journey. That was Episode 210 that is becoming a fan favorite. I got so many messages how this was so needed. You know you guys are really experiencing some burnout or stress as it relates to living life. And Hello, we're still like in this pandemic. And I wanted to let you know about this other resource and podcast for you. The Balance Black Girl Podcast is where it's at. So if you are wanting insightful and uplifting conversations to help you find balance, then this podcast is for you wellness expert and host less Alfred's interviews top black woman health and personal development leaders to bring you practical advice for living well. No matter where you are balanced black girl covers everything from nutrition tips, boundary setting, healthy relationships and friendships, navigating your spiritual path and so much more. They have over 100 episodes with wellness tips to promote your well being and self care. The Balance Black Girl Podcast was recognized as a top podcast for black women by Spotify, Vanity Fair, self black enterprise and more. So you should go check this out, you can subscribe and listen to The Balance Black Girl Podcast on your favorite podcasting platform and balanced black girl calm so I wanted to share that resource in podcast with you because it is necessary that we take care of our mental wellness and our overall wellness while we are on this journey. So go check it out. And let me know what you think.

Now let me tell you about this week's conversation. I am so excited because we are talking to Jannese Torres- Rodriguez. She is the host of the yo chiaro dinero podcast and I love following Denise on Instagram and just watching her grow her podcast and platform because she just has a dynamic, raw real way of talking about money and reminds me of myself. And so I just love that she's bringing a new flavor to the financial independence space and sharing how she is well on her way to reaching financial independence. So she says that for her she also got burned out, you know doing what most people do. She hated her job. She realized she wasn't living a life that was incongruent with what she really wanted to do and also had a realization. She basically learned everything she needs to know about blogging, and in the year since she started her first initial blog, she is now earning over $100,000 from not just that blog that she's created that she'll talk about, but just multiple streams of income. And she's also has used her side hustles to help her pay off over $39,000 of debt in 17 months. She's building generational wealth. She is basically about to retire from her nine to five decades early and has such a passion for this. So she also now hosts the Yo Quiero Dinero podcast and her mission is to educate Latinas on the topics of running a successful small business, investing with a purpose and generating sustainable wealth. I know you're gonna love this conversation, so I can't wait for you to hear it.

I'm so excited to tell you more about today's sponsor the Frugal Living Podcast. Tune in to the Frugal Living Podcast to hear about saving hacks, financial tips and stories on how to live better for less. Series two covers a variety of topics and offers advice that you can easily apply to your lifestyle. Like the best times to buy TVs or flowers and how to safely shop online to avoid scams. You'll even meet a food waste warrior that talks about dumpster diving, sponsored by your friends at Brad's deals. You'll hear from consumers just like you and learn from industry experts that break down unique and different ways to shop smarter. The Frugal Living Podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcast, join the conversation and learn something new about frugal living.

If you want the episode Show Notes for this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are in OG journeyer or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes so listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources and so much more. You can go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's happen to the episode.

Hey, journeyers really excited for this conversation today on the podcast in the rocket seat. I have Jannese Torres- Rodriguez, how did I do?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 5:42

You did great

Jamila Souffrant 5:44

From the-? You see already messed up? Yo quiero dinero podcast and platform. Hi, yes.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 5:50

Thank you so much to me, I cannot believe I'm here with you. And your Spanish is lovely. So, so impressed.

Jamila Souffrant 5:58

Thanks. I mean, I did take it in elementary school. It's been a while but I know I need to get back on it. I was saying before we press record that my husband started to take Spanish lessons like online. I forgot the app. But he's now taking Spanish and then he's now moved on to Japanese. And I'm like really like some kind of jealous that he's like learning all this stuff?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 6:17

Well, it's funny because people ask me to do interviews in Spanish. And it really gives me like the most anxiety which you know, being a kind of bilingual, but I favor English, it just makes things a little more stressful. So I get it.

Jamila Souffrant 6:30

Yeah. Okay, so I'm really excited to have you on the podcast, I've seen your your work and your platform grow over time. And most recently, I feel like it's definitely just carved out a niche of its own. And so I want to talk more about your story, your personal finance story, and then be because I know you are also working and doing your stuff on the side in terms of having a full time career. But I can see that your business is also like taking off and I saw some rumblings online that you talked about quitting your job, or working up to that. And so I just want to share that journey with people because I know there's so many people who are listening to the podcast, we're like, I want to do that. So we're gonna talk about all the things.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 7:10

So let's do it.

Jamila Souffrant 7:12

Okay, so first, tell me more about starting your platform, why you chose to do it and the progress you've made since starting it?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 7:21

Yeah, absolutely. So by podcast, you'll get really narrow is a personal finance podcast for Latinas. And the idea from it actually came in the shower, which I think is the place where a lot of great ideas come from, I was listening to the JLo and cardi B song, Dinero. And the hook just got me like, I was like, Yes, these are Latinos talking about getting rich making bank and I'm like, this would be a great name for a podcast. Now, just some context, I am not a person that's in the financial space. Like I don't have a background in finance. I was a food blogger, and now I'm a financial podcaster. So a lot of people are kind of just like, what are you doing talking about money. For me, I have always loved the topic of money. I've always loved learning about it. And as a food blogger, I sort of ventured into personal finance through the lens of entrepreneurship or side hustles. And that's kind of my main jam at this point. So I talk a lot about that on my platform and my podcast. So as a food blogger, you know, I for the first time started to learn what it was to monetize a skill outside of a nine to five. And for me, that was really the gateway drug, if you will, into wanting to understand money, because I don't know if you can relate to this, I'm pretty sure you can because I listen to your podcast and I know your story. But I got the narrative from my family that you know, you go to school, you get a good degree, you work a nine to five, you retire at 65. And like, that's how you make a living.

So that's what I subscribed to. I did that I went to school for biotechnology and molecular biology, I was intending to be a doctor. And in my senior year of college, I was like, I think I'm done with school for now. I'm not going to medical school and I saw I started working in the biotech and pharma industries. While the pay is great, I also didn't see myself doing this for ever. And so around the age of 27, I fell right into what most people will call it a quarter life crisis. I was like newly engaged kind of checking off all these boxes of things I should do in life, like getting a graduate degree and getting married and looking for a home and doing all the things and I was positively miserable, even though externally like everything looks super successful, right? I was getting paid well, I had a great life, but I wasn't satisfied with what I was doing. And so the food blog became like the source of creative inspiration a place for me to start really just exploring other things besides my You know what I did for a living. And that, for me was what fueled this passion to want to understand money more. So as I continue to dive down the rabbit hole of entrepreneurship, when you get into personal finance is very quick that you start kind of learning about all the other things, right. So learning about investing, and financial independence, and I was always talking about money. And I became that person in my circle that people started asking money questions to over and over again. And so instead of having the same conversations over and over again, I decided, let me just create a podcast and like, start putting this stuff out there. Because if people want to know about this for me, maybe there's an even greater audience out there that could use this information. And so that's kind of how we got to where we are today.

Jamila Souffrant 10:43

And how long ago did you start the podcast?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 10:45

So the podcast started in May of 2019. And I did a couple of episodes. But then imposter syndrome showed up and was like, Girl, what are you doing? Like, just stop. And so I kind of let it sit there until January of 2020. And I made a commitment to myself, you know, those new year's resolutions. 2020 is gonna be the year I focused in on this project. There's a, some calling in my heart that I have to execute here. And then the pandemic hit, and we had nothing else to do but work on things. So I really attribute that to the exponential growth of the podcast in 2020. For sure, yes.

Jamila Souffrant 11:21

Okay. So many things to unpack with your story. I mean, so where's your family from?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 11:29

My familyI was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and they came to the US in the 1980s.

Jamila Souffrant 11:36

So does your family, like you said you learn from your family, the basis of you know, you work for someone else until you get stable, stable income, stable job, someone said mean? Are you like the first in your family to venture into entrepreneurship?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 11:50

Absolutely. And it's funny, because I thought I was the first entrepreneur. But then I later found out that my grandmother was an entrepreneur in the very like, traditional immigrant sense where it was out of necessity. So my grandmother and my mother, on my father's side, actually, she had like a third grade education. And she raised six kids, by opening a little like convenience store on the first floor of her home in Puerto Rico, and she would sell like, you know, all the things you find in a deli cigarettes and snacks and things like that. And I found this out later. And I think a lot of the success of many people of color, who are entrepreneurs is that fundamental hustler spirit that we get from our ancestors, even though we don't realize it even exists.

Jamila Souffrant 12:39

Oh, yes. I mean, we are literally our ancestors, wildest dreams, and we sometimes don't and can't like pinpoint that some of us can. But I, I totally get that and understand that because especially when we realize how little they had to work with, and how they survived and thrived in most scenarios. It's just like, now when we come here, and we have an opportunity to be in, you know, United States with more opportunity, even though it's not perfect. It's like, okay, like the hustler spirit, we gain our superpowers, I believe from from them. So I love that.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 13:12


Jamila Souffrant 13:13

When it comes to now, you starting this on the side, so I love how you actually started with a totally different niche, food blogging, and then food blogging led you down the rabbit hole, because so many people like have different one things are interested in, or they have something they're interested in, they don't really know how they're going to monetize it, not that they have to monetize everything. But that even just by pursuing that one passion, it will eventually lead you to where you need to be. Right.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 13:39

Yeah, absolutely. And that's something that a lot of people ask me about, right? Because at this point, I'm helping people who are aspiring side hustlers create their own side, hustles. And that is the hardest part of just first figuring out what you want to focus in on. I always lead from a place of am I passionate about this before I'm even thinking about monetizing something. And I can honestly say that with the food blog, I had no intention to monetize it. And it's the same with the podcast. I feel like the money is a product of the passion, if that makes sense, right? Because a lot of people just get this idea that they want to make something that's going to make them money. But why do you want to build something it's it can't just be about the money. And the reason why I say that is because I was convinced that at a certain salary, I was going to be thrilled I was going to be happy. I was going to love my job. And I kept finding that even though I was getting raises, even though I was getting promotions, even though I started making six figures, by the age of 30. In my career, I was still effing miserable. And so for me, I learned that lesson early on that it's not about the money, then the money will never be enough. And it's the same or even more so with entrepreneurship, because if you're going to be walking away from a career, to then throw your entire existence into this business, you better care about something more than Money.

Jamila Souffrant 15:01

same, right? Like, there's always these levels that you want to accomplish. You said, once I get there, I'll be good. So in the flip side, are there things where even like passion wise, if you, you said you didn't want to monetize the food blog, right? And then you found your niche, you found out what you did want to monetize, are you but like for people who do have some they're interested in because I talked about this in a previous episode, like not everything needs to be monetized like sometimes just having a passion or a side hustle without the factor of money is fine. So how do you talk to someone who is trying to decide whether to monetize this gift or passion that they have or not?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 15:36

Yeah, that's a great question. And honestly, I have a hard time with this whole, you know, doing things for fun. If you're doing something for fun, it's not a side hustle, it's a hobby. And it's fine to have hobbies. But if you want to monetize something like, that's fine, too. I don't think that we necessarily have to, like, you know, make money doing every single thing. Like at every waking moment, I don't think that's healthy either. But I just want to make the distinction that a hobby is a hobby, it's meant to just give you this respite from you know, the work and the strain of life, if you will, a side hustle, by its definition is meant to be a secondary source of income. So you don't have to monetize everything in your life. The thing is that I have found that people will offer you money to do things if you're good at it, even if you don't intend to do so. And it's funny how that works.

Jamila Souffrant 16:29

It does, because even with the whole financial independence movement, which we can talk a bit about, a lot of people who I find that have reached a level of security or work flexibility, like I have, I'm not completely financial independent, financially independent. But even if you do reach that, you end up earning a lot of money because you become good at something because it gets to this level to get to the point where you know, you have optimized, whether it's your income expenses, your life, like that takes a certain level of skills that you have to work on, which means it can transfer to other places or other people want to learn from you want to give you money? Absolutely.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 17:02

Sometimes you got to turn them away.

Jamila Souffrant 17:04

Yeah. So for you, what about your own personal finance journey? So where you always since you know, you went to school, and you kind of have a traditional career path? It sounds like you will also always in control, but maybe not like how are you with your personal finances? Okay, I

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 17:22

was a hot mess. Okay, good. Let me just say that upfront. So I will credit my parents for teaching me the importance of saving. And I know you've talked about this to Jamila, that your mom really showed you, you know, the importance of saving, and I think that's just inherent to our communities. But that was pretty much the end of the lesson, right? It's like, have a checking account, have a savings account, put some money in both. And that's it. And you know, I grew up super like middle class as a kid, I was not we were not wealthy by any means. We were not poor by any means. But I think what happened, as I started earning income as an adult, I started making up for this quote, unquote, lack that I had had as a child. So right, I couldn't get the brand name things and the first, you know, season of items that came out, I had to wait until they were on sale, all those things, those were kind of, you know, hallmarks of my childhood. And those things can make an impression on you. I remember being bullied as a kid because I didn't have like, you know, the latest clothes and things like that. So when I was an adult, I'm like, I'm getting all the things. I'm gonna spend all this money that I couldn't spend because I didn't have it when I was kid. And so even though I was making great money, I had no budget, I had no system of managing my money. I started investing when I was 22. Just because you know, hr, like here, this is a 401k go and open it and start putting like some money in there. So I was probably putting like two 3% in there had no idea what I was doing. And that cycle pretty much continued. Even after I started earning extra income through my side hustles I was just using that extra money to eat, be even more obnoxious and just like, buy things I didn't need, fill my house up with stuff I didn't need going on vacations to escape this life in this career that I didn't really even enjoy.

And so money definitely became like this bandage for me to mask up all these things, all this mental health things that I didn't want to address. And for me, the turning point was buying a house and finding that I was absolutely miserable with the decision. Because again, I had subscribed to this checklist of life where you get married, you buy a house, and that's the mark of success. And I did that I was even like, Oh, I'm I'm not just gonna buy a house. I'm gonna buy an investment property. So my plan was to live on one unit and then rent out the other one. Two weeks into owning that house. The basement flooded. It was like a series of unfortunate events in the first six months of owning that home. really put me like in a downward spiral to the point that I had to see a therapist because I was just like, felt completely out of control of my life. And had this like, come to Jesus moment of what are you doing? You've been operating in autopilot, and you're making all of these decisions that are making you absolutely miserable. And right around that point in time, I found out about financial independence. And so we can go into kind of what this whole thing has transformed into,

Jamila Souffrant 20:29

yes. Okay, I do want to go back to the home because I have so many journeyers people who want to get to the point of buying a home. And homeownership just like entrepreneurship is not for everyone. But it is a means of wealth building, especially for communities of color. So you know, I don't want to discourage people from doing it. But I think we need to be more real just about like even motherhood. For those who have not, are not moms yet, but want to be and like only see the fun side of it. It's like, you know, there's a lot that goes with that, too. So back to the home buying process for you. Because we I think we should like talk a little bit about that for people because you think it was the intention because you were doing it for the wrong reasons. Like I'm quoting here. That's why even when these bad things happen, which kind of sometimes happened with homes, you weren't able to withstand it, or it was emotionally draining for you versus if you went into it more aligned, or even knowing that this was what you wanted, not what was pushed on you even if those things happened, you would have been able to withstand it like what do you feel like, based on how you went about it, it could have impacted you differently?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 21:33

Yeah, I think the first thing was that it really was something that I was feeling pressured to do. Because I had been married for a couple years, I saw everybody around me buying a home, and it was kind of feeling like, well, I need to do this too. So that's number one. The second thing is my finances, were not in a place to be able to manage the additional expenses that come with purchasing a home, I just did the 3.5% down FHA loan, emptied out my savings account even took money out of my retirement accounts to put the downpayment on the home, because I bought the home in New Jersey, and you know, New Jersey in New York, like prices of homes there are insane, so even a downpayment is going to cost you 25 $30,000 on a home. So I emptied out all my reserves. And then when the emergency started happening, I was forced to take out a 401k loan, I was forced to put debt on credit cards, because I had no safety net. And this, you know, HGTV culture that we live in, convinces us that like home ownership is this blissful dream existence. And it was anything but so I think I just went into it really ignorant about what the actual expenses would be, what the actual expectations of me would be as a landlord, did I even have the personality to be a landlord? I later found out No, I don't. And these are all like, you know, 2020 hindsight lessons. But I think it's just important for people to do not only a financial checkup on themselves when they're thinking about buying a home, but do like the mental checkup on yourself, like, are you ready for the stress that comes with these big life changing decisions? Because once you make those decisions, it's not like you can be like calling up the mortgage company next week and be like, you know, it, not this not for me. Right?

Jamila Souffrant 23:22

Right? Well, that's the thing, like, these are such permanent, big decisions. And eventually, you can like get out of some of these choices, but it's not a liquid asset that you can just like sell tomorrow, it's gonna take time. So I love that you actually are just sharing the real behind that because so many people see homeownership as a standard, which it can be, but you really have to make sure you're financially prepared for it. So now, I love that you also said during that time you find out about financial independence, because I'm sure then that gave you a kind of like, you know, a glitch in the matrix. And you're like, cuz I know that happened to me. I was like, Wait a second. What is this thing? What did I know about it before? So talk about discovering that for yourself, and what you started to do now to dig yourself out of what looks like it was like a financial hole.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 24:07

Yeah. So you know, I'm finding myself in this pit of despair, just having bought this house and literally feeling like I've made this decision that's going to trap me in my misery for the next 30 years, right. Like now, I have to say, with this job that I don't even like, gonna be a slave to this debt forever. And then I find out about financial dependence through you and some other podcasts. And that was honestly the lightbulb moment for me that there was another option. So I started listening to personal finance and specifically Financial Independence Podcast, like it was my job. I wanted to learn everything about it. I started talking to my husband about it. And you know, the first thing he's just like, yeah, okay, whatever. Sure. Sounds like a fantasy, right?

Jamila Souffrant 24:53

Same. Yeah. And,

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 24:56

you know, one thing that I realized is like a lot of the people that were talking about this stuff are obviously like white males that are in pretty lucrative careers don't have a lot of the same kind of responsibilities and things that you know, women of color deal with. So I think initially for me, there was a big amount of skepticism around like, is this even something that's possible for me. And it wasn't until I really looked at my numbers, my income, my debt, my side hustle income, and what I could start doing to put these tools in place and really start implementing the principles of FIRE in my life, that I realized, Oh, wait, I can also do this too. I have the framework here. I'm just not putting it in place. And so I did a couple of really drastic things that people might be like, Girl, you, you, cray.

Jamila Souffrant 25:48

Okay. But before you get into that, I want to step back. I always like to frame this for people who this might be the first time with this podcast episode may be the first time someone is hearing about financial independence. So can you give your definition of financial independence?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 26:00

Yes. So for me financial independence is not having to work for money. So whether that is you know, investing in the stock market, investing in real estate, entrepreneurship, or some combination of those three, you have created enough income to cover your expenses, and hopefully not just cover them, but also allow for some luxuries in life that can afford you the time to enjoy this extra freedom that you now have.

Jamila Souffrant 26:26

Love it. Okay, so now let's talk about what you did, because you talked about doing some drastic things. So now I'm like, okay, what's, what's the key? What did you do? Okay, so

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 26:34

the first thing is, I decided I was moving out of state. So I was born and raised in New Jersey. And I said, you know, what, I am tired of earning six figures here and still living paycheck to paycheck, I got to go. So I work for an employer that is a global company, and that has offices all over the world. And I found out that they had offices in Florida. So the cost of living in Florida is much lower. There's no state income tax, it's very business friendly. And I said, you know what I'm going to put in for a job transfer. I'm going to stay with my employer, but I'm going to do this lateral move, have them pay for my relocation, and I'm going to start fresh. So of course, you know, I'm married. So I talked to my husband.

Jamila Souffrant 27:19

That was like, I was like, in my head. I'm like, wait, wait, what did what about the husband? What happened there?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 27:23

Yes, no, I left him back. No, no, no, he actually worked for an employer that also had offices in Florida. So we coordinated our jobs to both transfer out here, which was amazing, and certainly serendipitous. You know, like, I definitely think we had a lot of privilege in that respect. And we were able to keep our North East salaries and move to a lower cost of living area. So you can imagine automatically, even making the same salary, my monthly income was boosted by almost $1,000 because I was no longer paying state income tax by moving here.

Jamila Souffrant 27:59

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Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 29:30

Then we sold the house. So we bought the house in summer of 2016 put it up for sale around the end of 2018. And it took about six months to sell because it's an investment property and those things tend to take a little bit longer. I lost money on that sale. I had to pay $10,000 to sell the house and that dude, I would do it all over again because honestly like just the emotional baggage that came with that house. I didn't care. I just won wanted to get it off of my balance sheet so that I could quote unquote get rid of those six figures at that in a heartbeat. So I did that. And then I still have to tackle some of my, you know, bad spending habits that were still lingering. So things like getting out of credit card debt, I consolidated all of my credit card debt, which was about $10,000, on to a balance transfer. So I took advantage of that put all that debt at a 0% interest rate for about 18 months, and then just made a plan to pay all that off. And then the last remaining debt was my student loans. So at the time that I discovered financial independence, I had about $39,000 in student loans. And I wanted to make a plan to be debt free by age 35, which would have been may of 2020. So instead of using my side hustle income to just be bougie, and book vacations, I started using the extra two $3,000 a month that I was getting to make extra payments on my student loans. And I also combine that with refinancing them a couple of times through so fi, so I refinance my student loans like four times in five years, every time just lowering the interest rate and shortening the repayment terms. And I became officially debt free in February of 2020. Right before the pandemic hit.

Jamila Souffrant 31:19

Mm hmm. That's great. And so it also sounds like you've made all these like changes. You also said you had a 401k, did you have to pay back that 401k? loan? You paid it off with the sale? Oh, maybe not to sell the house?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 31:32

No, I actually just paid it off with a lump sum. I used my bonus from work to pay it back.

Jamila Souffrant 31:39

Yeah, yeah. And again, I thought, like just drawing out some lessons here that not everyone has worked for a company that has different offices, but you may on moving somewhere else. And I love that your husband was on board. Now did that take convincing? Because oftentimes, you know, like, your partner is not always on board or has the same mindset. So was he on board initially, or you have to like get in there.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 32:01

Now, he was definitely on board to move. I think we were just sick of the struggle in New Jersey. We were just done. And we wanted a fresh start. I'm still working on getting him on the financial independence train. But I'm like, Look one thing at a time.

Jamila Souffrant 32:14

Right, right. Right. Okay, so you are now debt free. And this sounds like around the same time you are starting the podcast like you decided to pick it back up. Right. So tell me now about your plan, like what you are working towards with your job because you're still working. But then you're you are like running a very profitable, it seems like side hustle.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 32:36

Yeah. So as I was pursuing all of the, you know, debt repayment, and just becoming debt free, I also started accelerating my journey to financial independence through increasing my investments. So for the first time, in 2020, I maxed out my 401k I maxed out an IRA, and I opened a solo 401k since I'm a business owner, and I maxed that out, too. So 2020 was like the pivotal year where I was really setting up the foundation for financial independence. Another thing is, you know, like you mentioned, so I had already had my food blog, which was profitable. You know, it was a five figure food blog by the point of 2020. So in 2019, I earned about $46,000, in income through my food blog.

Jamila Souffrant 33:21

Okay, pause. I'm sorry. Because questions are popping up right now. You said you didn't want to monetize it at first. Now, you said in one year and earn $46,000 Can you share where that came from that that money?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 33:33

Yes, absolutely. So the food blog when I first started, I wasn't I didn't make any money for about two years. And what I started to learn was, you know, as I was building it, because I it was kind of this thing, it just kind of happened. You know, like, I think a lot of entrepreneurs don't even realize they're building businesses upfront. And so the food blog became a business even though I didn't realize it. So the way I started monetizing it was through display ads. So if you go on websites, and you see those little ads that pop up either from you know, the bottom of the screen, or you see little videos and things that come up, you actually get paid for that. And it's calculated based on the amount of traffic that you have to your website. So I focused heavily in 2015 and 2016, on optimizing what's called search engine optimization. And that's the science behind getting Google to find your website and show it to people when they search for things. So as I was continuing to hone in on optimize my food blog for SEO, that started paying off, I started earning, you know, several $100 a month in AD income. Then I started doing sponsored content. So I was creating recipes with companies and they would pay me for that I was, you know, becoming an influencer, which I hate that word, but whatever. And so yeah, so it got to the point where 2017 was the first year that I made five figures, it was about $10,000 2018 was about $26,000. And then 2019 was about $46,000 and last year, it was about 70. Wow. And this year, it's probably going to be around $90,000 just from the food blog outside of like the podcast and all the other stuff that I'm doing.

Jamila Souffrant 35:12

Okay, so for people who are like, Alright, what's the food blog? What is the food blog case? Yes.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 35:17

So it's Delish D' lites. And that's d l i t e s, and it is a Latin and Puerto Rican food blog. So I share all my family recipes and recipes that are inspired by my travel. And yeah, we get about 350,000 visitors per month. So just to give you some context around like, what kind of traffic leads to that type of income? Yeah, it's about three, three and a half million visitors a year.

Jamila Souffrant 35:43

Oh, my goodness, like, first of all, we could have a whole nother episode just about your food blog. Because now I'm sitting wondering, and maybe this isn't your plan, and we're going to get there. But you can literally this could be your thing to not just the podcasts, right like that. Because people like can get booked deals or things like that. influencer contracts. All right. So many things. Yeah. But let's get back to and we'll revisit the food blog. But now we're talking more about like your your plan going forward. So what does that look like? you're earning money from the food blog? And now your business? Also? Um, side? hustles. Right.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 36:18

Absolutely. So I am currently by the definition of financial independence, financially independent because of the passive income that I earned through my food blog, and my business. Now, the food blog is really 100% passive at this point, I don't even post on there anymore. I haven't posted on there since like, I don't know, this the holiday season. And I'm earning anywhere between like seven and $10,000 a month through the food blog. So that is like my financial independence. base level, if you will, like if I don't earn any money through my business with the podcast, I'm still good. Now, my plan at this point is to continue to pursue financial independence. I'm heavily investing in stock market haven't decided, if I've reconciled with real estate yet, we'll see what happens in the future. But my focus really is to just you know, continue to accelerate my financial independence journey and continue to grow my business. So for the first time in 2020, my business earn six figures of income. And so I'm working to replicate that.

Jamila Souffrant 37:23

Well, this is your side business. This is separate from the food blog. This is your your No, so it's everything. Oh, everything together. Okay, god,

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 37:29

yes. So I lump everything in together. It's all under one shell company, if you will. And so I'm working to exceed that in 2021. And I am planning on leaving my nine to five by the end of 2021.

Jamila Souffrant 37:44

Wow. So yeah, so I was gonna ask you, like, what for you is your enough point? Because for some people like getting that passive 7000. It's like, I'm done. I'm good, right? But it sounds like you want to set yourself up to make sure you're really good. So for you, what does that look like? Is it a matter of lifestyle, like there are some things that you still incorporate? Because sometimes in the financial independence, retire early space, a lot of it is based on frugality, because the less you spend, the less you need to save and invest over time or have coming in. But what does that look like for you in terms of your lifestyle and your husband? Right? Because you're not alone on this journey, either. Even though he said he's not really, he's not doing his own thing. It seems like,

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 38:22

Yeah, he's doing his own thing. And we do keep like our investments separate, if you will, like our finances are separate. So like, he has his own investing accounts, and accounts and things like that.

Jamila Souffrant 38:32

Sounds like you, you could have stopped working like a while ago, but you're continuing to save and invest in squirrel away money. So what is it based on lifestyle choices that you want to enjoy a certain level? Or was it look like?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 38:44

Yeah, so I think for me, it has more to do with the fact that I'm not only planning for myself, but I'm planning for my family. And I think this is something that not enough people talk about in the financial independence space. Like, I am also building a nest egg to be able to take care of my parents in their retirement because I know that they don't have the funds and the resources to be able to do that. So that's going to require substantially more money than I would need for my own personal goals. And so that's why I'm still working and still planning to, you know, continue to grow my monthly income, because it's about bringing everybody up with me versus just me.

Jamila Souffrant 39:20

Yeah, that's such an important thing to talk about, especially depending on as an immigrant and then just culture wise, and just from certain communities, because that does add on additional responsibility and years of working. I remember I had Sylvia I forgot the episode on the podcast, it was like before it, I think was 40 something. And she talked about like she also was financially independent, like technically she was but she was working extra years just so she could help her parents. And like you said, I don't want to say unfortunately because I do feel like in our culture, like I would love to help. Thank you back to my mom, grandmother, people in my life that I'm here. Because of them, right? Or give people opportunities in my family or even outside, right, that I want to just be charitable with my money. So, yeah, it's important to talk about that. Because some people like when you're looking at it from a very frugal way, it's really just you like, it's not really concerning anyone else, especially even if you have kids, right? Like, there are things you may want to give you a permit, you know, there's certain things and opportunities I want to give my kids like, I would love to help, or give them a lump sum to start a business and or buy their first property or travel, you know, so there are things we have to consider, depending on the things in our life that matter

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 40:32

Absolutely, yeah, I think about how different my life would be if my parents had never left Puerto Rico. And just all of the sacrifices that they made to leave their family behind, come here with nothing start this life, you know, where I don't know if I would have the courage at this point to do what they did. And so for me, it's an absolute privilege and an honor to be in a position to even be able to think about doing this for them. So I think you know, if anybody out there is kind of wrestling with the responsibility of knowing that this is something you might have to plan for, if it's something that you can do, don't frame it as a as an unfortunate thing or as a burden, because it really is a blessing to even be able to do this.

Jamila Souffrant 41:12

I love that perspective shift. I hope that helps someone listening. And so talk a little bit about your services, like what you do help people with. So you have the full blog, which I feel like I want to come back there if we have time, then, but you also help now people with their own side hustles. Right. So talk about that.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 41:30

Yeah, so in the end of this year, I launched my first digital course, the ultimate side hustle starter kit, because I talk a lot about side hustles and passive income, and just really the importance of protecting your financial security through secondary income sources. And I think, you know, 2020 has shown us that if these jobs that we thought were super reliable, not necessarily and I think especially as women of color, when we're thinking about how we are impacted by things like the wage and wealth gaps, it's important for us to be as productive as possible to create these secondary income sources that can help us combat these systemic issues. So I help primarily women of color, create their side hustles. So if you find yourself in a position where you know, you know, you want to do this, but you don't necessarily have the support or the resources that you need to be successful, I have a group coaching program where I bring my students on for an eight week program, and we talk from everything from you know, how to choose your side hustle to embracing the entrepreneurial mindset, getting past those blocks that are keeping you from even putting your offer out there. And then we talk about how to structure your offer, how to deal with business finances, I bring on experts from all types of industries, and really, to setting up the framework for you to be successful and avoid all of the pitfalls and all the time that I had to invest to create my businesses. So it's definitely a passion project of mine. And I just love seeing people come out on the other side, like Finally, taking the courage to put themselves out there and really just embracing this other side of them that they maybe haven't felt like they had permission to do before.

Jamila Souffrant 43:13

Yeah, and when it comes to side hustles for someone who right now has an idea, you know, is thinking about starting it what's like the one piece of advice that they can do right now, like from after listening to the second help move the needle for them.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 43:27

Yeah, I think if you are called to do something, the thing you have to do is just start doing it, honestly. And it sounds really simple. But we can get so in our heads about having to show up perfect having to have all the questions figured out having to you know, have this whole brand behind you and create all this social media and get a logo and do the website and all these things. And all of those tasks can just be ways of you self sabotaging, because procrastination is just another version of fear manifesting itself. And a lot of times we just use all of these reasons why we shouldn't be doing something because we're quote unquote, not ready as manufactured and made up reasons why we can't to show for ourselves. So if you know you're passionate about something, if you have some sort of skill that can help people start with your circle, right, you don't have to approach strangers on the internet and be like, Hi, buy something for me. There's probably people in your life that your skills and talents can start helping right now. use those as your first clients to start validating your idea. And then you know, you can get a little bold and start putting stuff out there on Instagram or whatever.

Jamila Souffrant 44:30

Yeah, I love that. And when it comes to you know where you first see your entire business, so you're gonna you're gonna quit your job, but I can't wait to celebrate that with you. I'm sure you post about it. But it's the focus then now going to be on the food blog and the side hustle, like helping people with their side hustle business.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 44:50

Yeah, so I definitely don't have time to do all of these things now. So I definitely want to get back into food blogging because it is on passion of mine and it's really, you know, it's a way. For me to disconnect even from the chaos of business, right, because it's like you're cooking something, you can't really focus on anything else, right. And I just want to continue to expand my, you know, personal finance brand, continue to inspire people to talk about money destigmatize it, maybe write a book, you know, the sky's the limit.

Jamila Souffrant 45:19

Yeah, yeah. And I'm gonna go back to the food blog, because I just I don't know, there's something about that, that really is resonating with me. Because sometimes I'll have a lot of people who are on the podcast, who their side hustle is personal finance, like it's coaching, or no podcast and something else. And I just love how like, it's food, like your passion is food, because I know there are people who really have no like, want or care about, like getting into the personal finance business, but they have something else, right gardening, food. And so it's like really encouraging to see that you can actually make money doing that, too. And so when it comes to blogging, and something that's not personal finance related like food, what are some tips for people who may want to start something based on your success that you've seen over the years?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 46:02

Yeah, I think the thing for me that was really the game changer was figuring out how I was going to carve out my space on the internet, right? Because it's very easy to want to just serve everybody. And that's what I was doing. Initially, with my food blog, I was just making like random stuff had no theme, no cohesion. And it wasn't until I really honed into first understanding what people were actually resonating with, with what I was posting. So the stuff that started going viral was my Puerto Rican recipes. And initially, I was I had the thought that I'm sure a lot of people have that. Like nobody cares about this, like, Who's going to look at this stuff. And it wasn't until I did some market research and realized that there was probably only a handful of Puerto Rican food bloggers, period. And I'm like, wait, there is a community of people who are not being served adequately. And so what if I just started honing in on this instead of trying to be everything to everyone? And that was honestly what led to the success not only of the food blog, but also the personal finance podcast, right? Because I make it very clear, my personal finance podcast is for Latinas. And the reason why I did that is because there was nobody talking about this stuff. You know, if I had just come on here and started talking about money, I just be another lady talking about money, but for who like Who do you care about who you're trying to serve? And so I think that is something that should be a driving force for anybody who's building a business, whether you're a blogger or podcaster, figure out who is not being served and how you can authentically weave that into your message.

Jamila Souffrant 47:30

Yeah, and and as you're talking, so I have a sister, I have a bunch of sisters and brothers. Actually, one of my sisters is a chef, like, that's her passion. But she like doesn't do like blogging stuff, right? Like, there's some people like she just likes to do the work. And so she like, well, she's worked for restaurants, she'll sometimes cater things. And I just like from what you're saying. And she's Jamaican, like, like, I'm Jamaican, but she's really Jamaican, because she grew up there. And I'm like, Yes, she should have a food blog. But I'm like, I don't have the time to help her. So and I don't know that she wants that blog. Like, she might just want to be in the kitchen cooking. So I think it's just interesting, like the types of different ways people can approach this. So yeah, I'm just thinking out loud of how I can like, I guess.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 48:10

Yeah, I mean, she could start a YouTube channel. You know, there's so many different things like some people just are not writers. They're just that's just not their thing. Right. And some people love being in front of the camera. So it's really just about finding the medium that makes sense for you. And that doesn't feel like work, right? Because if you're going to create a side hustle, the last thing you want it to feel like is another job.

Jamila Souffrant 48:31

Yes. Yes. I love that tip. Okay, Jannese, please tell everyone where they can find more about you. Listen to the podcast, food blog, all the things. Absolutely. So

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 48:41

if you want to find out more about my podcast, yo quiero dinero you want to find out more about me just head over to Yoquierodineropodcast.com. You can subscribe for our weekly episodes that premiere on Sundays and we're talking all things money and mindset over there. And if you want to find out more about my food blog, head over to delishdlites. That's d l i t es.com. And if you make something definitely tag me on Instagram, I would love to see it.

Jamila Souffrant 48:42

What's your Instagram handle?

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 48:49


Jamila Souffrant 48:55

Okay, awesome. Love that. And thank you so much for coming on the show. It was great connecting with you.

Jannese Torres- Rodriguez 49:16

Thank you Jamila.

Jamila Souffrant 49:20

Okay, I hope you got fired up listening to that conversation with Denise I know I did. I was so re energized listening to her story. I just love how she is earning as a side hustle this money like money that's going to help not only herself but her family, her community and now you know all the people who follow her and this brand that she's building to help educate and get more people on this journey to financial independence. It's really inspiring. So I want you to go check her out yo quiero dinero podcast .com and don't forget take a screenshot of you listening. tag me on Instagram at journey to launch tag Jannese at yo quiero dinero podcast. Make sure you're following us so we can see it and know that you loved it and get your feedback.

Don't forget, you can get the episode Show Notes for this episode by going to journeytolaunch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going 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 at journey to launch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And I love love love interacting with journeyers. They're three support and check out 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 for 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)

This week on the podcast, Jannese Torres- Rodriguez explains how she was able to make over 6 figures from her side hustle while working a 9-5. Jannese is passionate about teaching women of color how to create lucrative side hustles, invest with purpose, and generate sustainable wealth. Her passion for personal finance grew from getting serious about her own finances and becoming an entrepreneur.  

Tune in to hear how Jannese grew her side hustle income to over $100k, paid off $39k in debt in 17 months and ultimately achieved her version of Financial Independence. 

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How Jannese made over $100k from her side hustles
  • How she transitioned from food blogger to personal finance podcast host
  • The sacrifices she made to take control of her finances and become debt free
  • Advice on how to start a side hustle and much more…

Check out the video interview with Jannese on Youtube here.

Episode 212- Using Side Hustles to Earn an Additional $100,000 a Year and Paying Off $39,000 of Debt with Jannese Torres-Rodriguez Click To Tweet

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