Episode Number: 235

Episode 235- Paying Off $30K of Debt, Financially Recovering From Divorce & Building an Authentic Financial Brand w/ Dasha Kennedy

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Jamila Souffrant 0:00

You're listening to the Journey To Launch Podcast. Paying Off $30,000 Of Debt And Building An Authentic Personal Brand With Dasha Kennedy, The Broke Black Girl.

Intro 0:11

T-minus 10 seconds. 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

Hey, Hey, Journeyers. Welcome to the Journey To Launch Podcast Thank you for choosing this podcast to spend your time with to listen to, and to learn from. I hope that this episode and all the episodes that you listen to get you motivated, inspired, and give you practical tips to further you along your journey to financial freedom and independence. In today's rocket chair, that's right, we're in the rocket chair, we're in the rocket seat, we're taken off, we have a special guest, we have Dasha Kennedy of The Broke Black Girl. Dasha talks about some amazing things in this episode. And I really hope that it resonates and gives you the feel you need to pay off debt. Dasha talks about getting a divorce and having to really start over financially. And she talks about what that was like being a mom of two small kids, having kids at such a young age, getting married at such a young age, and getting divorced and what that looked like for her financially. How she started The Broke Black Girl, which now has hundreds of 1,000s of people in her community, who she's directly communicating and talking to. And I love being able to share my platform with someone like Dasha because it just shows how different we can be in this space, how we can bring our unique talents and experience to this world of personal finance and help people and help you get to where you want to go. So I hope you're really inspired by this episode. If you are, please don't hesitate to share this episode with a family member or friend, especially on your social media. That also helps. Take a screenshot tag me a@journeytolaunch and tag Dasha @thebrokeblackgirl_. We're on Instagram. And also we're over there on Twitter and Facebook. So let me know that you're listening to this and what stood out the most for you.

Journey to Launch is supported by First Republic Bank. Now, more than ever, First Republic's priority is serving their clients and communities. Their personalized banking solutions go deeper than a transaction. For over 30 years, First Republic has striven to leave a positive impact on the communities they serve. From presenting grants to nonprofits in need, to going the extra mile to connect individuals experiencing hardship with fair loans. The bank is focused on doing the right thing. I've been more intentional about who I bank with and where I put my money, which is why I've opened up an account with First Republic. They even do monthly education and social online events for their clients on a variety of fun and educational topics. No matter what your financial goals are, your dedicated First Republic banker will be there to guide you every step of the way. Visit firstRepublic.com today to learn more. That's firstrepublic.com. Member FDIC, Equal Housing lender.

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 An 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 to 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 hop into the episode.

Hey, Journeyers, I have a special guest in the rocket seat! We have Dasha Kennedy, The Broke Black Girl, on the podcast today. Hey, Dasha!

Dasha Kennedy 4:15

Hey! I'm super excited. Thank you for having me today.

Jamila Souffrant 4:18

Yes, I'm really excited to get more into your story and have my audience learn more about you if they don't know about you already. You've created such, like, a standout like brand in this space and you're so engaging with your audience when it comes to money and your life experiences. So I want to get into all the things, first starting with what created you to start the brand, The Broke Black Girl?

Dasha Kennedy 4:44

Um, to be honest, I think the, the black and the girl part is obvious. But, the truth of the matter was, I really was. I really was broke and I wanted to enter into this space being 100% honest, authentic, and saying something that most people were afraid to say. That they had money, they messed it up, and they went through a season of being broke. When I first came into this industry, I felt like the word "broke" was like, "Oh, no, we can't stay there. That's so bad. Don't speak that," but the reality is broke people exist. And you know, and I was one of those. And I wanted to create a space to say, "Hey, you know, this, this is my truth." And I wanted to walk into that. Now, when I first came online, you know, under The Broke Black Girl, I had no idea what type of feedback you know, that I would get, I just wanted to be, I wanted to just tell my story and my experience with money and share some of the things that worked for me. And within like, six months, I had 50,000 women, and a Facebook group that was saying, like, "Hey, I've been the broke black girl before, I can totally relate to this." And then it's just been uphill since then.

Jamila Souffrant 6:01

See, that's fascinating to me. So we're gonna-- I'm definitely going to get into her personal story, guys , of how-- because she's not broke anymore. So we're going to talk about how she went and transformed her life from being broke, but I'm really curious, because as someone else also in this space, like, it's hard to get people to follow you and to opt into things. So I know you already said people identified with what you were doing, but what in the beginning did you actually do to get people to pay attention and grow your brand in that way?

Dasha Kennedy 6:29

I think a lot of times, and I'll just speak from my experience, before I actually started coming online and sharing some of my financial advice, a lot of the financial advice that I would see was at a space that, that I feel like, was unattainable, that that's the way that it was presented, you know, on social media. And for me, I think that I really met people where they were at. Yes, eventually, I wanted them to be better with their money. I wanted them to create a budget, get out of debt, start saving. I wanted those things to happen. But first, I had to establish a relationship. I had to let them know, you know, I am pretty much exactly where you are. I just so happened to get into the finance industry at age 19. So I learned a little bit more than you probably had access to. So for me, it was like, okay, so now I'm gonna want to take what I'm going to my nine to five to learn, and come back and give it to my community. Because this is still a community that I exist in, still a community that I live in. And so now I'm going to come back and share these things. And for me, that helped me really establish a relationship and I think, I think taking the negative notion away from the word "broke," where people feel, sometimes, they feel shame for being broke, they feel like they don',t they don't fit in certain financial spaces. Me taking that negative notion away and saying, "Hey, broke people, they exist. We don't have to stay this way. We're not going to always be this way, but right now, I see you. This is where you're at. This is where I once was. I have acknowledged that, right now, you are broke, and you want to figure out how to fix it. That's okay." And I think creating a space that made not being okay, okay, was definitely what helped me integrate this space as quickly as I did, and as powerful as I did.

Jamila Souffrant 8:21

And it's so, you know, I commend you for just being so truthful in the way you are, because this is the thing-- I think a lot of people, because I have a lot of people who listen, who want to start business are also into personal finance and want to have a like a brand. And the truth of the matter is you literally just have to show up as yourself with your own experiences, because someone will relate to that. And, you know, we're in the same space, you know, we may, we may talk a little bit different or have like, you know, different target audiences or whatever, right? Like and I'm talking like, for the whole spectrum, not just me and you, but just in general. And what I noticed, when I first came into this space was, like, I started listening to like the financial independence, retire early podcasts and blogs. And I was like, I know some of my friends. And even me, like, I could, I could deal with it and deal with the way that they spoke and or communicated things, because I did grow up in a more like in a kind of a diverse, like, in a way like I went to a very diverse college, like I kind of knew how to fit in spaces, and I have a lot of friends who are not about that. Like they don't want to fit themselves into spaces. And quite honestly, we shouldn't have to even do that. But when I see people like you and it's just like, it's really clear to me that you are strong in your brand, strong in your voice, and then that's reason you're so successful with what you're doing. And I just want to encourage people, that whatever you're ashamed about, whether, you know, you think, you have, you talk differently and or have a different background, or-- I'm telling you that the world in personal finance and other spaces needs your voice to just speak up and be yourself.

Dasha Kennedy 9:50

Yes. I 100% agree and one of the things that I really want to touch on is, there is billions of people that exist. You know, in this world. I don't need all of those people. You know if I can help just one person with my story, with some of the things that I've gone through. If I can help them prevent going through some of those things, I've done enough. I have right now about 200,000 people across Facebook and Instagram that are following my advice. That's to me, you, I couldn't even imagine that a few years ago. So that alone is already enough. And well, that, that's a lot. I would love to help as many as I can, but what I'm saying is that-- your story, your advice, the way that you put it together, it may not be for everybody, and that's perfectly fine. But there are people who are waiting for you or waiting for someone to say, "Hey, this is my story. It may not be as cute, it may not be as popular and it may not be as common, but this was my experience with personal finance, this is what I did, and this is where I'm at now." and I guarantee you there's going to be a handful of people that are going to be like, "I've been waiting for someone that has gone through what I'm going through to help me through this." All you need is your people that, you know, that's really what I focus on. I focus on serving my people.

Jamila Souffrant 11:16

Yeah. Now, okay. I want to go into your personal story. So you mentioned that, 19 you got into the space. What were you doing at 19 to make you so knowledgeable about money?

Dasha Kennedy 11:25

Um, nothing. I was working at Forever 21.

Jamila Souffrant 11:31

Okay, okay.

Dasha Kennedy 11:32

Folding clothes. And it's very interesting, because I had no desire to go to college. I graduated from high school, I was working at Forever 21, which 18/19, I thought that, that was just the world. I'm at the store. I love shopping here, so I'm getting paid, spending on my check there. Had no responsibilities. I thought that it was, you know, everything. And you know, my mom, she came to me and she was like, "Look, if you're not going to go to college, we have to sit down and have a real conversation about you getting into some type of field that has longevity, that has benefits, and that has a retirement plan." So my mom she was like-- I'm-- My mom was working at an insurance company, she had been there, you know, for a while, she was like, "I'm gonna see, you know, what openings we have. And I want you to apply." I knew absolutely nothing about finance. So this is me coming from work. I had two retail jobs. And I think I worked at Taco Bell at one point, like, I knew nothing about finance. So I'm like, "You know, you know, Okay." So I applied, I went through the interview process, and I got hired. I got hired at a very low -level position, in the mail role. So for eight hours a day, I went from folding clothes, to just stuffing envelopes, however, where my desk was positioned, I sat in the area around accountants. So I would hear them talking about you know, accounting, personal finance, budgeting, and that intrigued me. They were saying words that I never heard. Things like 401k. I never knew, you know, what that was. So that intrigued me.

And there was a woman, who sat across from me, and she, she kind of just said, "Hey, you know, they, the job offered over time." Now, I knew I wanted to make more money, but my position really didn't call for overtime. So she mentioned to the boss, she was like, "Hey, I can use the extra hands, If you're offering overtime to the team, Dasha can, if she wants the overtime, she can stay, you know, behind and help me." So she let me start shadowing her, working in accounting, and she taught me everything that she knew. So that when a position became open in accounting, I applied for it. And by the time I left that job, I was a senior accountant and I was like 24. So, I, this was never what I wanted to do, but I felt like I was positioned to one day be like, do exactly what I'm doing. Like even now that I'm trying to recollect the thoughts, I feel like I'm getting emotional, because I literally went from stuffing envelopes to someone just teaching me accounting, just so that I can get some overtime to have some make some extra money to now this became my full time career.

Jamila Souffrant 14:08

Dasha- Have you always been that curious as a child too?

Dasha Kennedy 14:12

Oh yes. I've always been very nosy.

Jamila Souffrant 14:15

Well, no, so it's funny. There was a meme going around that said, "I'm curious, like, for the people who said that they got, they talked too much. What are you now doing as like an adult?" because you know, like the teachers like if you're too talkative, if you're too ambitious, or talk back, that was viewed as a bad thing as a child and I just find that these are the qualities that as you grow up, you want your kids to have, because they become leaders, they become able to speak up for themselves and to ask questions. Like, "Wait, what does that mean? 401k?" You know.

Dasha Kennedy 14:43

As a child, I always wanted to know. I always wanted to know what a word meant. I always wanted to know, like, why we have to go this way, in that way, like I just wanted, you know, to know. And it was sometimes information that I probably was never going to use again, but I didn't know that I needed it until I needed it. And at that time I was dying, you know that I asked that I asked questions. So when I think about, you know, it would have been easy for me. Eight hours a day, I went from making $7 and probably 50 cents to $11. Now, back then, at age 19, that was a huge, you know, jump. And now I'm getting paid time off, I have benefits, like I really thought I had in made. So I thought, "Okay, they just want me to stuffing envelopes all day." That was... I had, and I was sitting down at a desk. I just thought that, that was everything. But when you know this woman, she just said, "Hey, I want to teach you this skill." I don't even think she knew that it will one day, you know, turn into this, but just me being interested enough to say, "Hey, you know, I'll take the overtime, I'll stay behind and watch." And just learning from her. It opened up so many doors for me.

Jamila Souffrant 15:49

And this is the importance of staying curious, and for anyone right now who's feeling like they're working in a job that's a dead end, I'm telling you, there are opportunities in front of you. You do have to see them and create them for yourself. But I mean, just hearing, Dasha, like you at this point of view or what you did, like it's just testament to being curious and asking questions. So, okay, you are now--- worked your way up to, you said, senior account manager by age 24? All right. But by this time, too, right, you have a family and you're married, I believe? So can we talk a little bit about that? Because I know that's a big part of your story. You talked about having money and then not having it. So can we talk about that stage of your life?

Dasha Kennedy 16:26

Oh, yes. So I got pregnant with my first son when I was 19 years old. I had on when I was 20. So getting this job came at a very again, I didn't know that I was going to have a baby, but right after I got that job, I got pregnant, I had my first son when I was 20. I had my second child, I believe I probably was 23. I think at the time, but by this time, I was also with his father and I was married. I was very young. One of the things that I learned during this time was that I was working in the finance industry, I was learning a lot about personal finance. I knew how to help other people, I was not applying any of that to my life. Because I went from working at Forever 21, making $7.50, now like I'm making much more money, I have these benefits, things are good. And I was getting paid every single week. So what I learned, very quickly, is that you can, you can increase your income, but you can not outspend poor money management. So it was like, yes, I make good money, the money's coming in, but my money management was horrible. And I did not realize that until I started going through my divorce. And my husband was out of the household. Of course, the income was sliced, you know, I have, I now have two children. So now expenses that I did not have to worry about, I now have to be concerned about. Such as transportation, childcare. And I quickly realized that the money that I thought that I was making, I had no idea what was actually going on in my finances. So in the moment, things looked good. I was getting paid every week, we were paying bills, the rent is paid, like on the surface, It looked amazing, but I had no savings. I had no cushion. I was not prepared for any thing. And I didn't realize that was a problem until I was in the midst of it. And that's when things started to go completely downhill for me financially.

Jamila Souffrant 18:27

When that started to happen, you know, do you remember the point at which you realized, like, wait, like, I'm in big trouble here? Like was there a number amount? Like was the debt piling up to a certain amount where you had to say, "Okay, something has to change?"

Dasha Kennedy 18:39

Oh, yes. Um, very quickly, when my-- when me and my husband.Tthe divorce was not final, but he was not in the house. He was not financially, you know, supporting anything in the house. I started to get into things such as-- things that I knew was not good. I started to get into things like getting payday loans to cover up. So to cover me week to week, because I quickly realized I was living paycheck to paycheck. So I started to get payday loans. I was unable to pay the payday loans back. So I'm getting multiple payday loans at a time to cover one payday loan that I owe. So I got into a very vicious cycle of payday loans and then I racked up credit card debt, consumer debt, and by the time I looked up, I was $25,000 in debt. Still did not have a car. So me and my children were using public transportation. Um, I still had the apartment, but I really could not afford it. So I went through a huge cycle of just taking from here to cover there and then trying to figure out how to get back here. It was horrible. But it got to about $25,000 that I was in debt when I knew it was time for me to make some changes. And it was time for me to make some changes quick because, you know, sometimes you'll go through a financial hardship and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you know, especially, let's say like we're doing this the snowball method. It's easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you have that type of method and you are paying off debt. But for me, I did not see the light at the end of the tunnel, because I was not-- I had no budget, I had no debt management plan, because I was so used to just living in the moment, that when things took the slightest hit, it completely knocked me off track.

Jamila Souffrant 20:23

Right. Now, you mentioned snowball method. And we'll probably get into that in a bit. But, I just want to mention, just in case someone has not heard of that before, but Dasha was talking about, you know, the way in which you can organize your debt. Pay off and start with the smallest balances first, right? And so there's different ways to think about your debt and paying it off. But in this moment, Dasha, as you realize, "Wait a second, like something has to change." What did you do? Like what was that moment? What was that first step to change?

Dasha Kennedy 20:47

The first step, and this is usually the hardest step, I really had to sit down with myself and come face-to-face with, with my financial history. I had to pull all of my financial documents. So there's bank statements, um, and at the time, I think that I had like one bank, then I had a netspend card. Like I was all over the place, because I was just trying to buy myself time. So I had to pull all of those documents, look through all those documents, and really come face-to-face with what I was doing with my money, what I had been doing with my money, and that to me, what was the hardest step. Like sitting down and taking a full assessment of exactly where you were at, and having to accept that where you're at, for me and my case, was largely at my own doing. Now, of course, which is going to be another conversation, but we know that there are a lot of systemic issues that put people where they are at financially, but for me, and for most people, some of it we do bring on ourselves and that is-- I'm being honest, because I had to be honest with myself, a lot of it brought on myself, because I had put myself in a much better situation financially, but it was because I was so caught up in the moment. I was excited. I'm making more money. I'm thinking like, "Oh Okay, I get paid every week so there's no need for me to budget. There's no need for me to save, because I'll get paid every week," but then life change and getting paid every week meant differently. It meant now, okay, now you're living paycheck-to-paycheck and you have no cushion, you have, you know, no safety net. So the hardest thing was looking at myself, looking in the mirror and really having to take a full assessment of everything that was going in. Everything that was going out, and why.

Jamila Souffrant 22:36

Hmm. So, accountability. Sounds like that was like the major key for you, like, it was to look and say, "All right. I need to change something." So what was, like, the first change? After you saw all the numbers and calculated all the debt, what was the first thing that you did after that?

Dasha Kennedy 22:49

It was imperative for me, that I needed to increase my income and I needed to increase my income quickly. Um, I knew then that I was gonna have to start working overtime. I was gonna have to start making some, some sacrifices. You know on one end, I knew I needed to get out of debt. And that takes money. In order for me to get out of debt and stop adding on more and more debt, I had to immediately increase my income. And at that time, now remember, it's just me. I'm a single mom now, with two children. I have no transportation. I had to really rely on my own my village, which was my family, to assist me with the kids. Like keeping them extra hours, so that I can work overtime and I'm doing all of this on the bus. And it was very uncomfortable. No, I did not like it. There were some days that I cried. But I had to make sacrifices. I really had to make some sacrifices if I knew I wanted to eventually put me and my children in a much better position, because now, you had-- now I'm facing. I have two children who are financially dependent on me and they're going through things that I felt was unfair. Like I'm having to wake them up at five o'clock in the morning so that we can get on a bus, in the rain, in the snow, in the heat... anything, because I'm having to get to work early to work overtime. Stay late to work overtime. I really had to make some sacrifices. So that was the first thing that I focused on, was increasing my income. Getting a second job really was out of the question. I didn't even have the mind back then to think about starting a business. That was not something that was introduced to me, but the easiest way for-- that I knew my job was offered over time. I could work overtime and so I worked as much as I could. And I used that extra money to start building us a cushion and start paying off my debt.

Jamila Souffrant 24:32

And it sounds like, so, the income side you were working towards making more, you were starting to make more, but what about the expense side? Because I think oftentimes, like, as a single mom, you know, it's yes, some of it and we can actually like maybe look back and you can tell me, like, was most of your spending on necessary items? Like you had to put a roof over your head? Or was some of it more discretionary? Like, "Oh I didn't need to buy that thing." What for you, yeah, like, what for you at that moment was like, "Okay what do I need to change about my expenses and the way I think about spending money?"

Dasha Kennedy 25:00

Yes. A lot of it was one nonsense. And one thing about me, I am very, you know, transparent and I will call myself out. A lot of it was or nonsense, but I would not have known that if I didn't sit down and actually comb through my financial documents. Like, it's no reason for me to be buying lunch every day that I you know that I'm at work and then I'm getting off work and have them buy lunch again you know, for the kids a lot of it was a lot of poor planning. So I'm spending money for convenience. If I would have just sit down probably, a few hours a week, a lot of those expenses that I had, I really could have put out. One of the things that I noticed and this was just while I was going--- I noticed this a lot about women going through a divorce, that one of the largest expenses that we have, of course, is rent or mortgage and sometimes it's hard to let that go, even though you know the right thing to do is to downsize. It gets hard to let that go, because you have an emotional attachment to the apartment or to the home. "Oh this is what the kids are used to." I had to make a tough call. I cannot afford the apartment, so I downsized and I was able to save about 46% of my money a month just by downsizing my apartment. Now, it took me some time of course. I had to look around make sure I found something that was nice, that was safe-- but downsizing That right there was my saving grace. I think that if I would have tried to stay in the apartment, because it was a luxury apartment, "Oh we have space..." I don't think that I prop-- and this is me being honest-- I don't think that I probably would have made it. But downsizing, going to a much smaller unit, did wonders, because the money that I was able to save in rent, I'm using now to pay off debt. So I was able to take care of two things with just one choice.

Jamila Souffrant 26:52

Yeah, no, that's real talk about how hard it is. Because you know I will say that in the space like you know if you're giving someone a just generally speaking you're like okay, mortgage and rent are your most expensive items in your budget so therefore if you want to really make a big change do that, like, I said you could cut out the lattes, that's fine, but the biggest change will be the house. But it's hard for people. Like, that's a big step, mostly, like you said, and mentally. Especially when you have kids. So I'm glad to just, like, bring that to the light, just in case someone is listening and they know that the house or the mortgage is not something they should keep. Understanding that this is not an easy decision, but knowing that if you do make such a big decision how faster and just more in sync you can get with your goals, financially, when you're doing that.

Now, all right, so you also you're going through this divorce. You're having... or you're already divorced by the time that you started making these choices or you had to kind of work... do that in tandem?

Dasha Kennedy 29:30

No. We, the divorce wasn't final, I think, until like sometime in 2015/2016. So we were... the divorce wasn't final, but we were completely separated. So he was not helping out at all financially. We were completely separated, finances were separated. And then we did finalize the divorce almost like a year or two later.

Jamila Souffrant 29:52

Right. And you talk about this a bit. I saw, you know, an article that you talked about-- you didn't really talk about money in your marriage either, right? So how did that impact the way you felt things ended, in terms of the money situation with your marriage?

Dasha Kennedy 30:06

I think that it played a major part, because we we didn't have conversations about money at all. Even while we were dating, we never talked about money. I never got to know what his values were about money. What was some of his financial goals. Now, keep in mind, and I don't use this as an excuse, but I was young. And now that I know now, I'm definitely asking all of the questions. But back then I didn't, I didn't even know how to ask, what to ask, how to approach this conversation. I just knew, okay, we're living together, bills are getting paid, we're fine. Like that's all, you know, that I knew. But we never talked about. And I felt like that it played a very large part, because when I did get my new job, I started to slowly but surely start looking at money very differently. And I could see that we were not on the same page with how I wanted to spend money. I remember there was a time where I wanted to get insurance. I'm working at an insurance company. So I'm learning, you know, the benefits of insurance. He didn't see insurance, you know, that way. So it was like, slowly, I started to see how us not having those conversations about money. It was becoming very expensive. And so we didn't talk about money until we had to talk about it in court, during divorce. So just not having those conversations, it played a major part, because I, as the family started to grow, we're wanting different things. We're not on the same page financially, then it became a realization that we were never on the same page, financially. We just knew bills were getting paid, the lights are on, food is in the house. It was very surface level. And so as I started to grow, and he wasn't, it became very difficult in our marriage.

Jamila Souffrant 31:58

And so you're moving forward with the divorce, but you're making changes for yourself and your kids?

Dasha Kennedy 32:04

Yes.

Jamila Souffrant 32:04

How long did it take you to get out of debt? So you said you were like $25,000 in debt? How long did it take to get out of that?

Dasha Kennedy 32:09

Yeah. I want to say since I was already on my way, while we were going through-- while we were separated, I was already on my way to making some of those, those changes, I want to say, the divorce was probably was fine around 2015. By 2018, I had completely paid off everything. So right now, the only thing that I have left is a car note. That's, that's the only thing that I have left. And that's like $2,000 that's left. But by 2018, everything was, everything was done. It was not easy at all. I had to make, you know, a lot of sacrifices. I lived in that same apartment that I downsize to. I just moved out of there in June. So even, so even now, what I saw how beneficial it was to downsize and how I was saving so much money by eliminating what, what by largely eliminating a part of my living expenses, which was my rent, it really helped me stay in a very good financial space. And so it took me forever to leave that place. Like ,I literally just left in June and moved to a whole new state. But it was around 2018 that I was done paying off everything. I only have the car left. But it took a lot of... it took a lot of sacrifices. It took a lot of sacrifice, because you have to think it's it's very hard to heal and hurt at the same time. So I'm trying to heal my finances, while still hurting from something that made them tank in the first place, which was the divorce. So it was a very difficult space. And it took a lot of sacrifices, but it took a lot. It was a lot of me holding myself accountable, being a part of communities that held me accountable. Joining spaces that I could relate, you know, relate to, and seeing how important it was to, to understand that, yes, personal finance is for everyone, but the experience with personal finance is different for everyone. So it was important that I found spaces that I could relate to, because not everyone that teaches personal finance has gone through a divorce. And that conversation looks different. So knowing, like, it's important to be a part of those conversations that could have really helped me get over that hump. That was vital for me on this journey.

Jamila Souffrant 32:20

I could imagine, like, finding that obviously that community of other women who went through what you went through.

Dasha Kennedy 34:33

Yeah.

Jamila Souffrant 34:33

So, when you talk about sacrifices, I think this is important, because when we talk about being in the midst, like, of debt, like... and trying to claw your way out of it so you can start, you know, more rapidly building wealth and your net worth. Like you said, it's not easy. There are sacrifices to be made. So do you remember how it was with your family and friends? Like, those conversations, like, was it about-- okay, I can't go on this trip, or telling your kids you can't have this new thing. Like what were the moments like and how did you get through that?

Dasha Kennedy 35:01

Those are things that I like to call financial boundaries. The very first thing that I had to do was I had to put myself at the forefront of every decision that I made financially. And when I say this, I'm talking to, you know, women who have children. I love my children. I love my children dearly as I believe all mothers do, but I couldn't put what was best for my children at the forefront. I couldn't put what was best for my family at the forefront. I had to put what was best for me at the forefront, because if I was not well, if I was not making the right financial decisions that worked for me, then nothing moves for my children, nothing moves for my family. So I have to start putting myself at the forefront of all of my financial boundaries, saying, "Hey, I gotta get out of debt. So I know the family goes on a trip every year, I wish you guys best, I'm not going to be able to go." "Hey, I really have to get my finances under control. So there are some things that I'm not going to be able to give to. There are some things that I'm not going to be able to attend." But what I can say, too, is I had to take the lead in some conversations and especially in my friendships. Instead of me always saying, "Oh, I can't go because I don't have the money," and I'm making my friends, you know, feel bad, because I-- even though it was my situation, I still cared. I still wanted to have fun. I would suggest things like, "Hey, I know we always go out to brunch, but how about we all have fun in someone else's house? I'll bring XYZ. Someone else brings this," like trying to suggest different things without making it be about, "Oh, whoa, it's my financial situation. Pity me." I tried to be creative, but I also had boundaries. Like I had to be comfortable with removing myself from situations that made it difficult for me to stick to my financial boundaries, while also finding the balance and saying, "Hey, how about this? Let's, you know, let's try this," showing different things so that I could still participate without always putting my... I don't want to say burden, but that's really what it felt like back then, on other people.

Jamila Souffrant 35:17

I love tha.t I love being proactive and kind of being, suggesting it first. As like, you know, "Here's what we can do instead," right? Before anyone in the group chat brings up that trip like, "Hey, well how about this," and you know, you're coming up with the idea. So that's that's good. And how was that received by your family and friends? Were they supportive of that? Did it help inspire them to look at their money?

Dasha Kennedy 37:24

Oh, yes. So I am very close with my siblings. And my mom is, is very involved. My mom is is an amazing woman. She's an amazing mom and she has always jumped in, when she could, like to help us financially. So if I would have said like to my mom like, "Oh, I'm not going to do this," my mom would have, she would have tried, you know, to pay. She would have tried to help, but I knew that I was getting older. I was financially responsible for my children. I had to figure out how to do this myself, because there-- it could come a time where my mom can't do that, and i and i also lost a parent at the very beginning of my personal finance journey. So a lot of the things that I shared, a lot of the things that I talk about, is because I actually went, you know, through these things, so a lot of us have people that are able to jump in and help us, but in me I like to think, "Okay but if I don't learn how to do this myself, what happens when this person can't do that?" and that and that happened to me. I, you know, I lost my father in 2017, which of course just looking at the timeline was the very beginning of my personal finance journey. But when my family started to see me making certain decisions and not refusing help in a negative way, but just trying to hold myself accountable and be independent on this journey. My family was very supportive. They were very supportive and I really consider them to be a large part of my village, because again, I was a single mother. So when I needed to work overtime, my, that's, that's how my family received it. And that's how they supported me, by saying, "Okay, she needs to get this done. So what can we do to help her?" They were helping me with the children, when I did not have transportation. They were helping me with rides. They were using some of the things that I was learning, and some of the things that I was adapting to my lifestyle, and they were taking it, you know, for themselves as well. So I started to see a huge shift in my family with how we chose to spend money. Some of the things that we were regularly do, that we didn't realize was extremely expensive. Um, just to give you an example, my family at one point was very big on Christmas. Like, I know for a fact we were spending 1,000s on top of 1,000s of dollars for Christmas, and then I said to them, like, every year we're basically buying the same, you know, the same thing, the same type of toys, we're spending so much money, you know. Christmas is one day. I'm like, how about we scratch that? Let's start going on a family trip? Like... we were, then we wanted to save so much money, because traveling is not really as expensive as sometimes it is made out to be. Especially when you're training in a group, the price really decreases, so I just was trying to help my family reframe a lot of what we thought was normal, simply because we've been doing it every single year. Just because we've been doing it every year, doesn't mean that, you know, it was okay. And I really felt the brunt of Christmas, because my birthday is in January, so imagine growing up and I'm watching my mom and dad spend all of the money on Christmas and then my birthday is two weeks later, so for me, I'm like, "Okay, we got to make some changes."

Jamila Souffrant 40:29

Yeah, yeah. No, I love-- listen, I love that, because I know that is a major problem , especially if you have a lot of children in your family. Like, it's like boundary setting, like you said, and also being a leader. So, I know, like, you know, we talk in the grand scheme of things. Like you, typically, see like, to be a leader, it's like externally towards, like, you know, big groups or in your company or in your space or like as a business owner, but you can be a leader in your family and your friendship groups. Where, you take a position in a positive way and you lead by example and they will they will most likely, unless you know they really are just not ready and that's fine, will want to follow you. Because, chances are, there's someone really close to you struggling with money and they're, they don't know what to do. Maybe they're not listening to the Journey To Launch Podcast, or following The Broke Black Girl just yet, but it's like they need you to maybe not tell them what to do, maybe show them, maybe just see that you're making these changes and stepping out there.

Dasha Kennedy 41:20

Yes. And I think one of the things that you said, show them not tell them, like I try to present information, especially to my family saying things like, "Hey, have you guys heard of?" and what I'm really tried to do was just put it in front, of you know, in front of their face and get them to learn about it and I'm not saying, "Oh I think you should do this... you should do this because of XYZ," I'm just I'm presenting. I'm just presenting, you know "it," and if it lands, it lands and if it doesn't, hopefully one day in may. But yes, it really just presented it and my family does see me as someone who is very vocal about, about finances and I do take a leadership role around finances, especially for my family. And my family, we operate as a village. So it matters to me if my sister is doing okay financially, or if my brother is doing okay financially, because people do have a family dynamic where if one person is not, then that means that someone else is going to have to step up and help them and that is kind of the dynamic of my family. As I know a lot of families operate that way. So for me, helping my sister, or helping my brother in, return, helps me.

Jamila Souffrant 42:28

Yeah, yeah. That's, that's, that's key, right? Alright, so now you have paid off majority of your debt. This is the time you said, you kind, of. So when did you start The Broke Black Girl when was that?

Dasha Kennedy 42:40

I started The Broke Black Gir November 2017.

Jamila Souffrant 42:45

Right? And was it at that point where you just started to share, like, how you were paying off debt? And then your journey, okay? Now, when you started to share, because you know, there's different parts. So I talk a lot about financial independence. And I talked about that being a very audacious, big goal that... you know, why not strive for?Because on your way there you're going to, like, knock a lot of things off. Like you're dead and you invest more. But for you, what were you looking forward to? Because like now that you're mostly out of debt, what, what for you is like the next level of your financial journey? And with your business, how is your business helping to fuel that?

Dasha Kennedy 43:18

Yes. In the beginning, I couldn't even tell you what the end goal for me was. I just felt like, I know I'm not the only one that's going through this. I'm going to get online. I want to share some tips. Let other people know, you know, like, what I'm-- what I was going on, what has been working for me. In the end, I think what was really on my mind, I just wanted, I didn't want to be bound by debt. I didn't want the feeling of every time I get paid, mu money is coming in my pocket, right out of my pocket. I just did not want to be in bondage to debt. I-- and that was really how I felt. I felt that I was, I was in bondage with owing everybody and I just, I wanted that away from me. So back then, in 2017, that was my, that was my goal. I just, I wanted to be out of debt. I wanted to have managing money down to a science. Did I know exactly what that looked like back in 2017? Absolutely not. I just set out to just share as much as I could with other people. And very quickly, I started to see that I was really sitting on a gem, as the community online started to grow. I was sharing everything that I knew. I was creating digital resources and most... and all this time, all of this was free. I was creating digital resources that was breaking it down as deeply as I could, so that people can really digest what I was saying. I... this is how you create a budget. This is the debt management plan. You know that I used. I was creating different resources, giving away to my community, and then the demand for me to teach it on a greater scale, increased very quickly. So I went from just being able to teach in a Facebook Group and create a few resources, to now people wanted me to speak at schools, we get events and teach these and, like, workshop settings. And I said, "Okay, I think, I think that I'm really... that I'm really on to something." My, my messaging, the advice that I'm giving people-- are really gravitating to this. And my finances, for me, when I realized that I was really walking into what i what i see now, what I have now, was when the demand for me became so high to teach personal finance in the way that I do teach it, that I started to lose money by going to work. So now you have someone who was in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and I went through these hardships. I sat down, I used my knowledge that I learned, at my nine to five, paired with my personal experience to develop curriculum and materials that I can now teach to other people. And it was, it's like, the same thing that held me in bondage was not the same thing that freed me. Because now, I went from not... I went from having to work over time so just to make money, to now it was like, okay, now going to work, going to my nine to five is causing me to lose money, because I have opportunities to make more money that I can't show up to, because I have to go to work. At eight months after I started the online community, I was able to quit my job. So I quit August 2018.

Jamila Souffrant 46:40

Amazing. Actually, that's similar to when I quit. I quit. So I gave birth to my third, my daughter, in May, and then I just like didn't go back after maternity leave. So it was around the same time, in 2018. So we are like that similar quit date. That's cool. So you were able to quit your job. Now you're doing this full time. I love that you just broke down, like, you felt like you were losing more money. You bet on yourself and your talents and the growth, your potential... not only with the money that you're making at the time, but you knew the potential growth of what could happen. As you now are into entrepreneurship. So now it's 2021. You know, we all kind of experienced the just the pandemic and changes to businesses because of that. How have you been able to sustain and/or band or grow your business and revenue streams? Where are you now financially?

Dasha Kennedy 47:26

So right now I am doing amazingly well. I have no complaints. One of the things that I think that has helped me on this is although I work in the personal finance space, and although this is my primary income, I still have skills that I learned from my nine to five that I monetize as a side hustle. But this is something that I always encourage people, especially people who are looking for ways to monetize skills, or to increase their income, nine times out of 10, you're doing something every day that is very profitable, especially if you're doing it for an employer, because they wouldn't pay you or keep you if you were not doing something right. So I always challenge people to really look at what your day to day looks like. What skills have you developed? Probably 10-15 years that you've been this company, what you have you developed that you can now reframe in a way that you can monetize to make money? Because that's exactly what I did. Everything I learned about personal finance, in the beginning, I learned while I was on someone else's clock. And then I paired that with my own personal experience. And I created a stream of revenue for myself, but what... we think of the pandemic, when the pandemic happened, and this is why it's very, it's very important to keep these additional skills in your pocket. When the pandemic happened, it was my first time as a business owner in the personal finance, experiencing something like that. And my audience is mostly low-income African American women. So I had to be very strategic with how I handled my audience in that moment, because I could have said, "Okay, now is the perfect time to start budgeting, buy my product, buy my product, sign up with me." But then I also had to be clear that I'm still a part of this community. I know exactly what is happening and what a lot of my members are going through. It's no way that-- I didn't feel comfortable pushing products, pushing services on them, in the middle of the pandemic. So how did I pivot? I went back, right back, to the same skills that I learned at my old job, and I started monetizing those skills. So now I started to work for people who are in the same industry as me, do the exact same thing as me, but on different levels. I started to work for them behind the scenes. So now I'm right back providing tons of resources to my community to help them get over this large.. this hump, this pandemic, to help them get over this, while I'm still sustaining and making money and nothing never really changed for me financially. I feel I was pick on my feet, I had to pivot, and I had to really know my audience. And so now that things have gotten much better, you know, for most people, things have gotten better my business picks, right? It just picks right back up. So I think for me, knowing how to pivot, and knowing and knowing my audience and never deviated from that has sustained me very well, the first few years as an entrepreneur.

Jamila Souffrant 50:29

And I'm curious, what were some of the things that you transfered? The skills that you use, from your corporate job to what you said you were doing behind the scenes? How are you helping people and making money at the same time?

Dasha Kennedy 50:39

I was, so a lot of the content that I create for myself, I was creating content for other people that are in finance, and not just financial influencers, like actual finance companies. So I was helping them with their messaging, with them now trying to get into a space to help more people during the pandemic. Because I had already been doing that prior to the pandemic, I just now switched and started helping other companies or organizations do that exact same thing. I was just doing it under the guise of them versus under The Broke Black Girl.

Jamila Souffrant 51:12

Right, right. And it's so important. That's the thing, too, like I saw during the pandemic, and even currently today, that there is more of a focus, especially companies, on wanting to tap us as voices that are closer to the communities that they want to serve and hiring us and partnering with what with us, and paying you and us to do that kind of work, which I think is really great. Because you know, there's a way to monetize your audience and sell them valuable things that they want to invest in, to help them and then you know, you can also partner with the larger corporations who have bigger budgets, and will pay you in a way to create things for their audience, too. So I think it's really smart of you to have done that.

Dasha Kennedy 51:48

Yes.

Jamila Souffrant 51:49

So, since you talk a lot about your debt payoff journey, how did you view investing at that time? Because I know a lot of people, that's a big question: I still have debt, should I still invest? How should I do that? How did you view that?

Dasha Kennedy 52:01

So I was not investing at that time. Now, keep in mind that back then, I came from a retail job where 401k or investing-- that I never heard of things like that. And this goes back to my curiosity. It wasn't until I was at my, the, the, new, the, insurance job, that I heard a woman say she was going to pull off from her 401k, because she was having some forms, I think her homes on the way to foreclosure. And she said that she was going to pull from her 401k to pay it. And for me, I was like, "What does... what does that mean?" Like I had never heard of a 401k. So in true Dasha curiosity, I got on Google, and I looked up, you know what a 401k was. So I started to ask questions. And that is when I learned about 401k's, and how the company can match, and what and what you can do and get out of your paycheck. Now what I wish, I wish that I would have heard that conversation much, much earlier than I did, because I could have started investing way earlier. But it wasn't until I just randomly heard someone say that, that I even became aware of 401k investing of any sort. Now that I know better. And I know that how easy it is to to invest and how affordable it can be, especially if it's someone that is investing in 401k through their employer and their employer has a match, I would have definitely started investing while I was in debt. But I didn't know. I didn't, I didn't know that it was a thing back then. And this goes to, to where, I think, I want most people to know, especially people that are interested in getting in the finance industry, start having personal finance conversations with the youth. As early as possible, because it was so many things that had I just knew about prior to coming into corporate America, I probably could have saved myself a lot of headaches. But if it wasn't for me overhearing a woman say that, I don't think that I probably would have learned about 401k's until I was almost 30.

Jamila Souffrant 52:41

So your advice for even someone right now in debt, is to still find a way even if it's a little bit of money, to invest something, especially if they have a match.

Dasha Kennedy 54:21

Especially, especially, if it's through your employer and your employer has a match. Because when I first started to get money, you know coming out of my check. I think at the time, it probably was like probably $40 to $50, but based on the percentage that was taken out so that the employee could do the match. When I really sat down and I combed through my financial documents. I was spending $40 to $50, per paycheck, on nothing. On food. On things that I couldn't even I couldn't even tell you, but I first had to really get a clear picture of my money and how I was spending money. Most of the time, we think that we don't have it. It's there, it's just tied up in so many different ways, that we don't know that the extra money is actually there. So my advice to people that are in debt, people that are just starting out, that if you are working, that is the easiest way to start investing, is through a 401k, through your employer, take advantage of the free money. That's basically what it is, if the company is going to match, take advantage of that as early as possible.

Jamila Souffrant 55:28

Now, as we kind of close out, I just want to hear a little bit about what's in the future for you, right? Like you just mentioned, you're a hundreds of 1,000s of like, like followers and community, but I know that there's a lot more in the future, not just for the brand itself, but like for your money. So what are you looking ahead to, as it relates to growing your platform, and then personally for your financial freedom journey?

Dasha Kennedy 55:49

Yes, well, on terms of growing my platform, I am really, right now, in a season of focusing on youth and women that are going through a divorce, or recovering from a divorce. I just want to talk about this more openly on my platform over the last year. And some of the women that are reaching out to me, there's a need for a conversation centered around finances and divorce. And I want to become a trusted voice in this space. So in terms of scaling, and just growing just the outreach with The Broke Black Girl, I am going to be heavily focused on women that are recovering from divorce and youth, two things that I can very well relate to. Right now, that really is the the space that I'm in... as far as my personal finance goes. Now being in a much better space financially, my, my values really have changed on money. Before when I, when I, was really coming into The Broke Black Girl, it was so many things that I wanted. I wanted a huge house, I wanted a nice car, all of those things meant "financial peace," to me. But now that I'm in a much better position, I look forward to just having freedom of time. Being able to show up to my son's football game without having to call off work or lose money, you know, to do so. Being able to sleep in, you know, a little bit extra, like my values of money, you know, have changed, or I don't have $1 amount in mind as much as I just want. I just want the freedom to not be bound not be bound by debt, which is the exact same thing that I was running from in the beginning that that's my end goal. I never want to be in this situation again.

Jamila Souffrant 57:30

Yeah, I love that. And I think too, especially as moms, like, it's so important, like the time and energy freedom is really, like, what I, what I'm working for now. Like, the money, sure. It's, it's coming and it's important at a certain level, but I will turn down opportunities now, because I don't want to spend the effort or time or be away from my family, or just I don't want to do it. So I think that's really important that you notice that, and you know that. And it's going to evolve, some people can't see it from where they are and maybe, you know they're not supposed to because they need the money. So like yes, take the opportunity, because you need to support your family. But eventually as you move along the scale, and as you get further in and this is why I love talking about financial independence, in a way as a journey, is that some of the decisions that you're making now you won't have to make later. You will be in a better position, because you're out of debt or you're more out of debt and you're investing. So I just-- I love that for us. Dahsa, like cheers to us. And if there's one thing that you want to leave someone with right now who was like, "Wow, like I feel more encouraged to start my journey or to continue on my debt payoff journey." What is that thing you want to tell them that can help them keep going?

Dasha Kennedy 58:34

What I want them to know, that they are not alone. Take advantage of the online communities that exist-- they are there. Get with your people. Learn from your people. Do not be afraid to ask the silly, stupid questions. If it wasn't for me, overhearing someone say something about a 401k and then Googling it and then turning right back around and asking questions, I would not have known anything about investing, which would have been a large piece of income and experience loss for me and my children. The silly questions, the questions that you think are stupid, the things that you think that you should already know right now, there are probably hundreds, if not 1,000s of people waiting for someone to ask that question. It's okay to be the one, because the end result is you want the answer, so that you can apply it so that you can change some things about your financial life.

Jamila Souffrant 59:26

Amazing. All right, lastly, tell everyone where they can find out more about you and follow your work.

Dasha Kennedy 59:31

Yes, you can follow me across all social media platforms @thebrokeblackgirl on Twitter it's @broke black girl_. Visit my website thebrokeblackgirl.com.

Jamila Souffrant 59:45

And I, of course, will link all of this in episode show notes. Thank you so much, Dasha, for coming on the show and talking to us.

Dasha Kennedy 59:50

Thank you.

Jamila Souffrant 59:57

Alright, Journeyers. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Dasha, and you are even more inspired than before to go after paying off debt. As you heard, it's not easy. There are sacrifices to be made, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm telling you there is. And after paying off debt and even while paying off debt, you'll hear in the conversation we talked about investing still, there is so much more to do and to accomplish. But that doesn't mean you have to wait to get some time and energy freedom back in your life. So again, if you enjoyed this episode, share it with a family member or a friend. Make sure you're following this podcast on Apple podcast. So that's where you're listening to this, this that purple app on your iPhone, you there's a little plus button where you're listening to this if you go into Apple podcast and you're listening to this type "Journey To Launch," you'll find the podcast and Apple podcasts. There's a plus sign at the top right. If you click that plus sign when you find the show, it will then say "following." U|

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Don't forget you can get the episode Show Notes for this episode by going to journey to launch comm 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 journey to launch comm slash 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 are 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 journey airs

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In this episode, Dasha Kennedy, founder of The Broke Black Girl, joins us to talk about her journey through divorce, debt, and building a brand from the ground up. Dasha went from living paycheck-to-paycheck and struggling with debt, to using the skills gained from her 9-5 job to pivot into a full-time entrepreneur and personal finance educator.  

We dive deep into the sacrifices Dasha made, how she weathered the pandemic as a new entrepreneur, and how to be a leader in your family and community.

If you need reassurance that your low point isn’t your forever point, listen to this episode today! 

In this episode we share:

  • How Dasha got into debt and when her breaking point was
  • Sacrifices Dasha made to get out of debt and change her family’s perspective on money
  • When and why Dasha transitioned from her 9-5 job to her full-time business
  • How Dasha built @thebrokeblackgirl from 0 followers to over 200k + more
I'm Listening to Episode 235 of the Journey to Launch Podcast, Paying Off $30K of Debt, Financially Recovering From Divorce & Building an Authentic Financial Brand w/ Dasha Kennedy Click To Tweet

Other related blog posts/links mentioned in this episode:

  • Join Teri Ijeoma and I for a FREE webinar on how to make money trading the stock market on Oct 27 by clicking here!
  • Listen to the Learn to Trade As A Side Hustle To Reach Your Financial & Life Goals FREE Audio Training with Teri Ijeoma by clicking here.
  • Join The Weekly Newsletter List
  • Leave me a voicemail– Leave me a question on the Journey To Launch voicemail and have it answered on the podcast!
  • Watch me on News12  Watch my latest segments on News12
  • YNAB –  Start managing your money and budgeting so that you can reach your financial dreams. Sign up for a free 34 days trial of YNAB, my go-to budgeting app by using my referral link.

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