Jamila Souffrant 0:00
You're listening to the Journey To Launch Podcast: Paying Off $123,000 Of Student Loan Debt With Anjie and RJ from Rich By Intention.
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 0:41
Hey, Hey, Hey, Journeyers! Welcome back to another episode of the Journey To Launch Podcast. Well, it's a welcome back if you are coming to listen again. And if you're new around these parts, I'm so happy you took the time to listen. To check in and launch with me and 1,000s of other Journeyers. That's what I call anyone on this journey with me to financial freedom. So today's guests, they are a couple. A lovely, lovely couple, who are Anjie and RJ. They are a Millennial married couple and they founded the brand Rich By Intention. Their mission is to empower couples to manage their money and everyday life with intention by eliminating debt, saving money and investing for their future. They paid off $123,000 of student loan debt and are on the path to financial freedom. They also have a podcast called Rich By Intention, where they share their stories and powerful ambitious people who are also making waves. I am really excited to bring them on the podcast. They have been longtime supporters of me and Journey To Launch. I met them most recently at a conference that we all went to and they were just so nice and such a pleasure to meet. And I'm glad that they are making some strides, not only in their finances, but in their own online platform in business. So you'll hear all about that in our interview, and learn how they basically, like, paid off all this debt.
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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, Hey Journeyers! Okay, so today we have two guests in the rocket chair together! and they are Anjie and RJ from Rich By Intention. Hey, Anjie and RJ
Hey, Jamila! Thanks for having us on.
Unknown Speaker 4:31
Yeah, well, okay, so we're gonna hop right in, because one of your big headlines is that you paid off $123,000 of debt in one year. So, the people want to know. The people are gonna want to know how that happened, what you did, but before we get there, right? That was, like, the hook, but, like, before we get there... I want to know how you guys met and why finances became, kind of, the center of what you currently do? Let's go back there.
Okay, okay. So yeah, so we met about 10 years ago.
About? 10 years ago. We just had our dating anniversary, like, yesterday. So, say yes, 10 years ago.
Exactly 10 years, one day and two hours. And we met through a mutual friend at an event. And when we first started dating, very early on, we would talk about money, right? I had a lion's share of the debt when we paid it off. So I had about-- almost $90,000 in student loan debt on my own. So when we first started dating, I brought it up. You know, I wanted to get full disclaimer that, "Hey, I had a lot of debt. And I'm working on it."
Yeah, no, like, RJ is right. Like, he disclosed that to me very early on. And not only that, like, it was very, it was heavy on him, right? The fact that he was in so much debt, and you know, he actually graduated at a time, you know, that was, it was a very challenging time to find a job. You know, a lot of times we think we go to college, you know, "Yeah, I'm accruing this debt, right? But, I'm going to go to college. I'm going to graduate, I'm going to make all this money!" And you know, that wasn't the case, right? Back in 2008/2009, right? For a lot of people. And so the debt was, like, a huge burden on him. And he disclosed it very early on. And, and he was like, "I'm gonna, I'm gonna figure this out." And, you know, once I saw that, I was like, "Oh, okay, like, you know, he's $90,000 in debt, but he's the type of person that is going to come up with a plan." So and that's, that's, that's who he is. So.
Okay. So I have a question about that, RJ. Because there are a lot of people who have a lot of debt, and they would be just-- they would keep it from their potential, maybe partner and it would be shameful for them. So was there something about your upbringing, or what you were studying, like, that allowed you to feel comfortable to share that?
I think a lot of times when you talk about, like, your problems or issues that you have in life, and you, it helps you hold yourself accountable. So for me, what helps me is, like, telling other people, like, my goals, or my ideas, my dreams, or problems that I have. So, like, for example, if you're trying to go to the gym. If you tell someone who goes to the gym a lot that, "Hey, you want to go to the gym?" Like, they'll come along with you and be that accountability partner. So, for me, just talking about my debt so much, it made it top of mind instead of just avoiding it and waiting 'til get worse. And I had private loans, so my interest was much higher. So it was very important that I got in front of it the moment I started making payments. And it was unfortunate that, you know, I finished school, you know, 2009/2010 timeframe. So it was hard to get a job, but it's still something top of mind is like, "Hey, once I get, you know, a good paying job, or once I get my finances in order, I want to tackle this debt."
Jamila Souffrant 7:51
And was most that debt just, like, student loans? I think you said that already, but was it student loans?
Unknown Speaker 7:55
Yeah, most of the debt was. Well no...
All of the $90,000 was student loans, but we did have other debts aside from our student loans. So, we had, you know, the usual debt, like right? Like credit card debt, we had cars, like, after we graduated college, we both got cars. Brand new cars. So, you know, like, we did the typical things that I think most people do.
And once I, like, you know, typical things, once you graduate, like, you want to go on vacations. You want to buy a new car. You want to just buy new clothes. Like, went through that, you know, for a couple years and, and then was like, "Hey, like, I need to get this together."
Jamila Souffrant 8:32
Right. Okay, so what about you, Anjie? When you came into the relationship how were you with money? How were you with your debt?
I also had student loan debt. I had a lot less, you know, I was coming into the relationship with around $40,000 of student loan debt, but I also had car debt as well. But I think, you know, one of the things that I was doing before, I think, was, you know, I was, I was starting the process of getting my finances in order, I think when RJ and I met. You know, like, I was into budgeting, right? Like, I was following, you know, some of the top personal financial influencers, back in the day. In the early days, right? And like, just like, "Okay, I need to get on a budget. I need to start, you know, really thinking about how I'm managing my money." Once we met, like, I was trying to get more intentional with my own finances. And I think, once I found out that he was $90,000 in student loan debt, you know, I think, you know, the conversations we had early on was like, "Okay, so how do we kind of work through this together?" right? Like, we're both in debt. How do we come up with a plan so that you know, one-- well, I should say, one, we knew where this was leading, right? Like, we we knew that our goal was to get married. That this was something serious. It wasn't just going to be, you know, just a fling, if you will. We knew what we wanted out of this relationship. And so we had-- we were intentional with having those conversations early on and figuring out how do we kind of tackle his together. And then....
Yeah, and, and one of the things that she did when we first started dating is, like, she had multiple bank accounts. I had just one. So money was coming in, out, I didn't know anything. And she, you actually put me on to, you know, having multiple accounts. So have one where your money's coming in. One where the money's coming out. And then the actual, you know, savings. You know, post-college, I was like one account when you put everything in there everything out and not knowing what's going on. So you were actually, you know, really good when it came to just the whole managing your account in general.
No, I think, you know, what I came to relationship with was just trying to get organized, right? Around our finances. And I should say, too, that we weren't managing our finances together at this time. We were just, kind of, giving each other tips and encouraging each other, but we were managing our own finances separately before marriage. And so, you know, but we would share ideas, share the tips that we learned. And so yeah, like, the having separate accounts for, you know, my income, and then my expenses, and my savings, you know, was a huge help, right? For me just starting to start the process of getting organized with money.
Jamila Souffrant 11:06
So here's the thing. You guys graduated, you said it, like, around 2010?
I graduated 2009.
I graduated back in 2013.
Jamila Souffrant 11:16
Okay, '13. So I'm only asking that just, like, to take us, like, back and, like, kind of, give us reference points to your journey of paying this off. The debt that you had, because you didn't pay it off until, like, late 2018? You paid off all that debt $123,000 in one year. So even though you were finance-minded, and you both, kind of, had your eye towards that-- because some people, like, it's there and they're not even thinking about it until it just hits them one day, but it seems like you were already aware. You knew about the accounts. You knew about budgeting. So for those years, like, that led up to when you finally made the decision to get serious about paying it off. Like, what were you doing, kind of, what what was like your, kind of, lifestyle when it came to money? And what made that switch that made you say, "Wait a second, we got to pay this off fast."?
Yeah, so one thing that you always talked about on the podcast was your, like, your commute. Of, you know, a couple hours a day. So me and Anjie had the same type of commute. And one thing that we started doing was like listening to podcasts, right?
I think podcasts were big back then, like, we're talking about, like 2012ish. So we were, like, listening to audiobooks, right? Right... would you say? Yeah, we were listening to, like, audio books.
One of the first two audiobooks that we actually listened together was a Millionaire Next Door. Um, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and Never Eat Alone, right? Which is, like, a networking book. And we would just have conversations about that all early and often. But also, during this time, like, we were buying lunch. We were, you know, going on vacations, spending our money, going out to eat. Spending just our money just to you know, quote, unquote, enjoy life, but at the same time, we were getting educated and learning these concepts. Talking about it. And we started making small, but simple adjustments.
I want to say like, yeah, as RJ said, like us reading those books together. You know, we like to say, we were getting educated together. That was like, starting to shift our mindset around money. You know, I think The Millionaire Next Door book is the book that kind of said, like, "Wait, this is possible for us, like, we're able to reach millionaire status if we make changes, you know, small changes in our life." And so, you know, I think a lot of times, like growing up, I didn't think being a millionaire was attainable, right? Like, I'm thinking you go to work, you know, you just, kind of, pay your bills and, you know, once you're in your 60s/70s, you know, you might have a little bit of a nest egg that you can, you know, just, you know, live off of, right? And, you know, and theres Social Security, right? Hopefully. Um, but, you know, I think this-- just the book, Millionaires Next Door was just a huge shift in just changing our mindset around finances, and that being a millionaire is possible to us and we just had to make changes, right? Like, we've always thought that the millionaires look like, you know, the people that were driving Mercedes, the BMWs, you know, and, you know, or wearing, you know, flashy clothes, the diamonds, you know, the jewels, and we thought it was glitz and glamour, right? And so once we saw like, "Oh wait people..."
Yeah, low key with a regular t shirt, you know. it could be, like, our actual neighbors that were actually millionaires, because you know, they were low key and they invested in money and they made regular incomes, but you know, they were millionaires. So really, like, changed us to, like, what wealth actually looked like.
Jamila Souffrant 14:36
So it sounds like-- and I like that you're-- so this is really important, I think, for everyone to hear, because it's similar to, kind of, like me. Where I didn't first learn about financial independence and then quickly start my journey and/or start Journey To Launch. Like, it took me a little bit of time to get the information, absorb it and again, that mindset shift. So if you're listening to this and you feel bad, because you haven't, like, made immediate changes. Yes, you should start to take action. That's my biggest thing. I want you to take action from hearing these episodes and following us. But, literally, most people, like, it doesn't happen overnight. It's a small subtle change that happens to the way you perceive things, and what you believe is possible in your mindset. And when that takes root, when that, like, starts to happen, then things become more possible, and then you start to take action. So I like that, you know, it took you a while. Like, you're learning and you start applying things to your finances. But what-- at what point...here's what I want to know: At what point did you say, like, 2017, I guess at the start of you paying off all this debt, did you say, "We have to pay this off faster."? Because if it was mostly student loan debt, you could just be like, "Well, I'll just pay that off slowly. You know, it's just one of the things we have." Like most people do. What made you say, "No. We're going to get rid of this fast." Was there a moment or a conversation that happened?
Before we go to that actual moment, between, you know, let's say, the five years leading up to us paying off everything, we did the work on ourselves to get rid of our credit card debt, and improve our credit score, pay off our car. We did everything so that by time we did get married, the only thing we had left was the student loan.
Yeah. And I want to make it very clear that we paid those off individually. Like, we did not, you know, RJ didn't pay off my credit card or car loan or vice versa. Like, we were each payng, working, you know, working hard to pay down our individual debts, you know, and then once we did get married in 2017, all we had left was the $100k. All we had left, right? All we had left was $123,000 of student loan debt that we would tackle together, as one.
Jamila Souffrant 16:40
Okay, got it. So you were doing the work well, and you were doing the work to get rid of that other debt. And then, when you joined forces, it was like, "All right, now we can really come together." I think that's, I think that's actually pretty, like, the fact that you did that separately, but then still together, and kept your eye on the prize is, like, really impressive. So for couples, or someone listening to this, now, they're saying to themselves, "well, okay..." or maybe the partner is not listening, because they're not about this life yet, right? But they're listening, and they're like, "Wow, how can I get my partner more interested in this conversation? Even if it's just a start to be aware of the debt and/or budgeting?" What were some of the things that you did to keep on track together, even just by dating, before you were married?
We talked about everything, you know. Like, while we were dating. Like, I think, you know, RJ said earlier, like he, he disclosed his financial situation very early on. And so I think that, kind of, just opened up the conversation for us to continue talking about money together. And I think a lot of times for couples, money is very taboo, you know? Like, you're, you don't want to be that vulnerable, so early on in your relationship. And I think just kind of ripping off that band aid of like, "Okay, this is me. This is what, this is what I got going on financially, take it or leave it," you know, or, you know, "We can work together and try to improve together." And like, that's, that's what we did.
Yeah. And I also think, you know, if you do have debt like I did, when it first like, I already had the mindset of, like, I wanted to change and start making improvements, although they were very, very small changes in the beginning, right? It was just, like, knowing my numbers, like, being aware of it, talking about it, getting educated about different things that I could do, and start doing the work. It's always good to show the person that you're dating that, "Hey, I have this, but this is the plan that I have over the next 3/5/10 years." And it could be small steps., but as long as you're working towards it, it's easy for someone to absorb it, when it's not something like, "Oh, I have this debt, but, you know, I'm just making the minimum payments, and I'm not doing any work on my part."
Yeah and I think, it goes back to the education piece, right, hat we're mentioning. Because I think in order for you to get focused and kind of think like, "Okay, I need to put together a plan," it's going to take you doing the work to get educated about what are the options, right? Like, it's gonna take you reading, you know, books, like The Millionaire Next Door, or Rich Dad, Poor Dad, or whatever book, you know, that's out there to help shift that mindset so that you know that it is possible for you to pay off your six figure debt, you know? And I think, just in general, as couples are listening to this, you know, get educated together, you know? You shouldn't be reading a book and your partner isn't reading that same book, you know?
And at the very least, share that information with them. Don't keep it to yourself.
Don't keep it to yourself, and just, like, have conversations around it, right? Like, and I think, you know, there's so much that we talked about, like, the things that we were learning, you know, like, like RJ said, like, I had several bank accounts, you know, very early, you know, and like, we talked about that. He knew that I had those bank accounts, because we talked about finances. We talked about, "Well how do you organize your money?" while we were dating, and it's like, it opened up the conversation so that we can learn from each other.
Yea and Anjie gave me grace, right? Like, I had all this debt, but it wasn't like, "How dare you have all this debt and make this bad decision!" It was more like, "Okay, you have a plan. These are some of the things that I'm working on." You know, we shared information and she gave me grace and was, you know-- as long, I think it was more of me doing the work that made her okay with it, because, for most, people it's like you, have all this debt, you know, you're not a doctor, you're not a lawyer, you don't have them like that you don't have, you have the same debt as them. So it was just me showing the work and her giving me grace.
Jamila Souffrant 20:20
So when it came to practical things that you did, whether it was before marriage, and paying off the credit cards and car loans, and then now, being married and paying off the student loan, I mean, you paid off $123,000 in a year. So give me and give us the practical things that you did to make that even possible. And I got to ask, like, what was your income? Obviously, your income was a healthy number for you to be able to do that. So like, can you talk about, like, your financial picture and the things you did at that point to get rid of everything?
Yes. So when we first started our Debt Free Journey, you know, and again, this is dating back about almost 10 years ago, right? When we first started as individuals, and then in 2017, as a couple, we weren't making that much money. We were both making, I think, you know, when we first graduated college under $40,000 a year, right? Which I think, you know, is relatable to most people, right? Like, we weren't making that much money. Like RJ said, we're not doctors, we're not lawyers, but we knew that we had to-- our career was important that we, in order for us to make more income, we had to pursue our career and, you know, make our own opportunities in some cases. And so you know.
And even before, when we got married, we both weren't making six figures, right? Like, my income was probably around $50k, Anjie's was around the same number, but us deciding to pay off our debt was one of the best decisions, because it made us think about the value that we bring to our jobs, and are they paying us adequately. So if we go back to when we first started reading, like audio books you read, Never Eat Alone, which is a networking book. And that book taught us the power of network and also, like, to seek opportunities elsewhere if your current job isn't serving you. So what we did was, we started looking for outside opportunities or promotions at a job so that while we were paying off debt, we could increase our income.
Jamila Souffrant 22:19
What fields were you in, by the way, just as a reference point?
Yeah, so I was work-- I work in Finance.
And I'm in health care, but not a doctor, not a lawyer-- or not a nurse, not a doctor or a nurse.
Jamila Souffrant 22:34
So, alright, so you guys are focusing on your income. I know, you've talked about your expenses a little bit. So we'll get to that. So let's first talk about income, because giving, like, practical tips on-- for people who are trying to look for more opportunities or increase your income. How did you go from making when you first graduated, under $40k, to maybe $50k, to jumping to what I believe you started to earn, you know, a good amount, maybe six figures? How did you navigate that? Like, what did you take different jobs? Did you do side hustles? How did you increase your income?
So, I'll talk about my journey, right? And I think, you know, we actively pursued opportunities, right? Like, RJ referenced the book, Never Eat Alone, which talks about the power of networking and the power of relationships. And the fact is that, you know, it's not about who you know in your organization, but it's about who knows you and your work and your capabilities. And so that was important to me, right? And so I took that, and I pursued people. I pursued opportunities. I reached out to executives in my organization, just to learn, right? Like, just to find it. And I think it's really easy when you're young, right? Like when you're kind of, you know, a new-- newish grad, right? Like, and, and I want this to resonate with them, because it is important to, you know, take on those opportunities and seek out people in the-- in the areas or in the spaces, or in the positions rather, that you want to be in, right? Because they're willing, they're open and willing to mentor you, to teach you, to give you resources or just information about how they got to where they are. And so that's what I did. I asked people, "How did you get to where you are today?" And they were happy to sit down with me, right? Because, one, you know, they also knew my work ethic that I was a hard worker, that I was getting the job done in any role that I had, right? So I think it's a part of doing the work, right? But also, you know, making sure people know who you are, you know, so that when opportunities arise, they think of you-- you're top of mind to them. And so, you know, I definitely want to encourage people that, you know, to pursue relationships. Pursue opportunities at your organization, you know, by just meeting with people. Getting informational interviews with leaders in your organization.
Jamila Souffrant 24:46
And you'd be surprised how many people actually don't do that. I remember doing that a lot when I had a lot of energy back in my 20s at my corporate job, and people again, they were very excited, because here I am, like, this young person coming to them. Taking initiative and people want to to, kind of, have someone that they can say they helped, you know? Like, "Oh, that's like, this person I mentored." And so if there's someone that-- if you're listening to this and, like, you're in a corporate setting, and you're, you know, you need to earn more, you want to earn more, you might as, make-- listen, you might as well make the best of your current situation while you're there and earn as much money as you can, then I'm going to challenge you to reach out to a higher-up, to an executive, in your organization. Maybe that-- I know, for me, sometimes the person didn't sit in my actual building, like, location-wise. Like, they were in another state, and it was simply sending an email, right? "I'm interested in learning more, do you have any time to chat with me," right? And a lot of times, now, you could do that virtually, especially if they're out of state. So I'm challenging, if you're listening to this, to do that to someone who you probably have seen on that org chart, or are listening or have met in a meeting and have been impressed by. Is to do that, because you never know what that meeting could do for your trajectory and your income and your career.
Exactly. No, I think you're so right, Jamila, because it's like, just sending that email, like, I remember going to, you know, meetings and being like, "Wow, like, that director or that VP, like, was phenomenal, right? Like, let me just send a follow up email, just thanking them for their time. For just meeting with our team," or whatever the case may be. And I also just want to say, like, you know, use discernment to write, like, we're not saying to, like, email the CEO of your company, right? But, um, you know, use discernment. And, you know, think about, like, if there was someone, you know, if there's an area in your organization that you're interested in learning more about, reach out to that director in that department, or potentially even that Vice President, just to kind of learn more about that area, if it's something that you want to do. So yeah, no, I think, you know, I actively or proactively took the initiative and just tried to put myself out there more. And I think once people started to know who I was, opportunity started coming to meet for me to get the promotions and increase my income. You know, and I did get a promotion. But I had to work for the raise, right? Like, I had to ask for more, you know? And I think that's, that's also a huge message as well for people just to negotiate their salaries as well.
Jamila Souffrant 27:07
Yeah. Don't just-- that happens often too. Like, "Okay, you want more opportunity, you want more responsibility?" Sure. But you got to, like, speak up for yourself when it comes to actual numbers.
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RJ, what about you? How did you increase your income over time?
Yeah. So, one of the biggest things was reaching out to people. LinkedIn was very vital for me just reaching out to people that I had connected with, you know, over several years, right? That I had relationships with, and they may have went to new companies or new firms and just reaching out to them like, "Hey, how do you like your experience at this role of this company?" And I was reaching out to people all over the country. And it was just people that may have connected with once at maybe a conference or they-- we used to work together. And I started learning about what the market value was for the jobs that I was looking for. And a lot of times, as Anjie mentioned, you take the first offer that you have, and that's-- the-- you should never take the first offer, right? You should always negotiate higher and then meet somewhere in the middle. So I was learning about all these different firms, all these different opportunities. And one person I met once, we had a great conversation probably like three years ago and it he was like, "Hey, you should come over to my firm," and they sent an email to the hiring manager. A couple weeks later, someone reached out to me and I got an offer. And for me I was like I'm, you know, coming from a position of strength, I'm like, you know, I want a job. But I don't.. I mean, I want a new job, but I don't necessarily need a new job. So I was very aggressive in terms of, "Hey, this is what I'm looking for. This is when I can start. This is like the benefits that I want. You know, I have a timeline of when I want to start and end up increasing my income." I don't remember the exact number, but almost like 30/40%, just by leaving my company, and that was so vital in terms of the process, and that happened, while we're paying off and it would have never happened if me and Anjie didn't decide right after our honeymoon, "Hey, let's pay off all this debt and figure out how we can increase our income."
Jamila Souffrant 30:41
Yes, right, you became more intentional. And by the way, I actually-- this works, not just in corporate America, but in entrepreneurship and networking. Like, I look back and think about the people that I've done this to you know, whether it's just like sending an email, someone who's creating content that you enjoy, or someone in your industry that you are impressed by, and have been inspired by. Like, all it takes is, like, to draft, like, a nice note, or to interact with their content. And you're not asking for anything. Like this is a long game, not that it necessarily you're, you know, you're trying to just-- you're just doing this to get something in return, but you're literally just planting the seeds for a relationship. And so that way, when you do meet this person, in a couple of years, when you do start making noise with your own content, or whatever you're doing, then there's like a trail of, "Wow, this person has interacted with me. I kind of know them." And I feel like that's, kind of, like how we met. How you-- how I came on your podcast, how you're on my podcast. Because, you know, you guys always followed and supported my work. I knew you were listening to the podcast. We met in person at FinCon. And I just feel like the way you guys approached me in terms of like networking, like it was very natural and not overwhelming. And I just feel like there's such, like, this needs to be a class for people, because I can say that a lot of my success, whether corporate America or here, has been by simply knowing how to speak to people. How to ask questions. How to acknowledge and give people their flowers. How to not be too annoying when following up. And it's a skill set that if most people work on, you can get further ahead in anything that you wanted to do.
Yeah. It's definitely so true. Like networking is a skill. And it's so important. And I'll just want to add that one of the things that I did also for guidance is I looked for mentors. That was a huge part of it, right? And it wasn't mentors that was in my field, it was just people who had more life experience that I can go to, and I had maybe three or four people that I can go to that, like, "Hey, I'm thinking about doing this. What are your thoughts?" And just getting their council, getting their advice, and that helped me, you know, mold my career in terms of where I wanted to go, just by getting that advice. And those are also done by just sending emails, reaching out to people and then, as you get consistent with reaching out to them, then they want to get to know you more, and then you have some type of relationship. So that was so helpful for me.
Jamila Souffrant 32:55
Yeah. Okay. So we now know that you guys have worked to increase your income. That was a main driver of being able to pay off your debt, but you also worked on the expenses side, too. So can you talk about, like, the changes that you had to make to your expenses to also get you to pay off this debt?
Yeah, so the first thing that we did, even before any, you know, looking at our expenses, or not looking at our expenses-- but the first thing we did was start to budget. The budget was huge for us, you know? Like, it made us sit down together, look and see, like, what money's coming in, what money's coming out, you know, and really come up with a plan together, in order for us to tackle this debt. So we budgeted. And then from there, you know, like, as far as our expenses, you know, we had everything that most people have. We had the rent payment. We had the utilities, etc. But one thing that we did, as far as, you know, when it comes to our rent payment is that we negotiated our rent, you know? We weren't living in the best place, or the most nicest, you know, luxurious apartment. We were in a one bedroom apartment that, you know, at the time was-- we were able to afford, right? So, it wasn't the best, I don't want anyone to think that this was, like, some beautiful apartment. But it was home for us. It served it's purpose during the season we were in and, you know, we were living in this apartment, we were there, I think, for maybe about a year or two, maybe two years at this point. And you know, the increase was coming, right? And so, we spoke to our landlord and we asked if we could not have an increase, right?
Not for it to increase and also, just to sign a longer term, so that the amount would be lower.
So, we said, "If we sign a two year lease, you know, can you not increase our rent at this time?" And mind you, we're paying on time, we were good tenants, we were taking good care of our home, you know, like even if it didn't look the best, like, it was still our home, you know? And so, you know, we were good tenants overall, and he was willing to work with us.
Yeah. And then on top of that, right, we realized that you everything's negotiable, right? From our careers, to our rent, to any bills that we had. So, like, for our cell phone bill, I was with AT&T at the time, and I was with them for like, 10 years. And I'm like, "Hey, I've been here 10 years, I'm about to leave, what can you guys do?" And they decided, "Hey, I'm gonna reduce your monthly expenses-- I mean, your monthly bill by, like, $30, just cause, right? And then also give you a couple credits, just because," and I started doing that with every bill that we had to reduce it as much as possible. So and then, a lot of times, we have so many expenses that we no longer use. So, like, the gym membership, like, we had a gym membership, and we're like, "Do we actually go consistently? Can we workout at home or just go running outside, go on walks?" Yeah. So you know, we cancelled things that no longer serves us in the immediate term. So example was the gym.
Yeah. And I just want to say like, you know, when we first reached out to our landlord, we didn't know what his answer was going to be, like, we thought, like, we're like, let's just try, right? And I think, you know, what, for listeners, you know, like, what's the worst that you can hear, right? Other than No. And so, like, that motivated us just to try, right? Like, if he says, no, we'll be in the same position we're in now. And so, like, we just, kind of, shoot our shot. Yeah, you know, and so, like, we were like, "Let's just, let's just go ahead."
Jamila Souffrant 36:21
I love that. And one of the things I've read is that you also lived on one income. So I guess we should go back a little bit, because this is also very interesting. You guys were separated with your finances before you got married, and then you joined it. So that means you now have joint accounts, no longer have any separate accounts. How did you do that? Because, just as, for us, my family and I, like, I was also separate with my husband before we got married. And we were dating so long that it's just natural that we did things separately, and we saved together, like, we had a savings account together. But that was it. We paid everything separately. And when we got married, and especially when I started to understand, like, the whole financial independence movement, I knew that together, we could do more. But it wasn't an easy switch. Like, honestly, because we were so used to being separate. So, like, for him it got-- it had, he had to get used to it. I had to get used to it. Like, this is our money now. It doesn't matter who makes more, who has more, like, who has a gym membership or doesn't. This is a together, like, thing that we're doing. So how did you guys work through going from separate two together? Any tips for people who are navigating that?
Yeah, so before we got married, we had the conversation of, like, "Hey, what are we going to do? We're going to combine it separate," you know, we easily came together and was like, "Hey, we're gonna combine it." We also did premarital counseling. So we had conversations about everything when it comes to money, everything when it comes to like family.
Yea and I think, you know, like, for us, our belief is that, if we're going to be one in marriage, you know, we need to be one in all aspects and financially was one of those aspects that we want it to be one and also. And so and, I think, you know, just even prior to us joining accounts is that we were already doing the work before we were married. So we knew each other's financial, you know, whole situation before getting married. So it just made it easy, you know, once we did get married, and so that's why I think it's so important for couples, you know, while you're seriously dating, to start having those conversations, so that you can-- so that when you do get married, if you want to, you know, you are ready and willing to kind of start sharing accounts. And so, yeah, we had one bank account at the start of our marriage. And so, you know, it was very straightforward for us, like, it was an easy decision.
Jamila Souffrant 38:27
Right, but then you also-- one of the things I read that you did, was to live off one income, which is for not, like, I think that's the power of, like, you know, sometimes you're like, "Well, there's two of us. Now we have double the expenses." But if you can get it to where it's two of us with double income, but we are spending as just, like, one, like, you can really power through and get to your financial goals. So talk about, like, living off of one income. And I'm really curious how your friends, like, reacted to this and family? Because you guys, like, are doing the work. Like, you're going in, you're paying off debt, but what was your outside life like that the people who were in your life, what were they thinking? So this is like a two part question.
So, the first part of the question is, like, yeah, we lived on one income. So, like, yeah, our finances were combined, but we lived on the equivalent of one of our incomes. And so even that, like, because we knew we pushed, you know, we limited our expenses so drastically, even that one person's income was still enough to, like, help us pay down debt even more. So I think, you know, us reducing our expenses was very important. But you know, the power of having a double income and at the time, we had no kids. DINKs is what I think they call it, you know, it's huge, right? And, like, it just, it just made our debt pay off even faster, right? Because, like, we already had the mindset to, you know, change our, our family's legacy financially. And so, like, once we had more income coming in, it just was like, "Okay, let's just do whatever we can to throw all of the money we can at our student loan debt."
Yeah. And just to go in terms of us combining income and living on one in other. It was, it was a pretty seamless transition for us, because we had the conversations already, but it was, like, an adjustment to be, like, "Okay, what accounts? Like, what are we moving together?" And we-- but we talked through that. We worked through that. And we figured out, "Okay, this is what we can spend. This is what we can spend." And one thing that we incorporated was having, like, spending accounts for each other. Like an allowance. So it may, it may be when we paid off debt, it was very small. I don't remember the number, but it was very, very small. But now, like, we have, like, our own spinning,
Yeah, so we have, like, we have several accounts, for a number of purposes now. But, uh, but yeah, one of the things that we do today, you know, now that we're married, is that we each get an allowance account. And so we set each month, you know, what, what will be allotted to each of our individual allowance accounts?
Jamila Souffrant 40:48
Right, so that you can spend it any way you want. Right, right. And then now when it comes to your friends and family, right, like, how were, because they might be living a different lifestyle than you. Maybe, some of your friends are earning as much. And so they're living larger, in a way, you know, quote, unquote, versus they're not as intentional about their debt. So how was that dynamic with your friends and family as you were navigating this journey?
So, honestly, no one even knew that we were on this journey, right, of paying off our six figure student loan debt. We, kind of, kept it to ourselves. I think people found out this year. Once we came out with that Business Insider article, is the first time I think, for the most part, our family knew.
Jamila Souffrant 41:32
They were like, "Really, and you wasn't going to put us on? Like, you weren't gonna tell us what was going on?"
Yeah, but, but, we did share it with, like, a few individuals who were, like, on the same page as us.
Yeah, who had the same mindset, right? Because it's like, you know, I think you have to be a little bit careful, right? About, you know, how you divulge certain pieces of information, because not everyone is ready, right? In the same mindset, or in the same headspace as you. And so, we were very intentional about who we would share, you know, that we paid off six figures student loan debt in one year, right? Because, again, like, everyone's on their own financial journey, and we're not saying that because we did it in a year, anyone else should, right? That was a choice that we made personally, for whatever reason, you know.
And then also, like, when we were planning this out, just so everyone knows, cuz our incomes increase while we were paying off debt. We planned this out for three years, three plus years. So we were planning to paid off around this time, in 2021, in the beginning of 2021. So just want to keep that in mind that, hey, we thought it was going to take a lot-- much longer time, but with our intentions of lowering our expenses, increasing our income, being on the same page, it happened much sooner and it would never have happened if we never just started.
Jamila Souffrant 42:49
Right. Right. Okay, so now-- so you guys are debt free other than a mortgage?
We do own rental property. So yeah, we do have, you know...
Yeah, so that was Yeah, so that was one of the first things. Well, not the first things, but a year and change after we actually paid off debt, we started looking into investment investing in real estate.
Jamila Souffrant 43:10
Okay, because I do want to, like, pivot a little bit now and talk about investing and where you guys go from here. So you guys own rental real estate. So that's part of your investment plan. But how are you moving forward? Because if you were able to pay off that much debt in a year, assuming you guys are still working, what is your-- what are your goals now, right? Like is financial independence and quitting your jobs, like something you're looking forward to doing? Are you able to save that and invest that aggressively now? Like, what is your financial independence plan?
Yeah, so as far as our plan, our plan is, you know, really, just to invest. You know, our money that comes in. We now have a daughter.
Oh, can I just add, I just want to say that too. So yeah, we're still two incomes. We still lived on one income. We're still living on one income, right? Even though, I will say that I did leave my job, now. But, you know, this was literally about two weeks ago. So it's still new, but for the last three years, we've been living on the equivalent of one of our incomes and saving the other. So we've been aggressively saving and investing one income this entire time.
And our goals in terms of, like, a family we have a daughter now, so our goal is for her not to go through the same experience with student loans. So, we're investing for her college education. 529 account
And we have a custodial account for her as well.
Yes. For her, invest for her for her future as well. And then we also invest for our own future retirement and retirement accounts and also in a brokerage account on, on a monthly basis.
Jamila Souffrant 44:48
Right So Anjie, with you quitting, is your intention to, like, do what you're doing full time with Rich By Intention and your brand? Like, is that eventually where you guys would like love to be?
Oh, yeah, of course. You know, right now my number one priority is being home with my daughter. That's why I left my job, you know, like, I wanted to, to be home with her. But I will say that if we didn't get our financial house in order, that would not have been an option for me. If we were still paying, I think we were paying, like, I don't know, almost $2,000 a month in student loan payments, I would not have been able to just say, "You know what, I want to be home with my little girl." And I'm just so grateful that we took the steps. We took action to change our financial position, so that we can make choices, right, like this. And I think that's the power of managing money with intention. Is that it gives you choices, it gives you options. So if something doesn't serve you anymore, if you're in a different season of your life, like I am, as a new mother, I can make choices for our family. My husband, and I can make specific choices for our family.
I love that. And that's again, like you said, the beauty of starting this journey. Like, maybe, you know, the ultimate financial independence number is years and years away. But every debt you pay off gives you, like, another leverage lever you can pull, right, and you can walk away from things that don't serve you. So I love that.
Yeah. And I think, obviously, the goal is to continue with Rich By Intention and grow this to, you know, where it can go. And so, you know, I'm grateful that I can also work on this as well.
Yeah, our goal with Rich By Intention is to, you know, help people get intentional with their money, but also just to change their mindset and just really change what wealth looks like the people and give them actionable tips just to change their family legacy.
Yeah. And, like, help couples start having those conversations early on, you know? Like, we want to see other couples win with money. We want to see other black couples win with money, because we didn't know it was possible, you know, 10 years ago, but today, we're in such we're in a totally different position all because that we shifted our mindset.
Yeah. And we lived our life, similar to, like, Millionaire Next Door. Very low key, really, and in one well, really low key. And it was very important for us to share our story so that other people can see it's possible. Other people who look like us can see that as possible. And it was nerve wracking to do it, because we're so private and low key, but we realize the power of just, like, hearing stories for people to see it. So they know what's possible. And if we can, you know, change one life, then it's it's all worth it.
Yes. One family, right?
Jamila Souffrant 47:26
Yeah. Well, I think that's important to note. And it's also hard to navigate, like, especially when you're working full time, and you're trying to, like, be low key. But then you have, like, a powerful story. It's almost just, like, and then you start sharing, and then you get some press, like, it-- because I experienced that myself too. Like, where it's just like, "Well, I don't want people to know what I'm doing." But more people need to know about this. And then you, kind of, have to make a decision at some point, like, is it gonna be low key or are you going to go after it? regardless of maybe your own hesitations? As long as you're being careful, obviously. But it's, like, not thinking about all the negatives that could happen. But more thinking about the positives that will come from sharing your story, because I've told you guys, like, you know, like, "Okay, we want to like see your face more, because that's what people connect to when it comes honestly to, like, especially online stuff. And when it comes to finances." So, like, I'm proud of you guys for stepping out and doing that more, because it's really encouraging when you see someone it's like, "Oh, wow, like he literally looks like my brother or like my cousin like, it's, it's really cool."
No, yeah, you know, you're so right. Jamila, and I thank you for encouraging us on our journey, you know, as we're pursuing Rich By Intention, because it isn't easy, right? To put yourself out there, and you don't know what feedback you're gonna get. But overall, the feedback that we've gotten has been just super positive, super encouraging. And so, you know, we're just, we're just gonna keep moving forward.
Yeah and we just impacted people's lives just by seeing us telling our story. And that just helped-- just give you more justification of why you need to put yourself out there, because the more you put yourself out there, the more people will be, like, "Hey, maybe I should budget, or maybe I should start investing, or maybe I should, you know, get on the same page."
Maybe I should open up a 529 for my child. it's little things like that, you know.
Jamila Souffrant 49:09
Oh my gosh. I love this. Alright, so RJ and Anjie, please tell everyone where they can listen to your podcast, because you have one and then also find more about you.
Yes, so you can listen to us on all major podcast platforms at Rich By Intention. And then you also can follow us on Instagram @richbyintention and on Twitter as well. And our website is richbyintention.com. We have a free money guide to help you get intentional with your money. So check that out as well.
Jamila Souffrant 49:35
Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story. I know people will be inspired and I still want to hold people to the challenge of reaching out to someone in their corporation and/or in an industry that you want to be involved in and just, kind of, shoot that shot, but in a nice, kind of, way that's not too overwhelming. And then, the other thing-- you had said something and I want to challenge people to do that. That you talked about something with your expenses. Like, challenge yourself to ask the question, because you said you didn't know by asking the question about your rent. You were just gonna shoot your shot to see if he would, the landlord, he or she, would not raise it. And same thing with your, like, phone bill. So maybe challenge yourself to that too. On the other end of the spectrum with your expenses. What's a call you can make right now to see if you can negotiate something?
Yes. Love it. Everything's negotiable. everything.
Jamila Souffrant 50:21
Yes, yes. All right. Thanks, guys.
Thanks so much, Jamila. Have a great one. Thank you so much for having us!
Jamila Souffrant 50:26
Okay, Journeyers. I hope you enjoyed that podcast. Now here is a thing. So if you are on this journey by yourself, that's fine. You should have, hopefully got some stuff from here that can still apply to you. But if you happen to be with someone, a partner, married, dating, interested ,maybe in someone, you know what, share this episode with them. I would love to see more people intentionally working together towards financial freedom. I know it was one of the things that really helped my husband and I make so much strides within our finances where we got on the same page. So if you, maybe, are listening, and you want to share this with someone who can benefit, maybe another couple, do that. And you can do that by just clicking on the more information, wherever you're listening to this and copying the link and sharing this with someone. Send it in a text group. Send it or post it on your Facebook page or Meta page. That's what we're calling it now, right? Posted it on your Instagram and let them know to listen to this episode, but then Journey To Launch in general. Also tag me @journeytolaunch if you're sharing this on Instagram or Twitter. I always love seeing your feedback and then always tag the guests. So the guests can know that you got something from their episode. The guests here are Anjie and RJ and their name on Instagram is @richbyintention. So tag the both of us, a@journeytolaunch @richbyintention and let us know your biggest takeaway, or something you learned from the podcast.
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 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 @journeytolaunch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love, love, love, interacting with Journeyers there. 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. Four, and last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or co worker, so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it until next week. Keep on journeying Journeyers.
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