Ariana Rodriguez 0:02
My process throughout all of this, right like free money has really allowed me to keep that line of communication really open and honest. Versus like, previously, I would just say yes to everything, and not really be able to afford it. Now I'm really able to like just have that conversation in a healthy way.
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Jamila Souffrant 3:22
Hey, hey, Jaron yours. I'm excited for this conversation. And that's because I have a longtime journeyer fellow journeyer on the podcast who listens to the podcast who's been a part of the journeyer community for so long, and she has been able to do so much with her life and finances. I just learned just now that she was able to quit her job, which just like, amazed that and I can't wait to get more into her story. But we have on Ariana Rodriguez on the podcast. Welcome, Arianna.
Ariana Rodriguez 3:53
Thank you. I'm so excited to be here. Jamila.
Jamila Souffrant 3:55
Yes. Okay, so I have to give some backstory so people can see like, why I'm so excited and why I think your story is gonna be amazing to tell. But I know you listen to the podcast for a long time. But we had a conversation because I was starting one of my programs that I no longer do, but it was a high touch high ticket coaching program. And our Ariana was like one of the first people who joined and I remember you cuz we had our call where I was trying to figure out if you'd be a good fit. And I was just like, wow, like she is on the verge of doing so well. And it's just she's just she just needs a little hand holding and direction to get where she wants to be with her finances. And so you did the program with me. Then you joined the money launch Club, which also is no longer in existence, but that was my membership community about just coming together and like helping people on a monthly basis with their finances. And then most recently what I saw about you which made me say wait a second we got to get our yarn on the podcast is because I saw you were featured in the Netflix documentary get smart with money, which was All about personal finance experts. So they featured four, one of them being Tiffany, Alicia, also known as the budget nista. And they were helping, I think it was four people or for four sets of people you included, to help them with their money. And she was your coach. And I watched it. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, I have to have Arianna on the podcast. Because, you know, you talked about your story of getting out of debt. I think at that time, you you might have gotten out of it, but maybe you're at the tail end of it. And I was just like, with all the history that we have, like, it's time for Ariana to come on the show and tell her story. So that's why I'm so excited that you're here. Yay. I'm
Ariana Rodriguez 5:35
so glad to be here.
Jamila Souffrant 5:36
Okay, so where do we start? Alright, let's go back. Let's go back just a bit. Because for you, and you talked about this on the documentary debt has been your, I think the external barrier for you feeling like reaching your goals. But what they dove into and what I realized about your story, when I first spoke with you was like it was really an internal mindset issue and roadblock about why you were in debt and getting into that. So can you just put us in the beginning, where you started with, like your debt and what your personal finance situation was when you first started into this journey?
Ariana Rodriguez 6:11
Yeah, so I have been in debt for as long as I can remember, right. So I went to a very expensive college left with a ton of student loan debt. I graduated in 2010. So we're like at that tail end of that 28 2008 2010 recession, and was lucky enough to get like a job pretty quickly after I graduated. But like, it wasn't a great paying job I made like, what $35,000 A year, which in New York, New Jersey, which is where I'm from, is like next to nothing, you know. But my job was in Brooklyn, and I lived in New Jersey, so I wound up moving to an apartment that I couldn't really afford. But that put me a little bit closer to work. And then it kind of things spiraled, right, like I was in an apartment that I had to pay all these expenses for plus my student loans, plus everything else that kind of comes with living in New York, on a very low salary. So credit cards became like that fracture kind of helped continue to pay for my life. And then things kind of ballooned. From there, I took some time off of work, I went back to work I, you know, I didn't wind up making like a really decent salary until like a few years ago. And I remember thinking like that throughout that entire time. Like, if I just didn't have this debt, or this credit card debt, I would feel so much freer, right. Like, I always felt like an anchor holding a shutdown. Like it always felt like an anchor holding me down. And like not letting me actually live the life that I wanted to live. But I didn't know how to get out of it. Because it was never making the money that I needed to actually pay everything that I needed to pay.
Jamila Souffrant 7:44
So at what point I want to go back to what you majored in, in college, and then what that job was because I do want to talk a bit about how you started to increase your income in your when you did have your job.
Ariana Rodriguez 7:55
I majored in sociology and education. And I was started working as a counselor in high school. And then I kind of stayed in education for a few years. And then when I realized that education was kind of forcing me to pick a master's program, either in social work or teaching that I didn't want to kind of continue down. I like pivoted, and started working in business administration. So like I started working in the admin fields, doing EA work, project management work eventually landed a job in a project management department where I became like an operations manager. But like that trajectory took, I don't know, like, seven years,
Jamila Souffrant 8:35
seven years. And so I think it's interesting, because so many people have maybe a degree that they no longer want to pursue, or they realize now that wow, this is the potential of earning money here is not that great. And I do want to pivot. And it sounds like you just kept building on your skill sets from have being in the teaching or administration field within the education system, to then working in systems because then you'd like you did get to move into the tech side of things. Right, which, which was a lot more money.
Ariana Rodriguez 9:05
Yes. So I still worked in as an operations manager for a hospital and then I the majority of the projects that I worked on, or implementing tech solutions to kind of help streamline operations, right. And then like, slowly but surely, like something that I learned in your program is like, there is a limit to how frugal you can be in your life. But there's really no limit to how much money you can earn. So I started looking for potential like part time side income, just to kind of supplement the money that was coming in. And then to supplement also like to be able to pay off the debt faster, right? Like I finally was making a decent salary. I was like, I'm finally able to like make a dent in this debt. being hired by the hospital doubled my salary pretty much from where it was a couple of years before that. At that point, I had two kids like we had I had to have maternity leave. There was a lot of things going on that like I just needed more money coming in. And so I started doing some virtual assistant work you leveraging, like the skills that I had built up with all the administration work that I had beforehand. And that was bringing in some decent money. And then that's kind of where I started with Tiffany. Like, that's why I like me and her, it was very beginning, we're talking about like that six extra $700, a month that I was bringing in. And then slowly but surely, like that kind of morphed into virtual system work to kind of streamlining online business owners operations. So I really lean heavily into the operations think, work that I had learned, and was able to apply that to like online business owners, and then eventually kind of scale my offers and my own like a business so that I could leave my job.
Jamila Souffrant 10:44
Yeah, well, that's the thing. So you recently quit, you were able to quit your job. And here's what I love about this. So are you debt free now, or still working on getting out of the credit card debt,
Ariana Rodriguez 10:54
I have about like $2,000 left, which I'm hoping to pay off by the end of October.
Jamila Souffrant 11:00
Okay, so I feel like this. So for those of you who have not watched the get smart with money, documentary, it's on Netflix, go check that out. But what I love to promote here is that, and I always say this is that you don't have to have a million dollars, you don't have to be debt free completely. You don't even have to have everything figured out or fixed in your life. Like, hello, I don't have everything figured out. I know it looks like that sometimes, but I do not. And the freedom that you are now able to have in your life. Like your job, I think that you had said they wanted you to come back that you were remote for the for the pandemic, and then he wants you to come back into the office. But it was like a two hour commute. I can relate.
Ariana Rodriguez 11:36
Yeah, it was to two hours each way, yup.
Jamila Souffrant 11:38
each way. Right. And but because you started this journey to financial independence and freedom, and you started making headway again, not perfect, still had debt still had the mindset issues, you were able to not go back to work because you put these things in place. So that's why like freedom is attainable at any level, or at least an option to do something different. So I love that about your story.
Ariana Rodriguez 12:00
Thank you. And honestly, like, I never would have even thought about going I had always wanted to, like create my own business. But because in immigrant communities, businesses are like brick and mortar businesses, like I never had the capital to have like a brick and mortar business, right? Like I never knew what I would do with a brick and mortar business. And I didn't want to be tied to a location for 12 hours a day. Right. And like, I didn't realize that I had the flexibility to kind of create my own thing. Until I started experimenting with this idea of like a side hustle and virtual assistant, and like it wasn't supposed to really go anywhere. It was gonna be just for like, what a year or so to help me pay off money, my debt faster. And then it became this whole other monster that I am now like, in love with and allows me to work from home without having to commute anywhere. And like play with my kids or like, you know, take the day off if I need to
Jamila Souffrant 12:51
I love it. So you said immigrant community. So you are from the Dominican Republic. And I'd love to also just talk about that. Like what that money mindset was like, Oh, how growing up in your family and the dynamic, what that meant and how it shaped your money mindset.
Ariana Rodriguez 13:06
Yeah, so I mean, I said, I mentioned in the documentary, but a lot of it was my parents were really hardworking and like, worked like, I don't know, 12 hours a day, like my father would leave the house at four o'clock in the morning, come back at like seven o'clock at night. Mmm, we'll also had like, really long hours. And then the money that came in was more of a well, we've just had a really hard week, we just worked all of this all of these hours. Like, let's enjoy it, right? Like, let's go out to dinner. Let's go shopping. Let's do this. You know, I deserve to have X, Y and Z. Because look at everything that I've done. Right? I still remember like my my mom, like painting our house ourselves to save money, right? Like it wasn't like we were like living extravagantly. But they allowed for a lot of these splurge is that like looking back as an adult? I see that I now do also right? Like I now like can justify almost any sport like, like, you know, I'm going to order dinner tonight because I'm tired. I had a long day. And like, wow, that dinner maybe but like that dinner now is because we have a family and now like $70 Right? It's no longer like a $20 pizza that I'm buying. Right? So like those kinds of things like really start to add up and I realized that like I caught myself saying I've had a really hard week or patting myself on the back and saying like, you know, you did this and this was great. So let's do let's buy this or let's go on vacation. And it's like, well, all of that is so much fun and great. It was also like adding to like my depth because I was being really avoidant with it. I wasn't like trying to like look at it in the face and like actually address it. I was saying instead of looking at the day, I'm going to just pat myself on the back or like say that I deserve this. You know this like 30 $40 thing that's gonna bring me like happiness for all of like three seconds.
Jamila Souffrant 15:03
Yeah, isn't that interesting? And I, I understand it, I've done it, I still do it in some regards, like, oh, you know, I'm tired, I deserve it, I want this thing. And when you weigh the satisfaction of today versus the benefit of what could be tomorrow, like most people pick today, most people pick to be comfortable in the moment, which is actually like a psychological, it's actually human. Like, that's human nature to want to do that. But we have to, and I think, obviously, you're learning this you're doing this is there has to be like a balance, right? Between figuring out what is that worth. And I think it's important to note to the system is set up this way, right for you to be stuck in it, you know, to be so tired after work, or from your long commute that you don't want to cook or clean or do anything. So you outsource that, which by the way, if you can't afford to outsource those things, I'm actually fully with that. But it's also encouraging people to do that before they actually can afford it that keeps them stuck within the system.
Ariana Rodriguez 16:01
1,000%. And like, I found that I was doing that a lot. And it just made it so much harder, right? Like you, you're told that like, you can do it all and you can outsource you can like order dinner, and get a housekeeper and go on these great vacations so that you should be doing all of these things, right? That your kids need to be a part of, like 15 extracurricular activities, or you need to jam pack your weekend with things that you're doing. And trying to keep up with that, like should lifestyle, especially when like I'm living in a very high cost of living area, right, like New Jersey in New York are like extremely expensive to live in to begin with. So then add all of that stuff on top of it. It feels crippling, and then you feel like a bad person for not being able to do all of it and keep up with it. And like that kind of those feelings of like shame and like, well, what's wrong with me that I can't do this, when everybody else around me is doing it, like, helped to keep me in debt.
Jamila Souffrant 16:58
Yeah. And I think too, if it's, especially if you're surrounded with people who what they value or what they show outwardly, that they celebrate and value are those things. This is what I'm sure happening for you. Because it happened for me once I started to immerse myself with people, and podcasts and blogs where they were valuing different things. Like I'm actually valuing the fact that I can quit my job in a year or two years, or valuing that our investment portfolios, half a million dollars, like that kind of stuff. Then I realized it's even though in the moment around certain people, it feels like it's a service not to your kids to have the latest sneakers or the buy from the ice cream truck every day. But then when you think about the bigger picture, what you're actually doing it for you're like, oh, wait a second, like the flex the Flex is actually bigger than that what I'm trying to accomplish and what I'm actually doing.
Ariana Rodriguez 17:45
And so something that I do want to say about that is that I for whatever reason, like I would see that and sometimes still get down on myself, like why am I not there. And like, I would find that I would still shame myself for not being as far along as I want it to be right. Like I can't, I couldn't afford to put more money in my retirement account. So like my retirement count is pretty modest right now, I couldn't afford to put a lot of money into savings. So my savings account, especially now that I'm like working for myself has gone down a little bit. But like even like those flexes are like I was in debt, and I was afraid of what it would feel like to like be in debt and then work for myself right and not have that dual income that I had gotten accustomed to. Those feelings of shame still kind of carried with me. And it's not until like recently that I'm like, Arianna, but you quit your job, you created a new business for yourself, or like No, like you were able to create a retirement account, like no matter how small it is, you have a retirement account, that will take care of you when you decide to retire. Like even if you can't retire early, you're not going to be reliant on your kids to support your lifestyle. Right? So like those little things, those mindset shifts have really kind of, like revolutionized how I'm seeing my finances.
Jamila Souffrant 19:03
Well, I'm so glad you said that. Because it actually it also points to how personal and relative This is. Because I know for you now since you just quit your job and you know, you're figuring out this auto partnership path and like that's the time I know when I first started doing it and still doing it figuring this out, is you know you're investing back into the business, you may be pausing on the saving, investing paying down debt aggressively, because you're actually doing something you're investing in yourself and your business. Right and so that is something where if you're in that stage, even if you cannot so I say to people too, even though we're talking about paying off debt, investing, saving, you may not be able to do that right now, but you are at least paying for your lifestyle in terms of your expenses. Let's just say somebody sacrificed to be at home or to take a part time job to be able to pick up their kids and or not to do certain things like that is that's a flex to me too. Like if you are living and surviving. Surviving first level like that's a flex And then you'll start to thrive as you move further along.
Jamila Souffrant 20:03
So I want to get into a bit more about the debt situation. If you can remember, like the height of your like, where you are, where you were with your debt, and then what made you so What made you start to realize, like, you know, I don't want to continue the cycle that I'm in, because you could have just said, Hey, I might as well just do what everyone else is doing just kind of keep charging and living and being on this
Ariana Rodriguez 20:24
Jamila Souffrant 20:24
Yeah, the cycle.
Ariana Rodriguez 20:26
The height of it was probably when I met you, it was about two to $5,000 for credit card debt plus, like my student loans, which I still have in touch, right? When I say that I have only a couple of hours and hours left. It's like credit card debt, not student loan debt. But I had tried to get out of debt numerous times. I tried to put myself on a budget, I tried to reduce my spending, I had tried a lot of different things. And like, there were a few things happening. One, I just wasn't making enough money, right. Like that was I realized now that that was like the biggest issue that I had, right? I was not making enough money to support my lifestyle and pay down debt. But also, like I was carrying around like this sense of perfectionism that if my budget was imperfect, then like, what's the point? Right? Like, why am I even bothering like, I messed up. So like, the whole budget for the whole month is out the window. And that's something that we worked on a lot is like me being okay with not being perfect, and making mistakes and forgiving those mistakes. And then later on, it became like, continuing to hold shame over my past decisions and not forgiving my past decisions of charging things. And like getting myself in the situation that I was in. But like what really started to change my mind was having kids. So like, when I first met you, Sebastian was a baby. And it was so different thinking about having to take care of myself, and like being like, well, I'll figure it out, I always have, and then shifting that mindset to now like, I'm in charge of making sure this child has everything they need to thrive. And I don't want them to feel like they don't like they're lacking in anything. Right. And even though he was a baby, and like babies aren't necessarily needed that much to thrive. I wanted to make sure that I was gonna set him up to have everything that he that I want him to have as a child, right as growing up. And like, there was no way that me living my life, the way that I was living, it was going to give him the lifestyle that I wanted to give him. That's when I felt it was like I need to make some kind of change to be able to do what I wanted, right to be able to make sure that he had everything that I want him to have. And then like part of the way working with you, I wasn't getting pregnant with my with my second child, Elena. And that's when like I paused like the aggressive debt payoff and like started saving for maternity leave. But like because of our work together. Like I was able to like fully fund a six month maternity leave. So like that was like impressive as hell it just somehow, like I didn't think that I for whatever reason, it just didn't like that didn't stick, as well as I wanted it to have stuck after we stopped working together. You know what I mean?
Jamila Souffrant 23:04
Ariana Rodriguez 23:06
things shifted. And it became like a lot of like, late night Amazon target purchases, like during nursing sessions, or like, the kids need X, Y, and Z. So like it my expenses shifted from things focused on me to then things focus to the kids. And it was easier to justify that. So like even that had to like that mindset ship had to change a little bit.
Jamila Souffrant 23:25
Right, which kind of shows you that that's why it's like you're always a work in progress. Because you might have you know, put a bandaid or fix this one thing you think, but it then it spurts out or shows in another area. And I always say like, it's not about being perfect. It's about having the confidence in yourself to that you'll make the mistake, but that you'll figure it out no matter what the mistake is. And there's no mistake that could put you in a spot where you're ruined. Like, you can always come back from it.
Ariana Rodriguez 23:52
Yeah. And that's like, I think the most important thing is that you can always come back from it right. And that was something that I didn't necessarily always believe was possible for me, right? Like, I didn't know that if I would ever get out of the pet, right. Like I always thought as much as I wanted to, I think I was holding myself back by being like, this is insurmountable then and when Tiffany and I started working together for the documentary, like a lot of the work that we did was like, reframing, like she had said it in the movie, but like really reframing how I saw myself and my past decisions to make sure and saying that, like, you made those decisions, but it's not really it's not like you made those decisions from a place of like, I want to leave a time bag you made those decisions be out of a place of I I'm trying to make sure that like me and my family have the life that I want. Like it was all rooted from a good place but it's a matter of like balancing that with like paying off the debt and like making sure that we are getting like a full picture of like my finances versus just like me kind of buying things at the moment to kind of make help us get by right and like so a lot of the work that we did was really about like be forgiving myself and my past mistakes and then kind of being able to be like, Okay, now that I'm actually making enough money and being able to actually save this, I am in a much better place, and I'm able to kind of continue to grow. And like, I now have the tools to kind of like, implement this money system, like she helped me create, no matter what my circumstances are.
Jamila Souffrant 25:22
And it sounds like and I really do feel like most people go through this at this with with money decisions, any past thing, maybe that's not turning out the way that you wanted it to. It's just like, there's this moment of relieving yourself of guilt and shame. And one of the ways you do that is to show and to know that it's not all your fault. And so I think there's a balance, right? Like, you don't want to go into complete victim mode. But I think you need to also acknowledge like that maybe there were some things out of your control, and to have the compassion for yourself for those things. But you can't stay there. Because if you stay in a place like that, then it's like, okay, then nothing's my fault. I don't have to do anything. And then it comes to a time where compassion for yourself, there are things you couldn't control things, you, you know, you were fighting for yourself, for your family, all these things, but also realizing, but now it's time to take some power back. Like you have to also acknowledge and take the responsibility to move forward. So do you feel like that you started to do that, after realizing that listen, alright, this happened, or this is happening, but it's not my time to start and do something different?
Ariana Rodriguez 26:26
Yeah, I 100% feel like that. And like, I had tried to do that a few times, right. Like me, I tried to like figure things out on my own. And then I realized that like, all of those opportunities, like this last opportunity with Tiffany really came like the perfect time, because it felt like my I was finally able to let go of that guilt that I was feeling. There's a balance of like, knowing what you have to do and finding the right time for you to actually do it right. You're not always going to absorb the lessons, when people are giving them to you, you have to be ready, really to receive it. And like, I feel like I was finally ready to like, let go of that shame, to kind of really make those strides that I finally was able to make, right. And it wasn't until I think now that I was finally able to say, Okay, I'm ready to like 100% forgive myself for this, and make a plan to move forward.
Jamila Souffrant 27:21
Another good point, because I feel like you know, this teaching, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And like, you know, you think about all the books or a book laying around that you've had in your house for 10 years. But that information, you didn't care about it at that point, it did not apply, and you didn't think you could use it. And literally like something you're going through, like you pick up your like this book is answering all my questions like what you're ready for it now. And I think a lot of times people get so frustrated with themselves is because ideally, they want this thing, but they're not ready for it. And part of it is just accepting and being just real with yourself. Like, okay, people who maybe want to be healthier. And like, I'll take myself for that example. So I'm pretty fit for the most part. And I'd like to have some more abs. But to be honest with myself, like, you know, I still drink sugary drinks and alcohol and cheese and things I know I shouldn't eat because I'm just like, I want to eat it. I don't care. So I'm real, I become accepted that factor for myself, like, okay, you know, you want you say you want these things and you want to like look a certain way, but let's just be real. You're doing some of the work, but you're not doing all of it. And it's okay. And I'm okay with the level on that like and taking responsibility for that. And I just feel like some, like if these are just real with yourself, like, yeah, I want this thing, but I'm not ready to go all in for it. And that's okay, too. Right? Like admit that to yourself.
Ariana Rodriguez 28:42
Yeah. And then like a really funny full circle moment is that when I applied to work with Tiffany, for whatever reason, my brother had come over my baby brother had come over and was asking me about budgeting. And I pulled out like this old book that I bought, it must have been like 2015 or something like that. It wound up being Tiffany's one week budget book, like the first book that she had ever like published. And I was like, I forgot that I owned it. And I remember looking at it, I'm like, oh my god, like this is like it was meant to be I had started with this in 2015 Obviously, I was not ready for this then. It is now like 20 I think it was like 2021 When we first started working together, I'm like it's six years later. I am now ready to absorb everything this woman is ready to teach me.
Jamila Souffrant 29:27
So one of the biggest things that I advocate for especially depending on your level is a system and budget so that you can get focused but you know I am somebody who says even personally for myself I don't use I don't check a budget every day. You know I am very kind of free flowing with the way I use my budget because of the level at which I am right so for you though you realize that you tried the budget before it did not work. What finally made it stick what was the system that you use and that you're using now that helps you?
Ariana Rodriguez 29:55
So Tiffany helped me automate my budget. We did pretty much what we did with you, we sat down looked at three months of my expenses, try to figure out like the percentages what were out of my paycheck. So it wasn't a number amount, it was more of a percentage like 25% went to household expenses, like the mortgage right 20% went to debt 10% went to savings another and then like the rest went to like my spending money or whatever the percentages were. And then I set it up so that every single month or every single, like bi weekly, that's when I was getting paid, it was set up so that that exact percentage was sent to the different accounts that I had created. So I had a home account that paid for our mortgage, or bill or electric bill or water bill, all those households expenses, then I have a bills account. So like my personal bills, so like my debt, if I have any subscriptions, if I have any kind of things that I do, and then I have a spending account. And then I have two savings. So I have like a emergency savings. And then like a dreams like travel, I want to buy XYZ savings account, right. And then what she made me do was we prioritized everything but the spending account, right. So like we set up all of the percentages for the other four accounts. So for the house, the bills, and the two savings accounts, and then whatever was left over went to my spending account. And like that spending account was the only card that I would carry with me. And it still is, it's the only card that I would carry with me. And it's how I pay for things, right? Like whatever's in that account is what I could pay, but what I could spend, right, so that is my budget, like I have, whatever amount of money is leftover from my paycheck there.
Jamila Souffrant 31:39
So just so we can get a full view of the system is this at the same bank that you have these different accounts are out there at different banks.
Ariana Rodriguez 31:46
So, my home account is in one bank. So Capital One, I have my bills and my spending account in Chase. So those two are in one. And then my two savings accounts are in high yield savings accounts with Ally. Got it. So all of this money kind of just automatically gets comes out or goes to the separate accounts. And then whatever is leftover goes to my spending account. And that is what I use on a monthly basis to kind of do whatever I want to do. So I want to get my nails done. If I want to have the kids need clothes, if I need clothes, if we want to go out to dinner one night, like that's the money that we use.
Jamila Souffrant 32:20
And then how did you decide? So I know that some some bills, right, obviously our face, like the mortgage and some certain bills. But was it like this, you know, I would say the chicken or the egg, like when you did all the percentages out. And let's just say you realize that there was only 200 left for spending that then that decide what you would spend that $200 On a month. And you check that like as you go every month. And this is just for you because you have a partner. So I'd love to know how you work the system with someone else who may or may not be as focused as you are not saying that he isn't but you know, handling that difference?
Ariana Rodriguez 32:57
Yeah. So if tuned, it was what I had leftover for like the because it was it was bi weekly. So every two weeks, then $20 is what I had for every two weeks. And then really like figuring out those that difference, I would tell my husband like, look, this is the money that I have for the next two weeks. This is what I have earmarked for, I need you to pick up this, that and the third and it forced me to open those lines of communications in a way that I don't think that I had previously. Before it would be like alright, well, I'll get this and I'll figure it out later on. Now it's like no, I don't have that. So I need out, this is what I have to do in the next two weeks for with his money. I need you to pick up the groceries for this week, next week will be different because I have a little extra cash coming in. I'll pick up the groceries next week, like, like I really was forced to communicate much more with him about like what was going on. And I think that like, alleviated, like stress that I felt for myself, not just that he felt because I talked to him about it afterwards, because he was like, Sure, just let me know if you can do something. But stress that I was putting on myself for like always feeling like I needed to pick up my half when in reality, he was just like, if you can't do it, you can't do it. And that's okay. Like I was just asking. It's like the self imposed, like, pressure that I had that I needed to do all of this and I don't I can focus on like the things that I'm trying to do and have him support me in that.
Jamila Souffrant 34:19
Right and isn't it like interesting because you sound like how sometimes I am where you're assuming how someone is going to respond to you or what they think even though they're telling you it's fine. You're like no, they probably think this you know, you're putting someone and then you bring it up and they're just like what like that wasn't even like what I was thinking,
Ariana Rodriguez 34:34
What are you even talking about right now? Yeah,
Jamila Souffrant 34:36
but it does sound like so just quickly to bring this up because there are different ways to manage your money with a partner. I myself my husband and I we just have like one pot where we just put our money and pull it together. But I love how you are mentioning that things are a little separate for you guys. Like it seems like you're responsible for different things which there are different ways that you can manage it with a partner. So can you explain that system and how you make it work?
Ariana Rodriguez 34:59
Sure. So we have Have that housing bank account that I was talking about, we both put all of the houses fixed expenses, right. So like our mortgage or taxes, our interest rate, our water utilities, cell phones, anything that's kind of like our fixed expenses that comes from there, what we spend on the household, so like, buying, like the core, buying groceries, renovating the house, all those kind of things come from our own personal money, right? So like, we will come together and be like, Hey, can you pick up groceries this week? Or, you know, we need to buy X, Y, and Z, can you go pick this up? And we'll kind of communicate about that. But like my process throughout all of this, right, like figuring out my money has really allowed me to keep that line of communication really open and honest. Versus like, previously, I would just say yes to everything, and not really be able to afford it. Now I'm really able to like just have that conversation in a healthy way.
Jamila Souffrant 35:56
Right, right. So I want to go back to the kind of what it seems like variable expenses, are your own just spending money? Are you keeping track of that? So you're using a debit card? Right? You're not using your credit card when you go out? That's what you mean, when you said it's attached to that account? And that's the only cards you take. So are there other ways that you've been able to deter credit card spending? Since that was something that you did like, do you did you delete that you cut them up? Did you unsubscribe from emails? How did you stop yourself from the Amazon shopping and target and all that that you felt like you used to do?
Ariana Rodriguez 36:28
So I took out all of my credit cards from my wallet, so I don't walk around with them anymore. I erased them from my Apple Pay. So like it's not a I don't link them there anymore. So they're not in my wallet. In my virtual wallet. I don't save credit cards on any store accounts. So I'm always forced to get up and like grab my wallet if I want to do online shopping, right? Because that means that right there has saved me 1000s of dollars. The act of me having to like stand up from wherever I'm at to find my wallet to pay for something means that I am 90% less likely to actually purchase said thing. And if I do want to purchase it, it's because it's something I really, really want, right? But when I go shopping in the stores, I'm much more likely to over shop because I just throw things in the cart. So I try to buy online as much as possible because I'm much pickier online. Funnily enough, usually for people, it's the reverse. But for whatever reason, like when I'm in a store, I just kind of start tossing things that I don't really need in this I get I get inspired in the stores online, I get less inspired. So that has helped curb and also like the realization like I look at my account on like, every every day, every couple of days, I'll look at my checking account and be like, Okay, how much money do I have left in here? And then I say, okay, based off of how much money I have left, what am I spending this money on? Like, what expenses? Do I have upcoming? Do we have a birthday party coming up? Do we are we going out and doing X, Y and Z soon? What's happening in the near future that money will need to come out of my account for. And that's also been really, really helpful to keep me on track. Because if I have $200, and I want like a new leather jacket, I'm not gonna spend the 20,000 new leather jacket when I know that I need to buy groceries later this week, right? So like, it's helping me like figure out like what I'm doing with my money at any given time without having to sit down and like write down every single thing.
Jamila Souffrant 38:23
Right. So I think that's a really an a nice alternative to doing it and linking it or tagging it with an actual budgeting software, which I still recommend. Because when we're talking about when I mentioned things like you need a budget, which is a budgeting app that I still use, and other budgeting apps, right part of that is I do that, or I recommend that most people do it that way, especially when they don't have separate accounts, because you may have all of your bills and spending money in one checking account and you don't know what is actually for the bills coming up. And what is for potential spending on things that you want to that are more discretionary. And having a budget where you can look at it and say, well, there's $1,000 in this account, but I know 600 of it is earmarked for this 400 is earmarked for that, then digitally, you can see kind of what's left. But if you really need to have more controls around your spending during it the way, Ariana is saying it is good too, because then it's like forcing you to spend only what's in the account. And I do want to say I know there are some people who know their credit card numbers by heart.
Ariana Rodriguez 39:23
Yeah, I'm not one of those people.
Jamila Souffrant 39:25
I was never one of those people, but I find like people actually do and so if that is your issue, so it's it's like I don't even need to get up. So it's like then maybe it's like you should ask for a new credit card. So you don't have to think of it. You just have to be honest with yourself about what potentially is going to work or not for your situation and try different things sometimes. You know, you'll try something you'd like you know what this is not working and you you just have to try something else.
Ariana Rodriguez 39:48
Like I tried so many things before I landed on the system, right? Like it's a complicated system to set up. But once it's set up once it's like it's set and forget it. I've tried like budgeting with paper and pen So I've tried Excel all the Excel spreadsheets under the sun. I've tried mint, I tried YNAB. I've tried the zero based budget one from Dave Ramsey, I've tried so many different apps, and they all wind up just confusing me and like, annoying me. And after two or three months, I'm just like, I'm done with all of this. So I've also recently been diagnosed with ADHD and like the act of going through my expenses, and like earmarking things, drives me absolutely insane. And now it makes sense why. So like this really, like set it once and like completely forget about it. Obviously, I go back into the system, and like every quarter or so, like, look at my percentages to make sure everything still kind of makes sense. But this system has made it so much easier. So I don't have to think about anything, right, like it's done.
Jamila Souffrant 40:48
Yeah. And that's so important about the having potentially or you know, you have ADHD, but potentially some people who are undiagnosed or don't know that they have it or just neurodivergent. And I think that's not talked about enough when it comes to money. And the differences in managing or looking at our money, situation, or how people view present tense versus like the impending future and how they see that because that that will determine or help guide decision making. And so if you have tendencies and or a personality that is better suited, or you don't even know, right, like, why it's not working, you might just blame yourself when it says like, no, it's just that system is not meant to work for you. And that's okay, which is why you got to try everything.
Jamila Souffrant 41:29
Okay, so now you are a full time entrepreneur, you still got goals, you still got Life to Live finances that you have to handle and goals that you want to hit. Right. So how are you balancing that? How did you feel comfortable enough to leave your job? I know, like the two hour commute, wasn't it? But like, how did you feel like you can actually sustain your lifestyle and move forward this way.
Ariana Rodriguez 41:52
So I went from making some $100 a month to making four or $5,000 a month really quickly, like my business grew very, very quickly. And then I was able to niche down to really focus on setting up online business owners like systems, right? Like their systems, make sure the operations were in place, like make like streamlining things for them. Like I realized that that was where like my zone of genius lay and I was able to bring in enough money to cover our basic expenses, right? Like my husband and I like sat down. When they told me that I had to come back into work. And I was like, this is what they're telling me. I was crying because I was literally having an anxiety attack about having to do that for our daily commute again. And he was like, Look, I know that you wanted to leave for a long time you're making money with your business. And we both had worse comes worse, I will find another job. We're gonna try this, see how it goes. Worst case scenario, I'll just go get on the job somewhere. Right? Like it is what it is like we I will make this work. I've always been kind of very scrappy, and been able to kind of pick myself up and like, do whatever I needed to do to make ends meet, right. And I will continue to do that. He was very nervous. He's been at the same job since he was 21 years old. And like he's in his mid 30s. Now, right? So he's very much all about stability and making sure things are stable. So like my bouncing from career to career. And now stewing on becoming an entrepreneur has given him a lot of anxiety. But bless him, he has been nothing but supportive. And he just took a leap of faith with me, right, like we both took a leap of faith that I was going to be able to continue to kind of open up opportunities for myself, if I really focused myself in selling my business like Right, like I hadn't done any marketing to get myself to like the four or $5,000 a month that was completely based off of referrals and like me networking. So like if I knew that if I started actually marketing myself and my services people would come. And that's kind of what's been happening is there's been a lot of like mind drama, about like, pressure on myself to make sure that I have enough to give my family that sustain our like lifestyle. But I'm slowly working through that. I feel like this is gonna be a process. It really came from like me the testing things out seeing that this was going to be somewhat possible. And then having a partner that kind of was willing to like, take that jump that plunge on me, right, because as much as I'm the one doing the work, he's still trusting that I'm going to be able to help support the family because he can't support he wouldn't be able to pay all of our bills by himself. Right. So like, it's it was a little bit of everything, but it's still like very scary.
Jamila Souffrant 44:25
Yes, I know. Trust me, I know. So for you. At the time you started the side hustle to help supplement right to help you reach this goal of paying off debt and other financial goals. But it puts yourself in a position so you started before you even knew why you were starting. Like before you knew the reason, but because you did it a couple years ago you started the process. You built a business when they said to you okay, I want you to come back. You had something that you could go to and run with. I was able to say no, right? You could say no. Again, having options even though it's like it's not like you never have to run again. But you have options. So what how did you Switch from a maybe you still not okay with it, but switch from then tackling the debt payoff goals, investing goals, putting those maybe on hold for that now growing the business and doing that how are you working through through that.
Ariana Rodriguez 45:14
So I went from very aggressively paying off debt like like being able to throw an extra 1000 $2,000 A month towards my debt, which is why like you saw those numbers changed so drastically over the time that I was I was working with Tiffany was because I was making my nine to five was covering my lifestyle, my side hustle was covering with that right? To really bring in a little less than I was making in my job, right. So like, we had to cut back a lot of expenses. So we cut, we had to, like say goodbye to our nanny, which I was really sad because we loved her. And I went back to like paying just over the minimum of my debt, right. So like we I was working off of the Avalanche method. So I curtailed it back. And instead of paying an extra $1,000 to like that biggest debt, I've been paying just over the minimum, which kind of sucks because it felt really good to kind of see that number, like dropped down so fast before, but it is what it is, right? Like I'm trying to make myself feel okay with paying this off slower, right. Like, I knew that that was gonna be one of the hurdles that I had to get over like another like little mind drama thing that I had to kind of overcome, right, was that I had to slow things down. And like, I wanted to also make sure that like, I didn't think that I was a failure because I had to now slowed down. And like that was a big one for me, because it felt so good to pay things off so quickly. And now having to slow down, I had to then say, It's okay, that you're slowing down, you're slowing down for a reason. And there's a long game here.
Jamila Souffrant 46:45
Well, and then to sit they go like think ahead, I always think that this is a temporary situation. And so you will earn more money. If you staying on this path, you will earn more, you'll learn more you'll be able to do more, and I always motivates me is when I think about where I want to be in two or three years. Okay, here's when I am making X amount, then here's how I will now tackle this financial goal. So yeah, maybe it's on pause now for the next few years, because I'm putting my attention and finances in this direction. But once I'm here anymore, once things are stable, and I have X amount. Now this is how I so forecasting almost out what your situation will be and then how you invest in save or pay off debt. In the future. I also find comfort when I was going through a similar stage.
Ariana Rodriguez 47:30
Yeah, and that's what I keep telling myself. So I quit my job in March. So I've haven't even been a full time entrepreneur for an entire year. It's been like maybe seven or eight months. And I am on track to if not meet or surpass my like, salary for my, my job. I've been able to really grow this exponentially very quickly. And I'm like working to get myself out there. So that I can continue to grow, right and like maybe build a team under me, right? Like I have really big goals in mind, to let it know that this is just a temporary situation. You know, when you have like that dream, and you know that it's coming for you and you know that it's yours. Like that's really what I feel right now, like in my heart, like I know that this is what it's supposed to be right? Like, I know that I will get there. I just need a little bit more time to get there.
Jamila Souffrant 48:16
Yes, I get it. And it reminds me of the an episode that I recorded episode 243 With Tasha booth, and she talked about starting as a just virtual assistant. And then she eventually grew to create her own agency and she's running a million dollar business now. Find someone who's done what you're attempting to do and doesn't have to be you know, everything step is not gonna be the same. Everything's not gonna be so relatable, but it's just like find that one strain of okay, she started as a virtual assistant making X amount an hour actually, she started in the personal finance space blogging and realized like that wasn't going to be the pathway to her making money, then did the BA and then started to hire VAs and then had a whole like operations business. And she's doing so well. So anyone who needs some inspiration after listening to this episode, listen to episode 243.
Jamila Souffrant 49:03
So Arianna, what advice do you have as we close out for other journeyers? Who are in the thick of their journey? Who have not like figured out all their mind stuff? Yeah, I have not fixed all the habits but want to? What would you want to tell them to encourage them?
Ariana Rodriguez 49:20
The first thing is give yourself grace. This is a long game, right? This is not a sprint, like you're running a marathon, you have to be kind to yourself. You need to be okay with life happening. Right? That was really hard for me to kind of like embody, it's easy to pay off debt when you have money coming in. It's hard to pay off debt when things are tight and like life happens, right? Like in the movie, you saw that my car broke down and I want them spending $1,200 Just to fix it. That two and a half years ago would have broken me. Right and like the fact that I was able to pay that and not have to think twice you While it felt hard, gave me the push that I needed to, like, say like this is working, you need to keep going. So giving yourself grace and like understanding that life is gonna happen and there will be setbacks, and then experimenting, right? Like, I've experimented with so many different things, to try to get to where I am now. Right? I've learned from so many different people and I've gotten so much information from like different sources, to kind of try to get to the place where I finally feel like I have my money under control. So like, be open to try things out. Because without trying things out, you're never going to know what's gonna work for you.
Jamila Souffrant 50:40
Excellent advice. Now, I want you to tell people more about your business, what you do and where they can find out more about it and yourself.
Ariana Rodriguez 50:48
So I am a system strategist, I help agency owners streamline and automate their businesses and find ease by implementing like customized tech stacks, putting in automations and really leaning hard on pack. You can find me at Ariana rodriguez.co on Instagram, and that is no update. Also everyone Adria, Satco,
Jamila Souffrant 51:09
I will link all of that in the show notes, plus any of the episodes that I mentioned before 243 and any other resources that may help but once again, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Ariana Rodriguez 51:22
Thank you for having me.
Jamila Souffrant 51:24
Yes, it was so great to catch up. And you know, I'm always rooting. I'm rooting for all of you listening, I truly am. But I'm rooting for you already. And I know that like you're gonna be successful, you might have to come back on in a couple years and tell me about your million dollar business. So I'm excited for you.
Ariana Rodriguez 51:40
Thank you, thank you.
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