Giovanna “Gigi” Gonzaléz, financial educator, influencer, founder of The First Gen Mentor, and author of the upcoming book, Cultura & Cash, joins the Journey to Launch podcast to discuss how she quit her 10 year corporate career in financial services to pursue her true passion: teaching financial literacy to young adults.
Giovanna teaches personal finance and career navigation at universities, companies, and on her TikTok account, @thefirstgenmentor. She was named Top 25 Creator by Fast Company, 40 under 40 by the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, and “Latinx to Watch” by Hispanic Executive Magazine.
We also talk about Gigi’s hysterectomy, why money played a big role in her recovery, her immigrant upbringing, setting financial boundaries with loved ones, and more.
In this episode you’ll learn more about:
- How Gigi went from paycheck-to-paycheck to personal finance educator, leader and viral social media influencer
- Why relocating to a different, lower cost of living city could be the secret ingredient to financial freedom
- The power of goal setting, dreaming big and knowing your why
- F-U funds, dealing with the inconsistency of entrepreneurship, giving yourself a timeline for success + more
- Instagram: @Journeytolaunch
- Twitter: @JourneyToLaunch
- Facebook: @Journey To Launch
- Join the Private Facebook Group
- Join the Waitlist for My FI Course
- Get The Free Jumpstart Guide
- Get The Budget Bootcamp for FREE
Jamila Souffrant 1:40
Hey, hey, hey journeyers Welcome to the journey to launch podcast today I have on the guest seat, Gigi Gonzalez. She's a financial educator, influencer speaker, founder of the first gen mentor and the author of the upcoming book, culture and cash. During the Great resignation, she quit her 10 year corporate career in financial services to pursue her true passion, teaching financial literacy to young adults. She's been featured in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Business Insider and more lives in Chicago, we're going to learn more about GGS rise to fame in the personal finance space right now. So welcome to the podcast. Gigi
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 2:22
Jamila, you're so sweet. Thank you for having me on.
Jamila Souffrant 2:25
I am so excited to get to talk to you because I really feel I love the way you speak about money. But I also just love the way you share your life. I'm not as much on Tik Tok, even though I know that's where all the young hip people are, like yourself. But from your Instagram account, I just love how you share your journey. So not only like the personal finance tips themselves, which are always great, but also like personally, like evolving into an entrepreneur, and you should like tidbits of your life that I think really impact your financial journey and entrepreneurial journey, which I think people relate to a lot. So I want to get into all that and learn more about you. So again, just welcome.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 3:02
Thank you so much for having me on. I'm so excited to be here.
Jamila Souffrant 3:06
Yeah. So Gigi, I so one of the things that you said or I just said in the bio was you quit your 10 year corporate career during the Great resignation. So let's talk about what that great resignation was. And then what led you to quit your job. And then I want to go back a bit about your career path and trajectory.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 3:23
Sure, let's talk about it.
Jamila Souffrant 3:25
So for you like what made you decide to quit your job have 10 years that stability, net income to do what you're doing now?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 3:33
Yeah, it definitely wasn't an easy decision. I think a lot of people romanticize the opportunity to quit your nine to five to be a boss, Babe and work for yourself, make your own schedule. But that was never an ambition of mine ever. I never had any goals. To be an entrepreneur. I very much am an accidental entrepreneur. And the way that that all went down is, you know, up until recently had a pretty traditional life living, you know, a nine to five job, corporate job with benefits had my retirement age planned out. That was very much my life. But I started posting Tik Tok content in March of 2021. My Account went viral a month later, it was bizarre how it all went down. And with my account blowing up, I started receiving a lot of opportunities. And it was cool because I'm like, oh, somebody wants to pay me 300 bucks to go teach a financial literacy workshop. I was already doing this kind of work for free in my community as a volunteer financial educator for nonprofits. I'm like, Oh, somebody's actually want to pay me 300 bucks like cool, like a nice little side hustle. Right? So the thing is, the kind of job that I had was an investment management and for anybody that doesn't know the field is just an extremely regulated industry, which means that if I was to accept any work, any paid work outside of my nine to five, I had to have written approval from my employer. So I submitted the request not thinking it would be You know, no thing. And right away, it was denied. They said, Nope, this is illegal and a reputational risk, we cannot approve this request. And that was disheartening. Because I'm like, I think this is good community work to spread financial literacy to others. At first, I was just like, Okay, well, I guess this is the end of this road. That was fun, even though I never started. And I'm so thankful that I had friends and family that were like, hold on, what are you doing? Like, there's an opportunity here, it wasn't me. That was right to just like, keep doing my nine to five as I was. But I am so thankful that I had friends and family that encouraged me to at least think about it. And their reasoning was like, this is your passion. You've been doing this for two years pro bono. Now there's an opportunity to be paid to be a financial educator. And the reason that I knew I would have the ability to do that was because I knew I had savings. Because all my friends and family knew that I was saving aggressively to quit my job in the future. To fly around the world trip. I had this big dream of traveling the world for a year and then resuming my corporate career. So I was squirreling away money. So they're like, don't you have like that big pot of money that you can kind of use what you explore this? And I'm like, No, that's for my dream. That's not for like, entrepreneurship, what is it? So? So you know, at first I was super against it. And then I warmed up to the idea. And I resigned a month later, and here I am today, a little over two years.
Jamila Souffrant 6:24
Right? Well, this is like that is the epitome of stay ready, because you just never know, stay ready. So you don't have to get ready. And what I love talking about in terms of the financial journey, or the life journey, it's, you know, they're wanting the same, because you just never know, you know, you might think you're doing something for one reason. And you know, you have this money set aside for this. But then it really helps you do something completely different that you can't even foresee, like you can't you can't even know from this place you're standing, how it will help you in the future. So I want to go back a bit because you said while you were working in your corporate career, you were teaching and volunteering tissue about finances. So let's go back a little further in your past a bit. Because what you know, what was your upbringing, like? And how did money come into play in that? And then when did you get conscience of being that you needed to be good with money? Or at least a good steward of money? Yeah, great
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 7:18
question. So my background, I'm the daughter of Mexican immigrants. I'm a first generation American. I grew up in a small agricultural border town in California and Southern California. When I tell people I'm from SoCal. They're like, Oh, LA, I'm like, no. So it's like two hours east of San Diego. It's a very, very small agricultural town. So, you know, growing up, we in an immigrant household, we certainly did not have regular money conversations. Really, the only thing I heard about money growing up was, there isn't enough of it. So don't bother asking us for any. So what that looked like was when the Scholastic Book Fair came to our school, and I wanted a little money to buy a book, the answer was always no. If we had a field trip with our classroom, I got like five bucks for the field trip, the same thing like five bucks to get me all the week for my school lunches. So I always kind of was told, like, No, you do not ask for more money, because we don't have it. And growing up, it was very common to see my family go through, you know, financial emergencies, but tap into extended family or friends for loans, that was very normal, oh, we have this financial hiccup, we're gonna hit up so and so. And vice versa. And then my parents will be the ones to loan money and back and forth. So that was very much my experience. And in my immigrant household,
Jamila Souffrant 8:44
that's very relatable. So for so many of us, first gen immigrants and that community, you know, of people having to come together, you know, when you don't have a lot of resources, you have to make the most of what you have. And a lot of the resources that we do have while not be may not be money as immigrants is family or connections, if you're lucky enough to find or have a community where you land with that now as you grow up, so you're now going to high school college. What did you think? What did you think you wanted to do? You know, what was your goal? And how did you end up in your career?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 9:15
To be honest, I wasn't sure. My my immigrant parents always instilled in me that I had to go to college to have a better life than they did. But they couldn't offer any guidance beyond that, because they had never been to college themselves. So the goal was always to go to college and graduate but there wasn't a clear picture of what that look like. So career wise, I, I lacked that guidance, but I always knew that I was good, I'm good with math. I liked math. Math was easy to me. And I liked something about the notion of working with money. I didn't know in what capacity I thought I wanted to be a financial planner, then I interned with somebody and I'm like, No, this isn't for me. But I kept getting like images of a bank of me working at a bank. Again, I didn't know when capacity but my very first job straight out of college. I was doing auto insurance claims for Progressive Insurance. So still handling money in some way, right paying people for their auto claim after a car accident, that Job was was, you know, has some interesting stories on that job. Because if you think about it, people aren't like their most happiest after a car accident. So they're just really difficult to work with. And they're screaming at you like you're the one that ran into the back of their car when I was trying to settle my claim. And then, you know, after that, I finally switched to industries because I just didn't feel professionally fulfilled. I had an econ degree from my Bachelor's, and I'm like, This doesn't feel like I'm putting my econ degree to use. So I switched to investment consulting. I did that for a little bit. And then I most recently was in investment management, where I specialized in investment performance reporting.
Jamila Souffrant 10:48
And during that time, what were your personal finances? Like I often hear people say that, you know, they're good with math, they have a great maybe career with not with dealing with money, but it doesn't always translate into their personal finances. So what did that look like for you, navigating your personal finances and your career at that time?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 11:07
Not great. And I say not great, because I had a lot of challenges as a young adult in my 20s. You know, even though I was making more money than my immigrant parents ever had, I was still struggling with money. And that was really frustrating to me, because I'm like, Hold on, I did everything, quote, unquote, right. I went to college. I got like a recession proof degree. You know, I have a stable corporate job. Why am I still struggling with money? And yeah, I learned it's because I didn't know how to manage it. I had never been taught how to manage it. And you know, obviously, they don't teach this stuff in school, either. So what that looked like was, you know, having financial emergencies of my own, you know, like having bad bosses, bad work situations, you know, toxic relationships, Nightmare roommate situations that I couldn't get out of, because I didn't have enough money to escape these spaces. So yeah, my 20s were rough, there was a roller coaster.
Jamila Souffrant 12:04
So how did you turn it around? What was the like, point in which you did something different? Yeah,
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 12:09
yeah. I think in my late 20s, I just, I hit this point of just like, why is it so hard? And I recognized Oh, it's because I never was taught money. So then at this point, I'm like, Okay, I can't keep making this excuse of like, well, I don't know how money works, I'm just going to suck for the rest of my life. And I decided to self teach myself how money works. So I think I did, like most people do by just kind of reading a bunch of money, books, all the money books I could get a hold of. And then once I learned what I learned, that's when I'm like, This is unfair, that like some people get taught this at home, and some people don't, and people I don't get screwed over. So that's why I felt the need to like pour back to my community. I lived in Phoenix at the time, and I Googled how can I spread financial literacy to others, and I came across a nonprofit where I could be a pro bono educator.
Jamila Souffrant 12:54
What did you do like so you said, you started to realize and learn management skills for your money? So what were the things that you started to do to turn your money around? And what was your situation? Were you in a lot of debt? Did you have a spending? Like, problem? What? What was your financial kind of snapshot at that point?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 13:12
Yeah, so after learning about money management, through reading over 50, personal finance books, I learned like the power of goal setting, and, you know, coming up with your why, right, because that's gonna was gonna drive you to keep going and making that financial progress. And for me, that's when I had this big dream of traveling the world for a year while I was young, I didn't want to have to wait until a maybe date in the future that may not come right. So many people don't make it you just don't know. Especially with the pandemic, we just saw how things can change very quickly. So that was very much my purpose and what kept me motivated. And I sat down with my money. And I said, All right, how are we going to make this happen? I'm living paycheck to paycheck, but I want to take a year off work. Like that's a big goal. So I put all my ducks in a row. And I saw, okay, I have some debt. You know, I've been pretty passive with my debt. This whole time, I had student loans about 30 $35,000 in student loans. I had a car No, I had some credit card debt. I was making minimum payments, because that's what I thought. That's what I taught you how to do. As long as the bills paid on time, you were being responsible, I didn't realize you were supposed to be more more proactive with your debt. I had no savings, which is why I kept finding myself in these bad situations that I couldn't get out of, I had no savings to get me out. So once I kind of saw what my income was and how my income I was working at the time in San Diego with a very high cost of living, I saw I'm not going to be able to make the progress that I want to make soon with my low pay. I mean, at the time, I think I was making $60,000 and the high cost of living in San Diego. I'm like, Yeah, this I'm just gonna keep running in place. So I talked to my then boyfriend, and I said, What do you think about you know, moving somewhere more affordable, and luckily he was on board. So we left We left San Diego in 2019, sunny San Diego, which a lot of people, they will happily stay in debt. And I don't have a lot of friends that will do that. They just love San Diego. And for me, I'm like, I need to get myself in a better financial foundation. So I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, not too far, I was still driving systems to my family and friends. But that helped tremendously, because the cost of living at the time in Phoenix was much more affordable than it was in San Diego. And I also got a nice pay bump with my new job in Phoenix. So having the additional income, having the lower cost of living really helped me make progress towards building savings and paying off that debt.
Jamila Souffrant 15:37
I love that you share that now with this new job that you took on just because this is an idea or concept that we talk a lot and in personal finance as advice for people like move from high cost of living to a low cost of living, and of course, their hurdles with that, like you said, like, I'd be probably one of those people, maybe it depends on how bad my situation was that I really care about the where, like, I really care about where I live, especially from close to family and friends. So it'd be harder for me to relocate. But for some people, you know, it's not as hard right? And so with that, how did you plan for that? So you it seems like you went to a whole different company? And is that true? Or did you stay with the company? What was that? Like? Was it looking at apartments at the same time, and then also looking for job opportunities. I want to get a little bit into the details of that for people who are now considering, like how they could start thinking about a move like that.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 16:28
Of course, yeah. And I mean, anybody that's considering it, honestly, it's one of the best financial moves I made, no pun intended, like moving from San Diego to Phoenix because I would not be where I'm at had I not made that big change. And, and I would like to acknowledge it's not possible for everybody to move because you have family commitments, you know, legal things going on. But if you are more flexible, and you have the ability to move, I would encourage anybody to look into it. And it doesn't have to be forever. You know, I was only in Phoenix. For two and a half years, I probably could have left after a year and a half. But it was a pandemic. So we stayed a little longer. And look at me now I'm in Chicago, and I love Chicago and Phoenix was rough, you know, because just you know, you're I wasn't surrounded by like minded people, you know, this is very think about the time 2020 2021 Like Trump was in office, like, it's just not what I was used to in California, and I'm born and raised in California. But how was the process? Yeah, I knew that. The easiest way to make the move would be if I had a job in hand, because I had considered what if I just move, try to live off savings and apply. But I'm like, let me try first applying wall here in California, because that way, we'll have to deplete any sort of savings. And I was very lucky that I interviewed that my skill set was marketable, and they actually offered me a job right away. So that was helpful, because then I was able to start my new job in Phoenix look for an apartment. The issue that we had was it wasn't just me, I had a partner, right? I had my my my then boyfriend, my he's my spouse now. But that was tough, because he also did not have financial means to just kind of quit and live off savings. And I wasn't about to, I didn't have money to be able to pay for both our expenses. So he actually had to stay in San Diego that summer. Because he didn't have a job. He could not move to Phoenix until he found a job and it took him a little longer. He's a recruiter. So yeah, eventually he found the job. And eventually he joined me a phoenix. But But yeah, that was that wasn't an easy leave, you know, we and even our relationship was strained because I like I did not sign up for this long distance. He's like, it's six hours, you know, and I'll be there soon. So yeah, that's those are not fun time.
Jamila Souffrant 18:41
Alright, so now you are working in your corporate career, you started your business, kinda your social media accounts on the side sharing personal finance and realize you can't do both. There was a section which is interesting, because I remember when I worked in corporate America, I guess I never I probably wouldn't have been under the same constraints. Because I worked also for I work for an insurance company and the financial investment side of things. And I'm sure they would have been in regulations. I just didn't X any cut and ask permission. I figured out x forgiveness or permission. And so I just kept it separate, right. So you probably did the right thing by probably asking in advance, but I know there are some people who they're like, it's a struggle between, do I share with my job what I'm doing, or just keep it under wraps until they find out and then I'll deal with the consequences if there are any. Then I did have someone who was on the show and you know, they came they work full time and they came on the show to share some content, some information. And they emailed me and said, Well, my job find out about this. So you have to remove the episode. So like things like that do happen, right? For you. What was that like in terms of decision making? What you were just like, I'm just gonna say upfront what I'm doing because I don't want to get in trouble. Like, what was that like?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 19:57
Yeah, I mean, I would have definitely been caught either. Initially, just with the power of tic toc and how I reaches different pockets of the internet, but but Yeah, at first, you know, it was nice because nobody knew who I was when I had like a small following. And I, I call it like my Pharaoh era because I was just able to be unhinged and say whatever I wanted to say, Now I had to filter myself, I have sponsors, I haven't just a party. So it's a very tame down version of what it used to be early days. But yeah, I mean, at the time, I knew that if I did podcast interviews, and if somebody bumped into it, they may be like, Oh, she's like now teaching this stuff. And I knew it wouldn't be a good look. And the thing with me, and I remembered that I had to get approval, because it was sort of like a quarterly reminder, we had assigned something electronically, every quarter of like, remember to report your transactions, remember to report any paid outside work. So I knew I had to report it. And it was a sort of thing that like, it wouldn't be a slap on the wrist, I would have gotten fired. Yeah. And I just knew I didn't want to have that in my employment record.
Jamila Souffrant 20:56
Now, you moved to Chicago was this before after you quit? To become a full time entrepreneur?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 21:01
After I quit? Yeah.
Jamila Souffrant 21:03
Okay. And what prompted that move? Because that's kind of, you know, not as low cost of living as Arizona, and then how Now I would love to get into your entrepreneurship journey and stabilizing your income and what that's like.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 21:16
I love that you asked me that question, because nobody's brought that up. And it's such a good point that that Yeah, right, I left all my friends and community in San Diego to go to Phoenix. And that was very much a sacrifice to get away from that. And also, the weather is not as fabulous as it is in San Diego, there was a lot that we sacrifice to get into a better financial foundation. But again, it was temporary. And then with time, once we had savings once we have paid off debt, you know, we were making more investing in our in our long term investing, we felt we're okay to be able to like live life a little more, you know, because we were, we were just doing the bare minimum, you know, bare minimum needs in Phoenix to get ahead. And once we had that financial foundation, we're like, again, we can breathe a little and live life. And we said, Well, where is that? Where are we going to move to be with like minded community where child free, so we knew we wanted to be like, in a bustling city, you know, surrounded with other young professionals. So So yeah, Chicago is not as cheapest Phoenix was, I would still argue, is cheaper than San Diego, but Chicago just have so much more to offer me as a resident here than than what I got in value from from San Diego. And I'm sorry, what was your coach? He had a follow up question.
Jamila Souffrant 22:29
So it's kind of it was a two parter. And you moved to Chicago? But yeah, why Chicago? And then because that was after you became a full time entrepreneur?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 22:38
That's a good question. And the reason we a big reason why we decided on Chicago was because I still was a little uncertain about my entrepreneurship journey. You know, there was nothing guaranteed. And at the time, I thought, you know, if I fail, and if I don't make, you know, like a livable income off working for myself, and I do need to go back to my corporate career, where is the best place to pick up where I left off, and I identified that a big financial hub like New York, or San Francisco, or Chicago would be a good place to do that. And there's just so many opportunities here for my old corporate career and for my new entrepreneur career, to be able to do that. And that helped me feel more safe, you know, as opposed to if I was I don't know. And let's say, I had moved to Bali. Like, where would I start working? So So yeah, and I had a friends here too. So that helped me feel welcome right away.
Jamila Souffrant 23:30
That's so smart, and strategic. And you know, I think thinking about your life and some of your decisions. I know not every decision. It's almost like you have plan A but there's a plan B in case things don't work. So you kind of like it's almost like you're playing chess with your life and making, seeing how things play out in advance. And okay, if this doesn't work, what's my fallback? And I love thinking about my life, honestly, in that way. I always say like, it's important to strategize and think ahead, even if for the worst case. And if you're okay, with the worst case, let's just say entrepreneurship didn't work out. Okay, I'm in a place in, you know, city, in which my degree will help me land something because I have more chances to do something here. I just think it's really smart. And the other thing I like that you said, I want to highlight, it's a temporary sacrifice. So a lot of times like when we think about doing things with our to get ahead with our finances, or we think it's like deprivation, and we're not thinking about what we get because of it. And we're not thinking that it's temporary. So I love that even though it was maybe a little hard there was adjustment being in Arizona, it leapfrogged you forward and like Look what you were able to accomplish and do and still get back to being in an area that you love being around family and friends more often. So just wanted to point that out.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 24:43
Thank you. I appreciate that. And you know, it's something that I don't talk enough in my socials because I haven't figured out how to talk about it without it being braggy but it really is good motivation for anybody that is in that like deprivation stage paying off debt stage, that like it gets That's better. That's what and I'm living that now. And I'm so thankful for that younger version of myself that put in that work because like now I live in a high rise in Chicago that I paid way too much money for. I know we pay too much in rent, but we're happy to do it because we know we can afford it. We have doormen that take care of us. And this is just something that that 20 year old Gio that was reading through all these financial hardships could have never even dreamt up.
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Jamila Souffrant 27:16
Going from your steady paychecks I know you had like a what we call fu fun. That's what I like leaned on when I jumped into entrepreneurship because I'm like, wow, okay, before I was making these steady paychecks, now I'm gonna have to replace that or at least get to a point where our family is okay. So for you now, what was it like now that you quit your full time in entrepreneurship? How did you adjust if there was an adjustment at all to getting, you know, full time paychecks that you expected versus the sometimes just instability of entrepreneurship income?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 27:48
Yeah, something that made it easier for me to take the leap was besides having 14 months and my savings, because again, I was squirreling money away for this round the world trip. I also had very low living expenses, because I just had a very basic frugal life, I think my expenses at the time, or $2,000. And honestly, it might have been 1800, it was pretty low. For my portion of you know, I do have the privilege of splitting expenses with somebody else. I also would like to acknowledge that up until recently, I was pretty healthy. You know, because I know that people depending on what sort of chronic issues, they have medications, they may not be able to take that leap. So at the time, I was pretty healthy, and I felt comfortable taking that leap. So yeah, I think at the time I even though I had 14 months of my living expenses, I didn't want to go through the whole money, trying to make entrepreneurship happen. I told myself, I'm gonna give myself six months to see how I do with this, I will clear out six months of my savings and see what happens. And about three months and I'm like, Ooh, there's opportunity here, keep going. And I kept going and now I'm happy to share I was recently able to repay myself those six months and restart my little sabbatical fun for some time in the future.
Jamila Souffrant 28:58
Yeah, well, I was going to ask about debt that trip, which we can like kind of get to later about you kind of delaying it to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. But what that looks like. So you've also shared, you kind of alluded to it just now about like your health, right, like health, there are so many parts of our lives that impact how we navigate our life and our finances. And so yes, there's a privilege of being healthy without any medical bills. There's no privilege of having family support. Right. And so when we're the land if you need help, or a partner that health healthcare that then you you know, as an entrepreneur like myself, then don't need to search for health care with that you shared about your health journey recently. So can you share what that looked like and how that did impact your finances and your business itself?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 29:47
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So Jamila is referring to a video I posted on my socials about how I had a hysterectomy in March of this year. So for anybody that doesn't know hysterectomy Mi is a procedure where they remove your uterus. And the reason they removed my uterus is because I had pretty large uterine fibroids, which are very common in women. I think the statistic is that 80% of women, over their lifetime will have uterine fibroids. And I know that they're very prevalent in the black community. They run strong in my family. So I knew it was just a matter of time until these fibroids caught up to me, I just didn't think they would catch me at 33. Most of the women in my family got them in like their late 30s or early 40s. So I was a bit early. But that came out of nowhere, because I didn't have any symptoms until I landed in the ER one day. And even the doctors were like dumbfounded that they're like you really didn't have any symptoms or any pain. I'm like, nope, not until I came to the ER. So yeah, I went to the ER and they told me you need surgery in a month. And I said, Hold on, I'm writing a book, I don't have time for surgery. And they said you need to get this thing out. Because it's kind of concerning how logic went without you noticing. They're concerned that I could be cancerous. Thank God it wasn't. But yeah, that was very much, you know, a curveball that was thrown at me. And I was dealing with a lot, you know, mentally and emotionally and physically when I had my surgery because I actually had to get an abdominal incision. For lat hysterectomy. They can do smaller cuts, but but with how big it was, they had to remove it entirely intact if it was cancerous. So I basically had a C section with no baby, instead of giving birth to a baby. I had my little uterine baby, fibroid removed and my uterus.
Jamila Souffrant 31:35
And I've had three C sections. So I know that's painful. That's very painful. And the recovery. Yes,
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 31:42
yeah. I have so much respect for for women. And you know, that was a big reason why I was child free, because I didn't want to go through like the birthing process or a C section. And I still happen to me, but But yeah, it's I, anybody who has listening knows how tough of a recovery that is. And it was tough because you know, since I do work for myself, I no longer get paid time off for for six weeks, six to eight week recovery, for me to feel all healed up. And on top of that it was during what's a very profitable month for US financial educators, it was during financial literacy month in April. So again, losing potential income, big income from that month, and then also not having any sort of supplemental income to carmy during my pay time, during unpaid time off. So yeah, so like I said, there it was, it was tough, a tough spring, for sure, dealing with a lot mentally, emotionally, physically. But I'm so thankful that financially, I did not have to worry, because I had things in place to support me if something like this had happened, I had a health savings account to help pay for medical costs tax free. I have health insurance that was able to cover a lot of this. And then I also had my emergency fund to cover that unpaid time off. And I tallied up my expenses. I think I spent about $4,000, I spent two nights in the hospital and it was a big surgery had follow up care. And even though it was a lot, I mean, who wants to pay $4,000 on medical expenses, it still didn't put me into debt. It didn't set me back financially. So I'm really thankful that I took ownership of my money journey and took care of myself my future self should things like this happen. Yeah.
Jamila Souffrant 33:29
You mentioned you know, the possible or the loss, potentially, that you had of income during that time. And you know, I think a lot of people push off doing things for their health because it's never the right time, right? Like even now I'm thinking oh my gosh, I need to like make those doctor's appointments. But I'm in Book Launch Mode. And you know, I got one who has time but you need to make time because, you know, just like with finances right? And when you try to push things away or put on the backburner, you're going to have to confront it sooner or later. And the more you push it off like the possibly worse things can be when you do now when you're ready to confront it or when it can't even be hidden anymore because the problem is there. So I just think there's a lot of correlation there between people with like avoiding money and people avoiding what they need to do for their health. Because sometimes it's an I hate to say it's too late it's never too late in my opinion, but for health reasons sometimes it can be if you put things off too long before you take accountability or at least you look into it so I do want to just say that I know that it's not the same for everyone and there are people who have less health stability and things in place to help them take time off or to look and value their health. But that is so important because without being healthy without understanding what you need to physically like move about in the world and be functioning it can impact you so much more like down the road.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 34:52
Yeah, health as well. You know, so none of the money in the matter it money. None of the money in the world matters and we don't have our house so I hear you, I'm the same way Jamila, that I'm really busy. And I'm like, I don't have time for my exams. I don't have time for my dental appointment. But But we got to make time because otherwise, like you said, stuff catches up to you.
Jamila Souffrant 35:09
Right, right. The other thing you mentioned that I want to talk about, because I know so many people deal with this is boundaries with family and friends as financial boundaries, general boundaries, and you've been pretty open about navigating your relationships. So I'd love for you to explore us to talk about what that looked like for you. As you were starting to become more financially astute, you know, how did that impact your personal relationships, and then we can talk about boundaries.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 35:41
Yeah, boundaries are hard. Especially if you come from like a very close knit family, like I do as as a Latina, we value family. And that closest to each other, knowing what's going on with the other person knowing that you can depend on each other should you need to. But as I started learning about how money worked, I learned that in order for me to be my best self, and to be able to support others in the future, I had to put my oxygen mask first. And I had to make sure I was okay. And I learned that I couldn't keep pouring out of this empty cup, you know, so, like I mentioned in the beginning of the podcast episode, I grew up or it was very normal for money to be exchanged amongst family for whatever sort of emergencies. And I partake in that sort of culture a long time. But I decided that there had to be, like a limit. Right? And that's when boundaries came in. And, and that was really hard, you know, because family expected me to do it all, you know, if there was an unexpected medical expense, I was the one that was reached out to because hey, you have good credit, right? That means you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, can we charge the surgery for so and so on this credit card? Or, hey, I need money because this broke down? Can you send me you know, a check. So the younger version of me would cave in and do all these things, because I was taught that was instilled that that's how you show up for family. But as I learned more about money, I said, you know, this, this isn't helping me get better with money. And it's actually leading me to like resenting my family, because I feel that I'm being held back. So I finally mastered, how to set those financial boundaries with family, I now only do it when I want to, and when I have the financial means to, and that means that sometimes people aren't happy, because they expect you to bow down as a daughter or as a niece or as a granddaughter and open your your checkbook, but I've had to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And yeah, anytime you set any sort of boundaries with with family, it can be a little uncomfortable, because we're like, hey, like, you're not being a good daughter, or like you're not being a good family member. And you just kind of have to remind yourself that you're taking care of you so that you can be stronger later.
Jamila Souffrant 37:59
Do you have maybe any checks for yourself in place that you can share? Like when you shared them already, like when you can and when you're comfortable doing it, but any other ways in which you evaluate helping like someone that is coming to you? Because yeah, I feel like one other thing we can maybe discuss, that's the opposite end of this is when we like I'm a hyper independent person. And so I don't ask people or a lot of people for things and you know, I get it on my own and, or there's a small group of people where it's like, okay, I need the support. Like, it's not financial, it's just like really emotionally right? With that said, if I get those a hint, whether it's family or friends, but mostly family, if I get there's a hint of any dependency on me like that it might be coming down the road, or that you're being friendly. Because in the future, you may want this, like, then I, you know, I don't know, if I overthink it, or if I try to stop it before it happens. But I realized that some of my relationships, I've stopped from growing with family members, because I don't want to ever be put in that position. I'm like, Well, if I don't talk to you ever, or if I talk to you once a year, there's no way you're going to reach out and ask me for money because like, we're not that close. And that's not necessarily a good thing, right? Like that might be something I need to unpack in therapy. But it's like, I think there are a lot of people who feel that way. Like they they they close themselves off from maybe family members or relationships in general, because they don't want to feel you know, the obligation or they don't want to have to say no. And so I think talking about this is important because you couldn't be missing out on important relationships and meaningful relationships because a person may not ask you for anything. Or if they do you have to be okay with saying no and not feeling bad. You could feel bad about it, but knowing that you're not a bad person, if you say no. So for you, how are you like in real time or in like this feeling or processing the feelings that come along with saying no to family and Yeah, anything else that you want to share on that?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 39:54
Yeah, sure. And first, I want to piggyback on your point on kind of like holding back because you anticipate They ask. And I do want to say like, it can feel beautiful to give and support others when it's on your terms. But it's when your arm is being twisted, that it just doesn't feel good. And it eventually leads to resentment. And I have found myself to closing off in the sense where, you know, before I would have shared with family, I got this really cool projects, and they're paying me X amount, and I'm really excited. And now I don't, because I know you're gonna buy, oh, she's got money. And you know, I have money, but I also have a life of my own, I have my own financial goals, I have business expenses, you know, so all they see is like, Oh, she's got money, you know, so so I can totally really relate to that. Something that I keep in mind besides like, do I want to? And am I financially able to, I also will ask myself, Is this like a life or death situation? You know, so, recently, my grandfather was hospitalized, you know, so for me, it's like, they need the help, because this is his is a medical issue. And he's really bad. Another thing I'll keep in mind is, well, how are they doing with their own financial choices? You know, and some people may see this as a sign of disrespect. They see it as like, no, like, you show up for family, you don't question what they're doing. I disagree. I'm from a different, just camp. And that's I own that. But for example, you know, I'll have people hit me up for money, people with vacation homes. So I don't have I don't even have one home. And not definitely don't have vacation home. And I've told the same family members, hey, maybe it's time to downsize and get rid of this vacation home that you don't even go to anymore? Because you don't have time. You know, so So yeah, so situations like that when I'm being tapped on the shoulder for financial support, but like you're not making smarter financial choices, even after I've given you some guidance, knowing that I know how this stuff works. You're still blowing me off. I'm like, now you you need a budget? That's what you need.
Jamila Souffrant 41:48
Right, right. Well, I mean, that's those are valid, definitely. Things ask for. And again, there's the I think, between whether it's, you know, your culture, no matter where you're from, or even just that age dynamic, where, if you're grown in a place or in a family in which you know, be adult No, like, this is how it works. And you're not supposed to question it. And if you do, again, it's disrespectful, or You're upsetting the course of things that can be a shock to family structures, or that are used to doing things one way and I think that's really hard. It's harder than People sometimes talk about, and then PACs, even how you make money, I would say that there's probably some people listening who can probably thrive more, but also stop themselves from thriving. So not even just like, having connections with family, they stopped but thriving in their lives, because they don't want to be the one that people you know, I've seen that. They don't want to be the one people depend on or they don't want to be the responsible one. You know, I think that they don't want to be the survivor. You know, survivor's guilt in the other sense of the fashion that now I have to take care of it. So I'd rather not, I'd rather just kind of be like, like everyone else.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 42:58
Yeah, that's not good. Yeah. Cuz I think at that point, that person has to master how to be comfortable with those boundaries, because it's an act of self care, right, like, of prioritizing your needs, you know, because it is beautiful to give to others, but you can't forget about yourself along the way.
Jamila Souffrant 43:14
Right. So where are you now with your personal finances and your financial journey? Do you feel like you have it figured out? Are you still learning? What are you doing for yourself to make sure that you can take that chip that you've put off before?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 43:29
Yeah, yeah, sure. So I think it'll help to kind of paint a picture of you know, life when I had my w two job. So before, when I had my stable corporate job, the goal was to build a lot of savings and to resign. And then to go back to my corporate career, because actually, surprisingly, really liked what I did. In my old job. A lot of people hate their corporate job. I actually really like my job. And my boss and my co workers and the company I was at. The other thing that was a big financial priority. When I had my corporate job was early retirement. I was very much I believe you're a part of the fire movement to write Jamila. Yes. Yeah. So my Yeah, my fire. Yeah, I was going to retire at 45. Like I was, I had everything projected and ready to go. And that was actually a big reason why I also was resistant to entrepreneurship, because I'm like, Hold on, I have like a clear path to retirement at 45. And now I'm taking a completely different road, which I don't know where it's going to lead. You know, what's been surprising is now that I work for myself, I don't feel that strong desire as much to like, retire at 45 Because I love what I do. And yeah, I mean, don't get me wrong. I do not want to be doing this until I'm 70. I definitely would like to retire before then. But I think now if I get to do this kind of work, if I do it through 5055 I think I'd be okay, honestly, or maybe part time doing it part time. So that's changed, that's changed. I've eased off the gas pedal on heavy retirement contributions. I think at my highest I was contributing 35% of my income. Right now. I think I'm doing 20% 20% of my income interest. retirement? And then do I feel that I'm like, set? No, hi, I feel that I'm secure. I feel that I'm secure in the sense that I have savings, I probably have a 10 month emergency fund, I have an emergency fund for my business. We don't have any debt. We have our investing portfolio, right, our retirement portfolio, which again, that'll probably at this current array, it'll probably get me to retire. Yeah, I'd say 5560. I'd love to maybe purchase a rental property at some point. So that's something that we haven't made progress on. We just started and then that other big goal of of Yeah, a possible sabbatical, you know, I'm still figuring out what that's gonna look like whether I do take some time away from this entrepreneur job for a little bit, and then maybe go back to it. Or, you know, I would love to be able to keep doing this abroad. I have a lot of friends that have online businesses abroad, and to go to Spain for a year or Italy for a year and have this lifestyle. So we'll see, we'll see where life takes me.
Jamila Souffrant 45:59
Yeah, well, it I think that's the beauty of the journey to what you explained is that with more stability, and the way that you earn money, so there's a flexibility in the way that you earn money now, like it's not tied to being at a desk or for a boss, like you are your own boss, which is not always a good thing. But it's helpful, because then you can, you can then decide, like if you want, like you just said like you ease up on investing because you you enjoy your lifestyle. Now you enjoy the balance of work. And you know, fun. And I think a lot of people, what pushes them to financial the fire movement will push me to it is because the balance is not there. It's a lot of work, not a lot of fun, you're not enjoying time and the time and energy freedom that you want. And so what as you start the journey, as you get closer to that, whether you find something that you love, but then you're also making enough money to satisfy your lifestyle needs and financial goals, you can start like thinking about, Okay, do I want you know, do I actually want to put all my money and wait, because I think investing aggressively. And this early retirement goal that you had, that I once had, and I still kind of have it I'm so going to achieve it still puts off living your life a bit, right? Just like if someone's waiting until they're 65 to quit their job, like you said, like, not everyone, like makes it Life is short. Right. And so I think that's such so important that you learn to live life now. And find that sweet point of like, loving what you do, or at least enjoying it, where you don't hate it. And then making money and making enough money to save and invest for the future, but then also provide for your lifestyle needs.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 47:31
Yeah, and it's gonna look different for everybody, because we all have different values, different goals. But yeah, finding your own sweet spot is what's going to help you.
Jamila Souffrant 47:38
So Gigi, please tell us I know you're working on a book. It's going to come out in January. I want to hear more about it. And then like, what what are you going to be? What are you doing where people can find out more about you?
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 47:48
You're so sweet. Thanks to Mila. Yeah, so you can learn more about me on my website, the first gen mentor.com. All my socials are tagged there. I'm on tik, Tok, LinkedIn, and Instagram. And if you go to my book is called Kaltura, and cash. So if you go to Kaltura, and cash.com, you can sign up for a waitlist to be notified when the book launches in January. And I would like to give a shout out to Jamila, who gave me an advanced praise for the book and it's supporting the launch. So thank you so much, Jamila.
Jamila Souffrant 48:17
Yes, I cannot wait to you know, get my hands on the physical copy. You sent me the PDF already. And it's great. And so I'm really just wishing you the best. And yeah, I mean, you'll be hearing a lot more from Gigi. I think so keep a lookout for her. And we'll tag all her socials and what she mentioned the book, all that in the show notes. So thank you again, Gigi.
Giovanna "Gigi" Gonzaléz 48:37
Yeah, thank you again for having me on. I told you that. When I went to my first fin con in 2021, you were one of the mainstage speakers. And you were so inspiring to me that was just getting started. And I love seeing you shine. I'm so excited for your upcoming book. And thank you for inviting me into your space.
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