How Teachers Can Reach Financial Independence & Build Wealth With Rose Mendonca

Episode Number: 361

Episode 361: How Teachers Can Reach Financial Independence & Build Wealth With Rose Mendonca

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How Teachers Can Reach Financial Independence & Build Wealth With Rose Mendonca

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Rose Mendonca, educator and financial enthusiast joins the Journey to Launch podcast to talk about her mission: helping all educators create wealth and the retirement of their dreams.

Rose is a serial entrepreneur and founded Teacher Talks Money when she realized educators need more guidance, support, and literacy surrounding their finances and retirement options.

Our conversation delves into topics such as Rose’s decision to pay off her mortgage, the importance of optimizing earning potential early in a teaching career, how teachers can create wealth and more!

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • Why you need to consider the “golden handcuffs” of pension and time if you’re considering moving districts as a teacher
  • Retirement options for teachers and the differences between a 403b and a 457
  • Ways teachers can leverage their in-classroom skills to earn more money
  • How teachers can invest with a limited income, strategically picking your school district, the power of investigating other interests + more! 

Check out the video to this episode below or on YouTube by clicking here.

Episode 361: How Teachers Can Reach Financial Independence & Build Wealth With Rose Mendonca Share on X

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Rose Mendonca 0:00

Teachers can achieve financial freedom they can they absolutely can. Our pensions are our superpower. Our pensions are not going to carry us through. We definitely need investments in a 403 b or Roth IRA or real estate, we definitely need to have other things on the side. But having guaranteed income for your lifetime, there's nothing better than that.

Intro 0:26

T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the Journey To Launch podcast with your host, Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave Journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest, and build real wealth. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

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

Jamila Souffrant 1:39

Hey, hey, hey journeyers. I'm really excited to bring you this conversation I have on rolls Mendonsa. She is an educator and financial expert with over 30 plus years of experience. She is a licensed teacher and school counselor on a mission to help all educators create wealth and the retirement of their dreams. She also created teachers talk money to help educators understand their pension options, and create a plan for wealth. I'm so excited to talk to Rose because as most of you know if you've been listening to me for a while. I love teachers, my husband is a teacher. And I just think that anytime that I can educate or help teachers understand how much power they hold, and how they can also have a rich life. I'm excited to do that. So I want to welcome you to the podcast rose.

Rose Mendonca 2:31

Thank you. I'm so excited to be here and have this opportunity to speak with you.

Jamila Souffrant 2:36

Yeah. So rose, please tell me a little bit about how you got started in teaching like your career. And then what woke you up to needing to be better with your money? Or what led you to this role of being someone who talks about money in this way?

Rose Mendonca 2:50

Yeah, definitely. So I grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, which is an urban city outside of Austin. I grew up in an immigrant family. So both my parents were immigrants from the Azores Islands, which are off the coast of Portugal. So I was first gen go to college, I always worked really hard, was a great student got a scholarship went off to UMass Amherst. I grew up in a home where my dad didn't work. He was retired early because he had a major accident. And my mom worked. But then she too, was retired when computers came in. She was a seamstress in the mills, right, because Lowell was a mill town. But then when all the work went elsewhere, she was retired too. Luckily, my parents owned their home outright. Like my dad paid cash for everything. So I grew up in a family where everything was cash. I never saw our credit card until I landed on a college campus. So you can imagine where that went. But I grew up in a family where everything was cash. The one thing I do remember clearly, which I did not like is that my mom always had to ask my dad for money. And I think that comes from just that traditional background. But I always remembered that as a woman, and I did not like it. Because my mother worked yet my dad controlled all the finances all the time. So I didn't really learn much about money that's just like a memory that I have. I was always a hard worker, though. So like, even through college, I worked two and three jobs. I was always working, but I never had any money. So because I was at that time, very much a spender. I just wanted to fit in and I wanted to have things and even in high school, I saved enough money to buy my first car cash. So I've always been like, not a saver but like a spender, but I would save them money to spend if that makes any sense. So as you can imagine, in college, I got into a lot of credit card debt because at that time this was in the early 90s Credit card companies could be on campuses, they were giving away all kinds of stuff. I mean, at one point, my husband jokes all the time. He's like you had 27 credit cards, he's like, are you insane? Because they just throw them at you. And it just becomes so easy. And at that point in my life, I was an intelligent person, but I knew nothing about money. I knew nothing about how money worked at all, like I had no idea about investing, or you know, what it meant to buy a house or like how all these pieces kind of work together. And then I became a teacher. And I started my career in actually Brooklyn, New York and Bedford Stuyvesant at the school called the Benjamin Banneker Academy, which was at that time, what they call a new vision school. And I had to teach kids entrepreneurship. So they sent me off to this, which was kind of a turning point really sent me off to this class to learn how to teach students how to start their own businesses. And I came away with like, I should start my own business. I'm like, so while I was helping my students start a cafe in our school, which, by the way, earned enough money to send them to Mexico for a couple of weeks. I also started my own business at that time, which was an after school program called Lighthouse Learning Center, which did an after school program and also did a summer program. And I earned enough money from that venture to actually put the downpayment on my house that I bought in Massachusetts. After I had my first child, we moved back to Massachusetts, which my husband's from New York, but I'm from Massachusetts. So we moved back here. And I got a job teaching at Lowell High School, which was the high school that I graduated from. And, you know, just one day, one day in the teachers room, right? Because this is where teachers find out information is in the teachers room. There was this teacher, Miss Wilson, and she was like, Oh, my 403 B is doing awesome. I'm going to retire this year. And I looked at her and I was like, What's a 403? B? And why do you need one? You know, and that was like my first introduction to that. And I was, what, 32 years old, maybe a third, like in my early 30s. And she's like, oh, yeah, you need a 403 b. So she's like, this is how teachers invest for the future to complement their pensions like I had never, you know, I knew we had a pension. But I never knew that there was this other vehicle that you could use to gain money and eventually financial independence. So in our teachers mailboxes, right, as I'm sure you know, these companies put these little will at that time, they would put postcards, they don't do postcards anymore. But they used to put these little postcards and like the one we used to get all the time was from AXA. Now it's called Exit back then it was something else, but it was, it's EXA. So I signed up, because I didn't know any different, right? I didn't know we actually had options. And they presented it like this is the 403 B vehicle, right? This is how you do it. And then as I started to read more, and I educated myself more, I realized I made a big mistake. And it was good, because I caught it like within I think two or three years, and ended up switching everything that I had and exa to Fidelity, which is the other. We have several companies that are offered to us. But fidelity is the best in terms of fees for low cost fees and variety of investing. So from there, then I found out about a Roth IRA. So then I opened that. So I made my husband do the same. And then I decided, You know what, I need to learn more about this stuff. I got really involved with it, because like I'm a teacher, right? What do teachers do we learn, right? And I actually had gone to see a Certified Financial Planner, in the intro of all this. And he really didn't want to help me. Like, it just made me upset because he just met with me. But at that time, I didn't have enough assets to make me valuable for him. And that really upset me because I was like, but you could still help me like, figure that stuff out or you know, whatever. But he just kept saying you don't have enough money yet. And then I started thinking, why don't I become a financial planner, so that I can help teachers figure it out, you know what I mean? And then that's when I started taking the CFP courses at BU, and I would go at night, and I just I started really slow, I would take one class a year, trying to have my district pay for it. Then finally they said we can't pay for those anymore, because that's not really related to your job. And I was like, okay, so then I applied for a scholarship, got a scholarship to finish out and I'm kind of coming to the end of that and will soon be preparing to take the national exam to actually be a CFP. And then two years ago, I launched my website teacher talks, money to help teachers, you know, help coach them, because I find that young teachers don't get this information. Our districts and our human resource departments. They're so overwhelmed. I mean, law High School has over 100,000 You know, students in it, it's a huge district. And so teachers just don't get the information like even myself three years ago, like I was poking around in the human resource page on our website. And they had added a 457. And they didn't tell anybody. They didn't. I was like, Are you what, like, I was so mad. I was like, so I signed up for the 457. I have a 457 now, too. And I'm funding that even though, you know, close to the end of my career, and about five years before I retire, but I opened it anyway, because they had a Roth version. And I wanted to be able to put away some of that money that I could pull out, tax free. So it's really been a journey. And the way that I Found You was through a course that I took with Grant sabots here. So he was one of the books that I read, in my journey. Like I've read a lot of books, I could probably critique a lot of books. So he had put this course together, and he had interviewed you, you were one of the people on in the course that he interviewed. And so then I was like, Oh, what's this journey to launch? And then I went to your website, and I, you know, and started listening to your program. So that's, that's where our connection came in. So I think teachers can achieve financial freedom they can they absolutely can. Our pensions are our superpower. Our pensions are not going to carry us through. We definitely need investments in a 403 b or Roth IRA or real estate. We definitely need to have other things on the side. But having guaranteed income for your lifetime, there's nothing better than that.

Jamila Souffrant 11:36

Oh, my gosh. Rose. All right. First of all, I'm just like smiling this whole time listening to your story, because especially when you brought up Brooklyn, because you know, I'm a Brooklyn girl. And I know we're Benjamin Banneker is I do so people who went there?

Rose Mendonca 11:49

You do?

Jamila Souffrant 11:50

Yeah. Like, that's where I grew up in my junior high school high school years. So very familiar with that school. I love that. And did you say your husband was a teacher too?

Rose Mendonca 12:00

He Yep. He started off as a teacher. And then he became a librarian, because he said he didn't want to correct for his entire life. So he was the smart one. And he became a librarian and he still librarian to this day loves it.

Jamila Souffrant 12:12

Oh, wow. Okay, so many places to start here, and a wealth of information that we can share with teachers. And so let's go back a bit. Did you have student loans when you graduated?

Rose Mendonca 12:24

Undergrad, I didn't, because I got scholarships to get me through undergrad. And then I just had this fixation that I wanted to go to Columbia University. I would I was always a good student. And when I came out of high school, I got into an Ivy League school but couldn't go because of the finances. My dad was like, No way. And it's funny, because at that time was $20,000. And my father was like, we don't have $20,000 a year to send you to college. You're not going there. So I went to UMass Amherst. And I didn't have any debt when I graduated from there. But I always had this sense that like, I need to go to an Ivy League school.

Jamila Souffrant 13:02

Is that how you ended up in New York by going to Columbia?

Rose Mendonca 13:05


Jamila Souffrant 13:06

So you always knew you were going to be a teacher? So that's what you went to school for?

Rose Mendonca 13:09


Jamila Souffrant 13:09

Did you consider starting salaries? Or what the cost of your schooling would be at Columbia? versus what you thought you would make as a teacher? Or did you not think about that? At the time?

Rose Mendonca 13:22

I did not think about that at all. And I should have?

Jamila Souffrant 13:27

Yeah, looking back, it seems like a very simple research that you should do. Like if you're going to invest X amount of money to this career. And even if you love it, and it's going to be impactful, how much are you going to be paying for that degree versus how much you can earn? And is it still worth it? And some people may say, Yes, right. But you could have chosen maybe a lower cost school. But I think this is what I urge parents now to consider and have those conversations with their children about, hey, if you want to go into liberal art to be a teacher or social worker, that's great work. But let's consider the school and the cost that you are going to now get or take on in order to have this career that may not be as high paying in the beginning. So I love your transparency there because I think that's a key component of figuring out where you go to school, and then what you want to pay for. And I want to get into this more like details, because I'm always interested in this when you switch from New York to go back to Massachusetts. So did you lose any of the benefits that you had gotten working in New York? Or did any of that transfer, like maybe your years of service or pension? Or did you have to start new again, because you went to a new school district or city?

Rose Mendonca 14:40

I had to start again. I took my money out. There wasn't that much money in that retirement system? Because I'd only been there, I think five years not even. So I took the money. I had to pay tax on it. I took the money that I had put in. When I got to Lowell, I was able to buy back the three years that I worked at a public school So I had to pay that so that I got those years in Massachusetts.

Jamila Souffrant 15:06

Okay, so it is possible. It's one of the things I think about as a teacher. I know some cities and districts have higher ranges or pay, versus others within that also translate to I know New York City, for example, it's higher cost of living, but you may get paid more than if you are in a rural area. And how that works. If you're looking to make a change, will you be able to take some of your years with you and what that looks like, and I'm sure it's different for every baby district, but it's always something I thought about.

Rose Mendonca 15:34

Yeah, that's what makes it difficult is that and why a lot of people don't move around as a teacher, unfortunately, like it does limit you, although this younger generation doesn't seem to care. So I'm thinking that the rules are going to slowly start to change. But, you know, it's like the golden handcuffs, right, you have to stay in your district for X amount of years, to really benefit from the state pension system, here and where I am in Massachusetts, you have to get to 30 years to like, really make it worth your while. Obviously, people leave at 20 years, or they even leave at 10. But your pension is considerably less.

Jamila Souffrant 16:15

Right, right. Let's go into a bit about the options you have as a teacher, because when I discovered from listening to another podcast, who had teachers on it, and the both the husband and wife were teachers, and he was discussing that they weren't frugal for the most part. So they weren't earning a lot. But I think combined, they were earning six figures, and then they were frugal, but he talked about maxing out the four, three B and then a 457. And I never knew a 457 even existed, I do want to define these terms, just because there might be people listening who don't know where they are. So let's just go through what if you've already explained what the four three b is? And that's the pre tax retirement account, usually given through the I guess, school or district and the teacher association that you work through? And then there's also a 457 plan? Can you explain what that is?

Rose Mendonca 17:06

Yes, and a 457 is very similar to a 403. B. But the key, the key differences is that you can have a Roth option, so you can put money into it after tax. So when you go to take that money, you don't you won't be paying taxes on it, which is a really big benefit. And also, if you leave your school district, you can take that money with you penalty free as well. That's the key there, you know, and a four three B doesn't have that.

Jamila Souffrant 17:38

Right? And it's still pre tax, and the limit is higher than if you went to like an outside Roth IRA. Right?

Rose Mendonca 17:44


Jamila Souffrant 17:45

Because it acts as I forgot, you know, I'm not up to speed on the latest Max contributions for pre tax retirement accounts. Do you know what they are? Right now? In 2023?

Rose Mendonca 17:55

Yeah, for for 20. For 2023, it was 22,500. And in 2024, is going to be 23,000. So that's, that's an amazing because a four, three B, you can put 23,000 in that. But you can also put 23,000 in a 457. And a lot of people don't know that. Because a Roth IRA, you can only put 7000.

Right? So it's a big difference.

Jamila Souffrant 18:21

It is and the Roth IRA is also a after tax investment. And you know, there are a couple of things here. So you most people like even me, when I worked in corporate America, I only had access to one pre tax retirement plan where at that time when I was working, I think the contribution limit was 18,501 of the ways when my husband and I saved the amount of money we save in two years we saved and invested 169,000 is because in those two years, I maxed out my retirement plan at work my 401 K, and then he maxed out his four, three B plan and his 457 plan. And we chose to keep those pre tax. So that was times three, our ability to not only shield our money from taxes, because it was pre tax, it was then allowed us to use these powerful vehicles to invest. And I think if I was someone listening, you know, I'd say, well, wow, those limits are high. But that would also depend on the income you make. Because sure, if I had $46,000 to put away assume I was earning enough that I can live off the rest of that. And you know, I do want to talk a bit about teachers and their income, and how that works for maybe someone listening and saying, Well, yeah, those are great strategies. But how am I going to max that out? If I barely earn 46,000 to begin with? Let's talk a little bit about that.

Rose Mendonca 19:41

Yeah, absolutely. So I want to say first off that I didn't start out maxing it out. I started contributing in my early 30s $50 a week. And then every time I got a raise, I would double it. At this point, I'm now maxing it out but at that time, I did not max it out nearly because my salary was lower, I had a mortgage still at that time, I think the important thing to remember is make it a priority in whatever financial situation you're in, because you need the time for money to grow. And I think a lot of teachers, young teachers especially don't know these things exist, and they start too late. So I don't think it's so much the amount, I think it's more the consistency, because like, once you start it, and then I always tell young teachers start with 50 bucks, and you won't even miss 50 bucks pre tax. And then when you get comfortable with that, go to 100. You know what I mean, and then you get a raise, double it to 200. And the way that I've been able to do it, obviously, having a partner helps, as you know, because the way we did it in our family, is I worked my way up to maxing mine out. But my husband has never maxed out his he has his, but he's never maxed it out, you know, we have upped it through the years. And we're going to try to get him to max his out before he retires. But mine has always been maxed out. And then we've maxed out the Roth IRAs, because you put significantly less than to those. And the 457, I'll never max out because there's just not enough income there. And then another thing to take into consideration too, is, you know, I've always tutored on the side, I've always done extra jobs in order to make up that money that is going into these retirement accounts. So it's doable, but you you do have to finagle your finances like you either have to really cut back on your expenditures, or you have to have like these little side jobs, like I know teachers who have a landscaping business or teachers who do summer camps or you know what I mean? Like you have to make that savings a priority in your life and you go after it. It can be done.

Jamila Souffrant 21:53

Yeah, so I love that you talked about it's more about the consistency than the actual amount. When you're definitely when you first start as a single person as like a teacher or someone who's not combining their money with someone else because you could be partnered up but you're not combining things or commingling money, right and separate, then the strategy of doing what you can. And even as a family, and you still need to just do what you can. But let's just say like you said, you're contributing $50 a week to our a four, three B, would you also recommend that they look into their state sponsored 457 plan to also put in 50, simultaneously, or 25? And 25? What is your opinion on that?

Rose Mendonca 22:37

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, nobody ever says I saved too much. I have never heard those words in my entire life. No one has ever said, I have saved too much. It's always I haven't saved enough. So whatever vehicles you have available to you, I think you most definitely should use. And the pre tax is great because it lowers your tax bracket now. And that's one of the things that we were using as a tax strategy. Because my husband, I both teachers, we you know, eventually we started making six figures, as you know, and we needed a way to bring our taxes down. And if you have a 457 with a Roth option, and you can create a pot a pool of money that you can go into later, tax free. Yes, please do that.

Jamila Souffrant 23:24

Yeah. So also the strategy that if you are a teacher, but you're married to someone who maybe has a higher earning potential and or makes more, which is kind of the situation with myself and my husband, we could afford to max out his retirement plans to 457 and 403 B, that did cut his check in half. But we also had my income to help supplement, right. So obviously, that takes talking and being on the same page. And you really have to be a team in that scenario, because maybe someone's putting more money in their retirement account and not as much into the other person's. But if you are obviously hopefully staying together, and that's the plan, that it does benefit you as a whole and as a family. So just something to think about as a teacher, like maybe you don't learn a lot, but maybe you have a partner who does. You guys just trust each other. You guys are working together financially. And so you maxing out your retirement plans available to you even though it reduces your income. If you're combining everything as a household. If you can live off or more on lean on the other income, that might be a strategy to help you reduce your taxable income to

Rose Mendonca 24:32

Yes, absolutely.

Jamila Souffrant 24:34

Now, when we talk about maxing out our earnings or our income potential as a teacher, I totally agree. So that's one of the things my husband does or did more of when when we had less responsibilities with the kids. But it was summer school after school coaching and you know, he was able to really earn more. So what are other ways that teachers can learn leverage their skills, whether it is outside the school system, so starting new businesses based on their skill sets, or going back and getting certificates, because I know that's one thing he did where he is at his max potential based on his master's degree and all the courses and classes he took, let's just go over how teachers can make more money.

Rose Mendonca 25:20

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, obviously, the number one is work in a district that's highly paid. I work in a district that's highly paid in Massachusetts, Massachusetts is one of the states that pays their teachers fairly well. The other thing, and I always tell young teachers, you need to get as much education as you can under your belt within the first 10 years, because that moves you all the way to the end of that pay scale. And then you get your yearly incremental as you go, but eventually, you're going to hit a block. So you need to be over on the pay scale. As far as you can, obviously, a PhD is the highest or a doctorate. And I don't have that I have a Master's plus 60. But I've had a master's plus 60, since I was in my late 20s. So I've always been at that upper end of the pay scale. And so every year that you're getting more raises, that's more money that you're making, and you're already maxed out on your steps. So I always tell teachers, that's the first way, and you do it as cheap as you can, or as frugal as you can. Most districts like our district gives us $1,000 a year, or you look for free things that will get you that same credit, whatever you can do to minimize your out of pocket expenses and taking those classes. And you know, sometimes the district will offer you a lower rate as well, because they have partnerships with local colleges. So go seek those things. I've even had friends who have like, traded these $1,000 with one another. Like, if they're not using it, they'll give it to someone else. And people have gotten master's degrees from that. So that's the first way. The second way is obviously being entrepreneurial. Like I said, I have friends who have landscaping, business, snow plowing business, I had a tutoring business, I had a learning center. You know, at one point, I even tried to do a swimwear company that failed, went bankrupt, we'll leave that for another time. But like, you know, so there's all kinds of things and like, it's a journey in that now I'm doing, you know, financial coaching for educators. And I've also had, you know, jobs on the side, like, I used to sell shoes on commission at Nordstroms. I mean, I've done so many different things. Again, it's really about making savings a priority and having that desire to one day, be financially free, and not be on anyone else's time clock, and actually be able to enjoy the money that you've accumulated over the years and have it work for you instead of the other way around.

Jamila Souffrant 28:00

Yeah, and you know, some of this stuff, it might take, like you said, a few years to complete, but you got to put it in motion, you have to be proactive, because whether you like it or not, the time is gonna pass anyway. And so you can be you know, feeling like I'm not earning enough, you don't have the degree or classes behind you to help demand puts you at that higher pay skill. And so it's time to look forward and say, well, in five years, I want to be able to be at the top pay scale or closer to the top, here's what I need to do and create a plan for that. Instead of feeling like oh, there's nothing I can do. I just earned this as a teacher because my husband earns good money, really good money in New York City as a teacher, because he has his master's and he got his straight out of his bachelor program, and took all those courses. So it's just something I encourage all teachers who are listening, especially if you're younger, and you're just starting out to put yourself in a position. So that when you are in your 30s and 40s, where you have maybe more responsibility because a family or the other things happening in your life, you taking care of that other stuff first, but I don't want to leave the older teachers out, you know, people who didn't know this didn't start doing this in their 20s or maybe switched careers to be a teacher, there's still hope. There's still things you can do, you can do the same thing that we're talking about. Right?

Rose Mendonca 29:18

Absolutely. And hopefully for those older teachers there, they've been paying down their mortgage. And that's another thing I like to share with people. One way that that I structured what I did for my children is I paid off my mortgage before my children started college, because because I had student loans and my husband had student loans and thank God they were forgiven this year. Yeah, who are gone. We paid off our mortgage on our house prior to our oldest son going to college. And so, you know, and then we took that money and paid for him to go to a state school because I didn't want him to have any student loans. And I'm doing the same thing with my second son I'm sure trying to pay as he goes. So just something to throw out there for people to think about. I did that by refinancing into a 15 year mortgage, and then hustling to pay that payment, and just getting it done.

Jamila Souffrant 30:13

Right. And of course, doing the math and making sure you know rates for me to when I did that refinancing to a 15 year was because rates were so low that even when I took money out, it was fine to do that and kept my mortgage the same as it was before. The other thing I just want to know in terms of teachers making money. I think teachers are the best entrepreneurs. And usually whatever they pick to do, even in the personal finance space, a lot of the people who I really love the way they talk about money, they were teachers like Tiffany the budget Nisa, I always give her props on her ability to teach and connect with her audience. Because, you know, she was a preschool teacher. And I think that she does that same thing, I think when she talks to us or to people, and I'm like, exactly, and that's why people love her, because she just gives off this caring vibe. And she can teach complicated things and make it simple for people, which is what people want. And then I know this episode is probably gonna come out a few weeks or months after we are actually recording it. But I today I want to my daughters, they had a Thanksgiving celebration into the classroom, and it was so organized like the classroom and the things that these teachers are doing and their parents too. And I'm like, how are you? A parent yourself. And then you have to come in here and do all this like, but I was just so impressed. And I'm like, using any bit of their brain or creativity or organization power into something else, they do well, because things that for me would be overwhelming, like I can't do it. I don't even know how to start to make this room look this way they know how to do so I just want to encourage teachers that you probably have a very what you don't consider a significant skill set that a lot of people don't have, that can be monetized to help supplement what you're doing and then eventually maybe take over what you're doing, if that's a better route for you to take.

Rose Mendonca 31:58

Absolutely. I mean, I think about my own journey when I start to reflect back. I've done so many different things and like even you know, three years ago, I acquired a condo, actually two condos that we now Airbnb. I never thought I would Airbnb, two condos. But here we are. We're Airbnb, two condos, and I'm hoping to have them paid off before we retire. And then they'll provide extra cash flow for us in our retirement. At least that's the plan for now. And I agree wholeheartedly with you like so many times people just say, Well, I'm just a teacher. And it's like, no, you're not just a teacher. Teachers, like you said, have so much creativity like we we have business mindsets, like we can do anything we have entrepreneurial. And you know why? Because we love to learn, most teachers who love to learn, will go out through curiosity and seek things out like, do you think in my late 20s, I ever thought that I was going to go into the finance world like to become a CFP. Not in your life. I studied English literature, you know, like, I didn't know that, like you don't know where the world is going to take you. But if you have that sense of curiosity, and you just want to learn, then the world is open to you. Like I remember sitting in classes at BU Boston University with all these financial planners from Schwab fidelity, like all these big names, Vanguard, and these companies were paying for these people to get their CFP and they would get up and they'd be like, Yes, I'm, you know, I love the law. And I'd get up and I'd be like, Yeah, I'm a school counselor and teacher. And they'd look at me like, What are you doing in this class? But the reality is, is that all people need to know that information. All people need to know about life insurance, all people need to know about investment vehicles, all people need to know about mortgages and how they work. We all need to know this information.

Jamila Souffrant 33:54

Yeah, and I love how so I talked about this in the book, your journey to financial freedom, about hyperlinks, and clicking on the hyperlinks in your life. And really, it's just no a term, or way to describe being curious. And I think some people are not primed to be curious or know that that's a missing character trait that they're not looking into things are inquisitive or asking questions, or problem solvers. And I feel like teachers are so primed to be that way so that you just have to have the confidence in yourself to say, okay, I can apply what I'm doing in this classroom, to my life to being an inquisitive about my life. I don't have to give up on myself and my dreams, just because I am a teacher. You know, there's other things I may want to pursue. So I just, I just feel like because you're more prime because you have that mindset of learning that clicking on hyperlinks, going down a rabbit holes following the next best step, even if you make a wrong step, that you'll be able to recover because of that curiosity and inquisitiveness that you have naturally as a learner and as a teacher. I want to talk a bit now about your student loan forgiveness, because I think that is also something that teachers need to make sure that they are looking into to see if it applies to them. What was your process? What are some tips for teachers who say, Well, I still have loans? And maybe I need to look into the loan forgiveness program?

Rose Mendonca 35:19

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, for a long time, like my husband, and I deferred our loans, which, you know, we needed to do in terms of like, we had a growing family, and we were had a mortgage and all these things. So we would defer the loans which of course, made them balloon even more. But we both worked in urban districts. So under the Obama administration, when he came in, and he created public service, loan forgiveness, I was the one that certified every year, like I would get the papers, fill them out, there were papers, physical papers that you had to fill out, and then have your school district sign off that you've been a teacher. And then I would do the same for my husband. And I'd say, Go get the signed, and then I would submit them. And I religiously did that for years and years and years. And then COVID hit right and everybody was sent home, the student loans were put on pause, everybody's like, yeah, who not for COVID, but for the student loans being on. And then that's when you know, the younger generation, you gotta give it to them became very vocal about the student loan debacle, because it really is a debacle. And they changed companies, whatever. And then I got a notice in the mail, like I was getting ready for our student loans to start again. And we both got notices in the mail that said, your loans have been forgiven. And I was like, What a relief. So all those years of paying and also getting that certification done every year, had added up all those 120 payments that we had to make. And like, it's a game changer when you don't have student loans.

Jamila Souffrant 36:58

Right? Did you have to submit anything officially to request it or it just look back at what you did previously and automatically forgave them?

Rose Mendonca 37:07

I did have to fill out a form, which I think it just ended in October, there was a form that you had to fill out requesting your loans to be forgiven. And I didn't even think our loans would be forgiven because I thought we had still more payments that we had to make. But under their new rules and regulations, I guess it had been long enough. I mean, my husband and I are both in our 50s now, and these loans were for when we were in our 20s.

Jamila Souffrant 37:32

Do you have any advice for people who did not do what you did and did not keep track of payment or did certifications missed out on that October deadline to submit for forgiveness? I know there are there things still in the work and changing and this might come out in a couple months. But anything for people who want to see that you can get something forgiven.

Rose Mendonca 37:54

My advice would be to start with the federal government website and see what's posted there or go back into who their student loan provider was originally, and contact them and see where they are in the process. I also would give a shout out to Adam Minsky, he is a lawyer out of Boston, and he is like, you know, self proclaimed student loan guru. But he really is. And he's actually the one that helped my husband and I get on the right payment plan. Because that was the other craziness. Like they had 6000 payment plans like nobody knew what payment plan they should be on. You know what I mean? It was very difficult to to figure that out. Again, being a learner investigating things, I stumbled upon his blog, and then spoke to him. And he's the one that actually helped us. And I forget how much money we paid him, it was so well worth it. I think we paid him maybe $600. And he put us on the right plan, we stuck to the plan. And he said get these forms filled out every year, we did it. And now we have student loan forgiveness. But it's not too late because the program is still in flux. So if you're a teacher, and I still tell teachers right now, get on that website, fill out every form you can find, you know what I mean? Because you never know what is going to transpire. And if you want a little more extra guidance, go to somebody like Adam Minsky, who really knows the program inside out. And he's always keeping up on the changes that the administration is doing because Biden is putting his own spin on things too.

Jamila Souffrant 39:26

Yeah, I also recommend student loan planner. So Travis has been on the podcast I think two times and he's also someone that I feel like I can safely recommend to people in terms of knowing their stuff, whether it's his videos or articles and he keeps up to date with all the latest changes in government around that. So I would definitely check out student loan And we'll link some of my previous episodes with him. I know some of it will be outdated based on where we are now but it's still super helpful to look into how you can really manage your student loans and hopefully get them forgiven. And I know some of this is going to take time and more effort than we really want to do. Like, we just want to live our lives like hide, when we come home, like now we have to call this place or on our break, we got to do this thing. But imagine, though, that, you know, maybe it takes you less add up all the minutes, and maybe it takes two hours, stretched over a month to figure this out. But that leads you to getting 2030 $100,000 worth of loans forgiven or have a different plan or strategy. That's helpful. It's worth it. It's worth the time and energy to do it. So just do it. Just just take the time, figure it out and do it.

Rose Mendonca 40:41

Yep, absolutely. Well worth it. I mean, when I was doing all that certification stuff, like I had no idea my loans would ever be forgiven. I was just hopeful that things would turn around. I mean, I was even just hopeful when the Obama administration created it, I was like, Oh, my God, like, this might actually be a path out of this crushing debt. So there's still hope. And they're still trying to iron it all out. Because I think the political people have realized that you cannot put this amount of debt on people and then expect them to afford a mortgage or buy cars, raise a family, it's finally dawned on them that like, no, no, we can't do this. So they have to give people a path out.

Jamila Souffrant 41:26

Talk to me about your real estate. So I love how you just said, okay, and I have condos, you know, paid off our mortgage. How did you get into real estate investing? How did you find or have the additional money to put down to do that, and whatever investment it took, because I know that is a pathway that people do want to explore? And at what stage should they do that? Should they make sure they're at least investing a certain amount in their four, three B or 457 plan first, before moving on to real estate, or something they can explore in tandem.

Rose Mendonca 41:57

I mean, I think it's something they definitely can explore in tandem. But again, I didn't come to real estate till much later in my life. And to be honest, my husband got an inheritance from one of his parents passing away. And then we were in a better position financially at that time to put the downpayment down on this condo, it's not something that I was actually really searching for. But like, again, being an inquisitive person, I'm always looking at real estate, things that are available units that are available, whatever. And one day, it was actually during COVID 2020. When I was just looking online, and I saw this little condo at the beach, that was like five minutes from Seabrook beach. And it was relatively cheap, it was only listed for $120,000. And I was like, Wow, I wonder like, I think we could probably afford that, you know, and then we could Airbnb it and make some money. That's really how we stumbled into that. One thing I wish I had done when I was younger, if I had no more when I was younger, is maybe bought a two family or a three family and lived in one unit and rented out the others. I wish I had had more foresight to do that. But yeah, I mean, real estate is definitely something that complements any financial plan. But again, it's a lot of work, you get benefit from it, but it's a lot of work. So you have to be prepared for that. So I definitely think like if you're interested in real estate, like I've always liked houses I've always liked, you know, I am a licensed real estate agent, even though I've never really done it. Because, you know, I just like to learn things. But like, yeah, if you enjoy that, definitely, you know, explore it, because you're building equity. That was the word I was searching for earlier. Right? So you are building equity, at the same time you're providing yourself cash flow, so you're getting the best of both worlds there. But again, we wouldn't have been able to do that if we hadn't received that small inheritance. But for people who don't receive an inheritance, you can make that part of your financial plan. Like, you know, we had to put down I think it was $30,000 on that condo. So you save that money. Like if that's like, you know, your plan, then like make that one of your priorities and save that money so that you can then invest in real estate. So there's a variety of ways that you can do it. I'm not a real estate expert by any means. But if that's something that interests you, I mean, go like, again, go after it, you know, make it a priority.

Jamila Souffrant 44:24

And I was listening to podcasts like this on my commute. And even if I didn't know all the steps you took to buy property, but I just heard they wow, like she has a condo. It would it would make me inspire to say okay, you know what, let me do some research and start to think about how if I needed a down pay, how much downpayment I could afford and how much how much house I could afford if this was an investment. If I had the time to do it like this would prompt me on a rabbit hole that I would go down because I was excited to hear someone who you know is not an expert but just loves learning, and I was able to do it so I think that will be really inspiring. I mean, the last thing I want to ask you about since you do have kids and they are older, it seems because once in college when seemingly about to go to college is this inquisitive nature? This? I feel like drive that you had, you know, always having a job starting side hustles, you know seeming to really be a self starter? How are you instilling that? Or how did you instill that in your kids? Because one of my issues or what I think a lot of us parents, who now have more than we did when we were growing up is like, the reason why we got here is because of that lack or not knowing and making the mistakes and having to have jobs at 14 and work hard and have student loans, that this is what kind of created us into this self driven person that we are but how do we teach our kids that when they have a little bit more cushion? And they have mom and dad helping them pay for college? What are you doing to make sure your kids have that drive or are inquisitive and, and learners.

Rose Mendonca 45:56

When my first son graduated from college, my husband and I said, now you have to start once he got his full time job, you have to start paying rent, which he wasn't happy about. And mind you it was only like $500 or something but wasn't much for my husband, I wanted to instill in him that yes, you're still living at home. But you're now an adult, like you're a full fledged adult, and you're going to have real bills in life. So it's time for you to start practicing what it means to have to take care of yourself. That's one way that we've tried to I mean, still make it reasonable. Like he just recently purchased a new car, he needed a new car. And so now he has that bill that he's responsible for. But mind you his first car we bought for him outright as a gift. And then he totaled it, but that's another story. But then you said, now you have to buy your own car, like we already bought you a car. So now you have to step up. And I'm still paying for his younger brother to go to college. So I mean, that's one way like I think we do, we do give our kids the world, right. I mean, we've been hard workers all our lives. And so we've been able to provide for them. And I was adamant about providing my kids a college education. But after that, it's kind of on them, they have to they can look to our example, neither one of my children are very entrepreneurial. My older one may be in the sense because he's an artist, so I'm hoping that he, you know, eventually will sell his art and find his path. That way. My younger son not really has no interest, at least at this point. You know, he's studying cybersecurity, he loves computers, he spends the majority of his life on computer. So he doesn't really seem to care. And we've had them help us with the condos because we have to clean them, you know, turn them over and stuff like that. So they know what is required of having real estate. They want no part of it, like at least at this juncture. They're in their early 20s. So it may come along later on. Hopefully we're sowing the seeds with them. So like we're showing them like these are paths they can take later in life. But right now, they're young. And again, I didn't have a condo when I was 20 either. So.

Jamila Souffrant 48:18

Yeah, well, Rose, please tell people more about teacher talks money, and where they can find you.

Rose Mendonca 48:27

So they can find me at teacher talks, they can set up a free discovery call with me where we can talk through where they're at right now. And we can put some strategies in place for them. And again, that really grew out of just I've been doing this kind of work for free in my school buildings. Because I've kind of became known as the go to person when in regards to pensions and money. And I kind of got this, like, I don't know if it's a good or bad reputation, but I was always talking about money. And they're like, oh, yeah, go ask girls. She'll know that. So. And then one day, one of my friends just said to me, you know, you really should start a business because you're you've learned all this information through the years and you've put in a lot of effort. And it's not. You really should be charging people to help them with their financial plans, because the information you're giving them is very valuable.

Jamila Souffrant 49:21


Rose Mendonca 49:22

So that's where where teacher talks money kind of came out of there. And I was ready to just start another venture and I'm about five years from my retirement and I'm hoping that I can continue with teacher tax money as a way to supplement my my pension as we go into retirement.

Jamila Souffrant 49:39

Yeah, I was going to ask you if everyone in your district or your school comes to you, and you help people all over right, all teachers not just in your district or state. You can help teachers all over.

Rose Mendonca 49:49


Jamila Souffrant 49:50

I absolutely love this. The other thing I will say about yourself and I'm not surprised that you have had this success in your life is you know, ran something like this bulk strategy, where if you bought both books you can advertise on the podcast or in my newsletter, and then use the books to do that. And Ross was one of the first people who reached out for her small business to advertise and get bulk books. And what struck a chord just now as you were talking was, it seems like you definitely not only invest, time to learn and energy to learn, but you also invest money in yourself and doesn't have to be like a lot. But it seems like you're willing to bet on yourself, and to do things to help move you forward. And it's a skill set also, that I feel you have to have discernment. And you might make mistakes. So you might not get the return. You always want when you make an investment. But it's something I feel like I relate to in you where there's an opportunity, let me look into this opportunity. Why not try it if you know, like, I'm not going to lose my my life savings, but it's something I can do to potentially put me further ahead. And so I just want to bring that out, because I thought that's pretty remarkable. And it's not surprising that you've had this success in your life. So I just want to thank you for coming on the show. Can you say your website and socials one more time for everyone?

Rose Mendonca 51:08

It's teacher talks And at teacher talks money on Instagram. And I also just want to give a shout out to my husband, because when I heard you talking about making that investment in myself, we've done it together, you know, he's always been my greatest supporter. And I've had many failures too along the way. I mean, even in my early 20s, I was forced to file bankruptcy. And this is probably one of the first times I've ever said that publicly. Because I was ashamed of it for a very, very long time. But I just want people to know out there that when you go through those failures, there's success on the other end, too. And we have to forgive ourselves and move on. Because that's the only way you get to the good stuff, or the better stuff. And there's a lot to learn. Depending on what your circumstances are and where you're coming from, or the education that you've received, or the parents that you've had. There's so many different things that you learn and then so many things that you don't know because of where you've come from. So it's just really important to just keep going and keep that open mind and bet on yourself. Absolutely bet on yourself every time and are you always gonna win? Absolutely not. You're gonna fail over and over. But you know what, eventually you will succeed.

Jamila Souffrant 52:31

Oh, Rose, thank you so much.

Outro 52:35

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