How Ariana Paid Off $68K Of Credit Card Debt, Quit Her Job & Found A Budgeting System That Worked

Episode Number: 382

Episode 382: How Ariana Paid Off $68K Of Credit Card Debt, Quit Her Job & Found A Budgeting System That Worked REWIND

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How Ariana Paid Off $68K Of Credit Card Debt, Quit Her Job & Found A Budgeting System That Worked

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This week we are rewinding to Ariana Rodriguez’s episode, who joined the Journey To Launch podcast to talk about her experience on the Netflix documentary, “Get Smart With Money” and how she was able to turn her finances around.

We chat about how she used her skills to begin a side hustle, that eventually allowed her to quit her job, the power of forgiving yourself of past money mistakes, automating your money and more.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The internal struggle and mindset that plays a role in the cycle of debt and debt repayment
  • How Ariana pivoted from an education career to tech project management in order to increase her income 
  • Leveraging skills for side hustles to speed up the debt payment process
  • What the “should lifestyle” is and why it keeps people stuck in the debt system
  • Why financial freedom is possible and attainable at any level + more
Episode 382: How Ariana Paid Off $68K Of Credit Card Debt, Quit Her Job & Found A Budgeting System That Worked REWIND Share on X

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Ariana Rodriguez 0:02

My process throughout all of this, right? Like, figuring out my money has really allowed me to keep that line of communication really open and honest, versus, like, previously, I would just say yes to everything and not really be able to afford it. Now I'm really able to, like, just have that conversation in a healthy way.

Intro 0:23

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. 54321,

hey, hey, hey. Journeyers,

Jamila Souffrant 0:51

welcome to the journey to launch podcast. I'm your host. Jamila souffrant, I hope you've been enjoying these episodes. I've been toying around and basically doing a summer rewind episode. So these were episodes that were previously aired on the podcast, but that were mentioned as case studies or references in my book, Your journey to financial freedom. We had episodes based on debt payoff, financial independence, and now I'm just gonna sprinkle in some fan favorite episodes and some of my personal faves, so you're gonna hear some of those episodes for the next couple weeks. I really hope you've been enjoying what you've been listening to. If you want to check out my book, which I hope you've already gotten, but if not, that's fine. You can pick it up now, head over to your journey to financial to see where you can find it. It's available everywhere, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Barnes and Noble, your local book store, basically everywhere. Head over to your journey to financial to pick up the book now. Happy listening. And I hope you enjoy these episodes. 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 an OG journeyer or brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes to listen to, stages to go through to reach financial freedom resources and so much more. You can go to journey to

Jamila Souffrant 2:33

to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode. Hey, hey, journeyers. I'm excited for this conversation, and that's because I have a long time journeyer, fellow journeyer on the podcast, who listens to the podcast, who's been a part of the journeyer community for so long, and she has been able to do so much with her life and finances. I just learned just now that she was able to quit her job, which I'm just like, amazed that, and I can't wait to get more into her story, but we have on Ariana Rodriguez on the podcast. Welcome Ariana,

Ariana Rodriguez 3:10

thank you. I'm so excited to be here. Jamila, yes, okay, so

Jamila Souffrant 3:14

I have to give some backstory so people can see, like, why I'm so excited and why I think your story is going to be amazing to tell. But I know you listened to the podcast for a long time, but we had a conversation because I was starting one of my programs that I no longer do, but it was a high touch, high ticket coaching program, and our Ariana was like, one of the first people who joined, because we had our call where I was trying to figure out if you would be a good fit. And I was just like, wow, like she is on the verge of doing so well, and it's just, she's just, she just needs a little hand holding and direction to get where she wants to be with her finances. And so you did the program with me, then you joined the money launch Club, which also is no longer in existence, but that was my membership community about just coming together and like, helping people on a monthly basis with their finances. And then most recently, what I saw about you, which made me say, Wait a second, we got to get Ariana on the podcast, is because I saw you were featured in the Netflix documentary get smart with money, which was all about personal finance experts. So they featured four, one of them being Tiffany Alicia, also known as the budget Easter. And they were helping, I think was four people or four, four sets of people, you included, to help them with their money. And she was your coach. And I watched it, and I was like, Oh my gosh, I have to have Ariana on the podcast, because, you know, you talked about your story of getting out of debt. I think at that time you you might have gotten out of it, but maybe you're at the tail end of it. And I was just like, with all the history that we have, like, it's time for Ariana to come on the show and tell her story. So that's why I'm so excited that you're here. Yay. I'm

Ariana Rodriguez 4:52

so excited to be here. Uh, okay, so

Jamila Souffrant 4:54

where do we start? All right, let's go back. Let's go back just a bit, because for you, and you talked about this. On the documentary, debt has been your, I think the external barrier for you feeling like reaching your goals, but what they dove into, and what I realized about your story when I first spoke with you was like it was really an internal mindset issue and roadblock about why you were in debt and getting into debt. So can you just put us in the beginning of where you started with, like, your debt and what your personal finance situation was when you first started into this journey? Yeah,

Ariana Rodriguez 5:28

so I have been in debt for as long as I can remember, right? So I went to a very expensive college, left with a ton of student loan debt. I graduated in 2010 so like, at that tail end of that 28 2008 2010 recession, and was lucky enough to get, like, a job pretty quickly after I graduated. But like, it wasn't a great paying job. I made, like, what, $35,000 a year, which in New York, New Jersey, which is where I'm from, is like next to nothing, you know. But my job was in Brooklyn, and I lived in New Jersey, so I wound up moving to an apartment that I couldn't really afford, but that put me a little bit closer to work, and then it kind of things spiraled right, like I was in an apartment that I had to pay all these expenses for, plus my student loans, plus everything else that kind of comes with living in New York on A very low salary. So credit cards became that crutch to kind of help continue to pay for my life. And then things kind of ballooned. From there, I took some time off of work. I went back to work. I, you know, I didn't wind up making, like, a really decent salary until, like, a few years ago. And I remember thinking like that throughout that entire time, like, if I just didn't have this debt or this credit card debt, I would feel so much freer, right? Like I always felt like an anchor holding a ship down, like it always felt like an anchor holding me down, and like not letting me actually live the life that I wanted to live, but I didn't know how to get out of it, because I was never making the money that I needed to actually pay everything that I needed to pay. So

Jamila Souffrant 7:01

at what point I want to go back to what you majored in in college, and then what that job was, because I do want to talk a bit about how you started to increase your income in your when you did have your job. I majored

Ariana Rodriguez 7:12

in sociology and education, and I was started working as a counselor in high school, and then I kind of stayed in education for a few years, and then when I realized that education was kind of forcing me to pick a master's program, either in social work or teaching that I didn't want to kind of continue down, I like pivoted and started working in business administration. So, like, I started working in the admin field, doing EA work, project management work. Eventually landed a job in a project management department where I became, like an operations manager. But like that trajectory took, I don't know, like seven years,

Jamila Souffrant 7:51

seven years, and so I think it's interesting, because so many people have maybe a degree that they no longer want to pursue, or they realize now that, wow, this is the potential of earning money here is not that great. And I do want to pivot. And it sounds like you just kept building on your skill sets, from being in the teaching or administration field within the education system to then working in systems, because then, like you did, get to move into the tech side of things, right? Which, which was a lot more money. Yes.

Ariana Rodriguez 8:20

So I still worked as an operations manager for a hospital, and then I the majority of the projects that I worked on were implementing tech solutions to kind of help streamline operations, right? And then, like, slowly but surely, like, something that I learned in your program is, like, there is a limit to how frugal you can be in your life. But there's really no limit to how much money you can earn. So I started looking for potential, like, part time side income, just to kind of supplement the money that was coming in, and then to supplement also, like, to be able to pay off the debt faster, right? Like, I finally was making a decent salary. I was like, I'm finally able to, like, make a dent in this debt. Being hired by the hospital doubled my salary, pretty much from where I was a couple of years before that. At that point, I had two kids, like we had, I had to have maternity leave. There was a lot of things going on that, like I just needed more money coming in. So I started doing some virtual assistant work, leveraging, like, the skills that I had built up with all the administration work that I had beforehand, and that was bringing in some decent money, and then that's kind of where I started with Tiffany, like, that's why I, like me and her at the very beginning, were talking about, like, that's extra $700 a month that I was bringing in. And then slowly but surely, like, that kind of morphed into virtual system work to kind of streamlining online business owners operations. So I really lean heavily into the operations work that I had learned and was able to apply that to like online business owners, and then eventually, kind of scale my offers and my own like business so that I could leave my job.

Jamila Souffrant 9:59

Um, yeah, well, that's the thing. So you recently were able to quit your job, and here's what I love about this. So are you debt free now or still working on getting out of the credit card debt?

Ariana Rodriguez 10:09

I have about like, $2,000 left, which I'm hoping to pay off by the end of October.

Jamila Souffrant 10:14

Okay, so I feel like this. So for those of you who have not watched the get smart with money documentary, it's on Netflix. Go check that out. But what I love to promote here is that, and I always say this, is that you don't have to have a million dollars, you don't have to be debt free completely. You don't even have to have everything figured out or fixed in your life. Like, hello, I don't have everything figured out. I know it looks like that sometimes, but I do not. And the freedom that you are now able to have in your life like you your job. I think you had said they wanted you to come back, that you were remote for the for the pandemic, and then they wanted you to come back into the office, but it was like a two hour commute. I can relate. Yeah, it was two hours each way, each way, right? And but because you started this journey to financial independence and freedom, and you started making headway again, not perfect. Still had debt, still had the mindset issues. You were able to not go back to work because you put these things in place. So that's why, like, freedom is attainable at any level, or at least an option to do something different. So I love that about your story.

Ariana Rodriguez 11:14

Thank you. And honestly, like, I never would have even thought about going. I had always wanted to, like, create my own business, but because in our immigrant communities, businesses are like brick and mortar businesses. Like, I never had the capital to have like a brick and mortar business, right? Like, I never knew what I would do with a brick and mortar business, and I didn't want to be tied to a location for 12 hours a day, right? And, like, I didn't realize that I had the flexibility to kind of create my own thing until I started experimenting with this idea of, like, a side hustle and virtual assistant. And like, it wasn't supposed to really go anywhere. It was gonna be just for, like, what, a year or so to help me pay off money my debt faster. And then it became this whole other monster that I am now, like, in love with, and allows me to work from home without having to commute anywhere and, like, play with my kids, or, like, you know, take the day off if I need to love

Jamila Souffrant 12:05

it. So you said immigrant community. So you are from the Dominican Republic, and I'd love to to also just talk about that, like, what that money mindset was like, or how growing up in your family and the dynamic, what that meant and how it shaped your money mindset.

Ariana Rodriguez 12:20

Yeah, so, I mean, I said I mentioned it in the documentary, but a lot of it was my parents were really hard working, and, like, worked, like, I don't know, 12 hours a day, like, my father would leave the house at four o'clock in the morning, come back at like, seven o'clock at night. And my mom also had, like, really long hours. And then the money that came in was more of a well, we've just had a really hard week. We've just worked all of this, all of these hours. Like, let's enjoy it, right? Like, let's go out to dinner, let's go shopping. Let's do this. You know, I deserve to have x, y and z, because look at everything that I've done, right? I still remember, like, my my mom, like, painting our house ourselves to save money, right? Like, it wasn't like we were, like, living extravagantly, but they allowed for a lot of these splurges that, like, looking back as an adult, I see that I now do also, right, like I now, like, can justify almost any splurge. Like, I'm like, you know, I'm gonna order dinner for tonight because I'm tired. I had a long day. And, like, while that dinner maybe, but like, that dinner now is because we have a family, it's now like $70 right? It's no longer like a $20 peak, so that I'm buying, right? So, like, those kind of things, like, really start to add up. And I realized that, like, I caught myself saying, I've had a really hard week, or patting myself on the back and saying, like, you know, you did this, and this was great, so let's do, let's buy this, or let's go on vacation. And it's like, while all of that is so much fun and great, it was also, like, adding to, like, my depth, because I was being really avoidant with it. I wasn't like, trying to, like, look at it in the face and, like, actually address it. I was saying, instead of looking at the debt, I'm going to pat myself to the back, or, like, say that I deserve this, you know, this, like, 30, $40 thing that's gonna bring me, like, happiness for all of, like, three seconds. Yeah,

Jamila Souffrant 14:17

isn't that interesting? And I I understand it. I've done it. I still do it in some regards, like, oh, you know, I'm tired. I deserve it. I want this thing. And when you weigh the satisfaction of today versus the benefit of what could be tomorrow, like most people pick today, most people pick to be comfortable in the moment, which is actually, like, psychological, it's actually human. Like, that's human nature to want to do that, but we have to. And I think obviously you're learning this, you're doing this is there has to be, like, a balance right, between figuring out what is that worth. And I think it's important to note too, the system is set up this way, right for you to be stuck in it, you know, to be so tired after work or from your long commute that you don't want to come. Clean or do anything, so you outsource that, which, by the way, if you can't afford to outsource those things, I'm actually fully with that, but it's also encouraging people to do that before they actually can afford it. That keeps them stuck within the system, 1,000%

Ariana Rodriguez 15:15

and like I found that I was doing that a lot, and it just made it so much harder, right? Like you, you're told that, like, you can do it all and you can outsource. You can, like, order dinner and get a housekeeper and go on these great vacations, or that you should be doing all of these things, right, that your kids need to be a part of like, 15 extracurricular activities, or you need to jam pack your weekends with things that you're doing and trying to keep up with that. Like, should lifestyle, especially when, like, I'm living in a very high cost of living area, right? Like New Jersey, New York are, like, extremely expensive to live in to begin with. To then add all of that stuff on top of it, it feels crippling, and then you feel like a bad person for not being able to do all of it and keep up with it and like that kind of those feelings of, like, shame and like, well, what's wrong with me that I can't do this when everybody else around me is doing it? Like, helped to keep me in debt. Yeah,

Jamila Souffrant 16:11

and I think too, if it's especially if you're surrounded with people who what they value, or what they show outwardly that they celebrate and value, are those things. This is what I'm sure happened for you, because it happened for me. It happened for me. Once I started to immerse myself with people and podcasts and blogs where they were valuing different things, like I'm actually valuing the fact that I can quit my job in a year or two years, or valuing that our investment portfolio is half a million dollars, like that kind of stuff. Then I realized it's even though, in the moment around certain people, it feels like it's a service not to your kids to have the latest sneakers or the buy from the ice cream truck every day. But then when you think about the bigger picture of what you're actually doing it for, you're like, oh, wait a second, like the Flex, the Flex is actually bigger than that, what I'm trying to accomplish and what I'm actually doing. And so something

Ariana Rodriguez 16:59

that I do want to say about that is that I for whatever reason, like I would see that and sometimes still get down on myself, like, why am I not there? And like, I would find that I would still shame myself for not being as far along as I want it to be right. Like, I can't. I couldn't afford to put more money in my retirement account. So, like, my retirement account is pretty modest right now I couldn't afford to put a lot of money into savings, so my savings account, especially now that I'm like, working for myself, has gone down a little bit. But like, even, like, those flexes, or like, I was in debt, and I was afraid of what it would feel like to like be in debt and then work for myself, right, and not have that dual income that I had gotten accustomed to, those feelings of shame still kind of carried with me, and it's not until, like recently that I'm like Ariana, but you quit your job, you created a new business for yourself, or like Ariana, like you were able to create a retirement account. Like, no matter how small it is, you have a retirement account that will take care of you when you decide to retire, like, even if you can't retire early, you're not going to be reliant on your kids to support your lifestyle, right? So, like, those little things, those mindset shifts, have really kind of like, revolutionized how I'm seeing my finances well. I'm

Jamila Souffrant 18:16

so glad you said that, because it actually it also points to how personal and relative this is, because I know for you now, since you just quit your job, and you know you're figuring out this entrepreneurship path and like, that's a time I know, when I first started doing it and still doing it, figuring this out is, you know, you're investing back into the business. You may be pausing on the saving, investing, paying down debt, aggressively, because you're actually doing something. You're investing in yourself and your business, right? And so that is something where, if you're in that stage, even if you cannot, that's why I say to people, too, even though we're talking about paying off debt, investing, saving, you may not be able to do that right now, but you are at least paying for your lifestyle in terms of your expenses. Let's just say somebody sacrificed to be at home or to take a part time job, to be able to pick up their kids and or not to do certain things. Like, that's a flex to me, too. Like, if you are living and surviving surviving first level, like, that's a flex, and then you'll start to thrive as you move further along. So I want to get into a bit more about the debt situation, if you can remember, like, the height of where you were with your debt. And then what made you start to realize, like, you know, I don't want to continue this cycle that I meant, because you could have just said, Hey, I might as well just do what everyone else is doing. Just kind of keep charging and being on this the cycle. Yeah, the cycle.

Ariana Rodriguez 19:35

The height of it was probably when I met you. It was about $65,000 for credit card debt, plus, like my student loans, which I still haven't touched right when I say that I have only a couple $1,000 left, it's like credit card debt, not student loan debt, but I had tried to get out of debt numerous times. I tried to put myself on a budget. I tried to reduce my. Bending. I had tried a lot of different things, and, like, there were a few things happening. One, I just wasn't making enough money, right. Like, that was, I realized now that that was, like, the biggest issue that I had, right? I was not making enough money to support my lifestyle and pay down debt. But also, like, I was carrying around, like, this sense of perfectionism, that if my budget wasn't perfect then, like, what's the point? Right? Like, why am I even bothering? Like, I messed up, so, like, the whole budget for the whole month is out the window, and that's something that we worked on a lot, is like me being okay with not being perfect and making mistakes and forgiving those mistakes, and then later on, it became like continuing to hold shame over my past decisions and not forgiving my past decisions, of charging things and like, getting myself in the situation that I was in. But like, what really started to change my mind was having kids. So like, when I first met you, Sebastian was a baby, and it was so different thinking about having to take care of myself and like being like, well, I'll figure it out I always have, and then shifting that mindset to now, like I'm in charge of making sure that this child has everything they need to thrive. And I don't want them to feel like they don't like they're lacking in anything, right? And even though he was a baby and like, babies don't necessarily need that much to thrive. I wanted to make sure that I was going to set him up to have everything that that I wanted him to have as a child, right growing up and like, there was no way that me living my life the way that I was living it was going to give him the lifestyle that I wanted to give him. That's when I finally was like, I need to make some kind of change to be able to do what I wanted right, to be able to make sure that he had everything that I wanted him to have. And then, like, part of the way working with you, I want getting pregnant with my with my second child, Elena, and that's when, like, I paused, like, the aggressive debt payoff, and, like, started saving for maternity leave. But like, because of our work together, like, I was able to, like, fully fund a six month maternity leave. So, like that was, like, impressive as hell. It just somehow, like I didn't think that I for whatever reason, it just didn't like that didn't stick as well as it wanted it to have stuck. After we stopped working together, things shifted, and it became like a lot of like late night Amazon target purchases, like during nursing sessions, or like, the kids need x, y and z. So like it my expenses shifted from things focused on me to then things focused to the kids, and it was easier to justify that. So like, even that had to, like that mindset shift had to change a little bit, right,

Jamila Souffrant 22:33

which kind of shows you that that's why it's like you're always a work in progress, because you might have, you know, put a band aid, or fix this one thing you think, but then it spurts out or shows in another area. And I always say, like, it's not about being perfect, it's about having the confidence in yourself too, that you'll make the mistake, but that you'll figure it out no matter what the mistake is. And there's no mistake that could put you in a spot where you're ruined, like you can always come back from it,

Ariana Rodriguez 22:59

yeah. And that's, I think the most important thing is that you can always come back from it, right? And that was something that I didn't necessarily always believe was possible for me. I didn't know that if I would ever get out of the debt as much as I wanted to. I think I was holding myself back by being like, this is insurmountable. And when Tiffany and I started working together for the documentary, a lot of the work that we did was like reframing, like she had said it in the movie, but like really reframing how I saw myself and my past decisions, and saying that like you made those decisions, but it's not really. It's not like you made those decisions from a place of, like, I want to leave a time back you made those decisions out of a place of, I'm trying to make sure that like me and my family have the life that I want. It was all rooted from a good place, but it's a matter of like balancing that with, like paying off the debt and like making sure that we are getting, like a full picture of, like my finances, versus just like me, kind of buying things at the moment to kind of make help us get by. So a lot of the work that we did was really about, like, me forgiving myself and my past mistakes, and then kind of being able to be like, Okay, now that I'm actually making enough money and being able to actually save this, I am in a much better place, and I'm able to kind of continue to grow and like, I now have the tools to kind of like implement this money system that, like she helped me create, no matter what my circumstances are,

Jamila Souffrant 24:24

and it sounds like, and I really do feel like most people go through this, and this was with money decisions, any past thing, maybe that's not turning out the way that you wanted it to. It's just like there's this moment of relieving yourself of guilt and shame, and one of the ways you do that is to show and to know that it's not all your fault. And so I think there's a balance right. Like you don't want to go into complete victim mode, but I think you need to also acknowledge like that maybe there were some things out of your control, and to have the compassion for yourself for those things. But you can't stay there, because if you stay. A place like that, then it's like, okay, then nothing's my fault. I don't have to do anything. And then it comes to a time where compassion for yourself, there are things you couldn't control, things you you know you were fighting for yourself, for your family, all these things, but also realizing but now it's time to take some power back, like you have to also acknowledge and take the responsibility to move forward. So do you feel like that's like you started to do that after realizing that, listen, all right, this happened, or this is happening, but it's now my time to to start and do something different.

Ariana Rodriguez 25:27

Yeah, I 100% feel like that, and like I had tried to do that a few times, right? Like me, I tried to, like, figure things out on my own. And then I realized that, like, all of those opportunities, like this last opportunity with Tiffany really came like, the perfect time, because it felt like my I was finally able to let go of that guilt that I was feeling. There's a balance of like, knowing what you have to do and finding the right time for you to actually do it right. You're not always going to absorb the lessons when people are giving them to you, you have to be ready, really, to receive it. And like, I feel like I was finally ready to, like, let go of that shame, to kind of really make those strides that I finally was able to make, right? And it wasn't until, I think now, that I was finally able to say, Okay, I'm ready to, like, 100% forgive myself for this and make a plan to move forward.

Jamila Souffrant 26:23

Another good point, because I feel like you know this teaching, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And like you know you think about all the books or a book laying around that you've had in your house for 10 years, but that information, you didn't care about it at that point. It did not apply, and you didn't think you could use it. And literally, like something you're going through, like, you pick up, you're like, this book is answering all my questions. Like, but you're ready for it now. And I think a lot of times people get so frustrated with themselves, is because ideally they want this thing, but they're not ready for it. And part of it is just accepting and being just real with yourself. Like, okay, people who maybe want to be healthier, and, like, I'll take myself for an example. So I'm pretty fit for the most part, and I'd like to have some more abs, but to be honest with myself, like, you know, I still drink sugary drinks and alcohol and cheese and things I know I shouldn't eat because I'm just like, I want to eat it. I don't care. And so I'm real. I become, I accepted that fact about myself. Like, okay, Janelle, you want, you say you want these things, and you want to, like, look a certain way, but let's just be real. You're doing some of the work, but you're not doing all of it, and it's okay. And I'm okay with the level I'm at, like, and taking responsibility for that. And I just feel like some like, if you are just real with yourself, like, yeah, I want this thing, but I'm not ready to go all in for it, and that's okay too, right? Like admit that to yourself, yeah.

Ariana Rodriguez 27:44

And then, like a really funny full circle moment is that when I applied to work with Tiffany, for whatever reason, my brother had come over, my baby brother had come over and was asking me about budgeting, and I pulled out, like this old book that I bought. It must have been like 2015 or something like that. It wound up being Tiffany's one week budget book, like the first book that she had ever like published. And I was like, I forgot that I owned it, and I remember looking at it. I'm like, Oh my God. Like, this is like it was meant to be. I had started with this in 2015 obviously I was not ready for this. Then it is now like 20. I think it was like 2021, when we first started. Working together. I'm like, it's six years later. I am now ready to absorb everything. This woman is ready to teach me.

Jamila Souffrant 28:31

Hi Jamila here, host of this podcast and author of the book, your journey to financial freedom, a step by step guide to achieving wealth and happiness. Just a few years ago, I was in a job I didn't like, with a long commute, feeling stuck. I knew there had to be a different, better way. Then I found the pathway to financial freedom and financial independence. Today, I have more money options and freedom than I ever thought was possible. And in my book your journey to financial freedom, I'll show you how you can achieve that too. You'll learn how to spend and save responsibly, all while enjoying that spicy Margarita and exercise of guacamole. Determine where you are on the journey and evaluate your spending and saving goals accordingly. Quit your job, retire early or reach financial independence. My Book your journey to financial freedom, a step by step guide to achieving wealth and happiness is out now and available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and more. You can leave and listen to the audiobook narrated by me. Go to your journey to financial To get a free bonus when you order the book and see all the places to buy it once again, go to your journey to financial So one of the biggest things that I advocate for, especially depending on your level, is a system and budget so that you can get focused. But you know, I am somebody who says, even personally for myself, I don't use I don't check a budget every day. I am very kind of free flowing with the way I use my budget because of the level at which I am right. So for you, though, you realize that you tried the budget before it did not work. What finally made it stick? What was the system that you use and that you're using now that helps you?

Ariana Rodriguez 30:14

So Tiffany helped me automate my budget. We did pretty much what we did with you. We sat down, looked at three months of our my expenses, try to figure out, like the percentages, what went where out of my paycheck, so it wasn't a number amount, it was more of a percentage, like 25% went to household expenses, like the mortgage, right? 20% went to debt. 10% went to savings, another and then like, the rest went to, like my spending money, or whatever the percentages were. And then I set it up so that every single month, or every single, like biweekly, because that's when I was getting paid, it was set up so that that exact percentage was sent to the different accounts that I had created. So I had a home account that paid for our mortgage, our bill, our electric bill, our water bill, all those households expenses. Then I have a bills account. So, like my personal bills, so like my debt, if I have any subscriptions, if I have any kind of things that I do, then I have a spending account. And then I have two savings so I have, like a emergency savings, and then, like a dreams, like travel, I want to buy XYZ savings account, right? And then what she made me do was we prioritized everything but the spending account, right? So, like, we set up all the percentages for the other four accounts, so for the house, the bills and the two savings accounts, and then whatever was left over went to my spending account. And like, that spending account was the only card that I would carry with me, and it still is. It's the only card that I would carry with me, and it's how I pay for things, right? Like whatever is in that account is what I can spend, right? So that is my budget, like I have whatever amount of money is left over from my paycheck there.

Jamila Souffrant 31:57

So just so we can get a full view of the system, is this at the same bank that you have these different accounts, or they're at different banks. So

Ariana Rodriguez 32:05

my home account is in one bank, so Capital One, I have my bills and my spending account in Chase. So those two are in one and then my two savings accounts are in high yield savings accounts with Ally got it. So all of this money kind of just automatically gets, comes out or goes to these separate accounts, and then whatever's left over goes to my spending account, and that is what I use on a monthly basis to kind of do whatever I want to do. So I want to get my nails done if I want to if the kids need clothes, I need clothes, if we want to go out to dinner one night, like that's the money that we

Jamila Souffrant 32:38

use. And then how did you decide? So I know that some some bills, right, obviously, are fixed, like the mortgage and some certain bills, but was it like this? You know, I would say the chicken or the egg, like when you did all the percentages out, and let's just say you realized that there was only 200 left for spending. Did then that decide what you would spend at $200 on a month? And you check that like as you go every month, and it's just for you, because you have a partner. So I'd love to know how you work the system with someone else who may or may not be as focused as you are. Not saying that he isn't, but, you know, handling that difference.

Ariana Rodriguez 33:15

Yeah, so if $200 is what I had left over for, like, the except that was bi weekly, so every two weeks, then $200 is what I had for every two weeks. And then really, like, figuring out those that difference, I would tell my husband, like, look, this is the money that I have for the next two weeks. This is what I have it earmarked for. I need you to pick up this set in the third and it forced me to open those lines of communications in a way that I don't think that I had previously before I would be like, All right, well, I'll get this and I'll figure it out later on. Now it's like, no, I don't have that. So I need out. This is what I have to do in the next two weeks for with this money, I need you to pick up the groceries for this week. Next week will be different, because I have a lot of extra cash coming in. I'll pick up the groceries next week. Like, like, I really was forced to communicate much more with him about, like, what was going on. And I think that, like, alleviated, like, stress that I felt for myself, not stress that he felt because I talked to him about it afterwards, because he was like, Sure, just let me know if you can't do something. But stress that I was putting on myself for, like, always feeling like I needed to pick up my half, when, in reality, he was just like, if you can't do it, you can't do it, and that's okay. Like, I was just asking. It's like, the self imposed, like, pressure that I had, that I needed to do all of this, and it's like, I don't, I can focus on, like, the things that I'm trying to do, and have him support me in that,

Jamila Souffrant 34:38

right? And it's, isn't it, like, interesting? Because you sound like how sometimes I am, where you're assuming how someone is going to respond to you, or what they think, even though they're telling you it's fine. And you're like, No, they probably think this. And you know you're putting someone's and then you bring it up, and they're just like, what like? That wasn't even like what I was thinking. Like, what are you even talking about right now? Yeah, but it does sound like so just quickly to bring this up, because there are different ways to manage your. Money with a partner I myself my husband and I we just have like one pot where we just put our money and pool it together but I love how you are mentioning that things are a little separate for you guys like it seems like you're responsible for different things. Which there are different ways that you can manage it with a partner so can you explain that system, and how you make it work

Ariana Rodriguez 35:17

Sure so we have that housing bank account that I was talking about, we both put all of the houses fixed expenses, right? So like, our mortgage, our taxes, our interest rate, our water, our utilities, cell phones, anything that's kind of like a fixed expense like that comes from there, what we spend on the household. So like buying, like the core, buying groceries, renovating the house. Those kind of things come from our own personal money, right? So, like, we will come together and be like, Hey, can you pick up groceries this week? Or, you know, we need to buy X, Y and Z. Can you go pick this up and we'll kind of communicate about that. But like, my process throughout all of this, right? Like, figuring out my money has really allowed me to keep that line of communication really open and honest, versus, like, previously, I would just say yes to everything and not really be able to afford it. Now I'm really able to, like, just have that conversation in a healthy way, right,

Jamila Souffrant 36:15

right? So I want to go back to the kind of what it seems like variable expenses or your own just spending money. Are you keeping track of that? So you're using a debit card, right? You're not using a credit card when you go out. That's what you mean when you said it's attached to that account, and that's the only card you take. So are there other ways that you've been able to deter credit card spending since that was something that you did, like, do you did you delete do you cut them up? Did you unsubscribe from emails? How did you stop yourself from the Amazon shopping and target and all that that you felt like you used to

Ariana Rodriguez 36:46

do? So I took out all of my credit cards from my wallet, so I don't walk around with them anymore. I erased them from my Apple Pay so like it's not I don't link them there anymore. So they're not in my wallet, in my virtual wallet, I don't save credit cards on any store accounts, so I'm always forced to get up and, like, grab my wallet if I want to do online shopping, right? Because that right, that right there, has saved me 1000s of dollars. The act of me having to, like, stand up from wherever I'm at to find my wallet to pay for something means that I'm 90% less likely to actually purchase said thing. And if I do want to purchase it, it's because it's something I really, really want, right? But when I go shopping in the stores, I'm much more likely to over shop because I just throw things in the cart. So I try to buy online as much as possible, because I'm much pickier online, funnily enough, usually for people, it's the reverse, but for whatever reason, like, when I'm in a store, I just kind of start tossing things that I don't really need in this I get I get inspired in the stores. Online I get less inspired. So that has helped curb and also, like the realization, like I look at my account on a like, every, every day, every couple of days, I'll look at my my checking account and be like, Okay, how much money do I have left in here? And then I say, okay, based off of how much money I have left, what am I spending this money on? Like, what expenses are do I have upcoming? Do we have a birthday party coming up? Do we are we going out and doing X, Y and Z soon? What's happening in the near future, that money will need to come out of my account for? And that's also been really, really helpful to to keep me on track, because if I have $200 and I want, like, a new leather jacket, I'm not gonna spend the $200 a new leather jacket when I know that I need to buy groceries later this week, right? So, like, it's helping me, like, figure out, like, what I'm doing with my money at any given time, without having to sit down and, like write down every single thing, right? So

Jamila Souffrant 38:42

I think that's a really a nice alternative to doing it, and linking it, or tagging it with an actual budgeting software which I still recommend because when we're talking about when I mentioned things, like you need a budget which is a budgeting app that I still use and other budgeting apps right? Part of that is I do that, or I recommend that most people do it that way, especially when they don't have separate accounts, because you may have all of your bills and spending money in one checking account, and you don't know what is actually for the bills coming up, and what is for potential spending on things that you want to that are more discretionary, and having a budget where you can look at it and say, Well, there's $1,000 in this account. But I know 600 of it is earmarked for this. 400 is earmarked for that. Then digitally you can see kind of what's left. But if you really need to have more controls around your spending doing it the way Ariana is saying, it is good too, because then it's like forcing you to spend only what's in the account. And I do want to say I know there are some people who know, their credit card numbers by heart Yeah, I'm not one of those people I was never one of those people but I find like people actually do and so if that is your issue so it's like I don't even need to get up so it's like then maybe it's like you should ask for a new credit card so you don't have to think of it you just have to be honest with yourself about what potentially is gonna work or. Out for your situation and try different things. Sometimes, you know, you'll try something, you'll be like, You know what? This is not working, and you you just have to try something

Ariana Rodriguez 40:06

else. Like, I've tried so many things before I landed on this system, right? Like, it's a complicated system to set up, but once it's set up, once it's like, it's set it, I forget it. I've tried, like, budgeting with paper and pencil. I've tried to excel all the Excel spreadsheet under the sun. I've tried mint, I've tried YNAB, I've tried the zero based budget one from Dave Ramsey. I've tried so many different apps, and they all wind up just confusing me and, like, annoying me. And after two or three months, I'm just like, I'm done with all of this. So I've also recently been diagnosed with ADHD and like, the act of going through my expenses and, like, earmarking things drives me absolutely insane, and now it makes sense. Why? So like, this really, like, set it once, and, like, completely forget about it. Obviously, I go back into the system and like, every quarter or so, like, look at my percentages to make sure everything still kind of makes sense. But this system has made it so much easier, so I don't have to think about anything, right, like it's done.

Jamila Souffrant 41:07

Yeah, and that's so important about the having potentially, or, you know, you have ADHD, but potentially some people who are undiagnosed or don't know that they have it, or are just neurodivergent, and I think that's not talked about enough when it comes to money, and the differences in managing or looking at our money situation, or how people view present tense versus like the impending feature, and how they see that because that that will determine or help guide decision making. And so if you have tendencies and or personality that is better suited, or you don't even know, right? Like, why it's not working. You might just blame yourself when he says, like, no, it's just that system is not meant to work for you, and that's okay, which is why you got to try everything. Okay? So now you are a full time entrepreneur. You still got goals. You still got life to live, finances that you have to handle, and goals that you want to hit, right? So how are you balancing that? How did you feel comfortable enough to leave your job? I know, like, the two hour commute, wasn't it? But like, how did you feel like you can actually sustain your lifestyle and move forward this way. So

Ariana Rodriguez 42:10

I went from making $700 a month to making four or $5,000 a month really quickly. Like, my business grew very, very quickly, and then I was able to niche down to really focus on setting up online business owners, like systems, right? Like their systems, make sure their operations were in place, like, make, like, streamlining things for them. Like, I realized that that was where, like, my zone of genius lay, and I was able to bring in enough money to cover our basic expenses, right? Like my husband and I, like, sat down when they told me that I had to come back into work, and I was like, this is what they're telling me. I was like, crying because I was literally having an anxiety attack about having to do that four hour daily commute again. And he was like, Look, I know that you've wanted to leave for a long time. You're making money with your business. And we both said, worst comes to worst. I will find another job. We're gonna try this, see how it goes. Worst case scenario, I'll just go get another job somewhere, right? Like it is what it is like we I will make this work. I've always been kind of very scrappy and been able to kind of pick myself up and, like, do whatever I needed to do to make ends meet, right? And I will continue to do that. He was very nervous. He's been at the same job since he's 21 years old, and like he's in his mid 30s now, right? So he's very much all about stability and making sure things are stable. So like my bouncing from career to career, and now it's doing on becoming an entrepreneur has given him a lot of anxiety. But bless him, he has been nothing but supportive, and he just took a leap of faith with me, right? Like we both took a leap of faith that I was going to be able to continue to kind of open up opportunities for myself if I really focused myself in selling my business, like, right? Like I hadn't done any marketing to get myself to, like, the four or $5,000 a month that was completely based off of referrals and, like me networking. So, like, if I knew that if I started actually marketing myself and my services, people would come, and that's kind of what's been happening. There's been a lot of like mind drama about like pressure on myself to make sure that I have enough to give my family to sustain our like lifestyle. But I'm slowly working through that. I feel like this is going to be a process. It really came from like me, like, testing things out, seeing that this was going to be somewhat possible, and then having a partner that kind of was willing to, like, take that jump, that plunge, with me, right? Because as much as I'm the one doing the work, he's still trusting that I'm going to be able to help support the family, because he can't support he wouldn't be able to pay all of our bills by himself, right? So, like, it's, it was a little bit of everything, but it's still, like, very scary.

Jamila Souffrant 44:43

Yes, I know, trust me, I know. So for you at the time, you started the side hustle to help supplement right, to help you reach this goal of paying off debt and the other financial goals, but it puts yourself in a position. So you started before you even knew why you were starting, like before you. Knew the reason, but because you did it a couple years ago. You started the process. You built a business. When they said to you, okay, want you to come back. You had something that you could go to and run with. I was able to say no, right? You could say no again, having options, even though it's like, it's not like you never have to work again, but you have options so, but how did you switch from, and maybe you're still not okay with it, but switch from then tackling the debt payoff, goals, investing goals, putting those maybe on hold for then, now growing the business and doing that. How are you working through through that?

Ariana Rodriguez 45:32

So I went from very aggressively paying off that like, like being able to throw an extra 1000, $2,000 a month towards my debt, which is why, like, you saw those numbers change so drastically over the time that I was I was working with Tiffany, was because I was making my nine to five. Was covering my lifestyle, my side hustle was covering right that right to really bringing in a little lesson I was making in my job, right? So, like, we had to cut back a lot of expenses. We cut we had to, like, say goodbye to our nanny, which I was really sad, because we loved her, and I went back to, like, paying just over the minimum of my debt, right? So, like we I was working off of the Avalanche method, so I curtailed it back. And instead of paying an extra $1,000 to, like, that biggest debt, I've been paying just over the minimum, which kind of sucks, because it felt really good to kind of see that number, like, drop down so fast before, but it is what it is, right? Like, I'm trying to make myself feel okay with paying this off slower, right? Like I knew that that was going to be one of the hurdles that we I had to get over, like another, like a little mind drama. Thing that I had to kind of overcome, right, was that I had to slow things down. And like, I wanted to also make sure that, like, I didn't think that I was a failure, because I had to now slow down. And like, that was a big one for me, because it felt so good to pay things off so quickly. And now having to slow down, I had to then say it's okay that you're slowing down. You're slowing down for a reason, and there's a long game here

Jamila Souffrant 47:02

well. And then two is to think like, think ahead. I always think, look, this is a temporary situation, and so you will earn more money. If you're staying on this path, you will earn more, you'll learn more, you'll be able to do more. And I, what always motivates me is when I think about where I want to be in two or three years. Okay, here's when I am making X amount, then here's how I will now tackle this financial goal. So yeah, maybe it's on pause now for the next few years, because I'm putting my attention and finances in this direction. But once I'm earning more, once things are stable and I have X amount, now this is how I so forecasting almost out what your situation will be, and then how you invest and save or pay off debt in the future. I also found comfort when I was going through a similar stage, yeah,

Ariana Rodriguez 47:49

and that's what I keep telling myself. So I quit my job in March. So I've haven't even been a full time entrepreneur for an entire year. It's been like maybe seven or eight months, and I am on track to, if not, meet or surpass my, like, salary for my my job, I've been able to really grow this exponentially very quickly. And I'm like, working to get myself out there so that I can continue to grow right, and, like, maybe build a team under me right. Like, I have really big goals in mind to let I know that this is just a temporary situation. You know when you have, like, that dream, and you know that it's coming for you, and you know that it's yours. Like, that's really what I feel right now, like in my heart, like I know that this is what it's supposed to be, right? Like, I know that I will get there. I just need a little bit more time to get there.

Jamila Souffrant 48:34

Yes, I get it. And it reminds me of an episode that I recorded, episode 243 with Tasha booth, and she talked about starting as a just virtual assistant, and then she eventually grew to create her own agency, and she's running a million dollar business now. Find someone who's done what you're attempting to do, and doesn't have to be you know, everything step is not gonna be the same. Everything's not gonna be so relatable. But it's just like, find that one strain of okay. She started as virtual assistant making X amount an hour. Actually, she started in a personal finance space blogging, and realized like that wasn't going to be the pathway to her making money. Then did the VA, and then started to hire vas, and then had a whole like Operations Business, and she's doing so well. So anyone who needs some inspiration after listening to this episode, listen to episode 243, so Ariana, what advice do you have as we close out for other journeyers who are in the thick of their journey, who have not like figured out all their mind stuff, yet have not fixed all the habits, but want to what would you want to tell them, to encourage them?

Ariana Rodriguez 49:39

The first thing is, give yourself grace. This is a long game, right? This is not a sprint like you are running a marathon. You have to be kind to yourself. You need to be okay with life happening, right? That was really hard for me to kind of like embody it's easy to pay off debt when you have money come. In it's hard to pay off debt when things are tight and like life happens, right? Like in the movie you saw that my car broke down, and I wound up spending $1,200 just like a fix it that two and a half years ago would have broken me right? And like, the fact that I was able to pay that and not have to think twice while it felt hard, gave me the push that I needed to, like, say, like, this is working, and you need to keep going, so giving yourself grace and, like, understanding that life is going to happen, then there will be setbacks, and then experimenting, right? Like, I've experimented with so many different things to try to get to where I am now, right? I've learned from so many different people, and I've gotten so much information from like, different sources to kind of try to get to the place where I finally feel like I have my money under control. So like, be open to try things out, because without trying things out, you're never going to know what's going to work for you. Excellent

Jamila Souffrant 50:59

advice. Now I want you to tell people more about your business, what you do, and where they can find out more about it and yourself. So

Ariana Rodriguez 51:07

I am a system strategist. I help agency owners streamline and automate their businesses and find ease by implementing like customized tech stacks, putting in automations and really leaning hard on tech. You can find me at Ariana on Instagram, and that is my Whippet. Also Ariana

Jamila Souffrant 51:27

I will link all of that in the show notes, plus any of the episode that I mentioned before, 243, and any other resources that may help. But once again, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Ariana Rodriguez 51:40

Thank you for having me. Yes, it

Jamila Souffrant 51:43

was so great to catch up. And you know, I'm always rooting. I'm rooting for all of you listening. I truly am, but I'm rooting for you. Arianna, I know that, like you're gonna be successful, you may have to come back on in a couple years and tell me about your million dollar business. So I'm excited for you. Thank you. Thank you. Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journey to or click the description of wherever you're listening to this and you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journey to

Speaker 1 52:21

if you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show. One, make sure you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen, whether that's Apple podcast, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify wherever it is that you happen to listen. Just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this in Apple podcast, rate review and subscribe there. I appreciate and read every single review. Number two, follow me on my social media accounts. I'm at journey to launch on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and I love, love, love interacting with journeyers. There three, support and check out the sponsors of this show. If you hear something that interests you, sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here, so show them some love for supporting your girl four, and last but not least, share this episode, this podcast, with a friend or family member or coworker, so that we can spread the message of Journey to launch. All right, that's it until next week. Keep on journeying. Journeyers. You.

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