Hat: Financial Educator, Founder/ CEO, myfabfinance.com
School: City University of New York – Brooklyn College Florida International University;
Major: M.A, Urban Policy and Affairs – B.A, Public Administration
Oprah Winfrey once said, ” Failure is a great teacher. If you are open to it, every mistake has a lesson to offer.” No one perhaps understands this better than Financial Educator Tonya Rapley, who found herself in a sticky financial dilemma when her credit score hit an all time low of 540 points. However, Tonya didn’t let this situation define her, in fact she took it upon herself to learn from her past mistakes and in a short 18 months, had improved her credit score by a whopping 130. With her honesty and bubbly personality, Tonya has garnered a large following by sharing her financial journey on her blog My Fab Finance, a finance and lifestyle blog that provides resources for financial empowerment and professional development. I had the time to chat it up and learn how we can create a healthy relationship with your pockets.
Where were you six months after graduating from college?
Six months after college I was working at a call center; this is not at all where I imagined myself at the time. I graduated in 2007, at the height of the recession, so I made the best out of the situation. However, I knew that it wasn’t the end of it all, so I kept applying and six months later I was hired by Lowes as an Inventory Analyst.
I believe that we excel at our purpose because we’ve had a journey. What are some lessons you’ve learned about yourself while on the journey?
I have a large amount of pride and till this day I still do. When I graduated I had this attitude – “nope I’m not going to work at the mall ”and my mom put me aside and told me “you’re not above doing anything nothing is above you Tonya. You need to do what you need to do.” So it was at that point, that I learned humility. No matter how much you prepare, you will always fall short, which leads me to my next lesson; flexibility. I didn’t have a firm goal after graduating, but I was always open to learning skills from the different industries in which I worked.
Millennials manage a lot of financial priorities, such as student loan debt, car debt, credit card etc. What advice would you give to someone trying to improve their finances fresh out of college?
- Make sure you know how to save, this will help delegate your spending habit.
- Know how to live within your means. Some people don’t know what their means are until they are above them
- Stop comparing yourself to people who live in Virtual Prosperity. You don’t know their lives.
You’ve mentioned that we need to get familiar with our credit report. What are 3 things we should keep in mind in terms of credit cards?
- Create a budget and pay your bills on time. People don’t realize that when they pay the minimum payment on their card that it can affect their credit scores.
- Don’t use more than 30% of credit
- Don’t recklessly apply for credit. Even if you are approved you don’t have to accept every offer.
How can we create a healthy relationship with our finances?
A healthy relationship with your finances begins with knowing that money is a tool that can work for you. It’s like a hammer, it can create the house you want to live in or it can destroy the house you live in. Once you understand that money is a tool and you’re not fearful of it, you’re able to manage and create a healthy relationship.
You started a “Finance Revamp Bootcamp”, is this something we can expect more of? What inspired the program?
I needed to work with people in a more direct manner regarding their finances. I do blog posts and video blogs, but some people need the individualized approach and by having a coaching group I am able to learn every individual’s habits and give them my undivided attention. I want to create more products that serve my audience, I want to find out what they need in order to create products that will fulfill their needs.
Besides stocks, what would you recommend millennials to invest in?
Invest in yourself, your professional development, your network opportunities and the education needed to grow your business. Invest in your own dream.
What does the phrase “ my freshman year of life” mean to you?
Whether you are in your freshman year of high school, college or professional world; you will quickly realize that you don’t know it all and recognizing that is a great place to be.
In fact, maybe we need to approach each new year as a “freshman year of life” because you don’t want to bring bad habits or anything you are uninformed about into the new season. By treating each season as your freshman year of life you are open to receive new information. Acknowledge when you don’t know anything and put your self in a vulnerable position to ask for help. The further you move along in life reflect back on moments were you were open to learning.
If you were to write a letter to your younger self what would you tell her?
Girl! Stop Tripping. It will be OK.
Where do you see MyFabFinance going in the next 10 years?
My ultimate goal for MyFabFinance is to help others become financial coaches and educators. I want to be doing work with the government, businesses and financial educators. I want to create an echo in the community about financial literacy and freedom.
- I’m currently reading…The System is The Secret by James Karl Butler
- My drop everything and dance song is …Outstanding by The Gap Band/ Upgrade You by Beyonce.
- The people who keep me going …My Mom & Dad.
- Best financial advice ever received… Learn to Live on 50% of your income.
- My favorite inspirational quote is… “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”- Paulo Coelho
- A fun fact about me is… I’m a Trap music connoisseur. I’m not your average Financial Educator and I’m from the South.
Stay connected with Tonya.