It’s April and, drawing from our Nasty Woman planner, our focus is on money! We had a great time talking with financial educator Tiffany Aliche. She tells Shrill Society about becoming “The Budgetnista,” her mission to help women, and the best money advice she’s ever received.
Shrill Society: Your personal journey is an incredible one. Let’s start with how you went from a daycare teacher to an Amazon best-selling author and financial advocate?
Tiffany Aliche: I feel like I was destined to be a financial educator. My father was a CFO and accountant―he’s now retired. He has a degree in economics and one in finance. I’m one of five girls, and, growing up, we learned about money. As a kid, I thought it was normal to highlight the electric bill and put it on the dining room table so we could all see as we walked by. I can remember having financial lessons at five. I used to love the sound of running water―this is what they tell me―and I would turn on the water and walk away. They couldn’t figure out how to get me to stop wasting water until: When we were kids, we didn’t have a bunch of money, so in the summer when the ice cream man came around we would rotate days. I was second born, so my day was Tuesday. When the ice cream man came around on Tuesday, I could get ice cream. So I would run inside and say, “Dad, it’s my day. Can I have my dollar?” So one day I did that and he said, “Ah, you just missed the water man. Every time you run the water, we have to give the water man money. Because you keep running the water, I gave him your dollar.” I nearly had a heart attack. Even till this day I don’t want to run the water. So that’s how I grew up.
It wasn’t until college that I realized that other people didn’t get this day to day. My college roommate had bill collectors calling her. I couldn’t believe it like, “How are you 17 with a bill collector calling you?” I found out that her parents opened up credit cards in her name and all of these things. I would call my dad and give her advice through him, so that’s how it started. In college you get branded like, “That’s the person you go to who has all the hair tips. This one has great advice about boys.” I became branded, “If you have a financial question, ask Tiffany.” After college I decided I wanted to be a school teacher. I did that for seven or eight years and then the recession hit. My school was a non-profit-based school and they lost their funding. Through all of that, I was still helping my friends with their financials. It was just something I did. One day someone asked me how much I charged because a friend of a friend had told them about me. I was like, “Charge? I don’t charge for that.” My best friend heard me and she was like, “Everyone’s broke, including you. You need to charge.” So that’s how “The Budgetnista” was born.
With a name like that, I know you know your way around a budget! Tell us why a budget is such a critical tool in taking control of one’s finances.
It is the financial backbone, the foundation for all things. It is the foundation for credit, the foundation for getting debt free, the foundation for savings, for investing, for insurance. If you do not have a budget, it’s going to be really difficult to grow towards your goals. People think, “I don’t want to have a budget to tell me no.” A budget is not your “no plan.” To me, your budget is your “say yes plan.” With a budget, I say, “Hey budget, I’d like to go on vacation.” And budget might say, “Well, if you reduce your cable for the next six months you can!” A budget is a physical picture of what your money is doing and, if you don’t like the picture, you can change it. It is the most important tool in your financial tool chest.
You grew up in a household where people talked about money. For many people, money is something they’re terrified to talk about, they’re told they should never talk about it, or they have had limited access to resources to educate themselves on how to talk about it. Why is it so important for you to work especially with women as a financial educator?
There was a study that was done, I believe it was done by Prudential, and they found that women make up to if not more than 70% of the financial choices in a household. Seven zero! What I realized is that if you help a woman, you help a child. If you help a woman, you help a man. If you help a woman, you help a family. If you help a woman, you help a community, you help a neighborhood. So if I could help women, I could help everyone. One of my super powers is not having a hang up of talking about money. I can remember teaching preschool and I was talking with another teacher. You know the expression when pigs fly? She said something like, “Maybe they’ll give us a snow day.” And I said, “Yeah, girl, when pigs fly.” And the kids ran to the window looking for pigs flying! What I realized is kids don’t know what’s normal. You create normalcy. My dad created normalcy around talking about money. I didn’t know people were awkward or weird about money because we talked about it all the time. Even now, when I see my dad, I know he’s going to ask how’s the business doing, did I pay my taxes. It’s like saying hello to him. That’s what I’m hoping to create―this environment where we talk about money, where you talk to your girlfriends about hair, men, kids, whatever, and also money. Once you can get over the hang up and the fear about money, then you can get to the solution of fixing your challenges much faster.
Your motto is “live richer.” What does that mean to you?
I think people think money is the goal. It’s not. It’s one of the tools that you can use to achieve the goal. That’s what live richer is. It’s a play on richer, thinking, yes, more money but really just a richness of life. Do you want to travel more? Do you want to hang out with your kids more? Do you want to get more connected to your spouse? What does your ideal life look like and how do we align your finances to support that ideal life? So the money is a support tool to the life. The life is not chasing the money.