Hi guys!! Today is a bit of a different kind of blog post. Even though I try and be as authentic to what I’m dealing as possible and feel like I am, I don’t frequently discuss money unless it’s in a broader sense. I’ve spoken to friends of mine who are financial geniuses to inspire you to take care of your finances (search “money” under the search bar on Life Unfiltered and past posts/ podcast episodes will come up) but last week I realized I could bring myself into the discussion now: I have debt! I’m always asked by you how much money I make and though I’ll never tell you directly how much I make in a month or a year (plus it constantly varies) I do well for myself at this point in my career. I’m 23, live in a beautiful apartment, and don’t have to worry like I used to. That doesn’t mean I don’t have serious money anxiety still, but I’m more prepared for the up and downs now more than I ever was.
If you have followed me for a while, you’ll know that I’m completely self-made. I’ve never had someone give me money, no financial help from my parents, and certainly no other side gigs you guys don’t know about besides what I’ve said I used to do / occasionally do like consulting on other companies. The most I’ve ever been given was $1,000 by my dads friend when I started a nonprofit, Media Impact and Navigation for Teens. Unless I’m moving into a new apartment, I never have to check my credit score. On Friday night I was curious what my credit score was so I looked it up and realized my credit score is shit (640) and I have about $25K in debt. Why didn’t I realize that? Because the majority of the credit card debt happened between when I was 16-18: and then because I was (still can be) dumb and young, I completely forgot about it and didn’t realize what interest was.
Lemme tell you: interest is somethin’, somethin’
So now it’s been 5 or 6 years and some of my credit cards (which I canceled – ALL OF THEM – also having no idea that canceling credit cards is probably the worst thing you could do) have doubled in interest since I was paying the monthly payment every month, up until now. To remind you again, all of these things you’re wondering why I didn’t know…I have had literally no one to tell me. Why do you think I’m starting a mentorship program? To fill the void I always found existed!
The shame that occurs around discussing money/ debt, regardless of whether you’re the founder of a company or a college student, is tremendous. When people think of debt, they automatically think you’ve gone wild gambling or partying and now you owe tons of money and have no money. That’s not the case. I’m genuinely proud to be able to sit here and type out that I owe $25,000 since starting my company and hopefully it’ll inspire you to do a few things I’ve done differently, or the same: because either way you’ll be successful!
If you’re wondering how I’m 23 and didn’t go to college and owe $20K in debt, it’s because doing it on your own is f****** HARD. When I moved out to NY, I was broke. I don’t think I even had a credit card or $1,000 to my name. When I moved to Boston, I was doing TV segments religiously: every day I’d be in a new city working with 5 brands who’d end up screwing me over (because I didn’t have contracts!!), physically and mentally exhausted, but knowing I could go home and work on my blog and podcast and whatever else that continued to inspire me. Some people have 9-5 jobs, mine was booking TV segments every month to make a living to afford to pursue what I’m able to live off of now, my own brand and the summit.
Many brands, especially big brands, work on a net – 30/90. AKA, I wasn’t ever paid directly after going on TV. So what do you think I did? Relied on my good ol’ friends credit cards… to pay for all my travel, the models, food, and then when I’d finally get my check, I’d take the majority of it and pay my rent and then go back to my friend (the cards!) It was difficult but I knew it would pay off.
Every entrepreneur I know has debt, much more than what I’m in, and it’s not bad or good.
It just is what it is. How the heck else are you going to start without any money?
If you’re reading this and want to start a company less now that you know I have debt, than you’re not meant to be an entrepreneur! You do whatever you need to do to make it work if you’re an entrepreneur. There is no excuse to not start a company you’ve been thinking about starting for years.
Luckily I have savings and an Acorns account (get one!) with a new plan to aggressively pay off this debt before it goes up.
Looking back, what I would’ve done differently is keep 1 or 2 credits cards like I do now, not 7 like I did. I had all of the airline cards and that was super stupid, I only fly American Airlines. I would never use Paypal Credit again (I’m disturbed at home much money I’m giving them because the interest in 4 years has tripled) and I would take out a loan to have paid all the cards off 3 years ago with little interest. And I wouldn’t have canceled my cards!
If you’re about to start a company, get the Chase Sapphire card and put $4,000 on it in 90 days (like rent or travel) and redeem the 60,000 points you’ll get for money (about $1,000) and then pay off the card. Get Acorns or Robinhood now and start saving. Don’t make the mistakes I did, but don’t let the fear of money stop you from starting.