When Tiffany Aliche was growing up, learning about money was as much a part of her life as riding a bike and playing with her four sisters. With an accountant dad who taught her the basics and a mom who showed her how to apply those concepts through smart shopping and other activities, she discovered early on that managing money can be easy. Today, as “The Budgetnista,” Aliche dedicates her career to showing others just how easy.
“The world would have you believe that mastering your money is super complicated, but it’s not,” says Aliche. “Think about it this way: If you’re a college student, you got into college — that’s complicated! You have to create a schedule and take classes that all add up to a degree — that’s also complicated! Money isn’t complicated, especially when you take it little by little and bite by bite. By the time you graduate college, you can be more than proficient in managing your money and working toward financial wholeness.”
Aliche intends to show college students exactly how to get started during her April 13th, 2021 webinar, “7 Steps to Living a Richer Life After college", hosted by PNC.
“When you build sound financial habits in college, you create the foundation for your future,” she explains. “I want to show students how mastering the basics — budgeting, saving, earning, managing debt and credit, etc. — can help you reach great heights and withstand adversity (a recession, job loss or other financial trauma). Build a solid financial foundation and the world is your oyster!”
Financial Wholeness: The 10-Step Plan
To Aliche, the greatest gift of the financial education her parents gave her was knowing that no matter how much money she earned, she had the tools to manage it well and make choices that would help her be happy and whole. This led to her focus on the concept of financial wholeness.
She explains, “Financial wholeness is when all 10 aspects of your financial life work together for your greatest good, your biggest benefit and your richest life. It’s a 10-step plan for finding peace, safety and harmony with your money, no matter how big or small your goals are, or where you are financially right now.”
Aliche’s 10 steps to financial wholeness:
- Build a budget
- Save like a squirrel
- Dig out of debt
- Score high (work toward a credit score of 740 or higher)
- Learn to earn
- Invest like an insider
- Get good with your insurance
- Increase your net worth (what you own versus what you owe)
- Pick your money team
- Leave a legacy
For college students, budgeting, debt and credit are areas of particular concern, Aliche says. She shares insights into mastering each of these:
Building a budget. Understanding how you spend your money is a critical first step in managing your finances. Aliche recommends creating a physical picture of “money in and money out” by either entering your monthly expenses on a spreadsheet or simply writing them down on paper.
“Make sure you have the necessary bank accounts for your budget: two checking accounts and two savings accounts,” she says. “One of the checking accounts is for spending and should be attached to your debit card; the other is for bills and should not be attached to your debit card. One of the savings accounts is long-term savings — maybe to buy a car or to invest one day. The other is short-term — your emergency savings account. Also be sure to automate the transactions you can, setting up direct deposit of your paycheck, automatic transfers to your savings accounts and online bill pay, for example. Automation truly is the new discipline.”
Digging out of debt. For many college students, debt (especially student loan debt) is a significant concern. Again, Aliche recommends creating a physical picture — a debt list including whom you owe, the current balance, the interest rate on the debt, the minimum monthly payment and the status (are you on time, late, behind on payments?). Then develop a plan and schedule for paying off the debt, set up automatic payments and “semi-forget” it.
“It’s important to understand that debt freedom does not equal wealth,” says Aliche. “You’re going to hear a lot of advice where people urge you to put more energy toward paying off debt than toward earning, and that’s a mistake. Debt freedom is a goal, but not the goal. The goal is to grow wealth. You can work on debt freedom simultaneously. That’s a key takeaway with paying down debt: Set it and semi-forget it, and then really work on earning.”
Scoring high with credit. “People tend to worry the most about credit. They think it’s the hardest part of managing their money; in reality, it’s the easiest,” Aliche says. “It’s the area where you have the most control and need the least amount of discipline. It’s really a series of hacks you can automate and leave alone, and watch your credit score rise.”
Among the hacks she recommends are becoming an authorized user on your parent’s credit card, provided they pay off the balance every month, and paying off your own debt in full every month. “It doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars; it can be a $5 automated charge on a credit card. I tell people to choose their least expensive automated charge — let’s say it’s Netflix, at around $15 a month. When you pay that charge off every month, your credit score really starts to jump, because it’s not just the amount that the credit bureaus look at; it’s also your habits.”
Aliche will share more detail into these topics and others during the “7 Steps to Living a Richer Life After College” webinar on April 13th, 2021. She has also written a book, “Get Good with Money,” which covers all 10 financial wholeness topics (available for preorder at getgoodwithmoney.com).
“When you follow the financial wholeness plan, you build the foundation for the rest of your financial life,” Aliche says. “If you do the 10 things I’ve outlined in this program, you can do almost anything with your money. You can fly!”