working girl: tonya rapley, financial educator

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– As told to Tamara Pridgett

Resolution season will be upon us soon but self-improvement has no real schedule. If money is an area that you’d like to get in order, then Tonya Rapley and her blog My Fab Finance is definitely someone you should get to know. Starting off with an utter dislike of math Tonya had know idea she’d end up changing her life and the lives of others by charting out a course to financial freedom.

stats

Age: 30

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Profession: Certified Financial Educator

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work

How did you get started?

I thought I was going to become a music supervisor. I fell in love with personal finance after repairing my own finances. It was the last thing I thought I would do. I hated math growing up, so much that I decided on my undergrad major because it required the least math. But I started blogging about my financial journey and fate took over from there.

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What’s an average day like?

I wake up. Respond to e-mails and post a blog post and then head into my 9-5 job. After I finish work I head home to do client consultations, prepare for presentations and any other My Fab Finance related task that I might have on the agenda.

Why do you do it?

I love it. I have always wanted to change lives. I realize that there are so many individuals in my gender, ethnic, and socio-economic group who need this information from someone they can relate to. This allows me to help others create lives that are financially free.

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Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job?

Striking a balance. Because I am building a brand and working a full time job I am constantly exhausted. I have to make a conscious effort to hang with my friends and not neglect my fiancé. I also have to be careful not to compare myself to others in this space. Coaching is an interesting career path and sometimes you feel like others are further along or more successful in their journey than you are. I constantly have to remind myself that this is a marathon, not a race.

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Your greatest achievement so far?

Hmm. Well I just finished my first book. I’ve wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. I made that my non-negotiable in 2014 and I finished my book in 45 days. I was also recently interviewed for Black Enterprise magazine. It will be my very first print publication appearance.

How did you improve your credit score so drastically in 18 months?

I learned how credit worked. It was that simple. Once I learned how it worked I altered my behaviors, actions, and decision so that they would create a favorable outcome. I disputed collection debts on my credit report and started establishing positive payment history with a rebuilder card.

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Do you have any financial advice you would like to share with our readers?

Life comes at you in ways that you will least expect it. Be concerned with your finances. Be more concerned with your finances than you are with the actions and decisions of others. Get into good practices such as checking your bank account balance every morning. Set up an emergency fund. Oh! And a minimum payment is better than a missed payment, but pay more than the minimum when you can.

What might be next for you?

I am offering my credit repair webinar in November and planning a wedding on a budget! I will be documenting that process until my wedding in October 2015.

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hair

What are your top 5 go-to hair tips?

  • Don’t do too much. My hair grew quickly because I am the queen of low manipulation.
  • Learn what works for your hair and stick to it.
  • Don’t become a product junky; it won’t make your hair any thicker or longer, but will make your pockets slimmer.
  • Embrace the journey.
  • Don’t be afraid to do something drastic. Doing the big chop was the best thing I ever did.

Fun Fact: I am actually an introvert and socially awkward. People wouldn’t think that because I often speak in public, but each and every time I speak I have to give myself a pep talk.

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