Jessica Garbarino is the founder of Every Single Dollar, a company focused on helping single women navigate the world of personal finance.
After paying off $56,000 of debt, Jessica decided she wanted to help other single women learn how to manage their money and instill financial confidence. She is a coach, speaker, and teacher on various financial topics with single women in mind. Jessica lives the debt free life in sunny South Florida.
In this episode, I speak with Jessica about her struggles, goals, and financial future. She’s a great interview. Very positive and encouraging. You’ll enjoy it.
So let’s dig in. Let’s meet today’s Master of Money…
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Finishing What You Start</h2
Jessica is a self-proclaimed “starter”, not a “finisher”. Learning to be persistent in reaching her financial goals is what made the difference in finally being able to master her money. She spent 2 years thinking about getting her finances in order before a friend motivated her to get in the game.
Even after losing her job in 2008, Jessica continued to make her payments on time. But a trip to her grandparents’ house in 2010 gave Jessica a new vision into personal finance. She watched as her grandmother balanced her own checkbook to the penny, and as she thought about the struggles her ancestors had been through, she experienced a moment of guilt. She knew that she wasn’t doing justice to the legacy her grandparents and others were leaving her by not taking care of her own money more carefully.
When she got home from that trip, Jessica actually sat down and added up all of her debt. When she saw the total, her first thought was that there was nothing she could do about it. Finding Dave Ramsey’s book Total Money Makeover and reading through it is what gave Jessica the belief that maybe she could actually do something about her debt.
Investing and Estate Planning
Jessica fully admits to being weaker than she would like when it comes to investing and estate planning. As a single person, she feels that having a will in place and someone who knows where her important papers are is crucial. When there is no spouse to share these types of information with, it is important to have a close friend or family member who would know what to do in case of an emergency.
Investing is an area where Jessica is ready to spend more time learning. Because she is self-employed, she needs to know where her retirement money is being invested and just more overall education in private investing.
Knocking Out the Debt
During 2010, which was her first year of attacking her debt, Jessica paid off $26,000 of her $56,000 total. She didn’t sell anything; she just adjusted her spending. No eating out, no impulse buying. She also had a part time job in the evening in addition to her full-time day job.
But in 2011, the same grandparents that had inspired Jessica to begin her journey toward financial responsibility had some health issues which required Jessica to move to Florida and care for them. She worked from a distance until her employer wasn’t willing to accommodate her anymore. Her house she had left in Minnesota went into foreclosure in March of 2012.
The next 2 years would prove very difficult for Jessica, as she struggled with the emotional fallout of the foreclosure and being the sole caregiver for her grandparents. Her debt repayment plan came to a slow halt; she wasn’t accruing further debt, she was simply burned out emotionally and had no margin to focus on it.
Getting Fired Back Up
In 2014, a friend of Jessica’s asked her what she would like to accomplish over the next 5 years, and her immediate answer was to knock out the rest of her debt. It was just what she needed to get her fired back up again. In fact, she made her last payment on the debt in March of 2015.
“For me, crossing the finish line was a bigger win than how fast I did it.” ~Jessica Garbarino
Changing Your Money Mindset
When Jessica was in her 20’s, she was living the single life in the city, buying anything and everything she wanted.
“Financial insanity is having over 100 pairs of shoes and having no retirement.” `Jessica Garbarino
Her mindset at the time was very free…she had a great job, a great apartment, lived downtown in a big city…she saw no need to worry or even think about the future.
It wasn’t until she was in her 30’s that she had a wake-up call. She felt strongly that she needed to stop living for today and had to take her future by the reins. Going through her debt repayment journey helped her to see material possessions for what they were, and to not attach so much value to them.
Jessica did have to completely cut herself off from credit cards. She calls credit cards “financial heroin” for her. It was imperative that she not have the option of using credit to continue to live the same lifestyle she had been living.
Budgeting Jessica’s Way
If you are at all familiar with budgeting, then you know the most popular way to budget is by the month. But Jessica has her own way, and it is by the year.
She sits down at the beginning of the year and plans out her entire year. She tweaks along the way as needed, but she has her overall picture at the beginning. She also uses automation for all of her bill payments and savings.
Jessica works as a contract employee, so she gets paid each week. That paycheck is directly deposited, and her automatic accounts go into play. Through her budget, she knows which bills will need to be paid out of each paycheck, and what she will have left for disposable income. Her money has all been spent when it comes in by planning ahead.
One thing Jessica does that is really important to her is to budget even her disposable income. Most of us would just have that money to do with as we wish, whether it’s a meal out or that new toy we see that looks interesting. But for Jessica, knowing where her disposable income is going is a way to keep her spending in check. She has noticed some “sloppiness” in her spending in the past, so budgeting even that disposable income keeps her more aligned with her financial goals.
Building a Business
After Jessica paid off her last debt in March of 2015, she considered going into coaching. She had completed the coaching program with Dave Ramsey, but she knew that she wanted to hone in and focus on single people. While she recommends Financial Peace University for anyone, she felt strongly that it did not address the unique needs of singles in depth.
So she decided to become the person she had needed back when she first began her debt free journey. In August of 2015, she started her blog and has spent the past year writing articles for her site, building connections with her audience, speaking, and attending conferences to help her get her financial education.
Jessica’s Current Financial Goals
Now that Jessica has reached her goal of becoming debt free and she has started her business, what are the next things she is working to accomplish? Her main goal is getting her business to the next level so that she can work for herself full time.
Jessica has a BHAG as well though that she would love to accomplish. What’s a BHAG? It’s a big, hairy, audacious goal. And for Jessica, that would be to buy a house with cash. Depending on your geographical location, that can be a bigger goal for some and not as much for others.
When the Process Seems Too Slow
Jessica says that while she was in the process of paying off her debts, it seemed to be going so slowly. And yet in looking back, she now realizes just how quickly it all happened. If you are currently in the process, don’t lose heart. It may seem to be taking forever, but just know that on the other side, you will see just how quickly it all happened. And the peace you experience on the other side is so worth it.
- 1:38 The importance of finishing what you start
- 3:00 How Jessica’s grandma helped Jessica get serious about her own finances 5:00 What actually inspired Jessica to begin her debt-free journey
- 8:30 Why estate planning is crucial for a single person
- 10:40 The process Jessica went through to knock out her debt
- 12:25 Getting fired back up when you lose momentum
- 13:15 How Jessica changed her money mindset
- 16:15 Budgeting Jessica’s way- how automation saves her money
- 20:36 How Jessica decides which amounts to save in separate accounts 23:00 Why budgeting even the disposable income is important
- 25:36 When and why Jessica started her own business
- 28:35 What is Jessica’s BHAG? (Big, hairy, audacious goal)
- 29:50 The benefits of hindsight and encouragement for the process
Links/Terms/Concepts from the Show
- Dave Ramsey
- FinCon https://finconexpo.com/
- Sex and the City https://www.hbo.com/sex-and-the-city
- Proactive Budget https://qubemoney.com/#_l_f7
- Fidelity IRA https://www.fidelity.com/retirement-ira/overview
- Jessica’s article on money talk in dating https://everysingledollar.com/when-should-you-have-the-talk/Jessica’s Website EverySingleDollar.com https://everysingledollar.com/Every Single Dollar on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/everysingledollarJessica on Twitter https://twitter.com/jessgarbarino
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This show is part of the FinCon Podcast Network and was produced by Steve Stewart.