Today I have the this week’s installment of our segment: Interviews with money experts. I talked with Katie from Chain of Wealth.
Without further ado, here’s the interview.
Could you give a summary of your career from graduation to where you are now?
Since I graduated college from Florida Atlantic University with an elementary education degree in 2010, my career has changed quite a bit.
When I first graduated, I decided that I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore and decided to go back to school to become a nurse. After one anatomy class and having to skin a piglet, I decided that teaching wasn’t so bad after all.
I did a majority of my teaching in one school in a small town outside of Tampa, Florida. It was a small school in a rural neighborhood. As with any school, the day to day duties were intense and the work was hard, but I loved seeing how much my students progressed over the school year.
As the saying goes, nothing stays the same forever and at the end of my fifth year teaching, I was asked to move to Northern Virginia by my boyfriend who had been transferred for work. After some thought, I decided to go. After all, it seemed like the perfect time for something new. I only had myself to take care of and in the worst case scenario, I could always come home.
As it turns out, Virginia was a great decision and I love it. I decided not to get a teaching position when I moved for two reasons:
- I was feeling a bit burned out and needed a break and
- All my teaching stuff wouldn’t fit in my car.
I took it as a sign that it was time to try something else even though the thought of not teaching was strange and a bit stressful for me. Once I arrived in Virginia, my boyfriend had the idea that I should document my debt payoff journey with a podcast. It would be fun and something we could do together.
With the podcast, the blog naturally followed along and that is where the blog and podcast Chain of Wealth was created. Now, I am working full time on the blog and podcast. I love it and I get to learn new skills that I never thought I would need to know. I don’t know if my teaching career is finished or if it’s on hold for a bit.
How’s the podcast going?
The podcast is going great! We are really enjoying the opportunity to talk to so many people.
Are there things you’ve learned from people you’ve interviewed?
I have learned two huge things from the people we’ve spoken to:
- Just get out there and try. It will never be the right time and starting is the hardest part. Just start and do whatever your dream is.
- Stay positive and set mini goals for yourself. How you speak to yourself is so important to your future and your dreams.
What are some life lessons you learned from teaching?
I guess the best life lesson I learned from being a teacher is learning that everyone learns differently. I always knew this, but in school, I always tried hard and got decent grades but it took a lot more effort on my part than some of my classmates.
This often left me feeling slightly ashamed and I would hide the fact that I made extra efforts (not telling teachers about struggling, hiring tutors, homework taking all night) because I didn’t want to inconvenience the teacher or the class.
As a teacher, I saw it from the other side. I knew who struggled and didn’t ask for help and honestly, the kids that worked hard and were polite even if they struggled were my favorites.
It would be no inconvenience at all to give them some extra attention, even if it meant lunch tutoring sessions or an extra one-on-one when I had a free couple of minutes. These students gave me a reason to teach and it was so rewarding to see them finally learn whatever strategy we were studying.
In life, this has taught me to be more flexible and to allow myself a little extra slack when learning something new. That everyone has different strengths and not to worry about my question asking if I need to.
What are your top tips for students/graduates currently paying off their debts?
Get started right away. I wish I would have started paying off my loans years ago. Instead, I ignored them and so much interest has accrued. If I could go back, I would have paid much more attention to what I was doing with my loans.
Are there any more student loan tips you have for the readers?
Make sure that you refinance your loans to a lower rate is my best advice. Being able to get a lower interest rate will end up saving you thousands of dollars in interest, and pay back as much as you can each month.
How do you keep track of your student debt progression?
I know a lot of people keep track of things with Excel spreadsheets or charts and graphs, but that’s honestly too much for me. I keep track by logging into my loan provider account very regularly (like 4 times a week) to check my account.
I also have a network of people who I tell my payment amounts to. This helps to keep me motivated and that the extra random $100 or $200 payments are worth it.
What kinds of lessons were you taught growing up that you appreciate now?
I guess growing up I never thought of them as lessons but I grew up in a single parent household and my mom worked a lot. There were tough times but my mom would always tell me that nothing (good or bad) lasts forever.
Even with occasional money shortages, my house seemed to be the place that everyone would come to for gatherings and holidays. From this, I learned that everything works out and to share as much as you can. Being greedy doesn’t do anything except isolate yourself and what’s the point of having everything you want if you don’t have anyone to share it with.
She also taught me how to be very resourceful. My mom could cook and fix just about anything and as her right-hand man, it was either learn or die. As a kid, I would help cook Thanksgiving dinner while cleaning out the pipes to the air conditioner so it didn’t back up in the house before everybody came over. Growing up this way taught me that there isn’t very much that I can’t figure out on my own.
Any go-to budget-friendly meals you picked up from your mom?
So many! Basically anything potato driven. Growing up, I think we had potatoes in almost every meal. Later, I learned this was because they were filling and cheap. Also, meals like lasagna, Shepard’s Pie (again, potato based) or anything else that is a compilation of random foods are usually pretty tasty and cheap to make.
What are some lessons you’d like to pass onto the next generation?
I think I would like to pass along humility and kindness, and the ability to work hard and problem solve to the next generation.
I think these are important lessons because as an adult, there is no manual to tell you what to do. Everything has to be thought out and solved.
I think living would be a little easier if people were more humble and kind. and a little less greedy and self- centered.
What’s an app, a book, and a blog/podcast (either one or both, it’s up to you) that you’d recommend to someone who wants to improve their finances?
Well, the goal for Chain of Wealth is to help inspire people to pay back their debt. I regularly try to update listeners on my debt payoff journey as a way to keep myself accountable and so they can feel like they aren’t in it alone.
As for books, I know it’s cliché but I am in the middle of Think and Grow Rich, and it has been life-changing for me.
What are some lessons you’ve picked up from Think and Grow Rich thus far?
My favorite chapters were at the beginning of the book. I learned the most by hearing that most of the great people we always hear about (Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie to name a few) also encountered huge setbacks and struggles and that didn’t stop them. That the difference between good and great is as simple as “just not giving up.”
Finishing up, is there anything else you can provide that would benefit the reader?
Make a list. Check in with it, tell your friends and family what you plan to do and keep your eye on the prize.
Writing it down and telling people your plans, makes you much more likely to reach your goal; whether it’s a financial goal or a life goal. Remember that it’s a bunch of little steps to get there- not one big one. So make a plan and celebrate and enjoy the small wins.
Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?
That concludes my interview with Katie. I hope you gained some new insights into how to improve your Financial Health and grow your Wealth. Come back next week for my interview with Laura from Everyday by the Lake.
So readers, what was your favorite point made here? Anything you want me to follow up with Katie about?