Meet Jamila! A wife and mom to two amazing and beautiful young boys and the beauty behind the personal finance blog JourneyToLaunch.com. Raised by a single mom, she learned the concept of hard work and the value of money at a very early age. While her friends were blowing their money on the latest fads, she was saving for her first real estate property, which she was able to buy right out of college, at the age of 22. As a result of the lessons she learned growing up, her, and her husband are debt free (besides the mortgage) and she is on her way to becoming financially independent by the age of 40. Today she's sharing with us how she paid off debt over the last several years and then went on to save 85k in one year to inspire all of you out there working on building wealth. Enjoy!
"This is a lifestyle for me, it’s not a fad or something that just seems cool to do."
What was your "enough is enough" moment that inspired you to get aggressive about your savings?
Although I've always had general good money habits, in the past, I've made some not so smart money decisions. Some of those decisions were choosing to buy things I didn't need such as a luxury car, bags, watches, etc. I had no business buying these things, not because I couldn't afford it, in fact, I never went into debt because of the purchases but because these purchases never aligned with my deep core values and goals.
Sure, it felt nice to drive a luxury car and wear nice handbags but these purchases did not get me closer to a goal I had set for myself at a young age. That goal was to retire by age 30. So throughout my 20’s, I still saved a lot but I still spent a lot on what I would like to call "ego feel good" purchases, without thinking about the long term.
Once I reached 32 years old and realized that I had missed my original goal of retiring by age 30, I had to contemplate on what I really wanted out of life. It was at that point, realizing that I had missed my retire by 30-years old goal by mindless spending that I said to myself, I have to get more discipline and deliberate about the way I spend money.
How much debt did you pay off in total?
I graduated college with about $25,000 in student loans, had a $38,500 home equity loan on my investment property and had a $20,000 car loan at one point. I paid them all off as quickly as I could by living well below my means and cutting back my spending. Most of my income went to paying off debt as soon as possible I rarely paid the minimum amounts on anything, I always tried to pay a bit more.
How much money have you saved in total?
As far as savings, I also always saved a lot throughout my working years. I talk about that in one of my more popular post: How I bought my first investment property at 22. In 2016, my husband and I managed to save $85,000, through sticking to a budget and cutting back our expenses.
How did/do you keep yourself motivated?
My kids and wanting to get rid of my long commute is what keeps me motivated. My commute is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours each way! When I am in traffic, I get fired up. I hate that I have to spend so much time in the car. While I have found ways to make my commuting time productive, like listening to financial podcasts, nonetheless, I don’t want to be a slave to a commute for the rest of my life.
I’d rather spend those precious moments with my children. I am sacrificing time with them now by working hard for a more flexible future. So the thought of being able to spend more time with my kids and getting rid of my long commute is what keeps me motivated.
How did you manage the days where you just wanted to go out and spend money?
I always try and think about the bigger picture. I ask myself "Does this purchase help or deter me on my path to financial freedom?" Also, knowing I have allotted “blow money” in the budget to spend how I want to spend gives me some leeway. So whether it's going out to eat with friends or spending money on clothes, there is a specific budget category that tells me how much is available to use and that helps me to not overspend.
What would be your money advice to your 21-year old self?
Invest now! I started working full time at 22 years old and was just putting the bare minimum into my company 401k. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I started to contribute more and it wasn’t until this year, at 33 years old, that I actually maxed out my 401k.
If I would have started putting the maximum amount or contributed more to my 401k at age 22, I would have 2x as much money in my investments accounts than I do now. That would have made my goal of retiring at 40 years old easier to meet. Who knows, maybe I would have been able to retire at 35 years old instead by just investing earlier.
What steps are you taking to ensure your debt freedom is permanent? What steps are you taking to ensure you meet your ultimate savings goals?
This is a lifestyle for me, it’s not a fad or something that just seems cool to do. I inherently don’t want to spend money on luxury items that bring me no real value. I don’t feel deprived of anything in life and that’s key. I don’t need many things to make me happy.
What matters to me is the relationships I have with my family and friends and having enough money to have options. That’s what important, therefore, I don’t feel the internal struggle that some may feel of not having enough or depriving myself. This journey that I am on is aligned with my core values, therefore, the path I am walking doesn’t feel hard but necessary. This is how I have stayed and will stay on my journey, I made sure it is 100% aligned with my internal compass.
What advice would you give anyone reading this looking for encouragement?
The advice I would give is to really sit down and think about what matters to you the most. Do you want to be in a better financial position a year from now? Do you want to set yourself for a great future and not have to worry about money?
If you know deep down inside you are unhappy about your current situation, have too much debt, hate your job, or spend frivolously, then its time to take control of your life and make a plan. Set clear goals about where you want to be in life and take small actionable steps to get there. You won’t be able to change your situation overnight but you have to begin to want something different for yourself before your journey can begin.
Thank you so much for an insightful and inspiring interview Jamila!
Be sure to visit her website over at JourneyToLaunch.com and follow her on IG @journeytolaunch