Who doesn’t have trouble budgeting? This is where Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche steps in. While Aliche helps all people understand their personal finances, her focus is on helping women learn how to budget and ultimately build wealth.
In fact, in just nine months she helped 18,000 women take control of their finances. How? Through a new free program she started called LIVE RICHER Challenge Movement, a virtual community of thousands of women from 50 states and 60-plus countries, which she launched in 2014.
“I noticed a surge of people asking for advice, especially women of color. There are so few resources for women of color to receive free financial advice so I decided to create a platform where I could help a lot of people at once,” explains Aliche. “When I formed the Live Richer Challenge, I had a goal of 10,000 people signing up, but more than 20,000 did. And while it is open to men as well as all women, I am especially concerned with helping women of color.” And helping she is. Women in severe financial distress often reach out to Aliche.
“I had one woman call and tell me she was on her rooftop contemplating suicide over her financial situation. I gave her the suicide hotline and I tried to give help. Finances can be very distressing. I try to give women power and control again over their finances,” she shares.
The Budgetnista specializes in financial literacy services. She uses her considerable expertise to bring much-needed advice to the public. Aliche has served as the personal finance education expert for City National Bank and since 2008, she has been a brand ambassador and spokesperson for numerous organizations by offering financial education through seminars, workshops, curricula, and trainings. The Budgetnista client list includes Prudential, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Dress for Success and the NAACP.
Aliche has also authored two #1 Amazon bestsellers, The One Week Budget and Live Richer Challenge as well as writing a blog on personal finance for The Huffington Post and U.S. News and World Report. “I make money working with corporate clients but I wanted to find a way to use my skills to give back to the community; that is another reason I created the Live Richer Challenge,” says Aliche.
She adds, “In the challenge, we all work on the same goals collectively. I send it to members via email. And we have created a Facebook community where the members can share their experiences. We also have people to give free advices.”
Aliche has always been interested in money management–even as a little girl. “My father was a CFO and accountant and he had five girls, so money was always a topic for him and my mother,” recalls Aliche. “My father was a teacher for awhile so he took advantage of every teachable moment. Growing up, I thought everyone learned money lessons at home.” So imagine Aliche’s surprise in college when her roommate was having money problems. Like many college students, her roommate had fallen into the credit card trap.
“My college roommate was getting bill collectors calling the room and I was just so shocked,” says Aliche. “So I started calling my father to get advice to give her.” This was when Aliche realized she loved sharing information and helping people.
“I am a teacher at heart. I have always liked teaching; I was a Sunday school teacher, and was a preschool teacher for 10 years,” she says. “Teaching is my true passion and I liked to share budget information.”
So she figured out a way to do both–as the Budgetnista.
“My sister actually gave me the nickname Budgetnista in 2008 and I decided why not use it as part of my branding. I started the business in 2010 when I was laid off from teaching because of school budget cuts,” remembers Aliche, who said it was a struggle in starting over. “I was not making money for the first 2-3 years. I was running the business and living off unemployment,” she notes.
“The key to building your business is to live very simply. Before the layoff, I had a house, which I bought it when I was 25. I had like $50,000 in savings and then the recession hit–I lost my house, job and even my boyfriend. I moved in with my parents for nine months, then moved in with my sister for nine months, then rented a room with a group of friends when I was in my early 30s. Most people were not willing to live simply, but I had to until my business would allow me to have more. The money I made, I invested in my business instead of my lifestyle. Now, my business is on the cusp of being a million-dollar business in 2016 so it was worth living simply for three years,” she explains.
And while the challenge she created is a free service, in 2016 she is going to boost the membership and offer a more advanced element, for such members will have to pay for. She already has 50 000 women signed up. “One thing I am going to launch the Live Richer Academy. The Challenge will remain free and through it I teach basic financial principles. The Academy will be about investing. The next level of living richer is not just budgeting but growing your money and you can not build wealth on saving you have to invest. So many women are hesitant to invest even though studies have shown that women women do invest they do well because they do a lot of research and are cautious investors.”
Aliche would like to help people avoid the common money mistakes. Among them,” says Aliche, are: thinking it’s too hard to budget so they don’t get started; being an overgiver, trying to help everyone–the “bank of me”; leaning on some male counterpart, but for women of color it’s different because women of color have the “superwoman syndrome.” “So many women of color don’t ask for help because they have been taught that they have to do everything; it’s seen as a weakness if we need help,” says Aliche.
Aliche learned a few business lessons of her own she’s likely to pass on to others. “One of the biggest lessons is that it is possible to do good and make great money,” she says. “I became a teacher but I didn’t think I would make good money. I didn’t realize I could do good and make great money. In my 20s, I kind of had the ‘Mother Teresa Syndrome.’ I was willing to live a life of poverty just so I could do good. Then when I started my business I was hesitant to grow my business because I, like a lot of women, feel guilty for making great money for doing good.”
This notion changed when Aliche received advice herself. “Once, a woman gave me the best advice. She said it would be selfish of me not to grow great wealth if I could. That it was not being greedy; but it would actually allow me to help more people. If I made more money I could spend more money helping people. And today, I have helped people collectively save more than $4 million and pay off half a million in debts,” she shares.
Aliche has continued with her community work and she has plans to do even more. “I am forming the Live Richer Foundation,” she says. “One of my goals is to adopt a preschool in a financially-depressed area. And if the parents can get the children to high school, I will get them to college or whatever higher education they want to pursue. I read about a woman in Mississippi (Oseola McCarty) who had done this and it has become one of my goals.”