Tonya Rapley on Becoming The Millennial Money Expert
An in-depth interview with the nationally recognized financial advisor on key financial tips for black millennials.
February 07, 2018 at 12:43 am
If you’re looking to to create a financial lifestyle that is as fabulous as yourself, then nationally recognized financial advisor and founder of My Fab Finance Tonya Rapley is the right person to help you.Rapley, a Charlotte, North Carolina native, founded My Fab Finance in January of 2013 to help millennials learn how to become financially free and do more of what they love.
“My Fab Finance actually started as kind of my place to explore what I was learning about personal finance,” Rapley said. “I felt like I couldn’t identify with a lot of the financial experts out there because I felt like they didn't understand my demographic and I felt like they weren’t fabulous.”“I wanted to create a space for the fabulous millennial who wanted to be financially savvy as well to receive actual financial education and advice,” she added.
Rapley began building My Fab Finance while working two full time jobs and attending graduate school at Brooklyn College in New York. During that time, it came to a point where My Fab Finance was generating enough revenue to allow her to resign from her nine to five job and pursue her business full time.Rapley said she created My Fab Finance specifically with black women in mind. She wanted to offer a creative space for them to talk about money and have access to helpful resources.
“I’m a champion of black women,” Rapley said. “I’m a champion of us because I know what our experience is. I know how it feels to be overlooked and to feel like an afterthought. I know how it feels to feel invisible as a black woman and I want them to know, like, ‘No I see you and I’m doing things specifically for you, with you in mind. Like I got you girl’ and that’s really important to me because I feel like we don’t always have that.”Like many others, Rapley learned that she needed to become more conscious about her finances when her financial decisions were holding her back from what she wanted in life. She didn’t want to rely on assistance from her parents and knew she had to get her finances in order.
“I lived in New York City and I went to apply for an apartment and I was denied because of my credit score and I needed to get a cosigner,” Rapley said. “It was just ridiculous. I think they wanted my parents to pay like $18,000 or something like that in order to sign on for a place for me. I was like, ‘No I’m an adult.’ I went to college and I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do, but yet I still can’t make adult decisions without my parents.”Rapley says that it's never too late for anyone to decide to get their finances together, whether you’re a millennial or nearing retirement.
“The good thing about money is that it takes on the habits of its holder,” Rapley said. “If you’re using it responsibly and making smart decisions with it then it will work in your favor. But, if you’re making bad decisions, it won’t work in your favor. I think it's just the matter of when you decide to. Even someone in retirement can make a decision to be smarter with their money.”
Rapley’s goal is to help millennials break the habit of living paycheck to paycheck so that they can focus on doing what they love and live free. She suggests that in order to avoid this lifestyle, it's a great idea to reduce your expenses so that your expenses don't exceed your income. She also suggests not to do things or buy things that do not serve your best financial interest. This will help you become more aware of deciding what you’re willing to pay and spend your money on.
The biggest mistakes Rapley said she’s witnessed millennials make is living above their means and allowing social media to influence them to do that. Also, using credit cards and forms of debt to bridge the gap between their actual life and their ideal life. She sees the problem of millennials becoming detached from their money because of technology and apps as well.“I understand a banking app might send you your account balance every morning, but there’s something to be said about going and looking at what you’ve been spending your money on,” Rapley said. “A lot of millennials are detached from their finances and they don't have that intimate relationship or understanding of how they’re using money.”
Rapley suggests millennials to take advantage of workplace investment opportunities, invest in a company’s stock sharing program and know their numbers, such as how much debt they have, their credit score and their monthly overhead.For those who are interested in learning about investing, there are books and great resources online, according to Rapley.
“There’s so many great resources on YouTube,” Rapley said. “Seek and you will find, and I think a lot of people don’t. Just the way we research plane tickets, the way we research finding good deals, or getting the best seats at an upcoming Jay-Z or Beyonce’ concert, you can do the same thing and research investment strategies.”While researching, black millennials can also apply what they learn to help build generational wealth. Millennials should learn how to buy investable assets to support the next generation.
Rapley stated she made a post not too long ago about how 85 percent of our purchases are on goods that are unusable within three years. She said it is best to start making smarter purchases and buying things that we can pass down to our kids and delay instant gratification for long-term satisfaction.Speaking of long-term satisfaction, Rapley celebrated her fifth anniversary of My Fab Finance last month. She said her motivation as an entrepreneur is creating a legacy and to continue to inspire people.
“It fuels me inspiring other people to pursue their dreams and to realize that just because you didn't go to an Ivy league institution or you don't have access to these networks or you’re not the typical success story, it doesn’t mean that you can’t become that,” Rapley said.“It also means that there are other avenues to become successful other than these traditional skills and opportunities that have been set aside for black women,” she added. “It's nothing against them, but there are other opportunities for us outside owning a hair company or a clothing business or something in the beauty industry. We can create businesses outside of that and be successful and give back to our community.”
If you’re looking for a resource to help you through your financial journey this year, My Fab Finance has the proper resources to help you become well equipped. Resources include online courses, a free E-book and Fab Finance TV.“We offer monthly master classes,” Rapley said. “Our master classes are designed to take on financial talk each month and break it down so that participants are able to take action on it. The financial success planner is a best seller. It's like one of its kind. It’s a financial organizer to help people better organize their finances.”
My Fab Finance also creates money mindset tools and resources for people who have a negative mindset when it comes to money or have a negative relationship with money.“We create our affirmation of abundance cards or just on our social media platform,” Rapley said. “It just reminds people you know, to be kind to yourself. You can do this. Just be open to changing your energy and changing your story and life will respond to you.”
All financial advice given in this article does not reflect that of U.S. Bank. Sponsored by U.S. Bank.