Live Debt-Free: The Five Pillars Of Financial Freedom With DeShena Woodard

Your debt is keeping you from financial freedom. If the money you earn all goes to your debt, what then is left for you to keep and grow? In today’s episode, Rosie Zilinskas sits down with someone who has the experience and wisdom to help you get rid of your debt. DeShena Woodard is a Registered Nurse turned Financial Freedom Coach and Certified Life Coach. She is also the founder of the website, Extravagantly Broke. After struggling with debt, DeShena paid off $52,000 in just over 2.5 years and now lives 100% debt-free for years. She shares the actionable things you can do with the five pillars of financial freedom so you can live an abundant life without worrying about your bills. Take control of your money just as you do your career! Join DeShena in this conversation!

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Live Debt-Free: The Five Pillars Of Financial Freedom With DeShena Woodard

We’re going to be talking about money. Not in the regular way that I say you need to get a promotion or ask for a raise, but once you have that promotion or raise, what happens with that money? If you have debt, do you try to take that money and save it or do you pay off your debt? Our guest is going to be talking about the five pillars to financial freedom. I want you to be happy and fulfilled in your life and to have the career of your dreams, but at the same time, I want you to have financial freedom as well.

 

DeShena Woodard is a Registered Nurse turned Financial Freedom Coach and a Certified Life Coach. She is also the Founder of the website, Extravagantly Broke. After struggling with debt, DeShena paid off $52,000 in a few years, and she now lives 100% debt-free. Her story and advice have been featured in NerdWallet, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, The Balance, and more. Her goal is to teach ambitious professional women how to get control of their finances so that they can have more money, more options, and the financial freedom to live an abundant life by doing the things they enjoy without worrying about bills.

 

My conversation with DeShena is oriented on how to get rid of your debt. We both want you to have financial freedom. DeShena can help you figure out how specifically you can get rid of your debt and what are the actionable things. Especially with Gen Z and Millennials, you guys don’t balance your checkbooks the way we were taught back in the day when you had to balance to the penny. Most Gen Z-ers don’t even have a checkbook anymore because everything is online.

 

We want you to take care of your money so that you can control the money and money doesn’t control you because it’s not a fun feeling when you have debt and you don’t have the budget to pay for emergencies or if you lose your job. That is why we’re having the conversation now because it’s important to take care of your career, but it’s also important for you to take care of your money. Keep reading for my conversation with DeShena.

DeShena, thank you so much for being here on the show. Your goal is to have financial freedom for people to live an abundant life doing the things that they enjoy without worrying about their bills. Why is that your goal?

 

First of all, thank you so much for having me. I’m honored to be here. The main reason is that I am a professional woman, a registered nurse by trade, and I didn’t learn a lot about money. It’s like you’re sprung into adulthood and you’re supposed to figure this out. All I learned was that you’re supposed to go to college, get an education, get a good job so that you can make money, start living your life, have a nice home, cars, kids, and activities and things like that, but I was never taught how to manage money.

 

When I started earning money, I started getting all the things, but I never understood savings other than saving for something that you want to buy as you save for a car or a house. You spend the money on that and then you save for the next thing, but never an emergency fund, investing, or things like that. I ended up buying all the things and I ended up in debt and struggling with debt for a long time.

 

It was causing me a lot of anxiety. As I would sit to pay my bills, my heart would start pounding, my stomach would start churning, and I could visibly see my hands trembling every time I sat down to pay my bills. I knew that wasn’t right. I was always under this bill and financial pressure. I kept tweaking and trying to get a few bills out of my life. I failed a few times. It took me years of trying different things, but I eventually figured out a process that allowed me to get control of my money and start to pay some bills.

 

When I did that, I kept going and I realized, “I can pay everything off,” and I did and I became debt-free. When I became debt-free, what was so surprising to me was that it gave me financial freedom. I was like, “What? I wasn’t expecting that.” I thought financial freedom was something that you had to have a certain dollar amount in the bank like millions of dollars or lots of zeros in the bank. It’s something that was far off in the future,” but that was very eye-opening to me when that happened because financial freedom is having the options and opportunity to be able to do the things that you enjoy. You use your money. Money is the tool that helps you do that. That’s the basic definition of financial freedom.

 

Once I discovered that, I wanted to help and show other women. You can do this even while you are still paying off bills. I’ve since discovered that even while you’re still paying down your debt, financial freedom is getting your money to work the way that it should because there are levels to financial freedom. The first one is getting your money to work the way it should. I could show women this and help women with that so that they don’t have to go through those same struggles. A lot of people don’t like to talk about money so we end up trying to figure things out all by ourselves. Sometimes we struggle a lot longer than we should because we don’t ask for help or we don’t know where to get help.

 

I wanted to connect the dots a little bit. You are a financial freedom coach. You’re a nurse by trade and through your own personal struggle of being in debt and having that anxiety, you have pivoted and now you’re financial freedom coach. Why does debt control people’s lives?

 

Primarily because we’re taught to spend. We’re always being bombarded with all of these messages to buy and spend, and even if you can’t afford it, that’s okay. You can put it on a credit card or take out a loan. That is what gets us into this struggle. You then can just live on the minimum payment. That’s a big thing that I try to tell people.

 

The minimum payment is a trap essentially because you should never buy things based on the minimum payment because essentially you can’t afford them. It’s like society sets us up for this financial failure because it drives us to want to spend or teaches us to spend and it doesn’t focus enough on teaching us how to save, invest, and manage our money so that we can be comfortable in our finances versus overwhelmed with debt and bills.

“Society sets us up for financial failure because it drives us to want to spend or teaches us to spend. It doesn't focus enough on teaching us how to save and invest.” – DeShena Woodard Click To Tweet

I’m sure you’ve heard of the psychology study where they have kids in a room and they put marshmallows in front of them and they say, “Here are two marshmallows. If you leave the marshmallows alone and we’ll come back in ten minutes, you get three marshmallows,” and then some of the kids like play with the marshmallows and some kids can’t resist and eat the marshmallows.

 

They don’t realize that there’s delayed gratification, which is what you were saying that society is bombarding us with all these things like, ” you can afford it.” That’s why so many people got in trouble in the 2008 debacle when the housing market exploded because you are hyperextending yourself with the money that you have.

 

There are so many people that don’t live within their means. If there’s something and you’re going to charge it, make sure that you’re able to pay it at the end of the month. You say that you are not defined by your past money decisions. Let’s start talking about your five pillars of financial freedom.

 

Financial Vision

Pillar number one is simply understanding what your financial vision is because you need to identify where your goals are. We start earning and spending money and think, “We know we should save or invest, but we don’t know what is it exactly we want our life to look like.” Determining what you should be saving for is always the best place to start, and also why is it important to you. That’s why in pillar number one, we start to focus on your vision, so you can have that clear action of what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. We then can figure out what are the best strategies or actions that you need to take to help you get there.

 

This show is primarily dedicated to women in the corporate world. I help women continue to advance in their careers so they can get that next job that they want so that they can earn more money, but if they’re not managing their money, it doesn’t matter how much money they earn through promotions and things like that. How does step number one fit into that?

 

I am a professional woman and I named my website Extravagantly Broke because that’s who I was. I feel like that’s where so many women live. You’re making good money but struggling to manage and you feel like you never have anything to show. A lot of times maybe you have very little savings, are struggling with debt, and not fully investing. I feel like that’s how it fits with the corporate women because you’re earning good money, but not knowing how to manage it and where it’s going, you always feel like you don’t have a lot to show for. That’s how it fits with professional women in the corporate world.

 

Similar to your need to have goals in your corporate career, you need to pair those goals up now with your finances because as you said if you’re struggling to pay your bills but you make good money, you need to figure out why. That’s goal number one comes into place. What’s the second pillar to financial freedom?

 

Cashflow Maximizer

The next pillar is the cashflow maximizer. As I said there, there are levels of financial freedom and the first level is getting your money to work the way it should. When so many women get that next level in their finances or make good money, you probably always thought that you wouldn’t have to worry about money or bills. That’s the purpose of making more money.

 

You don’t know how to manage it or handle your finances because you were never taught. It’s nobody’s fault and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of that. A lot of women probably do have some shame around that, but it’s not your fault. We’re not taught that. We’re taught to spend money. It’s like breathing, investing, and knowing how to prioritize. Sometimes that’s a skill.

 

The cashflow maximizer is the second pillar of the program. It is getting your money to work the way it should so that you can set up your finances so that things are flowing easily and smoothly. I believe in simplifying, streamlining, and organizing so that you’re not stressed. That’s the reason a lot of people don’t do budgets because it seems too overwhelming and too stressful. Nobody wants to track every single dime or penny they make. Who wants to do that?

 

It’s about getting a system set up in place to the point where you can check in on your finances once a week for a few minutes. That’s my goal. I believe in simplifying and that helps you increase your cashflow too. Once you know what’s coming in and going out, you can see where the leaks are and start to plug those leaks so that your money is working for you and the way it should be. That’s why I call it cashflow maximizer.

 

I love that. First of all, you and I already had an episode on your podcast, which is the Women with Ambition podcast. I explained to you in your podcast that when I was a single mom, I did my budget. I was one of those geeks that balance my checkbook still. I always knew what was coming in and going out. I always wonder how people without a budget do that.

 

Sometimes at the end of the paycheck, I’m counting how many dollars I have in the bank because inevitably one of the kids would need something. I needed to have a little bit of a buffer. Mind you, it wasn’t a lot of money, but I had something. I don’t know if you have a specific method of doing it yourself, but I used Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps and there are other people that use the Automatic Millionaire so they make can sure that they have savings first and things like that. Going back to the cashflow maximizer, how specifically do you have your clients work on that?

 

I did set up my own budget template which helped me. I try to teach people that, but the most significant thing that started to help me to get a handle on my finances is that I used the zero-based budgeting method. That’s my trick. It doesn’t mean spending your money down to zero, it means assigning every dollar a job. That way you start to feel more in control of where your money is going. That’s the method that I like to take my clients through.

 

I use that as well. I would put anything that I always had at the end of the paycheck in savings because then I would start off with a new budget. That sounds great. That’s two, the cashflow maximizer. What’s the third pillar?

 

Debt Destruction System

The third is going to be the debt destruction system. I struggled with debt for years. I took debt and flipped the script because I turned it into an acronym. I made it the DEBT, which stands for Decide, Envision, Believe, and Take Action. That’s my debt destruction system. I try to meet women where they are. Some people have a lot of debt and some people have a little debt. We tackle every option that we can to help them crush that debt in the fastest time possible but help people do it based on what their goals are.

 

That’s why the first step is so important because sometimes people can get off track or lose motivation or it’s too overwhelming. That’s why we want to get our vision first because that’s how I keep you motivated. We always go back to that vision and we make sure that everything we do is aligning with that vision.

 

I like that. You said decide, envision, believe, and take action. Let’s assume that a woman in corporate has debt and got a promotion and has $300 extra in their paycheck. What would you recommend to that woman to do with those extra $300?

 

As a coach, I try to help people make the best decision for their lives. It depends on how badly the debt is affecting them or what they want to do with the money first. Some people feel more secure if they have some money saved. Some people feel like, “I can’t deal with debt. I want to tackle that debt in the fastest time.”

 

When I was going through my journey, I started with the debt and paid off a couple of the smallest ones, but then after that, I felt more secure saving and paying debt at the same time. If you had an extra $300, once we’ve looked at all your finances and saw where you are, what your debt is, and what savings you have or where you want your money to go, then we can determine it.

 

You may feel like, “I want to put $100 of that every month into my saving,” because we want to build up that emergency fund first. I always want to have that. Once we’ve got that, then you may want to feel like, “I want to put $100 towards savings and $200 towards debt.” It depends on the individual, what their goals are, how quickly they want to get that debt or build up their savings, and which one is more important to them first.

 

It’s so important that you highlighted that it depends on the individual’s security like what is it that they feel better doing. A lot of people, especially women want to know that they’re financially secure, whereas men are always, not so much nowadays, but in the olden days, they were the provider. They knew that they were going to bring money in whereas women wanted to have that security.

 

When I was going through my journey, I was in the camp of, “Let’s get rid of debt,” if I got a raise that money went straight to debt. Again, I did Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. Dave Ramsey says, “Have your emergency fund,” and he recommended $1,000 dollars and that’s based on the person. That was step number one, and then step number two was to get rid of that debt with gazelle intensity. That money was thrown into the debt.

 

I like your mindset of it depends on the individual because we’re all different and we all have those financial, safety, and security needs that we need to make sure that we meet. I’m sure people felt that they needed to have significant savings and it would drive them crazy if they have all of that raise and then it goes into debt.

 

I’ll give you one example of a lady that I talked to. She has student loans. It’s not an overwhelming amount. She says that she’s paying 1.6% interest on her student loans. To her, she’d rather maybe put more money into investment accounts because on average, you can earn maybe 8% in your investment. She says she’s totally fine with paying her student loans off gradually because the interest rate is so low and it’s not stressing her out.

 

That’s why I meet people where they are. That’s why we have to understand what your vision is and what your goals are, so we can determine the right path for you because everybody’s path is different. What stresses you out might not stress the other person out. I always like to look at it from that perspective.

 

NWB 36 | Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom: We have to understand what your vision is and what your goals are so we can determine the right path for you because everybody’s path is different.

 

You brought up a good thing, student loans. A student loan is one of those things that haunt millions of people still already working with all those student loans. What would you say would be a good strategy for someone that’s already working in the corporate world that has those student loans that seems insurmountable as far as paying the debt down? What are some recommendations that you have had with some of your clients when the interest is not necessarily as low as that 1.5%?

 

If it’s stressing them out, then we’re going to look at every option available to tackle that debt. We’re going to find out what your timeline is, “How soon do you want to get rid of it? Based on what you’re earning, how fast can we pay it off? What can we cut? How can we bring in more income? What things can we do? Are you on the income-based repayment program?” We’ll look at every available option.

 

If it’s stressing you out, I want to get it out of your life as fast as you want it out of your life. We’re going to look at every possible option to help you get rid of that debt as fast as possible. I always still recommend that everybody has at least that minimum emergency fund because you can be paying off debt, but things still happen and come up.

 

We want to at least make sure that while we’re tackling this debt, we’re still building up. We’re doing something to put towards this emergency fund over here. Once we at least got that minimum of $1,000 or I typically like to recommend people have at least one month of expenses, and that can often be more than $1,000 because sometimes maybe your expenses for a month might be $3,000.

 

To me, I feel like that will carry you longer and gives you a little bit more security, but the $1,000 is awesome because most people can’t even afford a $400 emergency fund. That’s what the statistics say. If this debt is stressing you out, we’re going to look at every possible option within the reasoning we’re going to go through.

 

I have all sorts of steps. I have a checklist. We’re going to check things off and make sure we tackled everything and every possible way to get you to pay that debt down as fast as possible because I’ve been there. I was one of those people that didn’t like having any debt. I didn’t care how low the interest rate was. That was just me. I don’t like to owe people. I wanted it out of my life. I meet you where you are and we will go from there.

 

I agree. I was the same. You said that you also figure out how to bring in more money. Again, for our conversation, that’s going to be a promotion with a raise. If you have that promotion with your raise, it’s almost like you could pretend that you didn’t even get that raise and then take that money and throw it at the debt. You also said something that I liked. You said you started paying off your smaller bills, and then once you paid those off, you took that money and applied it to the payments that you have left. Is that what you said?

 

Yes. Once I paid off the smaller debt, then I started saving a little bit. I felt more comfortable saving while I was paying off debt. That made me feel more comfortable because for so long, I never had money saved. I always felt that anytime things come up, I did have to charge something or sell something at the pawnshop and I went there. It was embarrassing and humiliating, but I had to do it because I had to find ways to get money.

 

A lot of it was mismanagement of my funds. I didn’t know how to even set up a proper budget or how to prioritize my expenses. It took me so much time to figure that out. You mentioned the raise. That is precisely one of the ways that I got out of debt because I did apply for a higher-paying job and my income increased by about 40%. Prior to that, I had already been working on lowering my expenses and tweaking, finding, and figuring out how to manage my budget. I’m not buying anything new, not taking on any new debt, or anything like that.

 

When I got that raise, that’s how I paid my debt off so fast. I paid off $52,000 in a few years because when I got that raise, I started as you said with Dave Ramsey, gazelle-focus. I started chunking money at that debt. As I said, I feel more secure with savings. I could have paid it off even faster, but I split that in half. Chunking half at the debt and a half into my savings because it made me feel more comfortable.

 

As I was paying the debt off, I started to see the light in the tunnel. I started feeling less financial pressure because I was seeing money grow in my savings and seeing the debt balances come down. I didn’t even mind that it took a few years because I knew I was getting there. I could see the progress. It made me feel better to do it that way. That’s why I meet people where they are. If you want it all paid off, we’re going to go good and hard. We’re going to get that taken care of.

 

I love that because I can tell you from experience too that I felt so good seeing my debt go down and then once I got all my debt, that’s when I started working on my 3 to 6 months of savings. I can totally relate to that. I want to make sure that people are clear. When you are trying to pay off your debt, if you get a raise, that raise is not for you to go out and buy a new couch or clothes or to pay for a vacation. It’s for you to have financial freedom, but there are going to be some sacrifices like that marshmallow where you might not have a vacation for 5 or 10 years or whatever, but then you can see the progress that you’re doing by paying off all of your debt and having those savings.

 

Before you go forward, let me respond to that because that’s something key that I always like for people to understand. It’s temporary. A lot of people feel like, “I won’t be able to do this.” They feel like they’re giving up, but they don’t understand what you’re gaining. You’re gaining back your freedom and confidence. It’s such a relief when you see those balances going down. I never felt like I was missing out on anything.

“You're gaining back your freedom and confidence when you pay off your debt. It's such a relief when you see those balances going down.” – DeShena Woodard Click To Tweet

In the beginning, when I first got my job, I always thought about, “What’s the next thing I can buy?” I remember sitting in a job interview thinking, “If I get this job, I can buy my couch and get that car. I certainly hope I get that job.” You’re already thinking of how you’re going to spend that money, but I got to a point, every time I got a raise, I’m looking for ways, “How am I going to save this money? How am I going to put this money away? How am I going to invest this money? How am I going to pay down my debt with this money?”

 

It becomes addicting almost because you start to feel so good about having this security, especially if you’ve already been down that road of stress and buying things. Where did that lead you? Nowhere good. The title of my website is Extraordinary Broke. It’s like you’re making all this money and you have all this stuff, but you still feel like you don’t have anything. You still feel like you have nothing to show. That’s your mindset. That’s because you are so stressed and overwhelmed by the bills. What fun is that? Money should be fun.

 

Your point is that when you control your money instead of it controlling you, that’s when you find that financial freedom. What is pillar number four?

 

Abundance Activator

Pillar number four, I’m calling that one the abundance activator because that’s where we focus on saving. With the previous one, the debt destruction system, we want to build up at least our emergency fund and then start tackling your debt. Once we get a good handle on that debt, then we’re going to start saving. We want to set it up. We’re going to create a customized plan because we want to make sure you’re building up some cash reserves so that you always have some financial security. You always feel confident if anything happens or that we start working more on the larger goal of your savings like the 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses versus the $1,000 emergency.

 

That’s one thing I like people to know that they are two separate things. Your emergency fund is strictly for emergencies if your car breaks down, you need a new tire, pay for a copay for the emergency room or the urgent care, or something like that. It’s for emergencies. Whereas your savings should be for your expenses like COVID happened or someone lost a job or is out of work.

 

If something happened where one income or part of your income went away for a while, you at least would have a good room to give yourself a chance to strategize, reevaluate, and figure out what your next plan is without feeling the walls closing in. That’s the abundance activation. We look at other ways where we can ensure savings and build up those cash reserves for you.

 

I want to be clear with the 3 to 6 months’ savings. That is money that you never touched. That money is not for that couch or the car. If you want a new couch, you need to create a couch fund. If you want a car, you need to create a car fund. Those 3 to 6 months, that’s emergency money.

 

It’s living expenses. It should be 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses in the event somebody loses a job, somebody gets sick, or something like that. You need that income to help sustain you for that timeframe that 3 to 6 months. It is for your living expenses. It’s not for your couch or anything like that. We’ll do something separate for that like a sinking fund as what people like to call it or the envelope system. You can put cash in an envelope and call it a couch fund and save for that.

 

I had an envelope system as well when I was broke so it kept me on track. I love the abundance activator. What’s the final pillar?

 

Financial Freedom Accelerator

The final pillar is the financial freedom accelerator. We have set the foundation. We’ve got your vision, cashflow maximized, paying down your debt, and building up your savings. Now, we’re going to look at the strategies and hone in on the next steps to help you go after the life that you want to live. My podcast is called Women with Ambition: Making Money, Seeking Freedom, & Chasing Dreams.

 

If you have a dream that you’re trying to chase, then we’re going to start trying to figure out what your next steps are to help you reach that goal because I’m also a Certified Life Coach. I help people also figure out what their goals are and then the next steps they need to do to help them reach those goals. We’re going to start looking at ways to bring in extra income.

 

NWB 36 | Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom: If you have a dream you’re trying to chase, we’re going to start figuring out what your next steps are to help you reach that goal.

 

There are so many ways to bring in sources of income through investments, side hustle, and creating a business. The more passive, the better like if you can create digital products, courses, or things like that. We always want to look at all the options that we start with what your goals and skills are, and we hone in on the ways that we can set you up so that you can live financially free for the rest of your life and bring in extra streams of income.

 

When I was going through my journey, one of the things that I did is I had a couple of garage sales. My kids were little at the time. As they were outgrowing things, I would put them on eBay. That’s how I was able to create a little bit more money because that’s the only thing that I had. It’s a good idea. I love the financial freedom accelerator. You are a nurse by trade. Are you still nursing or are you doing the financial freedom coaching? Tell me a little bit about how you went from nursing to a coach.

 

I struggled with debt for many years. I kept having this burning desire to help other people because I didn’t have those role models or examples or know where to start. There’s so much information out there, but the whole purpose behind a coach is to give you the steps to help you implement faster and get you there faster. You can keep searching and get overwhelmed with information.

“The whole purpose behind a coach is to give you the steps to help you implement faster and get you there faster.” – DeShena Woodard Click To Tweet

There are tons of information, but if you don’t always know how to implement it, and people kept asking me, “How did you do that and this?” If people want to know, then maybe I should pursue trying to figure out how I can help people get there faster. It’s also a way for me to achieve my own dreams because a lot of times we’re taught to work for other people and be employed. That’s fine if that’s what you love. I encourage that, but some of us had another desire to create or build our own businesses. I felt like that was an opportunity for me to step into the next realm because I’ve gone through this journey and people are asking me for my help.

 

I am still a registered nurse. I am not practicing, but I do keep my license active because you never know, just to be real. I keep up with my continuing education credits, but I am passionate about helping people with their finances. People are afraid to talk about it and have a lot of shame around it. It’s good when you see women that can talk about it and that are willing to help, guide, support, empower, and show you what you need to do to get to that next level. I want to share the financial freedom that I have with other people.

 

That’s fantastic. You have a free gift and it’s called the Strategic Shopping Checklist. Tell me a little bit about that.

 

I created that because of inflation right now. People are getting hammered with these prices. It’s like at a 40-year high. I wanted to put some of my best strategies that I use to help me on a daily basis because one of the worst things that you can do when you’re trying to manage your finance is to shop randomly. That’s where so many people get into trouble. It teaches people some strategic tips on ways that they can increase their money each month. I wanted to provide that as a way to help, especially during this time right now with all of this high inflation. That’s why I created it.

 

They can just go to your website, right?

 

Yes.

 

I looked at it and it has some fantastic tips on there for shopping. I like the one that says, “Don’t take your kids to the grocery store with you,” because then they’re going to be like, “Mom, can you get this? Daddy, can you get this?”

 

It’s hard to say no sometimes. It’s a little thing, but sometimes the little things add up.

 

When my kids were little, I couldn’t leave it at home. When we went grocery shopping, I always warned them, “You are not getting anything.” It’s not for groceries, but shopping in general. I’m like, “We are not buying anything.” I would forewarn them. I was always one of those parents that I always followed through with what I said I would do. They knew if I said no, it meant no. I love the five pillars to financial freedom. You already gave us a ton of good information, but are there maybe two actionable steps that you can recommend for someone to start taking action with their money?

 

To achieve financial freedom for anyone, especially for corporate and professional women, there are two crucial things that everybody needs to know. The first step to financial freedom is knowing where you stand with your finances right now. Many of us have no clue what our financial status is. A great way to get a good snapshot of that is to do a quick net worth assessment. All you need to do is get a sheet of paper and divide it in half. On one side, list all of your assets. That would be your house, car, retirement accounts, and investment accounts, and put the value next to each. On the other side, you’re going to lease your liabilities, which would also be your home if you still owe on it.

 

NWB 36 | Financial Freedom
Financial Freedom: The first step to financial freedom is knowing where your finances are right now.

 

On the right side, under assets, you’re going to put what your home is worth or the value of your home. if it’s worth $500,000, you would put that under the assets, but under the liabilities, when you list your home, you’re going to put what you still owe on it, say you owe $200,000. That’s the amount you’re going to put on that side, the same for your cars, student loans, or anything.

 

You have your list of assets and liabilities and what they’re valued at, and then you’re going to subtract your liabilities from your assets. That will give you an idea of at least where your finances stand from a net worth perspective. That’s like a big general view. It’s not the specifics, but it is a general view. If your net worth is in the positive, that’s good, at least you’re on the right side.

 

Even if you’re in the negative, you don’t have to feel bad about it because a lot of times if people own a home, that’s the reason why it could swing them into the negative. At least you know where you stand. You then can track your progress each year. It’s so rewarding when you see things increase and move in the right direction each year. That’s one thing, getting that snapshot of your net worth.

 

The next thing for financial freedom is probably writing down what your financial goals are. What is it that you want to accomplish in the next 5 to 10 years? The 1st one helps you with where you are and the 2nd one tells you where you want to be. Do you want to buy a home in the next 5 to 10 years? Do you want to pay off a home in the next 5 to 10 years? Where do you want your income or your bank account to be? These are all very general, but it’s a way to help you see where you are and where you want to be. Those are the first two things people can do to start getting ready and getting their mindset geared toward financial freedom.

 

That’s incredible. If you need help, you can always go to DeShena, and then she can help you figure out your financial goals and planning and all that good stuff. This has been a great conversation. Again, I wanted to invite you because so many times I hear people say, “I’m broke. I live paycheck to paycheck.” When you get that promotion that we’re always talking about, we want to make sure that is giving you financial freedom. The five pillars to financial freedom have been fantastic. Any final words before I let you go?

 

I want to say to corporate women that your mindset matters because what you think controls how you feel, how you feel drives your actions, and your actions get your results. The same with the corporate world as you’re trying to climb that corporate ladder or get to that next level in your pay, the same goes for your finances. Your mindset and the way you think about money matter. If what you’re doing now isn’t working, then it may be time to look into changing your mindset.

 

I love it. DeShena, thank you again so much for taking the time to be with us. You gave us some incredible and very useful actionable things. Thank you, again, very much for your time.

 

Thank you so much, Rosie, for having me. This was so much fun.

 

Thank you.

There you have it. You have the five pillars to financial freedom. Both DeShena and I want you to have financial freedom. If you are in the corporate world and you find yourself in debt, or if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, go to DeShena’s website and check it out. You will find everything that you need from her. She also provided us with a free gift, which is the Strategic Shopping Checklist. I thought that was powerful because it gives you some good tips on what you can do to get more for your money when you go grocery shopping.

 

I will share with you both of DeShena’s tips. Tip number one is for you to figure out your net worth now. She explained this in more detail, but it’s when you compare your assets to your liabilities. Whatever that number is, you want to make sure that it continues to either decrease if you are in debt or continue to grow to have savings.

 

Tip number two is for you to have your financial goals. I always recommend having written goals for your career. You also want to have written goals for your finances. People with written goals are ten times more successful than people without written goals because if you write them down, something happens in your brain chemistry that registers, and then you have more motivation to meet those goals.

 

All of the information that DeShena shared with us is perfect and fabulous. It brings me back to when I was super broke several years ago. I used a lot of the methods that DeShena recommends to get myself out of debt. Now, I am completely debt-free, but you have to work at it. You have to take action.

 

I’m curious if you are a Gen Z-er and you balance your checkbook, please send me a note because your parents must have educated you on how to balance a checkbook. I remember back in the day, I always balanced my checkbook to the penny. I don’t think people do that as much anymore, but please let me know if you do balance your checkbook because I’d be curious to know why and how you do it.

 

If you want to think more about your career, go to the No Women Left Behind website. I have a free course that is the Corporate Kickstart Course. I also have a free quiz on there. If you are ready to talk more about your career, I also have a complimentary Corporate Kickstart Consultation. I would be happy to have a conversation with you about your career. With that, remember to be brave, be bold, and take action.

 

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About DeShena Woodard

NWB 36 | Financial FreedomDeShena Woodard is a Registered Nurse turned Financial Freedom Coach and Certified Life Coach. She is also the founder of the website Extravagantly Broke. After struggling with debt, DeShena paid off $52,000 in just over 2.5 years and now lives 100% debt-free for years. Her story and advice have been featured NerdWallet, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, The Balance, and more. Her goal is to teach ambitious professional women how to get control of their finances, so they can have more money, more options, and the financial freedom to live an abundant life doing the things they enjoy without worrying about bills.