- Tonya Rapley is a personal finance author and speaker with a long history of building wealth of her own.
- Ten years ago, Rapley had a credit score in the low 500 range, consumer debt and little savings.
- He focused on financial stability, changed careers, and started investing to get to where he is today.
- Read more from Personal Finance Insider.
Rapley, dubbed a “millennial money expert,” often appears on stage and television screens Speaking of financial education. But his current success was not without its challenges.
His first goal was to increase his credit from the low 500 range to the high 600 range, and within six months he was able to improve his credit score by 180 points and begin other wealth-building goals. Rapley shared five strategies he used to transform his finances over the past decade.
1. You set realistic goals and approached your finances with a plan
Rapley researched and learned about effective wealth building strategies that made sense for her current situation at the time.
“You have to decide what vehicles you’re going to use to build wealth and come up with a plan,” Rapley said. “Set the intention and give it all you have.”
2. Focused on stability before anything else
The first thing Rapley was looking for was complete financial stability, which for her included increasing her credit score, eliminating consumer debt and building an emergency fund equivalent to six months of your living expenses.
Rapley said this boosted her confidence, because now she would be able to weather future financial storms, no matter what.
3. He engaged in side activities to supplement his income.
When Rapley first launched My Fab Finance, she was working for a nonprofit organization in New York.
She said that once she decided she wanted to improve her finances, she quickly realized her salary alone would not get her where she wanted to be.
“So I picked up a side hustle operating photo booths at events,” Rapley said. “I was making quite a bit of money doing that, which helped me start paying off some of my debt and building savings.”
That would be just Rapley’s first side hustle. After he began blogging about his wealth-building journey, he began to notice a lack of minority and millennial representation in the personal finance content space.
“I also felt that a lot of the finance content was geared towards people who lived in lower cost of living areas,” he added.
After identifying this gap, he decided to focus more on his content and created a space to help millennials improve their relationship with money no matter where they live.
“I wanted to create a safe space for women who look like me to learn about money, especially if money wasn’t something they grew up talking about,” Rapley said.
As her blog grew more and more popular, she began earning additional income writing and speaking about personal finance.
4. He changed careers and negotiates his compensation
Rapley often advocated for raises at her job, but once her finances stabilized, she decided to leave that job and dedicate her career to building My Fab Finance.
At the time, he had signed a client agreement through My Fab Finance that would provide him with more income than he could earn from his job for an entire year.
“I didn’t feel like my job would help me generate enough income to live the life I wanted,” he said.
An essential part of Rapley’s net worth expansion is that he masters the art of negotiatingto make sure you get paid what you think you deserve.
“Negotiation is one of those muscles that the more you work it, the more comfortable you get and the less afraid you are,” he said. “I’d have to ask myself, what’s the worst that could happen? The best thing that could happen is that I get compensated what I feel I deserve.”
5. He started investing
“I was no longer in financial crisis mode and I could invest without fear,” he said.
Rapley said he encourages people looking to invest to research how others are growing their money, both legally and ethically, and to see the different options available to them.
“For me, that was deciding to put my money into buying an e-commerce company, buying real estate and investing in the stock market,” he said.