Cinneah El-Amin on the surface was a total millennial success story. She was living in New York City post-college, working in a high paying corporate job, earning around $70,000 a year. Still, behind the scenes, she didn’t have her money life together: she was living paycheck to paycheck and she was in debt. “It just felt like I was a hamster on a hamster wheel,” she shared with us.
She had ended up in about $10,000 of credit card debt across multiple credit cards, around $3,000 of personal loan debt, and $10,000 of student loan debt (which she had taken out to cover living expenses while she got her master’s degree). Debt was so normalized in Cinneah’s family that no one had questioned her taking out that student loan to be able to afford living expenses (on top of working) in grad school, and as a 25-year-old she was paying the price, literally.
Luckily, Cinneah realized her spending and debt load wasn’t going to be sustainable forever. At the end of 2018, she decided that she needed to get help tackling her spending problem. She began to work with a financial advisor from Northwestern Mutual for accountability and came up with a budget for the first time. When 2020 rolled around, she decided to kick things into high gear and went about tackling her $23,022 of debt.
As of today, she has paid off $10,000 and counting.
Cinneah has a lot more financial goals in the pipeline, too. She is currently pursuing FatFIRE (financial independence for someone who spends more than average). She wants to have a net worth of $1,000,000 by 30, and the option to retire by the time she is 40 (though her goal isn’t necessarily to stop working, it’s just the independence of being able to). “I really see it as a way for me to accelerate my ability to just have options,” she shared.
Her approach so far to get there has been to build wealth through her employer-sponsored 401(k), a Roth I.R.A., and a health savings account[HSA].
“I want 2021 to be the first year that I really max out my Roth I.R.A, my HSA, and I want to really attempt to max out my 401(k)” all of which would amount to around $29,000 invested and saved.
“Your past money mistakes don’t have to dictate your future,” Cinneah shared of what it takes to get on the right path. “For anyone listening out there, I hope my story can be inspirational because in a lot of ways my debt came from my own lack of understanding of what works for me: not having a budget, living beyond my means, and very much putting a lot of my money into wants and not necessarily thinking about what do I actually need.”
We recently sat down with her on Instagram Live to discuss her personal finance journey and also to get her to give us a tutorial on how to make a money map, one of Cinneah’s go-to tips on how to organize your different financial accounts to get on the right financial path.
Make sure to watch below, and then give money mapping a try!
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Feature Image: Twenty20. Other Image: Courtesy Of Cinneah El-Amin.