- Tonya Rapley is an author and speaker on personal finance, with a long wealth-building story of her own.
- 10 years ago, Rapley had a credit score in the low 500 range, consumer debt, and little savings.
- She focused on financial stability, pivoted careers, and began investing to get where she is today.
- Read more from Personal Finance Insider.
Tonya Rapley is the founder and CEO of My Fab Finance, a seven-figure financial education company and lifestyle blog that she’s been building for the last eight years.
Rapley, dubbed a “millennial money expert,” often appears on stages and TV screens speaking about financial literacy. But her current success did not come without challenges.
After leaving a physically, emotionally, and financially abusive relationship a decade ago, Rapley was resolved to improve her credit score and get out of debt.
Her first goal was to increase her credit from the low 500 range to the high 600 range, and within six months she was able to improve her
by 180 points, and start on other wealth-building goals. Rapley shared five strategies she used to transform her finances over the past decade.
1. She set current goals and approached her 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 which vehicles you’re going to use to build wealth and create a plan,” Rapley said. “Set the intention and give it everything you got.”
2. She focused on stability before anything else
The first things Rapley sought was total financial stability, which for her included raising her credit score, eliminating consumer debt, and building an emergency fund worth six months of her living expenses.
Rapley said that this boosted her confidence, because now she would be able to weather any future financial storms — no matter what happens.
3. She picked up side hustles to supplement her income
At the time that Rapley first launched My Fab Finance, she was working for a nonprofit in New York.
She said that once she decided that she wanted to improve her finances, she quickly realized that her salary alone wouldn’t get her where she wanted to be.
“So, I picked up a side hustle operating photo booths at events,” said Rapley. “I was making pretty decent money doing that, which helped me start paying off some of my debt and build savings.”
That would only be Rapley’s first side hustle. After she began blogging about her wealth-building journey, she began to notice a lack of minority and millennial representation in the personal finance content space.
“I also felt like a lot of the finance content was geared to people who lived in lower cost of living areas,” she added.
After identifying this gap, she decided to focus more on her content, and created a space to help millennials improve their relationship with money no matter where they lived.
“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,” said Rapley.
As her blog gained more and more popularity, she started earning additional income from writing and speaking about personal finance.
4. She switched career paths and negotiates her compensation
Rapley would often advocate for raises at her job, but once her finances became more stable, she decided to leave that job and dedicate her career to building My Fab Finance.
At that time, she had signed a client contract through My Fab Finance that would provide more income for her than what she could earn at her job over the course of an entire year.
“I didn’t feel like my job was going to help me bring in enough income to live the life that I wanted,” she said.
An essential part of Rapley’s expanding
is that she’s mastered the art of negotiating, to ensure she gets paid what she believes she deserves.
“Negotiation is one of those muscles that the more you work it, the more comfortable you get, and the less fear you have,” she said. “I would have to ask myself, what’s the worst that could happen? The best that can happen is I am compensated for what I feel that I deserve.”
5. She started investing
As Rapley’s financial situation became more comfortable, she started looking at opportunities to invest in real estate and the stock market.
“I was no longer in financial crisis mode and could invest without fear,” she said.
Rapley said that she encourages people who are looking to invest to research how others are growing their money—both legally and ethically—and look at the different options available to them.
“For me, that was deciding to invest my money in purchasing an e-commerce company, buying real estate, and investing in the stock market,” she said.