Interview with Amanda Wolfe, Founder of SHEWOLFEOFWALLSTREET
Interview with Amanda Wolfe, Founder of SHEWOLFEOFWALLSTREET
Growing up, Amanda Wolfe knew making more money was the ticket to a better life, but she'd dreamed of becoming a teacher. Or a lawyer. As the founder of a financial literacy community, SHEWOLFEOFWALLSTREET, she does a little of both— teaching personal finance and advocating for smart financial decisions.
For National Financial Literacy Month, I chatted with Amanda about the inspiration for her brand, her personal money beliefs, and her journey from childhood poverty to financial independence to personal finance influencer.
Tell me about your brand story and what inspired you to start SHEWOLFEOFWALLSTREET.
My name is Amanda Wolfe, so the name kind of came together organically. I've always had an interest in personal finance, growing up really, really poor, so I've been trying to uncover every single thing.
A few years ago I was helping one of my good girlfriends navigate her own finances and she said, "You know this stuff really well, you should start an Instagram, I think people would be interested in it."
I came up with the name "SHEWOLFEOFWALLSTREET" because it's the opposite of the hard-core, bro-ey vibe of The Wolf of Wall Street. It's inclusive, welcoming, accessible for everybody, it has a lighter touch. The name was available and from there it was just a matter of creating content. It is a lot of work but I find so much joy in it.
Are you mostly self-taught?
For sure, yes. Some of my first memories of life are about money. Growing up, my parents were addicts, so we were constantly moving around. I lived in a place once that had no running water for almost a year. I was bullied, wore the same outfit to school everyday, and, you can imagine, kids were not very nice to me. I would always be like, "Why can't I have new stuff?" And my mom would say, "It's because we don't have money."
So when I was really little, I thought I just needed to find a way to get money. The way you get money is by being smart, so I thought if I do really good at school, I'll get a job and I can get money for all the stuff.
Money issues are so deep-rooted for me, it's kind of funny to see it come full circle because as you know when you do graduate from college and you get a job, that doesn't mean you are automatically good at money or that you can get a loan.
Absolutely. I learned to budget and track my spending after I started my first corporate job and realized I was spending way too much.
Same. When I got my tax return after the first full year working in a corporation, I had made $70,000. I was 22, so to me that was like $4 million. My issue wasn't making money. My issue was spending it. That was my big awakening. I think it's really what launched my journey to learn everything about money. I was working way too hard to be left with what I had left.
When it comes to investing, do you think people should pay off their credit card debt before they start? Or is there a balance?
I think it depends. Say, for example, you have credit cards with super high interest rates, but you have an employer match with your 401k. I would say get that employer match all day, because that will be a 100% return on your money.
Mathematically speaking, it makes more sense to pay off the debt first, but we're not robots. We're also emotional beings, so I also say consider how it makes you feel. If it stresses you out and makes you feel behind, then start investing something, even like $50 a month, and you can still aggressively pay off the debt.
April is financial literacy month. Statistics show that lots of people have trouble understanding finances. What are some common misconceptions or myths you hear?
Oh, there's like a million of them. First, that you have to have a lot of money to start investing. I host a class every once in a while where I walk through how to start investing with one dollar. It's not going to retire you, but I show how accessible it is.
Another one is that all debt is bad. I don't think that's true, like when you have a low interest rate. I still owe something like $500 on my car, but my interest rate is 2%, my FICO® Score is high-800s. It doesn't derail your whole financial journey to have debt.
Another really common one is that budgeting is restrictive. People think it means they can't spend any money and it's not like that. It means spending money intentionally. You don't have to be in a spreadsheet. You can do an app if you want. I like to teach people how to be hands-off by having one bucket of money for bills and another one for spending. You can make it as easy as you want.
Yes. People think they have to cut back. They think of it like a diet, rather than a lifestyle change.
I think that's another thing. People love too many things. You could have anything, you just can't have everything, so you have to force rank. You have to go down your list and decide what's number one, what's number two, and start realizing what's less important.
Have you seen the de-influencer trend on Tiktok, where people are unfollowing people who influence them to spend too much money?
I have seen that. I absolutely think that you should unfollow anybody who makes you feel bad about yourself or who causes you to execute bad habits. Even if it's your friend and they're always posting their exotic vacations and you find yourself feeling really jealous, either unfollow or hide their posts. Social media, I think, should be a place where you go to learn, laugh, have fun and maybe get some updates on the world.
If you could sum up your financial beliefs in a couple of sentences, what would you say is your financial philosophy?
I want you to be able to spend your money intentionally and prepare for your future but don't get so swept up that you don't live life today.
What financial or career accomplishment are you most proud of?
For financial, I was able to reach Coast FIRE by around age 31 or 32. That was before I knew that term existed. I was just trying to accumulate as much wealth as possible. That brings me so much peace and pride because I wasn't set up necessarily for success.
I do work a 9-to-5 job alongside SHEWOLF, but I feel so proud of the fact that I was able to build Shewolf from the ground up. I like knowing that I could've played a hand in someone finding financial freedom.
Which platforms are you active on? Which has the most engagement?
Instagram for sure and my website, where I have courses. I'm looking to grow TikTok as well.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for anyone else who wants to become a personal finance influencer?
I would say to just start. Do things in the beginning or at least at a very low cost. Don't try to wait until everything is perfect. Just start and do it every day.
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