NGPF Podcast: Berna Anat, Financial Hype Woman and Author of “Money Out Loud”
Berna Anat is a first-gen Filipina-American producer, author, and Financial Hype Woman. After teaching herself to pay off over $50,000 debt, she's been traveling the world trying to make money less male, pale, and stale for young BIPOC everywhere. Her book "Money Out Loud" just came out on April 25th -- learn more about the book and her motivations through this week’s podcast.
Tim Ranzetta: Hey, it's me, Tim Ranzetta, co-founder of Next Gen Personal Finance. Thank you for tuning in to this NGPF podcast. Today on the show, you're gonna hear from Berna Anat. She is out with a new book, it's called Money Out Loud. You're gonna find out why she is called the Financial Hype Woman. Also, I'm gonna put a pitch in for a new podcast that marketplace has created called Financially Inclined. You are not only gonna hear from Yanely who's the host of the podcast, but you're also gonna hear from Berna. So rather than let me tell you what you're gonna hear in this podcast, I thought it would be great to share some of the feedback because we recorded this live. So, Berna is amazing. I loved listening to her ideas and on advice on how to teach personal finance to teens. A second commenter said Berna was so engaging. I loved all of the analogies she shared and know my students will get them. And then finally, someone commented on her book that it sounds so amazing, so excited to read it and share it with my students. The author was incredibly well spoken, intelligent, and gave some great tips. On how to manage money. So how about that? You're gonna get tips on how to money manage money. You're gonna get advice on how to teach personal finance to teens, and you're gonna learn about analogies to help better explain financial concepts. Without further ado, here's Berna.
Berna Anat: Thank you so much, Tim. I am a huge, huge fan of NGPF, because I'm a big fan of Yanely and she's told me so much and shown us so much about the incredible work you all do. So I'm honored to be here and I'm honored to be in front of all you teachers who are also every dang day doing the work.
[00:01:46] Berna's Background
Tim Ranzetta: All right, Berna, let's start, you know, let's start from the beginning here. Maybe let folks know a little bit about your background and what's kind of led you up to this point of coming out and bringing a book to life.
Berna Anat: Of course. I am zooming in from the San Francisco Bay area that is a unseated Ohlone territory. And I was born and raised here in the San Francisco Bay Area in South San Francisco. I am a Filipino American daughter of immigrants. I'm first gen and a financial educator. And that is not to say at all that I grew up with money or came from money or understood money. My mom was a customer service agent at United for 35 years. My dad was a mail carrier for 35 years. We grew up in a low income household and I grew up wanting to be a writer. And so I got into financial education actually maybe five or six years ago. I call myself like a financial translator, like a creator, sort of a financial BFF, who's just sort of obsessed and wants to point you down the right direction.
As Tim said, I wrote a book, I produce a podcast, I create stuff on the internet. But I did not grow up loving money and loving the story about money. I grew up in a household that may maybe a lot of us did, where we just don't talk about it at all. It's actively shamed, especially when you come from a situation of scarcity, never having enough, and being really confused about it. Money for me is something that I've had to turn the bus around for myself in the last few years, and then sharing that journey of how I did that, what I've learned, not just tactically but also culturally and emotionally. It's changed my life. And so it's been so much fun sharing that story with other folks, whether through the book or like my really obnoxious videos. It's just been a blast.
[00:03:35] Turning the Bus Around
Tim Ranzetta: You talked about turning the bus around. So where was the bus headed and why'd you decide what motivated you to turn it around?
Berna Anat: Great question, Tim. My bus was very much headed towards what I thought was just a lifelong "I'm bad at money", lifelong "I suck at this", lifelong "I don't know how to save because I'm careless and I don't earn enough and my money always comes out through my fingers anyway." The bus was also headed towards like debt forversville, student loan foreversville, never have savings foreversville. And I thought basically that being bad at money was sort of the inevitable sentence for my life. It wasn't until I started to research personal finance myself around, I wanna say age 25 or 26.
I started to do what so many other millennials and Gen Z do. When they don't understand something, it's just Google it. I started Googling stuff. At that point I had about, it was very fun to admit in front of folks, $12,000 of credit card debt and about $40,000 of student loan debt. And I was just sort of sitting with it in the dark, letting it fester like so many other folks do. I was freelance in New York City. I moved back to the Bay Area and I got a full-time job. I had money every other Friday for the first time in my life. So I started to research and not only did I realize how much I didn't know, I didn't know, but I also recognized how few women and women of color there are in personal finance. And that's what really got me, not only to turn the bus around for myself to improve my own financial life, but to share the learnings from my viewpoint, my voice, because there are so few in the world who look and sound like me.
[00:05:21] Entering the Entreprenuerial Journey
Tim Ranzetta: I mean, you had a good job and you decided kind of at one, at some point, right? That you were just gonna kind of go off and start on this entrepreneurial journey. Tell me about the first month or was this one of those deals where you were working two jobs in effect, and then you were able to see your startup kind of take on enough momentum for you to have the courage to say, you know what, I'm ready to cut the cord here and go full-time on my own gig?
Berna Anat: Sure. Yeah. It was, I mean, when we talk about the leap and the risk that we take, I feel like I took like a year and a half long sort of very slow motion leap because the way that it happened for me was. I was starting to really learn about personal finance around 2014, 2015. I paid off my debt at the end of 2017, and that included having my first emergency savings ever attacking my credit card debt first, then building an emergency savings.
And then at the time with my partner at the time, we both were like, you know what we should do, pay off our student loans and quit our jobs and just travel the world for a year because of millennial. Right? That's just like what millennials do. And so we did that at the end of 2017. We quit our jobs. We traveled all throughout 2018, and then my partner at the time was like, all right, well I'm going back to work at the end of 2018.
Over the last year and a half, I've been getting so much incredible feedback from my community of like, the way you talk about money is so fun, women of color in finance is so sparse. So as my partner was going back to work, I was like, you do that, I'm gonna just give myself like four or five months to see where this bus goes. And in the back of my head I was like, and if it ever crashes and burns, like I can get back right on the track that I was doing, I was working in tech for like teen community program stuff.
[00:07:05] Paying off over $50k in Debt
Tim Ranzetta: Just so I get the math right here, casue you kind of did gloss over it a little bit. You know, you went from a situation in 2014, -15, remember folks, $12,000 in credit card debt, $40,000 in student debt. You paid that off in two years. Now I'm sure you tell the story in your book, but give us the cliff notes. How'd you do it?
Berna Anat: Oh boy. Okay. That's a fun story. It was really, it was like two and a half-ish years. I mean when I'm focused, I am focused. But I will say, and I'm very transparent about this in my book and my work, the number one thing that got me to do that so quickly was a bigger paycheck. 100%. There are no tips and tricks that could beat the fact that you need more income to save money or to pay off debt. And I started making almost twice as much as I was making in New York City, not saying much because of New York City.
I started making much more money than I was used to when I came back to the Bay Area. When I knew that, I was like, okay, I'm doing it. I am trying to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible, and this is the advice I give in the book to like, where can I cut? Where can I like slim down in a way that maybe is gonna be uncomfortable for me for a while, but like I am on a mission.
I was able to, you know, access a free debt calculator to see like, okay, if I wanted to quit my job at the end of 2017, how much money would it take to pay down my debt and build a savings and all that stuff. I was like, oh, I can't live that way and pay rent in San Francisco at the same time. Luckily, my family here in the Bay Area, they're Filipino American family the entire time they've been like Berna. Hello. Don't be dumb. Come. And I'm like, no independence. No. I love paying rent. But for about a year I did stay with my family pay rent, but it was not San Francisco market rent and put every, I mean, we're talking about the, that 50/30/20 rule that we talk about where it's like 20% of your income can go towards your financial goals. It was like 60%, 65% of my income was going towards my financial goals. And it's sort of what they call sort of the snowball effect, right? When you're paying down debt. I started off paying massive amounts towards my credit card debt to knock that out as quickly as possible. And then I just did not let myself make that payment any smaller. I kept putting that same number and same energy towards my student loans. The highest interest went first and then the lower one, lower on Lauren. I did the avalanche. It was like snowball plus avalanche at the same time. So I just like kept that same energy up for like two years. I turned the hose on to a certain power and I never turned it off for those two years. But to be clear, again, it was a higher income that made it go so quickly, but it was lots of tips and tactics that made the process organized and fun.
[00:09:44] Starting to Write
Tim Ranzetta: Again, you're not giving yourself enough credit because oftentimes people's lifestyle matches that income that, you know, the higher income that they receive, right? It's money and money out. When did you start writing?
Berna Anat: So I actually had wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid. And I grew up in a classic Asian American alpha daughter household where they're like, you're, you're not gonna be a writer. I like to say that the choices I had were like doctor, lawyer, engineer, or disappointment. And I did end up taking that fourth option, but now my parents are very proud and a little more understanding of what it is I do.
I started off as a writer first for sure, in the finance world as well, because it started off with Instagram posts where the very first Instagram post I did, it was a boomerang just sort of like moving image of me scrolling up and down through my Google doc that I called Felicia's Wallet. And I was like, I wonder what her wallet, what does her wallet look like if she's always running around? So I was showing people my Felicia's wallet Google document, where every other Friday, I would, you know, do my budgeting thing, but I would also journal out like my, my feelings and my thoughts about my money every two weeks. And so I was sharing things about Felicia's Wallet. I was sharing things in very long, like unnecessary long Instagram captions. And then I was turning those captions later into scripts. And so I would script out what I wanted to say, make the videos out of my writing, and then for some reason, put them in the Instagram captions too, in case nobody wanted to watch the video. And so I've been, I've been using writing as a tool to express myself for a long time, and now turning it towards money, it's actually useful. It's, it's now helping people.
[00:11:20] Creating Engaging Content
Tim Ranzetta: Yeah. Talk about how your approach. Because, you know, educators here are always thinking about, okay, how do I make this content, more approachable, more relevant to young people? As you're scripting these videos, you know, what's kind of the voice or the mantra in the back of your head that's kind of guiding how you put these together?
Berna Anat: The guide inside of me is always my inner child. And I know that's also a very millennial, deeply therapized thing to say. But I'm very in touch with my inner child. If, if you can't tell by my behavior the literal cover of my book. I take my style of writing and financial education from asking myself like, what would my, how would my inner kid wanna hear this? Really? I joke all the time that I seem sort of like an adult, but I'm more like three children stacked inside of a trench coat kind of adult. And if I'm learning anything new, especially when it's finances and it often, it feels so stale and so dry and technical, I need to translate it for myself. Like I'm talking to my inner kid, cuz that's how I learn. I would say my inner kid, especially when it comes to financial education, is like, Anywhere between the ages of like 14 and 17. And so I'm translating it for myself. What would my 14 to 17 year old self need to hear to understand interest? What metaphors do I need to pull out? What pop cultural memes or references do I need to pull out?
[00:12:47] A Word from NGPF
Jessica Endlich: Right now you're listening to a podcast from NGPF, but there's also a new podcast for teens about money called Financially Inclined from Marketplace. NGPF's very own Yanely Espinal is the host. In collaboration with Marketplace, our team created student listening guides, which you can find on the NGPF blog as well as in the description notes for each episode. Check out Financially Inclined on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:13:17] Most Popular Videos
Tim Ranzetta: All right. So I'm gonna give you a chance to hook all of our educators here. Talk us through maybe two or three of your most popular videos. And I love the fact you brought up the word metaphor because I think that is so crucial in this subject area because students have had no experience with this. We gotta kind of help relate it to something that they do understand. And so give us your best shot when it comes to two or three of your most popular videos that you're excited about because you had that light bulb go off of inspiration where you're like, I got it, I know how I'm gonna explain this in a way that students love.
Berna Anat: Of course. So one thing that I just went over, I did a talk at the New York Stock Exchange a couple of weeks ago, and the organizers were like, that metaphor, use that metaphor. I was talking about budgeting specifically, and the way that I explain it is, budgeting to me is just like, it's a beautiful thing with a very ugly name.
But I said to the audience of young folks, I was like, pretend you are the CEO of a company called Your Life, right? You kind of are. And your job as CEO is to give every single one of your employees a job. Your dollars are your employees and they need jobs. If they don't have a job, they're gonna start wandering around the building. They're gonna wander off to Buffalo Wild Wings. Someone's gonna pull the fire alarm. Suddenly you have tickets to Renaissance Beyonce in Belgium. You need to give them a job. There are three different jobs that you could give them needs, wants, and dreams, right? And so needs being like you're adulting, your bills. Wants being everything that keeps you mentally and physically alive, or happy to be alive but not necessarily survival. Dreams being the things you wanna accomplish in the future, or financial goals.
But what really the audience really loved this is I likened every one of those jobs . To like an employee that you know of if you've ever worked a job. So I'm like, okay, so the needs dollar. This is like the employee who thinks that they're manager, but they're not. And they're like angling towards manager and trying to wrangle all the other employees all the time. And they're like, this is what you need to do and this is, and everyone's like, okay, whatever needs. Millennials do love an astrology metaphor. And I was like, needs is Capricorn energy. Big organizer. Very like to the point and very specific. I was like, your wants, okay, like your wants is the personality. Hire your wants is there to like, make it so that you don't wanna quit your job every day because they make it fun, right? That's necessary to your financial life. Not all your dollars. Like can't just go to the things that keep you alive or else you're not gonna enjoy this. Wants is like, once is the Leo just like, hmm little vain all about me, all about me. And then dreams is that person who sits in the back of the like staff meeting and is like, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. I think we're all missing the bigger picture here. Like doesn't talk much, but then when they chime in you're like, oh, we just, we were on a tangent and dreams kept it together, but very calm, you know, oldest child energy. So I have a lot of fun with just extended metaphors in that way.
Tim Ranzetta: How about investing? How, how about helping us with, in some metaphors for investing?
Berna Anat: Ooh, I love a metaphor for investing. Okay. I used the metaphor planting the seed and then watching it grow. What I had a lot of fun with though, was explaining how different funds work. So like ETFs, mutual funds, index funds, stocks, and bonds. I really went for it in my chapter. Okay, like we understand investing as you grow a seed, you water it, you water it, it grows and grows and grows. You pick the fruit when you're ready to retire. And I was like, okay, now we're gonna talk about what's inside of an investing account. Stocks and bonds. I was like, so stocks are sort of like slightly more exotic plants that you could kill pretty easily. So you have to like kind of pay attention to them and they're a little risky. Bonds are your more like, that's your succulence, like it's hard to kill. They're much more stable. You might, if you're not good at like planting and gardening, you want more bonds than stocks cuz stocks require a little more attention.
And then I talked about how things like ETFs, mutual funds and index funds, funds in general are like buying a pre-selected box of. Different plants from the gardening store. You might buy a box that's all yellow plants or all whatever types of plants. But the thing is, with a fund, you get to choose a, a box with all the different samples of something like all representing a certain market.
[00:17:38] Unpacking Your Money Story
Tim Ranzetta: What's a chapter in your book that typically is not found in a traditional personal finance book?
Berna Anat: Ooh, great question. So I would say the first and last chapters are definitely not typically found in a typical financial book. First one, though, you're starting to see a little bit more of like unpacking your money story, financial trauma, asking yourself, yourself and family members and the people around you.
A little bit of investigatory questions of like, where did our money brains come from? But I'm really, really, really proud of chapter seven, which is the final chapter, and it has entirely to do with financial activism. Financial activism is generally the concept of using your money to try to change the world. And I talk about how you don't have to have money to change the world. It doesn't have to be your dollars. I've really stressed that money, for better or for worse, is the language of power inside of capitalism. And you can flex that power by, of course, using your dollars to spend in certain ways or withholding your dollars because nothing hurts people with money in their pockets more than you threatening the money in their pockets. They speak that language. They'll listen right away if the money starts leaving their pockets. You might learn how to educate and influence the dollars of the people around you who are more powerful. You might be able to band together and use your dollars to make much more of an impact than your $1 could make.
And I really make a case for like any cause you care about any way you wanna change the world. And I mean, the more the world spends, the more it's clear what needs to be changed. Your cause needs dollars, your cause needs money to function. And, but you don't have to be rich in order to contribute to the thing that you wanna change. So I'm really proud of the way that. Hopefully we're empowering young people to see money as a weapon, money as not just a tool to get what they want, but to wield their power in the world and to maybe even sort of change their position of power in a world that wants to keep them down, especially young people of color.
[00:19:40] Finding the Title Name, Money Out Loud
Tim Ranzetta: That's awesome. So your book is coming out later this month. You must be really excited about that.
Berna Anat: Oh, excited is a word for sure. Terrifying. Terrifying.
Tim Ranzetta: I'm sure you are booked for probably the next three weeks with other podcasts and events like this. The title's Money Out Loud. Why that title and why are you targeting young adults?
Berna Anat: So, I love my title Money Out Loud. We chose Money Out Loud though, because that is so antithetical to how we usually treat money in conversations and in our lives and in our families. You're not supposed to talk about money out loud, nothing about your money life is supposed to be out loud. So the idea of your financial life being out loud, being open about your financial wins and lessons, being open about the fact that you wanna learn. I've learned that being open signals to other people that it's okay for them to learn too. It's okay wherever they're at in their financial life. Everybody wants to talk about their money problems. They just need one person to break the ice. So that's why I'm so in love with the concept of money out loud.
[00:20:47] Importance of Educating Young People
Tim Ranzetta: Why don't we target an or older demographic here? Why, you know, why are you so committed to working to educate young people through your book?
Berna Anat: This is where I wish I was met at when the money conversation started. I wish someone stopped me when I was around 13 to 16 and being like, Hey, can we talk about money? Can we talk about this thing? That, to you is already incredibly important. It's just no one's telling you how to think about it, how to organize it, how to develop a healthy relationship with money. I wanted someone to stop me when I was a teenager. Essentially I wrote the book that I wish somebody handed to me when I was 13, 16. Even now, this is helpful for folks who are full on adults and feel like teens in their money brain. And I have a history of doing teen programming in New York City and in San Francisco. I was probably to the surprise of no one, a camp counselor and then a camp programs director, orientation leader, all that stuff. And the reason I love to work with younger and older teens is because they're right at that age where they're figuring things out very deeply in context, in layers, they're intellectualizing things, but they haven't yet closed the door to where the rest of us go to like absolutely jaded adult life. There's still that window that you can convince them of hope, you can convince them of their power. And so, I just wanted to make that same change in as many young people's lives as possible when it comes to finances.
[00:22:12] Final Words of Encouragement
Tim Ranzetta: You're clearly passionate and engaging. I'll give you the final word.
Berna Anat: Oh. I mean, I'm imagining myself in a room of 50 teachers and I'm just bowing. Because what you do in this day and age in this economy, as the kids say, I imagine it feels like such an uphill battle. And so for teachers to be here , wanting to learn about how they could be better financial educators who they like, it kind of makes me wanna cry. Like it makes me a little emotional that you're here doing this with me right now. And so I don't know if I have any other inspirational words to say besides like this. I know that nobody in the club has time to do extra stuff with their kids in their classroom. And so hopefully this book helps so that it takes a little bit of the burden off of you as teachers or inspires your teens to start their own journey. I'm really grateful for everything you all do. Everyone have a great day and hopefully I'll talk to you really soon.
Tim Ranzetta: A few final housekeeping items before we go. We'll put links to the resources that Berna mentioned. We'll put those in the show notes, which you can at www.ngpf.org/podcast. Better yet, subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcast. Also, wanna put a pitch in for a new podcast from Marketplace. It's called Financially Inclined. It is hosted by NGPF's own Yanely Espinal and in the first episode, You're gonna hear from Berna, so go ahead and listen to Financially Inclined. Wanna thank Ren Makino, he produces the podcast every week. So on behalf of Berna and myself, I want to thank you again for tuning in to this NGPF podcast. Have a wonderful week.