As I make plans to head internationally (with my medical student debt in tow), I thought it was appropriate this week to discuss the topic of finances and travel. I completed an interview with a delightful woman, who similar to me, did not feel fulfilled in her previous career, and left in order to travel the world! I met her through networking in an online Facebook group, and wanted to learn more about her amazing story.
As I similarly left my previous career with concerns regarding paying back my debt, I soon realized that with lifestyle changes such as reduction in my living expenses (particularly by living in countries with favorable exchange rates), I will be able to pay down more on my debt while still allowing me to ‘travel.’ (I will not be ‘traveling’ so much as living in other countries for short stints.)
Getting over the overwhelming anxiety that came with a massive amount of debt and leaving the security of my job was a challenge, but ultimately something I am grateful for. It required me to not only change my focus and outlook on what I value in life, but change my relationship and how I viewed money.
Hear below about how the founder of Wealthy Money, Vangile Makwakwa, went from suffering with debt to happily traveling the world and coaching others to lead a fulfilling life. I enjoyed speaking with her virtually, and I hope that we get to meet in person someday, perhaps our world travels bringing us together.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself and the original journey you were on.
“I thought I had to do the usual- get a degree, get a job, do my masters, and go back to my job and then climb the corporate ladder. So, I got a Finance degree, got a job for a year, felt suffocated and went traveling.”
“Then I freaked out that I wasn’t ‘adulting’ and I sucked at managing my finances, so I went to do an MBA and tried to get a job as an investment banker. After all what’s the purpose of a finance degree and an MBA if not to work in investments?”
“I knew I wasn’t cut out for any of this but that still didn’t stop me from looking for jobs and beating myself up when I didn’t get hired.”
Q: What led you to change your path?
“It was more like life made me change.”
After getting my MBA, I kept applying for jobs and kept getting rejected after every interview. The more rejections I received, the more self-confidence I lost, shame I felt, and the more debt I got into.”
“Eventually, I fell into a deep depression and could only think of ending my life. But, then a friend told me about vipassana meditation and it kick started a journey of self-discovery and self-awareness for me.”
Q: How did you pay off $60,000 in debt in 5 years?
I did 3 things:
1. I focused on changing my relationship with money by allowing, accepting and
changing my emotions about money.
“I created a series of guided meditations to help me connect with my spirit of money and to better understand the way my subconscious viewed money. I then started exploring these archetypes, emotions and ideas about money. I also focused on healing my inner child, mother wound and tribal vows I’ve created about money.”
“I needed to do all this because just handling money or looking at my bank account would bring on panic attacks for me.”
2. I resolved to increase my income.
“Part of why I was in debt was because I wasn’t making money. I stopped trying to get a job and allowed life to lead me to a career path that was in line with my purpose, which is to write and heal.”
“So, I ended up writing a book, coaching and creating online personal finance courses that focused on healing our emotions, mother wound, father wound, inner child and family dynamics about money.”
3. I started paying off the smallest debt first.
“I always thought I needed lots of money to pay off debt and would always delay paying off my debt because it never felt like I had enough money. I felt like $60,000 was too much money.”
“But, as soon as I started working on my emotions about money and the panic attacks subsided, I started seeing things differently. I worked with what I had and paid off the smallest debt and then moved onto the second smallest until I only had one debt left to pay – my student loan and I focused all my attention on that.”
“As I was paying off my debt, I also made sure not to create any new debt and kept doing the inner work, which I still do with my students right now.”
Q: What do you love most about what you do now?
“Oh, where do I start?”
“I love how I can travel and move from place to place.”
“I love that I have a tribe that actually cares what I have to say and that sees results of following through with the advice I give.
“But most of all I love that I get to teach the things I love and believe to men and women I respect and admire. I love that this work keeps challenging me to think bigger and go deeper so I can truly help people and show that it’s really not about the money and it’s never been about the money.”
“It’s about self-love, forgiveness and finding stillness and inner peace within ourselves. I get to use my finance and economics degree but not the way I thought. I could never have dreamed this when I was in undergrad.”
Q: What is the number one piece of advice you would offer to those who want to pursue a nomadic lifestyle and be financially responsible?
“Life is happening for you, not to you- so do the inner work.”
“The universe knows your deep desire to travel and change your finances but to clearly communicate with the universe you need to be clear and centered within yourself. So, do the inner work and clear the things that are blocking that communication.”
Q: In particular, for someone who shelled out a lot of money for a health degree, or for those with significant student debt, what can they look forward to if they follow your holistic wealth guidance?
“My work isn’t just about the money. It’s really about having better relationships with yourself, your family and society.”
“My students say I teach them how to build wealth with soul, so you can look forward to a life where you trust yourself and are calm even without money. You will learn to trust life and you will forgive your past and accept what’s happened.”
Q: How many of your clients or people that you know are stuck in jobs they are miserable in, simply for financial security? Do you believe this is one of the stronger factors preventing people from changing careers, pursuing their passions, or traveling the world?
“Hmmm, not sure about my clients, since my students scare me to death. As soon as they start my courses, they go on a mission to change things, which is normal because they have an aha moment, but it’s scary and exciting for me looking on.”
“But, I do think many people are in jobs they don’t like because of financial security. What it really is, is fear that that following their passions will leave them broke or homeless.”
“We’ve seen too often how following your heart has an initial price – entrepreneurs sleeping on couches, getting into debt, not having enough to eat.”
“But, this is life – everything has a price and all these things are just meant to help us find our way.”
Q: Finally, how can others follow in your same path to financial freedom and happiness?
“Oh, wow it makes me feel like a guru.”
Starting November 27th – December 1st, 2017, I will be hosting a free 5-day course on how to “Transform your family financial story and legacy”.
People can sign up at: wealthy-money.com
It has been a wonderful week (and year) connecting with people from all around the world and I have a lot to be thankful for as we head into Thanksgiving here in the U.S. tomorrow. Here’s to being thankful for what I currently have and wishing you the absolute best in wherever you are in your journey, including work success, money success, relationship success, health and safe travels, and most importantly your exploration and satisfaction with yourself!