From Broke Phi Broke to Financially Woke – Dollar Financials


Escaped Paycheck to Paycheck lifestyle


Today, I am excited to share with you the latest interview in the From Broke to Financially Woke series!  The purpose of this series it to give hope to those struggling to escape from the not so secret group Broke Phi Broke.  A group whose chant is, “We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke! We ain’t got it. Broke, Broke, Phi Broke!”

To help me accomplish this goal, I have invited the best and brightest of the financial independence community here to share their stories.  As you read their interviews, pay close attention to the mistakes they made.  Take mental note of the success principles they used to turn things around.

When trying to apply these principles to your own life, realize that success in life is rarely linear.  You will encounter some struggles.  But stay persistent.  Keep moving forward.

Our special guest today is Joy from Dollar Financials.  Earlier in the series, her husband Enoch from Savvy Canadians, shared his side of their from broke to woke story.

At their lowest point, she and Enoch had a combined student loan balance of $50,000 and they were full-time members of Broke Phi Broke.

How were they able to escape?  I’ll let her tell the story…


Introduce yourself.  Where do you blog? What are some of your interests outside of financial independence?


Hello there! My name is Joy and I blog about personal finance over at Dollar Financials. My husband and I have two kids and I work in the agricultural commodities sector.

Some of my other interests (outside of my kids – haha!) include cooking, reading and doing stuff outdoors.

Tell us about a time where you were a member of Broke Phi Broke.  How did living paycheck to paycheck make you feel as a person? At your lowest point, how much debt did you have?


Escaped Paycheck to Paycheck lifestyle


During the early years of our marriage, my husband and I were full-time members of the Broke Phi Broke fraternity. He was taking postgraduate studies and had very limited funding. I was just out of college and was looking for employment. 

At the time, our combined student loans were about $50,000. While this debt was probably not as high as the average student loan debt out there, it kept increasing basically because I was making around the minimum wage and my spouse was in school.

Living paycheck to paycheck made me feel really bad. I remember panicking anytime my phone rang about an hour before my work shift. It could be my supervisor calling to cancel my shift because the store wasn’t busy enough. A missed shift meant we were deeper in the hole – it was that bad.

While this era of our lives is now far behind us, we continue to take proactive steps to pay off debt and all we have left is our mortgage.


What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?


I have made some horrible financial errors in the past when I was laid back about personal finances in general. Two of them readily come to mind.

  1. Financing a car I could not afford after college. The monthly payments worsened my financial situation and I should have at least waited till I was gainfully employed before I took on a car loan.
  2. Not investing early on. I did not bother to invest at all during my college years. Yes, times were a bit rough, however, if I had lived a bit more frugally, I would have been able to set aside some funds to put in an investment portfolio. Looking back, I regret the missed opportunity to grow my net worth over the years using compounding interest.
Describe your upbringing.  Where did you grow up? What did your parents or teachers teach you about money?


I grew up in a one-parent household, having lost my mom early on. My dad worked in a low-paying technician job at a nearby university and did his best to help his kids get an education. 

Money was a scarce resource, so as kids, we got used to managing whatever we could afford for food and clothing. My dad always encouraged us to be content and to live within our means.

With regards to the financial education I received at school, it was very minimal. Personal financial education was not something included in the curriculum as far as I can remember.


How important is becoming financially woke to you?  What steps have you taken to increase your financial knowledge?


It is super-important! I recently woke up to the idea that I did not want to work at a 9 to 5 job for the rest of my life. The realization that it is a possibility to achieve financial independence is one of the reasons why I started my blog and ardently follow some of the best money tips to improve our finances.

In recent years, I have started reading more books about improving my finances and have also learned about do-it-yourself investing. I follow other like-minded people on social media in order to keep me committed to the goal.


What are some of the key principles you have used to improve your financial life?


Escaped Paycheck to Paycheck lifestyle
Success Principles


  • I avoid debt and only use a credit card when I can afford to pay it back immediately.
  • I use simple index funds and avoid chasing returns. I also try to minimize my investment fees.
  • I automate my savings and contributions to my investment portfolio. This way, I don’t forget or make up excuses for not investing.
How often do you consume personal finance information?  Name 3-5 of your favorites sources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc.).


I try to read personal finance material every day. This could be a blog post, book (audiobook), or podcast. My favorite podcast is ChooseFI, and for blogs, I follow Budgets Are Sexy, Savvy New Canadians and Mr. Money Mustache.

[Editor’s Note:  ChooseFI is on my 7 Peerless Podcast Recommendations list!]

Where are you on the path to financial freedom now? 


Escaped Paycheck to Paycheck lifestyle


We are still far from attaining financial freedom. In 2018, we paid off all our non-mortgage debt and are now focusing on our retirement accounts and kid’s college funds.

Our hope is to have enough saved and invested in the next 10 years. At this time, we also aim to have paid off our mortgage, so hopefully, work will become optional.




Is there any advice/encouraging words you can give those who are struggling to escape Broke Phi Broke?


Have a plan for your financial future and then diligently work towards achieving it. Our financial life took a positive turn the day we put pen to paper and detailed (step-by-step) how we wanted to spend our money, pay off debt and invest.

Find like-minded people who encourage you on your journey.

Stay focused and get back on track quickly when you fail. 

Celebrate small wins along the way.


How can the readers contact you?


Readers can reach me through my contact page here, or on social media:




Escaped Paycheck to Paycheck lifestyle


Read more interviews in the From Broke to Financially Woke Series.

Please share this From Broke to Financially Woke interview on social media with the hashtag #escapebrokephibroke

Follow by Email49

Author: Jerry

Jerry is a Business Insider Contributing Writer who is obsessed with personal finance. He believes you can improve your financial situation by applying principles taught by the financial independence community to your financial life.

If you are having trouble saving, he recommends that you join the SaverLife Savings program where you can get a $60 reward after six months (no income requirement). All you have to do is put a minimum of $20 a month into a savings account. Easy, right?

For a fun read, check out his article 10 Signs You’re a Personal Finance Addict to see if you are a personal finance nerd.

Before you go, check out the new From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series.

Also, please subscribe below if you found his content valuable and want to continue following him as he documents his own journey from Broke to Financially Woke!

Subscribe to be one of the first people to get updates as I continue to document my journey from broke to financially woke 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.