From Broke Phi Broke to Financially Woke – Wealthy With Whitney

Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck

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 Whitney from Wealth With Whitney. At her lowest point, she was living paycheck-to-paycheck. Although she was financially literate and taught others how to be financially sound, she didn’t always practice what she preached.

How did she turn things around? I’ll let her tell you…

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


My blog can be found here: When not blogging, or engaging in all-things finance, I am binge-watching the following shows: Billions, Family Guy, Homeland, House of Cards, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Schitt’s Creek. Although the current pandemic has put a halt on sports, I am still an avid Duke Blue Devils and New York Yankees fan. 

[Editor’s Note: I highly recommend the show Billions. I included a video clip from it in my article on the opportunity cost of self-doubt.]

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?


I can start with my lowest financial point, which in turn resulted in me having to live paycheck-to-paycheck. During my junior year of college, through work-study employment, and saving both my Opportunity Programs stipend and refund checks, I had amassed over $3,000 in my savings. You would have thought being an economics major and having the tools at my disposal, I would have practiced better money management. Instead, I frivolously spent my earnings. In checking one monthly statement, I not only saw the rapid pace in which I nearly depleted my account, I also found that I could not remember where I spent my funds, even as the name of the establishments were bold on paper. 

As a result, I had to work harder to replenish the missing funds as well as start planning for life after college. It also didn’t help that I had to pay back increased credit card statements, too. 

*Are you currently living paycheck-to-paycheck? Read this guest post on how to live on a tight budget.*

What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?


Often, I was too cocky in my education and knowledge to apply theory to practice. For the hours I had spent in all of my classes, as well teaching others how to be fiscally sound, I was too proud to practice what I was preaching. As a result, it cost me; it humbled me. Now that I am far removed from being 20 and have come to build a better relationship with money, I am cognizant of every dollar earned and spent. 

[Editor’s Note: This is a powerful reminder that financial knowledge is only potential power; it only becomes power when you apply the knowledge you’ve acquired to your financial life! Applying said knowledge, along with boosting your income, can help you stop living from paycheck-to-paycheck.]

Describe your upbringing.  Where did you grow up?  What did your parents or teachers teach you about money?


I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and am proud to be a Bronxite. The Bronx did an incredible job in all aspects of my rearing for it allowed me to be fearless and tenacious. My parents were my first financial educators for their knowledge and experiences with money were vast. Additionally, there were no financial secrets in our household and money was not a taboo subject. They were open to showing me their pay stubs every two weeks; moreover, they candidly talked about how money was dispersed throughout our household. 

Furthermore, they taught me that there is no such thing as a free lunch – I would have to pay my way throughout life. 


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


For me, it is important that I truly comprehend the complexities of capitalism and how it has, and will continue to, negatively affect those who are deemed financially unworthy (i.e. working class individuals and those who live on or below the poverty line). As such, in understanding capitalism, it is important that I live within my means, continue making monthly payments on my student loan balances, and save where I can. I am fortunate enough to have employment and earn a comfortable salary; therefore, I would be remiss to not take advantage of employee matching for my 401k and to always make sound financial decisions.


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


Paying myself first (5-10% of my income), bargain shopping, and paying the minimum balance of my bills have guided me through life after college until now. While there are many principles I have learned and implemented, these have been a saving grace. 


How often do you consume personal finance information?  Name 3-5 of your favorites sources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc.). 


My favorite finance books are Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Ian Bremmer’s The End of the Free Market: Who Wins The War Between States and Corporations? My favorite websites are My Fab Finance and The Budgetnista


Where are you on the path to financial freedom now?  


I am somewhere between “I have it” and “I want it”. Essentially, I have the tools and funds needed to remain afloat, but I want to ultimately live in financial comfort without having to worry about what the next 3-6 months will bring regarding uncertainty. 

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


Remember that finance does not operate under a one-size-fits-all model – your financial circumstances and experiences are unique to you and only you. Now, while there may be common themes shared among groups (having less that $1,000 in any given account; living paycheck-to-paycheck; and financial uncertainty), should you choose to practice poor fiscal habits, the consequences are yours alone. Always err on the side of better money management if you can.

How can the readers contact you?

 Twitter: @ItsWealthyWhit

Have you ever found yourself living from paycheck-to-paycheck? What did you do to turn your financial life around? Share your story in the comments section!

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

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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!

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2 thoughts on “From Broke Phi Broke to Financially Woke – Wealthy With Whitney

  1. Jerry, thanks for featuring this story from Whitney!

    Whitney, thanks for sharing. We really liked your point about paying yourself first, once you reach the point of being able to make any choice in your finances. That’s what gives you the security, moving forward, to feel comfortable taking small risks to improve your situation, negotiate a raise, etc. Thanks for some positive light and best of luck on your ongoing journey.
    Chris@TTL recently posted…2019 Budget Review: Our Pre-retirement Annual SpendingMy Profile

  2. The game changer in my personal finance life happens when I started saving my emergency fund.

    Before now, I struggled so hard to keep up with budgeting and though I had a working budget in place, expensive emergencies kept dragging me back.

    When I finally started maintaining a $1000 emergency fund at all times, and at close reach, my finances improved drastically.

    I also love the idea of paying myself first, it makes me happy while I succeed at doing what I should actually be doing with my money.

    This is a great interview I enjoyed it so much!

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