From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series – My Twenty Cents


From Broke to Financially Woke Interview



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 Janet from My Twenty Cents.  Last summer, she found herself becoming a member of Broke Phi Broke after encountering an unknown variable of life.

Let’s see what she did to regain her financial footing…

After reading the article, check out the debate Janet and I had last year on whether you should live your dream life now or later.


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


My name is Janet and I blog at . I started my blog in 2018 because I was just about to finish my Master degree abroad and was trying to figure out what to do with my next stage in life. My blog helped me to learn more about personal finance. By sharing my journey with other readers, it also helped me to gain better control over my finances overall. And it even FINALLY motivated me to start investing!

I have many hobbies outside of financial independence. Like a typical millennial I love travelling and discovering new places and cultures. I’m also an avid classical ballet dancer. Besides blogging, I spend a large part of my time playing piano, reading, snowboarding, learning languages, and more!


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?


Broke Phi Broke


Sadly I was Broke Phi Broke quite recently actually. In August 2018, I was going through a huge transition. I graduated and was transitioning to a PhD position. I broke up with my boyfriend and I also moved to a new apartment. Due to these events, I was without a salary for a month but had to pay 2 months of rental deposit. It was not pretty. All of these life changes catapulted and as a result, I found myself with less than $100 in my bank account!

I still remember that summer. I had to exercise great discipline to make things work. I didn’t eat out and I mostly stayed home doing some “frugal hobbies” to pass the time. Normally, I spend every summer traveling, but I didn’t do it due to my financial circumstances!


What are some of your biggest financial mistakes?


My greatest mistake is not learning how to invest early enough. When I was 24, I had about $100,000 saved up sitting in my checking account. If I had taken the time to educate myself about investing, I would have become a pretty rich lady.

In fact, I wrote a post about past financial regrets I had and almost all of them had to do with missed opportunities. Not investing earlier on. Not buying something when I had the chance. It seems that the recurring trend is that I’m pretty risk averse and it’s usually easier for me to save money than to spend/invest it into something that’s a bit riskier.


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


I was raised by Asian immigrant parents in a big city in Canada. They never finished high school but both of them were quite “life smart.” My dad started a successful business and was able to retire in his 40’s. However, my parents believed in raising us the way they were raised, and I had no idea we weren’t “poor” until I reached my teens. I still remember depriving myself as a child because I thought my family was poor and couldn’t afford any “luxuries.”

My parents were extremely frugal and loved to penny-pinch. I still remember when my mom used to lecture me about wanting to buy something at the dollar store. Still, to this day, before I buy something, I always hear my mother’s voice in my back of my head telling me that “it’s too expensive.”

As for teachers, we didn’t really have a lot of personal finance education in public school. I didn’t learn about budgeting until I started university and started working in accounting and budgeting. That’s when I learned that I could apply the same principles to my personal life as well!


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


Being financially woke is very important to me. I am so grateful to have started blogging and learning about personal finance, investing, and more. Today, I always turn to finance blogs and news outlets to learn about finance. I’ve also built a network of amazing personal finance bloggers who I turn to when I need advice!


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


Success Principles


To achieve FIRE, the main activities are to increase income and decrease expenses. Income is a little harder to control so I usually focus on decreasing expenses. I love reading about frugal ideas that others had and implementing the same ones! Reading blogs about minimalism and frugality are a huge inspiration to me!

However, that’s not to say that I’m not trying to increase my income. I recently started investing after dwelling for years. I also blog and work on a few other side projects, hoping that they’ll all grow to a full-time income one day. My dream is to “retire” and my only real “job” at the moment is my PhD (which I’m really just doing for fun) 😉


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


My favorite personal finance book is Rich Dad Poor Dad. This book really taught me that I didn’t need a Harvard education to be “rich.”

My favorite personal finance blogs is Making Sense of Cents which is the blog that inspired me to start mine!


Where are you on the path to financial freedom now?  



A few years ago, I invested in a house and the value appreciated enough that I am technically “financially independent.” However, for as long as I’m holding onto the house, I still incur monthly expenses. I’m currently working as a PhD student and it provides a comfortable income to meet all my personal needs.

My dream would be to finish my PhD while growing my blog and other side businesses. My PhD is projected to take me between 3-5 years. Within that time, I really hope that I’ll have grown enough passive income streams to be financially independent and not have to work in a corporate environment ever again.

As a side note, I worked as a CPA for 6 years before I started my Master’s program abroad! I hated my job and it put me in a lot of distress until I finally decided to leave the corporate world for good. I’m really praying I’ll never have to go back there!

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


My greatest advice is to work on developing an abundant mindset. I know a lot of us are conditioned to believing that “I was born broke” and “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Life is full of endless possibilities. Anyone can become a millionaire today but it all starts with believing that you can do it.

I love practicing daily positive affirmations and it’s really one way I keep myself motivated to work towards my goals. Goal-setting is another suggestion I have for anyone looking to escape Broke Phi Broke. Setting mini-goals that are attainable and realistic will get you closer to your dreams!

Lastly, look up to people who inspire you. People who you want to be like a year from now. Don’t listen to broke people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Your journey is just beginning. Trust the process and enjoy every minute of it! The day you reach your goals, you will look back at this experience and be grateful for all of the lessons it taught you. Until then, keep grinding on!


How can the readers contact you?

You can always follow my blog at My Twenty Cents. I’m also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I also love receiving emails at


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

Please share this From Broke to Financially Woke interview on social media! #frombroketofinanciallywoke

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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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3 thoughts on “From Broke to Financially Woke Interview Series – My Twenty Cents

    1. Hello Financial Velociraptor,

      I am glad you are enjoying the series!!

      Whenever you want to contribute, just let me know! I can email you the questionnaire.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Enjoy your weekend!!


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