Financial Expert Chloe Elise Shares Vulnerable Story Of Ditching Money Shame To Build Her Own Wealth

The following is an excerpt from financial expert Chloe Elise’s forthcoming book, ‘DEEPER THAN MONEY: Ditch Money Shame, Build Wealth, and Feel Confident AF‘ (TarcherPerigee; 8/22/23) – a guide for Millennials and Gen Z to find financial confidence, say goodbye to guilt, and finally get ahead with money without sacrificing what they care about. Chloe is also the founder of Deeper than Money™, a global financial literacy company.

Chloe’s story is not unlike many people today – she attended college saddled with student loans, clueless to the amount and how they even worked. She quickly had a revelation when she was faced with $36,000 of debt. Fast-forward eighteen months, and not only did she become completely debt-free, but she did it while traveling and enjoying life in her twenties. And now, she documents her journey to becoming a millionaire by the age of 27 on social media. Online, she provides smart and informative content with a fun twist that invites Millennial and GenZ audiences into the fold of a subject that often blocks them out with financial jargon and societal barriers.

With a fresh, bright, and completely relatable approach, Chloe is changing the way we think about financial stability and the steps it takes to reach our goals through the Deeper Than Money™ approach –a holistic approach to using money in a way that is emotionally, mentally, and logistically aligned with who we are today and who we want to become.

‘DEEPER THAN MONEY’ is part practical guide to finances and part motivational kick in the butt to set yourself up for success without sacrifice, guilt, or shame. In this book, readers will unlearn their own current self-sabotaging money patterns, challenge current beliefs about money (no, the weekly Starbucks runs are not breaking the bank), and more.

Chapter 2

One day, while working in the mailroom (my college work- study), I decided I needed to figure out how much student loan debt I actually had. I had some free time, so I called my mom to ask her where I would even find my loan information. She told me to log in to my online account. “Okay, but, like, what online account?” I barked back. She was shocked that I had never set up the online account. I was shocked that setting up an account was even a thing! She walked me through how to set up an account. (A boomer teaching me how to set up an online account??) I registered, created a login, and was on a roll. Then—holy fuck. “Mom, I gotta go.” Click.

I hung up the phone, shut off the computer, and told the other student working in the mailroom that I had to go to the bathroom. I ran down the hall to the bathroom, looked under the stalls to be sure no one else was in there, and started sobbing. Just over $26,000. That brought my total debt to more than $36,000. I opened my phone calculator and typed in $36,000 ÷ $7.25 (how much I was making per hour at the mailroom).

I would have to work 4,965 hours at minimum wage to pay off my debt (and that wasn’t even factoring in taxes, either). I stared straight down at the ground so my tears wouldn’t make my $7.99 mascara (which was a splurge) run down my face, knowing I had to quickly pull it together and walk back to the mailroom like nothing was wrong.

I had to be fine. Or at least act like it, right? Money wasn’t something you talked about, remember? All that shame, fear, hopelessness, sadness, and embarrassment I felt looking at those numbers sat with me in silence, alone. And they convinced me I was the exception. I was the one who all the financial advice would never work for. I was the broke girl. That was my identity. It was what I believed. It was who I was.

To me (again, making minimum wage), that $36,000 of debt felt like an impossible feat. I felt stupid for even thinking I could try to pay it off. That number could have been $10,000 or $80,000, and it still would have destroyed me. It wasn’t the number; it was what it represented: Getting ahead with money wasn’t for me. I was the broke girl.

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have another pity party for a few days. Hell, maybe even a week. But I eventually decided I was going to figure this out. There had to be another way.

I had already tried opening and learning from the crusty old books at the library, so now it was time for plan B. I needed to find financial education that wasn’t just preaching and jargon. I spent the next 18 months absorbing everything about financial literacy I could find. I took courses, listened to podcasts, read books, and bought seminars. I even signed up for what eventually became my first financial coaching certification, solely because I wanted to take another program to be able to master money for myself. In all my learning and digging in the financial-literacy world, I found that although there was endless information and advice, none of it was suited for a woman in her young adult life, wanting to get ahead without sacrificing the things she loves.

I couldn’t find an ideology I could align with, so I decided to create one myself. By picking up this book, you’re living proof that this ideology has come to fruition.

It took me 18 months to pay off my $36,000 of debt and officially become debt-free. (More on the actual strategy behind this to come.) There were bumps in this journey, like my car needing repairs or my boyfriend at the time stealing and drain- ing my emergency fund (more on how to protect yourself financially in Chapter 17), but nonetheless I paid off $36,000 in 18 months, and I was just warming up. I then saved eight months of expenses in an emergency fund, bought my parents a car for Christmas, started investing, and even bought my dream lake house. In addition to getting financial results, I truly began liv- ing my dream life. Other people saw this and wanted to learn how I was able to go from BCG Chloe to where I am now.

My current goal is to become a millionaire before I turn 28 years old. I went from a broke college girl at 20 years old to an almost-millionaire at 26 years old. And you can, too! If you just do this one tiny thing . . .

Psych. Hate to do it to you, but that one-liner fucking blows. The truth is, you can become a millionaire. You can buy the dream house. You can do whatever the hell it is you want to do. But it won’t look like my story. It won’t be that same path. It will be on an entirely different timeline. Maybe faster, maybe slower, but most definitely different. Each story is different. And that’s a thousand percent okay. I told you my story so you know some of my background before we embark on this journey together. But the truth is, my story doesn’t matter now. Yours does.

You don’t need to know exactly how you’re going to accomplish those things yet, but you can start asking yourself the question, What if I became the wealthy girl?

Reprinted from ‘Deeper Than Money: Ditch Money Shame, Build Wealth, and Feel Confident AF’ with the permission of TarcherPerigee – Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2023 by Chloe Elise.