Finance Talk with Tonya Rapley of My Fab Finance (@MyFabFinance)

Finance Talk with Tonya Rapley of My Fab Finance (@MyFabFinance)

By: Brianna Forde

Tonya Rapley is the founder & face of MyFabFinance. Tonya’s mission is to help millennials break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, and become knowledgeable about finances. Tonya has appeared on US News, NY Daily News, Buzz Feed,, The Root, Centric and several other media outlets to give financial advice. Tonya shared some great tips with us on how to become financially sound in the 21st century.

What is your 9-to-5 job?

My 9-to-5 is MyFabFinance. Running a business is a full-time job. As an influencer, I have events that I attend in order to educate others about Finance. I also consult personal finance brands on how to connect with other influencers. I have campaigns that I operate with my finance partners for various events. Sometimes, my job entails attending events, planning for upcoming Finance classes that I host, or even writing blog posts. Every week is different. As a business owner with multiple streams of revenue, at any given time the workload can vary.

How did you get from a college graduate to the successful entrepreneur that you are today?

I received my Bachelors degree in Public Administration from Florida International University and Masters degree in Urban Policy and Affairs from Brooklyn College. I knew I wanted to create change in people’s lives. Once I graduated, I just knew I was going to get a “good, government job” and be happy. After years of working under the leadership of someone else, I decided to move to New York and figure it out. I knew I wanted to do something where I could use my creative side as well as something incorporating finance. While I was working with a non-profit in Brooklyn, I created MyFabFinance. Once the business started to grow and the Black Enterprise cover happened, I decided to resign from my job at the non-profit and pursue MyFabFinance full-time.

What words of wisdom could you offer to a recent college grad about their finances?

Once you graduate and get that initial job offer, it might be the most money you’ve ever made in that moment. But that doesn’t mean you should go out and increase your cost of living. It doesn’t mean go out and get a new car, place, and everything. Give it time and see what that money looks like after taxes. Allow yourself to earn money without extensive obligations. When you load yourself with financial responsibilities, you become financially stressed. Once that happens, you never get to actually enjoy making money because everything that comes in is immediately going out. Take your time!

How does someone build credit while in college? How does someone build credit right out of college?

I don’t recommend getting a credit card in college.  You should not have a credit card if you don’t have income, because you do not have any means to pay for it. You can become an authorized user on a family member’s credit card instead. However, you do not want to become an authorized user with someone whose credit is not in good standing. How they manage their money, will reflect on your credit report. Now, if someone you know does have good credit and you become an authorized user, then that will in return help you build good credit!

How do you build credit right out of college? Paying your student loans. A lot of people don’t realize that paying student loans is considered installment credit. Creditors, or Lenders, like to see you managing and revolving installment credit. Paying your credit cards off on time will also help you build good credit. Credit is essentially your relationship with debt. How do you manage debt? So, in order to build good credit, pay off your purchases within the billing cycle instead of making the payment the same day. If you are hesitant to use credit cards, you can always get a secured credit card for around $300. You could put a Netflix account, or gym membership on the secured credit card, pay on time every month, and build credit that way.

 What advice could you offer to a recent college grad about paying back school loans?

Communicate with your student loan servicers. Recent grads try to ignore them after the 6-month grace period. However, if you talk with the servicers, you might be able to get more affordable payments. Don’t make assumptions based on what someone else says. Sometimes student loan servicers are more flexible than you think! There are also companies that may offer their employees assistance with paying back student loans.  Non-profit, federal jobs also have loan forgiveness programs. In order to find out, you should ask the HR (Human Resource) Department at your job if they have any loan assistance programs.

How can a 'Twenty Somethin' and Black' woman pay off credit card debt?

1) Start by paying the smallest balance first. 2) If you have several credit cards, calculate how much would be 30% utilization. Utilization is how much you’ve spent using the card. Companies like to see you use less than 30% of the credit. So, if you have a $2,000 credit card, don’t use more than $600 more in credit. Anything more than $600 will start to negatively affect your credit score. Paying off as much you can (and getting debt down to 30%) is the next best thing to paying all of your debt

 What sacrifices do you think are needed to build good credit?

Your credit cards shouldn’t bridge your actual and ideal life. You might have Coach bag money and a credit card allows you to go out and get a Louis Vuitton, but that’s not your reality. So, stop spending! Cut up that card!

Anything you wish you knew when you entered 'the real world?'

“These companies ain’t loyal.” When I was working for a company, I wish I had taken more advantage of everything the company had to offer. I wish I could have taken advantage of learning opportunities that could set me up for my next step, and not getting too comfortable. For example, if you work in a call center and they put you in a communications class. That is something that can help you in any sector in the future! I wish I would’ve learned to leverage my position in the company sooner that I did. Continuing education opportunities can arise, learning a skill, or taking a class on the company’s dime. Knowing how to take advantage of companies, instead of the company taking advantage of me.  

What are some of the biggest financial mistakes you’ve made?

1)     Believing in someone else’s goals more than mine. And that goes for relationships and investing in your significant other.  Allowing someone else’s goals to become mine, and consequently become greater than my own.

2)     Never saving. Just holding my breath and hoping an emergency doesn’t happen. Consistently living on all the money I made. Not smart.

3)     Ignoring creditors and bill collectors. Thinking that in time they will just go away, when in reality they never go away. Instead of ignoring, many times I should have picked up the phone and set up a payment plan that was reasonable for me. Remember, they are more flexible than you think.

4)     Paying for things and for people when I knew I didn’t have the money! (This is a TS&B FAVORITE!) Don’t constantly say, “Oh I got you, sis.” When you know you don’t have it. Don’t put yourself in a bind! Just say no, or offer an alternative. “We can’t do brunch but just come over my house and we can cook.”

5)     Using credit to have fun! Do not live beyond your means!