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Budgeting

Introducing Tori Dunlap

At the young age of 25, Tori Dunlap hit a pretty crazy money goal: she saved her first $100,000. Yep, just a few years out of college, Tori’s net worth was six figures. Six. If you want to know how she made that happen, you’re in the right place.

Chime Team • June 16, 2021

tori dunlap her first 100 k

We recently partnered with Tori Dunlap from Her First 100K – first to tell her story, and then to share her financial insights with the Chime community. Woo! To get started, we sat down to understand who she is, what got her started, and where she’s going. Ready to feel inspired? Read on. 

Q: Tell us about you! What’s your background?

A: I was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington and have lived in the Pacific Northwest for my whole life. I graduated with honors from the University of Portland with a dual degree in Organizational Communications and Theatre.

After graduating college, I led organic marketing strategy for Fortune 500 companies—with clients like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Nike, the NFL, and the Academy Awards—and global financial technology start-ups. For almost five years, I specialized in social media, SEO, content, and influencer marketing to grow community and increase awareness.

All the while building my side-hustle-turned-seven-figure business –– Her First $100K.

Q: What had the biggest impact on your relationship with money at a young age?

A: I consider myself incredibly lucky to have parents who were uniquely transparent about their finances and saw my entrepreneurial spark very young.

My first job was owning and operating vending machines. My dad came home from work one day and just said, “do you want to be a small business owner?” and I thought, “heck yeah, I do.” By the time I graduated high school, I owned 15 vending machines across the city.

My parents also made it a point to include me in important money conversations, even as an observer. Every month I watched my mom balance her checkbook and run through her bank statements and, every three months, I listened in awe as my dad negotiated all of our bills (we both still practice this to this day). 

So it was only natural that when I started at college, I became the go-to person for financial advice from my friends. It all kind of tumbled from there.

 

Q: Did you always know you wanted to work in finance?

A: Considering I went to school for Theatre….no. But, I joke a lot that I’ve turned finance into my own kind of theatrical endeavor. Because of that degree, I’m so comfortable talking to people, whether on stage or virtually.

During and after college, I realized that my financial background was a privilege — and with that privilege came responsibility. I was the friend all my friends were coming to for advice, and that made me realize how women are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to money. Having a financial education is our best form of protest, and that’s why I founded Her First $100K. It is my mission to fight the patriarchy through financial education. I have a responsibility to pass this information on. Without a financial education, attaining financial freedom remains out of reach. And without financial freedom and economic equality, women will always lack true equality. 

Q: Were there any specific people who had an influence on you?

A: On a financial level –– Sallie Krawcheck (CEO of Ellevest) is the one that always comes to mind first. But there are so many women and BIPOC in the personal finance space that I admire that are too long to list.

Outside of that space, I have learned so much from Glennon Doyle, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, and on a personal level, Cindi Schoettler.

Q: When did you have your first “money epiphany”?

A: Absolutely in college. Realizing how lucky I was even to have the most basic financial education was so eye-opening for me.

Also, realizing that I could save $100,000 by the age of 25. And I did!

Q: What motivates you most?

A: I get a lot of emails and comments. They’re not all nice but, more often than not, I get messages from women who feel completely shamed by the prominent voices in personal finance – or lost in how to get their financial life together. They’ll email me and tell me about how Her First $100K helped them open their first HYSA, start investing, pay off debt, buy homes… the list goes on and on.

We have an incredible personal finance advice community for women on Facebook, and seeing the wins these women are making every day really lights me up. That and how supportive and loving the community is not just toward me but also with each other.

Education. Advocacy. Change. They all motivate me to keep sharing this gift I was given.

Q: What do you consider to be the most important piece of financial advice you’ve ever heard?

A: It’s so simple, but “you can’t afford not to invest.”

There’s this myth around investing, that it’s only for wealthy people or that it’s super confusing, or only something you do once you’re 100% financially stable, and that’s all just junk.

Even if you can only afford $50 a month, start investing as soon as you can. Compound interest is the magical gift that keeps on giving –– and the more time you have to let your money work for you, the harder it works.

Q: In a nutshell, what are your top money tips for someone right out of college?

A: A few things:

  1. Automate your savings. Setting and forgetting is one of the best ways to make sure your savings grows without feeling like you have to babysit your accounts. Side note: Make sure you have a 3-6 month emergency fund ready to go as soon as you can.
  2. Build credit. Credit length is an important factor in your credit score, so starting to build credit as soon as you can responsibly is important. Side note: A good rule of thumb is never to charge more than what you can pay in cash and pay down your card in full every month.
  3. Avoid high-interest debt. Yes, credit cards are usually high interest (anything over 7%), but if you’re using them correctly (paying them off every month), you’re not accruing debt. Avoid layaway plans, payday loans, or high-interest car loans.
  4. Negotiate everything. Your salary, your utility bills, your rent, etc. Negotiate it all. You’ll be shocked at how much more you can save or earn.
  5. Take advantage of a 401K or open a Roth IRA. If your company offers a 401K match, do everything you can to meet it. That’s free money you don’t want to leave on the table. If you don’t have a 401K option, look into opening a Roth IRA.

Q: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to building healthy money habits?

A: Our money habits are cemented by age 7 – so most of the time, we go into adult life not realizing that we’re carrying the ideological burdens of our parents or mentors when it comes to finances. Recognizing that we likely have a reason why we operate the way we do with money and that we can change it is the first step and the greatest obstacle we face when building healthy money habits.

Q: What’s your money philosophy today, and where does it come from?

A: I think my money philosophy can be summed up in “Financial Feminism.” Advocating for equal pay, closing the gender and racial wealth gap, financial literacy –– all of this is financial feminism in action.

It’s safe to say it comes from existing in this world as a woman and recognizing my privileges as a white woman within that system. It comes from recognizing that our world is inequitable but not hopeless.

Q: When you think of the future of finance, what gives you a sense of hope? What makes you concerned or worried?

A: I see hope in the voices that have been given a platform now thanks to social media. For so long now, the voices dominating the finance world have been straight, white men, and we’re seeing a rise of a new guard of money educators who represent marginalized groups in the finance space. I couldn’t be more excited to see it.

What worries me in many ways is the old guard fighting back –– and they do. But I see more hope than I do hate, and I’ll continue to put my energy toward that hope.

Q: What’s coming next for you?

A: So many great things! I’m currently writing my book (debuting sometime next year), we just launched season one of the Financial Feminist podcast and rocked the charts as the #1 Business Podcast in our first week out the gate, and I’ve got a really exciting new investing community in the works coming this summer. Also, Her First $100K just keeps growing, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

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