Naseema McElroy is the founder of Financially Intentional, a blog about personal finance and living life intentionally. She discusses how taking control of her finances has enabled her to overcome bankruptcy, divorce, and break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. She shares her lessons along her path to help others benefit from the freedoms of financial independence.
Outside of encouraging people to get their financial act together, Naseema is a mother and Labor and Delivery Nurse.
Though making six figures for years, she struggled with money. Finally realizing she couldn’t out-earn her financial ignorance, she knew she had to make some changes. By shifting her mindset around money, being consistent and intentional, she has paid off $1 million in debt and grew a six figure net worth in three years without living in deprivation.
Who is Naseema McElroy and what was your motivation for starting your brand?
Financially Intentional was inspired because I have a solid core group of girlfriends and we have a lot of daughters collectively. Once I started on my financial journey, I saw the power that having economic stability gave me and I wanted that for my friends and our daughters. I was talking to them more individually while having a sleepover at my house, and I said “If I put this in a blog format, would you guys read it?” and they said “yes”. That’s how Financially Intentional was born. I think especially in our community, there is just so much that we do not know and it is to our disadvantage. It is contributing to an increasing wealth gap, so I want to educate as many people as possible. I am not an expert, but everything I learned along the way, I like to share because I grew up with the saying “Each one, teach one”. That is what I am trying to do with my platform.
How did you discover your purpose?
I did not realize how fast I can eliminate debt and I did not realize how much I did not know. Once I realized that there was so much power in having economic stability, and it was attainable, I felt empowered. I lived in the Bay area and had a good salary for years, but I was never able to have a savings. I felt like I was working paycheck to paycheck and so far behind. But, it was because I was never taught how to manage my money. Once I found out that it was not difficult, I felt like it was my obligation to share the information.
What were the main challenges you faced?
A lot of people do not necessarily want to talk about money and feel like it is taboo. But, once I started sharing my story, a lot of people were more inclined to share theirs. People like to share when they are winning with money. Being in debt is not something people like to share. It is so normalized that sometimes people do not even see what is wrong with it. But then when they realize that they are struggling because they have a lot of debt, it becomes a shaming thing and they do not want to broadcast it. People came to me separately addressing their issues, but would not provide feedback openly until I created the community and talked openly about my financial strain. Then, I noticed people started warming up more and sharing their stories because they realized the power in talking about it.
Name a few of your accomplishments, and tell us which one you are most proud of.
I think it is amazing that I was able to pay off such a massive amount of debt and grow my net worth within that time. But, I am most proud of being able to have the option to leave a toxic work environment, because I was not financially trapped and strapped. Having the option to spend time with my daughter, pull back, and enjoy my life in my 20s and 30s instead of in my 60s and 70s is the biggest thing I am most proud of. Financial independence brought me so many options that I do not have to settle for things because of financial reasons. I can make decisions that are best for my daughter and I because I am not tied down by debt or other financial obligations that would keep me at a job or in a toxic relationship, and I can model that for my daughter.
Are there any other goals that you would like to accomplish?
I just want to spread the word about financial independence as far as I can in our community. Especially us black women; we are really strong people and have a lot of power. But when it comes to our money, I see a lot of women cower and say “I cannot afford this” or “I cannot do that” and “That may be possible for you, but that is not possible for me”. I want as many people that look like me to know that it is possible for them with a little bit of intention, belief, and putting in the work, and it does not take long. You can turn this around. As a community, we have suffered so much because we lack the economic power that buys us the political power, that buys us the freedom and options to move and make decisions or have influence in our community. Once we turn that around, we can see some big changes for us in our community, and for us in our future generation, and I think that starts with our personal finances.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend?
- “The Simple Path to Wealth” by JL Collins
- House of Fi podcast
- Journey to Launch
- Clever Girl Finance with Bola
- Redefining Wealth with Patrice Washington
Can you tell me about a woman who has positively impacted your life?
I get a lot of inspiration from my core group of friends. These are people that I have known since middle school. They are my rock. It is about ten of them in my crew. As far as people I look up to, I think Myleik Teele is changing the game and showing people that you can live limitlessly without settling.
I am a big fan of Patrice Washington. We are actually really good friends from college, so I’ve seen her ups and downs. We’ve been through a lot together. Those are the people I feel are in my circle. People who encourage me in different ways and always challenge me because I see them doing various things.
We have limitless potential. I challenge other women to get a group of girlfriends or surround yourself with people who you aspire to be, so that you are always continuously growing. That is all I strive to do.
What would you tell women who are on this journey but are thinking about giving up?
The journey is bigger than them and it is really not that hard. It is at that point when you are about to give up that you are about to get your biggest breakthrough. As a labor and delivery nurse, I always use that analogy when delivering a baby. I always hear women say, “I just cannot do it”, in English, Spanish, whatever language they speak. I always hear women say, “I just cannot do it”, and it is right when the baby is crowning. Right when it is at that point that if they give one last push, the baby is going to come out. When it feels like everything is falling apart, that is when you need to push through. So, I encourage women to give that one big last push and they will get over that hump. But it is bigger than you because, we have to do it for our future generations. We cannot keep starting from zero. We have to start building, so that we can create generational wealth.
What advice would you give to individuals following in your footsteps of entrepreneurship?
I still work as a nurse and I am just starting my entrepreneurial journey. I was hustling for a long time. All of the stuff I’ve been doing these past couple years to build up Financially Intentional, I was doing on the side. I was not monetizing anything. I am learning a lot, and it is teaching me resilience. I just have to push through. Thank God I did put in that work initially because I do have a bigger platform than most people starting out. But, I still have to learn the basics of business. I do not have a lot of advice, but you see all the stories of getting “insta-famous” and having booming businesses overnight, but businesses do fail. Most people put in the work, but it is about endurance and knowing that you are not going to be perfect at first. Go in with a plan. I did not go into the business solely depending on it. I went in knowing that worse case scenario is that I have to work more. I am hoping it will take off. So far, I’m doing okay, so I’m happy. I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everyone. There are benefits to working 9 to 5 such as healthcare benefits. I’ve worked in healthcare and had good benefits for so long that I did not realize how hard it is for people having to pay for insurance. This insurance, I do not take for granted. People who want to stay at a 9 to 5 just for that, diversification of investments, and 401K, I understand.
What keeps you motivated to keep going?
Hearing peoples stories is so inspiring. I know that I cannot give up because there are so many other people that I need to reach. I need to model good financial behavior for my daughter. She needs to see it from me. She needs to see that mommy can spend time with her, drop her to school, play with her, take her swimming, and be able to live comfortably. I need to be able to model that for her, so that is my motivation.
Naseema does free live training’s weekly and guarantees that if you apply the tools she teaches, you can turn your finances around readily. Access the training’s here
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