Influencers today appear to have a picture perfect life. Every day we can count on them for inspiration to live our best lives, and of course, where to find the prettiest acai bowl on the planet. Many of us dream to be able to live a similar plush life, but when you remove all of the filters, the true stories behind the perfectly curated scenes reveal that influencers are not all they appear to be. They’re real people too. They face similar struggles with relationships, life, and money. While some hide this reality, others embrace it, including one of my favorite influencers, Aja Dang.
“I want to help others become their best self,” and she’s serious! When I first met Aja I was inspired by her realness and vulnerability. It’s a scary thing to share your story with the world, but she realized that by being honest she could inspire her followers to live their best life in a whole new way.
“My #RealMoneyTalk story began in 2017 when I shared the amount of student loan debt I had accumulated on my YouTube channel. It’s not something I planned to do and I’m not really sure how I got the confidence to film, edit it AND post it but it happened. I revealed that I had $200,000 of debt and most of that was from student loans. Since then I’ve been very open and shared every aspect of my journey towards becoming debt-free. The highs, lows and constant frustration of not seeing the needle move quickly enough. My channel has become a place of openness and honesty when it comes to financial discussions.”
Aja was surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response she received from giving her community a behind the scenes look at her real life and it showed her the importance of having tough money conversations. “It has given me reassurance that what I’m doing is worth it. Being so open about something so personal and uncomfortable has at times given me pause as to whether I’m actually making a difference and if I should continue talking about money,” she told me. “But seeing everyone responding so positively to#RealMoneyTalk has been really exciting to see. Just shows it takes one or two people to change the landscape of what is seen as taboo or not.”
That is why we were so thrilled to partner with her for #RealMoneyTalk because like us, she has seen the impact of having the conversation first hand. “#RealMoneyTalk is changing lives. All people need to see is one example of someone’s financial journey and it helps them come to terms with their own. Once you break down that barrier and stigma of “money talk”, people can be more honest about their story and be more open towards advice on how to improve their financial situation. I found that once I opened up about my financial reality, it held me accountable to change my life and I see that happening with my followers.”
“Everyone is going through the same thing. No one really talks about money but we are all in the same financial situation. It doesn’t make sense why we aren’t more open about it with each other.”
For Aja, the #RealMoneyTalk won’t stop once she reaches her debt free day, it’s an ongoing conversation. “I’m going to continue to share my story. After I’m done paying off my debt, it’s time to start a retirement fund, saving for a house, saving for a family..the story doesn’t end after getting out of debt. I think it will be really inspiring for people to see someone go from $200,000 debt to being debt free to retire with dignity. I have to continue to be an example.”
Money conversations will always be a part of our daily lives and #RealMoneyTalk it’s time we start sharing them. The journey to financial health isn’t easy, but that’s why support is essential. Aja is sharing her #RealMoneyTalk story to inspire others to get vulnerable, and Turbo by the makers of TurboTax is encouraging you to do the same! We’re coming together as a community to share our experiences, bond, and listen, one story at a time.