Danielle left a cushy job as an Investment Specialist to teach others how to become more financially stable. With a little help from her Front End Web Development instructors, she launched Invibed, a website that teaches Millenials how to save money and be more fiscally responsible through shared money-saving tips.
What were you doing before coming to General Assembly?
I was an Investment Specialist at J.P.Morgan’s Private Bank, where I provided investment advice to wealthy individuals in the ultra high net worth space ($25 million+).
What motivated you to enroll in our Front End Web Development (FEWD) course?
I co-founded a financial literacy nonprofit about a year before enrolling in FEWD, where we would bring young Wall Street professionals into high school and college classrooms to teach students about business, personal finance, and career management.
It got to the point where there were way more schools that wanted to work with us than we could handle considering all of our volunteers had very demanding jobs in finance and very little free time. So, I figured why not put what we’re doing online so that students around the world can have access to the same experience? But I knew nothing about web development and I had no idea where to begin. That’s when a mentor told me that it would be a great idea to check out General Assembly, they had courses that could help me learn the basics and best of all, the part-time program was flexible enough to fit in with my busy work schedule.
You’re currently studying at Columbia Journalism School while working full-time. Why are you passionate about media?
Media allows people all over the world to share important information. I got my first taste of media as a college student when I worked at CNBC on the show “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer. In that role, I had the opportunity to speak to Jim’s viewers regularly and I’d constantly hear stories about how much the information presented on his show and in his books changed their lives for the better. At that point, I was hooked.
Tell us about Invibed.
Most of my generation has never had the opportunity to learn how to manage their personal finances or handle financial problems that may arise because schools typically don’t teach the topic. In response to that, I decided to create Invibed—the go-to destination for millennials who want to take control of their financial situation.
We help Gen-Y increase their financial bottom lines so that they can live their dream lives. This involves providing key information, tools, and inspirational stories that change the way our readers think about money, careers, and success.
What’s the biggest misconception about your work that you’d like to address?
A lot of people think that you have to study finance in school or have experience working at a bank in order to become good at managing your money. That is definitely not the case! Anyone can take control of their finances and give themselves a financial makeover—all it takes is a little bit of time and effort!
You attended Columbia Journalism School, took FEWD, and started Invibed. How do you manage it all?
I actually did all of these things concurrently—it was a great way to immerse myself in tech, media, and entrepreneurship in a very short period of time. However, a normal sleep schedule was absolutely not possible while I was doing this and my social life definitely suffered. I think the only way to manage doing so many things at once is to absolutely love and be excited about what you’re working on.
What is the most dangerous mindset millennials have about financial issues?
The most dangerous thing a millennial can do about these issues is ignore them. Most schools don’t provide education on these topics, so it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “I never learned it in school, so it can’t be that important and it doesn’t apply to me.” But nothing could be further from the truth — being in control of your money and your success will impact the quality of your life in major ways. The earlier you can get a handle on these topics, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
You’ve hosted workshops for high school and college students. How are the concerns and expectations these two groups have different?
Overall, most students are a bit shocked when we explain to them just how much money affects their lives on a daily basis. However, college students tend to have a much higher level of concern than high school students. I think that’s mainly because at that point in their lives, they’re adults who are responsible for their financial futures. They know they’ll have to find a job, support themselves, and pay off student loans in a year or two, so the level of concern is definitely heightened.
We’re developing a lot of video content, which we’re really excited to launch over the next few months. We also have an iPhone app coming out soon that we can’t wait to share with our readers.
What three tips can you share to our readers about how to become more financially stable?
First, I would recommend giving yourself a financial check-up. That means taking inventory of your current financial situation so that you understand your current state. There are a lot of free tools available online that can help you do this like mint.com. But the main point is to understand how much you’re spending, what you’re spending on, and how much you’re saving. This process is completely eye-opening to most people because their perceived financial situation and their actual financial situation are usually very different.
Second, I recommend coming up with a list of financial goals and breaking them down into three buckets: 1) short-term (for example, you want to save 20% of your income this month), 2) medium-term (perhaps you want to take a vacation this summer), and 3) long-term (maybe you want to buy a house in 5 years).
The third step is bridging the gap between steps one and two, which basically means figuring out what you need to change in order to reach all of your financial goals. This might mean creating a budget and sticking to it so that you spend less or spend differently, or that you should start investing or coming up with a side hustle that can help you generate even more income.
Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
First, be sure that you truly want to be an entrepreneur before you quit your day job. Entrepreneurship requires more time and hard work than I ever could have possibly imagined—and that’s coming from someone who was an analyst on Wall Street working really intense hours.
Secondly, you really need to believe in yourself and in your idea. You’re going to hear people tell you “no” on a daily basis and even some people who are close to you will try to discourage you. Having self-confidence will allow you to persevere through all the no’s and the tough times and focus on achieving your entrepreneurial goals.
Who’s your favorite teacher and why?
At General Assembly, my favorite teacher was Joe Bliss who teaches Front End Web Development. I knew nothing about web development on the first day of class, and he was able to break down a concept that was completely foreign to me so that I could understand it easily. He also really helped me a ton with my final project, which was building a prototype for invibed.com.
Nelson Igunma interviews alumni from around the world as a Success Stories writer for General Assembly.