Instagram may be for posting selfies and sharing pictures that may give your followers FOMO, but lately, it’s become a place for people to learn about finance to help pay down debt.
On a social platform filled with influencers who may lure people to spend a buck on the latest makeup and fashion trends, Bola Sokunbi does the opposite by persuading others to save by “sharing her wealth” of information on her Instagram page, Clever Girl Finance.
“You are going to find tips, you are going to find quotes, and you are going to find humor,” Sokunbi told “Good Morning America.” “Because I believe if you cannot laugh about situations, you will cry.”
Sokunbi, who is the founder and CEO of Clever Girl Finance as well as a certified financial education instructor, started sharing her tips after learning about money herself. After coming to the U.S. for college and landing her first job, the Nigerian immigrant had to teach herself the basics of personal finance.
“I learned how to budget, I learned how to invest, those were things that my parents couldn’t necessarily help me with because coming from Nigeria, they didn’t have a 401k, they didn’t have a credit system,” she said.
And while she did make some initial mistakes, Bola said she saved over $100,000 in about three and a half years.
“I saved every raise that I got, I saved every tax return that I got,” said Bola. She even created a side hustle wedding photography business to help bring extra money in. “I got really lean and mean with my budget,” she added.
Bola said that when it comes to personal finance, it involves 80% mental game and 20% strategy. While she may offer tips and other financial tools exist to help tackle debt, the biggest hurdle is your mindset and she says that you have to be willing to change your habits and stay on course.
Now, with over 200,000 followers on Instagram, Sokunbi has been inspiring women like Cindy Zuniga to take control of their cash.
Zuniga, a New York-based attorney, used Sokunbi’s tips to pay off $215,000 worth of law school student loan debt and was intrigued by Sokunbi’s engaging Instagram feed that made managing finances look fun.
“I’m a millennial. Where do I go? Social media,” Zuniga told “Good Morning America.” “And so for me, the appeal was here’s a female content creator that’s just delivering this in a fun way, creating a colorful and lively feed full of actual substantive information that I can take and apply to my everyday life.”
After following Sokunbi’s tips and reprioritizing what she spent her money on, Zuniga said she learned how to refinance her loan, automate payments, and cut back on expenses like eating out.
She was even inspired to create her own personal finance coaching business called Zero Based Budget.
“In a world full of makeup influencers that are encouraging you to buy, buy, buy, here’s a personal finance influencer encouraging you to save, invest, pay off debt and reach your financial goals,” Zuniga said.
Here are some of Sokunbi’s tips to go debt free:
1. Forgive yourself for your financial faults
While paying off debt may seem daunting at first, Sokunbi says to recognize that everyone’s financial journey is a work in progress, so “take the mistakes, forgive yourself, take the lessons and then keep moving forward.”
2. Set up an emergency fund
Sokunbi suggests that an emergency fund of about $1,000 for unexpected expenses will cover the most basic emergencies. One way to build that fund would be to automate payments weekly or monthly in your bank account to reach that goal.
3. Aggressively pay down debt
To reach your debt free goals, Sokunbi advises to “create a plan to pay off that debt with a focus” by using the bulk of your money to pay off more than the minimum payment on loans or credit cards every month when you can.
4. Create a splurge account
Tackling debt may seem like people can’t enjoy their life, like getting a manicure or getting your hair done, but Sokunbi suggests to create a monthly splurge account which can be $20 or $50 set aside just for yourself so when you want to treat yourself, you have the funds in place to do that.