Journey to Launch with Jamila Souffrant
Our clients at the Financial Gym have a variety of life goals, but the number one goal we give all of our clients is the goal of financial independence, and that’s the ability to work because you want to work not because you have to work. I’ve coached numerous clients on the path to financial independence and have seen a number of my family and friends achieve it, and let me say, it’s something we should all want for ourselves. I think it’s really important, though, to remember that FI and the path to FI will look different for everyone, and I try to highlight that on this show. This is why I’m excited to have on Jamila Suffrant, Founder of the Journey to Launch Podcast, talk about her path to financial Independence and where it led her.
What Are We Drinking?
Jamila — Mojito (Two shots Bacardi Limon, one shot simple syrup, mint, ice, and lime, blend)
Shannon — Grapefruit Schweppes & Vodka
- Jamila recently spoke at the Financial Gym. Shannon couldn’t make it, because she was on mom duty. Her whole team said Jamila was amazing.
- When Jamila was in college, she got an internship through INROADS, which helps minority students get into Fortune 500 companies.
- Jamila started working from the age of 14. Her mom always told her to save, so she was a good saver and put away most of her money.
- When she was an intern in college, she was making a lot of money in the summer. If she received a check for $1,500, she would save $1,200. Other interns spent all of their money.
- She wasn’t always perfect. When she graduated college, she thought that by the age of 30 she would quit her job and do her own thing. She always felt like she wanted to do more in life and she didn’t want a boss. Jamila didn’t want to be tied down.
- After college, she got a good job and started working and earning money. She couldn’t figure out how she would not be able to work for her company.
- Jamila tried different things in her 20s. She started some businesses here and there, she started an online magazine and she got into the vending machine business, but none of those things worked out or she lost interest in them.
- Jamila put up the money for the vending machine business, but her husband helped her run it for two years. They actually got their machine placed in the largest hotel in Brooklyn and it did really well. However, they couldn’t place the other two machines and they paid too much money for them.
- She bought her first property at age 22 right after college, because she was able to save up a down payment and her mom also helped. It was located in DUMBO, before it was DUMBO.
- Jamila’s grandma bought a property in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, before it was desirable. By the time Jamila came of age, the property was worth so much more and it left an impression. That’s what got her wheels turning. She started looking for a property her senior year in college and she saw an advertisement for a new development in DUMBO for a condo starting at $300,000.
- She bought a condo and it is now valued at more than double what she paid. The condo took two years to complete, so after she graduated she stayed home and saved some money. She moved in once it was finished.
- Financial literacy starts in the home and Jamila’s story shows it. She has really smart, strong women that showed her the way. She had great examples from an early age.
- Jamila didn’t know the technical aspects, like investing, but she knew how to save.
- Understanding the balance between FOMO and your future is a big thing. The hardest part for most people is delaying gratification and saving.
- Jamila and her husband met in college when they were both 19 and broke. Even as they graduated and started making money, they knew each other, and their habits, really well.
- When they got married, they were 29 and they combined their finances. It didn’t make sense for them to keep their finances separate.
- They figured that they could reach their goals quicker if they joined forces.
- Jamila was raised by a single mom and reliability was a big trait she wanted in a husband. She didn’t want to go down the route that she saw others go down.
- Her husband is not as on top of things as her, but he also isn’t dragging her down. He allows her to lead the way and he is a great partner.
- The financial independence seed was planted when she had the idea that she didn’t want to work for somebody else. She then got onto the treadmill of making more money and she didn’t know what to do to make that a reality.
- When she was 31 and pregnant with her first son, she had a commute from Brooklyn to New Jersey, which took about an hour or hour and a half. She was used to the commute, because she had done it for so long, and it was fine when it was just her, but being pregnant and getting home at 7:00pm every night she knew something had to change.
- She got home one night and started googling “how to quit my job”, “how to retire”, and she came across blogs and podcasts about financial independence and how people were retiring early. Jamila got really interested and went down a rabbit hole to figure out how she could do it too. That was five years ago.
- Jamila started to read and listen to podcasts and that started the journey itself.
- About two years later she started a blog that chronicled her journey to financial independence. When she heard that average people could do this, she wanted to figure out how she could do it too.
- When Jamila ran the numbers, she realized they would be able to do this down the road and have the life they’d been dreaming about.
- Jamila created a spreadsheet that showed how much money they would have, if they were able to save and invest and max out their retirement accounts for the next 10, 15, or 20 years.
- She started playing around with the numbers and thinking about how they could go from not investing much to maxing their savings. She created a spending plan and sat down with her husband.
- One of the turning points was getting her husband on board. It took several conversations. Her husband is a teacher in New York City and has access to two pre-tax retirement accounts that he can max out: a 403(b) and a 457 plan. For them to reach their goals, he would need to save half of his paycheck. Jamila didn’t want to force him to do this.
- It took her husband looking at his goals and those conversations got him comfortable with the idea. After a couple of months he was ready to go all in.
- Don’t give up on your significant other. Eventually they can get there as well, just in their own way. Sit down with them and talk about their goals.
- Jamila’s husband wanted to know how this would affect their lives. They like going out to eat, so they made sure it was included in their budget.
- Some people go hard core and everything gets cut. That works for some people, but others burn out.
- You need to cut expenses, but income is also important. The more income you have, the more you can save and invest. They earned a good income and they were out of consumer debt.
- If you have a lot of debt, that journey is going to look different, because you can’t just max out your retirement savings. Be real about where you are and what you like to do. You will need to make sacrifices but they won’t last forever.
- When Jamila started to run the numbers, she just had their second child. Jamila and her husband always wanted three kids.
- Jamila started the Journey to Launch blog and set her goal as quitting her job by age 40, by reaching a level of financial independence. At that point their mortgage would be paid off and they would reach a certain number that was invested. Her husband still wanted to work, so they would live off of his income and some investments or she would do something. She didn’t think that her blog would be that something.
- Her blog quickly turned in to the reason why her path is so much different. She was able to quit her job last year after her third child was born. Once she got pregnant, she realized she couldn’t do the commute, the full-time job, and the blog. Something had to go.
- Starting her journey to financial independence and finding something she loved and her passion – Journey to Launch – allowed her to find freedom today.
- They are not financially independent right now, but working toward it allowed her to quit her job and set up a way to try this out. She has flexibility and she is enjoying her freedom today.
- Clients at the Financial Gym that have goals do much better than those who don’t have goals. It is really hard to stay focused without goals, because there are so many distractions. Goals motivate clients to stay on track.
- You never know when your goals for the future will reveal themselves, and money should never be what gets in the way for you to say yes. Money gives you the flexibility when it comes up.
- Money didn’t stop Jamila from pursuing her goals, it helped her accomplish them earlier than expected.
- Everyone should be on the path to financial independence. Everyone’s journey is unique. The end goal isn’t just to save a set amount of money. As you start you move from living paycheck to paycheck, to debt payoff, to saving and investing, it unlocks levels of freedom for you and gives you more options. Why not start? What is the worst that is going to happen?
- You change your whole trajectory when you focus on becoming financially independent.
- It isn’t just one thing. There is a work flexibility stage that most people can get to, where you can choose what you do.
- Your journey is uniquely yours and this will allow you to live the life you want. It will take some time, but you can do it if you create a plan and put some work in to get there.
- There is not one path, there are so many choices. No matter the income level, it is the steps you take to get to your goal.
- The people who advocate for themselves, negotiate their salary, start and side hustles, are the people who reach their goals.
- Most people focus on expenses, because that is the quick win. It is about being intentional and stopping mindless spending and becoming the commander of your money.
- It is hard work and tough decisions, but it doesn’t matter where you start. Everyone can achieve it if they make an active commitment to it.
- Jamila and her husband saved and invested $169,000 in two years. You don’t need to do this, you just need to do better than you are doing right now.
- If you are not afraid of hard work, you are going to be fine.
- Entrepreneurship and the flexibility of her lifestyle now have opened a new world for Jamila. The money might not be in the bank yet, but the lifestyle is. The best part so far is unlocking this level of freedom she now has.
- A lot of people fixate on the end. Jamila is right in the middle.
- It doesn’t have to be extreme frugality and the end goal doesn’t have to be the same, but more the focus on making smart financial decisions that add up to the freedom of choice.
TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that the path to financial independence doesn’t always lead directly to financial independence; however, the pursuit of it will give you flexibility to enjoy the numerous roads that may open up to you because you headed in that direction.
Random Three Questions
- What is the first thing you will do when you officially make it to financial independence?
- What is a book that has inspired you?
- What do you do to relax?
Connect with Jamila
Website: Journey to Launch
Podcast: Journey to Launch
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook: @journeytolaunch
If you’d like to talk to my team at the Financial Gym to help get you on the path to financial independence, I hope you’ll reach out to us at the Financial Gym. My trainers have literally seen it all, so nothing will surprise them. The great news is that Martinis and Your Money listeners get 15% off Financial Gym services. So head over to, or send friends to, financialgym.com to get signed up today.