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Podcast

Episode 134: How To Achieve Financial Independence with Jamila Souffrant

Apr 29, 2021

In today’s episode, we meet Jamila Souffrant, founder of Journey To Launch, a podcast and platform that helps people reach financial independence and financial freedom by giving them the inspiration, tools, and confidence to accomplish their money goals.

If you’re wondering how you can reach your money goals and achieve financial independence (FI) so you never have to work again, listen up. During our conversation, we talk about what financial independence is, what the journey looks like for different households, and Jamila even breaks it all down into incremental steps that are achievable and realistic for everyone.

Listen on Apple Podcast

You’ll learn:

  • The difference between financial independence and financial freedom
  • The 5 stages of the journey to financial independence
  • How much money to save based on your standard of living
  • Successful habits for a journey to FI
  • Mindset blocks that prevent people from starting their FI journey

Mentioned in this episode:

Business Instagram @journeytolaunch
Website: https://journeytolaunch.com/ 
Podcast: https://journeytolaunch.com/podcast/ 

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Episode Transcript

Jamila Souffrant

sometimes when people do the math, it was just like all right, forget it. Like I don't wanna I don't wanna do this because it's like a lot especially think about if you're coming to this with a negative network, tons of debt it can seem at first discouraging, which is why I break down the stage is the way I do because you don't have to be completely debt free or completely, you know at your financial independence number to experience freedom.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Mhm.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Hi Off-Scripters it's your host, Serwaa Adjei-Pellé and welcome to episode 1 34 of the She's off Script podcast. This is a show where we hear and learn from women who have created unique blueprints for their business success. My hope is that you'll hear their stories and translate their gems into

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

a unique

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

path for yourself. In today's episode we meet Jamila Souffrant, who's the founder of the Journey to Launch podcast, a platform where she helps people reach financial independence. When she first started on this F. I. Journey, she and her husband saved $169,000 in two years with the intention of retiring by age 40. Now, while she was pregnant with her third child, she decided she could no longer handle the three hour commute to and from work. So she took a chance, quit her job and invested her time into growing her

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

own business instead. During the conversation with Jamila, she shares the five stages you'll go through in your journey to attaining financial freedom. She talks about how you can calculate how much money you need to save in order to be independent, the importance of mindset and habits on this journey and so much more. Before we hear the rest of Jamila's story, I would love it. If you could subscribe, rate and review our show on Itunes or wherever you

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

listen to podcasts, this will help to spread the word about our show. So amazing stories like Jamila's can continue to inspire women looking to launch their own. The She's Off Script podcast also has a membership community to help you launch and grow your

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

business with resources and coaching during our boss, Off-Scripters community today by

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

going to Serwaa Adjei-Pellé dot com forward slash community with that let's go off script with the founder of the Journey to Launch

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

podcast and platform. Jamila Souffrant, welcome to She's Off Script. Thank you so much for being here.

Jamila Souffrant

Thank you so much for having me. So for anyone listening who hasn't come across to you before,

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

So for anyone listening who hasn't come across you before, could you share who you are and what you do?

Jamila Souffrant

Sure, So my name is Jamila Souffrant of Journey to Launch. So I have the Journey to Launch podcast and Journeys Launch platform where I help people reach financial independence, reach financial freedom. So I give them the inspiration, the tools, the just confidence which honestly I believe you have already inside of you, but just the knowledge and wherewithal to accomplish all your money goes.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Now, you launched your journey to launch platform to document your journey into financial independence. So before we dive too much further into your story, can you define those terms for us? What's financial independence vs financial freedom?

Jamila Souffrant

Yeah, I love that you're starting it out this way just because there are

Jamila Souffrant

so many people who define it differently and or just don't know that this is a thing and I will say you know these are my definition, some of it is kind of standard, but a lot of it you can use and transfer or manipulating the way that makes it work for you. But the technical term for financial independence is having enough money saved and invested to not have to actively work again. So you can live off of those investments, those investments, spinoff income. So whether that is from your retirement, investments or investment accounts, real estate, even a business, but you don't have to actively depend on a paycheck to work because you reach this level in which your income from your investments covers your living expenses.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Got it, got it.

Jamila Souffrant

And then the financial freedom side of it is that are they interchangeable? They can be. So sometimes, I think the Financial Independence, so the Fire movement, which is F I R. E. It's an acronym that stands for Financial Independence, retire early. And so I think sometimes when people hear that it's intriguing, especially if you haven't heard it before, but they're also maybe something that comes up that says, okay, I can understand the financial independence part, but the retire early part, you know, it's sometimes triggers people because it's just like, first of all, I'm not on track to retire at the standard age and second of all, who wants to stop working people, I think ultimately want to work right? And so when I say financial freedom, you know, I'll use it interchangeably. But I think you can find financial freedom on your way to the ultimate level of financial independence. I think financial independence is a very big and aggressive goal and I think you have to break it down so that it's manageable for people to understand where they are on the path and how possibly they can get to their own defined level of freedom and independence.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Got it. So what prompted you to start on this journey?

Jamila Souffrant

Yeah, so, you know, I've always had big goals and dreams. I am, you know, an immigrant myself, I came to New York when I was about two years old, born to a single mom in Jamaica. And so I've always just had like a lot of ambition and I think it's from my mom and my grandma and all these like strong women that

Jamila Souffrant

I've seen and I always said to myself even growing up like I wanted to be a millionaire before I knew what that really meant. I wanted to have money and like, I just didn't like being told what to do. I was always that like strong willed spirit. I always saw things differently than I felt like most people and I didn't know though how to make that a reality

Jamila Souffrant

as I started to get older and work and get my internship in college and then eventually go into the real world, you know, I was like wait a second, so I don't want to work for anyone, but I don't know how to make that happen without like starting a big business or being born into money, which didn't happen. So I was like I had these big ambitions about, okay, I'm not gonna work for anyone past 30. This is what I said to myself when I started working full time

Jamila Souffrant

At about 22 in my corporate job.

Jamila Souffrant

Then as I started to try new businesses, those didn't work out and I didn't like them, they weren't really going anywhere. I was I said to myself, I guess I was just supposed to work like everyone else like who are you to have these big dreams. And then it was when I was in my early 30s on my long commute from Brooklyn to New Jersey, pregnant with my first child. My community was at

Jamila Souffrant

that time like an

Jamila Souffrant

hour and a half average one way driving and before kids like fine right? Like I get home, it's fine, it's just me and my boyfriend now my husband at the time like it was fine but now being like married, I know I want to like have more kids. I was looking at my life and this commute and being stuck that day which really it all came

Jamila Souffrant

back to me, it was like three hours stuck in

Jamila Souffrant

a car being pregnant with my first son. I was like oh no, like I was just like there is no way that I can do this for the rest of my life but there has to be another way and that's when I started to google, you know, I got home, I had my like breakdown, but then I started to google and think about those dreams I once had, like they welled up again inside of me and you can only like quiet those voices for so long and so, you know, it led me to google how to quit my job, how to retire early, all these things that you know, potentially people who listen to this podcast or who are watching this may do sometimes, and I found out about this concept called Financial Independence, retire early. I saw that there were blogs about it podcast about it, I just went down this rabbit hole and I was like, wait a second, what is this thing and how can I apply it to my life? And that's

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

kind of what prompted me on my journey, wow, there's something about pregnancy that seems to trigger nesting at a bigger level, at least. I found that to be true for myself because even my entrepreneurial journey was triggered by the fact that I started to have kids and I really didn't

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

want to feel like I was missing out on all of those formative moments with them and I started to think, well what can I do? So I have more control over

Jamila Souffrant

how I earn

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

and here we are. But when I think about you and your family as you started on this journey, even though you and your husband lived in Brooklyn at the time you earned decent salaries at least enough to

Jamila Souffrant

save 100

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

and 69

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

$1,000 in two years. So is this possible

Jamila Souffrant

for the average person to become financially independent? Yeah, that again is a very valid question because I always say this with my story is that my husband and I together at the time when I work in corporate America we earned a good

Jamila Souffrant

amount of money. You know he's a teacher and I worked in corporate America and I had a position where I got bonuses and climbed the corporate

Jamila Souffrant

ladder. So it was a very lucrative career. But I would say before I found out about financial independence we did not save or invest that much. So that 169,000 that you talked about. Over half of that. I forgot the numbers at this point we're in like our retirement accounts. So I was able to max out my four oh one K my husband because he was a teacher, he was able to max out to pretax retirement accounts something I did not know before I started this journey that as a teacher, if

Jamila Souffrant

you had access to a 43 B. Plan and you probably have access to also a 4 57 plan, both pretax retirement accounts. So a majority of what we saved and invested was pre tax and then the rest were like Roth our backdoor Roth iras and taxable investing. So again we had the income to do that but we did have to make changes because before financial independence we were not saving and investing that much and I couldn't really even tell you where the money was going before that. So now when people are like, ok, that's great for you, you guys obviously we're earning enough to do that. What about me? You know like I'm I'm single, I'm just starting my career or I'm in tons of debt. I don't have the disposable income

Jamila Souffrant

to do or save as much as you did. So I say. And this is why I breakdown financial independence in two steps because we came at it at a time where we were older, we were in our early thirties and we're already established in our careers and we're making good money and we also didn't have that much debt at that time. Like we got out of debt in our twenties, right? So at the point at which we came into financial independence, we we kind of had an advantage with

Jamila Souffrant

that and still had work to do so first for anyone

Jamila Souffrant

listening who's not in that position, it's the understand where you are and to one I know can be inspiring but also discouraging but like your journey is going to be uniquely your own, like what you can do is going to be relative to what you earn and your responsibilities and you know, so it's really about just making incremental improvements and doing as much as you can do based on your circumstances. And I also talk about like the journey to financial independence in five stages. So I don't know if you want to get into that yet, but I think it also helps people realize that this is actually like a marathon and so it's not expected that depending on if you're coming into this with debt or just at a different starting point that you'll get to your financial independence number in two years, right? If it took you 10 years to get into debt or to accumulate your debt, like it's probably going to take you that amount of

Jamila Souffrant

time

Jamila Souffrant

and

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

More to get out of it possibly. That makes sense. And I know your goal was to attain that independence by age 40, I don't know if that's still the goal, but for anyone who is thinking about starting now, where do they start, where in your five steps or five

Jamila Souffrant

journey er stages, should they, should they start? Yeah, so the five january stages goes like this. The first stage is the Explorer stage, meaning you just come to this and you really can't even pay your debt and your bills without going into the red every month without spending on your credit card. Like you're literally just trying to get stable. So I call that the Explorer stage stage one, stage two.

Jamila Souffrant

After you get out that Explorer stage, you potentially you have a budget, you're finally able to at least pay your expenses. And debt payment is stage two, the cadet stage which is getting out of consumer debt. And this is a big stage because we're talking about your credit cards, your car loans and I don't typically include like a mortgage or student loan here because sometimes those that's huge for most people and but once you get out of out of consumer debt, which can take years, like I said, the next stage

Jamila Souffrant

is the financial security stage, the aviator stage. This is the stage I was in when we were saving and investing that $169,000 we were able to put a majority of our money to our investments and to prepare for my week out of corporate America to help with my F you fund. That's stage three, the aviator stage, Stage four is the work flexibility stage

Jamila Souffrant

is the stage I'm currently in. And so that stage is the commander stage, I call it because you have more command over your life and you have more options. And this is a stage I think everyone can get too. So I think financial independence is a big goal and you know, I do want as many people to strive for it as possible. But this work flexibility stage where you can actually choose what you want to do for work because you have like the flexibility in your budget and your money. That is that stage for. And then stage five as the captain stage, ultimate financial independence. Like you literally don't have to work if you don't want to. So that's how I break it down. So it's one understanding where you fit into that and then understanding the things you

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

need to do to get through those stages. Got it. So how do I

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

figure out what my financial independence number is? How much money would I

Jamila Souffrant

Need to put aside to attain that level? Great question. So the rule, the quick rule of thumb is the 25 times rule of the four withdrawal. Right? So anyone can figure this out really quickly. There's tons of calculators that you can figure out. But really you're thinking about how much do I need to survive based on my standard of living? And remember everyone has a different standard. Like

Jamila Souffrant

There are some people who can live off $30 $40,000 a year and it works for them and there are some people who hear that number and they're like no like I like I need twice or triple the amount. Just know that how much you need is gonna basically impact how much you need to save and invest. So you need the less amount that you need to live on a monthly and annual basis, but

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

less you'll need to save. So take your weight.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Just a quick question there. Now, does that 25 times will also account for the fact that your needs are going to change over time. So my needs with a newborn where I'm paying 12, 13 or more grand in daycare costs are going to change as they hit Middle School vs high school.

Jamila Souffrant

So how do you account for those changes? You have to look ahead? So you have to think about, okay, when would I ultimately want to reach financial independence? Right. So it might be a 10 year, 15 year, 20 year journey for some people. And you can like foresee or look out at where your kids will be at that stage, what you might do, right? So you have your current budget and the 25 times it was essentially multiplying how

Jamila Souffrant

Much you think you are going to spend by 25. So your annual expenses by 25 gives you

Jamila Souffrant

this number. So it states $40,000. $40,000 times 25 is one million, I believe. Do the math on that. I think it's one million. So you'll need one million invested or saved in order to draw down on that in perpetuity, without having to work or put money towards it again using a 4% withdrawal rate. So you can do the math really quickly. So if you need 80,000, it's gonna be more money. Right? And so you can do that and then figure out. Okay, Okay. Like you just said the same thing with me. Where are my kids at three? So where are my kids going to be if I want to be financial independence in 10 or 15 years? Well, it depends on the kind of support I want to give them if they're they're all going to be like potentially going into college at that point.

Jamila Souffrant

So do I make room in the budget, we're helping them with college? Do I make them in the budget for helping them? You know, with certain expenses or? Well my mortgage be paid off by then so I can take that out. So you have to kind of play around

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Where you think you'll be in that timeframe. Oh, wow, okay. So now when you hear that 20

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

five times it starts to make you think, how do I get to that level? And then I wonder as you work with people to attain that goal that they put out, what are the habits that you find are most necessary

Jamila Souffrant

for them to be successful on this journey? Yeah. So here's the thing that is a big number sometimes when people do the math, it was just like, all right, forget it. Like I don't want, I don't want to do this because it's like a lot especially think

Jamila Souffrant

about if you're coming to this with like with a

Jamila Souffrant

negative network, tons of debt it can seem at first discouraging, which is why I break down the stage is the way I do because you don't have to be completely debt free or completely, you know at your financial independence number to experience freedom. Like I said, I am not financially independent, but I have a level of freedom because I started the journey was able to quit this job that I wasn't in love with able to have the flexibility in my life. So I always say to someone like first understand that this again is a marathon and not a sprint and understand that to make these changes. Like there are some practical things you need to do. You need to have a budget, you need to focus on paying off that consumer that those high interest consumer debts focus on earning more. So it's not just about cutting back but also okay, how

Jamila Souffrant

can you earn more in a way that feels good to you and suits your needs? And then also like the like the practical stuff is one but also that kind of mindset and habits like that fuels that. And to me that is the biggest thing because a lot of us know like what we should be doing but we don't know why we're not and that is where you dig deeper into their behavior is behind

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

some of

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

the things

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

that you're doing now. Got it. And so you mentioned mindset, what are some of those mindset blocks that you find people have that

Jamila Souffrant

are preventing them from even starting the journey? Yet one is just not believing it's possible for them. Like why me? Like why would I be able to access this level and lifestyle when people I know work harder than me, who maybe seem more deserving than

Jamila Souffrant

me. Like it's almost a self worth issues for some people, because it is, it does feel like there's this level that shouldn't everyone have access to this and I think we should and so if you are exposed to this, but you don't believe it's your deserving of it, It can feel like a conflict. And then the other thing is we all come from different cultures, backgrounds, there's some similarities with some differences and depending on that, like, this is totally foreign to you and to the people that in your real life you're around. And so without that, like encouragement or support, some people might look at you like, are you kidding me? Like that sounds crazy that some people like us, we don't do that. And so it really takes uh seeing people who you can

Jamila Souffrant

relate to in a way doing that, and not that they have to have everything, but seeing that they're doing something different for you to

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Believe, Hey, possibly I can do that too. And I know you now have a course where people can go through your 10 step framework so that they can start working on achieving this goal of financial independence. Could you give us some insight into some of those steps that they are taking right

Jamila Souffrant

now, as they are working on their journey? Yeah, so I came up with the f i course, it's gone through many names, I think, name right now is map your path to financial Independence scores, because I was trying to figure out how could I relay what I learned and the steps that I took to get, how far I've gone and have someone else go through the same framework. And so it's 10 steps to really

Jamila Souffrant

Make you realize and map out your journey. And I like how you said in the beginning or just now that you know, your your goals can change. My goals have changed. So when I first started this journey intentionally, I thought okay by 40, I'm going to keep working at my job, make as much money as I can and then I'm out, I'm good. I won't have to like actively work again. I can choose what I want to do.

Jamila Souffrant

Started journey to launch and realize, oh wait, like my goals have changed, it's not about the money for me anymore because if it was, I would have stayed at my job, it's more about the freedom and what I like doing for work. So my goals change and so with the 10 Step framework, it's understanding that you need to understand your starting point. So we work on mindset and habits way in the beginning, but then we also figure out and determine what is your starting point, and

Jamila Souffrant

then we figure out, okay, what's that endpoint and how do we get from where you are to where you want to be

Jamila Souffrant

an account for the changes that may occur. So how do you make it flexible? So that way in two years, if you decide you want to travel the world or take a sabbatical or change jobs and careers or start your own business? Or how can you make that possible using this

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

framework? So it kind of goes through that, got it. So as you mentioned, when you first started

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

this journey, your goal was just to retire, but at some point you decided to start investing in yourself. So now, as you build your journey to launch platform it, how do you turn a platform like that into a viable business so that you do have that income

Jamila Souffrant

or work flexibility? How are you monetizing it? Yeah, so starting journey so much, I had no idea it would be the thing that actually allowed me to achieve the flexibility in my life now that I have. So I literally did think it was just going to be on the side as a block more than a podcast then, because of the response and how people felt about it, you know, I really saw like wow, this could be the thing that

Jamila Souffrant

helps me achieve it faster or maybe not. And so I quit my job right after giving birth to my third child and said

Jamila Souffrant

to myself, I'm going to bet on myself because I can either stay in this job and be not happy there. I say miserable for the next few years just for the money or I can, you know, bring my strength into the world in this business and see what happens. And so with Journey to launch, it makes money in a bunch of ways. One of the things I did before I left my job,

Jamila Souffrant

those I made sure we had a runaway that if we didn't make money, like I was not pressured to feel like we just had to earn money in any way. So I wanted to make sure that I was not going to be pressured or felt pressured to earn money and then sell and do things that were not in integrity with myself, but with Journey to launch now the way it makes money is through partnerships. So I have some brand partnerships

Jamila Souffrant

and sponsorships with the podcast and then just in general, with me as the brand and as a speaker or content creator also, we have the courses, so the F. I course and the membership, and then I also do just speaking events and writing and these other areas in which because I'm investing in myself and growing my own self as my best asset helps to earn

Jamila Souffrant

me money and

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

then journey to launch money. Okay, so for anyone

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

listening who would like to start a business as a way to increase their earning potential on this journey to financial independence, what

Jamila Souffrant

is the best advice you can give them? So there's two kinds of businesses, I would say if you're working right now and you want to start something on the side, it's like that quick one, is that quick side hustle

Jamila Souffrant

or when it's not going to take much thought or you know, start up

Jamila Souffrant

capital. It's literally maybe okay, you're good at dealing with kids. So you're like dealing with kids on the weekends or after your day job, maybe you speak a different language. So it's tutoring, right? It's like these quick win side hustles that you can use to pay off dead or do other things to help you in your dreams. And then there becomes next like kind of level to me which is like a side hustle that could potentially be a business, a full time business for yourself. And so you want to

Jamila Souffrant

leverage your skill sets that you currently have at your job. Maybe there's something you're doing right now that you literally are good at. So it could be job related or maybe it's not directly, but maybe you're good at organization, that the skills that you bring to your job and now you can like do that within your side hustle. And so it's really taking what you're good at or

Jamila Souffrant

what people actually questions about all the time and leveraging that into something and scaling it from like maybe a one on one relationship with coaching or teaching and educating people about it too. Then scaling it to a place where eventually

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

you may be able to quit your job to like that. So now for anyone who's interest has been piqued by not only your

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

journey, but just the fire movement in general.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

Where can they learn more about

Jamila Souffrant

you and really the information that you're offering? Yeah, so you can go to journey to launch dot com. That's my website. I recently got it done over.

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

I'm so happy with

Jamila Souffrant

the way it looks now. It looks great. Thank you. Thank you, shout out to Shirley, she was my designer. And then also, so I have a podcast. The podcast is the way I get information out. It's been basically, if you're listening to this podcast, you

Jamila Souffrant

can find the Journey to launch podcast, review, listen to this one. So just type in turning to launch, but it's on apple podcasts, google podcasts, Spotify, even Youtube. And so there is the best place to start in terms of like, understanding about financial independence. I even have a jumpstart guide. So I created this free jumpstart guide for people who hear me talking like this and I'm like, all right, I'm interested, I don't know where to start. And so essentially, like breaks down the top downloaded episodes, the steps to financial independence, those five stages, and

Jamila Souffrant

then it does break down the 10th step in the f I course that I have. And so you can get that by going to journey to launch dot com slash jumpstart and that will get you your jumpstart guide. And then the last thing I'll say is you can follow me on social media at

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

journey to launch on instagram, twitter or facebook. Love it. Thank you so much Jamila, this was amazing. And you've given us

Jamila Souffrant

a lot of homework and I appreciate

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

it. Thank

Jamila Souffrant

you

Jamila Souffrant

so

Serwaa Adjei-Pellé

much for having me. You're welcome. Mhm Hi, Off-Scripters I'm so glad you made it to the end of this episode. If you enjoy listening to our show, please pay it forward by sharing us with your network between episodes. You can find me on instagram are handle is at she's off Script or you can catch up on past episodes at shesoffscript.com. See you in the next one.

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I’m a digital business strategy expert, headstrong high achiever, mom of two girls and wife to a strapping African man.

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