If you’re like us, you’re already on your third manifestation challenge, have read all the financial literature available, and are still convinced that it’s time to change your career path. Believe us, you’re not alone. Take a look at the trajectory of award-winning personal finance educator Jannese Torres, for example.

In 2013, Jannese was working as an engineer and making $75,000 a year. Not bad, right? However, as many of us feel right now, she felt unfulfilled. She started her food blog, Delish D’Lites, to keep her creative mind going but was laid off from her job shortly after. “At the time, it felt like a setback,” Jannese told FIERCE. “But it was actually the start of something great because it made me realize that I didn’t want to rely on just one income stream anymore.”

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And this JEFA was definitely preaching to the choir.

Over ten years later, Jannese is now helping Latinas become financially literate. Her work focuses on helping her clients pursue entrepreneurship and financial independence. For her, nothing compares to the power of economic freedom.

Jannese Torres and the financial challenges of being a First-Gen Latina

We’ve talked about this before. The struggle of being a first-generation Latina is real! You’re often the bridge between your family and societal responsibilities. With time, this burden becomes almost too heavy to bear. However, the financial challenges are sometimes even harder.

For Jannese, this meant she had to be her own safety net. “It’s taken me longer to achieve financial success than it would have if I had come from a wealthy family,” she said. “That’s why it’s so much harder to make progress as a First-Gen.”

“You have to self-fund your goals. Most of us don’t have access to resources or people who can give you a business loan or an inheritance to kickstart your finances,” she added.

This is part of the knowledge she shares in her new book ‘Financially Lit!’

Jannese Torres is aware that there are both systemic and cultural issues that prevent Latinas from building wealth. Particularly, culturally relevant financial literacy information has been hard to find until recently—finding it in Spanish is even harder.

Add to that the fact that Latinas make about 55 cents for each dollar a white man earns for the same work, and it seems like the game is more than rigged. 

“This makes it harder for Latinas to reach financial milestones like buying a home, investing for retirement, or building generational wealth,” Jannese explains. “There’s also a lack of generational wealth transfers in Latino communities.”

So, how can a Latina break free and reach financial independence?

While many in our community don’t believe they are capable or worthy of changing their financial situations, Jannese Torres thinks this is a myth we need to debunk. In her award-winning personal finance podcast, “Yo Quiero Dinero,” she sheds light on our community’s money beliefs.

“If you grew up in poverty or saw your caregivers argue about money, the topic will likely be something you view negatively and try to avoid,” Jannese explains. “I talk a lot about the importance of therapy when it comes to addressing your money trauma because without changing your money beliefs, you can’t change your financial life.”

After breaking the myth, the next step is to know your current financial situation

According to this expert JEFA, you’d be surprised how many people “don’t have a clue how much debt they have, who their debtors are, or even what the interest rate is on those debts.”

She recommends calculating your net worth, which is a simple calculation based on your total assets and liabilities. You can do it through the Empower app and get real-time information on your savings, investments, and debt. 

“Using this dashboard, I created a plan to become debt-free. I was able to pay off $39,000 in 17 months!” she said.

And if you’re looking to negotiate your salary, Jannese Torres advises you to start practicing the art of negotiation with “something small,” like your streaming service bill, car insurance, or credit card interest rate.

“Once you realize that the worst that can happen is that they say no, you realize that it’s not a big deal, and the confidence you’ll gain when a negotiation works in your favor will fuel your future deals.”

Investing, starting your own business… How can Latinas tackle the side hustle game?

In ten years, Jannese Torres turned her passion for food into a profitable business with Delish D’Lites and has a successful podcast. Now, she wants to share that knowledge even further. 

For Latinas looking to start a business, her advice is simple: “You don’t need to complicate things!” Jannese recommends answering three questions: What are you going to sell, how are you going to market yourself, and how are you going to get paid?

Answer those questions, “and you’ve got yourself a business plan,” she said. 

“I recommend starting with a service-based online business because it has the lowest start-up costs,” Jannese adds. Thanks to the internet, you can use lots of free and low-cost tools and software, such as social media for marketing, and payment processors like Stripe or Paypal to get paid. Worry about the LLC and all the other stuff once you’ve actually made some dinero.”

If your goal is to dip your toes in the financial market, Jannese Torres’ new book might be a good place to start

There’s no successful way to tackle the world of investing without knowledge. Jannese Torres says, “The most important thing is to educate yourself because the language of investing is literally a different language.”

For this reason, she includes a whole section of investing definitions in her new book, Financially Lit!

“It’s important to understand the history of the stock market. It’s one of the most powerful wealth-building tools in modern history,” she explained. There’s a lot to learn, like the different types of accounts and their tax benefits and what different investments like index funds and ETFs are. Understanding this stuff also matters so you don’t get scammed by an unscrupulous financial advisor who tries to sell you on false promises.”

In the end, money affects every single part of our lives – including our relationships

Did you know money is one of the leading reasons for divorce? Knowing your finances is crucial for every aspect of our lives. 

“So, if you want your relationship to stand the test of time, you have to get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations about dinero,” Jannese said. “Chances are, if you two can’t talk about money, there’s a lot of other stuff that you won’t be able to discuss either, and that’s a recipe for turmoil.”

Furthermore, as Latinas, we must know and own our financial power

Our community has an enormous economic spending power, close to three trillion dollars. Yet, we have little to show for it from a generational wealth standpoint, Jannese explained. What better way to create, grow, and transfer wealth to the next generation than educating ourselves?

“This way, we finally have something to show for all our hard work,” Jannese concluded.