Tiffany Aliche is known as the "Budgetnista" for a reason.
It was 2009 during the Great Recession, and 30-year-old Tiffany Aliche sat in her middle school bed, staring at the blank white ceiling.
Aliche had moved back in with her parents after losing everything – including her decade-long job at the foreclosed Kretchmer Daycare in New Jersey, her home, her retirement account, and her boyfriend of five years. She was $35,000 in debt from a credit card scam and her net worth was below zero.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘you know, I had more money at 16 than I do at 30,’” Aliche said.
Aliche wanted nothing more than to start over. But then she realized that she could – she was back at home, right where everything started.
So Aliche did.
A little over a decade later, Aliche has published six bestselling books on finance and started a seven-figure company called Live Richer Academy from scratch. She’s known as the Budgetnista, and she helps about 800,000 women worldwide save up to a total of $80 million.
“Yes, we make good money. But we are a company of service,” Aliche said. “We are there to serve women.”
The making of the Budgetnista
Before she was the Budgetnista, Aliche grew up in New Jersey with four sisters and parents who made sure all of them knew how to manage money.
Her father, a chief financial officer and accountant, sat with her and went over her finances line by line. Her mother would show her the grocery list every time they went shopping and explain the family food budget.
Aliche started working when she was 14 as a camp counselor. Then she was a babysitter, a cat-sitter, a library worker, and a gym employee.
Aliche said she was horrible at saving money at first. As a dedicated candy-holic, her dollars were sacrificed to sugar.
“They knew me at the candy store,” she laughed. “They were like, ‘Tiffany, we have a new selection of Snickers in, would you like to taste it?’”
When the end of the summer came and Aliche’s father asked to see how much she had left, she was “sweating bullets.” Although she’d made $500, she had only $5 to show for it – and she didn’t have the receipts he asked for, either.
She begged her sisters for some of their receipts. They refused. So Aliche went that year wearing hand-me-downs from her older sister. Because the money she spent was supposed to go toward school clothes, her father let her pay the price.
“After that we started meeting every pay period, because he was holding me accountable,” she said. “I still hold myself accountable.”
Aliche would go on to graduate from Montclair State University in business, and get her master’s degree in education at Seton Hall University. She adored her post-graduation job teaching preschoolers at Kretchmer Daycare, and fell into a two-year depression when she lost it.
Then Aliche found a job writing financial curriculum for United Way, a nonprofit organization that helps impoverished people access stable healthcare, homes and finances.
At first, ten people showed up to her classes. Then it was 50. Then there were so many people that they couldn’t fit all of them in the classroom.
And Aliche noticed that most of the people in the room were women.
“I was like, ‘Oh, you’re talking to everybody, but only women are listening to you. So why are you talking to everybody?’” she said. “I want the women to feel extra comfortable.”
Through Aliche’s work on the United Way social media accounts, people in other states took notice. They wanted in, too. Aliche decided to put her curriculum online and call it the Live Richer Challenge, a five-week program with daily goals to budget and reduce debt.
She wanted 10,000 people to sign up before the end of 2014 for the program’s launch in January 2015.
On Dec. 31, 2014, the 10,000th person signed up.
By the end of 2015, the Facebook group for the challenge had 20,000 members. Some were asking for a book version, so she wrote “Live Richer Challenge: Learn how to budget, save, get out of debt, improve your credit and invest in 36 days.”
Her first book that she wrote as a preschool teacher, “The One Week Budget,” took three years to hit the Amazon bestseller page. The Live Richer Challenge took three days.
“Oh, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “All of the sudden, I’ve got this online challenge. I’ve got this community and I’ve got this book. I’ve got this business.”
Aliche’s Facebook page now has over 400,000 members. She started the Live Richer Academy, which includes courses from over 50 hand-picked experts in everything from student debt to estate planning, in 2018.
Aliche also co-hosts a weekly podcast called Brown Ambition, which has been teaching women how to build wealth and a good life since 2015 and averages 25,000 downloads a month.
Aliche even helped pen a New Jersey law that requires all public schools to teach financial literacy in grades six through eight. She and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight spent two years penning Law 1414 over cups of Starbucks.
And Aliche has done it all without depending on brand deals or sponsorships for money.
“My dad would say he who pays the piper determines the tune,” she said. “I didn’t ever want that a big bank or big brands could tell me what was best for the audience. The audience pays me. So the audience gets to tell me what they need.”
The Budgetnista’s “Dream Catchers”
Aliche doesn’t just help women – who she calls her “Dream Catchers” – because they were the first to show up to her classes. She also does it because it helps everyone.
About 96% of women have the sole or shared responsibility for family financial decisions, according to New York Life Investment Management. They also control 70 to 80% of all consumer purchasing in the U.S.
“I want to help children, if I want to help men, if I want to help families, if I want to help people, I must help women with their finances,” Aliche said.
Aliche especially wants to help women of color, who have often been “left out of the conversation, whether it’s by benign neglect or on purpose.”
She does this by making sure women support each other online through the Live Richer Challenge Facebook group, but there are also 17 local live groups of Dream Catchers who meet weekly across the country.
Tamecka Murray is the president of all Dream Catcher chapters, whose locations range across the country from California to Connecticut. Sometimes there’s even several groups in one state.
Murray, who’s also an administrator of the New York chapter, said they’ve seen anywhere from three to 50 people show up to the group. But the number of people who actually show up doesn’t matter, she said. It’s about the emotional support that the groups provide alongside the financial support.
“To me, if three people come together in community, that’s powerful,” she said. “One of Tiffany’s quotes is, ‘It’s more than money. It’s a movement.’”
Each group meets once a week. The members share their financial struggles and accomplishments and the progress on their Live Richer Challenges. The New York chapter hasn’t missed a single Saturday meeting since it started four years ago, Murray said.
Murray was first introduced to Aliche’s work when personal finance expert Ash Exantus, or “Ash Cash,” talked about the Budgetnista’s Live Richer Challenge on the radio. She was among the first wave of Live Richer participants in January 2015.
Murray wanted to give herself the present of being debt free before she turned 40. And two weeks before her birthday, she paid off the last of her $30,000 in credit card debt through the guidance of the Live Richer Challenge.
She attended the first Live Richer Challenge completion party in New Jersey, which is where she met Aliche for the first time.
“The same person that I met in 2015 is exactly the same person that I get to have conversation with today,” she said. “She has never changed, even with her following growing. The same bubbly person.”
In 2020, the Dream Catcher groups are trying to get together for acts of kindness, like visiting senior centers. And Aliche has plans of her own going forward.
Aliche began a Kickstarter campaign for an upcoming finance children’s book of hers, “Happy Birthday Mali More.” The goal was $35,000, but they ended up raising over $62,000 instead.
Aliche wants to donate thousands of copies to children in low-income areas, and she also wants to make Mali More a full-blown company that provides foundational financial education to children. Her goal was to hire four educators to write the curriculum, but she now has enough money to bring on nine instead.
And Aliche isn’t done with drafting bills. She wants to expand the reach of Law 1414 to make sure elementary and high school students are receiving yearly financial education, too.
But despite Aliche’s hard work, she still feels lucky to be where she is today.
“I felt like I tumbled and bumbled through success,” Aliche said. “Imagine that I’m walking down the stairs and I trip and I just fall down the stairs into a million dollar business. That’s exactly what the Budgetnista was.”
Published by Debt.com, LLC