Berna Anat, or @HeyBerna to her over 20,000 followers, describes herself as, “The financial world desperately needs a hype woman, and I have more than enough energy, hair, and #debtfree-vibes to do the job.”

We originally met at FinCon: Where Money and Media Meet 2019, where she was making a series of financially motivated dance videos with various Money Influencers. I volunteered to do The Dougie (yes, in the year 2019), but that was more a reflection of my hype-less than her hype-ness. Luckily, for the benefit of the streets and myself, the video never saw the light of day. However, Berna still agreed to share her hype-ways with the PB Family.

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She credits three major steps for her successful journey to debt freedom.

Step 1: Negotiate Your Salary

She was able to negotiate a salary nearly 3x higher. We’ve often talked about the power of salary negotiation on Paychecks and Balances. The pros: a 15min salary negotiation can gross you another half-million-dollars during your career. And, the cons: according to Forbes, Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less.

Related: Paychecks And Balances Seven Favorite Salary Negotiation Tools

Step 2: Set a Realistic Budget (You Will Actually Follow)

She learned the power of the 50/20/30 rule and stretched her paycheck. Over time, she began putting as much as 60 to 70-percent of her paycheck towards debt and living off the other 30 to 40 percent.

However, she admits, this wasn’t easy. It involved making big decisions, and some sacrifices, like moving back in with her family and foregoing a new car for a few years. In addition, there were smaller decisions like choosing to stick to her monthly budget every month.

Related: This Accountant Shares How He Taught Himself to Pay Off $116,000 in Debt

Step 3: Change the Plan, Never the Goal

The best plan is a plan that works. Berna says she had to create her own budgeting system, “and learn how to make the boring-a$$, tedious-a$$ road to debt freedom fun.”

None of the apps or sheets ever worked for me, so I kept a Google Doc journal and wrote my feelings in it every time I got a paycheck. That doc is now over 200 pages long, and is what birthed my budgeting system and personal finance overshare journey!

Lastly, she reminds everyone to remember, “It is ABSOLUTELY necessary for you to create a recurring money routine — a legit, unmovable, repeating Google Calendar appointment — that you personalize according to all of the non-financial things you love.”

Keep it simple!

She suggests, “maybe you incorporate your love of the Hamilton soundtrack; your love of seaweed snacks; your love of dancing around in moisturizing face masks; your love of being pantsless. Surround your ‘bill paying time’ with the unique things YOU associate with #SelfCare.”

In the end, the only person that can help you is you. However, you’ve got a lot of money friends to choose from that are all happy to root for you along the way!

Learn More About HeyBerna!

  • Budget Camp — an interactive online course for total-beginner budgeters — allows you to automatically receive a free e-kit of her favorite digital money resources. Sign up today!
  • Follow her @HeyBerna for the latest and greatest.

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