Things That Matter

A Latina Paid Off Her $102K Student Loan In 6 Years And She Honored The Moment With A Funeral

“DING DONG MY LOANS ARE DEAD????,” Mandy Velez, 28, announced to her friends and family on social media. “It is with immense pleasure that I announce the death of my student loans. On August 2, 2019, after 6 years, I finally killed them. It was a slow death but was worth every bit of the fight.” Velez shared the extent to which she penny-pinched, side-hustled, and made advances in her full-time career. That might mean that Velez put away an average of $17k every year for the last six years while working and living in New York City. The real story is far more impressive.

To celebrate, Velez asked her childhood friend, Mike Arrison, to bring his photography gear and meet her at a cemetery. She wore a long, black tulle skirt, and a black lace crop top. Her prop was four $.80 silver foil balloons that read: 102k. She even pulled off a viral, low-budget funeral for her student loan debt.

“I never asked for or received help. No one ever paid my bills,” Mandy Velez proudly shared.

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

The good news is that Velez is holding her strategy close to the chest. She opened up about her whole journey on Instagram. “It began in 2013, when I graduated with a total of 75K in student loans,” she shared. “I moved to New York, but I made sure to pay more than the minimums, which totaled to $1K a month. It was like another rent. I took jobs not based on what I really wanted but what could help me survive. I did this for five years straight.”

At one point, Velez was laid off, but she still never missed a payment. 

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

“Even after a lay-off during this journey, I hustled like hell and never missed a payment,” she confessed. “It was more than most people can do, and I, a single, childless, able-bodied woman consider myself lucky. But still, I carried this burden alone. I never asked for or received help. No one ever paid my bills.”

She savagely “killed the last 32k of debt in EIGHT months.”

Credit: mandyvel / Instagram

Velez felt like her life was “on hold” and reaching a breaking point. She wanted to do more with her money than pay off debt. She wanted a house and a family. That fueled a shocking final blow to her debt and paid off the last $32,000 in just eight months. It wasn’t easy.

Velez lived off a third of her monthly salary to save that $32k.

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

“Turns out, packing lunches and not taking Ubers can save you a ton,” she wrote in a caption. The rest of her story does sound like murder. “I worked my ass off at work and asked for raises, and got them. I worked three jobs at once, my day job and then side hustles. I walked dogs until my feet literally bled. In the cold. In the rain. In the heat. Nothing was beneath me. I babysat. I cat sat. I stayed up for 24 hours straight to make a few hundred bucks as a TV extra on shows they filmed overnight. I cut my food budget down to merely salad, eggs, chicken and rice,” she revealed. 

“I said “no”—my God I said no—,” she continued. “To making memories with my family and friends and prayed there would be other opportunities in the future. Was it easy? No. Worth it? I’m smiling in a cemetery. 102K lifted from my back. You tell me.”

Velez thinks the system is rigged, and that America needs significant policy change to freely educate their citizens.

Credit: mandyvel / Instagram

“Lots of people will see my story and say, see if she could do it, so can you. But I don’t think that,” she said. She acknowledges that she was lucky in being able-bodied and healthy enough to miss entire nights of sleep and work three jobs. “Not everyone can do this,” she warns. Why? The game is rigged. “Only those who play know it,” she says.

Velez is sharing her story because she doesn’t “feel we student borrowers deserve the hardship that comes with these loans: high interest rates, sketchy providers, yearly tuition hikes, the list goes on.” She hopes that her story will inspire those who are in the game to murder their loans. She also hopes it better informs those who are considering playing. Finally, she wants you to vote for “policy that makes the system much more fair. Any little bit of action helps.”

Of course, what’s a celebratory funeral without endless gratitude to the Puerto Rican mami that supported her through it all?

Credit: mandyvel / Instagram

“To my mom who saved me from a year more of debt by encouraging me to go to a state school first,” she begins her Instagram tribute, “even though we sobbed together when the financial aid to Syracuse and Boston wasn’t enough. I’m sorry I gave you so much trouble. I am so grateful for your foresight. I love you always and forever. Thank you, everyone, for cheering me on.”

What’s next for Velez? Girl’s finally taking a much-needed vacation.

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

First thing’s first. She has an emergency fund set aside. Next, she’ll set aside money for taxes for all the dog walking and other side gigs. Then, she’ll start saving money for a down payment on a house. Finalmente, Velez has her “Sights set on Sicily next year” and is taking recommendations. The cherry on top of a successful slaying and funeral? “A cool thing about paying off debt is now having that extra income for ME. And the things *I* want to save for. Not filling the pockets of predatory lenders with insanely high interest rates. Feels amazing.????”

Our deepest, gratifying condolences to you, Velez. Felicidades.

READ: Wells Fargo Is Being Accused Of Denying Loans To Undocumented Students

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In The First Episode Of FIERCE’s ‘Money Moves,’ We Explore The All-Important Budget

Fierce

In The First Episode Of FIERCE’s ‘Money Moves,’ We Explore The All-Important Budget

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Finances can be hard. A lot of us were never told how to properly budget because our families weren’t equipped. Fortunately, in the 21st century, we can connect electronically with other Latinos and Latinas who are making money moves. In the first episode of FIERCE’s “Money Moves,” we talked with Beatriz Acevedo, CEO and founder of We Are Suma, a new financial literacy media company.

We Are Suma is a new company that wants to teach you how to make the most of your money.

Financial literacy is so important in creating generational wealth. It is an important step to being financially comfortable. CEO and founder of We Are Suma Beatriz Acevedo wants to help all Latinos and Latinas reach their financial goals. The most important place to start is creating a good and manageable budget. We sat down and spoke with her about what to do to make that happen. Here are some of her insights.

Sam: What would you recommend in terms of knowing what I need to get financially fit?

Beatriz Acevedo: Well, listen. Because we are here in a group of Latinas, like I said earlier, there’s certainly a lot of particularly incredible, amazing Latinas that do these seminars and these course. I have made my list of the ones that we already work with and really love. One that we have as our Latina in residence right now giving us a lot of this coaching is Jen Hemphill and she has a podcast called ‘Her Dinero Matters.’ So constantly, if you follow them, they have their social media, they have the things that they do. We mentioned Julie from Investing Latina that you guys will have on. Also, she does these seminars where they are made for our community. It just doesn’t feel as dry as when you read content or you go to a class and are like, ‘Oh my god. I feel so out of place here with the words that they are using the expectation that i already know this.’ No. This if for our community by our community. Latina Money. We’ve done some collaborations with her as well for equal pay. She’s awesome. Snowball Wealth. If you have student debt, they definitely specialize. Dana is your girl who specializes in how can you lower that. How can you start paying off your student debt?

All these are amazing Latinas that want to support our community and what they do every day is that. Obviously for us at We Are Suma, we do it in a very fun pop culture kind of way as well. So, five years ago if you asked me this question, I’d be like, ‘I don’t know.’ Today, there are so many resources and just with the ones that I mentioned that you guys can find right here on Instagram.

All of those resources are great. They’re easy to understand and again they’re made my women in our community so they understand where we came from and they understand that we did not have those conversations growing up, that we’re going to need to catch up.

S: What should they take a look at when creating a budget? Is it kind of like consolidating everything that they have and writing down a list?

BA: It’s a very easy thing to do nowadays. I remember when my dad would always tell my mom, ‘¿Donde esta el presupuesto?’ He knew that el presupuesto was very important because my mom and I are enthusiasts of la Marshalls y la Ross. Like, ‘Look, it’s only $9.99.” But, then, they can add up. So, I remember her so vividly in the kitchen, the poor woman, doing these budgets for my dad or for the household in these yellow pads. She was like, Food and this and Gas and all of this other stuff and adding it up. Nowadays, it’s so easy. there are so many apps that you can use. Even from the resources from all of these other Latinas that I mentioned earlier, some of them have these.

I know Snowball has one of these and I’m sure most of them do. It’s free tools where you can go in and you plug in and it helps you to track all of your expenses. There’s also very sophisticated apps that I like to use and it is the preference of people that very easily let you see how much do you make. It’s very important to know how much you make. You make a budget for $10,000 and you make $5,000, that’s not gong to work out, even if you have a beautiful budget.

S: Could you share some of the apps that you personally use or that you would recommend?

BA: Mint is the most popular one from all of the surveys. People really love it. I’ve never used Mint personally, but it must be great because people love it, and is the overall best one. I use PocketGuard. I don’t know how I discovered it or why, but I like it and that keeps you from overspending. It’s almost like, ‘Oh, you’ve reached this. Or you’re spending $5 more this month than you spent this month. It is always sort of alerting you. I’m sure all of them alert you if you are going over the budget that you have.

There’s one that people love that I just learned about that’s called You Need A Budget. That’s the one that people say is for the Type A personality so I need to look into that. It is on this principle of zero-based budgeting, which means that you give a job to every cent that you make. You don’t leave anything up to chance. Even if you are going to put something into retirement or to invest. You make $10 and your budget is at $10. It’s depleted so there is never anything left either under or over that could be a great area. A lot of people really like this You Need A Budget app that I still have to check out.

We were also talking about the envelope method. I learned about that a long time ago in my previous life when I was a tv producer. We were doing this show for Discovery channel where we would go into Latinos homes that needed almost a financial intervention because they were in bankruptcy. They had a mess with their finances. You would walk into their houses and they would have the most unbelievable TVs, VR sets before VR was popular. You’re like, ‘Oh my god. What are you doing, dude?’ I remember that our financial adviser at the time told the woman like, ‘Señora, you’ve got to cut off your credit cards.’ The woman was crying cutting up her credit cards but she had maxed out so many credit cards buying clothing for the daughter. The guy had bought all of these electronics. It was crazy. Then I remember that it seemed pretty prehistoric, right, because I was, ‘Really? You’re going to go put money into an envelope?’… I was reading that there is one called Mvelopes and that sort of mimics that but in the digital world.

Make sure you watch the full interview below for all of Acevedo’s tips to growing your wealth.

Make 2021 the year to become financially fit! You have the power to dictate what happens with your finances.

READ: Do You Combine Finances With Your Spouse? Latinas Answered!

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‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Things That Matter

‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Beeldbewerking/ Getty

The world is plagued with some crazy and unfair laws, no doubt about it. But what about the things that exist and legal? Why are, for instance, spam callers allowed to trick you by calling from similar numbers to yours? Or, why is it impossible to criminally convict your roommate from keeping you up all night or dipping into your ice-cream and lie about it?

Users on Reddit are asking similar questions and the answers are pretty hilarious but also intriguing.

“I’m just gonna have to say little girl’s beauty pageants. It just doesnt sit right with me. And not only because of the fact it’s creepy, but I feel like it’s stressful on the kid and on their body image.” –kitty-cult

“College book prices and practices. Change a few words in a math book, that’ll be another $100 please. Oh you realized that you can use the book from 10 years ago and succeed? Actually we require you get the new book. Oh you realized you can get the book cheaper from a friend? Actually we’re doing online books now and you need the personalized code. We change it every year even though there have been no breakthroughs in this subject! Knowing the college struggle i have no fucking clue how this is allowed to exist. It should literally be illegal.” –WitlessMean

“Puppy mills.” –thechronicwinter

“Sending letters to home owners labeled ‘IMPORTANT MORTGAGE / FINANCIAL INFO’ or ‘LAST WARNING / NOTICE’ and having the inside look exactly like a bill, letterhead and little box in the corner with figures inside… all to then say ‘refinance with us’ or ‘don’t miss this opportunity for etc etc’ Makes me heart skip every time thinking I’ve forgotten some critical bill until I open it.”- IDUU

“The fact car radio commercials are allowed to have police sirens or car crashes in them as a way to Get your attention.”- jagfanjosh3252

“The size of the ‘x’ button on pop-up ads.” –_Denes_

“Socks: ‘Fits size 6-12.'” –klitorisaurus

“Spice/K2/Synthetic Weed. This may have changed in the last few years but I found it embarrassing that our country locks up thousands for actual marijuana but allowed that shit to be sold at every gas station and liquor store knowing damn good and well that it was hurting and killing people.”-m0ndayisb0ng0day

“You can look up where any one lives because it’s public record. But can we please not have entire websites with data bases full of every person in the country?? I mean think about people who get denied restraining orders and try to move away from their abuser. Six months later and their abuser can just look up their name and find them all over again. This could be detrimental for spouse abuse victims, stalking victims, etc. something should be done about them. It’s terrifying.” –21DrunkPilots

“Lying through your teeth on “news” shows because you claim you’re actually “entertainment”. Even while it has “news” in the title of the station. Being able to lie through your teeth on an opinion show just bc it’s an opinion show. Opinions should be opinions about facts. Opinion should not be an excuse for slander or making knowingly false statements in the media.” –jseego

“No-knock warrants. We’ve seen time and time again where Law Enforcement has the wrong address and some innocent person ends up dead because of a logistical mistake.” –Mr-and-Mrs

“Impossibly hard to cancel subscriptions.” –ungFu-omega-warrior

“Putting unrelated crap into bills to sneak it into law. I know they’re supposed to follow some kind rules related to germaneness, but they clearly don’t, and clearly need actual laws with actual punishments for pulling this crap.” –Gr1pp717

“Multi level Marketing.” –whyykai

“Civil Asset Seizure by Police – No Crimes Needed!”- vegetarianrobots

“The troubled teen industry. Parents pay a company to kidnap kids while they’re sleeping and send them off to ‘therapeutic’ boarding schools where they are abused in every conceivable way.”- MyDongIsAWiFiHotspot

“Sweatshop labor outsourced by tech and Fortune 500 companies. It’s essentially contemporary slavery we collectively allow.”- crumpledForeskin

“Being penalized for calling out sick from work. Edit. Even while the whole world is trying to survive this pandemic, we’re still dealing with this major issue by employers. I work in health care, and I feel like I get shamed by my managers and coworkers when you call out. Especially when you work night shift.” –pongomer

“I (f) bought a car recently. During the process of negotiation I decided I wanted to do more research and the salesman refused to give me the keys to MY car so I could leave. Literally saw me looking for my keys and withheld them while repeatedly saying, ‘But what could I do to get you into this car today?’ I finally demanded my keys but bought the car anyway (they met my asking price and got me the financing I wanted) but I’m SO mad at myself for not making a scene. For allowing that man to hold me hostage and not being outraged. I don’t understand why I didn’t humiliate him and instead meekly just sat and took it. I called the manager the next day. But still. So disappointed in myself…” – UncomonShaman

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