Bola is a Certified Financial Educator, money coach and founder of Clever Girl Finance, a platform that empowers and educates women to make the best financial decisions for their current and future selves.
Clever Girl Finance provides women with financial guidance, financial tips, and budgeting tools to inspire them to pursue their dreams of financial independences. Clever Girl Finance also provides aspiring and established female entrepreneurs with advice, tips, and tools on running a financially successfully small business.
You can read Bola’s personal money story on Clever Girl Finance website.
For Creative Girls: You have carved a niche that solves the kind of problem that a lot of women have faced through the years, can you walk us through your journey into building Clever Girl Finance?
Bola Onada Sokunbi: The idea for Clever Girl Finance started brewing a little over two years ago. I just had my twins and I wanted to be more present at home. At the time, I was commuting quite far to work and it was taking away from the time I could have been spending at home with my kids. I had also been feeling like I wanted to do something that was more relevant to me and would have more of an impact in the lives of others so I started brainstorming, journaling and writing down every idea that came to my mind. And everything I came up with in one way or the other centered around or touched on finances and so I thought why not take what I love – lifestyle & finances — and build a business around it. It took me a little over a year to figure this out. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I decided to just take a leap of faith and launch Clever Girl Finance. While my website was being built, I started planning out my business and creating content and tools for it.
What is the one challenge you’ve had in the course of running CGF and how have you been able to tackle it?
For me, it’s time management. I’m a wife and mom to twin toddlers and so my household is very busy. I’m also running what I consider a one-woman show right now, so in addition to the day to day tasks, I also have to think about content creation and marketing and strategy etc.
In order to manage my time as best as I can, I live by to do lists and my calendar. I would be lost without these two things. I’m also in the process of on-boarding a virtual assistant to help me with the day to day tasks like scheduling blog posts, email, and social media management, so I can focus on a few bigger priorities.
In your years of experience and expertise, what are the real issues affecting women when it comes to money making?
I think fear is the biggest issue. For women who work in corporate careers there’s the fear of negotiating their salaries or asking for what they are worth because as women we tend to attach emotion to things and then we become afraid of rejection. One suggestion I typically make to women when asking for raise is to think of it as business transaction. It’s all about your delivery. When you make your request do not make any excuses or complaints instead present your case with evidence as to why you deserve a raise, talk about your accomplishments, leverage what makes you unique and valuable, ask for what you deserve based on your research and keep it strictly business.
For women wanting to step out on their own in business, I think fear again is the biggest issue, specifically fear of failure, but if you don’t try you’ll never know. So I’d start small, slow and steady and don’t worry what anyone thinks about you. You’ve only failed if you’ve learnt nothing. Create a business plan, work out your concept, find a mentor, find other business women to guide you and tell your fears to take the back seat.
It is often said that creative people aren’t the most financially successful. In your opinion, do you think creatives really make money from their art?
Absolutely, you can make money regardless of what you do. And it’s not about how much you make, it’s about what you do with what you earn. The goal is to spend less than you earn, pay off debts, save and invest. Creatives are usually more free-spirited and more carefree which means (it is assumed, but not necessarily always true) they might not pay attention to their finances as closely as they should. Setting aside a few hours once a month to go over your finances, create a monthly budget and set things in order isn’t that difficult, though.
So, why does making money seem like a tough issue for a lot of creatives? How do you think this problem can be tackled?
I think it’s a combination of the carefree, free-spirited nature and the inconsistent income that are associated with being a creative and as a result, it’s important to do frequent check-ins on your finances and also put in a place a monthly budget to ensure that you are consistently living well below your means as a creative.
What are the first few steps and tools for creatives that can help in creating a path of financial excellence and mastery?
I would say any spending on credit card needs to stop ASAP, as it’s not possible to build wealth by racking up debt.
They need to focus on creating and living off a budget that will ensure they are spending less than they earn.
In addition, it’s important they build up an emergency fund. Starting with $1000 and then growing it in over time, say 3 to 6 months. The emergency fund should be designated for true emergencies only.
A great tool to track your spending and set goals is Mint.com it’s free and you can use it on your computer or via their mobile app. Creating a simple Excel spreadsheet works perfectly fine as well. Whatever tool you choose to manage your finances, you have to be committed to consistently check in with it.
Tell us about the CGF Finance Planner and how it helps creatives map out their money goals.
I designed the planner to be incorporated into everyday life by allowing you to break down your long-term life and financial goals easily so you can track them on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. In addition, it is filled with motivational quotes throughout that will positively impact your outlook on the amazing life that you are building. This planner comes in a choice of black and white stripes or pastel pink and is designed for 12 months. It is also undated so you can start using it pretty much any month of the year. You can learn more about it on the CGF Planner page.
What does everyday entail for you? Do you have a routine? How do you get things done everyday?
I usually create a loose plan for my day in my planner the night before, with 2 – 3 priority tasks I’d like to complete but generally I spend my day answering emails (in the morning) and creating content for my website. I also have clients, personal and business coaching sessions on certain days of the week and I fulfill orders for my shop and do interviews on certain days as well. In-between I also create content for my social media. Occasionally I have events that take me away from my office but those typically fall on the weekends.
Your favourite breakfast is…?
A full English breakfast 🙂
Your comfortable work clothes to get stuff done is…?
I would work in pyjamas all day if I could.