“Give yourself permission to pay for the things that develop you as a person instead of stripping all the comfort and pleasure in your life and living in an eternal cycle of punishment.” – Stephanie Bousley


Overview of the Episode

How do you stop punishing yourself for your past financial decisions?

I have the great pleasure to talk to Stephanie Bousley in today’s episode 84 of Meaningful Work, Meaningful Life podcast.

Stephanie is a millennial who once found herself in over $250,000 student loans and then found her way out of it. She is the author of a financial self-help book Buy the Avocado Toast: How to Crush Student Debt, Make More Money, and Live Your Best Life. She helps the reader find inventive, out of the box way to improve their money and self-worth.

In this conversation, Stephanie opens up about the deep mental effects of student loan debt and how she found her way out leading her to teach others to do the same.


Here’s a snapshot of a few things we talked about

  • Stephanie completed her master’s degree in 2012 in a recession in the United States after the 2008 housing market crash. By this time, she was over $250K in student loan debt and only found resources teaching scarcity and deprivation to successfully pay off that level of debt. After completing what she felt she was supposed to do – finish school and get a degree – she found herself depressed and feeling like she was stuck not being able to do what she actually wanted to do.
  • While producing her thesis project film soundtrack in Singapore and completing school, Stephanie began marketing herself as an assistant to make some extra income while finishing her projects. She was hired by a prominent expat that had just arrived in Singapore to assist him and his family. This encounter led her to ultimately quadruple her income over the course of four years.
  • A huge reason why Stephanie continued to work abroad is because of the tax advantages and the ability to use those advantages to pay down her student loans faster. But then she found herself longing to move back to the United States and was met with resistance from recruiters and companies when it came to her salary requirements. She tells how she advocated for her worth and continued to press forward until she found her new position.
  • Stephanie also shares how she felt intimidated by the high flying expats she worked with but saying yes to drinks after-work helped eventually to think highly of herself.
  • Stephanie digs deep into the reasons why the typical ‘spend less than you make’ mindset was more detrimental to her than helpful. She found that investing in herself was just as important as paying down her debt even when others looked differently at her.
  • Stephanie is passionate about encouraging others to invest in them and boost their self-worth while paying down their debt and take themselves out of the eternal cycle of punishment. Her mission is to help others find the courage to look at their financial situation honestly and change to live a financially secure and comfortable life.

Fire Questions and Answers

When you travel, do you select your flight by the cheapest flights or by the duration?

Usually by the duration and pay more for the shorter trip.

If you had just one laptop and a hundred dollars to start making money today, what would you be doing?

Start a second hand buying or selling market for clothes and furniture.

What is financial freedom for you?

Having the freedom to explore my interests and who I am as a person to the fullest extent.

What is your definition of Meaningful Work, meaningful life?

Where you can find your own personal happiness regardless of the nuts and bolts of your life. I want to be where people respect me and I am bringing a value or service to them.

Last piece of guidance to do more meaningful work and live a meaningful life?

If you are dealing with student debt, get back to focusing on you and your life. You deserve to think about those things!

Quotes by Stephanie Bousley

  • Every finance help book I read on getting out of debt, made me feel like I was a horrible, bad person who should be punished for all of my bad choices.
  • When I stopped focusing on external validations and focused on the basic things I wanted out of a job, it became a lot easier to find happiness.
  • When I talk about my struggles openly, other people felt more comfortable talking about theirs as well.
  • It’s time to get some help. It is time to find a tool to help you so you can get back to living the life you want.
  • Focus on the life you want, not just the goal of getting out of debt.
  • Give yourself permission to pay for the things that develop you as a person instead of stripping all the comfort and pleasure in your life and living in an eternal cycle of punishment.
  • In this post coronavirus world, we might not be living the way we used to live. So let’s make sure the money we are making is made doing something we enjoy.

Action points

What is your key takeaway from this episode? What are you committed to doing today to find more meaning in your work and live a more meaningful life? Share your thoughts on my Facebook page.

  • If you are an entrepreneur with big ideas and a grand vision who struggle to attract your ideal clients and yearning to make an impact in the lives of thousands, apply to get a complimentary mini-brand audit call with me today 

  • Buy the book Personal branding in the digital age: How to become a known expert, thrive and make a difference in the connected world – it’s available on Amazon, iTunes, Audible as eBook, audiobook and paperback

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