Tonya Rapley of My Fab Finance Talks About the #1 Finance Mistake Young People Make Today

By: Courtney Connley

Known as a go-to financial expert for millennials today, 32-year-old Tonya Rapley prides herself on using her own mistakes and experiences to empower her peers to make smarter work and money decisions through her award-winning site “My Fab Finance.”

“When I started My Fab Finance, it was really my accountability partner and to declare to the internet that I’m going to get my life together and I want you all to hold me accountable,” she says. “But then it turned into, this is how I’m getting my life together and I think it will work for you, to this is how I got my life together and if you are interested in doing the same thing here are helpful tips and strategies from the perspective of a non-finance person that everyday people can implement.”

 
 

Offering relatable advice that people from all financial backgrounds can understand, Rapley’s site quickly took off in 2013 with a growing readership and audience. In October 2014, she appeared on the cover of Black Enterprise’s “The New Face of Wealth Building” issue where she opened up about the importance of planning for retirement and why young people should practice smart money habits early.

“One of the biggest financial mistakes I see young people make today is not investing in their workplace 401K,” explains Rapley. “I think a lot of people think they have time and don’t realize the power of compound interest until it’s too late.”

With a demanding site under her belt that proved to be a growing platform with a multitude of opportunities, Rapley left her 9-to-5 at a Brooklyn nonprofit in September 2015 to focus on My Fab Finance full-time.

While the transition to full-time entrepreneurship is no easy switch, the Florida International University alum made sure to have a strategic plan in place before taking the big leap.

“I identified different ways that I could generate revenue with the business so that I would have different revenue streams from various angles and I wasn’t relying on just one client or one way to make money with my business,” explains Rapley. “If there is anything I can guarantee you with entrepreneurship, it is that it’s unpredictable and at any given time you don’t know what is going to happen.”

Taking My Fab Finance from a site that offers practical financial advice through blog posts, to one that now offers financial education courses, one-on-one coaching, financial planners and more, the North Carolina native even made sure to offer strategic advice to her readers and peers who are looking to make their own transition to entrepreneurship.

Her course Financially Preparing You To Be Your Own Boss tackles the many lessons she learned on her journey to being CEO including something as simple, yet important, as healthcare.

“I explored benefits in understanding what my health insurance would look like as an entrepreneur and strategically left my job at the beginning of the month so I would have the rest of the month to apply for health insurance and navigate that,” she says about her 9-to-5 departure.

In addition to a course on financially preparing for entrepreneurship, Rapley also created a course for college professionals and recent graduates to help avoid bad money and career habits.

“I think a lot of us make most of our financial mistakes in college because legally we are adults, but mentally we aren’t adults and most of us have no concept of money management,” she says. “With Money Lessons I Wish I Would Have Learned Before I Graduated From College it is about teaching college students that refund checks are not free money and that you have to pay them back. But also on the importance of relationships and that your college degree alone is not your only passport into the job market. It’s about the relationships you build.”

Adding on to the importance of relationship building in order to have a successful career, Rapley also explains how so many young people short change themselves when exploring workplace opportunities.

“Something may be good for your career if it’s a leading company in your industry and you see it as a ladder to get to your next place, but a lot of times we don’t explore the entire benefit package,” she adds. “Yes, they pay me a significant amount of money but am I able to work from home? How much of my benefits are they actually paying? Are they paying 100% of my benefits or zero percent of my benefits? And what is my vacation? Do I get five days vacation? Do I get 20 days vacation? Because for anyone who has worked in a professional setting you know it’s not just about the income and that all of those other elements about the workplace experience are just as important.”

Aside from her educational courses and coaching, Rapley is now creating a lane for herself in television with a Toyota commercial for their national “Let’s Go Places” campaign and the “Fab Finance with Tonya” show starting back up on Centric later this year.

Taking the actionable items offered on her website to a new format on the big screen, Rapley says her show will cover everything from starting a business on a budget, to dealing with student loans, learning how to deal when you have a significant loss of income, and having money conversations with your partner.

“I’m just really excited because it’s practical everyday financial advice that the fabulous professional or even creative individual can benefit from.”

To stay up to date with Rapley and the latest financial tips, be sure to follow her on social media @myfabfinance.


Courtney Connley is a writer, editor and digital journalist with a sweet spot for storytelling and helping millennials win in the workplace and in life. She considers brunching to be a full-time hobby and enjoys anything that involves avocado or a good book. You can stay up-to-date with her latest work at courtneyconnley.com and follow her latest happenings on social media @classicalycourt.