New Money, Part 1: Brown Ambition

Podcasters Flipping the Script on Personal Finance + Entrepreneurship


Photo by Hey Beauti Magazine on Unsplash

Welcome to our New Money series, where we spotlight the podcasts that flip the script on the business/finance genre and challenge how we talk about an often sensitive topic — money. Seasoned experts in their own right, each of these podcasters bring something different to the table. From earning more than your partner to how much you really need to save before age 30, they’re not afraid to get real about the personal finance issues that seriously matter to their audience.

Meet Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany ‘The Budgetnista’ Aliche, creators and hosts of the Brown Ambition Podcast which has received props from Refinery29, Inc., Fast Company, and MSNBC — NBD. It’s no wonder that they have been identified as a top resource for the career-minded, between the two of them they have A LOT of experience.

Mandi, a financial journalist who has written about income inequality, retirement, student debt and more for Yahoo! Finance, is now Executive Editor for LendingTree, a marketplace for those looking to find the best rates on loans and credit cards.

Tiffany is a financial educator, public speaker, and published author who also launched the Live Richer Challenge and the Dream Catchers community of over 350,000 women who support each other in their financial journeys.

Together, their know-how and ability to connect with audiences by putting the ‘personal’ in personal finance results in a platform that empowers and inspires all women, regardless of color or income bracket.

In your own words, tell us more about what led you to launch the Brown Ambition Podcast.

Mandi Woodruff: I wanted to launch a podcast while I was a reporter at Yahoo! Finance but my bosses told me they wouldn’t support it. I decided to do it independently and knew I wanted a co-host. I immediately thought of Tiffany. We’d been pals since we bonded at a conference for personal finance bloggers in 2014 and I had followed her journey as the Budgetnista for years before that. Honestly, the woman is hilarious and her personality is magnetic. I knew we could talk for hours and never run out of things to say and I knew we had a shared passion for speaking to women of color. She said yes and I quickly taught myself how to put together a show, edit it and get it on iTunes in the space of about a week.

Tiffany Aliche: I’d been thinking about doing a podcast for a little while when Mandi approached me. She was and still is the perfect calm to my crazy. We’re friends in real life and were growing in similar ways to our audience. We wanted to create a space where we could share our lives, finances and career moves with other women as well as learn and help them on their journey.

What surprised you the most about podcasting when you first started out?

MW: The loyalty of our audience. They really have stuck with us! I can’t believe people still go back and binge early episodes. It’s like looking at old yearbook photos for me.

TA: How easily I can lose myself in conversation with Mandi, I would forget we had an audience. It still surprises me when someone brings up something I mention on our show. I feel like Mandi and I are just talking as friends. Our chemistry is the magic that moves the show.

Which guest has had the biggest impact on you personally and/or which listener story stuck with you the most?

MW: My favorite guests have been founders like Miko Branch (Miss Jessie’s) and Morgan Debaun (Blavity). I can’t forget CNBC’s Sharon Epperson either. She talked about recovering from a deadly brain aneurysm. It was inspiring, especially because she said her emergency fund was part of what kept her family afloat while she was out of work for months.

TA: I loved having my friend — award-winning writer, digital strategist and speaker — Luvvie on. She’s such a force and hilarious. Her personality connects with so many people. So many listeners loved her episode.

What’s the best piece of advice (financial or not) you have ever received? What would you tell your younger self about money?

MW: I didn’t get a lot of financial advice growing up but I was one of four kids raised by a single mom. Watching her struggle was the lesson I needed to encourage me to get to a place where I could support myself comfortably without a partner.

I’d tell my younger self to save her paychecks from the Gap Outlet! I recently checked my social security statement that tells you how much money you’ve earned since your first paycheck and found out I made like $15,000 over a few years working there when I was in high school and I didn’t save a dime.

TA: Start now! I waited to take action with my money because of fear. I would also tell her that she’s capable and not to be afraid to make mistakes with money. Those mistakes are more valuable than one can ever imagine.

Have you seen the conversations women have about finances and work evolve in the past few years? Are there any “taboo” money topics you would like to see women talk more openly about?

MW: I think we have all been emboldened to ask for more and expect more from our careers and the questions we get from our listeners reflect that. They want to know how to get ahead and how to gain lasting wealth. I think we also are more aware of the double standard of being successful women in work — no matter how much success you have, society still has expectations of us to be kind and loving, make dinner, clean the house and take care of everyone.

I still think talking about how much you earn is taboo but it’s empowering to break that taboo when it comes to talking to people in your same field so you can get a gauge of where you stand compared to the rest.

TA: Yes! I started and run a Facebook group (Dream Catcher: LIVE RICHER) that was created to provide a safe space for women to talk about money. We’ve evolved to over 350,000 women worldwide. The financial conversations have evolved as well. It went from ways to save, to pay down debt, to credit, homeownership, investing and more. They’ve become more and more open about where they stand financially, what their goals are, and where they need help. Although money is still a taboo topic, I’m seeing an increase in posts about that too.

A recent social media phenomenon is the #10yearchallenge. Where were you (and your finances!) 10 years ago, and where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

MW: 10 years ago I was a senior in college about to graduate. The recession was in full swing and everyone was focused on getting jobs after college but I knew I wanted a break. I got a job offer and turned it down. Instead, I saved up some money working several part-time jobs and moved to South America for 5 months. Best decision ever.

In 10 years, I see myself running my own content business and writing plays on the side because my secret ambition is to be a playwright. I’d like to be able to take two two-week international vacations per year with my family and have at least one play produced in a theater. And it’d be great to be mortgage-free!

TA: 10 years ago I was newly unemployed and moving back into my parents home with over $300,000 in debt (mortgage, student loans, credit cards). Now I’m 100% debt free, own two homes without a mortgage and run several successful businesses.

In 10 years I see myself as unofficially retired with 8-figure net worth and shift my focus to philanthropy to help the next generation of women entrepreneurs to succeed.

Thanks for reading! You can listen to Brown Ambition here or subscribe on Apple Podcasts. And make sure to follow team cabana while you’re waiting for part 2. | | get our newsletter