Who are you?
Aja Mcclanahan is an Economics major with a personal story of getting out of over a $120,000 in debt, and her story has been featured on Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, NerdWallet and a whole bunch of other places. Aja is everywhere. Her claim to fame was moving to the ”hood” to attain debt freedom and financial independence. This allowed her to start her own business and pay off all of her debt. She blogs over at Principles of Increase and teaches others how to get out of debt, increase their income, and build wealth. She’s an author, publishing a book called ”Manage Your Money to Become Debt-Free,” and it has become a bestseller in two Amazon book categories. Aja is a big fan of going against the traditional money mindset and creating your life on your own terms.
What made you move to the hood? What’s your story about that?
Aja says she decided to move to the south side of Chicago (where she still lives), to get out of debt. She calls herself “hood rich”, and loves her community, neighbors, and the area she’s in. She admits that the area she’s in is prone to violence, but that doesn’t necessarily make it unsafe. With over $120,000 in debt, Aja and her husband decided to move into their now home because Aja wanted to be debt free and become a stay at home mom.
What else did you do to knock out the debt?
Once they moved into their new home in the hood, Aja and her husband renovated it and began focusing on earning more money to pay off their debts. Because the home was paid for, they didn’t have a mortgage, and it allowed them to focus on earning extra income and throwing whatever they could towards their debt snowball.
Aja worked on many different side hustles, before landing on database consulting. She got her certification and started working with different people and companies in her free time. With the increase in their income plus being able to live mortgage and rent free, Aja and her husband were able to pay off all of their debt at the end of 2013.
What is your money mindset? Do you think that making more money than the average person is bad?
Aja doesn’t believe that earning more money automatically makes you a bad person. For Aja, money is used as a tool to get her further in life. It also helps afford the opportunities she wouldn’t have had otherwise. Her family has been able to prosper in their neighborhood. She’s been able to hire people locally. She volunteers and teaches business math to the kids in her neighborhood. Aja believes that if she didn’t have the economic freedom to do that, it wouldn’t impact her neighborhood in such a positive way and be so helpful.
Are you content with where you are in life?
For Aja, she’ll never be completely content, because she wants to continue to grow in her life and use her platform to help as many people as she can. She believes her money mindset in abundance and being plentiful helps her push towards bigger goals and aspirations. She also believes in constantly setting new and big goals (she calls them faith projects) that scare her but force her to get out of her comfort zone.
For example, when she first started talking about owning a home with no mortgage, many people didn’t believe her. But even though she had to move to the hood from the suburbs where she was comfortable, it allowed Aja to own a home with no mortgage, just as she had wished and worked for.
Has your money mindset changed other aspects of your life?
Aja says that her money mindset has changed other aspects in her life, for the better. She has found her purpose, she’s able to homeschool her kids, and she even volunteers for her community. All of the projects and good things she’s accomplished changed when her money mindset changed.
What would you say to someone looking to change their money mindset and change their life?
Aja believes that in order to start changing your money mindset, you need to first learn that you’re not a victim. Bad things happen everywhere, but you can adapt, learn, and grow. Despite your circumstances, you can still be something in the world and find your purpose.
Aja also believes that it’s important to protect your personal boundaries. Cut off friends that are nothing but toxic and negative. Turn off the news if it triggers you and makes you fall into bad habits. Don’t do mindless things like scroll through social media and feel bad about yourself. Instead, focus on your own growth and well-being. And then focus on ways for you to earn more income and go after what you want.