The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Student Loan Debt Relief + Building Toward Financial Freedom ft. Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez from Zero-Based Budget

September 14, 2022 Carmela Season 3 Episode 30
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Student Loan Debt Relief + Building Toward Financial Freedom ft. Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez from Zero-Based Budget
Show Notes Transcript

Breaking down student loan debt relief + methods for building toward financial freedom. Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez from Zero-Based Budget talks about her journey becoming a lawyer, paying back over $200,000 in student loan debt, and eventually launching her own business to support others working to achieve financial freedom.

In this episode we cover:

  • Taking the leap into entrepreneurship
  • Important details about the recent student loan debt relief
  • Specific resources related to debt relief
  • Actionable tips to build toward financial freedom + building generational wealth
  • Understanding the impact student loan debt has in communities of color
  • Information for current students navigating student debt

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Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

https://www.ed.gov/subscriptions - Click the first box and subscribe to get updates re: student loan debt relief.

https://studentaid.gov/ - Find out if you are a Pell Grant recipient. Login to your account and go to My Aid, and see your Loans and Grants.

Pre-order Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez's book, "Overcoming Debt, Achieving Financial Freedom".
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Cindy Zuniga-Sanchez, Esq. is a money coach, speaker, and the founder of Zero-Based Budget Coaching LLC. She has spoken to thousands and coached hundreds on budgeting, saving, debt payoff, investing, credit, building generational wealth, and more. 

You can find her on Instagram and TikTok @zerobasedbudget and at www.zero-basedbudget.com.

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Support the show

Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

Learn more about Mela and get access to creative resources at themillennialphd.com.

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- Connect with Mela on IG @melamuzio
- Follow @themillennialphd for up-to-date info on the podcast & blog.
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Speaker 1 (00:09):

Welcome to The Millennial PhD, a podcast about creative survival and beyond. My name is Dr. Carmel Muzio Dormani and I'm a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant from New York. In these episodes, you'll find inspiration ideas and actionable tips for building new pathways forward in work and life. You'll hear from artists, activists, creative entrepreneurs, PhDs, and professional pivots. We talk about radical humanity and practical steps to follow your dreams, even in the context of challenging social conditions. Before we jump into today's episode, a quick reminder to follow the millennial PhD on Instagram, and to please take a minute to rate and review the millennial PhD on apple podcasts. Your rating really helps the show reach as many listeners as possible. You can learn more about me and get access to free creative resources on the millennial PhD, Instagram page, or@themillennialphd.com. I hope you enjoyed the episode. 

(01:14)
Welcome back everyone. I'm your host, Mela, and this episode is all about student loan debt relief and the larger project of building toward financial freedom. So season three of this show is about creating the futures we wanna see. That's kind of the theme for this season. And a big part of that is working toward greater creative and economic freedom. I've been working in recent months as a consultant for folks who wanna put together a creative project or business. And I keep finding that so much of what we want collectively is that greater creative and economic freedom so that we can shoot our shot and go for our dreams, kind of start living the lives that we envision for ourselves. And some of that is about mentality work. It's about believing that we're worthy of those dreams and believing that they can come to fruition and that they can provide for us. 

(02:07)
And that we will, that we're able to build that and that we deserve to build that for ourselves. But obviously a huge part of is also understanding and navigating our material conditions. So much of our generation, as you know, is straddled with very, really predatory student loan debt. And that's most especially the case in black and brown communities as, but it's really pervasive. So when the debt relief info came through recently a few weeks ago, I knew we needed to kind of pause and talk about this a little bit. And we have an amazing guest on the show today to talk about it. It's Cindy sunga Sanchez who runs a social media account, zero based budget online, which you should definitely follow right away. And she talks about student debt and she also talks about things like financial freedom, investing, building generational wealth. Um, she's from the Bronx, which is my home. 

(03:02)
And I also wanna plug early on that. She has a book that just became available for pre-order two days before this episode is dropping. I just, pre-ordered my copy from the lip bar, uh, bookstore in the Bronx independent bookstore, you can pre-order it on Amazon Barnes at noble or your local independent bookstore. And I recommend you do so. It as well, if these are, if any of these topics are of interest to you, I think it's gonna be a fantastic book. So I'll put the link in the show notes. And just as a note, pre-orders in case we don't know are super important for authors to support authors and especially authors of color and first time authors. So get those orders in. If you're interested in these topics and I can't wait for you to hear this interview, I found it super informative with lots of actionable tips about student loan, debt relief, and about that broader question of financial freedom, then building generational wealth. 

(03:57)
So without further ado, here's the interview today. I'm talking with Cindy sunga Sanchez, Esquire, who is a money coach speaker and the founder of zero based budget coaching LLC. After graduating law school in 2015, with $215,000 of debt, Cindy documented her debt payoff journey on social media while sharing the personal finance knowledge that she was learning in a simple and relatable way. She has spoken to thousands and coached hundreds on budgeting, saving debt, payoff, investing credit, building generational wealth, and more she's committed to helping millennial women, particularly women of color create a realistic money plan to achieve financial freedom. Cindy has been featured in national publications, including Forbes business, insider, CNBC CNET, next advisor, real simple hip Latina ESLA and refinery 29, and has appeared on national and local television, including good morning America. The Rachel ratio picks 11 news and Teleo. She is partnered with the white house's national economic council to raise awareness on the American rescue plan and the emergency rental assistance program. 

(05:11)
Cindy practice law as a commercial litigation attorney at an AmLaw 100 firm before diving into full-time entrepreneurship. She's a graduate of Stony Brook university and obtained her JD degree from Benjamin and Cardozo school of law. She was born and raised in the Bronx New York, Hey, and currently resides in Jersey city with her husband. You can find her on Instagram and TikTok at zero based budget and@www.zero based budget.com. Woo Cindy, welcome to the millennial PhD podcast. And thank you for being here. Yeah, thank you for inviting me. Yeah, I'm so happy to have you on this show. Um, I've been following you for a while on social media, the topics you cover are super helpful and we're in this collective moment of kind of reevaluating our relationship with work. And this podcast specifically is really geared toward, um, budding creative entrepreneurs, academics, and ex academics and professional pivoters who are looking to build new pathways mm-hmm <affirmative> and managing the economic constraints around that is a really big part of the picture, right? Especially for people from communities of color and working class communities and your story that you've shared in, in all many of these outlets and on your social media is it's, it's super inspiring. And I think it's, it's also very hopeful because financial constraints and debt can be a really hopeless place at times. Um, so getting these tools together, um, can be really, I think, a source of inspiration and hope for folks mm-hmm <affirmative> so let's start with, I read off your, your accolades, but can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Speaker 2 (06:51):

Yeah, sure. So I was born and raised in the Bronx New York, uh, to immigrant parents. My mother's from Ecuador. My dad is from Honduras and, uh, yeah, I mean, I like to say I have a very typical daughter of immigrant story. You know, we were, uh, my sisters and I were raised in a pretty low income community in the Bronx, uh, very hardworking immigrant, you know, family oriented type of community where really for us growing up the way out of poverty was going to be getting an education. And for me, I always thought that getting the highest level of education would be kind of just a, the, the certain path to, uh, having some semblance of financial stability, but importantly, being able to help my family, being able to help my parents specifically, uh, and my family abroad too, because you know, my, uh, my, my grandma, my, uh, aunts, uncles, cousins, they all still live back home. 

(07:47)
And when I say home, I mean, Ecuador, Honduras, you know, cuz that I like, I consider that my home as well. Uh, and so for me, you know, with that all in mind, I decided to pursue law school, right? Like any good daughter of immigrants, does, you know, you go to law school or you go to medical school or dental school, or, you know, some form of, uh, higher education, that sense. And for me, I thought, well, if I become a lawyer, I'm going to, you know, uh, get a really good job. I'm going to be able to help my parents and what I didn't really, uh, keep in mind as much was how much debt I was gonna have to take on to fund that law degree because surprise, surprise law school is extremely expensive. Um, prohibitly so I would argue, especially if you don't come from money, uh, which I certainly did not. 

(08:35)
And so I took out, um, about $160,000 in loans, uh, to fund both my undergrad degree and my law degree, my undergrad degree was probably only about 10,000 of those loans. Uh, the rest was from law school and I, you know, I graduated law school, totally clueless, not knowing how the heck I was gonna pay off all of the debt and to make a pretty long story, you know, short I'm definitely glossing over details here, but, uh, I found, you know, financial literacy, the world of personal finance, the world of really positive money management. And I took those skills that I was learning that I was actually teaching myself because that's exactly what I had to do. I had to teach myself like, it's not like I had ever learned about debt or credit or investing in school, uh, by accom. Yeah. I mean, of course, I dunno, I don't know who does, but you know, a combination of teaching myself that, and of course, uh, you know, not trying to escape the financial privilege that I had as a lawyer in the private sector, uh, those elements combined, uh, allowed me to pay off my, my debt in, in four years. 

(09:48)
And, um, I paid off a total of about $215,000 of debt, which included, uh, credit cards. Uh, obviously my student loans, but importantly, the interests there were like, it was probably like 40, $42,000 of interest that had grown on my debt. Um, and, and yeah, and since then I have been on a mission to promote financial literacy in, uh, in my community and in communities of color, um, and specifically trying to empower millennial women, uh, you know, to achieve financial freedom, whatever that may mean for them. 

Speaker 1 (10:24):

Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing. And I think a lot of the beats that you hear resonate with with, with a lot of people, and I'm taking a little bit of jump here too, cause I don't know, I don't know if we're the same exact age bracket, but around the time that I think a lot of millennials were going to, into undergrad and into grad school, it was also kind of the beginning of the student debt crisis. Yeah. The knowledge about it and the information was not as accessible. Um, it's still not super clear 

Speaker 2 (10:54):

Around people. No. Um, 

Speaker 1 (10:57):

Unfortunately, 

Speaker 2 (10:58):

Unfortunately, and I think that's part of the trap, right? Is that, you know, we, I started applying to colleges back in, I guess technically you could say like 2006, I graduated high school in 2007 and uh, I just thought that this was like a Rite of passage, you know? Right. You just have to take on debt. It's not even like, there are many options not to, and, you know, uh, I mean, if, if you don't come from money, well then congratulations, you're gonna have to take on debt. And I kind of, I blindly, you know, signed those documents. I didn't read any of those loan documents, like 

Speaker 1 (11:30):

Sure. Who does and they who does and they were pushing them really heavily. Yeah. Um, at that time and no, um, and the interest I think is something that for a lot of us, like, we really didn't understand what that means and how it could com compound. 

Speaker 2 (11:45):

Right, right. Yeah. 

Speaker 1 (11:46):

Um, so can you tell me, was there a moment that you sort of sat down and looked at the debt and decided I'm gonna try to pay this off in the shortest possible time? 

Speaker 2 (11:58):

Yeah. So I call it my aha moment. Mm-hmm <affirmative> again, I'm gonna try to make this story a little short, but basically I had been a year into repaying, my student loans. I had paid in that first year of repayment. Uh, I mean, I was on like the standard repayment plan and my monthly payment was $2,000. Okay. So that was more than my rent. And uh, so, you know, at the end of the first year, if you're doing the math with me $2,000 a month, times, 12 months is $24,000. That's how much I paid towards my student loans in the first year. And I got a, uh, student loan interest statement in the mail, which is this statement that the federal government, uh, you, you basically can report it on your taxes. You can report part of the interest that you've paid on, you know, student loans. 

(12:44)
And they give you this form so that you can see how much you paid towards the interest in the previous year. So I thought, okay, I paid $24,000 in my first year. A good amount of that should have gone to the principal. Right? Like most of it should have gone to the principal. No, uh, no, not, not at all. That's not what happened out of the $24,000 that I paid $4,000, went to the principal. Right. And $20,000 went to the interest. So that means the majority of the money that I had paid went to the interest. And I was, I was so upset. I remember being so frustrated. I call it my aha moment because it's where I turned anger into action. I just decided like, I was no longer going to accept the whole narrative of, well, I'm not really good with money or like my parents didn't really teach me about money. 

(13:33)
Right. So I don't have to be good with money. Like, no, I was not going to feed in feed into that. And I was, I was gonna get my stuff together, you know, mm-hmm <affirmative> and that's exactly what I was determined to do. And from that day on, I did, and I started Googling the heck out of things. I started listening to podcasts. I started reading blogs. I started watching YouTube videos, following certain people on social media, just to teach me, teach me about money. Uh, and, and that's exactly what I did. You know, a lot of times people think like that I've been doing this for years or that I've always just been really good with money. And the truth is that no, I haven't. Uh, and it really was that moment, I would say, uh, back in, I think it was like January, 2017 that I decided no more, I need to make a change. 

Speaker 1 (14:23):

So you shared a lot of this journey on social media. People started asking you for tips and information. Yeah. What prompted your pivot into full time entrepreneurship? 

Speaker 2 (14:33):

Yeah, so, you know, I, that was really hard for me, you know? Um, and it's still hard sometimes even to think back on like what I did, you know, I practiced law for six years as a commercial litigation attorney at a very reputable firm here in a New York city. Uh, it's a national firm, but I was in the New York city office. And, you know, I had a really good job with a very, very comfortable salary, you know, and great colleagues, great cases, uh, but something was missing, you know, something was missing. And I had already been for, I think it was like two and a half years. At that point, I had already been coaching people on personal finance. It's something that I just started to do, like just, you know, low cost coaching services on like creating the budget, creating the debt, repayment plan, things like that. 

(15:29)
And it really was a passion project that I started. Um, I started documenting my journey on social media, started getting a, a community there. And I started, you know, again, like I said, coaching people, but then suddenly, you know, uh, companies wanted me to speak, you know, universities wanted to bring me in as a speaker. Uh, brands wanted to work with me and suddenly I was, I was thrown into this world where I could teach a lot more people than I ever thought about money. And so, you know, in, uh, may 20, 21 last year, I decided to leave my full time attorney job to pursue entrepreneurship full time because I saw that there was an opportunity where I could truly impact the lives of so many people, uh, but, but important to me, a lot of people from my own community, you know, including family and friends and, and, and being able to see and hear from so many people since then of the impact that I've been able to make on their lives and the lives of their family, of their children has been so incredibly rewarding that even though, you know, to be perfectly honest, I don't make a fraction of what I made as an attorney. 

(16:48)
Um, I am really fulfilled, you know, and that's not to say that I'm, I wasn't fulfilled as an attorney cuz I certainly was. Um, but I also think that it's okay for us to have certain chapters in our lives. You know, I don't think life has to be linear the way that we're sold so often. And I decided to kind of get off that linear path that I thought I was on and experiment and do something different and take, take a chance. 

Speaker 1 (17:12):

Yeah. So we're gonna jump into some questions about paying off debt and financial literacy in a minute. Before I jump into that, I just wanna ask you a question about your life now as an entrepreneur for folks who are eyeing that path. Yeah. Um, can you tell me maybe what is a rose and a thorn for you at the moment? So something that you're loving about it and something that maybe is, is not so great or is challenging. 

Speaker 2 (17:38):

Yeah. Um, so something I love about it is I get to be really creative. You know, I get to, uh, really explore and tap side of my brain that I had convinced myself I didn't have, which was creativity. You know, the ability to create something really interesting that would deliver value to people, whether that's through presentations, whether that's through, um, my book that I just finished writing, you know, there's so many, there's so many different outlets that I can go, uh, and pursue. And, and that's been truly a, a major rose, I would say in the journey. I think the biggest thorn hands down is the fact that I'm, I'm still kind of like a one woman show, you know, I've just recently started hiring some help for things that are definitely not really in my wheelhouse, like bookkeeping and accounting, right? Like those are things that you should probably hire out. 

(18:31)
Um, of course I have an attorney that set up my business and did my trademark and people might be thinking, but like, Cindy, aren't you an attorney? Well, yes, but I did not advise small businesses. I was not a trademark attorney or anything like that. I know my skills. And so I think that, you know, having to be like the chief marketing officer and the chief technology officer and, you know, the CEO, the CEO, like having to be all of those things in one, um, it's challenging. I will say it's challenging. It requires a lot of organization. Um, but you know, I think that that's just part of the growing pains with the business and the hope is that as you continue to grow and scale, uh, you can have people that can fulfill those roles. But I would say, you know, I, I wish I probably would've prepared myself a little bit more. I don't know what I would've done differently. Honestly. I think a lot of the things you kind of just learned by getting thrown into the fire and yeah, definitely what happened with me. 

Speaker 1 (19:31):

Thank you for sharing. Let's talk a little bit about finances. Sure. Um, the elephant in the room is the new student debt relief plan. Yeah. Um, and I feel like I'd advise anyone listening to really kind of visit your online presence for the full set of info on that. Um, but are there any major points that you would like to highlight for folks listening? 

Speaker 2 (19:52):

Yeah, I think the biggest thing would be to make sure that you apply as soon as that application comes out, you know? So, um, just, just for context, right, for those tuning in, uh, so last week president Biden announced that he will have, uh, be instituting, uh, P loan forgiveness up to $10,000 per bar, per borrower, or up to $22,000. Um, for those that receive Pell grants, uh, you know, if they need certain income requirements. So for individuals, it's 125,000 for households, it's 250,000, uh, and about 43 million Americans are expected to receive relief from this, which is wonderful. 8 million are expected to receive automatic, you know, debt forgiveness. But that means that about 80% of people are not 80% of people need to apply mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so we need to make sure that we are spreading the word within our communities, that they get that application in, okay. 

(20:46)
That the government isn't gonna just wa you know, waive their wand over your student loans and poof, they're gone, you need to apply. And we wanna make sure that as many people that are eligible apply and get their relief. So, uh, as of right now, I would say that the, the step that I want you to do right now, if you're listening to this podcast, put it on pause for just a second, go to ed.gov/subscriptions. Okay. And you're gonna check that first box, which says that you wanna subscribe to their emails and receive any updates on federal student loan relief. Okay. Anything related to like federal loans, you want those updates and, you know, they will send you an email when the application is ready. Right now, it's, uh, tentative to be ready in like early to mid October. And the administration is saying that they're expecting student, uh, forgiveness to actually occur within, I think it's something like six weeks of your applying. 

(21:37)
That means that if you follow the steps, you know, as, as quickly as possible, I mean, hopefully you can see relief as early as like late November. Right. You know, um, which, which would be amazing. So I would definitely say, just make sure that you stay on top of that, stay on top of dates. Uh, and, and, and also, you know, if you are regular user of social media, which I believe, you know, most of us are, uh, follow people in the community that talk about student loan relief that talk about debt, uh, so that you can really just kind of get those little daily reminders as well. Cause, you know, we all need to remind you sometimes 

Speaker 1 (22:10):

Super helpful, super actionable. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. I opened it up for questions from listeners as well. And a few things came in. One thing that people asked a few times was how can we differentiate between official debt relief programs and scams. Yeah. Um, and you could sort of, you gave, just gave some info about this, but even like at our, at our household, my husband has massive student loan debt, um, that he said I could share about <laugh>, but we get these like scam emails and, and calls and letters coming in. It's really hard to tell what's what sometimes 

Speaker 2 (22:46):

Constantly, constantly, you know, it's actually funny because yesterday I shared on my Instagram how to, uh, find out if you are a Pell grant recipient. So, you know, a little earlier, I said that if you are a Pell grant recipient, you are eligible up to $20,000 of loan relief. Uh, and a lot of people just didn't know how to find out. And so in case you're listening, another actionable tip for you is I want you to go to student aid.gov, okay. Log into your account. And when you log into your account, you're gonna go to where it says my aid for, for me, that just kind of was the homepage. Um, and it says my aid, and it's gonna say loans and grants. So you can know what your loans look like versus what your grants look like. Uh, and, uh, it's funny, cuz so I'm picking on this specifically, uh, because I received a message from someone saying that, you know, they got a call basically saying, uh, you know, uh, we believe you're a Pell grant recipient. 

(23:42)
And so call us now so that you can get immediate relief, like a total scam. Right? Look, the government's not gonna call you <laugh> they're not gonna call you. Okay. The IRS is not calling you. They're not calling you. Okay. So I want you to use legitimate websites, for example, student aid.gov. That is the official website for federal student loans. Uh, you know, under the us department of education, I want you to go to reputable sources. Okay. If ever in doubt, just look it up through the us department of education's website. There's another big, big scan that's going around about consolidating loans, you know, and a lot of people I know personally have fallen into this. They're like, oh, we'll consolidate your loans for you. Yes. Now there's a big, big difference between consolidating and refinancing. Okay. Mm-hmm <affirmative> huge difference. So for context, I personally refinanced my student loans. 

(24:38)
What does that mean? That means that I took out a new loan with a private lender. So I removed my loans from being federal student loans and I moved them into the private world. Okay. Of, of, of, you know, private companies with a private bank. Why did I do that? I did it because my, my interest rate on really high, it was like 8% at the time. And when you owe over a hundred thousand dollars on your loans, that's a huge amount in interest. And so the reason why I did that was because I was in the private sector. I knew that back then, obviously it's not like I knew that Biden was ever gonna cancel, you know, some part of student loans. Uh, but even so, uh, there is something called the public service, uh, loan forgiveness program. And that's for people in, in the public sector that can get loan forgiveness. 

(25:26)
So for example, my friends that work at like, you know, the federal defender's offices or us attorney's office that work in the public sector, those attorneys, they are eligible for that. I worked in the private sector. So I knew I was never gonna be eligible for that. So I refinanced my student loans. That's one thing consolidating, however, is something completely different. And the way that we mainly talk about consolidation, when it comes to federal loans means that you are gonna take all the loans that you have. Maybe you got 15 different student loans and you're gonna consolidate them. You're gonna make them basically into one loan, okay. With the federal government, through their direct loan consolidation program, that program in and of itself, okay. Doesn't charge you all these crazy fees or monthly, whatever you wanna call it that these scammers do. And so what I have seen and it breaks my heart is that people are so kind of clueless, right? When it comes to these things that they sign on with these companies. Yeah. And these companies are now charging them like ridiculous service fees for doing this, where they could have done it for free mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, through, through again, P a.gov <laugh> mm-hmm <affirmative> student, a.gov is your best friend. Um, just please, like, if it, it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Speaker 1 (26:46):

Right. And that was perfect because the, the next thing I was gonna ask you is that somebody sent in a question of, um, is student debt consolidation, always a good idea. And my guess is that that is prompted partly by receiving these notices that say, oh, we can consolidate for this fee or, or, you know, we actually are working for the government. 

Speaker 2 (27:07):

Yeah. We just 

Speaker 1 (27:08):

Dunno about it. <laugh> 

Speaker 2 (27:09):

It's sketchy. It's sketchy. So you're like, oh my gosh, like, is this a good idea? You know, whatever it may be. And, and, and honestly, look whether student, uh, loan consolidation is good for you. I want you to, again, you go to P aid.gov, just in the search bar, just search like consolidation, loan consolidation. It has, it's such a helpful website. I mean, it spells it out for you. Um, it even has like an auto, like chat little owl person that you can kinda like, you know, talk to, it has pros. It has cons, uh, for example, just to give you an example, if you wanna look into the public service loan forgiveness program, let's just say as an example, you are an attorney I'm gonna pick on attorneys, you're an attorney and you work in the public sector. Okay. That means that your loans need to be a specific type of loan in order to qualify for this loan forgiveness program, where after 120 qualifying payments. 

(28:05)
So that's the equivalent of about 10 years, your loans will get discharged and that's great. Right? We love that. And we want people in the public sector specifically to get this kind of relief. The problem is a lot of times they don't have the right type of loans. So for that something like loan consolidation is, is a great option. Um, however, however, I do want to put a big flag. I'm not sure when this episode is gonna be released hopefully before October 31st. Yeah. Um, awesome. So October 31st is the deadline. Okay. Hear me out, please. If you work in the public sector, it is the deadline to apply for the temporary waiver of the public service loan forgiveness program. President Biden instituted an order, which basically said, look, we understand that, that the public service loan forgiveness program has a lot of like, you know, hurdles and loopholes and this and that. 

(28:58)
And, and it's kind of a mess, which it is. Okay. Um, and so we're gonna simplify things. And so if your loans before maybe wouldn't have qualified, we're gonna make this process a little easier for you to qualify, which is amazing. I mean, I have personally seen people benefit from this and get them like years closer to loan forgiveness. I mean, I have a friend of mine that thought she was like eight years out. Now. She is literally one year out from getting all of her loans forgiven of about, I think it's like $80,000 or something. I mean, this is major. Okay. But you have to apply by October 31st. So if you or any of your friends are in the public sector, please, please, please go and do that. 

Speaker 1 (29:41):

Thank you. Super important. And then I have to ask as a current, I'm a current faculty member at a small regional school in New York, in the Bronx and, and Westchester more expensive than CUNY, less expensive than, you know, an NYU. What advice can I give my students about financing their education? 

Speaker 2 (30:02):

Yeah. You know, I think one of the best things for current college students, right. Current college students is not to take out more than you need, because I think that's a trap that a lot of people fall out fall under. Right. It's like, you know, oh, like I have, you know, and I'm sorry, there's like an alarm going on. I think in my neighborhood, sorry about that. A thousand, right. A thousand <laugh>. Um, and so I think that a common track that a lot of times students will fall under is they say, they look and they say, oh, wow, well, I'm approved for a $10,000 loan, even though I only really need like 6,000 to find my education. Well, I'll just take out the 4,000, but they don't realize that that 4,000 easily, easily in a few years time after they graduate, it can double right. 

(30:49)
Just because of interest. So I think one of the best things would be to take out only what you need. All right. This is practical just for, you know, those that are currently in college. And then the other thing is definitely to surround yourself with financial literacy, you know, pick up a book, listen to a podcast, watch a YouTube channel of somebody reputable, cuz there are a lot of scammy people in the personal finance community. I will definitely say that, um, you know, for people that really share informative relatable content, you know, that's what I was looking for when I was kind of like, right. Somebody teach me about money, please. You know, I, it's very easy to find, you know, older, white men that have been teaching this for decades. Um, a lot of the advice which is maybe outdated and out of touch. Right. Uh, and so I would say, look for people that you can, you know, sort of relate to, uh, that kind of speak your language and, and, and learn from them, you know, learn from them and uh, you know, really educate yourself as much as possible. 

Speaker 1 (31:51):

Yeah, definitely. Um, and that's a great segue, uh, into talking a little bit about your book that's coming out. You have a book coming out pretty soon. 

Speaker 2 (32:00):

Yes, yes I do. Yes. So super exciting. Um, I, I wrote a book, a book called, uh, overcoming that achieving financial freedom, eight pillars to build wealth and the book is all about, you know, well, it, it goes into my story into my personal story of how I went from, you know, being born and raised in the low income community in the Bronx to achieving a multiple six figure net worth and kind of the steps that I took into place. Uh, but, but importantly, the core of the book is really about what pillars you should have in your lives. Right? Right. Like really practical advice on debt, on net worth on investing, right? Like, Ooh, big, scary world of investing. How are, what are easy ways I can get started with this, uh, you know, saving, increasing your income credit, how to properly use credit cards. 

(32:52)
I mean, these topics that, you know, for some people might seem obvious, but for many it's not. And, uh, that's really what the book aims to do. It aims to be kind of this financial guidebook to not just encourage you and empower you, but importantly, educate you, right? Like what are the, the practical steps that you can take after reading this book in your own journey, uh, and encourage those around you to take as well. And so it is available for pre-sale officially on September 12th. Uh, you can get it at, uh, Amazon Barnes and noble, uh, and you even independent bookstores, uh, you can definitely shop there and, you know, get it for pre-order so that it'll come in time in early November. Uh, and you know, I would be very, very honored to, uh, have anyone support on that because you know, it is a big deal and, and it is something that I am really proud of and, uh, that I've definitely been pouring my heart into for like the past year <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (33:48):

Yeah. I mean, I said in, in an email, I'm definitely gonna be, you know, ordering it for pre-order soon as it becomes available and people are so thirsty for this information. Yeah. You lay it out, you present it in a way that's really useful. It's really helpful for folks. And so much of the information out there is either as you mentioned, totally out date, not doesn't feel super applicable yeah. Or, or is coming from folks whose perspective is informed by ha relative like economic wellness, right. Like real estate flipping. And you're just 

Speaker 2 (34:21):

Like, yeah. Yeah. You just 

Speaker 1 (34:24):

Like throw down that first down payment real quick. Right. So, and not that that's not interesting, but, um, it, I'm really excited to see your work and, and your book come out. Can you plug your social media one more time for us? 

Speaker 2 (34:34):

Yes. Yes. You can find me at Instagram, uh, which is where I'm most active at zero based budget. Uh, I'm recently started TikTok with me luck. I am also at zero based budget on TikTok, you know, trying to connect with like different audiences and all of that. Um, I'm also on LinkedIn. Uh, you can search my, my full name, Cindy Zika Sanchez. I'm there on LinkedIn. Um, so yeah, let's connect, you know, it's, it's all about community at the end of the day. 

Speaker 1 (35:00):

Thank you so much for coming on. 

Speaker 2 (35:02):

All right. Thank you for inviting me. 

Speaker 1 (35:07):

That's it for this week's episode of the millennial PhD, you can find more content resources and information on Instagram at the millennial PhD and@themillennialphd.com in this collective moment of reevaluating our relationships with work and exploitation. I look forward to connecting with you and building stronger bonds of community and collaboration. I would love to hear from you via email at the millennial phd@gmail.com with any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, or if you're interested in coming on the show as a guest, that's all for now, it's been real. See you next time.