She analyzes your budget and then shares it with her 167,000 followers

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It’s official: budget transparency is now cool.

As millions of Americans grapple with stubborn inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, many are taking a hard look at their budgets to see what they can adjust to make ends meet. One influencer uses her platform to promote transparency, both in how much we earn and how much we spend.

“When my friends say, ‘Oh, my husband controls our money,’ I go crazy,” says Amanda Wolfe, 35. “We’ve got to get some ladies in here.” By day, Wolfe is a senior customer success manager living in Chicago. But in the wee hours of the morning, evening and weekend, she helps her 167,000 Instagram followers manage their money like Wall Street’s She Wolfe, making her one of the fastest-growing personal finance influencers in America.

One of Wolfe’s most popular post types is a video series titled “What should I do with my paycheck?” in which followers submit their income and current expenses to get the self-taught money expert’s thoughts and feedback. The posts invite comment and conversation as young people continue to push for more pay transparency in America.

Wolfe says she grew up in poverty under a single parent involved in drugs, an unstable environment that led to an obsession with personal finances in her early twenties. Ten years later, she has achieved a financial independence benchmark, Coast FI, in which her investments have progressed enough for compound interest alone to take her the rest of the way to financial freedom.

This is why Wolfe believes fairness and transparency around budgeting is key to pursuing financial independence.

She had to unlearn many beliefs about money

Wolfe’s idea for the series came from an industry peer who was leaving personal finance to start a new career path. After getting her fellow influencer’s blessing to work with the concept, Wolfe replicated the process she’d previously used when coaching others to create digestible posts that were fun to engage with.

“I did one-on-one coaching for a while and I think that’s what opened my eyes to a lot of different unique financial situations,” she says. “People with multiple kids, people who make so much money and still haven’t saved anything, people with debts piling up while they were in prison — lots of different situations and walks of life.”

The personal finance influencer says much of her journey involved “unlearning” perceptions and beliefs about money formed in her childhood. “When I was very little, I always asked my mother: ‘Why can’t I have new clothes? Why can’t we have a birthday party? Why can’t we have a house?” she says. “The answer was always the same. It was ‘Well, it’s because we don’t have money for those things.’”

Licensed counselors and clinicians agree that many of our money habits are formed long before adulthood.

“Early [in our lives], it’s ingrained in us that money is important, but we don’t know exactly why, or how it works,” says Dr. Ashley Lowe-Simmons, a licensed clinical social worker and financial social worker. Dr. Lowe-Simmons says that traumatic childhood experiences related to money can persist into adulthood in the form of unproductive or counterintuitive thought patterns.

“We get those worries, those worries, that constant fear that you don’t have enough,” she says. “That trauma is held in your body. And so, as you get older, that trauma doesn’t go away, it’s still there. It isn’t until you step outside of the things you’ve been exposed to and really start educating yourself that you can learn the skills and tools you need to deal with that trauma.

The Birth of “She Wolfe of Wall Street”

Stability in her teens helped Wolfe get back on her feet. She graduated from high school and college, got her first job – a sales job with a base salary of $30,000 – and was ready to make the dream come true.

“With bonuses, I made $77,000 by the end of the year,” she says. “Until I got my tax return, I didn’t even know how much I was making. I looked at it and thought, ‘Wait, I made $77,000? Where did it go? And why do I still have $37,000 in student loans?’” Wolfe vowed to use her intensity to learn all about personal finance, including asking her friends about it, and she even helped set up a financial literacy program at work .

Although Wolfe helped her colleagues learn about financial literacy and created an entire course on it, she still needed a nudge from a trusted friend to start using her knowledge online, which she eventually started in the spring of 2021. Wolfe’s knowledge quickly attracted a large following; she has built her platform to over 167,000 followers on Instagram and manages it herself alongside a full-time job.

“What strikes me is that ladies never talk about money,” says Wolfe. She notes that the brand name is both a pun on her last name and a reference to the content focus. “My last name is Wolfe, so it sort of came together organically. I made it ‘She Wolfe of Wall Street’, so everyone knows it’s meant for investment, but less floaty.’

Your first FIRE benchmark: Coast FI

Wolfe didn’t get into the culture of Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) until much later. When she went through her first grades, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that she had already reached the first rung of early retirement: Coast FI.

In the FIRE ecosystem, Coast FIRE, or Coast FI, is when the invested assets you currently need the rest of your retirement income will fill in on compound interest alone — even if you never contribute another penny to your 401 (k) or IRA.

Minimum Coast FIRE Number:

(annual expenses x 25) / (1 + annual return)^(time in years)

The benchmark varies depending on your current age and desired retirement age, but favors young people; the more time your investments have to accrue compound interest, the better. Once you reach this net worth benchmark, you can “roll out” into retirement and your current retirement contributions will be released into your budget.

“[Reaching Coast FI] gave me this incredible peace,” says Wolfe, “because all the things from my childhood still scare me that one day everything will be snatched away, that I’m going to lose my job, I have nowhere to live, and that all the bad going to happen. I will of course continue to invest, I will continue to do more. But if a zombie apocalypse happened, I’d be fine.

Now Wolfe focuses on using her knowledge to help others, saying the salary range has been especially good for taking conversations about taboo money out of the shadows.

“Personal finances are such a black box in general,” she says. “Most people don’t tell people how much they spend on things. People realize that others with the same job title earn more than they do. Or they realize it’s time to take another look at where they live. Everyone’s starting to clock back and forth, and I think it’s really created a sense of community.

“You’re not going to learn everything all at once,” says Wolfe. “But you can do one thing a day. Along the way, be nice to yourself about money – give yourself some grace.