If Tiffany Aliche, personal finance expert and founder of The Budgetnista, had to give Christine Hopkins a grade for money management, it would be an A+, she says.
That's because 27-year-old Hopkins, who earns $88,000 in the Bay Area, is taking control of her finances and working hard to become debt-free. "I think that's a more comfortable way to live and gives you a lot more freedom financially," Hopkins said in a 2019 interview with CNBC Make It.
In her early 20s, Hopkins let her spending get out of hand. Between clothes and travel, she racked up more than $11,000 in credit card debt, on top of the $17,000 she has left to pay on her student loans.
When she realized other people her age were debt-free and socking away savings, she knew she had to make a change. She started working with a financial advisor through The Financial Gym to put together a plan to build up her emergency fund and eliminate her debt.
Aliche commends Hopkins for taking control of her situation. "Sometimes we like to pretend, Who did that? Not me. Christine knows it was her. I love the fact that she's taking responsibility for the debt," Aliche says, reacting to CNBC Make It's Millennial Money episode that features Hopkins, which was filmed in June 2019.
With her new budget, Hopkins was putting $975 toward her debt repayment each month and more than $1,800 into savings.
And although working with her financial advisor cost Hopkins $85 a month, "that's money well spent," Aliche says.
Working to be more financially secure will help Hopkins live a more comfortable life, she says. "Money cannot buy happiness, but it can absolutely help to make you feel more secure," Aliche says. "Money is not the goal — it is a goal on the way to the richer life that you want to live."
Watch Aliche's full reaction to Hopkins' spending and savings habits.