At a Glance

Here’s how TikToker Marisa Mae (@financial.badassery) got out of a credit card debt cycle and took control of her finances while helping others do the same.

The #debt hashtag has over 822 million views on TikTok. The platform is ushering in a new wave of financial literacy thanks to content creators reaching Gen Zers and Millennials with digestible personal finance tips. Marisa Mae, founder of Financial Badassery (@financial.badassery), is one of them – and her debt payoff journey has inspired her to help others take control of their finances.

“I spent my early 20s cycling in and out of credit card debt, living paycheck to paycheck and in overdraft despite the fact I was making more money than I ever had. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong and felt so ashamed I was in credit card debt,” she says. “After my third time paying off my credit card just to max it out again a few months later I decided enough was enough.”

Over the next 18 months, Mae devoted herself to learning as much as she could about personal finance and financial literacy. She read between 10 to 20 personal finance and mindset books, binge-watched other TikTok creators’ content and watched hours upon hours of YouTube content.

“In the process, I got myself out of over $10k of consumer debt, out of the paycheque-to-paycheque cycle and on track to retire a millionaire,” she adds. “Oh, and I have an emergency fund for the first time in my life!”

@financial.badassery Free resource in the Financial Badassery Facebook community! 💪🏻 #financialliteracy #fyp ♬ Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande

Key mindset shifts that helped Mae tackle her debt

Wondering how she did it? Mindset work was involved. “My entire life I have seen stories of people around me being stuck in toxic situations, being taken advantage of, and/or not being set up for success because they didn’t have confidence and/or knowledge of personal finances,” says Mae, who got support to do the inner work required on her financial journey.

“I did a lot of intentional inner work and therapy to support my journey to get out of the constant state of lack, fear, and shame I felt about my finances. Stepping into a shame-free and solution oriented mindset supported me along the way – and it is the mindset I support my clients to step into now too,” she shares.

Another crucial thing she did was actively work to stop comparing herself to others’ financial situation. “As a Z-illennial, (cusp of a Millennial and Gen Z,) woman with mental health adventures and ADHD I recognized that my lived experience with money is different than a lot of traditional finance ‘gurus’ out there and as such my approach to tackling my finances should be too.” Instead of trying to adopt financial advice that didn’t work for her situation, she built a mostly-automated system to manage her income and reach her goals.

@financial.badassery Come join the Facebook community ‘Financial Badassery’ for a free resource to support in doing a Financial Audit! 💪🏻 #financialliteracy #personalfinance #fyp ♬ original sound – Marisa Mae – Financial Badass

How to pay off debt like a personal finance TikToker

If you want to pay off debt like a financially savvy influencer, Mae recommends starting with a financial audit to see where you’re starting from financially and where your money has been going for the past few months.

Then, she suggests separating your accounts: Have one account for all your fixed expenses and a separate one for your spending money for the pay period. “This allows you to visually see not only the separation of the funds, but also how much you have available in each category for the pay period. This can support adding intentionality and prioritization back into your spending money, reduce impulse spending and makes it harder to accidentally spend the funds you need for your bills,” she says.

@financial.badassery Welcome to shame free and approachable personal finance education! #financialliteracy #personalfinance #fyp #millennialmoney ♬ Jiggle Jiggle – Duke & Jones & Louis Theroux

Why TikTok is creating a personal finance revolution

In her everyday life, you can catch Mae quoting TikTok trends like “Okay, I like it. Picasso!” or “You crazy, crazy girl.” TikTok sure is fun and lighthearted, but it’s helping younger generations feel empowered about money – and creating a personal finance revolution one snackable piece of content at a time.

“I believe personal finance education should be on any and all platforms where people consume content. Everyone deserves access to fundamental personal finance education and there is so much room to improve there,” she says.

“I love leveraging TikTok specifically as a tool for exposure as there are so many eyeballs on the platform, which increases impact. I love that we TikTok content creators are chunking down what can feel like overwhelming concepts into approachable bite-sized concepts to give as many humans as possible support.”

Bottom line

It’s especially important to Mae to share the money systems that helped her on her journey to financial freedom while living with ADHD. In that sense, TikTokers can also reach people who may not resonate with traditional money-management methods or feel alone in their situation. It’s more than consuming content – it’s also about finding a community of people who get you and support you.

“I knew I had a unique story with the system I built for myself within the context of living with mental health adventures and ADHD and thought my story and system could support others – and it sure has!” she adds.

“Watching my clients take back control of their financial situation, shift their mindset around money, and gain confidence in their capabilities is why I do what I do.”