Taking Financial Ownership

Advertising Expert and Social Media Sage Shannae Ingleton On Debt Reduction and Changing Values

by Pauleanna Reid

“I started my first business when I was 25 years old. I had no plan; I literally just decided to start a business, and throw events. I did not know what I was doing with respect to the financial aspect of things. I just followed my heart.” Shannae Ingleton, National Account Manager for Elevate, Rogers Communication’s in-house creative agency, has capitalized on both her heart and mind to become one of city’s most influential business women.

Ingleton has been called a “work horse”, “an extremely talented and goal oriented individual”, and a “visionary leader” who creates “incredibly professional events” by those who have worked with her. But it’s her ability to embrace change and redefine herself that has fueled her success.

New Values, New Plan

“I just knew that when I was working in the financial sector that it didn’t give me the creative freedom to be the person that I wanted to be.  I decided to start a social network and events business that brought women together. I always believed in having a beautiful aesthetic. I always believed in investing in photographers, investing in graphic designers, investing in somebody to create a logo for me so I would look a lot bigger than I actually was.” Ingleton, who always had a feel for constructing a successful business, created “What Women Want”, an events business which allowed women to shop the latest trends, party, and hang out at the same time.

But as Ingleton’s priorities changed, so did her business plan. “The business did really well, but I actually missed the interaction and the structure that came with going to work every day, so I decided to go back. When I started working at Media Planet, I had lost the passion for “What Women Want” and it wasn’t me anymore. I wasn’t that single party girl anymore. I was redefining myself, so I stepped back into the corporate world.” As Ingleton’s values changed, so did her focus, and she now encourages businesswomen to make changes to their business models as their perspectives change.

Getting Out of Debt Through Responsible Choices

Ingleton had been struggling with debt, as many women do at various times in their lives, and she cautions women to have money set aside before undertaking a business venture. “If you’re going to start a business, be sure you have several months’ income … five to ten thousand dollars, as a rainy-day fund. When I first started my business, I worked a 9-5 job, but my business took off, so I was in a position to be able to leave. I took for granted the fact that while I was working full time, every two weeks there was money deposited into my account. But with my business “What Women Want”, I would make $20,000 one month, and $200 the next, so I didn’t really account for the fact that cash flow isn’t always going to be consistent as an entrepreneur.”

In addition, Ingleton  was carrying $40,000 in college debt. She jokes about a point at which she could not get a new credit card when the old one expired. “They were like, ‘no sis, you ain’t getting a new one because we checked your credit and your situation is not looking too cute so you don’t get a new card.’” After moving in with her future husband, Ingleton created a plan to reclaim her financial life.

Bouncing back from both business and college debt gave Ingleton the unique perspective to become a financial role model for some. She describes how she whittled down debt that once seemed insurmountable: “My salary was commission based, so every single one of my commission payments went straight to my student loan debt and my credit card debt. I did that for about three years, and I lived pretty frugally. I was on a three-year financial plan and in that time, I managed to completely pay off my student loan debt.” Knowing the rules and regulations can also be of help to you when getting out of debt. “One of the beauties of OSAP is that when you pay your student loan debt and interest, it’s tax deductible”, she says, “So, I was paying my student loan debt every single year, and paying thousands of dollars each year, so I got a large portion of that back in a tax refund. When I got my tax refund every year I applied that to my student loan debt, too.” Ingleton was able to pay around $15,000 each year for three years. “I was debt free by age 31 and my husband and I bought our first house at 33.”

 Pulling the Plug on Social Media Competition

Some advice you wouldn’t expect? Sometimes you have to ignore what everyone else is doing. Part of Ingleton’s process of getting out of debt was disconnecting from social media. “Don’t try and keep up with the Joneses. Instagram is not real; a lot of things on there are people’s highlight reel”, she says. “A lot of the things you see are borrowed. I borrow a lot of clothes that I wear for social media or things are given to me and I’m transparent and open about that. I do buy some things too, but I never want to create a false perception of reality because a lot of that does exist online you have to be aware of that.”

But Ingleton does believe in treating yourself, in moderation. “Find stuff on consignment; find things at luxury resale places,” she recommends. “Shop at discount retailers’ shop at the outlets, and buy classic and timeless pieces and fewer trends. Also, don’t be afraid to pay yourself and treat yourself once in a while. I think taking time to rest and invest in yourself and your mental health is what yields a happier person, and a more successful business person as well.”

Pauleanna Reid is the Co-Founder of New Girl on the Block, a mentorship platform for millennials. Follow her journey and continue the conversation on Twitter.

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