Patrícia Lages, journalist, finance expert and author of five books on personal finance is the guest of the second episode of MoneyPlay Podcast, a program created to shed light on the world of finance, presented by financial educators Carol Stange and Fabricio Duarte.
In the interview, Patricia tells all the financial problems she faced when she left a solid career in journalism to undertake in São Paulo’s commerce without having experience in the sector. And she tells how this entire process was fundamental in her shift to a career as a financial educator.
The journalist reports that, as a child, she was taught to handle money and remained debt free for many years while working as an employee under the CLT regime. Overnight, he decided to leave the communications area, where he worked for 20 years, to open his own business. “A lingerie store appeared in Brás (commercial district in São Paulo). I thought I just had to change the sign and the customer would come without me having to do anything”, he says.
Start of debts
In a short time, the journalist got involved financially because, accustomed to salary, she thought that the store’s revenue was profit. “I knew absolutely nothing about that business. I even owed 80 bad checks and, with 60 or 70, I could already be accused of embezzlement and go to jail”, recalls Patricia. “I even took money from a pawnbroker, as I lost credit cards and maxed out my personal and company accounts.”
In nine months, his debt reached $150,000. In the fifth month it was already broken, but it kept the business for another four months. From then on, he got sick, didn’t sleep and didn’t even have money to eat. “I made excuses not to go to lunch with the employees, as I couldn’t afford a coxinha.”
Even to close the store, she needed money, as she owed R$ 48,000 to the mall. “Since it didn’t have that amount, I negotiated a pile of promissory notes to pay around R$ 2 thousand per month”, he says. “I thought: now I’m going to turn off the faucet and start mopping the floor”. This debt was very important, as her mother was the guarantor and could lose the house where she lived.
Patricia could not resign herself to having worked so well for others and the business itself failing, so she persisted with the business. “One day, you have a 0 km Audi, and the next, you don’t have the money to pay for the bus,” he says. When she lowered the store doors, she only made it back to the house because an employee discreetly left a bus pass beside her purse.
In a short time, Patricia saw the reality of someone who had never had to become a person who owed everyone: her name was dirty in the 14 protest offices in São Paulo and she owed banks and 21 suppliers. “I juggled so people could find me and not think I wouldn’t pay. I answered the phone until dawn”, he says.
And it was a 7:00 am phone call that changed everything. She received a threat from a creditor and knew she needed to do something because it would only get worse. “I stopped thinking about what I didn’t have anymore. I studied the debts and separated the high interest bills and those with serious consequences, such as water, electricity and the shopping mall. The others I negotiated.”
She gave herself a year to pay for everything. In 11 months and 20 days he put the house in order. “I didn’t go to the supermarket for months, my mother taking food for me. I started doing freelance work for my former employer and selling the inventory that was left over from the store on foot,” he says. “I learned that it is very expensive for you to clear your name: I paid almost R$ 20,000 just for the notary’s fee on the amount I owed.”
From debtor to financial educator
After many years, with her financial life already without problems, a friend asked Patricia for help in dealing with a debt acquired in a scam. She told another friend, who had created a blog, and received an invitation to write about personal finance on it.
“I realized that it was an opportunity to teach everything I went through so that other people wouldn’t suffer the same. I used to tell my ‘nonsense’ and that created empathy in people, who told me their stories”, he recalls. “I already knew all the ways that worked and those that didn’t.”
Patricia never stopped writing about the topic. She continued for three years on her friend’s blog, who suggested she create a website of her own to talk about personal finance. After that came the first book on personal finance, online mentoring for small online entrepreneurs, which also became blog content, lectures, products and tools to teach people how to handle money better.
“Personal finance is not an exact science, but a human one. It has more to do with behavior than math,” he explains. “If you don’t change your mind, the rest doesn’t change. People are not disciplined, they are used to having something or someone do things for them.”
About undertaking, Patricia recognizes that it is not easy. “No business makes money, you have to make money from a business”, he says. “You will live the business 24 hours a day”. But after the first disastrous experience, she learned. Today, his five books are best sellers, already has a new one ready (the first for children) and, next year, it will launch another one on the fundamentals of the economy, with a bit of politics and stories of where things come from, like money.
It does not stop there. The journalist’s projects include expanding the presence of financial education on Brazilian open TV, where she already works. “We have to develop didactics, means and tools to make people understand about personal finance”, he concludes.
Check out the full video here:
Want to watch the first episode of the show? check out here.
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