Ditch Money Shame, Build Wealth and Feel Confident AF an Interview with Chloe Elise
Chloe Elise is not your typical money expert, and Deeper Than Money is not your average finance book. Melding her personal experience with expert knowledge, she is the financial best friend you didn’t know you needed in your life. And she has proven her expertise as CEO and founder of Deeper Than Money™, a global financial literacy company dedicated to empowering and educating people on how to build guilt-free wealth.
Within her company, Chloe’s expertise in content creation and social media has gleaned a growing, engaged audience. In addition to her wide reach on socials, her podcast rakes in nearly 600,000 downloads and her newsletter boasts over 57,000 subscribers. Her book is a comprehensive extension of the conversational, relatable content she creates online.
Can you start by introducing yourself and telling us in your words, about your inspiring story?
My name is Chloe Elise, I am 26 years old, and I grew up in a small town in Iowa. I started working from a young age, usually multiple jobs at once. All I knew about money is that you had to work really hard to get it and that you should never talk about it. When I went off to college, I wish I could say I had it all figured out and that my relationship with money was great— but that was not the case. I was stuck in a vicious cycle: I’d work at all my part-time jobs and side hustles (like donating plasma) to bring in money, spend it, want to go out with friends, and miss out either because I felt broke or had to work. Little did I know my bar tab or grocery bill was the least of my worries, as behind the scenes each semester, I was accumulating more and more student loan debt.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college when I finally realized the balance of my student loan debt which left me feeling overwhelmed and afraid that I was never going to be able to pay it off. I was determined to find a way to tackle my loans which led me on a mission to finally learn how to figure out money. Not knowing where to start, I checked out the college library and listened to financial podcasts… but found the advice outdated and unrelatable. So, I decided to do things my way, and when I got my first big girl job— I kept my scrappy college mindset, worked hard, side hustled, and kept my expenses low to the point where I was able to pay off her $36,000 of debt in 18 months. That was the kickstart of my passion for finances and ultimately led me to my desire to become a financial coach so I could help others do the same.
We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur and was excited about the idea of starting a financial literacy platform that felt different from the resources I had learned from. I dreamed of forming a community where money is talked about openly, wins are celebrated, and shame isn’t welcome. I started Deeper Than Money as a side hustle while working my full-time corporate job, coaching friends, family, and my community on how to change their relationship with money and finally get ahead. Each year, Deeper Than Money has grown and expanded and in 2019 I left my corporate job to focus on Deeper Than Money full-time. Over the years the business has continued to expand and now we have over 20 employees and thousands of clients around the world.
As my business grew and the Deeper Than Money community got more involved in my journey— I decided to set a wild goal to become a millionaire before I turned 27. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I promised to take my community on the journey with me.
I invested like crazy, purchased real estate properties (including the lake home my family grew up visiting, a rental property in Nashville, and a home in Kansas City), and continued to spend time growing my business. I announced that I hit my goal of becoming a millionaire in the Spring of 2023, six months before my 27th birthday.
Looking back and reflecting on my financial journey, it’s wild to see how something I grew up being taught should be avoided and kept private, is now something I have created an entire community around, dedicated to talking about and learning about finances — from tackling debt to becoming an investing badass, healing your relationship with money, and everything in between! It’s been incredible so far, and this is just the start.
What made you decide to go into business for yourself?
I worked in corporate America after graduating college, and to be honest when it came to the work itself– I thrived. I was excelling in the projects I was assigned, and I was working a ton…but it was starting to take a toll on me mentally and I couldn’t help but feel that this would essentially be my life for the next 40 years. It really hit me one day when I came into the office saying, “Happy Monday!” and I was looked at with scowls. I didn’t want that to become my attitude in the next 10, 20, 0r 30 years. I have always been a big dreamer and loved the idea of building something myself. And I knew entrepreneurship could give me the dream life I desired.
When did you know it was time to become a full-time entrepreneur?
I started to work on my side hustle (Deeper Than Money) every spare minute possible. I was basically dedicating the 5-9 (am & pm) around my corporate workday to growing my business. It was slow at first, but I eventually got to a point where I felt both financially prepared and mentally prepared (I was pushed outside my comfort zone and what people thought I should do) to take the leap and leave my full-time job to work on my business.
What are your top 3 mobile apps that help you stay organized and on top of your game?
- iPhone notes app– truly, this is where I do so much brainstorming and planning for new ideas. I am a notepad girlie through and through.
- Google Calendar– if it’s not on my calendar, I am likely not going. My team is able to access my calendar to help book appointments and meetings so that I can block off time for all the other million things I have to do each day!
- Instagram & Tik Tok– With social media being a huge part of our business, I’m always sharing content/my life, replying to DMs, and engaging with my community… I absolutely love it!
How do you use social media in your business?
Social media has been and continues to be a key player in our company! I started sharing my financial journey on Instagram (one of my first posts was announcing I had become debt free) and have continued to do so ever since! I love that social media has helped me create a community where money guilt and shame aren’t welcome, we can celebrate financial wins, and talk about money transparently in a world where it’s still pretty “taboo.”
My team and I use social media to educate, promote financial literacy, and share resources and updates in the financial world in an easy and accessible way–which ultimately leads to many followers becoming personal clients and paying for resources or participating in our programs!
What social media platform is the best for business growth and why?
While TikTok was really great to gain a following, (and especially since I got in on it early….it blew up pretty fast!) I’ve realized that while my Instagram community is slightly smaller– they are loyal, more engaged, and totally get me and everything that Deeper Than Money stands for. On TikTok, you can be exposed to a larger audience, especially if you have a viral post (and sometimes they can be ruthless)– all in all, I’ve realized that views don’t equate to success on social media, and I truly love my Instagram community!
How did you market your business when it was brand new?
A lot of it was word of mouth. I was helping friends and family with their finances, as well as sharing on social media. I was lucky to have a lot of great testimonials from my early clients about the amazing wins they’ve had and how their relationship with finances had improved… and naturally, that just attracted others to want the same thing. I’m also an Enneagram 7 and just love to have fun, so I think it was refreshing for people to see someone in their 20s who was explaining personal finances in a relatable and FUN way!
We all face challenges, but looking back, what have been some of the biggest challenges and pitfalls you’ve had to navigate?
I wouldn’t say that at the beginning of my business journey, I didn’t have support (because I had family and friends there for me as I took the leap from Corporate America to entrepreneurship), but I do think there was doubt in people’s minds on if I could actually make this work. My own business coach even told me that there is no way that women would actually want to all get together in a group and discuss their personal finances and feelings about money (which is the center of our signature money program, The Wealth Accelerator). I, however, believed that was possible and could visualize that happening! So, I had to deny the doubt in my head and the second-guessing from others, that my dreams could become reality.
What are the three most important habits to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Embrace change and don’t be afraid to fail– especially with social media, there is always something new you can be doing, new information going around, or even the “latest hot app”. I think the key to showing up as a successful business owner is being open to trying new things, even if you fail. Because hey, if you failed….at least you learned. And you can grow from there and find what clicks for your business.
- Outsource– you may want to do it all yourself, but the sooner you realize that the more things you take off your plate (especially the things you’re not as naturally skilled at or don’t enjoy doing), the more you can fill your time with things in your zone of genius– your business will thank you for it.
- Have fun– if you’re like me, remember why you started your company. I wanted to be the person who walked into work every week and said, “HAPPY MONDAY!” with a smile and truly be so excited to show up and put the work in… So, while yes, it’s not always easy, remember why you started and as you grow and evolve, stay true to that dreamer inside of you that got you to where you are today.
What is a typical day like for you?
I wrote “my dream day” down in a journal many years ago (see below) and I’m so happy to say that this truly is my typical day…. I am living my dream!
Wake up without an alarm
- Walk my dogs and listen to a podcast
- Have breakfast
- Start work & check emails
- Go to the gym
- Meetings, team communication, content creation, and anything else that comes my way!
- CEO working on the business
- Wrap up work and go do something fun with friends
What routines do you follow each day?
I have read a lot of articles interviewing millionaires who say that they wake up at 4 am every day so they can maximize their #GRIND before they have a meticulously planned out day, packed full to ensure optimal productivity …. and to be honest, that has never been my goal. My dream life has always been to wake up without an alarm, take my dogs on a walk, go to the gym at my leisure, and still be able to get my work done. And that is exactly what I try to do. I schedule my meetings in a way where I am able to avoid burnout and still enjoy running my business (because isn’t that the whole point?!) That’s how I am able to prioritize self-care and well-being while managing entrepreneurial demands.
What advice would you give your younger self when starting this journey?
I would tell her to keep dreaming big! I would tell her that investing in yourself is scary, but if you want to grow, you have to play big and go all in. I would also remind her that the ultimate goal is to make money matter less so that you can make the things that you care about matter more.
What advice would you give to a new business owner?
If a dream or desire is in your heart– it’s there for a reason. Listen to that little voice in your head that tells you you’re made for something more…and step outside your comfort zone. That is where the magic happens!
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment and why?
People may think paying off $36k of debt in 18 months or becoming a millionaire by 27 is my biggest accomplishment, but honestly… one of my biggest accomplishments was being able to retire my mom so she could work with me at Deeper Than Money. My biggest accomplishments are never my financial wins, they are what my financial wins have allowed me to do, like bringing my mom on full-time to work with me or allowing me to spend time with family and have fun experiences with friends. It’s almost as if my biggest accomplishments are…Deeper Than Money.
What initiatives or actions do you believe are crucial for fostering a more supportive and inclusive business environment for women?
The biggest action is taking the time to listen, and then following that up with real action and support. In order to foster supportive and inclusive business environment for women, it takes setting aside time to listen to what women need to thrive and then taking action on that. As the CEO of a primarily female team, I have quarterly check-ins where we focus on have real conversations (and fostering a relationship where my team feels confident to speak up) on what they need to be best supported, and then I take that information and create a plan of action to put it into place. It isn’t just about listening, it’s about following that up with real change so my team (in this scenario) feels heard and knows their feedback is taken seriously. In other cases, it’s going out of your way to show support. Don’t just say you support women, go out and do it. Support the careers and businesses of your female friends instead of only her relationship milestones like weddings and engagements (those are great too, but support her outside of who she is dating too!).
What challenges have you faced in the workplace, especially your experience in male-dominated environments?
Ahh, funny you ask. I actually keep a notepad in my phone every time I get a misogynistic comment from a male– especially in business, ha! I commonly get, “You’re the CEO? Or, “You must work for your husband, right?” And no, I don’t even have a husband. You would think they believe it is impossible for a twenty-something woman to have any success on her own. Comments like this mostly just add fuel to my fire and a sense of pride that I get to help break the mold of what it looks like to be a successful female CEO, especially in the finance world! Overall, I feel like working in a male-dominated environment has been what makes our business so appealing to women. They are drawn to someone who relates to them and speaks their language.
How do you set your business apart from others in your industry? Do you have a favorite quote or motto that inspires you?
Our company motto is “Personal finance–but fun as hell.” I think that represents what we want to set us apart in the mainstream financial industry. I have always focused on putting out content that I actually would want to learn about, and most importantly in a way where I don’t have to Google financial jargon to be able to understand. So often, this looks like relating the credit system to a dating app profile or talking about stock market dips in terms of a Lululemon sale! I want people to walk away from my book, my social media, and our company resources and think “Ah, it finally makes sense!” realizing that they belong at the financial table.
Want more inspiring interviews? Read about Angela Gargano’s Guide to Meaningful Entrepreneurship, Dr. Sonia Chopra’s Toothaches to Triumph Story of Struggles and Success, and An Interview with Founder Alison Martin on Fostering an Inclusive Environment, part of our interview series spotlighting successful women in business.
Melissa Stewart is the founder of SheOwnsIt.com. She is a Purveyor of Possibility, Entrepreneur Advocate and Coffee Addict. She believes that behind every successful woman is her story. What’s your story?