We had the good fortune of connecting with Steffa Mantilla and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steffa, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Before starting Money Tamer, I had been working in a completely different field. In my prior career, I had been a zookeeper for over 12 years. It was after the birth of my son that everything changed. After my son was born three years ago, I had this intense feeling of not wanting to go back to my regular job. Prior to this, I had every intention of going back but it’s difficult to describe the intense emotions surrounding not wanting to leave your child. As my maternity leave was dwindling down, it became clear to me that I wouldn’t be happy going back to the daily grind like before. Before having kids, my husband and I had paid off close to $50,000 in debt so we were in a good situation for me becoming a stay at home mom. I know a lot of people aren’t able to do this but I was very grateful that it was a possibility for us. After I made the decision to stay at home, it only took a few months for me to start itching to do something additional. I had always wanted to start my own business but felt that I never had the time or was worried I wouldn’t be successful. Once my son’s sleeping and nap routines settled down, I’d have chunks of time throughout the day that I could dedicate to making a business plan. I’ve always been focused on keeping track of our money, budgeting, and investing so I used my experience to start Money Tamer. It started out as a blog to help other women understand personal finance and get a handle on their money. Since then, it’s grown into a bigger resource that now includes a store for the digital printable budgeting and financial pages that I create.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Money Tamer is a website whose goal is to help women get a better understanding of managing money and ways to earn more. Many women are looking for ways to help their households out either by picking up a side hustle for extra income, saving money through budgeting, or looking for ways to pay down debt. I also recently opened an online budgeting printables shop where I sell digital downloads of budget planners, cash envelope trackers, spreadsheets, and workbooks to make tracking money easier. This is what I’m most proud of currently; the budgeting printables store. When I first started Money Tamer, a huge goal I had was to open my own online shop. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it for a long time and second-guessed myself constantly. I thought I’d have to hire a graphic designer or buy expensive programs since I had no background in graphic design. I ended up self-teaching myself how to use a few graphics programs and was able to customize everything how I envisioned. What sets me apart is that I’m someone who has lived the struggle of paying down debt and succeeded. I use my personal experience to give tips and methods that worked for my family that you may not find elsewhere. I understand the struggle and sense of hopelessness you can feel when you have thousands of dollars in debt. Some of my biggest challenges has been with time. I’m a stay at home mom first, business owner second. Some days, it’s tough to keep up with the day to day of the business when my toddler is having a meltdown. The biggest lesson I’ve had to learn numerous times is that things will get done eventually. I set high goals for myself and have to keep myself from getting discouraged by my slower progress. I don’t have childcare and can’t dedicate 8 hrs of the day to my business. Everything is done during nap times and evenings. You often read entrepreneurial stories and it makes it seem like they got successful overnight. What often isn’t shown in these stories are the constant struggles they face and how many setbacks they had. The only thing you can do is keep going and you’ll be farther than you were before. My brand started as Money Tamer due to my animal training roots. I used to “tame” exotic animals but now I help people tame their money. Too often, personal finance is thought of as too difficult or something you need to go to college for. My goal was to break everything down into easy to understand steps and inspire others who want to become debt-free. I am also familiar with taking on second jobs and side hustles, so share lots of tips and ideas on ways to earn extra money as well.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Houston has such a great food scene and wonderful outdoor spaces. If we weren’t needing to practice social distancing, this is my ideal itinerary: I’d spend one day bicycling in Hermann Park checking out the art and bring a picnic of takeout food from Green Seed Vegan. They have the most delicious veggie burgers and vegan paninis. Their cauliflower nuggets are a must! The next day I’d go to The Museum of Fine Arts and check out their latest special exhibition. After the museum, we’d eat at Sunshine’s Health Food Store and Vegetarian Deli. They have a little something for everyone with wraps, sandwiches, delicious sides, and smoothies. On the weekend we’d head up to the Heights to go antiquing and checking out the adorable Craftsman-style houses. Grab a coffee at Boomtown Coffee and lunch at Verdine is great for a slightly fancier fare. Verdine’s white cheddar mac and jackfruit carnitas really shine. Before seeing the latest small release flic at River Oaks Theatre, we’d grab the Asian buffet at Pepper Tree for the best all you can eat vegan Asian food you’ve ever had. On Sunday, we’d head to church then afterward go to Govinda’s Vegetarian Cuisine for their all-vegan Sunday Indian food buffet.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
While I was growing up, my dad taught me about mutual funds and investing. He was a large reason why I have a good understanding and interest in personal finance today. When we were paying off our debt, we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University which was essential for getting me and my husband on the same financial page. So often it’s easy for one half of a couple to go all-in with paying off debt but unless you both work together, you won’t have any real long-term success. Lastly, my husband has been an integral part of my success. Even though he doesn’t completely understand the online entrepreneurial world, he’s been supportive throughout my late nights of writing and when I’m disappointed about a business failure. He’s also a hobbyist photographer so takes most of my headshot photos for me.
Other: Budgeting Printables Store: https://shop.moneytamer.com