Dawn Santoriello CFP® – President, DS Financial Strategies

The Thriving Solopreneur Podcast Show with Dawn Santoriello and Janine Bolon: DS Financial Strategies

To Learn More about Dawn Santoriello [click here] to view her Media Kit.

Janine: Hello and welcome to The Thriving Solopreneur. This is Janine Bolon. And with me today, we are so lucky. We happen to have a certified financial planner and a young woman who has done so much with her author career and we can’t wait to talk about that. But Dawn Santoriello is with us today and she is the founder and CEO of DS Financial Strategies which is a fee-based financial planning firm and they develop custom plans designed to maximize the efficiency of your own money.

Dawn is also focused on empowering women, couples, and entrepreneurs to reach their financial goals so that they have peace of mind. And they got some economic confidence going on. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Long Island, and lucky enough, she did graduate from Adelphi University with a BS in finance. So she currently lives in King of Prussia there in Pennsylvania, just located outside of Philadelphia. But one of the needed things about Dawn is she’s a well-rounded person because when she’s away from the office, she’s also living true to her wellness and wealth lifestyle, by hiking, kayaking, mountains biking, and meditating.

So, Dawn was the former host of Conquer your Finances, Conquer Life on RVN TV and she has been published in numerous blogs and journals including a wealth planning advisor. Let’s talk Philadelphia and featured in Forbes Investment Advisor market watch and the Philadelphia Inquirer. And not only that, this past week, but she also became the number one best-selling author in investing, and money management with her latest book. Dawn, welcome so much to the show.

Dawn: Thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be here and I just want to correct you one little bit. I became number one in the budget and money category and number two in the investment category. Just in case anyone asks.

Janine: That’s okay. We like to keep it as authentic as possible. So thank you for the correction. I always appreciate it. So the book is called the Spiritual Path Prosperity, the truth about money revealed. Now, we’re going to talk a little bit about the book but more importantly, I think her acumen as a certified financial planner is what really is going to help many times when I was doing my financial seminars and helping people, I was a financial coach and I always quickly said, I am not an accountant. I’m not a financial planner. I happen to be a scientist who figured the money game out and this is how I did it. But as soon as people started developing needs for a longer-term plan than just getting out of debt.

I would immediately hand it off to somebody like Dawn who is a certified financial planner, who could then educate people on how to move forward with their finances. So, talk to us a little bit about some of the techniques and some of the situations you’ve seen with your clientele, top three things that people need to do, whether they’re a business owner or not. But being a business owner or an entrepreneur, you may have to finagle your finances a little bit. So talk to us about that.

Dawn: Sure. The number one thing you have to do is first pay yourself, pay yourself first. Ideally, you want to pay yourself 20%, but if that’s not ideal, at least 15 or 10 percent, whatever you can do because you need to develop that discipline because that’s going to help you in the long run for the long-term view strategy. So, that’s number one. Number two, keep saving on a consistent basis. And also number three is to start working with someone early on. I know as an entrepreneur, maybe a lot of CFPs don’t want to work with you, but I help people as long as you’re profitable and you can save depending on your age.

Like if you’re in your 30s, you could save a few hundred dollars a month that will be ideal. Ideally, you want to save about five thousand dollars a year to get started when you’re that young of an age because what you’re going to do is you’re going to build up your own bank because as a business owner, it’s not always inflows of cash. Sometimes there are lean times as we just came through the pandemic, we saw that. So I’m going to help you develop your own little personal bank. So that way whenever you need some money to expand your business or for an emergency, you do have access to your money. Because what happens traditionally, you have to go to a bank, and if they see you’re struggling they’re not going to loan you any money, or if there’s a pandemic like what was it, Wells Fargo, stopped giving outlines of credit?

Like, we have to take responsibility because again it’s all about us, we are the business owners. We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves. That’s what we got to think about and it’s great. If we do have some help like the whole PPP loans that came in that was a godsend for many people, but I want you to be strong on your own and be able to survive no matter what. And so, that’s the first thing I’m going to do. We’re going to develop a savings plan that you have access to, all you have to do is call up an 800 number and say, hey I need my money. Boom. Deposited in your account the next day. No filling out these long loan applications, waiting to get approved. No, you have access to your money when needed so you can create more opportunities with your business. You could survive the lean times. So that’s where I differ from most financial planners.

A lot of them don’t even really know about this strategy. And if they’ve heard about it, they don’t know how to implement it practically. And I actually kind of briefly, well more than briefly go over this in the book to which you can find on Amazon. So that’s the one key I would say you would have to start thinking about first as a business owner. Like I said when I got into the business, that’s what I did. Like, it was kind of like a struggle but I still managed. I think I was saving, it was two hundred thirty dollars and one cent, I don’t know why that one penny was in there, but that’s what it worked out to be. And I save that religiously, but where I failed to talk about the book, I lack the discipline to actually pay that back and yeah, so you’ll learn how to sort in there. So I don’t want you to lack discipline.

Luckily, I have recovered so, but um, I’ve made all the mistakes. So you don’t have to and I’m here to help you because I had another prospector person. She told me her business, she couldn’t get a loan and she needed it to stay afloat. She ended up going out of business. I’m like, “Oh my God if people just knew there are strategies that you can implement so that you could have access to money when you needed them, it would be so wonderful.” So that’s why I’m glad we’re talking about this today because no one else talks about this. So thank you Janine for that opportunity.

Janine: You’re welcome. It’s always a pleasure to be able to talk to people about not only financial strategies. But what works for some people is not going to work for others. And that’s why the thriving solopreneur show was so important to me because a lot of people there are solopreneurs. They feel like their business is just scraping by but when you implement first pay yourself first, if you make sure that you are paying yourself first out of your business, then all the other expenses will be handled because you’re making sure to pay yourself first and you’re just not reaching into the cash register drawer and blank cashout or reaching into PayPal who I wonder if people paid me. You know, it’s like you’re not doing that fly by the seat of your pants anymore, you’re actually got a discipline technique. So what do you recommend for people to develop discipline? You talked about how there was a bit of time where you struggled in that? So how do you help people have discipline when it comes to money?

Dawn: Well, here’s another thing too along those lines of what we just talked about being disciplined, you want to separate your business and your personal account. So, have two different checking accounts, one for business, that’s only for business. Not to go on this, we see is a great Shoe Sale. No, that is business money only and then you have your personal account and how I’m set up, and again, talk to your CPA. I’m set up as a single-member LLC and taxes, an S corp, so I actually pay myself a payroll, so your account can decide if that’s better for you and the benefit of that is you save on self-employment taxes but always separate your money because you don’t want to be dipping into different accounts. So that’s the one thing I learned, I did that early on too, so that’s like the number 2 tip and then the discipline is, think about the end goal, what is your end goal because you got into being an entrepreneur. Because you’re here to bring your message to the world and bring some great value. So never lose sight of your why and that’s going to help keep you focused. So don’t get distracted.

I would get distracted by shiny bright objects all the time. Like “Oh, this great course is going to help me all this coaching program.” And no, everyone’s going to come at you too especially as you rise up and become more successful. There’s gonna be so many opportunities coming at you. People are going to be asking you for all kinds of money for all kinds of programs. No, you do what serves you and what feels right. You don’t have to say yes to everything. You could keep the doors open for future opportunities, but make sure you stay on the path. Don’t get distracted. What you’re doing is work and that’s why you’re elevating. So keep moving forward with that, and that’s going to help you reach your goal. So that would be like my number 2 tip, as far as that goes.

Janine: I find it very wonderful that you mentioned the two separate checking accounts and you know like you have two separate credit cards, you have the business credit card and you have the personal credit card, one of those, that was something I learned very early on. When I first started running my business when I was about 16, I set it up separately that way so that I could keep track of what was happening in my life and I didn’t realize that a lot of people did not know that tip. So thank you for stating what some people would consider the obvious because there are so many people who are not playing their business that way, they’re not working at that way. So when it comes to being a certified financial planner what on Earth drove you to even become one. I mean this is a lot of math my friend, a Iot of training, and I don’t think people realize to be a certified financial planner. There are so many tasks. There are like 12 to 13 tests you guys have to take to even get through to be considered a certified financial planner. So talk to us a little bit about what brought you into this field.

Dawn: Let’s see. Well, when I was a kid, I was a little geek. I had my little, remember those accounting journals?

Janine: Yes.

Dawn: I set up categories for CDs, like the music kind I know, many people out there don’t even know what a CD is but it came out before it was right after the cassette tape. And I guess before the MP3s or iPods that we’re on the grand MP3s. I don’t even care, who knows over on streaming? Now, we’re streaming, we don’t even need anything. So, I would say for that, I’d say, for my future house, my car, clothes, I had all these categories and I go work my butt off like shoveling picking up apples in our yard and chestnuts, we had an apple and chestnut tree and we got paid for that. I hope my dad and I would go categories my money into those accounts. Then I went to school for finance and money always came easily to me.

And that was my passion because I want I didn’t want to be poor because I was poor growing up like I’ve got adopted and luckily my life turned around but it was rough in the early days so I knew that I was like, “I never want to be poor.” So the first thing I was going to do is I was going to be an actress, model, and star. Well, apparently I’m talking to you and I’m not in Hollywood, so that didn’t happen. But so then I was like, let me go get a finance degree, that’s easy. And then I was in the business, was it like 14 years?

And I tried previously to do to study for the CFP program. I was scared because someone had told me they failed when they get up to one course. And that stopped me in my tracks, I attempted it, and I was failing my little practice test, and I was like, “I’m not doing this.” So I quit for three years and then I was inspired to write the book and I was like, “I’m going to write a book about woo-woo spiritual stuff and finances.” There is no way I could do that without a CFP designation.

So I better go get that. So I finished up the last year, the couple courses like you need six whole courses. You have to do a project, you have to get sponsored by someone. You need to have three years of planning experience and pass this huge test, which only 62% pass on the first time, and I passed. Woohoo!

Janine: Congratulations! It’s quite an accomplishment! At times, somebody tells me, “Oh, yeah, I’m a certified financial planner.” I’m like, “High-five! Oh my gosh, I know you’ve gone through.” I mean, I’ve never gone through it myself, but I’ve just talked to enough of you. Yeah, so well done on that. And then as you move forward, you decided to probably niche yourself in a very unique way. So talk to us a little bit about how you moved from what you were being trained to do into what you enjoy doing.

Dawn: Okay! So November 5th, 2019, I became a certified financial planner, then as we move into the world, the world changed March, wasn’t March 13th? I think the whole world shut down in 2020. I was like, “Hmm, what am I going to do now?” I was like, “You know, now’s a good a time as ever. I’m going to go niche myself out, I’m going to be, let my spiritual goodness hanging all out, get out of the closet.” And I did that combined it with money, and then I had this great signature talk, when I speak to a lot of groups I do this presentation, releasing the five biggest money blocks holding you back, which also you can find out what those five blocks are in my book. And I’ve had great success around the country with it.

So then I was like, “You know what, let me just go finish writing that book. I was going to do that.” I kept saying, “Oh yeah I’m writing a book.” Yeah, you know, and I would procrastinate, so I got it done and now it’s like it’s so amazing and what I am so excited about, like I’m still living the dream here. I am over the moon, not only did I become a number one bestseller, but in the category of investing, I am number two. That is huge for two reasons. One, I’m a female. And I’m not using it as an excuse or anything, but in my field, it’s male-dominated. So to be a woman and number two in that spot is amazing. Not only that, I am woo-woo, I’m spiritual, metaphysical, I’m into the Law of Attraction. Not to bring that to finance then make it to number two in the investing category, that’s unheard of. It’s like, “I’m here to shake up the whole investment world.” It’s so amazing and it just, it’s a dream come true. Like I could have. Yeah. So more or less, I did get my fame, I just never became a famous actress.

Janine: It’s always fascinating to me how our dreams do happen, but it not in the way you expect. So like, I had a dream that I wanted to own a building on Main Street and have a bookstore underneath and that I would live at the top. I I just always thought that was a wonderful way to have a business and live in your business, right? Well, what ended up happening is when I really sat back and looked I just started laughing.
So I’d written five books by this point, and I was working in the basement on a computer and I was selling them all digitally. And we lived in the house and it was like, “I had my office and, oh my gosh, it’s not on Main Street.” It doesn’t look anything like I had the vision but I have made that.

And so I’m going to talk to you about the fact that as thriving solopreneurs, there is a lifestyle. There is a dream that we business owners have. It’s why we’re in business for ourselves. And sometimes we’ll trick ourselves out of it. It can be a pretty lonely road, especially like yourself, you’re like, “Hey, I graduated, oh my God, the world shut down, right?” It’s like, “Oh my gosh!” And so as you’re sitting in that place, talk to us a little bit about how you had this dream of making sure you got the book done. But how do you stay going when you have that dark night of the soul? And the rent is due and you’re trying to figure out how to make your payments and you got people, you’re paying, you know. So how do you go ahead and how do you keep yourself going and inspired?

Dawn: Well, I almost quit 19 weeks into my career and that was 16 and a half years ago. I was like, “You know what, I’m gonna go be one of those pharmaceutical reps, go give doctor pills.” And then I didn’t. So then, so the answer to your question is tenacity, and never giving up because I’ve done it the hard way. I wasn’t on all referrals. I moved to two different areas. I knew nobody, one place, I knew my two brothers but they never became clients to with years later. So I just kept going, did side hustles. There was one point I talk about in the book, I was stuck in a parking garage because I had 200 bucks to my name and my credit cards are maxed out, and talk about embarrassing, but I made it happen. I turned it around in that year, I made over six figures and it was because of my drive and the belief in myself. Like I know I’m gonna make it like, that was always there. No matter all the obstacles.

Yeah, I got frustrated, like cried, I’m just crying on my front porch. Like why me, why is this happening? But I never gave up and then once you break them and experience success, you attract more success so you just gotta keep on going through that Dark Night of the Soul. Because I wish I learned this earlier and you guys, so here, I’m going to give it to you. I’m going to speed up the process for you. Your story is your glory, so use it, don’t be ashamed by it. That’s going to catapult you to success like being stuck in the parking garage.

I never thought that would, I was embarrassed but apparently, people resonate with that and they can they just like they identifying can see themselves in that. So, it’s great. And then I always like, like yesterday I was so proud and so honored like you know what, I think this book is going to change my life. I like the past couple of months I’m like, and then I would pull like, okay, yes, the spiritual bonus. Some people pull my cards and stuff and all the readings kind of kept saying that I was like, “Oh my God!” And then now, it’s like the dream is becoming a reality.

And it’s all because again, never give up. If you have that fire that burning in your soul, that’s your calling. That means you’re on the right path, though it might not feel like it, you might want to quit, don’t do it because you wouldn’t have that dream inside of you if it wasn’t gonna be birth to the world. So just remember that. And also surround yourself with other positive people, I’m getting the chills, oh my God. Like I’m a part of this amazing woman’s networking group called FemCity, without these girls, well, they’ve really helped uplift me and support me. So, being around people, never giving up, are the keys to help you thrive.

Janine: And so one last thing you’ve mentioned your book, and the emotional barriers that people have to wealth and that sort of thing. Pick one of the five, just pick one of the five and share with us the one that resonates with you right now.

Dawn: Let’s see. For the mining box for me, I guess it comes down to the number one block, prioritizing the needs of others ahead of yourself. So I did that all the time. Like, for example, with my clients, I love them so dearly, and I gave everything away for free because that’s how I was. So, I was just going above and beyond, and not really valuing myself, and I was struggling. And now I kind of, I think I’ve broken free, I was afraid to charge my worth then. I just up my prices last week, so I was like, that was a huge step for me. So, being able to value me too. Because what I offer is important to people, and it’s worth value. And then even some people said, “Yes I wonder why you don’t really charge that much, like you’re worth it.” So, that would be the biggest block I see is prioritizing the needs of others ahead of yourself, and it all goes back to self-love. So having loving yourself, and knowing your worth is really going to help propel your business.

Janine: And if there are people that need some guidance on being able to do that, I would like to recommend a book by Barbara Stanley and I think her name is now Barbara Hudson. But Barbara Stanley many, many years ago and it’s still just as viable today wrote a book called Overcoming under Earning and that literally walks you through step-by-step, and once you’ve worked through overcoming under earning, then I recommend you read Dawn’s book so that you can then start getting the the pieces and parts that are necessary to your business. So make sure that you understand that when it comes to finances and your journey, it’s a lifelong process. We are still learning. We’re still curious. We’re still gathering things, and every time I think I’ve overcome, yet another part of my background or my training, something will slap me upside the face and I’ll be like, “Wow, I didn’t realize that that gold nugget you know has a lot of dirt on it,” then I’m going to have to clean off of my own garbage. So Dawn any closing comments you’d like to share with us before we finish out today.

Dawn: Yeah, let’s bring it back to the financial piece, it’s important to get your team together early on, your bookkeeper, your CPA like do not do TurboTax. A CPA has valuable advice. Like that TurboTax is not going to give you and work with your certified financial planner. Find one that it was willing to work with you with what you have. Because again even though you might not have a lot of money to invest, you probably have 500, 600 bucks a month extra that you could start putting into a plan to help you grow and invest, which is an important piece. So that would be my final advice for you guys.

Janine: And so this is been Dawn’s wonderful aspect to us helping us with the finances. Helping us with a little bit of the spiritual path of prosperity. Her book, the spiritual path to prosperity, The Truth About Money Revealed is now available on Amazon and has launched her in places she’s always wanted to go but she also has a lot of neat free stuff and so I want you to be sure to check out Dawn’s YouTube page. I love you too but I learned so much there, her page is D as in David, S as in Sam, DS Financial Strategies, and make sure you check in with Financial Fridays with Dawn. Is there any place else you’d like to have our people go to, Dawn?

Dawn: Yeah, they could go to my website dsfinancialstrategies.com and then I have a free ebook called Uncovering your Money Blocks. So that’s a free ebook they could download right there and I have tons of educational shows, podcasts like you mentioned Financial Friday since I’ve done in the past. I even have an online course that you can take that’s on my website too under the shop tab. So many resources, there to help educate you and inspire you.

Janine: Thank you so much for taking time with us today, Dawn, I really appreciate it.

Dawn: Thank you for having me. I love doing speaking to groups and helping people.

Janine: And this is Janine Bolon with The Thriving Solopreneur show, remember, keep your feet firmly rooted to the ground as you reach for those stars and you too will be able to realize the dreams that you have for yourself. We’ll see you again next Friday.