I had the wonderful pleasure of sitting down with the beautiful and talented singer/songwriter, Tifani Sage on how she navigates her finances as a young star on the rise. In case you didn’t know, Tifani is kind of like a pen game assassin. Naturally, when I got the chance to sit down with her, I was beyond excited! Her presence is humble yet perfectly mixed with savvy and of course topped with an artistic flare. Check out all the gems she so graciously dropped with City Girl Savings on how to fund your passion, sticking to a budget, and most of all, not letting money control you.
Tifani Sage was born in Suffolk, England to Jamaican parents which alludes to her pop-Caribbean sound. After honing her penmanship as a songwriter in Los Angeles, California, she decided to not only be behind the pen, but be the voice. Her colorful upbringing exposed her to an array of early musical influences spanning from Buju Banton, Lauryn Hill, Phil Collins, and Mary Mary. When asked what is a personal accomplishment of hers, she quotes, “If I can bring a smile or be a vibe for my listeners, that’s soul satisfying for me.”
CGS: Who is Tifani Sage?
TS: I am an independent singer-songwriter. I was born in the UK to Jamaican parents and then migrated to America at an early age. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in many states: Maryland, Florida, New York, and California. I think my constant relocations from ever since, have played a big role in my sound musically and so I’m very grateful for that. I’m currently navigating and learning on a daily basis the ropes of being a new artist, because it was never my initial intention. At the end of 2018, I decided I needed to go the artist route because no one was accepting my demo records when I pitched them for other artists to sing. Personality wise, my closes friends would unanimously agree I’m highly animated as well as a natural deep thinker.
CGS: Share a little with City Girl Savings your financial experiences (past, present, or both) and how it’s played a part in you navigating as an aspiring artist?
TS: Oooh. I am a big believer in treating myself and not depending on anyone to gift me the things I want/need. In my personal life I don’t shortchange myself — if I want something, and I’m not in the position to purchase it on the spot, I simply save up for it until I can. That same approach has helped me tremendously with funding everything in my artistry. Since I’m already programmed to depend on myself (and shoutout to my business partner , Matthew D. Padmore) I don’t look outside my company, StoryMania Publishing, LLC to be my savior.
I will say, in the past when I was an impulsive shopper, I didn’t realize how much I was spending until I’d periodically look at my balance and be in utter shock! So with that, to avoid the self-inflicting horror, I now swipe slow and hard before the purchase is final. And because being an independent artist is costly, this mindful spending method helps tremendously!
It also helps having a wealth analyst as a brother; he constantly sheds wisdom on better ways I can spend and invest money.
CGS: When was the last time you felt guilty about an expenditure? Why did you feel guilty about it?
TS: Till this day, my mother and brother will never let me live this one down [laughs]! I was in college at the time and my mom let me borrow her credit card because I was temporarily without a job. Something in my head told me I needed new workout clothes (it didn’t help that I was a high school jock), so my butt drove to the mall and racked up an enormous bill of workout attire; tank tops, t-shirts, leggings, shorts, pants. I’m cringing just thinking about it. I really don’t know what I was thinking.
Later that day my mom came home and asked if I lost her credit card because she got a notification from her bank that her card was compromised. I felt like I wanted to disappear into the wall. I was filled with so much shame. By this time my brother came into the room, making faces at me because my mother was reprimanding me, “You are going right back to the store and returning every last piece of clothing!”
I felt guilty about it because I had no business spending my mother’s money stupidly like that. At the time, she was a single mother. I should have been sensitive to that.
CGS: How does Tifani prioritize her funds to pursue her passion?
TS: Anything that’s going to push my brand forward be it advertising, photoshoots, mixing/mastering etc, I don’t think twice about funding it. I feel like I’ve tried all the methods to becoming an “expert spender/saver”: doing all my purchases in cash so I’m more mindful of how much I’m spending. Having a strict budget from the top of the month so I know how much I’m “allowed” to spend, and then just being mindful of how many times I’m swiping my AMEX charge card. The best method that I’ve found that works for me is right before I make a purchase, I ask myself is this a need or a want? I’ve also started adopting minimalist ways; I don’t like clutter, so that has helped minimize my spending. But what really drives it home for me is when I review my monthly statements and I go line by line. Things add up!
CGS: Have you ever been in a situation where you felt powerless about your spending, almost as if something else was in control of it? Why did you feel that way? What do you feel was driving that spending?
TS: Oooh yes! Back in college, I was out of control. After I purchased all the necessary textbooks for my courses, I looked at my scholarships and grants like it was fun money. I ate out a lot with my best friend, flew to Jamaica 2-3 times a year, bought clothes and sneakers that I didn’t really need, and even booked a trip to Paris.
I think what drove my careless spending was the deep craving for freedom. Growing up my mother would always harp on budgeting and my father would say time and time again, “Save your money. Don’t squander it off.” But when you’re young and free spirited like I was, you’re not trying to hear that or be bound by parental advice. You want to be free and you want to enjoy everything the world has to offer.
Now, my perspective on money is completely different. Whatever I’m about to spend my money on, I ask myself, ‘Will this give me a return on my investment or am I just purchasing another liability?
CGS: What advice would you share with other young adults who are struggling to fund their own projects?
TS: Find a friend, business partner, or a mentor who believes in your talent and work ethic, and ask if they can invest in your project. I strongly suggest good communication and flexibility between the two because there will be instances where either of you will have to compromise, either on budget or creative directions, but never on quality [wink wink]. You could also take out a loan, but know yourself. If you like to spend frivolously, that may not be the best route because there is no one holding you accountable for your actions.
CGS: Do you remember a time in your life where you weren’t concerned about money? What specifically changed between then and now? Is the difference between the two mostly “stuff”?
TS: I will never forget when I was in South Florida, two weeks away from relocating to Los Angeles. I was at the counter trying to withdraw money to have cash on hand for the transport of my car, and the screen said I had insufficient funds. My heart f**kin sunk in my chest! That was the first and last time that has ever happened to me.
Apparently, weeks prior I thought I sold my couch to an honorable person who was writing me from overseas — it turned out I got scammed and they sucked my account dry. I was so oblivious back then that I just swiped my card without ever knowing the exact balance.
Ever since then, I check all my account balances twice a week to spot any weird transactions.
CGS: Where do you see yourself financially in the next five years?
TS: Five years from now I definitely see myself increasing my streams of income; areas such as residential and commercial real estate, literary works, and podcasting; that’s going to be a delicious one! It all depends on the small steps I make presently to ensure that’s in place.
CGS: What’s the biggest learning experience you’ve had with money?
TS: In order for money to be useful, it needs to be circulated. Not to be confused with spent mindlessly, but it needs to be invested in something; whether it be a training/class, the stock market, real estate, or equipment that will help bring in business for you. It needs to add value to your life.
CGS: Is there anything exciting we can expect to see/ hear from Tifani Sage in the future?
TS: Yes yes. My music video Little Secret featuring Brian McKnight just dropped. You should definitely check that one out. It’s a feel good record. I’m also shooting another music video for the fourth single off my newly released album, Feline. The record is called Rocket Science / Lessons. I’m working on new music for 2022, can’t wait to see how my fans receive it. And a few other ventures I can’t speak on just yet!
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