“We the Prosperous” – Meet Laura, a #GirlOnFire

Customer Stories, Self-Employed DD.Laura

Every Intuit customer has their own unique story. Along each of their journeys, they find passion, share advice, take risks, celebrate success, and form a community of their own.

From small business owners, to the self-employed and those simply seeking ways to be more financially savvy – we’re here to be a part of each story and champion our customers as they take steps forward on their path to prosperity. Hear how the power of many comes together to support the business of one with #WeTheProsperous.

Meet Laura Escalante, co-founder of Dinero Diaries, a blog dedicated to financial literacy in the Latinx community, and one of our amazing #GirlOnFire nominees. We caught up with her to discuss what prosperity means for her as she navigates starting her small business aimed at promoting financial literacy in the Latinx community.

Intuit: Laura – tell us about your business!

Laura: Dinero Diaries is a company focused on understanding personal finances, getting out of debt, and building a strong financial future for members of the Latinx community. It is actually only two months old – we just launched in February!

Intuit: Why did you choose to start your own business?

Laura: Five years ago, I had to drop out of college to become a full-time caregiver for my sister, who was ill. So I was a college dropout, and then was unemployed. I somehow got into crisis management around finances, and then was approached by my friend Camila, who had the idea to start Dinero Diaries.

We both saw a need in our own communities and lives – people in Latinx communities don’t often have open conversations about money – and thought we could help. We currently have a blog, 5 in-person courses, and a variety of speaking events aimed at fixing that problem. It’s exciting, starting a new business, but it’s a lot of work. A lot more than I thought it would be originally.

Intuit: Very true! Other than it being a lot of work, what do you wish someone told you before you started your self-employed journey?

Laura: Branding is so important, and we recently learned about it; we didn’t do much work on our brand before we launched. I’m an immigrant, so even though I am twenty-something years old, I grew up using a typewriter, so I’m still figuring technology out! Branding is something I’ve had to look into, as it is key to appealing to our audience and building our business.

Intuit: Great advice. What would you say was your main obstacle to becoming successful? How did you overcome it?

Laura: The actual amount of work it takes to work a business.The entrepreneur life is so glorified that we can forget how much time it takes to actually start a business. This is something that we love, so we want to be working on it at all time! I have to schedule time for me, and for family to make sure I don’t work all the time. It can be challenging to remember to do self-care, which is important.

Intuit: You mention starting Dinero Diaries has been a lot of work. Starting a business and becoming self-employed isn’t easy; what has made the journey worth it to you?

Laura: We have gotten feedback from people in our community and people that have completed our course letting us know how much they have always needed something like Dinero Diaries. There are a lot of personal finance-focused businesses out there, but not targeted at our community. It has been great to get that kind of feedback from customers, even though we are so new. Even if people aren’t interested in courses or attending events but read our blog, it is super rewarding to hear we have an impact on them!

Intuit: Was there a specific moment when you knew you wanted to start a business?

Laura: There was no specific moment, I always knew I was interested in working for myself. I think it is ingrained in the heart of immigrants to create something for ourselves. Leaving everything behind in the pursuit of something better means immigrants already have the heart of an entrepreneur.

Intuit: Who are you inspired by?

Laura: My family and the Latinx community. We are so resilient. Almost daily, I close my eyes and think of my life growing up in Peru and think of the impact my family and I have had on others. There is a lot of power in our community, and that inspires me.

Intuit: What drew you to Intuit’s products? How do you use them?

Laura: I have used TurboTax for almost 10 years, since I could first file taxes. I had just moved to the US from Peru, so initially, I was struggling to understand the language and tax system here. I was drawn to the guidance in the product with its easily understandable language and explanations of tax code. It has been super helpful as I transitioned to being self-employed, because it allows you do to your own taxes. I also love that it stores everything in one place; having all my documents in TurboTax made it easy when I bought my first house.

Intuit: Love to hear that TurboTax has been so helpful for you! Do you have any other “prosperity hacks” (things you do each day to set yourself up for success)?

Laura: I plan ahead in every aspect possible of my life. I am a big believer that there is nothing better than being prepared; whether that is when planning a vacation, preparing meals for the week, or in our small business. I use a bullet journal to keep myself organized.

I also do daily gratitude. I close my eyes at the end of the day or right before a new experience, take a deep breath, remind myself of my roots, and voice my gratitude for where I am that day.

Intuit: Who do you lean on for support? Who do you go to for questions about your business?

Laura: We like to call our support system our “Dinero Circle” aka our money squad: people who cheer us on but also hold us accountable. My “Dinero Circle” includes my business partner; my life partner, who works in finances and has been inspiration for my financial journey; my family; and mentors, including financial advisors and other entrepreneurs of color. I am a salsa dancer (that’s how I met Camila, my business partner), and through that community we have built our circle.

Intuit: What are your goals for the year?

Laura: Our main goals are to continue to grow our audience on social media, and to launch our first e-course by the end of the year so that anyone can attend our course no matter their location. We currently only have in-person classes in Denver.

My personal motto this year is “less is more”: I am focused on getting rid of the clutter in my life, both literally and figuratively.

Intuit: Finally, what does prosperity mean to you?

Laura: Prosperity means having a strong financial foundation that can allow me and my current (and future!) family to be stable and focus on the things that really matter. My children will be first-generation Americans, so I focus on that, and making sure they will have stability and the ability to pursue whatever they want, without having to face the same struggles I have faced.

On a larger scale, prosperity means empowering my community to redefine wealth.

Intuit: Laura, it sounds like you are well on your way to powering prosperity for your community! Thanks for sharing all your inspiring story, and great pieces of advice.

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