July’s trending spotlight is shining on Toni Tone, who has a following of 400k across platforms, where she is known for her advice on love, dating, money, and careers.
Toni is the host of Radio 1Xtra’s Money Moves Podcast, and the author of I Wish I Knew This Earlier, which is coming out later this year. Here, Toni tells us what legacy she wants to leave in this world, where her wisdom comes from and what’s next for this money mover…
I Wish I Knew This Earlier is a book about all the love and relationship lessons (that I wish I knew earlier)…
I was inspired to write this book after coming out of a relationship in 2019, which lasted six and a half years (on and off). For me, it was intense as I thought it would be my last relationship. So when that ended, I went through a period of really deep reflection and I was writing a lot in my journal about the things that happened in the relationship that – in hindsight – could have been avoided or that I overlooked, which contributed to the breakdown of the relationship.
There’s a lot that I did in my past relationships that if I had the chance, I wouldn’t do again. I used to think it was my duty as a woman to stand by my guy and be this ride-or-die girlfriend, I tried so hard to keep the peace and I was very supportive of the other person’s career while dismissing my own career needs.
So, after this heartbreak, I thought I’d write a book for women predominantly in their late teens and early twenties who are navigating the world of love and dating, or who are going through a heartbreak. And I wanted to write it from this big sister angle because that is very much my brand on social media.
I started talking about money after going viral for sharing a budgeting spreadsheet
I left university with debt, as I was not the best at managing money, I remember using my student overdrafts to go to Miami with my girlfriends. When I left university, I started working full-time and I went through this period of taking control of my finances and that came about through me developing a budgeting template.
It was just a spreadsheet on Excel, but after a few years of using it, I was out of debt. I was in surplus and I was really happy with where I was financially and a colleague of mine at the time was talking about her debt, so I told her about my spreadsheet.
She used it, she loved it and she told me to put it online and sell it. Thinking nothing of it, I put it online and within 24 hours I’d made thousands of pounds selling this spreadsheet for two pounds on Twitter; from that, I became the girl with the budget spreadsheet.
Going viral then led to the BBC contacting me to help them present the podcast Money Moves; it was really important to me that it wasn’t just about saving, investing, or budgeting, but a more holistic approach to money and understanding that you don’t have to be this incredibly digitally or financially savvy individual to have control over your money. It starts with your relationship to it. So it starts with talking about it and feeling confident about having conversations, not feeling ashamed to ask for more money at work, and talking to partners, friends, and parents about financial obligations. It’s a relationship-based money podcast.
Money needs planning, like every other part of life
My parents and I came from Nigeria in the early nineties. In the Western world conversations about money and the financial system as a whole work very differently – there are a lot of rules that exist in the UK that don’t exist in Nigeria. And there are a lot of structures that exist in the UK that don’t exist in Nigeria. And as a result, there are things that I couldn’t, as a child, have asked my parents about because we were learning at the same time. So everything I knew about money was self-taught.
I think for me, one thing I really had to come to grips with was an acknowledgment that you have to manage your money the same way you manage other areas of your life. You have to make a plan. When I go to see friends, I have a plan, I know what we’re doing. I know where we’re going. When I’m at work, I have a plan for the day. I know what needs to be done. But, I would approach money differently, like ‘you have it, you spend it, you have it, you spend it’. This doesn’t work as there needs to be a planning element to money, too.
It’s not just about having money it’s about making money work for you. It’s about understanding your priorities and having a list of financial priorities. What changed my life was understanding that money is not an entity that is out to ruin me. If I reframe my thinking, I can have control over it, I can think positively about it.
After my heartbreak I shifted my focus from this man and planning around this man, his life, and his career to pausing and asking myself what I really wanted to do. It was the first time in my life that I’d actually asked myself this question.
I realised that my value as a woman is very much about me and not about my relationship status. It is about the legacy I leave in this world. I started tweeting about this journey and this self-reflection, like it was a journal, and began to share my thoughts about love and relationships. Week after week my tweets were going viral and I was seeing them in lots of random places with celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Demi Lovato, and Hailey Bieber sharing them.
The reach of my tweets made me realise that my writing had legs and that not only was it what I wanted to do full-time, but that it was now a viable option. I left my job as a student communications manager at Oxford University in June 2020, and by November 2020 I’d announced my book deal.
My wisdom comes from life experience and my innate nature
I think my wisdom and voice comes from a combination of life experience and also just my nature in general, I remember doing a Myers-Briggs personality test and my type was INFP [a mediator]. Looking at the jobs associated with people of INFP, such as counsellor, therapist, pastor, writer etc., reflects that people with my personality type are very deep thinkers, mediators, very reflective. And I do think that is very much me.