How Radio Personality Angela Yee Dug Herself Out of Debt

The New York DJ recounts her financial missteps before getting back on track

As co-host for New York’s Power 105 FM’s popular Breakfast Club, Angela Yee is one of the most listened to voices in morning radio. A graduate of Wesleyan University, she majored in English and held numerous media-related positions—ranging from corporate consulting to artist management—before finding her niche as a media personality. But along with the public notoriety came expensive shopping habits that landed Yee nearly $30,000 in debt. Much wiser about her finances; the media maven shares with BlackEnterprise.com how she beat the credit card crunch and learned to better manage her money.

You’ve had great success in your first year at Power 105, but came from a management and consulting background. What lessons did you learn in switching career paths?

I’ve quit a job one time because I was going to make more money somewhere else and I was miserable [at the new job]. I really did like the job I quit, but I was looking at it like, “Well, I’m going to go here and make more money.” Sometimes, in the long run, it’s best to make less money, which is what I did when I left working at a clothing line to go work at Shade 45. I wasn’t happy where I was working and I took a crazy $30K pay cut to start all over at Sirius where I made way less.

What impact did that pay cut have on your quality of life?

That’s probably where the debt started from, having so many bills that I had to pay. I worked the first month without getting paid because it was a probation period to see if it was going to work because I had never done radio [at the time], so they definitely took advantage of me. It was a struggle for me for so long but the next year I got a $20K raise and a bonus and I got a raise every year afterwards. I think sometimes you do have to go backwards to get further in the big picture. Now I make more than double what I made at Sirius.

Is that when you started to manage your money better?

If I didn’t get this job at Power 105 I would still be in debt. Being in debt is a depressing thing. Right now it’s amazing to me that I can go out and buy what I want and still be able to save and now I’m saving to buy a house. That’s a realistic thing for me, before it wasn’t even something I could fathom happening. I have a good base going and I feel good about it.

How bad did it get before you got your finances back on track?

The most I ever owed was about $30,000 in credit card debt. I’ve never been at a $0 [balance], but that was the most I ever owed. A lot of that was from being a manager and having to pay for rooms and flights. It was taking forever to get reimbursed and it definitely piles up.

What are some of the steps you took to get out of debt?

Usually they say you should pay off your most expensive bills first, but what I did was paid off the small bills first to get them out of the way. A lot of those were store cards because I have a Neiman Marcus card, I have a Saks card, I have a Bloomingdales card, etc… Those were just little bills, like a thousand dollars or so each and they had the highest interest rates. It made it easier for me to get those out of the way. I also have three American Express cards. After paying off the store cards, I paid off two of them first and then the one that had the highest balance was paid last, but I stopped using all of my cards and that was the only one I would use. So it was really only one bill I had to pay and that was the one with the lowest rate.

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  • Nikki

    Great tips on paying off debt. Ultimately you have to do whatever will allow you to sleep better at night and remain consistent. If it’s taking care of the little bills first, go for it. Sometimes that sense of accomplishment fires up a desire to continue paying off your debt.

    That word “Investment” is used a little loosely. An investment indicates an
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    Seems like her increase in income was the main contributing factor. . .anybody could pay off their debt quicker if they were getting 20k raises etc. I applaud her success but it’s not really a riches to rags to riches story. Sounds like she simply didn’t have an emergency fund like a lot of us. :/

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      My thoughts exactly. I’d say a good investment is education…not necessarily college, but learning new skills in your industry that will get you a bump in salary. Then live on a budget as if there were no increase and use that increase to pay off bills and invest in mutual funds.

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