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Episode 4 Transcript: Young Women, Wealth and Black Lives Matter

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Welcome to the Financial Finesse Podcast, where we’ll be discussing tips on how to handle your money and life with skill and style.

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Your host Cathy Curtis, CFP® has been helping make finance accessible and intriguing for women for almost 20 years. You’ll get savvy, actionable ideas, listening to her conversations with some of the coolest and smartest women on the planet.

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And now, here’s your host, Cathy Curtis.

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Hi, I’m Cathy Curtis, host of today’s podcast, the Financial Finesse Podcast. This is episode number four. I’m also the founder of Curtis Financial Planning, an independent investment advisory firm based in Oakland, California. I am super excited about today’s podcast because it is full

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of my students from a personal finance class I taught last summer. The class was so much fun. And mainly it’s because these women were so engaged in the material. And they just were incredible students. And I loved it so much that

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I can’t wait to talk to them more about their experiences with money since the class, and their life, and I know you’re going to love their money stories. So, before we get started, I want them each to introduce themselves. And we’re going to start with Joy.

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Hi, everybody.

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Like Cathy said, my name is Joy. I’m Jocelyn Robinson.

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I am married,

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recently married. I have two boys.

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One, soon to be 15, and soon to be 11-year old.

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So, we are definitely in teenage years. I currently work for an

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affordable housing developer and the accounting department as this has been accounting.

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And I studied. I received my MBA from Mills in Business Economics and my MBA from Mills, and 2019 at 28.

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Thank you, Rebecca. Thanks. Well, my name is Rebecca Castro and I really appreciate you having us here today to talk about money. I am 29 years old, and I live with a partner in Oakland, California. I don’t have any kids yet. But for work, I work at a company called nofal ed and I’m a customer success manager. It’s an ed tech

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company,

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and I help customers learn how to use our products. So, it’s really fun job for me.

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As for all of my educational background, I studied environmental anthropology at Stanford University for my undergrad and moved on to Mills College, an MBA and finished that last year, wrapping up with Cathy’s course on personal finance.

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Great, thank you Tori.

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So, my name is Tori, or if we’re using government names, my name is Tori Howard. And I am 26. I am not married, but I’m in a relationship. And I don’t have any children. But I’m the oldest of six kids. So, I feel like I grew up raising children. So

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yeah. And so for work, I’m a legal interviewer with the Bar Association in San Francisco. And so mostly, that just means

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listen to people’s legal problems and

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Trying to match them with a lawyer who’s suitable for that problem. And then on the side, I’m a freelance digital artist. An awesome one, by the way. Thank you. And I, I actually didn’t go to Mills, I would say St. John’s, which is in New York, but I love taking summer courses. This is actually the first summer in a while, but I won’t be able to just because of the shelter in place, but I always enjoy the classes there. And the personal finance class was like a godsend. So

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awesome. Shonda.

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Hi, there. It’s happy to be here. Cathy, thank you for having me. Just a little bit about myself. She her pronouns, Shonda Williams. I originally hail from the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, but have been in the Bay Area for several years now. And really similar to my classmates I’m just a lifelong learner. I didn’t attend Mills, I attended Grand Valley State University and Michigan, but truly believe in continuing my education.

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On my undergraduate and taking the personal finance course at Mills was just a really amazing step for me. I work with the Oakland Promise under the Brilliant Baby program as the coordinator. And we’re committed to ensuring that children in Oakland from birth on through their educational career can graduate high school and attend college or pursue a career of their choice. And part of that is financial capabilities for our parents. So, I’ve been working in that field, but it really wasn’t until this Mills personal finance class that I found a way to incorporate that into my own life.

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Excellent. So, speaking of this personal finance class, but prior to taking this class, do you feel like you had an education in strictly personal finances, your own finances, how to handle money, how to open accounts, etc, etc. Does anybody want to jump in and

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I definitely had personal finance, education. Just I didn’t mention that I’m, I’m 43 going on 44 end of the year. So I, you know, this is my second marriage. Of course, I have children. I was a stay at home mom

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until I started back to school in 2014. So I wasn’t the breadwinner. I was the one that took care of the household, along with my children, so I had to balance our checkbook. I had, you know, I wrote checks out for bills. I went and did the grocery shopping and things like that. So around personal finance, I knew what was in our joint accounts and I knew what was in you know, our immediate savings.

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But I didn’t understand credit and I

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Didn’t have any investments. My ex-wife had like a 401k and some other

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investment plans through her working. But I wasn’t part of that because I wasn’t working. But as her spouse, I signed up in her pension plan. And then you know, we have our children. We got them an education plan. So, when folks wanted to give money for their birthdays, they could, you know, go into their scholarship funds or whatever. So that was the broadness of my understanding until the personal finance class when, you know, I was shocked. Just understanding IRAs, Roth accounts, the difference when you can pull money out when you can, which is the better place to put money in like that. That was mind blowing in your class, Cathy, and I really appreciate that because, you know, I didn’t I wasn’t working. I was out of the workforce for

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Over 10 years, and so the only money base that I have is part of my ex’s pension plan through our divorce. And I had no clue. I really don’t know, like when I can start getting that money, how much money it was. And so taking your class that was like, one of my detective modes I went into and was like, Well, I’m gonna find out how much money I got coming to me. And I’m gonna know where it’s at. And I want to know, the finish points and I want to know who’s holding it. And it was just like, you know, I had all these questions. And as I was talking to the financial advisor, I was hitting him with a map, Hey, what about this? What about this us like, what

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do you do? And I was like, you could thank Cathy for all of this knowledge. Thank you. See, that’s the power of knowledge. It’s not just knowing what a Roth or an IRA is. But in real life. When you learn these terms, you can really help yourself

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right. I know that’s a great. That’s a great example. Rebecca, do you have any? Absolutely, I actually took one, one course in undergrad on finance. But I think for me at least, I absolutely loved the entire experience, but it was highly theoretical. Whereas our class was very practical and hands on and, you know, we looked at reports and went through things together, really analyzed in depth, like, what our retirement accounts were doing. I had no idea that my retirement account wasn’t doing anything. So did you have it in good? Is that right?

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No, the biggest thing I learned from the course and this is something that we talked about at the time was that my IRA was basically in cash I had put money in but I hadn’t taken the second step to actually invest it. It was life changing for me growing

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tremendously since then, just from that simple act, and I thought I was doing enough of just I was like, I’m investing I’m putting money into my retirement account. But I was putting it in and then not taking this because I just didn’t know I didn’t know I had to take another step. Which is amazing to me that people don’t know. You don’t you don’t learn these things anywhere. Unless you take a class, this is you know, you consciously decide you want to learn about it. Okay, Tori any stories.

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Um, so as I mentioned, I am the oldest of six kids that means I always grew up in a big family and financially that is like, means that like money is hard, but at the same time, like my parents, they obviously you know, things like you need to save money for a rainy day. But like, one of the things that you really stressed the importance of is like making sure you have like three to six months of savings specifically like so number not just like saving

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indefinitely, but like you know, like saving a specific amount so that if something happens, and I am

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immediately thought about your class when the COVID

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when the shelter in place started, and people were losing their jobs because I was like, man, for people who don’t have that savings, and if they lost their job, this is a hard time right now, this would be like the prime time to have to have had that three to six months of savings because where else you have to rely on credit cards or hoping the government gets the money to you in time on like all these other things. It is just

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which one of the things that I’m learning in my job is that it is taking a long time for people to get those unemployment checks. So, I immediately thought about you and that class when Michel Tremblay started but outside of that

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I learned so much in your class, like one of the biggest takeaways for me personally was about my credit cards. Because while I’ve always been good about like paying them, you know, paying the minimum or more if I can,

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I never thought to check what my percent rate like my interest rate is. And that was a huge game changer.

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Because one of my credit cards is like being near a scam is when I realized because the interest rate was 30 31%.

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And it was a non-negotiable 31% unbelievable. Oh and

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so as soon as I realized that first of all since I really like could check that, and then I checked it and then I realized what it was I was like I need to get a card. So yeah, and I’ve had this credit card for eight years now. So eight years of me paying this 31% interest. And fortunately I’ve been I’ve never missed the payment and I’ve always been really good but at the same time, I would have paid that card off so much faster. You

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okay, and it’s because um, which is like an unfortunate thing, but my car that I had at the time was just like, it was a lemon basically. And so it was just like expense after expense after expense. Yeah, unfortunately I had a card that had developed security it but at the same time, that was the card that had the most extreme interest rate so just taking so long to pay it off. Even though it happened so long ago. I was like still paying it off.

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31% It’s almost like

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Never get paid that thing off. Yeah. So yeah, what did you do? What did you do? Did you close a card? Did you try? I didn’t close it. I didn’t close it because you that is still my credit history. It’s eight years of on time payments, would you talk? Otherwise I would have definitely been like forget this card. Yeah.

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But no, so I left it open, but I transferred the balance out to a card that have a lower interest rate and a high cashback. So and I set the cashback for online purchases because I found out that that was also editable. And I am always buying stuff online. So I’ve been getting so much cashback so happy and I’ve been applying that directly towards paying down the balance. So my credit score has gone up a lot. So I really believe that right? Because of all that, like a simple change, just changing the card that I was using next. Rhonda.

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Yes, I really identify with what Rebecca said around having taken courses in undergrad on the topic of Finance. And it was very theoretical or my major was public and nonprofit administration. So it was about nonprofit but you

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And finance. And I didn’t really find ways to be able to connect that back to myself. And it was really similar and growing up, my parents had made the money mistakes, and they wanted better for me, but it was kind of going over my head. They’re like, I’ve opened up a credit card for you at 18, which I’m so appreciative of now. It’s my highest

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tier, and just really able to see how that’s been able to grow and help my credit. But again, all of these concepts, I kind of knew of them. But to Jocelyn’s point, I didn’t have the education to be able to apply them to myself. And there’s been so many little lessons that have just really been beneficial since your course that biggest thing I think I’ll say is that I opened up a Roth IRA. So I’m starting a full time position in August with an excuse me a 401 K. But I’ve been working for several years and hadn’t been putting anything aside for retirement until I took your class.

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I’m just building that habit, having a monthly amount that goes out and just really excited that I’ve been able to do that and keep it up. In addition to I’ve opened up an online high yield interest earning savings account, and this is where I’m doing that three to six months of saving. When I found out that I could get 2.4% on my savings account, and without it being risky, I was super excited to be able to do that you’re not getting my money. And I love that there’s no brick and mortar because that means I don’t go to the ATM to take money out. That’s right. That’s what’s great about online bank accounts, it’s not as easy to get the money. For sure. You know, I love it that you’ve all opened Roths, we talked about Roths a lot in the class because I think they’re the best account for younger people. Because if you really do need the money at some point, there’s less penalties and you could always take out what you put in. So like if you’re going to plan to buy a house and a lot of you

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have house buying on your minds and things like that. So, super smart. Great. Well, thank you those are great things that you learn. Um, okay, so speaking of lessons, all of you have faced some kind of hardships as you’ve been on your journey to get independent right? Um,

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I’d love you to share a story about something that you overcame, whether it you had credit card debt, or you tried to get a job, you couldn’t get it. Just something that you really learned a lesson from, like, kind of like me, I I felt deprived. And so I took things into my own hands. I tried to find ways to always earn money as I was growing up. And Rebecca, do you want to start? Sure, I think that I was very fortunate that I earned scholarships and qualified for at Furman undergrad. So I didn’t come out with a ton of debt after my undergrad. But I knew that I wanted to go to grad school and

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I wasn’t going to qualify for a lot of aid for grad school. So I planned to work for about five years to save up that money. And I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was just paying out of pocket straight up instead of investing that money, taking out a loan, paying it down gradually, and like building credit.

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Instead, I just spent all of my savings on grad school. So it wasn’t until the summer course, you know, after I walked in graduation, and I needed that one extra course to graduate that I learned from you. Why? mistake for me? And I kind of knew the whole time I was like, Oh, this doesn’t feel good. I’m just like, you know, losing all this money.

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But I felt like I was investing in my education.

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But I’d say that was one of the biggest financial hurdles, hurdles and or lessons

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knowing that I’d spent about leveraging yourself like I’m paying for some of it taking up debt for some reason.

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Exactly. So taking on debt for some investing some and just more strategically managing taxes.

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You know, making some money earned back for me while continuing to work and go to school. And instead of just, you know, putting all of it from savings directly into school. Yeah. Great. Thank you for Shonda.

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Yes. So one of my biggest money lesson so earlier on I shared I’ve always been this saver. So during my college undergrad experience, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I was a first-generation college student. I’m really just setting a pathway and I figured I wanted to get the full experience so career. So between getting the finances and finding a location, it took, let’s say I walked across the stage and had one final credit, I think

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Took abroad. But that was my goal, right, I wanted to study abroad. And when I went abroad, I also had plans. I’m single for tax filing purposes. But I do have a long-term relationship that I’m in and we had plans to move to California. So while I was studying abroad, finishing up my final courses, I was also looking for a job. And that’s when I found my current job at Oakland Promise. And what I’ll say about that is once I got back into the country, I had about four days to pack up my apartment, get everything set, move across the country, and then start my job. So I was really thankful I saved this money for my study abroad period. And I think to your point was when I love that if you pretend you don’t have it, you don’t have to spend it frivolously. So that’s really that kind of take. I’m

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allowing myself to take on this new look diligent, and honestly, I’m really happy to hear that a few of you have college savings

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accounts for your siblings or your children, because that’s another thing. I’m the first in my family to know to graduate from college to begin my career move across the country and I have great nephews and cousins, all under 10 that I want to be able to be an example for and encourage them to have a college savings account. I myself grew up with one and the power of it. Yeah. Congrats on being the first in your family. That must have been a big deal. Thank you. Yes, I it was a very big deal. And you know, that’s why I work with the organization I work with now to be able to support children to have an education. You know, research shows that having a pursuing an education your higher education is really an equity indicator as well as allowing our students especially our students, our black Indigenous students of color, to be able to gain social capital and excel and close that racial wealth gap. I love it. So important.

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Okay, sorry.

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Um, so

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like I said, I’ve kind of been saving my whole life. But saving money and like knowing how to properly spend money are two different things. And so that’s something that like, I was, like I was pretty good about until like I was really independent, which is to say like when I went off to college because I went away to college. So originally from here, Oakland and the Bay Area, but went to college in New York, obviously, my family is not in New York. So my parents were not able to be

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that they weren’t able to support me also, like I said, I have five other siblings, so they financially really couldn’t support me either. So

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all I had to go off of was whatever was left over after school was paid for like whatever was leftover, usually from loans. And so that is kind of what I had to live off of.

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However, one of the things I didn’t like fully like process once I got to college was like, the concept of like bills and depths and

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and how, like, somehow magically like no matter how much they

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Do you have like the bills seem to increase with your savings? Like,

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I feel like that tends to happen. Like if I ever get a bonus at work, there’s like a new bill that pops up. They’re like, Oh, look at this, your bill change. And so, so that real-world aspect or the real-world application of like, what are you saving your money for was really important because sometimes I would save a bit of money and I’d be like, Oh, I just have all this money. So now I can buy something that I want. Not really thinking about the fact that like, there’s things that I need. So

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and so that’s something that I really had to work through. And at one point, I’m at one point, at one point, I want to say like midway through my sophomore year in college,

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I had $6 in my bank account, and it had to last me two months.

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Well, I bought a huge bag of rice.

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And I, whenever my friends would go out to eat, I would be like can I have your leftovers?

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I had to throw away all my bread.

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I was like, I don’t know. But anyway, so that was one of those hardships for me because I it made me really, like stressed the importance of like, what am I saving my money for, which is when I came like and when I got to your class and you told us about like saving three to six months of your expenses of the things that you have to buy your must buys. And also being mindful of like how much do you have coming in versus how much do you have to have going out? It’s something that I wasn’t really paying attention to before I just was like, Oh, I think I have I might think that I’m you know, like doing well because in college I might have like $2,000 in my bank account but if my bills for rent and stuff like that are more than that, that I’m actually like coming out with a deficit. I just happen to be getting money fast enough that I didn’t notice it right away. Yeah. And so that’s, that’s something that really hit home for me when I was on my own.

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Now do you carry balances or do you pay everything off? Um, so like I mentioned before, because of that one card that I had, which I fortunately don’t have anymore, but I do have

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Have some balances that are circular. So you’re still carrying over, but it’s significantly less than what it was before. And now it whenever I use my credit cards, it’s only for something that I know that I could pay off. So, for example, I recently bought a washing machine for my house, but I had the money already set aside in my bank account for it, and I had been saving for it. So I put it on the card just so that I can you know, build that credit and then like within the next month, I paid it off. Yeah, no credit at all. Yeah, it’s when it gets out of control that it’s the issue. Are you strategically paying down your credit cards? Yes, interest rates are still what are they now 14? I’m the one of them I think is 18. But that’s also it gives me cashback so it doesn’t hurt as much because when you balance it out the percentage that I get on cashback versus the amount that I’m paying an interest it’s, I guess it comes down to like $13 so or 13% rather.

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And so yeah, so what I do, though, is that I am like I said I’m only paying and I’m only putting

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Something in my cart if I know that I can pay it off in cash, and then also when I do pay that off so for example with the washing machine that I’m paying off extra on top of that, because I’m also still trying to, to, to pay down my total balance. And so anytime I get extra money

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besides what I need to put into my savings, I put it onto my credit cards. That’s, that’s like the majority of where my excess money goes right now, just like I am aggressively paying down my credit cards now that it’s on a lower, more manageable. Yeah, lower, more manageable like payment each month. So for example, my credit cards before my monthly payment was actually like $300 a month and right now it’s like $50 a month. So I can still pay that $300 a month, which I usually still do, but it’s actually doing more for me, because I’m not just paying a minimum balance. I’m paying the minimum plus a huge, huge lump sum more so it’s you know, this thing with the interest rates on credit cards is so egregious is 18% and whatnot. I mean, if you can earn seven to 10% on your investments, you’re doing well. So think about that the critic inflation

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so low, that it’s really smart to pay down those high interest. It’s just so much in your financial favor to be able to do that. Yeah. And it sounds like you’re doing it. I mean, you can’t just focus on paying down debt. You’ve got all these other things you need to do, but it’s still so important to the overall financial picture. Yeah, that’s what I’m working on. Right.

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Joy?

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So having kids are expensive.

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But what I went through was my divorce. Being a stay at home mom, I wasn’t prepared

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at all. Everything was in my ex’s name, the house, cars.

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We had a joint account, but she had a separate account.

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And I went through it for

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a good two years where I was not prepared when I’m moving

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to Oakland from Cincinnati, only had a high school education.

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And I’ve been out of the workforce for over 10 years, like I said, So, um, I didn’t have a savings. I didn’t we lit what was in our joint count down the middle. But she had income coming in and I just had what I walked away with, which was like 3500. Yeah. So, I think it was like $3500 I need to find a place to live. I need to furnish too that place, I need to get food.

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And then I then I was in a battle of divorce and custody war for two years and I came out on the better end but it was two years struggle.

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And so it was it was a drastic change for my family. I had to go work part time so I was away from when she had the boys I will work and then I had the boys. I wasn’t really

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So, being a primary parent, I have four days out of the week. So I was only able to work three days.

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And I fell back on, you know, a little bit of bookkeeping information that I had and wind up getting a really good job

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through a temp agency at a family-owned business, I was like, oh, bring your kids in, you know? Yeah, you know, and so I was able to move from three days a week to, you know, five days a week and really get a nice, um,

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you know, be able to work, unfortunately, that went away. And so I was just basically living off of my child support payments. And I moved us into a one bedroom, and we share that one bedroom and, you know, I’m super frugal, and, you know, I went on welfare just like I was, I was repeating the same things that my mom did, but

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I didn’t have that, that down and out feeling. It was like, this is what I need to do. It’ll lead to my next question, and I’m about race and how you’ve been affected by that. Financially, job opportunities and all that. So

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I know it’s a big question, but it’s really so relevant to ask you that, especially now, and I hope you don’t mind sharing if you do just don’t but who would like to step in and Tori

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So, um, I believe I shared this story when we were in our class, but

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as far as like myself as a black woman, especially as it pertains to finances the two major situations where

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I guess where I was negatively impacted, and in both cases, I didn’t realize it at the time, like how much someone had taken advantage of me of the fact that like, they

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knew that, you know, I most likely wouldn’t know about these, these lower opportunities or these, these better opportunities

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and the fact that they even offered them so but so one obviously being my credit card, my credit card, like I said was had a 31% interest rate, it was non-negotiable. It was something that they offered me. And it’s something that I saw that they offered my sister more recently, but it’s something that they specifically offer only in lower income communities. They’re like, Oh, you don’t have credit, use this credit card, you can build your credit, it’s great.

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But the reality is it’s highly predatory lending and like you said, it’s like nearly impossible to pay off. And, and I didn’t even I didn’t realize I didn’t know to check my interest rate. I just knew that I had a credit card I knew that I had, I had a card had to make sure that I paid the minimum balance because I didn’t want to default or anything like that. But the second one which Hit me harder, especially more recently is my car when I got my car, that lemon that you know, that kept breaking down and I had to replace eventually but

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they gave me

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interest rate that was like, so incredibly high for this car. And it was something like, again, I think it was like 22%. You know, like so these astronomically high interest rates, which I don’t know anything about, because I’ve never purchased a car before. And my parents, you know, to the best of their knowledge, they’re haggling, thinking that they’re helping, which they did because it could have been worse. But again, they only know from experience from what they’ve been offered, right. So they actually haggled down to 22%. Well, oh my gosh, it was like 27 or 28. At first, and the person was like, Oh, we can’t go any lower, you know. And again, that’s a lie. But I’ll be things but because my parents would have never been offered a better interest rate. So how would they know? You know, so?

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And when I took your class, and everyone’s talking about Oh, my car’s 7% 6% 4%. I was like,

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oh, and so when I got my car that I currently have, I bought it new, and I had to argue, and I sat there I went there for two days. And I was there for two full working days. While I was working with Oakland Promise.

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Which meant that I wasn’t making money because I was physically at the auto dealership. I’m negotiating with them about what I should be paying, and they brought it down to 6%. It probably could have been less, but you know, they even still they, they were like, it could have been worse. So, um, and then

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yes, compared to 20 something percent it was much more reasonable and my payments, I like I believe, and gladly. I’m like, it’s fine. It’s a brand-new car. It’s not gonna break down on me anytime soon. And if it does, it has a warranty. So that was that was the trade-off for me down to what did they start at?

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Well, first, they tried to tell me I wasn’t approved. So first, they tried to tell me I could not get a car. They said that my credit was not good enough. And I had literally checked it that morning. And I was like, that’s a lie. And then they then they tried to show me the screen. They’re like, see, look, here’s a list of people that have rejected you. And I’m like, but there’s a list right over there. Who’s the list of people that accepted me so then they assumed I couldn’t read.

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And you know, it was a process. So like I said, I was there for two full days. So I was there for 16 hours. Back to Back

33:02

days being in those places negotiating. Yeah. So, but yeah, so it was so frustrating. But I got my car. I’ve had my car for about two and a half years now and it’s great. never had any problems with it. Fast forward to maybe like three months ago, my boyfriend who is a white man, he went to go get a car, they were like, hey, do you know we had this discount today? Did you know that? You could actually get this low interest rate? Hey, how old are you? Has your grandfather ever? Do you know anybody who’s ever owned a car? And they’re like, Oh, well, if your grandfather owned this car, back in 19, whatever, then he can also get a discount. So they were just offering him discounts. That didn’t was not mentioned anywhere that these things existed. And so his interest rate is 2.5%.

33:47

And, and they offered he walked in and he said I’m not going to pay more than this much per month for a brand-new car and they’re like, okay, sorry, we can do that. Um, and it’s just it’s a completely different experience. So um,

34:01

Something that is just so unfair, it really is.

34:07

That’s my experience of bracing credit. Well, you you’re learning though, I bet the next time you won’t even accept 6% I’m not. Yeah, cuz next time I’m gonna have excellent credit and I’m gonna be like, oh no. Yeah, right. Right. Shonda, you had your hand up? Um, yes, I have this really early childhood memory that I wanted to share, as well. So I am a black biracial woman. My mother is white and my father is black. And growing up, we always would have different used cars. We did a lot of driving. So we needed a decent nice car. And I remember going to the dealership and my parents had different roles that they would play. So my dad would always go in first. He would always ask for the car that we wanted, he would get a price estimate and he say, All right, I’ll be back later, this time.

35:00

Afternoon. And later this afternoon was when my mom would come. And just hearing your story again, it’s just so familiar to this, my mom would go in and get a much better deal than my father. And then my father would come in, and it was almost like they knew they were wrong. So they would give them an even better deal once they realize that my mother and father were together. So they figured out how to play the system, if you will.

35:26

And you know, it’s sad, but there’s so many instances in my life where I remember my parents literally going in to see well how will they treat me? You know, my father, the black man versus my mother, the white woman. And the difference was night and day. The other thing I’ll say to that is just really lack of access to knowledge. It wasn’t until I got into college and actually joined my co-ed business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, the psi chapter, that I even started to think about these concepts with myself. So it’s when I first discovered the acorns app.

36:00

And then thanks to you, Cathy, for explaining what I was even signed up for. I just knew I was supposed to do it because it was recommended to me. But these concepts of money are very, very much a mystery and also taboo, especially in a lot of

36:16

people of people of colors, culture. And so we don’t talk about them, or it’s kind of seen as something you stray away from.

36:26

Yeah, and it’s just been, I’m really grateful, again, to be able to be in a space where you can have these conversations, and also be able to have these conversations with the lens of race and how they play into that because the more you know, the truly the more empowered you are to be able to have those conversations. And, you know, to Tori’s point, it probably wasn’t even initially thinking like this is this could potentially be a race thing. But on the other hand, I have the experience, I’ve always seen that it was a race thing. So I always have that in the back of my mind when I’m operating and being mindful.

37:00

Like, what is the situation and what am I actually worth? Right? Good, really good, Rebecca. Yeah, we’re talking about some really, too. And when I think about how race and wealth have intersected for me, it’s really about the

37:21

generational wealth. And I have an indigenous background, I mean, Native American from California, and our land is Yosemite National Park. And we’ve been in over for battle for federal recognition, and we have not been granted that permission yet. The court puts it out kind of every year and this past year, we had to prove that we were that we were all dispersed around the park not allowed to live in the park.

37:50

And all of our tribes’ resources and money and work has gone into these battles

37:58

and it started from you

38:00

the 1849 Gold Rush. First, there were massacres and, you know, natives were hunted legally and not granted religious freedom until 78. So there was in 1878 1919 Wow. Okay.

38:24

So

38:25

starting from, you know, the mid 1800s

38:31

kind of my community has not been building on wealth and didn’t really even building on the kind of wealth that exists and is what gets you ahead in today’s society. So, there’s an entire conflict in my background, the use of thinking about money that I’ve, I’ve been balancing of trying to live in today’s world and build wealth, where there’s no kind of historic intergenerational wealth or value put on that

39:00

In my community, so it’s very interesting.

39:05

Contrast that is, is where race and money intersect and contradict each other and you know, don’t connect as well, that I’ve had to educate myself constantly on how to live in today’s world, how to bring that knowledge back into my community, so that we can maintain our traditional values, our vision, our, you know, connection with, with our history,

39:32

of being able to be members of society, and fighting for ourselves to be people in the eyes of the government. It’s, it’s a very interesting relationship where we’re just recognized as, as people while also trying to prove ourselves and you know, build ourselves up and just live in our ancestral homeland.

39:55

Do you? How do you help your community learn

40:00

about building wealth and things like that.

40:04

I would say through

40:07

model I’ve given talks before at UC with my aunt or just my cousin. I don’t exactly know how we’re related, but I call her my aunt. And she’s a peasant somehow.

40:20

But I try and help out where I can. It’s more one on one and personal communication.

40:25

I try, it’s not that big. But

40:28

are you unusual in your tribe, your education and ambition and all that? I would say?

40:37

Yes. So from my family, my siblings and I, with a couple of my cousins have gone outside for, you know, for your college degrees or higher education as well. And it’s not super typical of my tribe in general. Yeah. How does your tribe support themselves?

40:59

Every

41:00

one supports themselves individually and the board. My understanding is that it’s more of a volunteer basis. Okay. Yeah, that’s so interesting. That’s just a whole different world that most of us don’t learn about.

41:14

You know, did you ever feel like you lacked opportunity, being

41:21

who you are, I would say, um, I really felt like I lacked opportunity so much as I just had to work harder. Everything was about working hard and work ethic was the number one value, you know, Family first, and you work for what you have. And you always, you know, feed your friends and your family and whoever needs it. Food’s a big part of it. So I think that I didn’t necessarily lack for

41:51

opportunities. But I think that whenever I earned them through really hard work, I was criticized for them. When I got into Stanford people would tell me like oh,

42:00

Cuz you check the box, you know, because you’re native. I heard that from so many people, and I had so much imposter syndrome. And it took me a long time to realize like, no, I worked extremely hard for this. A lot of people work really hard and are rejected from great colleges.

42:15

And it’s kind of the nature of the system and it’s not great. But it took me a long time to recognize my value and my worth in that my hard work. got me to where I am. How do you float that little clock thing that you were someone’s doing? Let’s float that Yeah, there you go. Thank you.

42:37

So that’s all around. Yeah. If I recall, you were going to buy a house, right? I was, that’s my initial plan. I bought a car instead. So I was really, you know, listening to what Tori was saying, I started planning after we talked. Last summer. We met a couple times. After

43:00

But I kind of changed my plan around a little bit and decided how it was going to be more longer term planning and that I wanted to invest in a car and I started planning about six and a half months ago for exactly what kind of and I waited until they offered zero percent financing and then I went in and got it.

43:20

It’s all about knowledge, right? What car did you get at zero percent?

43:26

Toyota rav4 hybrid, and I am just through the roof excited. It’s my first new car

43:34

driving little stick shift like 1994 ford escort before that didn’t have air conditioning and crank windows. So I was thrilled. That’s so exciting. Congratulations. Thank you. I’m sure you’re gonna make the house thing too.

43:48

Yes, it’s in the plan. Yeah, that’s great. Thank you.

43:54

Joy.

43:58

Um, yeah, Race has

44:00

always played a big impact in my life.

44:04

Every week, the first time it was financial

44:10

was the first time I opened up an account by myself

44:14

in Cincinnati, and it wasn’t a credit card, it was just a normal checking account and I had to jump through hoops.

44:21

You know, normal depositing of money should have been enough, but I need to bring in

44:29

they want a letter from my employer that said I actually work there that this was my check this and on the other and I was like, you know what?

44:36

I don’t have to do all this. And so and it was a national bank. It wasn’t like a local bank. And I’ll just take money out you were trying to put it in.

44:48

I was just trying to get a regular checking account with checks and I had never, I had never overdrawn a checking account. I’ve never been denied a checking account for and it was

45:00

I had to jump through a lot of hoops. When I bought my first car.

45:06

I was very, I didn’t have any knowledge whatsoever. I just needed a car.

45:12

And my mom took me. My sister worked at Ford, which is a big plant in Cincinnati, and she had a family plan. And you know, you get a huge discount and a bunch of stuff. And I went to the Ford dealership.

45:28

And, you know, was looking at all these cars, and it was just myself. I was like, 21/22. I

45:36

just wanted a small car that I wasn’t going to have to put a whole lot of money in. And they were showing me these people expensive cars for like, no reason and the interest rates were ridiculous. Now, but you know, hindsight, right?

45:53

And I did finally get a car and it was like it pulled up on the truck. And it was this spring

46:00

Money green card. I was like, I want that one. And I got it. But looking back on it, it was a $17,000 car and I’ve paid double for that, because I wasn’t knowledgeable.

46:15

Why we were gonna stay on this topic. We’re gonna do one last question because we’re, we’re long, this has been so great. I want to have more of these.

46:25

So the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s getting a lot of support right now. I hope it keeps going. I personally, I think it would be getting even more support if it wasn’t for COVID. Because I think more people would be out protesting, you know, because some people are afraid to be out. But if they’re still getting big crowds, lots of support. So do you all think that this movement is going to have any impact on people of color, financially, at all, or what impact do you think it’s going to have

47:01

Who would like to? Yeah, Tori? Um, so one I had a thought. The first thing was that in some ways, I think the ability for the Black Lives Matter movement to like,

47:13

to kind of balloon the way that it has in the last couple months is in part because we’ve been in COVID because a lot of people are not working. I know that like, myself, especially like, in this circle, a lot of people in my community one of the biggest points of fear when you’re thinking about going out and protesting is what if I lose my job? In this case, you remove that obstacle because I’ve already lost my job. So what are they gonna do now? They can’t fire me. So, um, so I think um, I would say that I would say that in a lot of ways its ability to amplify has been because people are spending more time on their computers, so they’re able to like message each other faster. You’ve been seeing people getting fired, which is something I have never seen before. Like people are getting fired like that for saying the wrong thing for the wrong person and they caught it on recording, which you know, sometimes happens anyway, but now

48:00

Everyone has seen it. Someone did their research, they’ve investigated, I know where this person lives now I’m going to message their job directly. There have been doing petitions like to get people fired at certain places. I forgot what it was. But my boyfriend told me that a company co fired his own daughter.

48:16

Because she said something gracious, which is like a level of commitment. You haven’t we only did it just because of, you know, the public side. But what that says to other employees is that if my daughter is not safe, you are not safe. So you need to keep that racism in check. So

48:32

I would say that like positive, yeah, I would say that. One of the things I feel like has been coming out of this is a little bit more accountability. At the same time, there are people who even still, I think, see it as kind of more like a trending thing, you know, and so, especially when it comes to getting justice for people who were wrongfully killed,

48:55

pretty much whoever gets justice is the person who is the most popular at this time. So I think one of the two people

49:00

Who you hear a lot about right now are like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. But Breana Taylor her killers are still out there, you know, like in because she has now like, bumped and bumped down and in the headlines, there’s less accountability, there’s less pressure on the on that local police department to actually grab people in you know, put them through the proper legal channels so

49:23

die out or do you think anything’s gonna happen there? Ah, well, it’s hard to say but I would like to be optimistic. I lean towards optimism because realistically, I don’t see COVID you know, the shelter in place ending anytime soon. So I’m hoping that that helps to continue people to have momentum because as soon as people go back to work that is already like this last time that they have available. That’s, again, that level of concern about what if I lose my job because I’m doing this? Yeah.

49:55

So I’m hoping that more, not just conversations

50:00

about change, but actual change will come out of this. So right now we’re in that conversation stage. And I’m hoping that if we have this window of time where we, you know, where there are fewer people who are dealing with these extra constraints, I hope that that’ll help to really push forward the change that it’s on paper and in practice.

50:18

So, you know, that’s, I’m an optimist. I’m optimistic that there is this few possibilities that we can go through with this. I love optimism.

50:31

I unfortunately think is going to die down.

50:36

And not is because I’ve been through the Rodney King incidents. I’ve been through a lot of different

50:43

incidences of, you know, racial inequalities, protests and things like that. I think for George, for Mr. Arbery, the fact that it was on video, and that people are sitting at home and have nothing else to do and had to

51:00

watch these videos over and over, and watching George Floyd call out for his mother really pulled out harsh at the heartstrings of America. It’s almost

51:11

I correlated to what happened on Bloody Sunday during the marches or voting. When the news showed what happened on that bridge in Selma, Alabama. White people were like, Oh, my dear Lord, and it was like, what are we doing as a country? Because it wasn’t hitting them in their face right away. If you would look at news stories or you know, hear stories, but until you see it for yourself, it doesn’t have the same context. And so watching George Floyd die on camera watching on her

51:49

getting

51:51

chased down and shot on camera. And I think Breanna, the difference is we don’t have that video yet. But once those cameras are released, she’s

52:00

she’s going to be right back up there. And every time there’s a police shooting, unfortunately has to be in that context, then you have black lives matter, but our lives are, are systematically oppressed every day, every day. And it’s not just a fear of police is fear of financial institutions or spheres of education systems. We have huge fears, but this is just the one that is focused on right now. And, you know, this is 150-200 years after slavery that we’re still fighting to be

52:39

not second-class citizens not treated as you know, three-fifths of a man. You know, we still don’t have every right that we are supposed to have as natural born citizens who were brought over here on slave ships, not distressed. You know, I am I am a fourth-generation descendant of a slave. Just for

53:01

In my 40 years, and I don’t have the same footing that my white counterparts have, I never have, even when my mom made sure that I was in the best schools and public school, even though you know, she moved us out of the projects, that’s where my life started was the projects. So I am always cautious around police. I’m always cautious around financial institutions. I’m always cautious with education systems. You know, I have to fight for extras for my son’s and he’s in a, you know, he’s in a great school, but I had to fight for tutoring, because his math skills coming from a public school system wasn’t the same as his counterparts at this predominantly white institution. And I had to fight. All right, he’s in a really good Oh, he said he’s in the best of independent high school and in almost the state of California, but you know,

54:00

Is the diversity thing for them, it looks good on paper to have him there. And I’m willing to support that, because it gives us the education that you need. But I shouldn’t have to. And that’s, that’s what we’re really trying to get through is I shouldn’t have to do these things, jump through these hoops or make myself stand out more, just to be counted the same. And unfortunately, the distractions are coming up, you know, basketball is coming back, baseball is coming back. Football is going to come back. So now everybody’s going to be like, Oh, I have all these other things do and I’m not going to be captivated by all the other stuff that’s going on around Black Lives Matter and racial injustices. I think the change is going to come in November. When we have to get the current resident of Pennsylvania Avenue out of there and start working ground level to get to the higher level. We always want to start in the White House.

55:00

But we have to start locally, and changing our policies locally changing our policies in our counties and then change on state level and then it’ll move federally, but we always want to start federally, when the federal doesn’t hit us as much as local hits us first. And so hopefully, as people learn political influences as they learn financial literacy as they learn about education, and how that all transformed your entire life.

55:32

And I’m looking to all of these, you know, Tori, and Rebecca, and my children, that what I’m suffering now, they don’t have to suffer as much and that’s where the change is going to come in that next generation below me because we’re scientists, 20 years and I think Tory is 20 years younger than I am. That’s two generations removed for me. My children are right behind them. That’s where the change is going to be effective is within

56:00

Their generation.

56:02

And I don’t I don’t know if we’ll see anything big happening right now. But we’re definitely going to see some big in there.

56:10

Right.

56:11

good points. Rebecca, do you want to add something?

56:16

Yeah, and Joy made such good points. Um, I think it’s well known that communities of color are being hit the hardest by COVID-19. And

56:25

what I’m afraid of is kind of the sensational or sensational aspect of people’s attention spans and so becoming desensitized to it

56:37

and putting it on the back burner as other distractions come back as you were describing, you know, sports come back and all of these other, you know, exciting entertainment, entertainment things.

56:47

And I do see the underlying issue as systems which I was just talking about in the systemic racism aspect of it. I’m really glad that you pointed out local policies as being you know, one of biggest

57:00

starting points. I do think that this, this movement will have a long-term positive impact on

57:10

on closing a little bit the financial gap

57:15

between communities of color and, and historically white populations.

57:21

I think that in the near term, the short, the short-term losses for communities of color are going to be devastating to the point where it’s going to take a very long time for them to earn back.

57:34

You know, capitalizing on any progress that we make with the systems and because I think that we’re only going to be able to change a couple systems at a time and that’s even being sick. You know, depending on what happens in November too, it might be even longer than that. But I do think long term there will be positive ramifications for this, which is why it’s so important

57:54

that people participate and you know, make their voices heard because it will make a difference.

58:00

It might be hard to see it in the near term. You know, these things always take so much time. But you got to do it anyway, you got to start and keep going. Shonda did you get a chance to say anything on this topic? No, but my colleagues have definitely done a great job. I think what I want to add in though is we talk about systemic racism. And I think what people have to realize is, this isn’t just a black issue. It’s not just an indigenous issue. It’s not just the people of color issue. This is an all of us concept and thing that we have to get behind and support because our systems are failing communities of color.

58:39

We know that but we also have to acknowledge is that they’re actually failing all of us, right? Because we have low income people. We have people across the board who are falling through the cracks. And so what I want us to remember is when we are talking about Black Lives Matter, yes, we’re talking about the needs of a particular group that will benefit the masses and

59:00

I think that that’s the important focus to be on. And I’ll even go ahead and say, you know, during the 60s and when we had the beginning of the civil rights movement, that also opened the door for the beginning of the she kind of rights movement, the beginning of the LGBTQ movement. And so just acknowledging the solidarity that comes into this, when we begin to address these systemic problems, we see the intersectionality that’s involved with it, and that it’s not just one identity that we’re carrying, we carry multiple identities and we begin to address that we all benefit. I also just, again, thank you, Rebecca, for acknowledging that what’s going on, and communities of color right now with COVID. And I think it’s also important to note that there’s so much community organizing going on, especially in the Bay Area in particular, not being from the Bay Area. I can say people from Oakland I love the energy and spirit on right with there were fighters for what’s right. And so really acknowledging

1:00:00

Right now as we’re talking about what’s happening in schools, proud to see so many schools, taking police out of them, disrupting that school to prison pipeline and really supporting our children, because as you all said, it’s my generation, it’s the generation coming. It’s these amazing passionate Gen Z’s who are calling out racism and sexism, and all of those things that are happening in our world. And it really just comes back to that point, this is an us issue. We are all interconnected. And when we do right by one group of people we do right by all groups of people, and it’s really remembering that piece. So that’s where I’ll say I’m optimistic. I think we have to, you know, remember that policy changes also come with this. So I am an advocate for local government, holding your city council responsible holding your school boards responsible. Those things matter those things affect policy and change and really starting there and just shout out to all the members

1:01:00

organizations that are doing work right now to support and advocate for our youth, our children, their education, and also for them to use their voice because it can be really scary right now to stand up and be afraid you might lose a scholarship for college, if you’re speaking up against black lives matter. So these are really real things that we have to acknowledge in the realm and there’s so much more I could say on this topic, but I think that really encompasses where we’re at. Oh my gosh, okay. All right. So the audience was I write about these women. I am like, so energized listening to you all, I can’t even tell you. Thank you so much. We’re gonna have to end the podcast, unfortunately, but it has been a pleasure. And thank you.

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Episode 4: Young Women, Money and Black Lives Matter

My Chat With Joy, Tori, Rebecca And Reshonda

I’m very excited about this episode because I had the opportunity to reconnect with four of my former personal finance students from Mills College. As the call to address racial injustice and inequality in the United States and throughout the world grows louder and more urgent, I asked Joy, Tori, Rebecca and Reshonda to share their experiences and lessons learned navigating their financial lives as four independent women of color. I‘m so grateful for their generous contributions to this important conversation. 

During our chat, we touch on various financial challenges they’ve faced throughout their lives, from super-high interest rates on credit cards and car loans to not being able to easily open a checking account, and how an education in personal finance not only opened their eyes to the discriminatory practices of so many financial institutions, but gave them the confidence to start negotiating better terms for themselves. The ladies also talk about universal topics like imposter syndrome, learning to make better financial decisions, and celebrating wins. Finally, we discuss their hopes for the Black Lives Matter movement and how important it is to keep the momentum going, even after the world eventually returns to its pre-pandemic routine. 

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