Black Girls Rock: Talking Money With Our Next Generation
Black Girls Rock: Talking Money With Our Next Generation by Nicole Valentine, Esq.
Women and Girls rock in so many areas of our society. We are compassionate healers, passionate community activists, fierce mothers and sisters, creative and beautiful visionaries and critical thinkers and survivalists.
Beverly Bond tapped into this girl power and founded Black Girls Rock, a non profit based in New York, to empower inner city girls 12-17 through mentoring. Beverly’s idea of reminding the world how wonderful Black Girls are has become an awards show broadcast on BET and a summer camp (Queens’ Camp) where girls from around the world meet to learn, grow and make life long connections.
Beverly is a model, DJ, producer and entrepreneur. She is an example of how an idea can shape culture and create shifts in thinking. This summer Beverly hosted girls from many cities around the United States, South Africa, Liberia and London at Barnard College at Columbia University. When Beverly asked me to be speak about Money this year, I felt privileged to be a part of the village of women who are our next generation of leaders and global stewards.
As I prepared my notes for the talk, I thought about the times I’ve had conversations with friends, family or colleagues about money. On those rare occasions, it’s mostly a macro conversation – talking in larger economic terms. No one shares how much money they have in the bank. That’s personal. No one shares major money decisions. That’s personal. No one talks about that bankruptcy they filed years ago. That’s personal. No one shares how much they really paid for that big ticket item. That’s personal. No one talks about how much debt they’re in. That’s personal.
So I thought, why not be an open book? The only way we can teach money to our children is if we expose our wins, mistakes, aha moments and observations. I like starting conversations with the question, “How do you feel about?” In this session, we shared how we felt about money. Our list was long. For many, money makes us feel powerful, secure and happy. For others, money is a source of conflict, pain and confusion. I wanted to leave the girls with the pearl that money shouldn’t have power over you. If you understand why we have money and how it fits into our economic system, you are one step closer to becoming money confident.
When it comes to matters of money, studies have found that women are less confident about our abilities in the world of finance. A majority of the women who participated in the Prudential 2012-2013 study on The Financial Experience of Behaviors Among Women were primary breadwinners as a result of partners losing jobs during the financial crisis, divorce and deciding to marry later. Only 23% of the women surveyed felt “well prepared” to make financial decisions compared with 45% of men.
As our money conversation continued, the following pearls about money gave us greater confidence about moving forward towards a healthy financial future:
1. Learn Money: Since most of us didn’t have financial education class in high school, college or graduate school, our financial literacy comes from being self-taught or through baptism by fire. I encouraged the girls to create their own financial education curriculum based on their personal needs. For example, as they prepare for college, I recommend they create a list of the following types of financial products – Bank accounts, credit cards, auto loans, student loans and insurance. Next to each financial product, make a list of features like interest rates and any special terms like penalties for late payments or early prepayments. When they graduate and start a family, their list can grow with understanding mortgages and products like Roth IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts). If they start a career in finance or trade on the stock market, they will definitely gain understandings on advanced products like swaps, options, futures and complex structured products. Our conversation revealed that our children are getting educated about money and financial products by the businesses that benefit most from their miseducation. Since it’s our money, it’s up to us to take some time and learn a little more about it each day.
2. Watch Money: I shared a story about a Savings Challenge I had with a friend when we started our first jobs a decade ago. We committed ourselves to saving more and spending less. We shopped but not extravagantly. We cooked and brought our lunch to work. We looked at our wardrobes like uniforms – black suits, variety of blouses and black shoes. We traveled on public transportation and splurged on taxis only on special occasions. Our biggest spends were investments and contributions to non-profit organizations. We managed to each save way over $100,000. I realized during that time that when you simply pay attention to your money and have the intention of saving it, you will have a reward to show for that energy.
3. Grow Money: My observations about women and money come from advising women entrepreneurs and working in a career on Wall Street. Invention and creation are areas where women thrive. We are pioneers. We are problem solvers. We are creative thinkers. Those traits in and of themselves won’t make you a millionaire. For the money seeking woman, my advice – Build the Toll Road. When I advised a private equity firm in the purchase of four toll roads in one transaction, it hit me. If you want to make money, focus on being an owner of the company collecting the money. The company collecting the money created or owns the system that generates a return from the initial investment that was made by the pioneers and creators who built the road. Owners continue to generate money from the many consumers who must pay the toll to get from one place to their desired destination. I think about my journey of building an App and my plan to sell it in the Apple Store. Apple owns the toll road. If I want to sell my App in the Apple Store, I must pay them 30% per transaction for a paid App. Our odds of growing money are greater when we play the leading role of owner or creator vs the role of a consumer.
Our next generation of girls will be better than us. That’s what we should strive for. Our beautiful lives are not really beautiful if our girls coming behind us have less than us. Whether we have money, wealth, material items for days, my spirit leans towards how we treat each other and give to each other and love each other. The talk about money was about money and it was also about standing with our girls and giving them something to make them feel better, be better and confident with their giving and living.
Knowledge, pass it on. And please consider making a tax deductible contribution to www.blackgirlsrockinc.com.
You Rock, Valentine
Nicole Valentine, Esq. is the Founder and President of Synergy Business Development, Inc., a Strategic Consulting Firm focused on growing businesses through partnerships, mergers, acquisitions and global and national expansions.
More about her company can be found at www.synergybusinessonline.com. She is a Quarterback for Entrepreneurs and based in New York.