Duke University BA '16, Johns Hopkins University MA'19
Growing up, I had a love-hate relationship with money. As a Nigerian-born immigrant from the mean streets of suburbia Ohio, I watched my parents navigate the American financial system while raising three kids in a country they did not know. I observed that less money led to the lack of food in the fridge, less resources for school, and the absence of important needs. In contrast, the abundance of money met basic needs and allowed for enjoyment, but it also led to waste and over-indulgence when not handled correctly. During college, money I made through jobs on campus often slipped through my fingers because I didn’t know how to manage it well. I was afraid to not have much of it, so I accumulated it, but once I had it, I didn't spend it wisely.
To solve this problem, I decided to take a personal finance class in college. I remember sitting in that class feeling completely lost and intimidated because it seemed like I was the only one who was hearing all the fancy money words (401k, investing, high yield savings account, etc.) for the first time. I was also the only Black student in the room of about 40 students. Although I “took” this personal finance course, I still ended up walking blindly into around $90,000 of debt by the time I finished my undergraduate and postgraduate education. Post-college, the same money mishap trends continued as I tried to initially manage a minimal salary while paying off large amounts of debt.
These memories stick with me as I currently pursue personal finance knowledge while fully aware of the economic disparities in the United States. I do not want more students of color, specifically Black recent graduates, to experience personal finance struggles solely due to lack of knowledge. Hence the need for Freshly Minted Finance (FM). We aim to solve this issue through community, vulnerability, knowledge and application. FM has the tools and principles I wish I had after graduating from college and I only hope these tools help others!
It is not only Black lives that have been lost, but also Black livelihoods.
Duke University BA '17
In the late 1980’s, my parents left the beautiful island nation of Jamaica and settled in Queens, NY. Just like many others, they hustled to make better lives for themselves and their future children. And just like many other first-generation American children, I worked my tail off to attend a prestigious university and become the manifestation of my parents’ dreams. But I was faced with a big wake up call after graduation. Despite my fancy piece of paper (degree) I was still far behind most of my white counterparts financially. And I wasn’t alone. After graduating in 2017, I stumbled through my early adulting years: I put my loans into deferment because I was too intimidated to think about them, I moved to a new state for work, and I bought my first car after my current car gave up on me, all with a paycheck that was WAY smaller than I thought it would be.
I soon realized that there was so much my college education had failed to teach me. It was the language of personal finance and the experience of generational wealth. Due to years of systemic racism and disenfranchisement, millions of Black families were never afforded the chance to develop the skills or capital required for wealth-building and many don't even know what they are missing. My family is one of those. Though my roots stretch to Jamaica, much my life and experiences are here in America. Navigating life as an American-born, Black woman with Afro-Jamaican roots, I experience the racism, discrimination, and injustice that have been faced by Black people in this country for centuries. But I continue to benefit from the sacrifices, victories, and triumphs of the African Americans that have come before me as well. So when Tarela told me about her idea for Freshly Minted, it spoke to a fight I had already taken on. I know that it’s going to take a mighty move of Jesus Christ in the hearts of Americans to truly overcome racial and economic injustice. But it’s my hope that with Freshly Minted, we can be a part of that move by spreading knowledge and cultivating community so that all people, including Black people, can have a chance at equity and a better life.