Welcome to our Personal Finance Bloggers of Color interview series!
Our goal with this series is to highlight the experiences and perspectives of people of color in terms of money and personal finance topics, as these voices are often underrepresented.
This interview features Jerry from Peerless Money Mentor.
1. Please introduce yourself by telling us about your background.
My name is Jerry. I was born and raised in South Baton Rouge, La. During my formative years I attended schools that had a 99% Black student population, with the exception of middle school.
After graduating from high school, I attended the University of New Orleans for a week, until hurricane Katrina interrupted my plans. It destroyed a lot lives, so I am fortunate that it only caused me to make a few minor adjustments.
Because of this, I relocated back to Baton Rouge, La, where I attended LSU for a few years. Then, after growing bored with my hometown, I transferred back to the University of New Orleans.
There I graduated with two undergraduate degrees: Business Administration and Management with an IT concentration.
2. When and from whom did you acquire knowledge about personal finance?
I acquired a lot of knowledge about personal finance from my father. While growing up, he would always try to give me lessons about the importance of saving money.
He would share with me stories of how when he was growing up, he’d have to wear his shoes until they fell apart. To be honest, his frugality stories bored me to tears.
As a teenager, the main thing I cared about was being cool in the eyes of my peers. I ignored his advice. To show him I cared nothing about his stealth wealth lectures, I purchased a Tommy Hilfiger shirt one day.
When he saw it, he bombarded me with a bunch of questions like:
- How does wearing someone else’s name on your shirt make you feel?
- What more important things could you have spent your money on?
These questions really annoyed me. It just made me want to spend more of my money on material things to keep up with my peers. The next purchase of mine would be a silver dog tag chain with a picture of my mom and me as a baby engraved on the tag (take that dad!).
Another lesson of his I ignored was putting money into a black bank. My father believed strongly in supporting the people in your own community. While I didn’t have a problem with supporting people in my own community, I felt at the time it was more convenient for me to have a Hibernia account (now Capital One).
Here is why:
- Hibernia had more ATMs; when I traveled, I could easily access my funds
- They had more locations compared to the bank my father chose to do business with
While not listening to his advice on where to put my money did not cause me any harm, ignoring his advice to save money did. As a result, I would end up in the not so secret group Broke Phi Broke later.
3. Do you feel that your race/cultural background has impacted your life in terms of personal finance? How so?
From experience, I have learned that most African-American households are risk averse when it comes to investing. None of my closest friends learned anything from their parents about this subject.
Although my father spoke to me a lot about the importance of savings, when it came to investing, he considered it a form of gambling.
I think this lack of trust in institutions can be attributed to the following:
- Past discrimination – For a long time, Black people were not allowed to invest in the markets
- A lack of discretionary income
- Not understanding how investing works
To overcome this resistance to investing, I think a comprehensive financial education is required. One that will allow people of color to learn how to build wealth, grow their legacies, and improve their communities.
4. How did you become interested in personal finance? What made you want to start a blog?
Even though I ignored my father’s financial advice, I have always been somewhat interested in personal finance. As an avid reader of personal growth books, one of the first books I was exposed to was Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.
After reading it though, I failed to follow Dave’s advice (I am truly hard headed), and I ended up broke.
Because of this, I decided to write a blog documenting my journey from broke to financially woke. There I write about the tools and principles I used to escape Broke Phi Broke, so I could build wealth and grow my legacy.
5. What advice would you give to others with a similar background?
To those who have similar backgrounds as myself, I would tell them to never feel less than anyone due to the color of their skin. As an avid reader, I have read a lot of books where scientists questioned the intelligence of Black people.
They would use pseudoscientific “evidence” to corroborate their false claims. Ignore them. This type of logic was used to justify slavery in America.
Whenever you feel down about yourself, remember these powerful words from Carter G. Woodson.
“If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.”
Then go out and do whatever is in your power to crush all of your goals!
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