Credit Union Times

You guys know how much I respect and appreciate the work that credit unions do, right? Well, I’m honored that the Credit Union Times has included me in a story about getting students engaged in financial education. Whoo hoo!

Read “Pop Culture and Field Trips Drive Home Personal Finance Lessons“.

“So many of the financial education courses focus so much on the theory and academia of it that kids just shut down,” said Shay Olivarria, a credit union board member, speaker and author of 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money-Small Changes Make a Big Difference.

“Instead of telling them about a bunch of terms, present the information from where they are at. Otherwise they’ll just tune you out because they’re thinking, ‘You have no idea of the life I lead,’ and that doesn’t make them want to save.”

Read the full article here.

Retirement Survey

I’m working on a new article on retirement savings and I’d love to have your help. I’ve put together a really short (9 questions) anonymous survey on retirement planning. Please take a moment and share your experiences.

Also, I’d love it if you would pass it on. The more data, the better.




I had the pleasure of closing out my Cross Country In A Ford adventure in San Diego. I delivered a free workshop entitled, “10 Money Tips for Students” based on my new book 10 Things College Students Need to Know About Money. We laughed, we cried, we …. well… we didn’t cry, but you know what I mean. You can view more of the workshop, see what vendors were there, and hear what participants had to say by visiting the Cross Country In A Ford site.

Here’s a clip from the workshop about finding a loan:

5 Things to Do Before You Commit

Before you decide to marry or live with someone else there are a few things you need to do:

Talk about how you feel about money
As much as we want to believe that the way we handle our money is solely based on logic, that’s just not true. What we have experienced leads us to have beliefs about money, and the way we use it, that may or may not be logical at all. Don’t assume that you know how your partner feels.

Pull up all 3 credit reports
It’s a dirty job, but it’s got to be done. Both of you need to pull up your credit reports and talk about what you owe to whom. Some of us don’t even have a clear idea of how much money we owe in student loans, credit cards, store cards, mortgages, car loans, cell bills, etc. so it’s difficult to let someone else know what kind of situation they are getting into. Pull the reports. Make a plan.

Decide how you’re going to split the bills
As I stated in Money Matters, you can’t just think that each of you will pay 50% of the bills and everything will be okay. Does one of you make more than the other? Does one of you spend more than the other? I’m a firm believer that bills should be paid according to percentage of income instead of 50/50. If one of you makes $1,500 a month, one of you makes $2,500 a month, and the total bills are $2,000 a month then the one making less money will only have $500 of discretionary cash while the other will have $1,500 discretionary cash. Don’t less resentment break up a good thing.

Choose 1 person to responsible
All of your bills will, more than likely, have different due dates. Though both of you should be actively involved in paying bills, saving for retirement, creating an emergency fund, etc. one of you needs to be responsible for making sure the bills are paid on time every month. You can choose to rotate on a monthly basis, have each person be responsible for specific bills, or assign one person that overall task, but don’t try to juggle each due date. Late payments create extra fines and lower credit scores.

Have an emergency plan
The only constant is change. I’m not sure who originally said it, but I say it all the time. If you’re together long enough one of you will lose a job, both of you will lose friends and family members, and there may be kids involved at some point. If you start talking about the “what-if”s now, you’ll be more prepared to deal with them when they occur.

Relationships are great, but you also have to be realistic. Money is #1 reason couples break up in America. Don’t let your wonderful partner become your hated ex over a few dollars.

Creditors Use Facebook Too

I just read that some collection agencies are turning to Facebook to locate debtors. I’m more surprised than anything. Not surprised that creditors would use such a tactic, surprised that #1 they haven’t thought of this earlier and #2 that people would fall for it.

From the article, the creditors pose as an attractive person and send the debtor a friend request. The debtor chooses to add the new friend and then the debtor has access to your:
– address
– place of employment/business
– phone number/cell number
– evidence of your behavior ( you tell them you can’t pay, but you’re taking trips and buying things)

Here are some things that creditors can and can’t do based on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Download the whole FDCPA verbage from the government here.

Think twice before you add a new friend on Facebook.

What Happened to Shay?

We went from Los Angeles to Atlanta and back in a 1994 Ford Aspire! Talk about adventure! LOL

I know it’s been a while since I posted on Bigger Than Your Block. For those of you that don’t know, I spent my summer driving cross country in a 1994 Ford Aspire to promote financial literacy! I know! Awesome, right? We had a great time and you can read more about my full adventures at Cross Country In A Ford.

In case you don’t have time to check out the full site, here’s the short version:
Left Los Angeles
Visited community college in Phoenix
Tire blew out in Alburquerque
Made it into Memphis and had Danika tell me I’m crazy for couch surfing
Tire almost blew in Jackson, Tn. Went to Wal-Mart to fix it and sold a book
AWESOME book signing at Nubian Books in Atlanta and the whole Atlanta trip was terrific
Visited HBCU row in Atlanta
Had two events in Jackson, MS and was interviewed on Naked Conversations Radio
Car died in Jackson, MS
Had first couch surfing adventure in Jackson, Ms with Pedro
Had second couch surfing adventure in Alexandria, La
Blew another tire on the 20W and spun out. Ended up on the other side of the service road and had to have the car towed into Dallas.
Visited Dallas and Ft. Worth and delivered a workshop to Promise House and did a book signing at The Dock Book Shop
Had our third couch surfing adventure in El Paso with Luis
Attended the Los Angeles Black Book Expo
I’m scheduled to deliver a free workshop for college students in San Diego Sept. 11

Read about the whole adventure here.

Whew! One last event and I’m done. Well, with the “official” financial literacy tour. I’m glad that I was able to meet so many people and that so many people were able to learn a bit more about personal finance. So many folks followed our adventures that I’ve decided to created a DVD and a book about all our adventures! The project has been accepted on to help us raise funds to create the DVD. I’m thrilled so many people are interested in personal finance and my work.

If you love my work, realize that I do it all for my community, my folks, mi gente. I’m just a kid from poverty that wants to help others avoid the money mistakes that I have made and that I’ve seen others make over the years.