I am the most dynamic financial education speaker today and the author of four books on personal finance. When I decided that I wanted to improve my fiscal life I had no idea where to start. I bought a few books on personal finance from big names and I didn’t understand half of what they said. I used to read the book I was reading on one thigh and a dictionary on the other. It took me almost ten years to feel confident enough to start investing for retirement. I was afraid that I’d lose my money, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get it back if I needed it, and I was overwhelmed by the all jargon and concepts.
While running a high school truancy program in Philadelphia, I started explaining basic financial education concepts to the participants. Students started asking really good questions and I included as much I could within the truancy curriculum that was provided. Eventually, our funders ran the numbers and found out that my site (there were 24 throughout the city) was helping students want to go to class more than other sites. They came in one day, and saw my facilitators talking about personal finance. Since that wasn’t part of the curriculum, they wondered what was going on. Once I explained how talking with students about financial goals, and how to reach them, was helping they asked me to write a financial education piece into the program.
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2007 I decided to start Bigger Than Your Block. My company works to help people just like me learn the basics of personal finance. Over the last nine years I’ve worked with everyone from elementary school students in afterschool programs and transition age youth to college students and young professionals.
The financial education curriculum I created and delivered for high school students with SCE Credit Union helped students score in the top 20% nationwide. One of my students scored so well that he earned a $1,000 scholarship from the Charles Schwab Foundation and another $1,000 grant for his school.