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Meet The Entrepreneur Who Believes Wealth Is In The Mindset Of The Beholder

"Wealth has no dollar amount."

Money Talks

Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they spend it.

Samari Ijezie is the creator of The Female Economist, a platform created to challenge and disrupt the stereotypical gender norms within the financial industry while educating millennials of financial literacy. However, before founding this financial literacy company for women and marginalized millennials, she had a career in fashion and style as a model that started in her preteen years. Though she briefly kicked off her modeling career at the age of fourteen, it was short-lived because soon after high school, Ijezie decided to go off to college but later had to drop out during her freshman year due to not receiving financial assistance in the next term.

After reigniting her determination to excel, Ijezie eventually pursued getting her degree once more and later earned her dual degrees in Economic and Political Science from University of Massachusetts Amherst. Though crunching numbers and secretary duties were never easy to her due to her dyslexia, the current New York resident overpowered her disability to become an expert in finance as leverage to escape poverty. After multiple jobs in finance and accounting from a Massachusetts state agency to Spotify and Publicis, the Boston native eventually launched The Female Economist platform where users can learn through articles, courses, webinars and is soon creating a tool that matches individuals with their own certified financial advisor.

In this installment of "Money Talks", xoNecole spoke with Samari about splurging on much-needed vacation time, her alternative definition of wealth and success and having a scarcity mindset.

On how much she makes in a year and how much she saves:

"Each month, I try to save at least $5K. Because my monthly income varies each month from trading and brand gigs, I always ensure that I have at least $5K coming in on a monthly basis. I do have a Roth IRA. I like having this account because I can see the companies I have in my index fund."

On her definitions of wealth and success:

"Wealth has no dollar amount. Wealth is the amount of time that you can sustain with the amount of money that you have. In other words, how many days can you survive without working; living off your savings. I define success by someone accomplishing their goals and dreams."

Courtesy of Samari Ijezie

"Wealth has no dollar amount. Wealth is the amount of time that you can sustain with the amount of money that you have."

On the lowest she’s ever felt when it came to her finances and how she overcame it:

"The lowest I've ever felt with my finances is when I was in college. I personally was not making any money but also was acquiring loans to put myself through school. I was ignorant when It came to understanding money and personal finances. I overcame this by fully taking the time to understand personal finance. I worked on building my credit score. I used websites like Credit Karma to find the best credit cards to set myself up with to help build credit. I consolidated my loans and started paying them off on a monthly basis. After I fully took control over my personal finances, expenses and savings, I then began to invest."

On her biggest splurge to date:

"My biggest splurges are on vacations. I consider splurging money on experiences and memories to be comparable to an asset. Traveling to me helps me become a worldly person, and that is something that contributes to my education and knowledge. So, I do not mind spending thousands of dollars on a vacation where I am learning about the country's culture."

On whether she’s a spender or a saver:

"I consider myself a spender. I do splurge on unnecessary items. I do enjoy shopping and looking fly. However, if I buy expensive products/materials, if I cannot afford to buy it twice, I tell myself that I cannot really afford it. I am a spender because tomorrow is never promised, I could save millions, but If I never spent it, how can I truly enjoy being a millionaire? I train myself to properly manage money by spending money on things that help better my life. I rather spend thousands on opening an investment account that can allow my money to compound rather than spending it on designer, nightlife, or any other guilty pleasures that us millennials face."

Courtesy of Samari Ijezie

"I am a spender because tomorrow is never promised, I could save millions, but If I never spent it, how can I truly enjoy being a millionaire? I train myself to properly manage money by spending money on things that help better my life. I rather spend thousands on opening an investment account that can allow my money to compound rather than spending it on designer, nightlife, or any other guilty pleasures that us millennials face."

On her savings goals and what retirement looks like to her:

"My plan is to retire by 35. I have been working since I was 14 years old. So, retiring in my thirties is very important too. I will be able to fully retire when I have enough money that can allow me to not work. I do enjoy keeping busy, so by the time where I can retire, it won't be fully retiring, but doing things that I enjoy that continue to make me money."

On the importance of investing:

"Investing is very important to me. I invest by figuring out my goals. Some of my investment accounts are short-term investment goals and others are long-term. Depending on the financial product, I have different goals. When I trade options, I have the intent that I will make a short-term investment."

On her budgeting must-haves:

"In my budget, I do allocate money to doing the things I like which include food. I am a big foodie and take pride in eating very well. As everyone knows, to eat healthy is very costly. So I do allocate a monthly spending budget for food. I enjoy seafood which can be very costly, but that is something that I will spend money on because it makes me happy to eat well."

Courtesy of Samari Ijezie

"My mindset completely changed in regards to money. I used to have a scarcity mindset where I would tell myself at times I cant afford this or complain about my financial situation. Once I started reading more books and opening up my horizon when it comes to wealth and abundance, I started making more money. Wealth is truly in the mindset of the beholder."

On her intentions behind multiple streams of revenue:

"I created The Female Economist to have six streams of revenue. The first one is through ad revenue, affiliate marketing, e-courses, brand merch, membership, and consultancy. When I created this business, the business model was only through ad revenue, but as the demand increased for more objectives, the business structure changed to adapt to that. The intention of having multiple streams of revenue was purposely so the business would be able to function with or without me."

On unhealthy money habits and mindsets:

"My mindset completely changed in regards to money. I used to have a scarcity mindset where I would tell myself at times I cant afford this or complain about my financial situation. Once I started reading more books and opening up my horizon when it comes to wealth and abundance, I started making more money. Wealth is truly in the mindset of the beholder. I stopped using words like 'can't', and instead started saying, 'How can I afford this?'

"Growing up in a single-parent home, I had a lot of unhealthy ideologies when it came to money. I grew up in a household where it was us trying to make ends meet regardless so, as I aged, I always just had that scarcity mindset of I need these now because I may never be able to attain it again. As I became financially independent and literate, that changed."

For more of Samari, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of Samari Ijeze

Originally published on August 14, 2020

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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