It's one thing to be totally financially responsible for self, but it's a totally different ball game when you have little ones to care for. And the cost of parenting is far from cheap. Research shows that the average cost of raising a child through age 17 is more than $230,000. And while many parents happily do what they have to do to ensure their children are not only surviving but thriving, the cost reinforces the importance of grasping healthy concepts about wealth and money management and putting them into action.
Oftentimes, our mentality about money dictates how we use it, and the fact that Black people have endured decades of systemic racism, discriminatory employment and banking practices, and other historical societal horrors that affect how we get to the bag, many of us are actively dealing with the good, bad and ugly impact generations later. On one hand, the challenges have built habits of resilience, tenacity, initiative, and innovation, while on the other hand mentalities and habits centered on scarcity, overworking, overspending, and mismanaging of personal finances. Lessons have been learned from one spectrum to the other, one generation to the next.
There are communities of Black parents who are making changes that will not only empower themselves but their children and grandchildren, building off the foundation of their ancestors and strengthening financial fitness and power through action. They're taking deliberate steps to ensure their children's mindsets are balanced and prepared for financial prosperity.
Check out more on three such power women—mothers who have learned vital lessons about money management and financial freedom in their parenthood journeys—from becoming new moms to transitioning into empty nesters. They speak further about how they're changing narratives and raising children unafraid to think big and limitless about wealth:
Shifting Money Management Strategy Along the Way
Vioree Brandon-Nettlesford, the founder of Divine Enterprise L.L.C., was a divorced single mom and college student with her first son, navigating not only taking care of him but taking action to secure their future. Back then, she says, she wanted to focus on building up her savings because she wanted to "establish a firm foundation" for her son. "I didn’t want to live what I was taught which was, 'Buy, buy, buy, and don’t worry about tomorrow.'"
"I didn’t want to live what I was taught which was, 'Buy, buy, buy, and don’t worry about tomorrow.'"
Courtesy of Vioree Brandon-Nettlesford
Years later, she met her second husband and had more children, ushering in a dramatic change in her finances and how she'd handle money. "My story is a bit unique because I got married for the second time and then, my husband passed away. I found myself becoming a single mom again, and I actually became homeless," she recalls. "During our marriage, I had that old-school mindset that the husband works and [the wife] stays home. You don’t have to work. Re-establishing myself changed my perspective and my relationship with money because I realized I can’t teach my kids certain things I learned because it didn’t reap good fruit."
She also began working on establishing herself as an author and transitional life coach, creating streams of income for herself that would mean independence, empowerment, financial freedom, and a legacy for her family in the future.
She shifted back to a focus on saving and squirreling away funds to ensure she can meet the financial demand of taking care of her now-larger family and covering emergencies. She began planning more for the long-term versus the right now. "We’re looking at three different stages: My son is 20 years old now, and he's in his third year of college. He goes to a private institution. I did not save well with him like, for instance, with a 529 plan," she says. "I find myself now paying tuition of about $18,000 a year."
With her younger daughter, who will soon be a college student, Brandon-Nettersford changed up and created more of a strategic plan for financing her education. "I have a fund and now tap into scholarships for her because she’s a straight-A student and she goes to a military school. There are resources out there for you in whatever stage of [parenting] you’re in. It’s up to you to educate yourself and seek them out, and that’s what I began to do."
She also decided to be more collaborative with her children in setting a plan for their future. "I established a relationship and open communication with my children to help them understand what they want their future to look like. As parents, we have a plan for our children, but they also have a plan for themselves. It’s up to us to take accountability and responsibility and not to deflect our plans on them."
Honing In on Generational Wealth
Layo George, the founder of Wolomi, an online community and an app for expecting mothers, began planning for the birth of her son three years before he was born. "I knew I wanted to be able to breastfeed and stay home, and in order to do that, you have to be financially stable. I thought, 'What kind of pregnancy, post-partum, and first year did I want to have?' I began making choices with my husband in terms of finances. We wanted to make sure we were in a good space to carry out that idea. We didn’t want stress to impact our pregnancy or that first year of parenting."
Today her son is four, and while, she says, she does teach him about the concept of money, her focus is to give him a sense of what sustainable wealth-building is. "After he was born and we got past that first year, it was, ‘Well, what kind of life do I want for [my husband and I]? If you don’t think about yourself, in terms of taking care of things in your own financial journey, it’s hard to financially be there for a child."
"If you don’t think about yourself, in terms of taking care of things in your own financial journey, it’s hard to financially be there for a child."
Layo George, Founder, Wolomi
Courtesy of Wolomi
She and her husband began a process to tackle debt and tie up loose ends when it came to their own financial profile. Then, for her son's first birthday, they'd asked friends to put money into a 529 plan instead of giving the usual gifts. “I started learning a bit more about 529, and found that that wasn’t what I really wanted, so we opened an index fund account for my son. It’s not a lot of money because, as I said, [we were] focusing on [ourselves] as well," she adds.
George is also pursuing her own financial and career goals in helping other women through their pregnancy and post-partum journeys with the online community and tech resource she built. That, in turn, not only enriches her and her family's lives financially but provides an example of entrepreneurship that her son can learn from. "It's also [about] pouring into Wolomi in the hope that not only will we have this brand that will support women but it also is going to be something that can give us generational wealth so that my son can have the freedom we didn’t have."
"It's also [about] pouring into Wolomi in the hope that not only will we have this brand that will support women but it also is going to be something that can give us generational wealth so that my son can have the freedom we didn’t have."
Her parents are immigrants, and culturally, she says, there's a traditional sense of respectful obligation to take care of them financially in their golden years of retirement. While she understands the expectation and she and her husband are well prepared and happy to take on the responsibility, she says, "I don’t want that for my kid. I want him to not have to think about me, but about the bigger picture. It isn't just about one generation. There’s a limit to what I can do for him. It’s about putting him in a state where he’s able to multiply what I have. Then we can really start to build for our people.“
Making Financial Literacy Relatable and Empowering
Karen Stevens, the founder of Frugal Feminista, is also a huge proponent of redefining our relationships with money, and with a background in education, she relies on communication and teaching by example to instill certain values in her daughter. She takes her 6-year-old to the bank with her and allows her to see how the banking world works, even down to signing her own checks given to her by her grandmother. She also started a brokerage account for her daughter as soon as she received her social security card and contributes to a 529 account for her education.
She believes that today's parents can inspire their children to elevate their understanding of how money works and become more mindful of the conversations that are had about everyday financial scenarios. "For Black women, in particular, I think because we’re in a race-based society, some of us are quick to adultify our kids and bring them into conversations that they have no mental, emotional, financial ability to reconcile, and I think that [is detrimental] to their relationship with money," Stevens adds.
"For Black women, in particular, I think because we’re in a race-based society, some of us are quick to adultify our kids and bring them into conversations that they have no mental, emotional, financial ability to reconcile, and I think that [is detrimental] to their relationship with money."
Courtesy of Kara Stevens
Reframing dialogue and interactions in a way that allows children to understand from their own perspective, considering their age and development, is key, she says. "I don’t think it’s appropriate for a mom to say, 'We ain’t got no money,' or 'Your daddy’s gone. You're the man of the house.' Let's say maybe you lost your job. Instead of saying, 'We don’t have any money,' you can say, 'We’re going to really take care of the things we have because we have more than enough. What role can you play in taking the lead in putting your things away?' It lands differently."
She also believes that, as parents, it's important to guide children toward balanced and education-based conclusions about money and to highlight positive aspects of Black buying power, Black excellence in business, and Black wealth.
"As Black people, because we have been marginalized, we want to make sure that we don’t color our children’s lenses in the same race-based, wealth-based narrative. All Black people aren’t poor. All white people aren’t rich. It's about making sure that we give them–whether it be through books, online resources, or family members—the sense that Black people got it. We been had it. And if we don’t have it, we can get it. We need to give them a positive narrative about all things Black and a more nuanced understanding when it comes to money. Then, you’re able to raise a child that will be critically thoughtful about money, take more risks with money, and understand what their values are around money."
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On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Palmer, who made this admission during her latest Baby Its Keke Palmer podcast, has been with Jackson since 2021. After going public with their relationship on social media that same year, the couple embarked on various life-changing experiences together.
The list includes Palmer and Jackson professionally collaborating on a show called Sportsfan featured on the 29-year-old's network KeyTV. The pair also welcomed their first child, Leodis Jackson, in February 2023.
In the podcast with relationship expert Damona Hoffman, Palmer opened up about online dating and why she hated the experience prior to meeting Jackson, and the several qualities she loves about the actor.
Keke On Online Dating
During the May 2 discussion, the Nope star revealed that she didn't like online dating platforms such as Raya, an invite-only dating app, because she felt like she was networking with potential suitors rather than finding her significant other.
“I hate the online dating atmosphere. I think it kills your relationship or, or at least, it just makes it difficult, to some degree," said Palmer. "I’ve tried the dating apps, like, but the only one I really ever tried was Raya. It felt like I was at a f–king networking event when I actually did go out with the person that I was meeting on Raya.”
Palmer would add that when she was in the dating scene, she often preferred to meet a person through a mutual friend and exchange messages on social media, which was the case with how she met Jackson. Palmer and Jackson would reportedly cross paths in May 2021 during a Memorial Day celebration hosted by Issa Rae.
Keke On Darius’ Qualities
As the conversation shifted to manifestation and using it as a tool to visualize the type of partner a person wants, Palmer shared that before she and Jackson started dating, she wanted someone that met her specific needs.
Palmer's qualities in a partner included an individual that has a great relationship with their family, a person that doesn't fit the typical standards of being a man, and someone that doesn't take themselves too seriously, all of which Jackson fits.
“It’s so true because my partner is, in so many ways, everything. I mean, obviously not perfect. I’m not perfect. No one’s perfect. But it’s like you are literally everything I visualized, and I say that all the time to him and he’s like, ‘No way, Jose.’ And I’m like, ‘Yes way, Jose,’” she said. “I always wanted a man that was not so overly obsessed with being masculine, you know what I mean? Still had masculine energy, but also welcomed the softness that feminine energy can give. Somebody that’s had a good relationship with their mother, someone that didn’t take themselves too seriously, somebody that was a little bit, you know, cheesy and corny in all the right ways, but still knew how to dress and gave me a vibe every now and then.”
To this day, Palmer and Jackson continue to showcase that love and dating, when done correctly, can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience.
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