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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