In this episode of the Payactiv Podcast, we’re talking with Michelle Jackson about why it’s important to have uncomfortable financial conversations, find a financial community, and a whole lot more. Michelle is host of the podcast, “Michelle is Money Hungry” where she discusses all things personal finance and entrepreneurship. Have a listen to our conversation or continue reading below.
Okay, everyone. Now we are here with my very good friend Michelle. We have done a few podcast recordings together over the years. So I’m glad to be back on the mic with you. Michelle is a money expert, and has a wealth of knowledge on this topic. So Michelle, could you tell everyone a little bit about your website and your podcast and how you got going into the online money world?
So first, thank you so much, Eric, for having me on the show. I actually like to say that I am not a financial expert, but that I’m an expert at holding financial conversations. I run a website and podcast called Michelle is Money Hungry. It’s an award winning show.
I’ve done a lot of work around personal finance, equity, and weirdly enough, pop culture events that generate conversations around money. I got into this space, because I found myself having a couple of things come together and happen [in my life].
One, I just felt like I wasn’t getting ahead with my money and I was really frustrated because it felt like I was the only person struggling with these issues. But then I also had something happen that really impacted me and highlighted the fact that I wasn’t the only person dealing with this situation, which was, my mom lost her job. This was years ago, but at the time it was a big deal. I was in graduate school, I was at Starbucks part time and I ended up having to support both of us on Starbucks money and student loans and it was a really stressful, eye-opening experience.
I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about other people in my world. I learned about the fact that more than 51% of African American women will, at one point in time or another, find themselves as financial caregivers for either a friend or a family member. So I wasn’t alone in having this experience but it felt like I was because this was at a point in time where we weren’t always online talking about financial conversations and things that were happening to us.
So it was a really lonely experience. And so, years later, after that had passed, I still hadn’t rebounded financially. I was still having a lot of problems with money, I still had a financial impact from that moment in time, and I fell in love with personal finance blogs, and the rest was history. So yeah, that is the short and quick of it.
Yeah, so we just finished a conversation with Wilson, who is a man of color. So you’re a woman of color. So you probably have some unique views and insights into challenges that people of color face every day in the economy. So in your perspective, you’ve had a lot of financial conversations. What do you see as the biggest challenges? People have, you know, all people of color are facing in the economy, not just women?
I mean, this is a really broad question. I actually think that this is a policy issue that impacts all Americans. So an example of this would be, what is our policy for medical leave? What’s our policy for vacation time? Things like that. So there’s a lot of financial policy that could really be helpful to people of color, so that they and all other Americans, quite frankly, so that we aren’t in the position of making choices that would hurt our wallet. Here’s an example of that.
In other countries, there’s an actual mandated federal level designation on how many days off you can have a year. You don’t have to make a determination as to whether or not you should go to work sick or not, like that’s just not something that exists. And a lot of other Western countries in particular, including our neighbor to the north, like Canada, or some of our favorite countries that we like to visit overseas, like France and the UK. And these in France and the UK, in particular, are countries that are similar in terms of demographics, very diverse populations. They may not be as large as the US but they’re similar in a lot of ways.
I’ve lived in France before. I was amazed to see how people were able to make decisions that were healthy for them and that didn’t negatively impact their wallet. So an example of this is, if you’re sick, you can just stay home and get better versus going to work sick. You don’t lose your pay. And so there’s just a lot of policies that I think could help all Americans regardless of color, but that really negatively impact people of color, depending on the type of work that they do.
We saw at the beginning of the pandemic, where a lot of people were working front facing jobs, they were working in restaurants, or in the event industry, things like that. And they really struggled because everything shut down and that was a huge problem.
Now that this reminds me of an actual story that I encountered. I worked in a restaurant for a short while and I remember one time I had a coworker, she was a single mom, a Latina woman, and she came in with a cold. And she said, “I don’t feel good. I wish I could just be in bed”. I said, “Why don’t you go home and get in bed and feel better?”. She’s like, “I need the money! I need money, I need to be here, I need to work the shift”. So that was before COVID. So it’s a real thing. I know people make that decision every day.
So if you were in the shoes of a household, let’s say you are a single mom out there, a single mom of color with a couple of kids, and you’re struggling with finances, what advice would you have to that, to that household to maybe try to improve their financial situation?
So I want to first say that you are seen and that I see how hard you’re working. I think a lot of people really don’t understand how hard it is to be a single parent, to navigate childcare needs, and the necessities that you need, as well, and wants and all those kinds of things.
But first and foremost, I would say find a community of people. And nowadays, it’s really cool, because you can find them on Facebook, you can find them on Twitter. Find a community of people who believe in the financial vision that you have for yourself. So if you are believing and wanting and, and dreaming towards a really financially healthy life, but perhaps the people around you are like talking down your vision, let them talk down your vision, because you’ve found a group of people somewhere else who 100% unequivocally believe in what you’re trying to do.
So I would say initially find a community of people who believe in what you’re trying to do. Start looking for resources that will help stretch your dollar, and give you access to the things that you want. Examples of that– and before I speak further, my parents divorced when I was young, my mom raised me as a single parent. And these were some of the things that she did that really impacted my life in a positive way.
Any scholarship or grant that she saw that was available for camps, for childcare, for education, for any kind of program. She always applied for those scholarships and grants for private school. Anything out there, she signed up for. And it is amazing to me, all of the programs that I was able to participate in, because my mom put my name down on lists because she filled out the application. So always be filling out those applications that cross your path because you would be shocked at how few people are actually filling out those scholarship applications. Those grants. So definitely be on the lookout for those programs.
And sometimes it’s not obvious. So, say for example, you’ve got little girls, it’s Girl Scout season as we speak right now and you’d like them to participate in sleepaway camp during the summer. Reach out to the Girl Scouts and ask them “What are the scholarship programs that you have available for this?” and they will provide that information.
Maybe there’s a local camp. I’m in Colorado, I went to Camp Chief Ouray in Winter Park, Colorado. I went for free. I got a scholarship for the entire summer, eight weeks. So start reaching out now if you’re listening to this in early spring. But there are a lot of resources out there for you. Take them. Apply for them. Seek them out.
The next thing I would do is be very intentional about how you raise your compensation and your overall wage. I think that a lot of times people will feel compelled to stay somewhere because they like their coworkers. But your co-workers can’t pay your rent. They can’t. So when you’re looking to change jobs, change careers, you have to lead with your needs first. And when you change your job, that’s when you build in your raise.
So no one is saying that you have to change a job and have it be a similar wage to the one before. You can build a significant income by thoughtfully changing your jobs. So don’t become complacent in the roles that you’re in. Right now is a great time to change jobs, be thoughtful about how you do it. Don’t quit and not have something lined up. Always have something lined up. But build in 12, 15, 20, 30% raises because you’ve left a career or left a job that’s run its course and it’s time for something new. It’s nothing personal. If people are friends at your old career, at your old job, you’ll still hang out with them later. But if they’re not, it’s okay, you’ve got more money.
That’s great advice. Those are all really, really good and important insights. So let’s turn the tables a little. Rather than talking to the families in the households who are having financial struggles. I know there are some corporate executives out there listening from HR and the C-suite. So if you were going to give some advice to those leaders on what they could do to help their financially underserved employees better thrive and succeed, what would you say to them?
Costco. So, you’re probably thinking, “Why did she bring up Costco?”. Costco has one of the happiest communities of workers in the nation. Their retention rates are high. People have really good investment vehicles made available to them. And they pay people well, and people are happy to go to work there. You can create a business where you treat people well. You pay them well. You provide resources like health insurance and vacation time and the ability to invest for retirement, and people will still work for you.
Not everyone wants to work in tech. Right? Not everyone wants to work from home. A lot of people are perfectly happy and really fulfilled working with people. In another lifetime I would love to own a coffee shop. I love coffee shops. I love talking to people. I love face to face. But if I owned a coffee shop, and I employed people, there’s just a minimum I have to pay them. So that they’re happy too. And they can geek out with me about coffee. And in fact, in the city of Denver, where I’m from, there’s a coffee shop that’s known for raising all of the baristas wages, to a livable wage $50,000 and they’ve done very well. They’ve been thriving, even after COVID.
I think that there’s some assumptions that people make about how you can’t have a happy and thriving business and happy and thriving workers and that’s just not that’s just not true. It’s just not true. So what I would say is you can build the company that you want to work for. You can advocate for people who are your employees, you can have wage transparency, that isn’t like a problem.
So I’m in Colorado. If I were to look for jobs right now, I’m going to be penalized because Colorado passed a law saying, “Hey, we would just like for you to share a range of what the wages are so that people are negotiating in good faith”, right? And now, Coloradans are dealing with a problem. We weren’t even aware of this law, until people started bringing up the fact that they were being told they couldn’t apply for jobs. Don’t be that guy. Be transparent, be helpful, be happy to bring people on board. This is not 1600. Okay, this is not feudal England. Capitalism, still will keep on trucking, you still can make money, keeping people happy. And so again, I will say, Costco.
Eric Rosenberg :
That’s a great example. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. I’m so excited that you were here and enabled us to spend a little time during Black History Month, could you give us a little insight on where we could find you if someone wants to connect or learn more.
Thank you guys. Thank you again, Eric, for having me on the show. And hopefully the comments made sense. You can find me on my website and podcast. Michelle is Money Hungry. I have that name so that it can make you feel okay about wanting more money in your life, not to be greedy, but because you want to do good for yourself, invest for the future, help other people out. I’m also on Twitter quite a bit actually. So you can find me on Twitter @michlovesmoney. So again, thank you so much for having me.
Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Athena Lent of “Money Smart Latina” and Eric...
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