She's helping rebuild Black wealth!
Tiffany Odochi Aliche, known as "The Budgetnista," is the instant New York Times bestselling author who has helped thousands of women save more than $250 million and pay down more than $200 million since she began her journey into financial education. She has used her own experiences as a teacher and someone who lost everything in the Great Recession of 2009 to guide others to financial wholeness. She's an award-winning financial educator who turned the lessons she learned from her financial hardships into a platform, blog, and books, helping others learn and do better.
Her "Dream Catchers," those who have followed her into her Live Richer Academy, have impacted her teaching, inspiring her to write "Get Good with Money: 10 Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole." Aliche says her background as a preschool teacher has greatly informed the way she teaches people financial literacy. She told Because Of Them We Can, she uses the skills she learned as a preschool teacher to teach people the 10 core fundamentals of financial wholeness to grow financially in a holistic way.
"I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. And what I'm realizing is that the commonality is that when I'm when you're teaching preschool, it is about providing the fundamental foundation for education," she said. "I'm still providing the fundamental foundation. But for financial education, I'm not teaching people how to trade options or how to invest in real estate. Those things are great. But I'm here to say here are the fundamentals so you can do those other things solidly. [I am] creating resources that help people who are wanting those fundamentals."
As the coronavirus impacted the Black communities' wealth at higher rates than other demographics, Aliche felt it was imperative to find a way to create an accessible guide for everyone to find ways to save, keep, and grow their wealth.
Having wealth, not just money, is essential, especially during times of crisis. Wealth can be used as savings to reduce the impact of temporary setbacks like sickness, lack of employment, or natural disasters that may impact income from work. Unfortunately, the Black-white wealth gap continued and grew, during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving Black households with far fewer resources. However, the wealth gap was a problem before the pandemic. In 2019 studies showed the median white family held $188,200 in wealth—7.8 times that of the typical Black household. This is where The Budgetnista wants to bridge the gaps.
"I realized there were 10 core components, and I call it financial wholeness because I wanted to see my Dream Catchers succeed holistically," Aliche said. "Not just, 'Oh, my credit score!' 'Oh, my savings!' I wanted them to have all of the components of financial wholeness, not just one or two. So, it was seeing Dreamcatchers starting to struggle during quarantine and the pandemic, and watching people succeed but not holistically: financially."
In her book, Aliche uses stories from her life to impress upon readers the lessons she wants them to take away.
"One of the things growing up in a [Nigerian] household was that you learn a lot through storytelling. And I recognize even as being a preschool teacher how powerful storytelling is as an educator. I continue telling my story of all that I've been through and the stories of the people I've helped. It's helped me get folks to understand that there is light at the other side of the tunnel," she said. "I grew up in a household where these types of lessons were taught. I had this underlying story that I get to illustrate from that. People might not remember all the facts and figures, but they remember stories. I use story a lot to help illustrate the lesson because it drives it home."
The 41-year-old has used her storytelling to create financial lessons for adults and children throughout the years. She partnered with Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight to pass "The Budgetnista Law A1414" in New Jersey, making it mandatory to teach financial education in middle and high school. She also released her children's book, "Happy Birthday Mali More" in 2019 to bring financial literacy to children.
At this time, her work is vital — Black households loss their median wealth from 2007 to 2010 during the Great Recession. Black people saw a 28 percent decline in wealth for the median Black household. Although white wealth has begun to rebound since the recession, Black households continued to fall. Wealth declined by 23 percent from 2010 to 2013.
The author said that one thing that is important in getting over the hump to being financially whole is changing your mindset.
"Without the mindset, the money will not follow you. So that part is so important to get the mindset component. If you're still thinking the same way, I can show you all the ways to budget, and you might know all those things. If you're still thinking the same way, you will eventually revert to the same person you were financially," Aliche said. "I have you ask yourself what are some of the incorrect financial voices that are in your head and who do they come from? Reset to have a mindset that's not one based on shame or fear but positivity and hopefulness. It's important to reset and think of a life of abundance, not a life of lack. So these are examples of what you practice."
As the pandemic wages on and the Black community contends with higher unemployment rates and the threat of our collective wealth dropping to zero by 2053, there needs to be a drastic change. As we encounter lower levels of wealth due to the pandemic, continued labor disparities, and the need for access to emergency savings and other assets, it is crucial to building generational foundations for wealth.
"Here's a thing that makes financial wholeness so critically important. It is the foundation for the rest of the things you're going to do with your money. So if I can get you there, it does not matter what you do for a living; it does not matter how much you make. You can achieve financial wholeness no matter where you are in life, how old you are, or what your career path is," Aliche said. "It was important to me that the financial wholeness was inclusive because so many of us, especially black women, are left out of financial conversations and the ability to support ourselves and our family financially. Financial wholeness is a resource inclusive of black women because it was created by black women specifically with them in mind."
As financial history month comes to an end, Aliche said she wants people to continue following their dreams regardless of where they are right now.
"The thing about your dreams is that you never have to go totally toward that. They always meet you on the way your dreams literally keep that same energy. The more you put the work toward them, the more they put the work towards you. When you stop, they stop," she said. "I promise you that you will make some iteration of that dream happen. That's just the way life works. So many of us don't get what we're wanting because we're too afraid to say that we're wanting it and too afraid to work toward it. Don't let that be you. If you don't do anything else, make your dream, think your dream, speak your dream and then walk toward it."
To learn more about creating financial wholeness, you can buy her book here, check out her website, and listen to her podcast.
Financial wholeness is our birthright, grab it!
Photo Credit: Tiffany Aliche