Fundamental Dollars and Sense

Me'Shae Rolling
October 30, 2018
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I am a poster-child for the need to have an education in financial literacy. My personal financial journey started many years ago living and working as a young professional in New York City.

In spite of earning graduate degrees and having well-paying jobs, my husband and I pondered, “Why aren’t we getting ahead financially?” We discovered that the answer had more to do with not being having a financial education beyond what we observed growing up than with the everyday expenses of residing in The Big Apple. This led me to writing the book, How To Save Money & Organize Your Finances: Tales of an Urban Consumer (2006). I was subsequently afforded the opportunity to teach financial literacy to middle-class faculty and staff at Penn State University, as well as at the church I belonged to just before the Great Recession occurred. Over ten years later, I am actively proliferating the Syracuse area community with the basics of money management.

'My perspective on the importance of having solid training in this area continues to be rooted in personal experience. I have faced unemployment as a result of being downsized three times in my 22-year career due to an office closure and grant reductions. I am also well acquainted with underemployment—or not having enough work and income relative to living expenses. I have also endured employment overextension—or being asked to perform work far beyond the scope of my compensation or job description. I have been in debt, enjoyed the blessing of a handsome salary, relished the freedom from financial bondage by becoming debt-free, and am now experiencing growth in net worth through the hard work of entrepreneurship and business franchise ownership.

It is my fundamental belief that financial literacy education is essential for all walks of life—from low-to-moderate income individuals, to the middle class, to the affluent. For those with a low-to-moderate income, the question after being exposed to financial education invariably becomes “Where has financial literacy been all of my life?” For upwardly-mobile middle-class individuals, time and money are constantly pitted against each other and one’s salary can be a façade as money seems to come in to the household and fly back out just as fast. In fact, if one doesn’t take the time to budget and “count the beans,” wealth never accumulates. When considering the affluent, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of living above one’s means and equating a high salary with net worth. But have you ever heard stories of the blue-collar wage earner in the services industry who suddenly, seemingly out-of-the blue, donates an enormous sum of money to their favorite charity? The key here is stewardship regardless of how much or how little one makes.

I have “touched” at least 1,000 people in Syracuse over the last 10 years working as a hybrid professional, and the curriculum I have created addresses and encompasses 360 degrees of financial education. I include topics that are often overlooked, such as “My relationship with money” and “Becoming Financially Organized,” before ultimately delving into more hefty topics such as handling debt and credit. Because time is money and money is time, I also couldn’t neglect the topic of maintaining a “Work/Life Counterbalance”—as I like to call it—as well as “Lifestyle Design.”

Now that I am more fully engaged in my passion, I intend to help move the needle on poverty, asset accumulation, entrepreneurship and wealth-building for diverse populations through a FUN-damental approach to financial literacy education.