By Patrick Huston

Jacent Wamala’s family pushed her to follow what they considered the American dream. All things considered, that was important for why they moved to the United States from Uganda — so she could set off for college, get married, have kids, succeed. She did those things. Be that as it may, following 26 years here, she had obtained something different: huge debt. Ms. Wamala chose to make a reimbursement plan, and she utilized her Instagram feed to keep herself responsible, logging her advancement through posts and stories.

Before she knew it, she had gained more than 15,000 followers, many of whom came from backgrounds like hers and had had similar experiences.

“I got divorced and lost my father while I was in grad school,” Ms. Wamala said. “Because money wasn’t something we talked about heavily growing up, it was during that time that I accumulated the majority of my debt, which was student loans and credit cards.”

Now a licensed therapist in Las Vegas who has paid off over $90,000 in debt, she motivates her followers to develop a good relationship with money.

Ms. Wamala, 31, is part of a wave of Black, Indigenous and people of color influencers who are using their hard-won financial know-how to help others from disadvantaged communities reach their money goals, advising them on how to achieve debt freedom, save for retirement and build generational wealth — whether they are middle class or aspiring to be.

Ms. Wamala is especially eager to work with people of color and other first-generation immigrants, because in her view, the mind-set many people grew up with can be limiting. “There is trauma around money,” she said.

Personal finance podcasts, blogs, Instagram profiles and YouTube channels dedicated to people of color have proliferated over the past few years, making best-selling authors out of some and helping others develop clientele willing to pay for their advice.

“We have seen this area of BIPOC content creators explode with the social media platform explosion,” said Jessica Bufkin, the chief executive of FinCon, a convention for personal finance content creators. On YouTube, uploads of videos with the terms “how I paid off,” “investment,” and “student loans,” grew more than 50 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to data from the video-sharing platform.

Many of these influencers believe nontraditional ways of investing and earning income can help marginalized communities, which have endured generations of financial shocks. “There are ways to shift from that place of disadvantage to taking advantage of the possibilities in front of you,” Ms. Wamala said. According to an analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Black and Hispanic families are less likely than white families to own assets like homes, businesses and investment accounts, and when they do, those assets typically have lower values than those of whites.

The analysis, of data gathered in 2019, found a particularly stark gap in the median net worth between white and Black families. The typical white family had about $184,000 in assets, while the typical Black family had $23,000. The Fed study cited some of the factors influencing Black families’ economic marginalization: the massive land grant under the Homestead Act of 1862 that went almost entirely to white Americans, and redlining, which led to Black Americans being denied access to mortgages and homeownership — an important step in building wealth.

Mandi Woodruff-Santos and Tiffany Aliche, co-hosts of the podcast “Brown Ambition,” decided they wanted to help women of color learn how to budget and get out of debt after the pair met at a conference for finance bloggers in 2014. Ms. Woodruff-Santos brought her experience as a personal finance editor, and Ms. Aliche brought hers as a teacher in Newark, and they have changed the content over the years as their followers’ questions have expanded. “You don’t have to subscribe to the conventional way of working a 9 to 5 and collecting your Social Security and making that work — you can work beyond that,” Ms. Woodruff-Santos said. “It’s really building wealth that will outlast you, that will live beyond you for your children and for your children’s children.”

The “Brown Ambition” audience is “looking at retirement in a nonconventional way,” said Ms. Aliche, who has been among the speakers at FinCon. “They want to either retire early or they want to build a life they don’t necessarily want to retire from.” In their podcast, Ms. Woodruff-Santos and Ms. Aliche preach the importance of having life insurance and opening brokerage accounts for children, among other strategies. Taking control over one’s finances to achieve freedom now, rather than at some far-off future time, is a key theme for many influencers.

Julien and Kiersten Saunders, creators of the blog Rich & Regular, go so far as to call “retirement” the “R word.” Gaining that independence is crucial now, they say, not just after 65. And they encourage their audience, which they reach on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to look at out-of-the-box ways of doing so. “Minority communities are obsessed and focused on earning more income through their jobs,” said Mr. Saunders, 41, who with his wife started giving personal finance advice in 2017. “We’re pointing them toward passive income that doesn’t require the middleman, permission or promotion.” Passive income could come from renting property or, for digital creators like themselves, through sponsored content, he said.

See Original Article at Bolly Inside