Financial Insecurity & Money Mentees

My generation is one faced with economic challenges that are different from those of previous generations. The Christian Science Monitor has a nice story about this. We’ve talked about this before on The SuperSpade, but the issue isn’t going anywhere, and thus warrants further thought and action.

I have said it before and I will say it again: instant gratification, especially when applied to financial decisions, is a sure way to monetary suicide. I used to be under the impression that this was simply a Black problem. However, more and more I see my compatriots from all backgrounds and makeups drinking the same Kool-Aid. The article says:

“Compounding these generational challenges is what Ms. Yochim calls ‘incessant commercial wooing’…with commercials filling 20 minutes of every televised hour, she adds, ‘No wonder we all suffer from *the wants.*'”

This ‘incessant commercial wooing’ is the pull of instant gratification. It’s what says that Hummers are more important than Houses and platinum jewelry is more important than the debt that [usually] comes with it.

How do we break this cycle? It is obviously not enough to provide counterexamples. No, the approach must be much more personal. This knowledge must be transferred, like all wisdom, one on one. This follows from the notion that an individual can and often will make a better decision when taken out of the context of the masses. This is a charge to the wealthy of the current and previous and current generations to get a “Money Mentee.”

It is proven that the Apprentice Model of teaching is the most effective: learning by following an example. For the purposes of this exercise, we will call this the Mentor-Mentee Model. The qualifications are simple, to be a mentee, you simply have to have a desire to learn about how money works. You may or may not be in financial trouble, that doesn’t matter. In order to be a mentor, we ask a bit more.

The first criteria is that you must “have money.” Note please that “having money” does not equal “having income.” This means that the amount of money you make is not the only deciding factor in the amount of money you have. To be a mentor you will have to present demonstrated success of your own economic plan (how much you save, how much you invest, etc.). After all, you need to have something to tell the mentee.

The interaction is straightforward. Weekly conversations over the phone, at least bi-weekly electronic email communication, at-least monthly face-to-face interaction. The content of these interactions should include, but not be limited to:

– discussion of past financial success and failure stories
– discussion of finance related books to read
– discussion of finance resources available (newspapers, magazines, websites, etc.)
– apprentice/internship opportunities (if the mentor is a business owner)
– reference to financial advising centers

The list goes on to infinity, but you get the idea. Such a program will thrive on the personal interaction between the Money Mentor and the Money Mentee.

This is how we will slay the savage beast of irresponsibility.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

One response to “Financial Insecurity & Money Mentees”

  1. Steve says :

    This is a great idea. The proof is definitely in the pudding. All too often, we get our money savvy from the broke cat, when we need to be having these discussions with those who have. You cant learn how to be a millionaire from a thousandnaire. You will only learn how to have thousands. We need to open that dialogue with those who are truly committed to teaching those who really want to know.

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