“One of the things we’ve learned is that financial information is not enough…” Saundra D. Davis, 2010 EARN Asset Awards Speech
Introducing Saundra Davis, Financial Coach, Speaker & Trainer, Navy Veteran
Saundra D. Davis is one purpose filled financial coach, trainer, educator and speaker. She is on a quest to discover what inspires people to live with their money in a way that honors their values and the vision they hold for their future.
Finding the answer to that question is at the core of Saundra’s work and enterprise Sage Financial Solutions, Inc.
Saundra gets it. To lead the life you want, you need to do more than talk the talk. You need to do even more than understand the talk. You need to walk the talk.
In other words, to produce results, you need to take consistent action. You need to make personal finance choices daily that align with your values, goals and best interests, like saving money regularly. If a person does that habitually, it will transform their lives. It will help them secure more financial freedom and security. It will help them build the future they dream about. That is the aim of Saundra’s coaching, training and speaking enterprise.
Saundra wants that outcome for everyone (financial freedom and security). She does not just want it for those individuals who already have a certain measure of income and wealth.
Consistent with what she advises, Saundra invests a significant amount of her time and resources working with community based organizations that concentrate on asset building for the working poor.
“I’m not in the business of helping people be more comfortable with being poor, my role is to help people create the life they want, and take action on what they need to do to make it happen.” Saundra D. Davis
And she is getting results. Among her achievements, Saundra successfully developed and managed several 1:1 coaching programs including Brilliant Baby in Oakland, California. She trained more than 60 coaches as part of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) initiative that serves economically vulnerable clients in non-profit agencies and veterans at several American Job Centers. And, Saundra trained more than 1,000 community-based staff members in local and national efforts that focus on helping working families achieve prosperity through money management, saving and asset building.
Now, it is with great pleasure and honor to have Saundra share some of her leadership, insights, experiences and tips on personal finance and great money habits.
Questions and Answers with Saundra Davis
Sam: Please share with us what attracted and drew you to the financial education industry?
Saundra: Thank you for inviting me Sam, I love your work. I was a mid-life career changer. After more than 20 years in the nonprofit sector, I realized that until the people we served took charge of their financial lives, nothing else we did would help them experience the security they were seeking. I returned to school to get a master’s degree in financial planning in order to learn how wealthy people acquired, grew, and transferred assets to continue the financial legacy of their families.
Sam: What is your 5 year vision and objectives with Sage Financial Solutions, Inc.? Where do you see yourself and the enterprise?
Saundra: This has been an evolution for me as I started out thinking that I would build a financial planning small business incubator which would help new planners build their skills while providing no- or low-cost services to under resourced communities. Becoming a coach and trainer shifted that priority to building the capacity of communities AND requiring the highest standard of financial competency and coaching skills. My vision for the organization is that we are continuing to offer excellent coach training and continuing education for financial professionals. Coaching as a model is important because people are more likely to take action on the changes they want to make if the “change talk” comes from them as opposed to someone telling them what they should do. In five years I envision a nation where communities have trusted financial experts for EVERYONE who wants that service irrespective of their ability to pay. Personally, I will be approaching retirement, training once a year and enjoying watching all of the new coaches build their skills and sharing their expertise with others.
Sam: You have had the unique opportunity to train people to be financial coaches from all over the United States. What are one or two of the most important things you have learned from your experience?
Saundra: People want to help others and they will work tirelessly to offer support and guidance to those in need of an empathetic listener. Many of the people serving low income communities are struggling financially because their organizations are not able to pay high wages so you have many service providers in financial distress coaching people in financial distress. The best way I have found to address this is by focusing FIRST on the need of the staff members and helping them to recapture their dreams and align their choices with their values. Many choose the helping professions knowing that they will make less than they would if they chose a more lucrative profession and they give their best every day in hopes of helping others live better lives.
Sam: What is one thing you believe Americans are doing right when it comes to personal finances? And what is one thing you would like to see Americans improve on when it comes to managing their personal finances?
Saundra: “Right” is a relative term as everyone has to figure out what is right for them and their desired outcome. I am glad people are continuing to have the conversation. I hear financial professionals say “money is taboo” and no one talks about money. I don’t know who they are referring to because EVERYONE talks to me about money. Whether I’m teaching a class of 50 people or hosting a small group of 6, people talk about MONEY. They talk about their goals, their fears, their obstacles and their opportunities. I would like to see more people taking advantage of what is available to them. Staff members at nonprofit agencies can help ANYONE with their financial goals and the services are not limited to those experiencing poverty. Reliable, ethical help is available and I would like to see people get help BEFORE it becomes an emergency.
Sam: Why do you think youth financial education is important? Do you have any thoughts on what the financial education movement is doing right or what we can improve on when it comes to teaching kids and teens about money?
Saundra: Young people are having an experience of money very early in life. As soon as they can say “I want” we can begin to teach them how money works. I become a bit exhausted by the idea that we have to teach financial education as a separate thing from other life skills. I think we teach them about money in the same way we teach them about hygiene or cleaning their rooms or any other lesson to help them navigate growing up.
Sam: Will you share with us one of the best personal finance decisions you made as a child or teen and what you learned from it?
Saundra: I joined the Navy at 17 years old and took charge of my life. My family situation was not very stable and I experienced some turmoil that impacted my security. I left high school, took my GED and joined the service. I didn’t make the best financial decisions but I never gave up and that has served me well throughout my adult life and as a mother and grandmother.
Sam: Now, will you share with us one of the worst personal finance decisions you made as a child or teen and what you learned from it?
Saundra: I didn’t have much access to or control over money when I was young. I didn’t get an allowance or anything like that so I wasn’t really making any financial decisions. The first money memory I can recall was feeling adult responsibilities when I was a teen and I remember how overwhelming it was to “need” to make money when I was very young.
Sam: Please share with us one personal finance book and blogger you recommend.
Saundra: Louis Barajas is my favorite personal finance writer but it is difficult to choose a favorite book. The one I think is most relevant to families irrespective of their goals (home ownership, business owner, etc.) is My $treet Money because it is practical and down to earth. I don’t read the financial blogs so I guess my favorite blogger is ME! I am the financial coach for SaverLife (a savings program that EARN launched in 2017) and I truly enjoy responding to the “Ask an expert” questions.
Sam: We like to ask everyone, if you could only teach a child one money habit or personal finance concept, what would it be and why?
Saundra: Know your values. Adults seem to think that children don’t have the capacity to understand the concepts of financial goals and priorities but I am sure that they can grasp the idea if we teach them. We have three grandchildren and we don’t buy gifts for them. Not at all, no birthdays, no holidays, no gifts. Ever. We pay for experiences. We spend TIME with them and teach them about their history, we pay for lessons, or take educational vacations with them. We started this when they were very young and now there is no expectation that we will buy “things” for them. They value our Friday night dinners and “grandma day” when we play a new sport or learn a new educational topic. They understand our values and the reasons we choose to spend our money on experiences.
Sam: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Saundra: Every time we say yes to one thing, we say no to something else. Aligning our money with our values is always a good choice even if we have to make adjustments to make it work.
Sam: Thank you!
What do you believe about money?
- More money will make things better?
- There will never be enough money?
- Spend it while you have it?
Hear how people responded to the questions in the video below!
“Money beliefs are neither good nor bad.
The main questions an individual should ask themselves are:
- Are my money beliefs serving me?
- Are they getting me what I want and need?
We should understand, the power of choice is transforming. And, we have the power to align what we value and believe with what we do as expressed through our day to day financial choices.”