Today we are pleased to share the childhood money memories of Zaneilia Harris. Zaneilia is the President of Harris & Harris Wealth Management, a CFP®, blogger, podcaster and author of the book, Finance ‘n Stilettos – Money Matters for the Well-Heeled Woman!
Zaneilia became interested in finances early in life while living with her grandmother. She turned that interest into a thriving career that had her acquire experience at some of the most recognized firms in financial management like Merrill Lynch, Edward Jones Investments, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the NASDAQ stock market. She leveraged that experience to start her own enterprise, Harris & Harris Wealth Management. Her primary purpose – to educate women about economic and financial empowerment.
Harris is a graduate of St. Paul’s College, Lawrenceville, Virginia where she graduated cum laude with a B.S. degree in Business Administration, concentrating in Accounting. She is also active in the community and within financial education. She volunteers with Junior Achievement in Maryland and developed her own financial education and empowerment program, Savvy Women Investor Circle (SWIC).
Zaneilia is married and has one daughter. Her family is important to her as well as focusing on supporting her daughter as swim parents. And you guessed it, Zaneilia is a shoe lover and appreciates quality.
Now in her own words, Zaneilia’s responses to a variety of questions on her childhood money memories and financial literacy.
Sam X Renick: Please briefly share with us a little about yourself as a child, teen, young and adult and what has led you to your current career.
Zaneilia Harris: I feel like I was called to be in this industry. Not because I come from a wealthy background but because of the opposite. I did not. I watched my grandmother who was my primary caregiver stress about money. When she couldn’t pay her bills were the only times I saw her become emotional because of her frustration. Being able to pay her bills promptly was extremely important to her. She didn’t like owing money to people. She has a big heart and would share what she had with others.
WEALTH BUILDING’S POWER PLAY
Renick: This a question I ask everyone. It is the question I asked myself prior to creating Sammy Rabbit and entering the financial literacy industry. If you could only teach a child one money habit, WHAT money habit would you teach them? Please explain why.
Harris:I would teach children the habit of dollar cost averaging. Putting money away into an investment that can grow over time because of dividends, capital gains reinvested, and interest is the power play for building wealth. It doesn’t take much but it does take time and consistency.
READING IS A GREAT AND LIFE INFORMING AND TRANSFORMING HABIT
Renick: Did you have a money mentor or primary personal finance influence as a child or teen? If so, please share who it was and what you learned that still influences you today.
Harris: No, I did not. However, when I started college, I was searching how I could be better at managing money. You could say I was on a quest to better my understanding of how money worked. I decided that I would purchase Money Magazine every month to learn as much as I could about money. I wanted to be a good steward over my money when I started my career.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
Renick: What memories do you have related to your first saving experience?
Harris: I don’t quite remember when I opened my first savings account. What I remember was that because I had a savings account, my family would borrow money from me. I didn’t like spending money frivolously. I used my money for experiences and to take care of my personal expenses if my grandmother couldn’t.
AN EARLY EARNING ETHIC
Renick: Tell us about your first experience earning money? How old were you? What type of a job was it? How much did you earn? What did you do with the money? What did you learn?
Harris: I’ve been working since I was in elementary school. My neighbors were farmers and my babysitter. During the summers, I would help them on their farm and they would pay me money for doing so.
Renick: What was your biggest money mistake as a child or teenager?
Harris: Loaning money to family. I expected to get it back and that was not always the case. When a family member asks you for money, you should treat it like a gift and only give what you can afford to not receive back.
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
Renick: What was one of the smartest money decisions you made as a child or a teenager and why?
Harris: Starting the habit of savings. Once you begin the habit at a young age, it’s hard to break it. It becomes part of who you are. It forces you to think through purchases before you spend. At least that is how it affected me.
A DIFFERENT COLLEGE EXPERIENCE
Renick: Did you work while you were in college? Please share a little about how working or not working while attending college affected you, your studies, and personal finance choices including student debt.
Harris: Yes, I did work through college. I think it helped me to gain a different perspective about being an adult. I had a car loan that I wanted to pay off, so twice a month, I was committed to making a car payment. I just wanted that debt off my shoulders. I feel it gave me a different perspective about money. I graduated with no student loan debt.
Renick: At around what age did you realize “money was money” or that it had a value?
Harris: I feel I realized it early. But I do not have a specific realization except when I saw how my grandmother responded to it in our household. That deeply influenced my perspective about the impact of money in our household.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT!
Renick: Cambridge University research indicates adult money habits are set by age 7. At what age do you believe parents should start teaching kids about money and why?
Harris: As early as possible. My daughter had a piggy bank at age one. The goal was to start teaching her that saving is important and to focus on a goal. Also, we talk about how much things cost. I don’t want to hide the consequences of money decisions from her. I want her to know how the finances work in our household. I believe honesty is the best policy. I hear too may clients tell me money wasn’t discussed in their households when they were young.
GRANDMA KNOWS BEST
Renick: Did your parents talk to and teach you about money as a child? Please share a little about your experience on the topic while growing up.
Harris: My grandmother told me to save and encouraged me to open a savings account. I just wish she had known enough to guide me towards investing. That’s why I started an investment account with my daughter and explain to her the meaning of her investment statements. The sooner she knows, the more education she will have in her toolkit around her money.
YES, I DO!
Renick: Do you believe personal finance should or should not be taught in schools? Why do you believe there is not more personal finance being taught in schools? Please explain why or why not.
Harris: Yes, I do. That’s why I volunteer with Junior Achievement because I feel they are a great resource for educating students about money and adulthood. Junior Achievement’s real life scenarios make students think about their choices and how they affect their livelihoods.
In the county of Maryland where I live, all 8th graders in public school are required to do a financial education program at the Junior Achievement Finance Park. There are three in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
Renick: If you have any thoughts on the following topics, please feel free to share your thinking.
FINANCIAL PET PEEVES
Harris: My pet peeve is the notion that women are bad with money. When articles come out about women and money, it appears to have a negative tone. My goal is to promote positive conversations about women and money.
Harris: In college, I enjoyed reading “The Richest Man in Babylon
FAVORITE FINANCIAL QUOTE
Harris: “The road to wealth is understanding that there’s a difference between having money in the bank and building wealth.” -Finance ‘n Stilettos – Money Matters for the Well-Heeled Woman
FAVORITE PERSONAL FINANCE MAGAZINES, WEBSITES, RESOURCES
Harris: I loved Money magazine which is now an online resource. I read articles from Yahoo Finance, Businessweek, CNBC and Bloomberg.
Harris: Maggie Walker, CJ Walker, Sheila Johnson & Oprah
LEARN MORE ABOUT ZANEILIA
To discover more about Zaneilia, visit her website www.hhwealth.com. And, be sure to check out this blog from Zaneilia: If you want to be a millionare, learn from black women who are!
MORE CHILDHOOD MONEY MEMORIES INTERVIEWS
Sheryl Garrett, CFP, Founder – Garrett Financial Planning Network, Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Brian Dorcy, CEO, Excite Credit Union, San Jose, California
Susan Siracuse, Former CEO, InvestmentNews, New York, New York