DERRICK WESLEY: TEACHER ENTREPRENEUR
Team Sammy is pleased to share Derrick Wesley’s childhood money memories and insights on kids, money and financial literacy education.
Derrick Wesley is the owner and founder of iMar Learning Solutions. The mission of iMar Learning Solutions is to help others to INVEST in the POWER of themselves. Derrick and iMar Learning Solutions gained national recognition by becoming the inaugural winner of TD Ameritrade’s Innovation Quest. Derrick pitched his idea called PLAN-IT, a financial literacy application for users as young as 5 to retirement age, to over 2,000 attendees. He partnered with a tech company to help build the PLAN-IT application. It will be available for download in the upcoming months.
Derrick was born and raised in New Iberia, Louisiana. He’s a graduate of the University of Louisiana. He now resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife and 2 children. While iMar Learning Solutions is growing Derrick still works as a 6th grade reading teacher.
“We as parents and educators have to also practice what we teach. We
have to share with our kids our moments of perseverance that
challenged us and how we pushed through. We have to let them know
we have failed, but we learned from it and became better for it.”
Leslie Girone: Please tell us a little about yourself and your community.
Derrick Wesley: I am originally from New Iberia, Louisiana. It’s a very small town with a lot of caring people, but not very many opportunities to advance your career. I hope to change that. As my company grows, I want to be able to go back and create job opportunities for the little kids who are looking for a chance to learn and grow.
HUSSLE FOR SOME ‘KICKS’
Leslie: What are your first memories of money?
Derrick Wesley: One of my first money memories was not having much of it. I remember when I was in the 7th grade you had to have the best sneakers. My parents didn’t have the money to buy me the new Jordan’s or Air Max, but I knew I couldn’t start 8th grade without some nice ‘kicks’. I spent the whole summer mowing lawns with my uncle and saved every penny. I was able to save about $400. I bought the shoes that I wanted and was even able to purchase some clothes. I learned that hard work and sacrifice will pay off if you dedicate yourself to accomplishing your goal.
Leslie: Who was your primary or one your main money mentors as a child or teen?
Derrick Wesley: My main money mentor without a doubt is my cousin, Jumaan Dussett. I always looked at him as more of a big brother. I watched him and the moves he made. For example, Jumaan went to college, so I guess that means I have to go. Jumaan said I need to read Think and Grow Rich, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and As A Man Thinketh, so I better read those books. He has been there to help me make tough decisions and help keep me on track.
THE PERFECT JOB
Leslie: Did you work as a teen and/or in college?
Derrick Wesley: I worked while in college, but I had to have a job that wouldn’t take up too much of my time so I could still study. I found the perfect job in our school’s computer lab. The job was perfect because it wasn’t very busy and our supervisors encouraged us to study and complete homework. To be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to juggle work and studying so this job was a Godsend.
TOO MANY CREDIT CARDS
Leslie: What was one mistake or “boo-boo” you made as a kid, teen or college student with money. And, what was one smart money choice you made?
Derrick Wesley: I had too many credit cards in college and I wasn’t responsible with how I used them. I was in a lot of debt before I left college and it wasn’t just my student loans. I knew I wanted to buy a house eventually and I realized I had put that dream in jeopardy. So, I buckled down and paid off all of my credit card debt. It took me about 2 years after graduating.
“Investing is important because you want your money to work for you.”
KIDS LOVE TO LEARN
Leslie: What peaked your interest in personal finance?
Derrick Wesley: My time as a teacher is what sparked my interest. I taught an elective class called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). We helped students that had a lot of potential to be honor roll students, but maybe came from economically disadvantaged households. We were given 2 weeks to focus on financial literacy and the kids LOVED these lessons. So, that inspired me to create the PLAN-IT app. PLAN-IT is your mobile financial literacy teacher. Users take a short assessment and it builds out a personalized curriculum. Our users can also create a monthly budget and PLAN-IT helps them track spending so they stay on the road to financial freedom.
SAVE & INVEST SOME MORE
Leslie: One question, I ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Derrick Wesley: The ONE most important thing I would teach is to save and invest and after you have done that then save and invest some more. I think saving is most important because you have to have funds available for anything important that might arise and also for retirement. Investing is important because you want your money to work for you. The sooner you learn to do that the better off you will be in the long run.
Leslie: Should personal finance be taught in schools?
Derrick Wesley: Yes, it should be taught in schools and it is my mission to ensure it is. Our focus in phase 1 of our launch is to get PLAN-IT into the hands of every middle, high school and college student across the country. Next, we will focus on elementary. We’ll create engaging programs to keep them interested in how money works and develop a system that follows them their whole life.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Albert Einstein
FAVORITE WEBSITE, RESOURCES:
PLANIT.FINANCE of course!
LEARN MORE ABOUT DERRICK WESLEY
To discover more about Derrick Wesley, visit iMarLearningSolutions.com