We are pleased to have Allison Ford share with us her childhood money memories and insights on kids and money.
Welcome and thank you Allison!
Team Sammy: Please share with us a little about yourself and your family so readers get a sense of who you are.
Allison Ford: Ask me about my kids the “Roses” and I can go on for days. I am the proud Mom of two beautiful “Roses” I adopted through the State of Texas Foster Care system.
I had always planned to adopt after marrying. I just knew the first child would be adopted. Things did not occur in the planned order.
After a year and a half awaiting news from a private adoption agency, I changed course and decided to sign up to foster infants in need of a home.
I had a full nursery, diapers, and clothing in all sizes. I immediately realized I was not prepared for them to leave. This prompted me to close my home to new foster children three weeks after the first infant was moved. My agency gave me a few weeks grieve the loss. Then, they asked if I would take a 9 month old for 2 weeks or until she could be placed in a foster home. “Okay. Two weeks. That is it.” Six months to the day my family and I were in the Tarrant County Court house finalizing the adoption of that infant.
I have learned to live life and let God handle the rest.
The translation of my first foster child’s birth name is “beautiful Rose.” I baptized her “Carrington Rose” in honor of my paternal grandmother Carrie and the women in her family.
We settled into our lives. “Just the two of us”. Just as she turned 17 months, I received “the call.” “Are you willing to take the sibling to the child you adopted”?
My first thought, “She doesn’t have a sibling”.
Enter “Baby Sissy.” She was one year old by the time we worked out the details with the State. The two have been together ever since. “Together…no better place to be.”
We baptized Baby Sissy “Kensington Rose”. Her middle name at birth was “Rose.” So there was no need to make a change. The two are often mistaken for twins. They cannot understand why. 🙂
We lost our 17-year-old Lhasa Apso in May of this year. He was a wonderful protector of our home for many years. He quietly passed the torch to our new, 8 month, 60 pound golden doodle puppy, Remington Rose or “Remi.” Remi doesn’t realize he isn’t a child and is not small.
So, a few months shy of 55, with a 9 and 11-year-old, my hobbies are keeping up with my Roses as well as walking and training Remi. When I am not juggling the Roses lives, I enjoy gardening, growing my knowledge and channeling as much of my efforts into aiding the close of the Wealth Gap.
I hope to move to acreage and return to my farming roots. I want the girls to experience a taste of the life I had growing up. I would like to provide fresh fruit, herbs and veggies at low or no cost to areas with food deserts or where the cost are too expensive for residents to enjoy. With the help of nonprofits such as, For Oak Cliff Farmers Market and Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers and Community Based Organization, we are gaining insight and direction. We are excited to learn and do more in this space
Team Sammy: Tell us about what it was like growing up – your family and community?
Allison Ford: I grew up in Calhoun, a small rural town in northeast Louisiana. It has only two caution lights. My parents had 5 girls and 2 boys. One girl passed away as an infant. My parents instilled in us integrity, family, and God.
I grew up on 13 acres of land adjacent to my paternal Grandfather’s 13 acres. My father’s profession was hauling pulpwood. He was self-employed with a crew of guys working with him. If the weather was bad, they could not work. He was very resourceful. Even in the spring and winter when there seemed to be fewer work days; my parents kept food on the table. We grew and raised a great deal of our food. I never recall not having more than enough to eat all year round.
I recall my parents teaching us to take care of the community and our neighbors. We would rise early in the mornings to pick peas, beans, squash, cucumbers, greens, peanuts or whatever was in season. We picked well beyond what was enough for our family. We stayed to pick all the rows. My parents would take anything extra to those in the community, our neighbors, and the elderly. Today, I will not pretend I understood at that age why we couldn’t just let the rest fall to the ground.
This may only happen in Calhoun, but I recall in November we had a Harvest Drive service in church. Everyone with crops would proudly bring the different varieties they had and place them around the altar for others less fortunate. I sincerely believe and live by the philosophy “in everything give thanks.”
My father had an eighth grade education but could take a car apart then fully restore it. He used that skill to help many. Later in life, I realized the wealth we had within our parents and the values they instilled in us.
Opportunities were afforded to us because of my resourceful and well-respected parents. I am a by-product of a “village” comprised of a variety of individuals (teachers, principals, counselors, an uncle, grandparents, professors, community, church family and the Methodist connection). They helped direct and even push me into areas outside my comfort zone. That support and encouragement later led to opportunities which at that time exceeded my parents’ financial resources.
I recall my Uncle Richard after retiring from the Marines and coming home to Louisiana opening his Real Estate Office. He sponsored me to attend Louisiana Girl State and later recommended me as a scholarship recipient with the Daughters of the American Revolution (this required I attend a formal Tea).
Those things were outside of my box and the last thing I wanted to do. Quite candidly, those experiences propelled me forward .
Team Sammy: What was your (first job formal or informal)? What did you learn from it? Share a little about the experience and if you remember, what you used the money for?
Allison Ford: My first job after college was in Kmart Apparel Management in Cincinnati, OH. I learned I never wanted to do that again.
Subsequently, I transferred to Texas and became an Assistant Bank Examiner in the Dallas Region. I learned so much in this one position.
As I mentioned, my parents were very resourceful; however, they did not have stock options, 401ks, investment accounts, or bonds. I realized I did not understand my colleagues, the two Kevin’s, desire to read the Wall Street Journal every morning. I understood reviewing bank financials, pricing and securities portfolio analysis; however, at the time I did not understand how this translated to my personal finances.
The best and sometimes worst part about being an examiner in the late 80’s and early 90’s was everyone sat in a large conference room during the bank examination. On the positive side, this gave me the opportunity to listen to other examiners and assistant examiners discuss their stock trades, performance etc. I recall one discussion around a 9-month CD with Beal Bank paying an extremely high interest rate. I quietly listened and followed their lead.
Bank Examiners review loan files as well as financials of individuals. This affords the reviewer an opportunity to analyze that customer’s strategy. This helped me add to my personal finance knowledge.
I have always been a saver. I was single, working on per diem at the time. It provided an excellent opportunity to save.
Team Sammy: Did your parents talk to you and/or teach you about money / personal finance growing up? What do you remember? What, if anything, stuck?
Allison Ford: My mother often shared these words, “Money does not grow on trees”.
As a kid the meaning was not always clear. However, my mother was not the type you could interrupt and ask to explain the correlation between Dad cutting trees and money.
She was very frugal and the best at stretching a dollar. At the same time, she also loved quality. She combined these two characteristics as a seamstress. She was awesome!
My parents had one bank and one savings account through which all funds flowed. While my mother worked after my younger brother reached a certain grade level, my father was the primary earner. She openly explained our family’s spending priorities. For example, if my father was not able to work due to seasonal conditions and unexpected expenses arose, they would take precedence over a “nice to have”.
Even though my parents were not savvy on stock options, bonds, and investments; I always discussed my personal finance decisions with my mother until she passed away, She had full access to everything, if necessary. Both my parents had lots of common sense.
As a college Freshman, my father was unexpectedly killed in a single vehicle accident. I recall being worried my Mother would not understand how to take care of things, know where things were at, have enough money to raise the remaining children or have the ability to run the business. I knew it was likely I would not return to school. To my surprise, my mother knew exactly where things were. She kicked right into gear to take care of things and firmly said ‘you will go back to school’.
While my parents did not discuss the details of their finances with us, I was able to see my mother was aware of all decisions being made. Everything was clear that day.
Team Sammy: Who was your primary or one your main money mentors as a child or teen?
Allison Ford: My mother. She strongly encouraged us to save, look for quality and never pay full price. After high school graduation, my mother took each of us to the bank to set up a savings account.
Team Sammy: What if anything peaked your interest in personal finance?
Allison Ford: Hurricane Katrina peaked my interest in sharing personal finance with others.
I realized I was propelled forward because others invested time and money to help me succeed. I understood while not rich, my parents were resourceful, had no desire to live outside their means and made it a point to give to their community and others.
I was shocked following Hurricane Katrina watching individuals lying in the streets in American and in my home state of Louisiana. Many people judged them and asked why they didn’t leave. My heart broke.
The reality is if you do not have a credit card and funds to access, it is impossible to simply get up and leave a city. Every car cannot just drive out of the area. And you cannot rent a car without a credit card.
I realized how blessed my life was due to access to resources and God’s grace. The events inspired me to begin searching for avenues in which I could make a difference and share my knowledge.
Empowering youth and young adults to make informed decisions so they are better able to accomplish their future goals is my passion. I have long had convictions for supporting underserved and underbanked communities. I want to be a conduit in assisting to implement meaningful solutions as well as offering insight to equip students and consumers with the necessary tools to effectively take charge of their futures. My goal is to have these efforts result in measurable impact in their lives and the future of their communities.
My purpose is to take what was shared with me and share with others.
Team Sammy: Tell us about your current career, what drew you to it, why it is important to you and what you hope to accomplish?
Allison Ford: I have always been in an area which focused on ensuring consumers rights were protected. After providing oversight from an advisory or guidance perspective for financial institutions; I understood there were enough regulations to protect the consumer. However, I also discovered in many instances consumers are not aware of these rights, may be financially illiterate and/or indifferent as it relates to disclosures, particularly when their eye is on the prize – their goal ( a house, car, cash, etc.)
Financial institutions are not interested in educating consumers at the close of a transaction. Therefore, I realized providing education must be independent of financial institutions.
Most things are negotiable, and you have buying power.
COVID-19 delayed our anticipated launch of “Financially Lit Kids” and resulted in multiple plan revisions. Our aim is to educate anyone who would like to learn. However, our primary target market is underserved/unbanked communities. Within the target audience, we will also focus on students in the foster care system. We hope to strengthen our voice in the State of Texas Foster care system. The children must be the priority.
Team Sammy: Share with us your vision, mission, goals and/or hopes for the future?
Allison Ford: Our mission focuses on implementing programs designed to aid in closing the wealth and economic gaps with the understanding no one class, one interaction nor one program will fully accomplish this mission.
I believe it is my purpose to take what was shared with “a young me” and share it with others.
We seek to cultivate and prepare the soil, plant the seeds, create a fertilizing strategy to aid others in reaching their full potential, with a special focus on nurturing youth and families in lower income and underserved communities.
We will do this by implementing sustainable programs that increase access to and teach financial literacy, provide necessary information, make available adequate tools, provide ongoing support, and ensure the opportunity to be included in future programs.
Team Sammy: One question I ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Allison Ford: If I am limited to one habit it would be, “Invest in yourself and your future”. Let’s take the focus off things.
Team Sammy: Should personal finance be taught in schools?
Allison Ford. Yes!
I do not think we can limit it to one class, one year, one program or one interaction. I believe we must understand people have many different beliefs and backgrounds and the method or approach to reach individuals cannot be one size fits all. Just as with math, reading, English, etc., each year a course is taken, there will be growth and learning. With Financial Literacy as you grow in wisdom, you can apply the knowledge gained and continue to grow.
Many organizations and financial institutions offer to teach or engage children once or twice. I also found that some schools/educators may not allow the child that has issues with their grades, behavior, or attendance to participate or leave campus for such programs. Frequently, that is the child that needs to hear the message the most. That may be the experience that encourages that child to alter their behavior and/or direction or ask for help.
Team Sammy: Do you have anyone final thing you would like to share with readers, including how you can be contacted?
Allison Ford: My sincere desire is to offer education/information and knowledge and allow everyone based on their definition of financial security or financial independence to develop their strategy based on the knowledge gained.
Each of us based on our backgrounds, family status, and personal beliefs have different desires when it comes to financial freedom.
I have been a saver. I always thought about a rainy day. After becoming a mother of two girls who I am solely responsible, there seems to be a greater pressure because of the two lives entrusted to me. Both of my parents are deceased. So, there are no grandparents to fall back on. That said, I am doing my best to stay true to my values. I do not advise my method for others, but I feel it works for me. One of the methods has been as my income has grown, I chose to live on half of it. Disney and children challenge that goal, but I make every effort to stay as focused as possible.
Financial security or financial freedom has been redefined for me, and it wasn’t the definition I had in mind.
In 2019, the opportunity arose to pursue my passion and further explore the area of financial literacy and economic inclusion. Prior to finalizing the decision, I met with my financial advisor to review and discuss my plan. After reviewing my plan and current situation, she explained you are hitting all your targets. I would say you are safe taking a year to get your new enterprise up and running.
I am grateful my conservative approach to managing money has helped me pursue some of my dreams and now offers the opportunity to help others be better able to pursue theirs.
Discover more about Allison Ford on her website: www.FinanciallyLitKids.godaddysites.com
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