How to Find Financial Role Models

How to Find Financial Role Models
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I deeply believe that friends help friends dump debt. That good habits rub off. That you’re most like the 5 people you spend the most time around. These friends may just be the financial role models you need in your life.

These may be cliches (I’m trying to turn the first into one personally), but tell me where are the lies.

In my case, Wonderman became a reluctant accountability partner. That’s what helped us stay the course for 7 years and pay off $107,000 of debt.

Not everyone has a reluctant, in-house, accountability partner. He wasn’t my only “friend” in the fight to fix my finances. Far from it.


Finding Your Financial Role Models

I’m not telling you to sever ties with anyone who isn’t on the path to debt freedom or financial wellness. We should, however, be intentional about balancing our time with more productive people.

Remember. Bad company corrupts good character. Not my words…

Thinking about the financial role models in my life, they tend to be people who are:

  • Engaged in several productive personal and professional pursuits. So they don’t have a lot of time for shenanigans.
  • Generous with their wisdom and lessons learned.
  • Not interested in portraying misleading facades. They don’t mind sharing their struggles as well as successes.
  • Concerned with actual results and accomplishments and not superficial displays of material stuff.
  • Encouraging and supportive. They know the difference between criticism and thoughtful critiques designed to help you think through options and opportunities.

These people are not unicorns. They do exist. The question is how do you find them?

I didn’t realize it then, but I have been attracted to financial role models for a very long time. Here are three people that have made a significant impact on my financial decisions and how I found them.


College Co-ed

I met the first financial role model in grad school. I had no idea at the time she would turn out to play such an instrumental role in my financial development as an adult. At the time, she was just cool people and we had signed on to charter a NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) chapter at DePaul together. That’s how we met.

This friend was about 10 years older and it became apparent quickly that she had a lot of life experiences to share. She had climbed the corporate ladder into upper management, she was a working mom with adult children, and she had pivoted to pursue academic career goals. She’s now a tenured professor in the field of Information Technology.

One of my earliest memories of wanting to learn more came with an invitation to her family’s lake home. Who has two houses? Let alone a lake home in a resort town? That’s not something I’d ever personally experienced. At the time, her father (the original owner) was still living and his story of starting as a gym teacher and building wealth over a lifetime and eventually passing on millions to children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren blew my mind.

My friend actually let me interview her for my previous podcast. Check it out – she’s inspired me for years. I know you’ll find value in the conversation.

I don’t share this to brag on my friend. Quite the opposite. You would never know from being around her that she was an heir to such an inheritance. She’s down to earth. She’s frugal and very practical. She doesn’t try to impress others with stuff. She does give thoughtful, seasoned advice whenever I need her feedback.

Here’s the bonus. When she invites us to hang out with her larger friend group, I get to interact with some very accomplished and impressive men and women because birds of a feather flock together.

A college connection from 20 years ago has exposed me to:

  • Planning early to send your children (and grandchildren) to college with no student loan debt
  • Consistently saving and investing to pass wealth down to your children’s children
  • Owning income-producing property including a family home in a resort town

I sincerely hope her dad’s (and her) good habits rub off.


A Brother in Christ

Financial role models aren’t just hanging out at expensive, private schools working on their masters and Ph.D.’s. The next role model that I cherish is a member of my church.

This brother is a real estate entrepreneur. That’s what he calls himself.

It turns out, he was my husband’s co-worker (back in the day) and dating one of my good friends at church. We had nothing to do with that connection.

I didn’t meet him until closer to their wedding.

I honestly don’t even remember how we ever started discussing the topic of real estate. It just seems like we always have. If there’s a discussion about investing anywhere in earshot, I’m probably going to slide into the conversation. Don’t mind if I do.

He is the first person that I’ve known personally to leave their corporate gig and flip houses full-time.  He purchased one of the $2000 courses (that I’ve always thought was a scam) and used that training to follow his passion. He got my attention.

Over the years, he’s pivoted and refocused his attention on various aspects of the real estate industry. He’s returned to corporate, he’s experienced some real estate ups and downs, but he’s still grinding. He and his wife have family goals they’re working towards and they’re even bringing their children into the “family business”.

Just recently (like last week), Wonderman and I were facing a frustrating negotiation. The scripture, “In the multitude of counsel, you’ll find safety” popped into my head (thank you Holy Spirit).  I said, let’s call this friend.

He listened. Asked probing questions. Listened some more. Then he offered some objective feedback that I hadn’t considered and encouraged us to keep the big picture in mind and not get tripped up by the weeds.

Boy, do I appreciate having access to people who’ve been there and who will pick up the phone when we call out of the blue.

I really hope his good habits rub off!


A Youthful Accountability Partner

This final example I want to share is actually about 15 years my junior. I met her at a business networking group thingy. We were assigned as accountability partners and 4 years later, we’re still hanging strong.

At the time, she had just earned her real estate license and I was starting to place more emphasis on developing my real estate portfolio.

As an investor, I’ve learned that snapping up good deals requires a certain amount of being in the right place at the right time. It also requires an agent who is quick on the move. That’s my accountability partner.

We’ve completed 3 deals together over the past few years and I’m looking forward to doing many more.

But I’ve learned a lot from her about courage in going after deals or faith in closing my own sales. I even run ideas by her if she’s not the agent involved. She is sweet as pie, but one tough cookie. Don’t let her infectious giggle fool you. I love working with her.

Yep, I’m hoping her habits rub off too!


My Point

Financial role models come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. They are likely already moving around in your orbit right now just waiting for you to latch on.

They may not be the loudest in the room. They are likely not bling bling’n (do the kids still say that? did they ever?). But they are taking care of business.

That should be the first giveaway that you have a potential financial role model in your midst.

If you want some more ideas on how to tap into the power of community and use that to accelerate your debt-free journey, I talk more about this in my book, The Great Debt Dump: Running Towards Financial Freedom with the Power of Community.

Get your copy today.

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