I’ve always considered myself to be rather financially savvy. For example, when it was time for me to attend college I devised a payment strategy that would render me in the least debt possible. So, instead of becoming inundated with student loans I elected to maintain a part-time job and an internship while I was in school. Was I tired? Yes. Did I miss a few parties? Definitely. Was my wardrobe limited? Of course. Still, receiving student loan bills that are minute in comparison to my peers made the hustle oh-so-worth-it. Post graduation, I settled into a cozy job at Saks Fifth Avenue. As a fashion merchandising and advertising major, I expected to work my way up to the top — and I was prepared for the ride. I networked. I pitched ideas. I spoke up in meetings. Most importantly, it was working. My bosses recognized my skill and leadership abilities. Things seemed pretty set, and I was ready to make my next move, which I assumed would be a promotion. I was wrong. The promotion came, I left. By chance, I met with a financial advisor from a reputable network marketing company. After hearing their brand’s pitch I decided to utilize their services to open up a ROTH IRA — which I assumed was the only thing I needed since I already had no credit card debt and a 401k. That meeting changed my life. Here I was thinking I was an A+ student when it came to finances; turns out I was, but only in the remedial class. Luckily, grasping a few key concepts quickly bumped me past the mainstream and into AP (advanced placement). I learned many things during that session, but two tidbits of info changed my life. The first is the Rule of 72, which states you can find out how long it will take your investment to double by dividing 72 by the interest rate. The second key idea was the importance of tracking who profits from your money. For example, banks own credit card companies. They hold our money in bank accounts and give 1% interest, but charge 12-20% interest to loan us our own money via credit cards — and if you’re late, the rate is worse! Guess who’s losing in that deal? My financial re-education was life-changing; I knew I needed to share this information with my peers, and my community. After undergoing a series of examinations I received licenses to sell mutual funds and insurance in New York, Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But education became my forte. I’m currently the Senior Vice President of Business Development at Optimum Capital Management, LLC and I love what I do. After spending years of helping people create sound investment portfolios I decided to launch The Money Movement, a non-profit agency created to help urban professionals understand their finances. I realized that many people are too intimidated to become pro-active about their dollars alone, with TMM (www.moneymovement.org) they are not. TMM is a community empowerment vehicle and a forum for questions and direction — sans a charge. Together we will enhance our savvy and financial responsibility. Financial literacy is in. Today I am balancing my career as a financial empowerment professional and life as a woman with a loving mate and supportive family. My career is definitely my passion, but my family and boyfriend are my heart. I’m always on the go — meeting with people, doing press, working on portfolios — so one thing I try to do is be present when I’m home. That means by a certain time the computer is off and the Blackberry is hidden — you know the blinking light piques interest — so I can give my undivided attention to those I love most. After all, having all the money in the world is great, but having loved ones to share it with is priceless.