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Money management advice you can bank on

5 July 2010 532 views No Comment

Tessa-Marie Shillingford

Tessa-Marie Shillingford offers  money management advice you can bank on

By True Daley

Sway sat down with expert Tessa-Marie Shillingford to talk about money management basics that you can take all the way to the bank.

Born in Dominica, Shillingford immigrated to Canada in 1967 and has since become the author of Controlling the Debt Monster: A Guide to Managing Your Money. She is also the Financial Literacy Program facilitator at the Jane and Finch branch of JVS Toronto (a non-profit organization that offers employment-related support programs), and the former manager of Financial Services at TD Canada Trust.

What kinds of myths cripple the financial success of Black people?

Money is the root of all evil.

Which is a misquote…

It’s a misquote. And, we seem to have a lot of resentment towards wealth because of that — even amongst our own people. We look at wealth as something that’s going to make you do something bad. Money does not move. If you were to leave money on a table, it won’t move until someone comes and moves it. We’re treating it like an enemy when it’s not.

What can we do to avoid overspending?

Plan. We plan our vacations in more detail than we plan our financial life. We join a “partner” so we know where that money is coming from. We know what airline we are going on. Then, we go shopping and get an outfit for every hour of the day. But we don’t plan for our financial future at all. We could apply those same skills to planning for RRSPs.

I remember you once saying that Black people are over-insured. Can you expand on that?

There is always somebody we know who is selling life insurance. They ask you to insure your child, and you insure your child. They say there’s an education complement in there, so you take that. When it comes time, the child gets $2,000 but you paid about $6,000 or $20,000 or $100,000. If a child dies, the last thing you want is $16,000 from anybody. You should only really be insuring yourself, and that money could be put in the child’s education plan.

What is one of the life lessons you were taught as a child that still applies today?

Poverty is a sin.

Can you expand?

What I was taught to believe is that you always have the power within you to change and to strive for better. We were taught how to handle money. We had to work for it. We had to make sure to spend it wisely.

What is the biggest excuse that you get from people?

Nobody taught me.

What do you say to them?

Teach yourself.

Why did you decide to teach financial literacy?

While I was working at the bank, I came across so many people that were in crisis. At JVS, we work with youth, aged 16 to 30, as well as adults. And, we have specialized classes for women and the disabled.

Do you feel like it’s your mission?

I took it on as a mission. I have a motto to enlighten, educate and encourage everybody I meet to manage their money, successfully.

For more financial advice, visit Tessa-Marie Shillingford’s blog controllingthedebtmonster.wordpress.com

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