How This Millennial Flipped Her Financial Struggle into a Successful Financial Career
By Khadejah Stegall
Jadah Quick is a young professional in the finance industry and on a mission to empower black women to take control of their own destinies through financial literacy and independence. Quick grew up on a very restricted budget and she knew that to help others, she needed to pursue a career where she would not struggle financially. She calls out the wealth gap that exists between white men and black women and how mastering one’s own finances and planning for the future is a critical first step. According to a 2016 Pew Research report, white women earn 82 percent of white men's earnings while black women bring home just 65 percent of white men's earnings. And while progress has been made, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that pay parity will not be reached until 2059. Historically unfair federal policies, racism, legacy practices, and occupational segregation have left black women disempowered from effectively narrowing the gap of net worth. Yet despite these odds, Quick remains driven, entrepreneurial, resilient, and committed to becoming a catalyst for change. Quick talks about her passion for women accumulating wealth and gives advice on ways other women can.
Can you talk about your story of how you became passionate about black women accumulating wealth?
My passion derived from my own personal experience. Watching my parents go through the vicious cycle of financial hardships due to the 2009 recession was enough for me to have that spark of wanting more stability out of life. Both my parents were fortunate to attend college, but unfortunately, they were both not able to complete their educational pursuits because of the lack of funding to complete. This lead to both of them obtaining a job that accepted their levels of education. I state this first because my parents are the reasons why I am where I am today. Before I was born my parents made a vow to each other that they will have their child not only attend college but complete it as well. I have to give thanks to them for helping instill that in me at such a young age. College was one of the many milestones I would reach and accomplish. I have to also thank my middle school, TEAM Academy, a charter school that's a part of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). I can never forget my first day of 5th grade at TEAM Academy. I recall sitting on the floor with my new fellow Teammates as we listened to our principal explained that everything we want in life has to be earned. I knew then I was bound to not only attend college in the next seven years but also successfully complete and obtain my first degree in 11 years. Fast forward to my high school career: I attended a boarding school named Buxton School. This school created such a creative and holistic environment to learn in that ultimately made me want to do more for others once I was successful. I knew that I would love to be a philanthropist, but I also knew that in order to become one I needed to have money to do so. I quickly realized that in order to obtain a certain type of income, education needs to be a part of that objective. With that ingrained in my mind, completing college was most definitely a task on my future to-do list. I also knew that I wanted to be in a competitive field that could protect my future self with a career that was in demand and, so I looked into STEM careers. I ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and Mandarin. I am now starting my career in the finance Industry. My true passion about black women accumulating wealth directly comes from me wanting myself to do so as well. I want to break the generational stronghold that hinders so many families of not advancing financially, not becoming debt-free, and not creating generational wealth. As I've been working and entering a new phase of my life called aAdulting”, I must say that I have developed a passion to help other fellow black women reach their highest potential of financial literacy, because it has and continues to help me. I truly believe that financial literacy and independence is a vehicle to empowerment, lifelong stability, and true access for all.
What is the first step one should do when they want to get their finances together?
You have to budget! In order to do that, you must first organize your expenses and income. You need to be in control of where your money is going at all times. There are several ways to track your spending. I tend to use the old school way and created an excel sheet with all my bills first. Tracking what I owe essentially helps me make these bills a priority and then everything left over is moving around money. Now my way only tracks the bills and where I send my money but I also heard of good apps, such as Mint and Penny, that track your spending down to the cent. This is helpful because the software tracks your spending habits. I recently starting using these two and so far have enjoyed what they do for me. Mint helps you see everything in one place, which helps when you have more than one checking, savings and or credit account open. You can even add in your monthly bills and they can send alerts to you when they are due. Penny is a fun way to learn about your spending habits. Penny is a robot that sends messages about your overall transactions from month to month. It shares cool facts about your spending habits and keeping you on target with a budget if you have one.
Why do you believe a black woman's net worth is on a smaller scale compared to others and how did this knowledge affect your spending habits?
Well it’s pretty simple and we can all thank the Gender Pay gap for that. Studies show that black women were paid 63 percent of what non-Hispanic white men were paid in 2015 meaning that we as black women typically have to work about 19 months more to be paid what the average white man takes home in 12 months. You don’t have to be good at math to see that this clearly does not add up. Knowing this fact didn’t initially affect my spending habits directly at first. I think I personally just wanted to know how to close this gap. In addition to that, I discovered that the particular industry you work in plays a huge role on how much this pay gap affects you. For example, Black women who work in healthcare and education industries tend to experience more of the pay gap than black women in engineering and/or tech fields, (STEM). With that knowledge, I am grateful that I chose a STEM major and I’m in an industry that experiences the lower side of the pay gap. However, it’s still awful to know that I am not paid equally for the same work as my male colleagues. This is why I look up to amazing role models such as Oprah Winfrey and try to learn new ways on how to close the pay gap as well or set up incomes that make up for the pay gap difference. I’ve read in many places that the average millionaire has at least seven incomes. At this particular moment in time, I have one, which is fine since I just started working, but I am seeking out ways to gain a few more incomes that don’t require much labor.
What advice would you give to people who are in poverty in high school and looking to better their lives and go to college with limited funds?
My advice would be to do as I did, and that was simply make sure you were exceling in your academic classes and if you were having trouble in a subject, be able to explain why and what you are doing to achieve better grades. If you were involved in any extracurricular activities, (which is key), make sure you can speak about them in a way that highlights your compassion and commitment to it. This will help you be a better candidate for not only college but for scholarship opportunities as well. Community service also helps so be sure to speak of how much time is devoted to the service and how many people are affected. I also would say work with what you have! Apply for need-based scholarships along with merit scholarships. There is plenty of money out there—you just have to be willing to look for it and do your due diligence. I was technically a first generation four years college student so I sought out scholarships that helped students like me. Find scholarships that fit your needs.
If money is tight, perhaps stick with going to an in-state school where you can pay less expensive tuition just by being a resident of the state. If you are still speculating on what major you would like to pursue, sometimes attending a community college first and knocking out those general requirements would be a more efficient way of spending your money. The biggest key is you have to keep your eyes on the prize majority of the time. Opportunity waits for no one, so it’s best to be prepared and ready for when the time comes so you are already in a position to take on the next level. My mom said it best and I continue to live by her words, “Do what you have to do now, so that you can do what you want to do later.”
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to start to build wealth?
It’s funny you ask that because the same advice I would give to a woman is the same advice I am telling myself as I build my own wealth. I would suggest understanding what wealth really means for you. To some it could be having the luxury to travel on trips anytime they feel like it; to others it can be being debt-free. To me, I want all of what I just stated in addition to creating a foundation to actually build generational wealth for my current family along with my future family to come. So my advice would be to change your mindset. I have read several articles that talked a lot about accumulating wealth. It is not always about having several incomes; it’s also about altering your mind and thinking differently. This rings so true to me, because it is a particular mindset that we all live and function in that makes us do what we do and how we spend. Sometimes it’s because of our socio-economic status and other times it’s deemed by how we were raised. All in all, once we actually shift and alter our minds into thinking more forwardly it can do wonders. I would say I started to think differently as I read more books, articles, and listened to podcasts from successful financial advisors. I realized that I had to make certain sacrifices now if I wanted to benefit from them later on. I had to honestly think of my future-self way more than the current Jadah. What does future Jadah want to do with her life? Does she want to travel, does she want to own a big home, a nice car, etc.? All of these questions helped me get a focus and drive to do what I have to do NOW, so that I can do what I want to do later. Therefore I have started tracking my spending habits, began savings and investing, and living more frugally for the possibility to live a better, more enriching life.
What are your career goals in finance?
There is a world of opportunity in finance and I’m just getting started. I personally see a beauty in not knowing exactly what I want because that leaves a creative road that I will journey on. As I accepted my job offer, I knew I was entering in a field I wasn’t well versed in, so there has been a huge learning curve I have endured. I enjoy the new knowledge I am receiving and gaining in this industry, and seeing where I fit within it. I know that I personally want to go back to school and get my MBA. Recently I have found interest in a particular concentration called Computational Finance, where it utilizes all three fields of interest of mine: Math, Engineering and Finance. So receiving my MBA is definitely a short-term goal of mine, which I can use to help advance my career in finance.
But at the end of it all, my true goals in life outside of my career are to help others and give back, whether that is to be philanthropic or teaching and sharing my knowledge. My true goals for women especially women of color is to be more finically stable, literate and above all else, independent. I truly believe that financial literacy and independence is a vehicle to empowerment, lifelong stability, and true access for all!
Khadejah Stegall is a college mommy blogger that inspires others to achieve the impossible through the power of Jesus. She enjoys family time, eating vegan meals when it's convenient and mentoring others on professional development. To be inspired by more post, follow her blog at khadejahstegall.com