HILL HARPER IS TEACHING FINANCIAL LITERACY

Encore: April 29, 2021

April is financial literacy month, a time when personal financial education is promoted across the country. And as lockdowns ease and the economy embarks on a road to recovery, it’s important to consider your personal finances and how to best position yourself for financial recovery and long term financial success

So tonight, as part of our Chasing The Dream initiative, we’re taking a close look at your finances with film and tv star and financial literacy activist Hill Harper who is on a mission to help people gain positive financial momentum.

 

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

> HI.

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

REGARDLESS OF YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION, THE PANDEMIC LIKELY AFFECTED THE WAY YOU SPENT AND SAVED MONEY.

AS LOCKDOWNS BEGIN TO EASE AND THE ECONOMY BEGINS TO GET BACK TO NORMAL, IT'S IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL FINANCES AND HOW BEST TO POSITION YOURSELF FOR LONG-TERM FINANCIAL SUCCESS.

THERE'S NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW TO DO THAT, AS APRIL IS FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH, A TIME WHEN WE PROMOTE FINANCIAL EDUCATION ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE, I'M JOINED NOW BY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR AND FINANCIAL LITERACY ACTIVIST HILL HARPER.

HILL'S GOING TO DISCUSS WHAT FINANCIAL LITERACY MEANS AND HOW IT CAN HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR FINANCIAL DREAMS.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU.

GREAT TO BE ON.

FIRST OFF, JUST THE TERM FINANCIAL LITERACY IS SOMETHING OF PERHAPS A MISNOMER TO A LOT OF PEOPLE, SO JUST GIVE US A DEFINITION OF WHAT THAT IS.

SURE.

FINANCIAL LITERACY IS LITERALLY THE START.

IT'S THE BEGINNING OF BEING INTENTIONAL AROUND TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES AND ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDING MONEY.

THAT'S WHAT I TALK ABOUT.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE TEACH MATH K-12, BUT WE DON'T TEACH MONEY IN SCHOOL, FOR INSTANCE.

FINANCIAL LITERACY IS JUST THE BEGINNING TO BUILD FINANCIAL CAPACITY AND BE FINANCIALLY EMPOWERED.

THAT'S KIND OF THE LINE THAT I LIKE TO TALK ABOUT.

BUT YOU'VE GOT TO START WITH LEARNING FIRST.

THEN YOU LEARN SOMETHING AND YOU APPLY IT.

THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT.

FINANCIAL LITERACY IS LEARNING ABOUT MONEY, LEARNING ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY AND HOW YOU USE THAT TOOL THAT IS MONEY IN EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE, YOUR FAMILY'S LIFE AND YOUR COMMUNITY.

SO THAT'S WHY THIS DISCUSSION IS SO IMPORTANT AND THAT'S WHY APRIL BEING FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH IS CRITICAL, BECAUSE WE WANT TO HAVE THESE DISCUSSIONS.

OF COURSE.

AS YOU DISCUSSED THAT, IT'S ALMOST LIKE SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE TAUGHT PERHAPS ALONG WITH MATH OR READING, IT'S NOT.

SO IT IS VERY MYSTIFIED AND SHROUDED AND UNCERTAINTY FOR A LOT OF AMERICANS.

I WANT TO GET YOUR TAKE ON HOW YOU BEGIN TO DEMYSTIFY SOMETHING AS INTIMIDATING AS FINANCES.

THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

THE FIRST THING FOLKS NEED TO DO IS UNDERSTAND THAT THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY IS NOT THEM, MEANING, THEIR CREDIT SCORE IS NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU.

SO MANY OF US HAVE ANXIETY IN THE ISSUES AROUND MONEY AND TALKING ABOUT IT, FIRST AND FOREMOST.

SO YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND MONEY IS SIMPLY JUST A TOOL.

THINK ABOUT MONEY LIKE YOU THINK ABOUT A HAMMER, RIGHT?

YOU DON'T GET ALL EMOTIONAL ABOUT A HAMMER.

IT'S JUST A TOOL.

MONEY'S THE SAME THING.

JUST LIKE A HAMMER, IF YOUR GOAL IS TO POUND A NAIL, A HAMMER IS A REALLY EFFECTIVE TOOL.

IT CAN IMPROVE YOUR EFFICIENCY AND THE QUALITY OF YOUR WORK, RIGHT?

BUT IF YOU HAVE TO CLEAN WOOD FLOORS AND YOU USE THE SAME TOOL, A HAMMER, TO CLEAN THOSE FLOORS, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD.

YOU'RE GOING TO ACTUALLY HURT THE FLOORS.

MONEY IS EXACTLY THE SAME.

IF YOU BE AGNOSTIC ABOUT IT, IT'S JUST A TOOL TO HELP YOU BUILD THE LIFE YOU WANT.

EVERYONE'S DIFFERENT, SO USING THAT TOOL IS DIFFERENT.

SAY, HEY, I WANT TO USE THAT TOOL OF MONEY EFFECTIVELY TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO DO.

IF I USE IT IN THE WRONG WAY, IT'S NOT JUST A ZERO SUM, I'M ACTUALLY GOING TO HURT MY LIFE.

IF I RUN UP A LOT OF DEBT AND I HAVE A BAD CREDIT SCORE, IT'S GOING TO HURT MY LIFE AND THOSE AROUND ME BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO BE A DRAG ON ME.

I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT DEBT BEING LIKE A TYPE OF BONDAGE OR SLAVERY.

WE HAVE TO RELEASE OURSELVES FROM THAT TYPE OF BONDAGE BECAUSE IT CAN KEEP YOU CAUGHT.

THAT'S WHY IT HAS TO START WITH FINANCIAL LITERACY.

IT'S NOT YOU.

YOUR CREDIT SCORE IS NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU, SO DON'T GET PERSONAL ABOUT IT.

THEREFORE, TREAT IT LIKE A HAMMER.

WHAT IS THIS TOOL OF MONEY AND HOW CAN I USE IT EFFECTIVE LY T ACHIEVE THE GOALS I HAVE FOR MYSELF, MY FAMILY AND MY COMMUNITY.

THAT'S A GREAT ANALOGY, ALTHOUGH I WOULD POINT OUT THAT MOST PEOPLE AREN'T TAUGHT TO NEVER TALK ABOUT A HAMMER, BUT MOST OF US ARE TAUGHT NOT TO TALK ABOUT FINANCES.

THAT'S CONSIDERED IMPOLITE.

YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

THERE WAS A STUDY THAT CAME OUT RECENTLY THAT SAID THAT PEOPLE ARE MORE APT TO REVEAL INFIDELITY THAN THEY ARE TO TALK ABOUT THEIR CREDIT SCORE.

BUT THAT SPEAKS TO THE FOUNDATIONAL ISSUE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

THE MORE THAT WE CAN BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT MONEY REALLY IS AND HOW OUR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY IMPACTS EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIFE, THEN WE COULD ACTUALLY SORT OF DEMYSTIFY IT AND HAVE PEOPLE SEE IT IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

SO THAT'S WHY WORKING WITH E EXPERION BOOST.

YOU GO IN AND ADD TO YOUR PAYMENT SCORE BECAUSE YOU ADD POSITIVE PAYMENT HISTORY.

IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW YOUR CREDIT SCORE WORKS, THE POSITIVE PAYMENT HISTORY ACTUALLY IMPACTS YOUR CREDIT SCORE POSITIVELY, YOU WOULDN'T KNOW TO EVEN DO THAT.

WE HAVE TO HAVE THESE DISCUSSIONS SO THAT PEOPLE CAN LEARN AND THEN APPLY WHAT THEY LEARN THROUGH REAL ACTION.

SO YOU ALSO IN YOUR ANALOGY WITH THE HAMMER, YOU BROUGHT UP SOMETHING THAT IS INCREDIBLY INTEGRAL TO THIS CONVERSATION.

CLEANING A FAMILIAR LOOR WITH A.

AT THE SAME TIME THAT WE'RE TAUGHT NOT TO TALK ABOUT FINANCIAL MATTERS, A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THEIR CREDIT SCORE, THERE'S ALSO THE NOTION THAT FINANCIAL LITERACY IS SOMETHING FOR WEALTHY PEOPLE.

YOU HAVE TO ACCRUE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY TO EVEN BE BOTHERED WITH THAT.

WHAT IF YOU ARE SOMEBODY WHO IS MAKING A LIVING CLEANING FLOORS OR SOMETHING?

THAT TENDS TO BE THE PART OF THE POPULATION THAT NEEDS THIS INFORMATION THE MOST, BUT FEELS UNENTITLED TO IT.

ABSOLUTELY.

HERE'S A SAD FACT, THAT A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF THE FINANCIAL PRODUCTS THAT ARE OFFERED INTO MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES TEND TO BE PREDATORY OR HIDDEN PREDATORY.

AND FOLKS GET HURT ALL THE TIME.

THERE'S THIS OLD SAYING, IT'S EXPENSIVE TO BE POOR.

IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT PAYDAY LENDERS, CHECK CASHING SPOTS, RENT TO OWN, EVEN CERTAIN BANKING FACILITIES.

THERE ARE LAWSUITS WITH BANKS WHERE PEOPLE HAD $800 IN THEIR SAVINGS, BUT THEY'RE GETTING CHARGED $250 A YEAR IN OVERDRAFT FEES OR NOT HITTING THE ACCOUNT LIMIT FEES.

THESE ARE HIDDEN PREDATORY PRACTICES THAT BEFALL MANY MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES.

THE MORE FOLKS CAN LEARN ABOUT THIS, THEY REALIZE THEY'VE BEEN PAYING 200-300% INTEREST ON SOME THINGS.

IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO BUILD SAVINGS IF YOU'RE HAVING SO MUCH MONEY RIPPED OUT OF THE COMMUNITY.

WE KNOW THERE'S PEOPLE WITH THREE JOBS THAT ARE BARELY MAKING ENDS MEET BECAUSE THERE'S SO MANY HIDDEN COSTS BEFALLING THEM.

THAT'S WHY I WROTE THE BOOK 'THE WEALTH CURE' TO DEAL WITH THE WEALTH GAP.

WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS, EXPOSE THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE AND SAY THERE ARE ALTERNATIVE CHOICE LS S FOLKS C MAKE TO IMPROVE THEIR FINANCIAL FUTURE AND FOUNDATION.

WE DID PUT THIS AGAINST THE EXPERIENCE THAT ALL OF US IN VERY DIFFERENT WAYS.

I'M WONDERING WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS NOT SURE WHAT THE FIRST STEP IS, BUT HOW DO THEY GO ABOUT IMPROVING THEIR CREDIT SCORE IN A RUTHLESSLY CAPITALISTIC SOCIETY?

THERE'S A COUPLE THINGS.

NUMBER ONE, TAKING A STEP BACK FROM YOUR CREDIT SCORE, IF THE AND TAUGHT US ANYTHING, I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND AND BE PUTTING MONEY AWAY INTO THAT BUCKET.

JUST THINK OF AN EMERGENCY FUND AS A BUCKET.

HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NUMBER YOU NEED?

THIS IS IT.

THINK ABOUT WHAT YOUR ACTUAL NEEDS ARE TO LIVE, WHICH IS, HOUSING, FOOD, WATER, SHELTER AND UTILITIES, ELECTRICITY, GAS BILL.

FOR ME, I ALSO ADD IN MY T TELECOM, MY PHONE BILL.

I PUT THAT INTO A NUMBER.

WHATEVER THAT MONTHLY NUMBER IS, I WANT TO HAVE AT LEAST SIX MONTHS OF THAT EMERGENCY FUND IN SAVINGS.

NOW, THAT DOESN'T NECESSARILY DIRECTLY IMPACT YOUR CREDIT SCORE, BUT IT IMPACTS YOUR LIFE.

THE MORE THE BETTER FOR THE EMERGENCY FUND.

THE SECOND STEP IS TO LOOK AT YOUR HIGHEST INTEREST DEBT THAT YOU'RE CARRYING AND START COMING UP WITH A PLAN TO PAY THAT DOWN.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE IT ALL ON IN ONE MONTH AND SHAME YOURSELF AND FEEL BAD ABOUT IT, BUT START HAVING A CONCENTRATED PLAN TO PAY DOWN YOUR HIGHEST INTEREST DEBT.

THAT WILL BEGIN OVER TIME TO IMPACT YOUR CREDIT SCORE.

THE OTHER PIECE IS EXPERION BOOST.

YOU GO ONTO EXPERION.COM/BOOST.

IF YOU'RE PAYING A BILL THROUGH A CREDIT CARD OR YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, YOUR NETFLIX OR HULU OR A UTILITY, YOU CAN ADD THAT POSITIVE PAYMENT HISTORY TO YOUR FILE AND HOPEFULLY BOOSTS YOUR CREDIT SCORE.

NOW 50 MILLION POINTS HAVE BEEN ADDED TO PEOPLE'S SCORES THROUGH EXPERION BOOST, WHICH I THINK IS GREAT.

THAT'S ANOTHER THING.

ALSO, CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE REGULARLY.

YOU BEING INTENTIONAL ABOUT IT AND LEARNING ABOUT WHAT GOES INTO CREATING THAT ALGORITHM HELPS YOU IMPROVE YOUR SCORE.

THE INTENTIONALITY HELPS.

IF WE JUST BURY OUR HEAD IN THE SAND, ACT LIKE THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO THAT'S THE ABSOLUTELY WRONG THING.

WE WANT TO BE INTENTIONAL.

WE WANT TO BE CHECKING OUR SCORE.

WE WANT TO BE UTILITIZING FREE TOOLS TO HELP OUR SCORE IMPROVE.

HILL, HARPER, I WANT TO CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS' AND GIVING US SOME SUGGESTIONS AND TIPS AND TOOLS OF THE TRADE.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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