By Tashmica Torok
We are surrounded by fearful exchanges about money. We hear daily murmurs of stock dips, dives and anxieties on the news. We have watched homes empty of families and fill with graffiti. Our retirement funds are draining and we cannot find the hole to stop the plug with our thumbs. Our children sit in the midst of this fog of confusion and uncertainty as we unknowingly burden them with our wringing hands and furrowed brows.
Adults often forget that the youth in our world can also feel the temperature in the room. Teri Williams president and on board of directors of OneUnited Bank – one of the largest black owned banks in the country, has not forgotten. She authored “I Got Bank: What My Granddad Taught Me About Money”, an age appropriate guide to financial literacy targeting urban youth. The story begins with a simple idea passed on from a grandfather to his grandson; ask for a weekly allowance the same as your age and save all of it.
Williams expresses many valuable lessons through the lens of Jazz’s famiy. His sister wants to buy a concert ticket that she cannot afford. She decides to borrow it from a payday loan establishment and through her experiences teaches a big lesson about interest and unethical lending practices. His brother has a bad habit of buying for flash and ignoring affordability. Fortunately, Jazz has a very unlikely ally, his banker Miss Benjamin.
Miss Benjamin helps by explaining obstacles that Jazz must overcome to protect his nest egg. This character is a very wise addition to the story by Williams that dispels the fear that many people have of an open dialogue with those who are working in the banking industry. I find it apparent that this character exemplifies Williams’ passion for spreading financial awareness in an open and positive forum. Jazz visits Miss Benjamin often to ask questions about CD’s, interest rates and eventually about the entrepreneurial ventures of his friend Marquis’ family.
The success of the ideas expressed in this book weigh heavily on children being able to convince parents of all education and income levels to give their children money. Giving a weekly allowance to a child does take a certain amount of family organization that not all families have. Although, as explained in the book, having a child heading off to college with a large nest egg to get them started and the wherewithal to safe guard it will be well worth the effort of any family.
Tashmica Torok is a local entrepreneur, blogger and community activist. She is the co-owner of Heritage Flooring, a professional flooring installation company, the Mid-Michigan Coordinator for the Michigan Darfur Coalition and the author of the popular blog Mother Flippin’: One Funny Mother.
For more information about Tashmica visit
This was printed in the August 28, 2011 - September 10, 2011 Edition