Saturday, May 2, 2020

See The Exclusive Interview With Award Winning Financial Consultant Kara Stevens On Economically Surviving The COVID-19 Crisis

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Award Winning Southeast Queens Financial Consultant Kara Stevens Shares Valuable Insights To Economically Survive The COVID-19 Crisis
Exclusive Interview With Kara Stevens And Kamau Austin

Kara Stevens is a speaker, author, and Founder of the award-winning website, The Frugal Feminista.  She is the author of three financial self-care books, and creator of the 60 Days to Slay Sallie Mae course.

Kara is also a Money And Career columnist for ESSENCE magazine.  Ms. Stevens has been featured in some of the leading magazines and media outlets in the country including Essence, Black Enterprise, USA Today, The Huffington Post, and many more.

Ms. Stevens has an upcoming online seminar May 7th.  She was nice enough to make time to share timely insights with us about essential financial issues within these economically challenging times related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Kamau: Can you tell us a little about your background and life growing up in Southeast Queens.

Kara's Answer: I grew up with my mom and brother in Queens. My mom immigrated to the US from Antigua. She was a registered nurse, but she sometimes worked two or three extra side hustles to ensure that we had a comfortable upbringing and access to the best education. Even though she tried to keep a strong facade, I knew that things weren’t always easy for her or for us, by default. 

But her sacrifices made it possible for me to dream big and have the skills to actually go after them. I’m truly grateful to her because of this.

Kamau: What inspired you to go into your present business?  When did you decide that helping women become financially successful was of utmost importance?

Kara's Answer: I think necessity inspired me! I had graduated from college and had no clue about how I could repay my student loans or the credit card bills I had racked up along the way. 

I remember getting a credit card bill in the mail and getting upset with the credit card companies for sending it to me. I had honestly thought that if I had ignored them, they would get the hint and buzz off. So when I opened the bill to see that my balance had gone up because of late fees, I was confused. 

My mother was there in the background and giving me major sideeye. When I shared with her that I didn’t think I had to repay the credit card bill (or my student loans—because I was also ignoring the statements), she set me straight really quick. 

The one thing that I was confident about was my ability to learn. So I ended up taking a “dollar cab” on Jamaica Ave to the Central Library and asking the librarian to show if there were books about money. 

I found the book "Girl, Get Your Money Straight," and it changed my life. Before then, I never knew that there was a section on money or understood the impact debt (education or consumer) had on my future. I eventually devoured any and all personal finance books that I could find and shared my feelings and thoughts about the process of “adulting” when it came to money on a blogspot, which eventually evolved into The Frugal Feminista.

Initially, I didn’t think anybody would listen to me or my thoughts about money, but they did. I would get emails first from my friends when I missed sending out a blog post asking for when it would be coming out. Then, I started to get feedback from perfect strangers about how they loved the content on the site because it was real and relatable. Next, the companies and brands reached out to get in front of my audience or to get my input on their developments.

I’ve always been a fierce advocate of women’s equality and knew the role that education, and education about money, played in mine so I knew that anything I’d do around money would have to support women that loved like me to shine and thrive.

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Kamau: What is the name and services you offer in your business? 

Kara's Answer: The name of my company is The Frugal Feminista, which is a financial wellness platform committed to helping women heal their relationship with money, learn to save and slay student loan debt so they can live life on their own terms. 

To this end, I’ve written books like:

  • Heal Your Relationship With Money
  • The Happy Finances Challenge and...
  • Unmasking the Strong Black Woman," which was named a Top Personal Finance Book by a Black Author by Black in 2019.

I also create online courses like 60 Days to Slay Sallie Mae to ensure that Black women are not as clueless as I was during the repayment process. 

As a Money and Career columnist for ESSENCE, I pen digital and print articles that inspire and inform Black women on how to secure the bag at work and at home.  Additionally, I partner with brands in creating digital content or in-person events to amplify their messages. 

Also, I speak at universities and colleges around themes of financial healing, building generational wealth, and preparing for financial success post-college. Finally, I offer one-on-one financial coaching to women in need of accountability and money management skill-development. 

As a M/BWE enterprise, I also work with various city agencies to support their financial literacy programming agenda as either a content creator or workshop facilitator. 

Kamau:  What is the uniqueness in your financial coaching business in contrast to similar businesses in the area?  Can you give us some quick tips on how women can be more financial viable?

Kara's Answer: What makes my financial coaching sessions unique and successful in the long run is the amount of time we focus on my clients’ relationship with money. When you have an understanding of your beliefs, feelings, and memories around money, you gain rich insight into your financial decisions. This gives you power to change them.


Here are a few money tips while we’re in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic:

Prepare your finances: If you never believed that there was a need for such thing as an emergency fund, let the coronavirus' impact on the global economy offer some evidence. Begin to reduce non-essential spending and begin to save with intention. Since there's a chance that we may be headed into a recession, which could lead to layoffs, use your time at work to save as much money as possible so you can have at least 6 months worth of savings tucked away.

Now that many federal and state governments are putting pauses on interest payments for student loans, mortgage payments, and other money-related perks, stash that freed up money for saving or for future opportunities in the stock market.  Manage your consumption of media: If you feel anxious and tenuous about your future every time you tune into the news, perhaps it's time to tune out.

Plug into financial content that aligns with your goals before the coronavirus pandemic. Return to the blogs and podcasts that offer you information, inspiration, and encouragement.  Speak to your financial advisor. Get an educated opinion about what your best options are.

A financial advisor will help round out your perspective by giving you insight into past economic recovery trends as well as their forecasts for future financial patterns. If you don’t have one, ask within your network for recommendations.

Add to your streams of income with a product or online business. No industry is immune to the impact of coronavirus, but some are in a better position to offset the blow because they have a business model that includes products and services that can be delivered remotely.

Kamau: Can you tell us about some of the challenges you've had in business and how did you overcome them?

Kara's Answer: With the current coronavirus pandemic, I’ve had many of my speaking engagements postponed or cancelled. Since I already have a footprint in the digital space, the pivot to working online more has been easier, though definitely not easy. 

Prior to the pandemic, I think my biggest challenge was building a team that could help me more forward with the vision. I overcame that by outsourcing some of the tasks that I either didn’t like or wasn’t good at to help me stay focused on the things that I could only do for the business.

And since I’ve been told that I’m not the most patient person, I think that one of my biggest challenges in business is me. My mindset. So I’ve invested in business coaches to offer me strategy, therapy for my stress, a personal trainer and accountability partner to help me make healthy choices. Since a lot of my work requires me to be on social media, I try to keep my social media consumption to a minimum to keep me productive and in a happy place emotionally.  

Kamau: What is the best way to contact you?

Kara's Answer: The best way to contact me is through the contact form on The Frugal Feminista, especially if you’d like to invite me to speak at your next event or if you have question about an offering. I also have a free Facebook group called The Happy Finances Community where women can connect with other likeminded women focused on getting their emotions and their money right. 

You can also follow me on IG at @frugalfeminista.

Kamau: Can you tell us about some of your goals and plans for the future of your business?

Kara's Answer: My plan is to continue to support the financial empowerment of women that look like me through speaking, writing, coaching, and content creation. 

The plans for a Frugal Feminista app is in the idea-tion stage, but I’m excited about it because I think it’ll fill a much needed gap in the financial industry services. 

Kamau: Do you have any programs and training seasons coming up soon.

Kara's Answer: The benefit of having a digital platform is that anyone can access any of my programs, anywhere in the world, anytime that they want. 

As for the in-person events, we’re going to pivot to having them online. Anyone that is a part of The Frugal Feminista family and email list will be the first ones to receive the information.
I am doing an upcoming online seminar with BlaQue Resource Group, May 7th, 2020.  You can sign up for it now just click here  

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Posted by community events coordinator, Nzinga Lonstein Austin, is a prolific blogger who writes on the entertainment industry and issues for people with developmental and physical challenges.

She is presently in high school looking to have a career in video, film, and media. You can see more of her entertainment writing on Lonstein Movies.

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