Saving, Education & Role Models
Here we are, once again, another episode of The Chirp! Last week, if you missed our conversation, you missed a good one. We welcomed the CEO and idea man behind Pigeon Loans, Brian Bristol to the show. It was a long time coming, but we finally got to hear from the originator behind this community, and boy was it a great discussion. From stories of family support in trying times to poignant insight on how the future of finances will shift towards a dependence on community, you don't want to miss this dialogue. So before you tune in to this week's conversation, listen to Brian tell his story in Story 15: We Need A Bridge To Get Through This Crazy World We Live In.
In our conversation this week, we got a chance to speak with a phenomenal woman by the name of Brenda Olmos. Brenda is the co-host of Minority Millenial Money, an amazing podcast in which she is having open, candid, and refreshing conversations with others about the taboo aspects of personal finance. Having grown up in a feast or feminine financial upbringing herself, Brenda began mastering the art of personal finance in her mid-twenties and has since dedicated a significant part of her life to educating her friends, family, and the general public about the financial opportunities we all have access to. You'll hear stories of "unpaid friendships", garner insights about investing, and maybe even pick up a little motivation to start planning for your financial future - we're excited to bring you this episode!
This Episode In A Nutshell
Knowing how to navigate your finances is a tough skill to master. With money being a taboo topic within our communities and relationships, it's hard to learn the right strategies to secure a stable financial future for yourself when very few are willing to talk candidly about these topics. Even with this unfortunate reality in mind, there are, however, resources and people out there trying to change this guarded narrative. One such pioneer, Brenda Olmos, a first-generation American, registered nurse securing a Ph.D., and co-host of the podcast, Minority Millenial Money, is altering the way we think about money by creating spaces to educate, communicate, and foster open dialogue around the taboo aspects of personal finance. Listen to Brenda as she dives deep into articulating the positive effects talking about money openly can have on everyone.
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Audio Transcript of Story 16: Take The Taboo Out Of Your Finances
Welcome back to Episode 16 of The Chirp. A Podcast by Pigeon Loans where we take away the taboo of awkward lending stories between friends and family, push them out into the open for everyone to hear, and educate you on how to best handle your loans.
I have a wonderful interview for you all this week, and while her main occupation is as a nurse, Brenda Olmos is also the co-host of Minority Millenial Money, a podcast that discusses budgeting, investing, saving, career and relationships.
And what drew me to Brenda and why I knew she would make such an excellent guest is that she believes in talking about finance and loans and relationships, how they're are all intertwined, and, of course, that all these topics should be talked about in a friendly, open way.
While Brenda has been extremely hard-working and successful in her role as a nurse, being financially secure in her 20s prompted her to educate herself on what was best practice for her personal finance, making some mistakes of course along the way but now coming out on the other side with an abundance of knowledge in personal finance and is now passing all that on, which is what we love to hear about at The Chirp.
We want to also grow our community, we want to educate our listeners on the do’s and don'ts of money and loans, and Brenda’s authenticity and wisdom were great to hear.
So stick around ‘till the end to hear her details and podcast information if you want to check her and her co-host Amber out on Minority Millenial Money as well, I really hope you enjoy this interview.
Brenda. Thank you so much for joining me today on The Chirp. It's a pleasure to have you on. Hows things?
I'm great! Greetings from Austin, Texas!
Lovely, lovely. Thank you. Well, firstly, we'd love to know a little bit about your backstory. What is your story up until this moment?
Yeah, I am a first-generation American, so my parents are both Mexican immigrants and I grew up, mostly, in a small town in Texas, but I was born in Southern California and I went to UT Austin, University of Texas, at Austin for nursing.
I became a nurse in 2011 and then I became a nurse practitioner in 2017, which here in the US it's a career where you're a nurse with a master's degree and under the prescriptive delegation of a physician, you can also prescribe medications and diagnose and treat just like a physician. There are some limitations, but it's kinda way to have people have more access to primary care.
So I do that and then currently, I'm in a PhD program, full-time. I'm getting a PhD in nursing. I know that a lot of people don't know that you can do that, but you can, and it makes you a nurse scientist. So I'm in my second year and I'm hoping to finish in three years. So that's kinda where I'm at.
And I've been interested in personal finance for about six or seven years now since I was in my mid-twenties. And I love investing. I love talking about finance and that's how you and I got connected!
Yeah, absolutely. Good to hear. And on top of everything that you do, you are the co-host of the Minority Millennial Money podcast. I’d love to chat to you a little bit about that. I've had a listen, it's great. I recommend it to everyone. What prompted that, what were your motivations for getting that going?
So I think that for many of us who are like me, children of immigrants who don't have a lot of personal finance education or come from situations in poverty here in the US, like my co-host Amber.
We don't have a lot of role models, right, that are managing their money well, and so I had always had the idea to start a podcast and she had always had the idea to start a podcast. And we met on Twitter a couple of years ago and just hit it off and decided to start the podcast about a year ago.
And yeah, it's been great. We've gotten good feedback. And honestly, I think that representation matters in this space as well. People of color want to see people that look like them and it creates a bit more of a trust, right? It's like, okay, somebody that looks like me saying these things and they did it. And so I think I can do it too.
That's brilliant. And you touched off it there because I heard you say, I think it was your either your first episode or your teaser episode, that, “Full disclosure, we aren't financial experts or financial advisors, but we do have our own stories and experiences, and we have conversations about this.”
I'd love to get your thoughts...can you speak to the importance of having these conversations alongside having, financial advisors and that service as well? Why is having normal conversations with normal people just as important as hiring a professional?
Right. Yeah, one of our little taglines is we take the taboo out of your financial data tabulations. And I think that in regular culture, it's taboo to talk about money, to talk about how much you mean to talk about what you invest. And Amber and I met on Money Twitter on personal finance, Twitter, where people talk openly about their finances, their expenses, their income, their investing strategies.
And so there's a little bit of a niche culture there, right? And we're trying to normalize that, trying to say, “It's okay to talk about it. And actually, you can benefit a lot from talking about it and there's no shame associated with debt.”
A lot of us have debt. If anything, everybody starts somewhere, right? And if you don't talk about it, you can't start. Especially if you have no one really educating you, then you are prey for predatory marketing schemes, multilevel marketing, crypto scams, all this stuff that you see on Instagram and Twitter.
So it's good to like not only have a community online, but to normalize it in your daily life. I'm very open with my friends and they don't have to reciprocate, but I just want to let them know that like it's safe with me, and that it's okay to talk about it because so many people suffer in silence with money issues because we make it so taboo.
And we are so interested in stories where relationships have been affected by money and loans. I'm wondering, Brenda, do you have any stories like this from your past where, positive or negative, relationships in your life have been affected by lending or debt or something similar?
Yeah, ever since I was 21 and been a registered nurse, so I've always had a very steady income. And I've had family members that knew that and when they were struggling, asked to borrow money and I've allowed that to happen and really struggled to enforce that repayment.
Because then it's like, am I straining the relationship with this? And I would always regret, you know there's a double-edged sword of, do I say no and damage the relationship that way? Or do I say yes and risk losing the money and then, technically I have resentment now, right? Because I felt that they didn't respect me enough or didn't respect my time and my energy and my work to pay me back.
And, I have had one particular situation with one family member where it was, it was a substantial amount of money. I mean, it was almost $10,000 and I was told it would be paid back in six to eight months and then eight months came around. When I saw them, I didn't say anything about it because honestly, I didn't need the money at that time.
But there was some tension that I didn't sense until they brought it up and they thought that it was because I was angry about the money not being paid back. And I was like, honestly, I’m not even thinking about that, but now that you mention it… like, yeah, you should pay me back?
And so I think it's important to have a platform like Pigeon Loans where there's transparency on both ends and you don't have to embed that loan into the dynamics of the relationship, right? Because you don't want to go to Easter lunch and be like, oh my gosh, how am I going to act around them? Because I am worried about this loan or that I'm not clear on the terms.
Yeah, we've all been there.
Like sometimes somebody will ask you for money and you're like, "yeah, okay". And you forget to ask like, hey, when do you think you'll pay me back? And if you don't ask in that moment, it becomes difficult to ask later, right? So yeah, I have had that happen and now I've lost track.
I probably do still have money owed to me, but at this point it's like, I have no documentation. It just happened and I'm fortunate in that I didn't need it back. And it was family, but at the same time, you have to set boundaries.
And this just happened yesterday. I took my uncle to the doctor. And by the time it was time to pay the co-pay, he had already walked out cause he's a little bit slow to get moving. So I gave him a head start. And so I paid, like, $20. And when I got back, my aunt asked me how much it had been or something. And I said it was $20, but I paid it because he had already gone off with his wallet.
And I don't think he did it on purpose. I purposely told him to walk off but she said a little phrase like, ‘paid debts make for good friendships’ or something like that. I was like, don't worry about it. It's fine. It was just $20. And she was like, no, no paid depts make for good friendships!
I was like, okay!
They make for good friendships. But when they're not paid, it's actually a fee to get rid of a friend you don't need as well! I've heard that one before too.
Sometimes it can be a very expensive fee, right!
Yeah, brilliant. As a fellow millennial as well, what are some of the things that you wish you knew growing up with money and seemingly having quite a bit as well in your twenties?
Yeah. I grew up with a lot of financial instability, right. So it's not that I was always poor, but that it was really feast or famine in my house. And, as I became an adult, I decided I wasn't going to live that way. Like I wanted to have a stable financial life and I really didn't come across personal finance education ‘till I was 26 or so.
And I was in graduate school and thankfully I had always been debt averse and the hospital I worked for was paying for my master's degree. I started learning about investing and I was like, oh wow, I've been saving money, but I didn't know what to do with it. It was just sitting in a savings account.
And Amber and I talk about this one of our episodes, but I didn't know that you could just invest on your own. So I went to Wells Fargo and I had an advisor tell me that I had to have $25,000 to be able to open a portfolio with them. And I did that. And a year later realized like that was kind of a scam.
Like I could have started with a hundred dollars in like Betterment or M1 Finance or something like that. So I wish I had learned about investing when I was 18 and could have opened a brokerage account and just put a little bit of money in it or when I was 21 and I got my first job. I was used to having little money having been in college and I could have maxed out my 401k since I was 21 instead of 26.
So in a sense, I lost about five years there where that money could have compounded in the market from 2013 to 16. So, it's never too late, but if I could go back, I wish somebody had told me when I was 21, you may not be making much, but the money that you can invest at that time has so much time to grow.
And so you really need to capitalize on those early years in your twenties. And it's hard to be like, well, "I'm young, like retirement is so far away", but like now that I'm 32 and I've been in the workforce for over 10 years, I'm like, I wish retirement was a little bit closer!
Oh, I remember being in one of my full-time jobs in my mid-twenties. Someone had a little talk, and a resident financial advisor or something in the company was saying, “Unfortunately you have to start thinking about your pension.” And I was like, “No, I don't, I'm 25!” But you do thank yourself, or so I'm told, you thank yourself down the road when you look back, at your older self.
But yeah, it's interesting to hear you talk about your own self-education. Was it all you, or was it a passion that just grew over the last kind of decade, how did you educate yourself?
I first started with like some podcasts, the Stacking Benjamins podcast Afford Anything by Paula Pant. And then I had always been somewhat active on Twitter, but I became more involved with people who were talking about personal finance on Twitter. And yeah, just reading websites, reading blogs, and talking with people online. Realizing that a lot of these principles I could apply myself like dollar-cost averaging, just investing the same amount every two weeks, no matter what.
I honestly don't look at the stock market. I don't pay attention to the little ups and downs. I don't invest in individual stocks. I was actually just talking to my boyfriend yesterday. He's like “Netflix went down again. I'm done with individual stocks!” And I was like, see, I don't play those games. I invest and I let it grow.
I buy and hold and I don't let it affect my emotional state day-to-day, but maybe that's just because I'm really busy with other things. I think it's a healthy approach to learn the principles, apply them, and now everything's automated, right? I'm like, okay, mathematically, I have enough money that I'll be able to retire when I'm 45 and there's nothing I can really do now to mess that up.
Because my retirement accounts are not accessible. I mean… they all are, but with huge penalties. So I'm not going to go into them and I have automated my investments as part of my budget. And so I know I need to make enough money to invest into my Roth IRA. And I know that you're in Ireland, right. So maybe different.
I’m an Irishman in Spain.
Yeah. So in the US, we have like multiple different types of retirement accounts. And so I'm just trying to maximize my tax sheltering so that I don't have to pay so much taxes during these years, these are my highest income-earning years, right?
And I'm single with no kids. So I really don't get any tax breaks. I'd probably pay at least a third of my income in taxes. So if I can find any tax shelter I do. But yeah, it was a lot of self-education and then just like tapping into a community, whether it's on Instagram or Twitter or something locally, like I know that ChooseFI they have a local group and a lot of the major cities, I know there's one here in Austin.
To just get to know people that are like-minded, because if you get caught up with people who are not saving, not investing, just spending all their money and going into debt, then that's what you do, right? You just do what your friends are doing and so it's good to find a community of people that encourage you and have similar goals.
So I was listening to your Bigger Pockets episode and you were saying… yes it was very good. I'd recommend that to our listeners as well. But you were saying how open you are about your finances and that's evident in this interview as well. You were saying how open you are with men that you were dating as well.
Why do you think there is that privacy around things like that? Because I don't think there is necessarily a simple answer to that question. If people are private, that's all well and good, but if you're dating someone, shouldn't the veil be lifted a little bit?
Why do you think there is that stigma, and maybe more with men than with women about discussing your personal finances?
So you mean it's harder for men to disclose that stuff?
Maybe, or maybe it's just, it's more typical of men to be shady or more private about it.
Yeah, I think modern dating culture is difficult in general, right? So there's that aspect. Then there's the trepidation I think on the side of men that are worried that like women are just using them as a meal ticket, right? And, also that women are looking for someone to provide for them, which honestly, I think that's a biological instinct in women.
I recognize that in myself also, right? Like it's just attractive to want to be with someone who could provide for you and your family. Like that's just a biological need. But at the same time, there are women who take that to the extreme and feel that they're entitled to it, right? And so you don't want that.
But I'm pretty open. I mean, I don't tell people on the first date, “Hey, I have two rental properties and I'll be financially independent at 45.” Like, I don't do that. I think it's important to be transparent, you know especially if you see a relationship going forward. I don't know if you listen to Ramit Sethi’s podcast, but this week he had an episode where there is this engaged couple, and one of the partners didn't share with the other that she had a hundred thousand dollars of student loans until they got engaged.
And I just think like that's insane, and I don't have anything against people who have student loan debt because that's super common in the US, but at the same time, it's like, I can't really trust you if we can't be financially transparent, right? And it's also like, in my relationship, it works out great because he knows that.
He knows the proportion that I can contribute to the relationship, right? And he makes more than me. And so we split our costs according to the proportion of our incomes. And so that feels fair. And so it's not like, oh, he pays more because he's the man. No, he pays more because he makes more.
And there are things that we do for each other that are like off the books and they're just gifts or… like we don't split everything. There does have to be a sense of fairness on both sides. And I think we're in an age where traditional dating norms are phasing out, but there are still little pieces of them that remain. Like men pay for first dates… or chivalry.
Yeah! And it's like, you still want that. But I can see how that can get expensive for men!
Absolutely. And going back to Minority Millennial Money. What are your plans for the future? What are you hoping to achieve in the next wee while? Are you looking to grow, and are you enjoying it?
Yeah, actually! So this started as a hobby for Amber and me to just record our conversations and have people on who wanted to talk with us about money and, we actually are having a speaking engagement next week with a large university in California.
And so we're talking to graduating college students about postgraduate life. How to navigate your job, offers how to start investing, how to consider graduate school, is graduate school worth it - all those kinds of thing we wish we had had when we graduated college and that university happens to have a fund to do this education.
So I'm like, that's amazing. So Amber and I will be speaking at that next week and we hope to keep doing that thing where we do specific outreach to young people who are at a pivotal moment in their career and their life. And they'll get someone telling them at 21 or 22, like start investing now.
If you want to buy a house, start saving now. If you want to have a family start preparing for that, now all the little things that you find out along the way, like life insurance and health insurance, all these things we have to manage in the US that are very employer dependent. It's a really difficult landscape to navigate if nobody tells you.
So yeah, that's kind of our goal is to not only have the podcast where people have easy access to the episodes but to have targeted educational meetings. This one will be virtual and we're open to questions and people can reach out to us and we're always willing to have someone on the podcast anonymously if they want us to walk through their personal situation with them.
And we've done that a couple of times. We did that recently with someone who's like a junior in college, and she's considering the military versus graduate school. And she doesn't have parents or family who can really guide her through that. So we spoke with her and she was able to have different options and be like, oh yeah, I hadn't thought about that.
And we're lucky that we have the hindsight now. Like it's been 10 years since we were 21. And so we're like, what should I have thought about back then? And we can grant that onto someone who is that age.
Well, before I let everyone know how to find you, just a little bit of a lovely cadence of an ending. What would be a piece of advice that you would give to someone that's 21 and looking to not financially suffer for the next 10 years?
Yeah - live within your means. Invest aggressively, if you can, and be creative with how you use your degree or how you market your skills.
I was fortunate in that I have a very straightforward skill. I'm a nurse. And so everybody knows what I do. But if you get a liberal arts degree, that doesn't mean that it's useless. It just means that you have skills that you need to be able to articulate to an employer. And you can get really great jobs.
I mean, this is really the workers market here in the US, there's a huge need for labor. And so you can negotiate, you can really increase your income. And I think I haven't done this personally, but we've had people on the podcast who have said job-hopping is really the best way to get raises. So just be open to that.
But really with housing costs and cost of living everywhere rising, it's really important to move or make adjustments that you need to make in order to stay living within your means.
Sound advice, Brenda, thank you so much for that. If people want to get in touch and to find out more about you and the Minority Millennial Money podcast, how can they find you?
We are just by name on Instagram, minoritymillennialmoney, and we're on Twitter as @MMMoneyPod. And you can reach me at AlmostBrenda that's my Instagram tag. It's the word “almost” like “I almost made it”. And our website is MMMoney.org. And you can fill out a form there if you want to have a consultation with us and you can find all of our episode links on there, as well as on our Instagram.
Brilliant, Brenda, thank you so much for coming on The Chirp today. It was great to have a fellow host on as well and to hear your story and all of your wisdom. Thanks again.
You're welcome. Thank you for having me!
Always a pleasure chatting with another host, especially one as interested as we are in building a community, raising awareness about personal finance, and all in a positive light. When I asked Brenda about her story about loans and relationships, it was interesting to hear about her family member thinking that there was a bad vibe, even though Brenda said that it hadn’t even occurred to her. Maybe the family member’s guilt was maybe coming to the surface, and just talking about it with Brenda was what needed to be done to put it out in the open.
Interesting that Brenda said that she didn’t really need it back at the time and that there are probably other loans out there that she has given that she has probably forgotten about. So we have Brenda who is generous, who doesn’t need her loan repaid right away, but who might be missing out on repayments because these loans were given informally and without any system in place to track it.
I really related to Brenda’s “feast-or-famine” upbringing as it wasn’t too dissimilar to mine! Depending on the year you could have found me out in restaurants with my parents or we could have been doing a local supermarket shop and having dinners costing next to nothing. As a millennial I can relate to the timing of the financial crisis and, speaking for myself, that definitely caused a lot of yo-yoing in that regard.
But what was great about Brenda was that whether it was feast or famine, and whether anyone grows up broke or rich, minding your finances, being generous but smart with your money and loans, is all stuff you can learn. These are habits that you can educate yourself on, just like studying a textbook or lifting a weight.
Be sure to check out Brenda and her co-host, Amber, on their podcast Minority Millenial Money. I predict great things for them and their mission as they look to educate young folk on how best to handle their personal finance.
As for me and The Chirp, we shall be back as per usual in two weeks' time. Be sure to be on the lookout for my sunburn on Youtube as we enter now into the warmer months of the year. Really excited for this summer and bringing you some more awesome conversations and stories with those looking to chat to me about loans.
Thanks again everybody and have a good one!