Shani Curry St. Vil is relatable to many of us. She walked down the valley of job loss and investment earnings early in her career and now stands on the mountain of maintaining a debt-free property portfolio. The Personal Finance Expert is a regular contributor on CBS Miami, an American Broadcasting company alongside other media outlets. Today, she uses her story to encourage everyday people on how to manage their finances.
Memories of a Louis Vuitton purse in the hands of a 6-year-old Shani is hard to reconcile against the minimalist lifestyle she now advocates. “I felt like early on my relationship to money was to pacify the abandonment of my father.” Personal growth came through correcting the imbalanced relationship she had with money.
In 2008, the economic market crashed and alongside with it, came the loss of Shani’s job and eventually the loss of her first investment property. “The embarrassment of losing your job and grieving over lost investment earnings from the property (I took money out from my retirement account) was a lot to handle.” One of her first realisations is that the things that break you usually end up being the things that build your character. Reality and self-realisation kicked in, and re-creating habits became a priority. She knew that if she wanted to make it financially, she needed to lessen her need for luxury. Purse Empowerment was born out of experience and valuable lessons learned. It is a financial empowerment community created by Shani to help women make the right decisions about their finances.
A purse has huge symbolism for status and even social recognition. Women can buy things that suggest ideas about us socially that are not necessarily true internally. “At no time should a woman have a purse that exceeds the contents inside of them. Your outside projection should never be more valuable than the work you are doing internally.” Instead of purses being totems, women should determine that with better habits, wealth can reside within their purses. The community is inclusive of all women. For young women forging out their pathway, Shani has some sound advice.
“When a woman is 21 years old, she goes out. She takes her first drink. You know what else she should do when she takes that first drink? She should open a retirement account or life insurance. She can start saving early for her retirement years. According to research, there’s going to be at least 10 years that she’s going to need to recuperate. It’s either she’s going to take those 10 years out of the job market, take care of her children or take care of her aging parents.”
Parents with young children can also benefit from personal finance advice. “We teach children how to be shoppers, but we do not teach them how to be consumers. With my children, I make sure that they touch and feel money. They need to know addition and subtraction. I use numbers with them so that it doesn’t seem so far away from them.”
On the subject of leading a community of women, there’s some sage advice from a grounded leader, “We are evolving. We can do so much more than our grandmothers did. If our grandmothers did certain things, they would have suffered considerable social penalties for doing so. We don’t need to compete. There’s enough abundance around. We’re up under the same sky. I can’t take the sky from you.”
Shani says “Money is energy. If you respect yourself, you’re going to have more money. If you respect yourself, you’re going to make better decisions.” I’ll take that as useful advice.
[To know more about Shani’s book and to get a copy: