As we celebrate Women’s History Month, featuring Dasha Kennedy felt like an obvious choice. A financial wellness activist and money management content creator, she shares her knowledge to specifically empower women of color. Dasha has created a safe space to teach money management on her platform “The Broke Black Girl”.
Dasha’s personal journey with debt began with divorce, a lack of transportation to purchase affordable food and an accumulation of $20,000 in credit card debt. Despite her experience in the financial sector, she struggled to make ends meet with one income and two sons. After hitting roadblocks while paying off her debt, she didn’t want other women to find themselves facing a similar struggle. So, she decided to share financial literacy with women of color—an often-overlooked group.
Kennedy started a Facebook group dedicated to helping women learn about and discuss their personal finances. She named it The Broke Black Girl because that mirrored how she felt at the time. Within months, she had amassed 20,000 followers.
Today, Dasha has over 300,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her personal website. She is known for her candid, no-nonsense conversations that cover everything from money and politics to racial and gender financial equality. We invite you to get to know her better below.
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What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Slow down. You don’t have to figure it out immediately. Take your time and explore the world. Listen to your mom when she encourages you to save money. Stay true to yourself, listen to your heart, and don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside your comfort zone. There is no one else quite like you, so use your gifts and talents to improve the world.
What do you think all women should know about personal finance?
Every woman should know what financial independence feels like. On the surface, financial independence will mean something different for every woman but at the core, it should mean feeling secure and confident about making decisions about spending and saving money for the future, having the ability to pursue goals and dreams without worrying about financial limitations, or having the freedom to choose the lifestyle they want without worrying about the financial implications.
What is the most important lesson you have learned about yourself in your career?
The most important lesson I’ve learned about myself in my career is that I need to dedicate as much time to personal development as I do to professional development. I could only take my career to the next level when I worked on myself and my skills, such as health improvement, becoming a better listener and thinker, improving my confidence, and embracing empathy.
How do you talk to your child about financial literacy?
The earliest lesson I ever taught my children about money was the difference between wants vs. needs, which is the foundation of financial literacy and money management. I talk to them about the importance of having a budget, setting financial goals, and creating a plan to reach those goals.
One of the things I learned as a single mother raising two children is that children are more likely to do what they see you do versus what they hear you say. So, while I prioritize conversations about budgeting, saving, debt management, investing, and earning money with my children, I focus more on being an example and someone they can aspire to be like when it comes to money.
Did you have a mentor early on in your career who impacted you significantly? If so, how did he/she impact you?
Yes, absolutely. She was my co-worker at the very first financial institution that I worked at. I was 19, and this was my first job in Corporate America after only having worked food and retail jobs prior. I had zero experience in finance; my job was to stuff envelopes for the department, primarily accountants, and while she sat across from me, her job was very different. She held a Senior position, and slowly throughout my employment, she taught me everything she knew about finance and accounting, which sparked a complete change in my career path.
Within 4 years, I went from stuffing envelopes with no knowledge of finance to holding a senior position within the department until I took another job with another company. She remained my mentor well after I left the company and continued to encourage me throughout my career.
Who is your role model and why?
My personal role model is my mother, Shirese. My mom has worked hard and taught me the importance of hard work and dedication. She has been a great example of what it means to be successful and dedicated to your goals. My professional role model is Thasunda Brown Duckett, President, and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA. She is someone who advocates for financial inclusion and helps communities of color understand the importance of building a legacy through saving and investing, especially for retirement.
How would you define a “Financial Activist?
A financial activist campaigns for social change centered around financial education and economic development in marginalized communities. In my case, I emphasize Black women in my work. This means that I go beyond the basics of personal finance and dive deep into the structural systems that shape who has financial power, who has access to financial education, and the cultural specificities that determine what personal finance looks like for different people.
This work is essential because it does not center on the personal responsibility and “bootstrap” narrative often pushed in financial education. It also highlights the reality of the unfair practices our economy was built on and how it impacts others.
Yes, I get this a lot in my Facebook group, and it’s still nothing I have gotten used to. I’m always equally happy and excited to see that my methods work. Women in our digital community share stories daily about using my methods, products, and tips to start paying off debt.
In one story in particular, someone was able to eliminate their debt using my “Momentum Over Math” (taking daily, small actionable steps, toward eliminating debt) method, which freed up an additional $800 per month that she could then use to move into a larger home in a safer neighborhood with her children.
While paying off your debt, what were your goals or inspiration?
I wanted relief. I wanted to open the mail without fear of being hit with a final collection notice. I wanted to show up to work without fearing my wages being garnished. I wanted to answer the phone without fearing a bill collector threatening me with legal action for my unpaid debts. It would have been nice to have more common goals like buying a house, a new car, or building an emergency as my primary goals, but I couldn’t see that far then.
On the call, you mentioned cultural financial differences. Could you elaborate?
Understanding and respecting cultural differences in financial education is important to building an empathetic and inclusive financial space, for both educators and learners. One, it encourages financial educators to be self-aware of their differences and privileges, and how their experience with money influences their teaching. Two, understanding how historical financial institutions and cultural biases based on race, religious beliefs, family roles, educational levels, and socioeconomic status, have helped shaped cultural perspectives on money management, banking, saving, and investing.
Lastly, culture impacts our attitude and behavior when it comes to money and can either work with or against our financial well-being. Educators should be aware of how culture influences financial decisions so that we can customize our approach accordingly.
Do you have an overall message for Women’s Month and empowerment?
Yes, Financial empowerment is women’s empowerment. It’s important that women have the confidence, knowledge, and skillset to control their money and not allow money to control them. Financial empowerment means that women have the ability to walk away from not only people, but places and professions that do not support them.
Dasha’s work has been life-changing for the hundreds of thousands of women she has helped navigate financial independence. She feels gratification with each person she helps, as she sees a bit of herself in each of them.
Her most recent honors & awards include 2022 Bankrate Financial Activist of the Year and 2021 Black Tie Community Award Recipient.
We salute Dasha, who saw her own challenging situation as an opportunity to financially educate and empower women of color. National Debt Relief is proud to partner with this financial powerhouse.