Happy Friday, friends!
Today’s ‘Millennial on a Mission‘ is a young man that is passionate about empowering his peers to be fiscally responsible, all the while presenting the information with pop culture flare that is both relatable and entertaining. While I’ve known of him since my days in undergrad, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with him recently at the Millennial Week Entrepreneurship Forum, and really enjoyed our conversation about our millennial generation, and of course 90’s sitcoms. His excitement for money management is truly genuine, and it’s clear that he wants nothing more than for his peers to be more aware when making big financial decisions.
Meet Ben Carter.
Hailing from Pasadena, California, Ben attended Hampton University where he received his Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism. He then took his talents to Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications (#NewhouseMafia, stand up) and earned a Master’s of Arts in Advertising. Currently, he works in non-profit communications in the Washington, D.C. area, as well as operates Manage Your Damn Money, LLC.
On what inspired him to start “Manage Your Damn Money“:
Manage Your Damn Money (MYDM), is really a capstone in what’s always been a concern of mine growing up. Thankfully, I grew up with food on the table, clothes on my back and a roof over my head, but finances in my family always felt (and often were) tenuous. I can remember being as young as 5 or 6-years-old, “believing” we were “poor” as a family. I’m not sure I knew what “poor” meant, but I knew it meant you couldn’t buy things you wanted or needed. By age 15 or 16, I remember the distinct feeling of needing to provide for myself and not have to rely on my parents, so I was always trying to make sure I had more money, for some future expense I knew was close. My upbringing really set the tone for my being known by friends as cheap, frugal and always asking “How much does it cost?” later on in life.
I don’t think money is taboo. I think we lack the cultural-conversation-starter about finances. Almost anything on TV about personal finance is either extremely boring or so complicated it functions as a deterrent to the conversation more than something that is inclusive. MYDM is the cultural-conversation-starter millennials (and others) can use to be inspired to seek out more information about how they can do better with their money.
The first person Ben ever heard speak about finances in a way that resonated with him was Michelle Singletary, the nationally syndicated finance columnist for The Washington Post. He first heard her speak while he was attending SU and really connected with her tone and attitude toward the realities of money. While many millennials rely on the easy access of money apps like Mint.com, Venmo and others, Ben chooses not to mainly for concerns of not handing out bank account passwords. “Rather than relying on apps, it’s best for folks to make a habit of checking their accounts and balances,” he says. “Just as you check the oil levels on your car or brushing your teeth (hopefully with the frequency closer to that of brushing your teeth.)”
On ways that millennials can secure financial stability right now:
Getting your money right, in my view, is a process of identifying where you are weak and identifying how you can make improvements. Are you good at saving? Do you not make enough money to save? What are your monthly expenses? Do you have “tricking off” line items that you could stand to eliminate from your budget? Once you start having these serious conversations with yourself about where you are good and where you suck, you can start making honest moves towards making improvements.
Other than that, and more generally, I’d suggest simply taking the time to research anything that interests you in finances. A lot of “financial things” are set up in such a way that’s its intimidating. Push past that initial wall, and you’ll find all the jargon and language to be “expensive words for really simple concepts”. You just have to spend a little time to get past the feelings of fear or being overwhelmed.
To Ben, being a ‘Millennial on a Mission‘ suggests a certain level of independence and willingness to set an agenda that’s truly attached to one’s own goals, rather than a company’s or some other social agenda. “Where our parents said get a degree, a good job and you’ll live a successful life, our generation has (and is still) experiencing the effects of the Great Depression,” he says. “The American dream we were prescribed growing up is definitely different than what a lot of our parents and elders experienced.” But like every generation, Ben believes the millennial generation has its own general set of values, and thinks that our values point more toward self-fulfillment and enrichment than company loyalty, benefits packages or pension plans. “Every previous generation looks to hate on the one behind it, Ben exclaims. “I suppose one day, millennials will start talking trash about our own children and how their flying, self-driving Google Cars make them feel entitled to a ride to their friend’s house whenever they want.”