by Jasmine Zapata, MD
Hello! Welcome to this week’s edition of Brown Girl Green Money. We are a social network of women of color working to achieve financial freedom and inspire each other along the way. Thanks for joining us again this week! Happy New Year! This week I had the honor of interviewing one of Madison’s top real estate agents… Mrs. Bonita Nunez. Check out a portion of our interview below:
JZ: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
BN: Many would consider me a Wisconsinite as I’ve lived in Wisconsin my entire life… From birth through high school in Racine where much of my family still resides. I met my husband while attending the University of Wisconsin Madison where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and worked in Madison as a licensed case manager/social worker for over 10 years. We have 4 adult children and twin granddaughters. I initially became somewhat interested in real estate as a potential career a few decades ago after visiting “open houses” on Sundays as a pastime. I eventually grew more passionate about homeownership and helping others achieve their home ownership goals and now I’ve been a licensed Realtor for over 15 years.
JZ: That’s wonderful! Can you explain what a real estate agent is and how you got interested in that as a career? What are your future career goals in this area?
BN: A real estate agent is a person licensed by the state to represent a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction in exchange for a commission. The real estate agent’s duties may include but are not limited to the following: Locating, showing and marketing properties; writing, presenting and negotiating offers on a property. One of my many personal goals as a child was to own a home and I became seriously interested in real estate as a career during the process of buying our first house. The fact that you are committing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars by signing or initialing 30+ pages of documents in “legalese” frequently, without adequate time to read and understand them truly does feel like you’re signing your life away and I found it rather anxiety-producing. More importantly however, it provided me a sense of accomplishment and inspired in me a passion to want to educate and assist other first-time and multi-home buyers by making the process as smooth and worry-free as possible. My future real estate goals are to purchase a few investment properties/rentals and, hopefully, get family members involved.
JZ: Wow. That’s excellent! What do you think is the biggest challenge women of color face today in regards to personal finance?
BN:I think the greatest challenges that women of color face in our area in regards to personal finance is the lack of sufficient earned-income to cover their basic expenses and insufficient financial literacy skills. Some of the causes of the income insufficiencies include: a) low-skilled jobs or inadequate skills training, b) lack of access to affordable higher education, c) repayment of exorbitant student loans upon completion of undergraduate or graduate degrees, d) high childcare costs, e) high apartment rental costs, and f) the need for accessible financial literacy training programs for women of all ages just to name a few. Moreover, many women of color face a combination of these challenges simultaneously.
JZ: Yes I agree. That’s so true. What is one of the biggest personal challenge finance challenges you have faced personally and how did you or are you overcome it?
BN: Our (my husband and I) greatest financial challenge involved a cigar/gift store that we and a few friends opened in the old train station on West Washington Ave. in Madison in the late 1990’s. Needless to say, it was not a success and we found ourselves tens of thousands of dollars in debt. We contemplated filing bankruptcy but did not want to take such a hit to our credit. Instead, we found a great faith-based debt-counseling agency and increased our income by taking on 2 – 3 part-time jobs each in addition to our full time jobs and four kids. After about four years, we were debt free except our house.
JZ: Wow that’s amazing. Its nice to see how you worked to overcome that challenge and did not give up. What tips do you have for other women of color striving to reach financial freedom? Anything else you want to add?
BN: My greatest advice for women of color striving to reach financial freedom is to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. My mother and her mother experienced firsthand the importance of saving for the proverbial “rainy day” regardless of how miniscule their income was. They would take out money for savings from every dollar (sometimes just pennies, literally) BEFORE they budgeted whatever was left for groceries and bills. Building and maintaining a savings or emergency fund of at least $500 – $1,000 or more provides an almost immediate sense of financial freedom. The freedom is the security and confidence of knowing that, should an unexpected emergency arise for yourself or a family member, you are in a position to take care of the cost without having to use a high-interest credit card or loan service. A secondary benefit is that you create the positive habit of saving on a regular basis.
JZ: Yes! That’s such great advice. Thank you so much! In closing, what things are you excited about for 2016? How can people contact you?
BN: As I approach my 16th anniversary as a licensed real estate professional I am optimistic and excited that 2016 will afford me greater opportunities to share my expertise while assisting and educating more women striving for financial freedom. Contact me with questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
JZ: Excellent. Once again, thank you so much Mrs. Nunez. This was very helpful. I look forward to all that 2016 has in store for you! ☺
Well that concludes this week’s edition of Brown Girl Green Money. Have you faced any struggles on your quest to achieving financial freedom? What are your financial goals for 2016? Share them with us at www.facebook.com/browngirlgreenmoney or at email@example.com