How This Millennial Mom is Securing Her Kids' Futures and Inspiring Other Parents to Live Their Best Financial Lives
Growing up, Raquel Curtis and her brother never had to worry about getting what they needed or wanted. Her mother was a regional manager of air traffic control and her father played professional football for the Washington Football Team. But when she became an adult, she was hit with a reality check.
"I never valued or appreciated or respected money the way I should have," says Curtis, who lives in Covington, Georgia. "Being an adult and being broke definitely taught me that I needed to learn to value money."
She says she also felt her worth was attached to material possessions as opposed to her actual assets. But everything changed once she became a mom. She had been raising her oldest, Marleyna, who was born in 2007, since she was around 3, and her biological daughter, Mariah, was born in 2013. At the same time, she became a stay-at-home mom and spouse.
"I didn't feel like I knew myself anymore," recalls Curtis, who felt like she was going from "completely independent" to "wrapped around other people's schedules."
The situation propelled Curtis into trying to figure out what she could do that would allow her to adhere to her loved ones' schedules but also provide her with a sense of self. She began working at her daughter's daycare. "We couldn't afford daycare, but if I started working, we could," she says.
But making $7.25 per hour with a degree was depressing, recalls Curtis. She began offering to watch other people's children on the weekends when she was off, and that led to her having a full-time in-home daycare. "That was the start of my entrepreneurial journey," she says.
By late 2015, not long after the birth of her youngest daughter, Miya, Curtis ended up opening the first women's only gym with child care in Covington. "It was phenomenal," she says. "I was thriving."
Heartbreakingly, Curtis was in a car accident not long after and ended up in a neck brace. Time away from work meant she and her husband had to go back to relying on a single income. That's when she realized she had "an emotional connection to money." She says, "I was focused on looking like I had money rather than building my assets."
She remembers looking at her kids one day and realizing that if she didn't "buckle down and paint a clear picture" for her money, her children would have to contend with the consequences. In turn, Curtis sat down and identified her "financial triggers."
"I combed through the past three months of my statements," she says. "I would go through and highlight, 'OK, this was a need. This was a want, a need, a want.'" She then totalled up her wants, which allowed her to determine how she would divide her money up differently—to start paying down debt, investing, and building an emergency fund.
Curtis also began investing, dabbling with options, and finding "good footing" in the foreign exchange market. Ultimately, she was able to build a five-figure savings account and five-figure investment portfolios. At that point, she was inspired to move into the world of finance, and in 2019, she became a personal banker.
"It felt so good to help other people," says Curtis. "You could just see the amount of relief over people once they started to have control over their money."
By May 2020, Curtis was bringing her skills, insights, and tips to an even wider audience by launching the Boujee Banker, a platform meant to help women gain control of their finances. To date, she's helped women all over the world save thousands of dollars.
Ultimately, Curtis' passion is rooted in parenthood. "I feel as though I have a duty to my children," she notes. "They are the reason why I changed my relationship with money."
Here are several of her tips for other parents to do the same.
Prioritize Financial Literacy
Inspired by Robert Kiyosaki's best-selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Curtis says she realized that teaching her children financial literacy was imperative. "It really doesn't matter what you set up for your children if you don't properly educate them on what to do with it," she notes.
She's proud to say that her eldest knows the difference between assets and liabilities and her 8-year-old and 6-year-old use something called the "mommy bank." When they earn funds for chores, they'll divide it up into various jars labeled: saving, investing, spending, and giving.
Consider Opening a Custodial Roth IRA
Curtis recommends opening a custodial Roth IRA for your child, which requires proving that they have traceable earned income. "That could be mowing lawns, babysitting, a lemonade stand," she notes. It doesn't include payments for household chores. But the account can help them start building their savings for retirement from a very young age.
Get Real About Your Relationship to Money
The financial consultant suggests asking yourself whether your financial habits are helping or hurting you. And if you're being honest with yourself and find you're not on track, it's time to commit to repairing your relationship to money. "Stop band-aiding them with tangible things that look nice and feel good but aren't doing anything for you," says Curtis.
Understand Your Money Triggers
Recognizing your triggers and creating boundaries around them is one of the first steps to healing your relationship with money, says Curtis. Then, create a picture for where you want to go with it by identifying something you need, something you would like to do, and something that you want. Curtis emphasizes, "You have to give it direction, because if you don't tell your money where to go, it will definitely tell you where it went."
Ultimately, getting your money together is not about constraining yourself to the point where you can no longer live your life, says Curtis. "My brand is focused around being boujee and balanced. Being boujee meaning that it's really your birthright to desire the things that you don't have and being balanced just means that you're creating a roadmap that makes sense for you to live your best life."