Growing up watching her parents model the importance of working hard, Linda Garcia got her first of many jobs when she was just 12. At age 14, she welcomed her daughter Elizabeth, and she quickly realized being a teen mom, going to school, and working simultaneously wasn't easy. "I was so focused on trying to make money and trying to provide for her, I was spreading myself too thin," she says.
Garcia was also struggling with her personal finances. "My relationship with money was not healthy," she notes. "I fully didn't understand how to use money or how to navigate it. I saw it for what it was and not what it could become, which is a really important part of being financial literate."
Even though she was working hard, often juggling various jobs at once, she was struggling to pay bills including her phone and insurance. "I would spiral out of control with money," admits Garcia.
Still, her strong work ethic continued to drive her. Having studied marketing and international business, the young mother paired her business savvy with her creativity. She directed and produced local television commercials, worked in marketing and publicity, and in 2012, she found herself at a major tech company. That's where she connected with a colleague who showed her how he traded stocks. "It really did feel like a miracle, like something I had been praying for," says Garcia.
Armed with her knowledge of the tech industry, Garcia soon began trading herself. Although she started out small, she eventually invested $7,000, which she managed to ultimately turn into $400,000. "That experience alone taught me everything I needed to know about the stock market," she says, explaining that she quickly became passionate about investing and wanting to teach others what she had learned.
That craving grew even stronger when she found herself laid off from her tech job. And after giving birth to her son in 2016, she felt compelled to tap into her inner voice. "It was almost as if, when I gave birth to my son, I gave birth to the creative power that I always knew I had within," she recalls.
That's when Garcia launched a podcast called Let There Be Luz, which she describes as "almost like a diary, a documentary, a personal journey of storytelling, healing, and the traumas that I've had growing up, and being a teen mom."
And when the pandemic and economic downfall struck in February 2020, Garcia felt inspired to share her knowledge about growing her funds, urging friends, family, and her listeners to learn about investing. From that, she launched In Luz We Trust last summer as a service to educate people of color on the stock market and the benefits that it can bring, especially during times of crisis. Through In Luz We Trust, Garcia teaches a course that helps students face their fears around money and understand how to build their own wealth, specifically through the stock market.
"My mission is to share with our community that we are worthy of generational wealth, that we are worthy of being able to pass something down to our children or nieces or nephews, that we don't have to sacrifice all of our time, all of our hours in the day to actually produce money—that money has potential," she notes. "And then it doesn't matter how much money you are currently earning. If you simply look at your dollar amount for the potential, it can really create financial freedom."
She has also involved her kids, especially her daughter Elizabeth, in her journey. "As I learned something, she's learning it alongside me. I'm teaching her everything I can. It has been a beautiful experience," she says.
Elizabeth, who has been a Montessori teacher for five years, has her own stock portfolio that increases with every special occasion like her birthday. "Instead of buying her something, I give her a stock of her choice," explains Garcia. "We like to strategize a lot on what our investments look like."
They've also partnered on a game-changing project for families: a workbook aimed at normalizing the stock market for children of color. Certain concepts are easier for kids to understand than you might think, says Garcia. "The stock market being bullish or bearish could be easily translated into the book with a picture of a bear, a picture of a bull," she notes. "We also include stock charts in order to plant the seed of how the stock market works. We include words in the stock market like 'ticker symbol,' even 'high-yield savings account,' words that we feel should be normalized at a young age this way. It's just really simplifying those terms so that it becomes digestible."
Garcia's 4-year-old son is a perfect example: He already talks about the stock market "comfortably" and has wrapped his young mind around basic financial concepts. He also has a level of "understanding that there's a disparity and that there's a need for other folks to be educated on money"—and that excites Garcia.
Here are Garcia's best money tips for other parents working to overcome their own limiting beliefs around finances and to begin teaching their children how to build wealth.
Think About Your Money's Potential
Garcia compares investing to an ant farm where a queen ant has the power to clone herself and makes little ants to go out and bring food home. It's in that same way that she looks at money and investments. "I call it an investment farm, where we look at our dollars as the little queen," says Garcia. She explains dollars can also be "sent out" to bring back more money without extra time or effort.
In practice, this means when you spend on something, whether that's a leisurely experience or something "frivolous," you can weigh your options, says Garcia. She encourages you to ask yourself if you would rather "clone" your funds or have something tangible?
Face Your Fears
In her online course description, Garcia points out that tools used to build wealth weren't accessible to the majority of people of color. "We have inherited deep-rooted fears when it comes to the money we obtain and even deeper fears towards the money we have yet to obtain," writes the mom of two. "Facing our fears is essential as you cannot generate wealth with fear. Instead, you will attract exactly what you fear about wealth; which is the lack of it. Fear is part of the system aiming to keep us in place. This system is run by wealth, and either we learn to use the tools or we continue to be used by the tools."
That's why it's so important to deal with your limiting beliefs and fears around money head-on—a process Garcia herself is admittedly still working through. "You can generate any type of idea," she says. "You have to overcome the fears that are associated with that, but you can do it."
Garcia says the main financial habit supporting her success has been education. "It's constantly understanding the way money works—every single aspect," she says. "It was knowing that this was going to be a journey and that I would be obtaining new knowledge as weeks, months, years went on." She still never gets comfortable or settles for what she already knows. Instead, the mom just keeps learning.
Trust the Light Within
The reason Garcia called her program In Luz We Trust is because she truly believes people must trust their inner light. "We must trust our ideas within," says Garcia. She encourages her students to "trust the journey with their ideas, their concepts, and their ability to generate income."