Black Money Matters

Teaching Otters financially-savvy skillsets is part of The Center for Black Student Success (CBSS) at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB)’s goal. Professor Umi Vaughan, along with financial coach Byb Bibene, hosted the first virtual workshop as part of CBSS’ “Black Money Matters Financial Literacy” series on Sept. 23. 

“Students are exposed to techniques and good habits to work with their money,” Vaughan said. “And make their money work for them.” 

Bibene hails from Congo and holds a master’s degree in finance. Beyond the finances, Bibene also works as an artist – performing as a writer, poet, actor and dancer.

“Eventually, I used my financial background to help people,” Bibene said. “I noticed when I moved to the Bay Area that financial literacy was an issue and financial literacy rates were low.”

Working with individuals and families, Bibene provides solutions for a wise and stable relationship with money. As a licensed financial educator and planner, he aspires to give the necessary tools for making investment decisions and understanding financial knowledge.

Starting the event with the definition of financial literacy, Bibene then asked the audience to participate in a questionnaire surrounding feelings on money. 

After the questionnaire, Bibene discussed statistics about Black family financials and individual earnings. 

Noting that unemployment rates have been decreasing, Bibene is aware that all communities have been affected by COVID, increasing the severity of situations for some. 

Bibene stressed the importance of making sure one’s needs are being met before offering assistance to others, reducing the risk of winding up in debt or being unable to pay bills. 

Various forms of saving and investment plans and accounts were shared by Bibene, as well as giving in-depth information on how to access them and the benefits they could provide.

“I encourage everyone to build their financial portfolio,” Bibene said. “You put your eggs in different baskets, and today we have many apps that can help you grow and save your money.”

Apps such as Acorns, Ally, CapWay and Robinhood were recommended by Bibene, and he gave the audience links to 38 different Black-owned banks and credit unions.

Budgeting is essential for making smart financial decisions. 

“Budgeting is knowing where your money goes,” Bibene said. “Instead of wondering where it went.” 

Bad spending habits include shopping when bored, running up credit card debt and not paying your credit card bill on time, which can damage one’s credit score. 

Bibene suggests avoiding spending money on frivolous items such as Starbucks coffee drinks or wearing designer clothes, when cheaper alternatives exist such as brewing coffee at home or utilizing thrift stores.

Join CBSS on Oct. 28 for an author’s conversation with Professor Tianna Paschel. Paschel works at UC Berkeley in the sociology and African-American studies departments, and she will discuss Black politics in the United States. 

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