Name: Dr. Jovon Willis
City: St. Louis
Job: Financial advisor support specialist (consulting and business plans for financial advisors)
Salary: Base salary $60,000, not including bonuses. Annual income is $90,000
Money Goal: Save $100,000 in a family trust
Mom of four and career woman Jovon Willis wants to make generational wealth a way of life for her family.
"People talk about generational wealth but use it in a way that is not inclusive of what it actually is," said Willis, 40, of St. Louis. "For me generational wealth is not just the parent getting money and creating a lifestyle, but teaching their kids about wealth and what to do with whatever wealth is left to them."
To that end, Willis, a financial advisor support specialist (she consults and business plans for financial advisors), talks to her children about the family's finances. Her children are ages 21, 17, 16, and 10, and her three oldest children work jobs. Her firstborn is in community college, and her 17-year-old plans to enter college in the fall.
Willis, a single mom, created an irrevocable trust for the family with hopes of it growing to $100,000 within the next 10 years. The trust is for everyone in the family to contribute financially to and eventually live off of.
"I better start putting some assets in this account because 20 years from now I don't want that trust to sit empty, "said Willis, who earned a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies three years ago.
Willis earns a base salary of $60,000 working as a financial advisor support specialist, but her job also comes with bonuses. In addition, with child support, gig works through her leadership consulting brands, and other support she receives (one child with autism and receives social security disability insurance benefits), Willis brings home about $90,000 a year.
She spends $900 monthly on groceries because she "buys her time." Instacart and "ordering in" dinner are a regular part of her family's lifestyle.
"It's not the most economical but the time that it saves me is kind of worth it," she said.
Willis is a homeowner but lives with her family in a $1,400 per month, four-bedroom condominium in a fancier part of town because of the good schools. Willis would like to move to a smaller residence in her current neighborhood, which would knock off about $500 per month in rent. She wants her two oldest to live in the family's old home that she owns while they are in college. She spends $1,200 per semester for her oldest son's community college.
She doesn't spend a lot on clothes, opting to shop in the bourgie thrift stores in her tiny neighborhood. She's nabbed Brooks Brothers suits for $10 while thrifting, but since the pandemic shutdowns, her daily uniform consists of leggings instead of business suits. Her three oldest children work retail jobs, so she only spends about $100 every other month on her youngest child's clothing.
She likes to take her family on vacations that aren't to "kid places" to teach everyone about topography. The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and Miami are both places the family visited. Willis tries to keep the family trips under $1,200. In addition, she has vowed to take a solo trip each year "so I can get some peace somewhere," Willis said. Last year, she went to New York and took a nap in the middle of the day. For a booked-and-busy mother, sleeping-at-will was its own special luxury. Cancun made it to her 2022 travel itinerary.
Right now, Willis says she is focusing on investments. In addition to wanting her family's trust to be at six figures within 10 years, Willis wants to focus on her retirement.
When finishing her doctorate program, she raided her retirement account to make ends meet. She has since saved $10,000 to replenish the account.
"Investing seems like something that can wait, but I am trying to change that frame of mind for myself," Willis said. "No, it cannot wait."
In Money We Trust
Alleson Tate, owner of Avere Wealth Management, a Black-owned LGBTIA-founded wealth management firm in Atlanta, says that there are two ways for Willis to reach her goal of saving $100,000 in the family trust within 10 years. The family can contribute $10,000 annually, but that way earns no interest. However, if the family invests $7,800 or $650 per month in mutual funds or preferably ETFs, they can reach their goals assuming investments earn 6% a year. Diversification is key, Tate said.
Tate is also impressed that so many people in the home are working jobs, which will help with financing the trust.
"They don't have to downsize their lifestyle," Tate said, "They may need to reallocate the money they are earning toward their savings goals."
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