My story begins as a black woman born to Windrush parents during the sixties. Raised in an inner-city neighbourhood, my hardworking parents strived to provide for me and my five siblings. I remember my mother boiling water in pots to wash our clothes and warming our home with paraffin heaters. We lacked modern amenities but it always overflowed with love and determination. Despite these humble beginnings, my parents ensured that we lacked nothing and they instilled in us a sense of gratitude for what we had.
Discussions about money matters were considered ‘big people’s business’, and the advice given to young black women typically revolved around getting a job and saving money. However, my parents were exceptional with their money management practices and I learned valuable lessons from them without them even realising it. Their daily one-liners about various financial aspects unknowingly educated and empowered us.
One of my father’s favourite financial one-liners was, ‘Never rent a property because paying your rent for 25 years and if you miss a week they will chuck you out’. That simple statement planted a seed in my mind and I was determined to avoid such a fate. As a result, I brought my first property at the 21. Over time, I built a property portfolio, knowing that it was possible to achieve financial stability and security.
As a black woman, I know that our community has faced historical disadvantages, and those disparities persist into the present day. Research from the London School of Economics (LSE)1 revealed that Black women in mid-career stages experience a widening earning gap compared to White women. For example, Black women are 6.1. percent less likely than White women to be in the top 10% of earners. The study also highlighted the significant earnings impact faced by Black women even when accounting for education and occupation.
These statistics evidence our continuous struggle; my journey was not without its challenges, however, I used each stumbling block as a stepping stone to level up and achieve my goals.
At 30, I found myself becoming a single parent to three young children, all while trying to manage a mortgage on a part-time salary. My ‘cost of living crisis’ lasted over a decade! Thanks to the knowledge passed down from my parents and my banking experience, I managed to navigate through those very challenging times. I was shopping in 4 supermarkets each week to make ends meet and after buying all that we needed my purse was always empty. I had to make every penny work for me because I wanted to be able to fly my children out every year using my annual bonus.
People around me marvelled at how I managed to maintain a quality of life that ‘seemed’ beyond my means. The constant questioning about my financial strategies led me to write Think Like A Bank, a platform aimed at empowering women through financial education. I launched financial bootcamps, an Investor Property programme, offer Masterminds and online courses. My mantra is knowing oneself allows one to command a higher salary and live a fulfilling life. Against all odds, I now run a successful private practice, own a seven-figure property portfolio, and oversee a business that is expanding globally.
My life’s path has been a testament to the transformative power of financial education and determination. Growing up with humble beginnings, I learned essential money management lessons from my parents, which eventually paved the way for my success. The challenges I faced as a single parent only strengthened my resolve to achieve financial independence and I want to inspire other women to do the same. From the streets of my childhood to the prestigious location of my thriving practice, I hold my head high, knowing that my journey from Humble Street to Harley Street is a story of empowerment and triumph.
Below are Norma’s top 5 tips
- Pay off your debts instead of adding to your savings. The low interest paid on your savings is nothing compared to the high interest you pay on your debt!
- Track your spending with a FREE budgeting or banking app.
- Create a realistic detailed budget that enables you to assign every penny and pound to its rightful place.
- The higher your credit score the better financial product deals you get on a mortgage/ioan/credit card etc. Ensure to check your credit score regularly.
- Set financial short-long term goals. Be accountable to someone you trust
Norma Cassius is a Money Management Consultant and Psychotherapist who helps women to manage their money and their mindset. She is the author of Think Like a Bank and owns a seven figure propert portfolio.