Money changes situations: an interview wit’ financial advisor Kendra Willis

by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey

We all love to spend money, but how many of us have learned how to effectivily save for a rainy day, college, a business or retirement? How many of us will have proper life insurance instead of GoFundMe pages when we die, with our loved ones praying and hoping that the community will give enough money to put us in the ground?

Kendra-Willis-285x300, Money changes situations: an interview wit’ financial advisor Kendra Willis, Culture Currents
Kendra Willis

Many of us have spent more time watching TV in our lives than planning for our family’s financial future. Many of us don’t like to talk about these things because we’re embarrassed we don’t know much about financial literacy, investing and saving money properly.

We have to not want to be ignorant and take the first steps to seeking out information so that we can better our financial situation as well as understand how money works. Kendra Willis is my financial advisor who has taught me a lot, and I am working with her to educate our community about financial literacy. She will be speaking next at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton in San Francisco in the Nia Room on Saturday, April 14, from 1 to 3 p.m.

I sat Kendra down and asked her a few scattered questions about financial literacy because I wanted to show the readers how much we as a community know next to nothing about many aspects of our finances. Check out financial advisor Kendra Willis in her own words.

M.O.I. JR: What kind of money does the Black community have? How much do we turn into wealth?

Financial Advisor Kendra Willis: According to recent surveys, the African American community has an estimated $1.3 trillion in collective buying power. We are some of the most aggressive consumers, and we shop and spend more than other ethnicities. We make an average of 156 shopping trips per year compared with 146 for the total market.

How much are we saving is a good question with varying answers. But what I can tell you is that a dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, in Jewish communities for approximately 20 days and white communities for 17 days, but that same dollar circulates in the African American community for just six hours! So that tells me that not only are we not saving properly, we also aren’t supporting Black-owned businesses.

M.O.I. JR: What’s the difference in spending habits between how our community handles money and how wealthy people work with money?

Financial Advisor Kendra Willis: I would say that the main difference between how wealthy people work with money and how most Americans in general deal with money is that wealthy people have learned to become active savers while most people are aggressive spenders and passive savers. Wealthy people understand the significance of budgeting and investing and will also invest in their financial literacy education.

Wealthy people tend to seek out financial literacy education, whereas many people who don’t know much about money are hesitant to spend money to learn how money works. When you go to wealth building seminars, you will often see wealthy people in attendance. The wealthy seek financial literacy education and oftentimes lower income and poor people do not see the need to learn or to invest time and money into learning about money.

M.O.I. JR: What should people do to see if their retirement plan is sufficient?

Financial Advisor Kendra Willis: When it comes to checking on your retirement plan and to make sure it is working for you, I encourage people to first have an understanding of the type of plan that they have. Ask questions of their plan managers. Find out the ins and outs of the plan, and really study the plan type to make sure that it’s what you want.

Also people have to have an understanding of what retirement should look like. I tell everyone that they must know their retirement number. Many people have an age in mind that they want to retire at, but they don’t have a number on paper pertaining to how much money they will need to live comfortably in retirement.

People must know how much money they want to have saved up in their retirement accounts and they must have an idea of how much it will cost them to live during their golden years. At my seminars and workshops, I show people how to find their exact number because everyone’s number is unique to them and the lifestyle that they desire to have during their golden years.

M.O.I. JR: Is a 401k the be all end all to a retirement plan? Why or why not?

Financial Advisor Kendra Willis: A 401k is definitely an option that people can use to build retirement funds, but there are so many other plans in the marketplace that people can use. For many the 401k is not the be all end all because many Americans don’t completely understand how they work, the management fees associated with them and the fact that they are tax deferred as opposed to tax advantaged.

Many people don’t properly fund their 401k’s because they never learn how to do so. So people end up underfunding them and retiring with minimal income.

So I would say that a 401k is an option, but I encourage people to really learn how they work and to check out other retirement planning solutions in order to diversify your portfolio. It’s never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket.

M.O.I. JR: If people miss the presentation, how could they hook up to take financial literacy classes?

Financial Advisor Kendra Willis: If people just so happen to miss my upcoming presentation they can email me directly at to inquire about other workshops and presentations. We also conduct one on one appointments and virtual presentations.

At my San Jose office, we have ongoing Financial Literacy Workshops every single Saturday. So people are welcome to contact me to find out more details on that.

M.O.I. JR: When will you be speaking in the Bay about financial literacy and planning in the near future?

Financial Advisor Kendra Willis: My next presentation is happening on Saturday, April 14, 1-3 p.m., at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco. This is a Manage Your Money Workshop. Tickets are free and can be found at Eventbrite under Manage Your Money Workshop. We are encouraging people to reserve their seating because space is limited.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at or on Facebook. And tune in to