In conversation with ‘My Money Mentors’ hosts

WABE is set to launch a new reality series called “My Money Mentors” on June 17 (Photo courtesy WABE).
WABE is set to launch a new reality series called “My Money Mentors” on June 17 (Photo courtesy WABE).

WABE is set to launch a new reality series called “My Money Mentors” on June 17.

According to a press release, the docuseries is meant to make financial literacy palatable and understandable for Millennials and Gen-Z. Throughout the series, financial experts Jacqueline Schadeck and Chris Corinthian will team up to lead young adults through financial milestones and challenges. 

The show is set to premiere on June 17 with two 30-minute back-to-back episodes on WABE-TV. Two more episodes will play on June 18. The show is produced by WABE Studios as well as with support from Delta Community Credit Union.

Both Schadeck and Corinthian have very personal reasons why they wanted to get into financial planning in the first place. Ahead of the premiere of “My Money Mentors,” Rough Draft Atlanta spoke with both of them about their journey to finance and the making of the show.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

I wanted to ask you both – how did you come to financial planning in the first place? You’re both labeled as financial experts, but do you have a specialty in that regard? 

Jacqueline Schadeck of "My Money Mentors" (Photo courtesy WABE).
Jacqueline Schadeck of “My Money Mentors” (Photo courtesy WABE).

Jacqueline Schadeck: I have been helping people with their money for the last decade now. I got into the profession because my mother was taken advantage of by a financial advisor, which caused her to lose everything including the house that I grew up in. I came across the Certified Financial Planner designation and decided that was what I was going to do. Now my specialty is actually in helping women retire, so a little bit different from the “My Money Mentors” focus. 

Sometimes, we joke about me being a financial fortune teller, because I’ve seen the end, right? I’ve seen the retirement, and I’ve seen the legacy plays, and I’ve had clients pass before, and I’ve had clients that have passed wealth on to the next generation and some who haven’t. So there’s a lot of instances, especially with “My Money Mentors,” where we can see exactly where someone is and what they’re doing, and know the trajectory from that. 

Chris Corinthian: I’ve worked for nearly 20 years in higher education with a focus on financial aid and financial literacy. I was a financial literacy coordinator for several years. One of the things that really got me interested in this subject and personal finance was when I was in my 20s, I worked a corporate job. I was taught, go to school, get good grades, get a high paying job, and then that’s the recipe for success, and nothing else – other than put something away for a rainy day. But the day after my son was born, my supervisor called me. She said, “Congratulations, Chris. But we gotta let you go.” 

So my wife wasn’t working, I’m now not working. I have this newborn, and then two months later, we lost everything in an apartment fire, and no renter’s insurance. Everything that we did have saved up, we spent on baby clothes and everything that we needed for our newborn. Everything else we did have at the time, we lost in an apartment fire. I was unemployed for 11 months out of those two years – during that time period when there was economic turmoil across the country. 

I got back into higher ed after that time, and I just started helping people build those foundational principles when it comes to personal finance, so that they can avoid some of the things that I wish I’d known. Things like setting up your emergency fund, how to really budget, some of the best strategies for budgeting. That’s why I’ve been on this path to help others. Not just kids that are going to college or coming out of college, but their parents too. I was a young adult at the time, and there are a lot of adults who make a certain amount in their income, but they still don’t know how to manage their personal finances. That’s why I really focus on the relationship aspect, or the mindset centered around money. 

How did you both come to “Money Matters?” Had you met before?

Schadeck: It was interesting, we were actually cast separately. I don’t even love the word cast, because I feel like it’s docu-reality, so we’re just kind of doing what we do in our everyday lives. But it was interesting, because Chris and I had actually met at a conference a year or two prior. So we exchanged social media, but that was it. We hadn’t had any communication since then. So it was just interesting that we were both cast for the show. 

Interesting, kind of coming full circle a little bit.

Schadeck: Yeah, and I think the way they found us was through social media. 

The concept of the show is you two helping Gen Z and Millennials with financial planning. What do you think are the differences between advising younger generations versus older? What are the different obstacles that you might have to approach with younger generations?

Chris Corinthian from "My Money Mentors" (Photo courtesy WABE).
Chris Corinthian from “My Money Mentors” (Photo courtesy WABE).

Corinthian: I think one of the things is that technology can be a blessing and a curse. What I mean by that is that because it’s just ease of use for everything, right? You want to pay for something, you can just take out your phone – [imitates beeping sound] Boop!  If you want to purchase something that costs a lot of money, then you can just set it up on a payment plan – buy now, pay later type of thing. There are so many choices when it comes to money, that it doesn’t take a lot of steps to get what you want. If you have a lot of financial maturity, as I like to call it, then you can think through these things and really delay that gratification, to see if you really need what it is you’re trying to purchase. 

That, combined with – you know, one of the episodes is going to talk about somebody who just lost their job unexpectedly, and how they had to start over, right? There’s one end, where it’s the ease of use when it comes to spending money, just spending everything that you have for maybe psychological reasons … or you might be trying to fill a void, there are various reasons. And then you have the other side, where it’s somebody who may have been responsible in that job, they lose everything, and now they have to come up with a plan to build it all back up to sustain their lifestyle. Those are just some of the things that we focus on. 

Schadeck: I would say if you kind of zoom out, big picture, you have those generational differences. I think the biggest generational difference is the phone. It’s the phone, it’s the social media. There are a ton of studies that have been done that social media has changed the way that we perceive money. It has changed the way that we spend money, and it has changed the way that we’ve had a relationship with it. On the one hand, it’s been really good, right? We’re able to promote “My Money Mentors” and financial literacy via social media. But at the same time, we have a lot of people who are very anxious about their financial situations … We have to advise and work with [younger generations] a little bit differently than we would work with somebody like my main clientele, who’s age 50. They have different wants and different needs, and I would say social media has been a really big catalyst for that. 

How was the filming process? Did you guys choose the people that you advised, or did you have a say? How was it behind the scenes? 

Corinthian: Actually the production team and staff from WABE, they got together and they found the people that had the situations. What I believe they did was, they were trying to find situations that can cover a multitude of situations that were relatable to the masses, especially in Atlanta and the surrounding areas. Because if there were situations where they were too specific, then a lot of people can’t relate. But then, you may have or know somebody that lost a job before, right? Or, you may know somebody that’s a single parent of young children, and they’re trying to get their finances together. So when you find these stories that are common among a lot of people, those are the types of stories that are relatable. 

We didn’t find them. The organization found them, and that’s what kept it authentic, I believe. Because we didn’t know them. They give us maybe a few bullets about their story and their situation,  and then we go in and we really analyze what’s going on.

You mentioned the struggle of trying to find financial situations that are relatable to a lot of people within the Atlanta region. What would you say are financial situations or financial problems that might be particular to Atlanta or its surrounding areas?

Schadeck: Atlanta is a unique city, right? So there’s quite a bit of history there, especially around the Civil Rights Movement, which we do highlight in the show. If you even go back to history before Civil Rights, just the whole history of Georgia and how it became a state, a lot of that nature is still ingrained in it today. We still see that today. We were able to highlight that on the show, which was exciting. We’re planning to do some more of that in the next season, to take that a little bit deeper. 

[Georgia], on a scale of all of the U.S. stages, isn’t one of the highest paid … so I’m excited that we’re able to have the conversation of home ownership with a lot of people. That’s a conversation that a lot of Millennials and Gen Z have not been able to participate in, especially with the most recent run up. Atlanta has some very unique qualities to it that I think are making it a good show. 

So is there going to be a season two? 

Corinthian: You’ll have to wait and see! [Laughs] I don’t know. I mean, there are possible talks about it. We’ll probably find out right around the same time you do. We’ll see what the people say. A lot of times, when people give us their honest feedback on what the show is about and how they feel about it … that usually determines if we’ll move forward or not. But from what I’ve seen, trying to be objective looking at it – even though I’m in it – I really like the way that it was produced, put together. It really exceeded my expectations from what I thought it was going to be 

What’s been the most fulfilling part of this for you, whether it’s directly related to “Money Matters” or your work in financial planning in general? 

Schadeck: I would say the most fulfilling aspect of it is very closely aligned with what I do for work, but genuinely being able to provide support for somebody else. It’s the ability to be an advocate for another person, their financial advocate. Our mentees, I wouldn’t say that they are bad with money, right? I think you have a lot of people who are  not necessarily bad with money, but they need further clarification and understanding as to how exactly money works for them. It’s easy to get online and find a bunch of financial content, right? We can all find financial content, but who is there to put the context to the content. That’s my favorite part of this, being able to help people understand exactly how money is going to work for them instead of just on a general scale. 

Corinthian: One of the things that I appreciated the most about this experience is being able to make a true impact. Being able to witness transformation … from seeing the “aha” moments to them actually getting some personal finance strategies that they can implement right away. This is not something maybe, two, three, five years down the line they can implement, but that they can implement right away. While we’re working with them, we can see them putting [those strategies] to work, testing them to see if what we taught them is actually going to work. When we see that, that gives us the greatest joy, to know that what we’re doing truly matters and this isn’t just for show. Pun intended [laughs]. 

And then through my experiences – going from being fired, to having a fire, to now being financially independent, being a full-time entrepreneur – has been a journey for me. So being able to relate to people on all those different levels … both Jacqueline and I have stories where we can relate to having the bare minimum, and then we can also relate to ways and strategies on how to grow wealth. Being able to reach people on that wide spectrum, I think, is what gives us a unique perspective and a unique approach. Because there are some who have just been on one side or the other, but I believe because we both have been through different journeys to be able to experience all those different levels of money, we’re able to really impact those on a different level. 

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