Jacent Wamala’s family pushed her to follow what they saw as the American dream. After all, that was part of why they moved to the United States from Uganda — so she could go to college, get married, have children, succeed. She did all of those things. But after 26 years here, she had acquired something else: huge debt.
“I got divorced and lost my father while I was in grad school,” Ms. Wamala said. “Because money wasn’t something we talked about heavily growing up, it was during that time that I accumulated the majority of my debt, which was student loans and credit cards.”
Ms. Wamala decided to make a repayment plan, and she used her Instagram feed to keep herself accountable, logging her progress through posts and stories. Before she knew it, she had gained more than 15,000 followers, many of whom came from backgrounds like hers and had had similar experiences.
Now a licensed therapist in Las Vegas who has paid off over $90,000 in debt, she motivates her followers to develop a good relationship with money.
Ms. Wamala is especially eager to work with people of color and other first-generation immigrants, because in her view, the mind-set many people grew up with can be limiting. “There is trauma around money,” she said.
Ms. Wamala, 31, is part of a wave of Black, Indigenous and people of color influencers who are using their hard-won financial know-how to help others from disadvantaged communities reach their money goals, advising them on how to achieve debt freedom, save for retirement and build generational wealth — whether they are middle class or aspiring to be.
Personal finance podcasts, blogs, Instagram profiles and YouTube channels dedicated to people of color have proliferated over the past few years, making best-selling authors out of some and helping others develop clientele willing to pay for their advice.