Know one knows the joys of paying off a burdensome debt more than Money Crashers’ David Bakke and author Ja’Net Adams. In this third and final installment of our chat with Adams, she tells us what motivates her to teach college students how to manage their money.
BlackEnterprise.com: What prompted you to teach college students how to get out of debt?
Ja’Net Adams: I use to speak to older adults (ages 40 to 65), and they kept mentioning at the end of my talks that they wished I was around when they were younger because they would be millionaires! After hearing that statement enough, I decided to take my message to a younger audience. There is a student loan debt crisis. The combined student loan debt is around $1.2 trillion, and the average debt for a college graduate is now at $33,000. In light of this, I knew I had to do something to help. The strategies that I share with students will help them make better choices than I did so that they can pay off their debt quickly and move forward with their lives.
BlackEnterprise.com: Which college visit had the most impact on you? Why?
Adams: I was speaking at a college in Indiana, and when I finished I saw a young lady waiting for me. She came up to me and said that she truly appreciated my talk and that it had an impact on her. She went on to tell me her personal story. Even though she was in college, she and her three girls were homeless and living between her car and shelters. She said that a couple of days before, while she was driving her car she ran over a nail and her tire went flat. She said for most people a flat tire is nothing, but for her it was a catastrophe. She then asked me for advice. She said she needed to get her head above water because she felt like she was drowning.
One tip I give is to find ways to make money from one of your hobbies. Since this lady had three young kids I told her she should look into starting a babysitting service. There was a restaurant in town with a playground indoors and so I suggested she tell the parents to meet her there and she would watch the kids while they enjoyed kid-free time. This encounter had a major impact on me because it helped me realize that these students are not just dealing with student loan debt, but also payday loans, car loans, credit card debt, and homelessness. And no matter how hard this journey gets, I have to keep going because there are so many hurting financially!
BlackEnterprise.com: Why did you write the book, Debt Sucks?
Adams: Ever since I have been speaking on college campuses, students have coming up to me after my keynotes and telling me that it wasn’t enough and they needed more advice. No matter whether I was speaking in the US or in Canada, students would always ask me to write a book. I had actually started to write the book and had six chapters done when for some reason I put my pen down for a few months. Then a young man by the name of Christopher Thomas suddenly passed away. He was a student at University of South Alabama that I had interacted with over the past two years at conferences, over Twitter, and even when I spoke at University of South Alabama. We had become friends and he was one of the major supporters of me writing a book and even submitted a question that he would like answered in the book. So when I received that devastating news it hurt a lot, but it also kicked me into gear and that very day I picked my pen back up and finished the rest of the book in less than three months. It was released in August. The book is now available on Amazon.
Go here for parts one and two of this interview.