2012 Delta Day at the State Capitol:
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority members with DPI’s Mike Bormett, UW Credit Union’s
Jaimes Johnson and Delta Gems participants
|UW Credit Union’s Jaimes Johnson
|News Anchor and radio personality
Johnson is responsible for the financial education that UW Credit Union gives all over the state. Last year, they made 328
presentations to over 8,000 individuals. But Johnson’s financial expertise didn’t just naturally come to him. He had to go out and
learn it later in life. As a child, he was kept in the dark.
“One of the challenges is financial education in the schools, students graduating without financial education because we can
certainly get a great education and colleges are so great at teaching you in general how to get a job, but there isn’t a lot of room for
teaching you what to do with that money once you get it,” Johnson said. “Full disclosure, I’m an Ohio State graduate. I come from a
strong Christian family. My mother is a high school teacher. My father is an engineer. We never talked about money. The only thing I
remember about money is hearing that we didn’t have enough.”
Johnson emphasized that everyone has their own money story from those who learned how to use financial institutions and save at
an early age to those who have learned to count on payday loan services through their parents’ examples. But no matter what one’s
personal money story has been, one can take control and become financially empowered.
As a part of his presentation, Johnson handed out detailed monthly spending plans.
“There are a lot of things on here,” Johnson said. “If I asked you to use this, what would you say? It’s a little intimidating with a lot of
boxes on it? Why does this form look this way? Because you need to know where every dollar goes. If I asked you how much you
were going to spend on your car, your monthly payment, how many of you would know? How many of you know exactly how much
you have to pay for your mortgage or your rent? Within $10, how much did you spend on food in the last month? How many of you
know how much you will spend on food this month within $10. When I ask that question in seminars, most people don’t raise their
hands. They do raise their hands for the mortgage and the automobile. But very few people raise their hands about the food piece.
Often that is the third largest part of your expenses. When I say food, I include groceries, eating out, vending machines and all of
those things that you consume as food. Why is that? We are disciplined around our mortgage payments, rent payments and our car
payments. We know what it is and we make it every month. We can tell you next month what it will be. But we are casual around the
third largest expense of our budget and that is food.”
Often times people are reluctant about talking about budgets because they are restrictive. Instead, Johnson calls it a spending plan
because it empowers one to take control of one’s money.
“You have to spend to live,” Johnson said. “This is about knowing how you are doing it now and the second step is making
decisions. It’s the one guarantee that I will make this morning to you. If you do this, you will make different decisions. As a matter of
fact, before you even finish this, you will make different decisions because you are thinking about it. Managing your finances begins
with you having discipline around spending. Once you start making that decision, you are on the way. And the good news is, once
you start doing it, it gets to be a habit. It really does.”
And as the Deltas take more financial control over their lives, Johnson urged them to pass it on.
“My challenge to you is you have to teach your children,” Johnson emphasized. “They aren’t too young. In my career, it is clear to me
that those children whose parents, mom and dad, older brother or sister has taken time with them and taught them the value of
saving and not buying until you can afford it, it is night and day. Those are life-long lessons that have a life-long effect on the
decisions they will make and their ability to be successful in life.”
Financial empowerment begins in the home, but it can raise up a community.
By Jonathan Gramling
Every spring, members of Delta Sigma Theta — who bring some of their Delta Gems along, young women whom they mentor —
gather at the Wisconsin State Capitol to politically empower themselves. State legislators and public employees come by to talk
about issues before the legislature that may impact the African American community and other communities of color. And at the end
of their session, they go out and speak to their individual state representatives about the issues or watch their legislatures in
action on the Senate or Assembly floor.
But this year, the Deltas focused on a different kind of empowerment as well, economic empowerment. Jaimes Johnson, director of
community & campus relations for UW Credit Union, talked about taking charge of one’s personal finances.
Johnson works for a credit union, which like a bank is a financial institution insured by the FDIC, but is structured differently than a
bank. It is a not-for-profit.
“The two differences between banks and credit unions are structure and intent,”
Johnson said. “Banks have customers, the bank itself and the shareholders.
Shareholders own the stock, the shares of the bank. This is the way banks are
structured. What is the intent of the bank? It is to make money for the
shareholders. The primary responsibility of the bank and the board is to enrich the
shareholder. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a model, the way that banks
“The structure of the credit unions is the bank function and the customer. The
customer also owns the credit union. What does that mean that the customer is the
owner? You get to vote. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. With most
credit unions, $5 will get you ownership in the credit union. That’s your
membership share. And the credit union is trying to do what is in the
customer/owner’s best interest.”