Two weeks ago Ornella Grosz emailed me, asking if we could meet for coffee.
I normally don’t leap at invitations from strangers, but Grosz seemed intriguing: only 28 years old, she’s already published a book on money management. She’s appeared on all the major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX) and holds a slew of wealth-related professional licenses.
So at the risk of feeling like an underachiever in comparison, I agreed to meet at a coffee shop near my house. Besides, I figured: I’m only 27. I still have one year to do everything she’s done.
To my surprise, Grosz turned out to be a very relatable person.
Like me, she’s the daughter of immigrants – mine Nepalese, hers Romanian. Her hardworking parents “gave me what I needed, but not necessarily what I wanted,” she said.
“I wasn’t wearing the latest Air Jordans … but they paid for me to be in Girl Scouts, to play basketball, to go to Israel.”
She watched her parents find their footing in a foreign land. Their degrees and experience, so well-respected in their home country, were less regarded here. They accepted jobs for which they were overqualified, diligently working their way up the ladder, sometimes slipping on a rung.
Since they came to America “later” in life, they started saving for retirement later than their peers. Now in their mid-60’s, they’re facing the fallout of this inevitable reality.
(Paula’s tangent: I completely understand this. My parents were almost 40 when they came to the U.S. and, at that age, they started from scratch: buying their first used Ford, saving for a down payment on a small ranch home, raising little ‘ol me, AND catching up on 20 years of missed retirement savings. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.)
Watching her parents, Grosz grasped the reality that money is a useful tool for making your life easier. It’s not about having “stuff,” it’s about having opportunity.
By the time she started college, she knew she wanted to spend her life sharing this message. But she wasn’t quite sure how to do it.
First she majored in finance. She enjoyed the subject, but it wasn’t as focused on “personal” finance as she wanted.
After graduation she became a licensed Realtor. Then she became licensed to sell life insurance. At some point, she moved across the country. She worked in the Wealth Management section of a major bank as an investment advisor. But none of those tracks felt quite right.
Her true calling, she slowly discovered, is to become a financial educator for Generation Y. After all, shouldn’t her peers be learning about money from one of their own?
She wants to remind Generation Y that we need to save for “retirement” – even though it’s a fuzzy, abstract event that won’t happen for another 40 years.
So Grosz reached out to her generation in the best way she could: she wrote a book.
“Moneylicious: A Financial Clue for Generation Y,” is designed to be an easy, quick read, with only 128 pages. One reviewer called it a “Sex and the City style approach to personal finance.”
Her chapter titles appeal to a young, hip crowd. The ‘retirement’ chapter is called “Back to the Future.” A popular Beyonce song, “Check Up On It”, inspires a ‘budgeting’ section. At one point in the book, she compares a bear market to a “huge sale at Macy’s.”
“[Generation Y is] seeing stars on reality television who seem like they have money flying at them,” she says.
Her book is geared towards a crowd that enjoys watching those shows – but has to budget on less than a Kardashian salary.
“The book is simple, without being overly simplistic,” she says. Though it’s an easy read, it respects the intelligence her readers.
That’s in part because she has high hopes for her generation.
“This is a generation that I think will have a lot of entrepreneurs,” she says, “maybe more than any other generation.”
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Thanks to …
The Carnival of Wealth for featuring my post on money + freedom.