WHEN MAKEBA GREEN GRADUATES FROM COLLEGE IN THE fall of 2016, she will do so with no student loan debt and more than $10,000 in savings.
She says this is because her family instilled in her from an early age how important it is to save. She recalls when her sister opened a custodial bank account for her when she was in fifth grade and encouraged her to save money instead of racing back and forth to the corner store to spend it on treats and toys as most fifth graders do.
"My sister has been telling me my whole life that I need to save my money," says Green, who at 21, now runs her own nonprofit while majoring in communications and media at Montclair University. "She felt that I was investing my money in all the wrong things ... She encouraged me to do research about mutual funds and about opening up a savings account."
In addition, Green asked her parents to pay her by doing odd jobs around the house. By the time she completed middle school, she had saved more than $2,000.
Green says her family also taught her that saving would help her deal with important life issues in the future, like having the financial independence to buy her first car or being prepared to tackle unforeseen hardships. "If life happens, I would have some money to fall back on."
Green's enthusiasm about saving motivated her to find ways to generate income. At age 13, she founded OMG Photography and was hired to shoot networking events, conferences, youth summits, women's empowerment events, birthday parties, political events, and meet the photographic needs of nonprofit organizations in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
As her business grew, she was exposed to many influential and successful people that she photographed. Seeing their success inspired Green to want to make a difference for other young people like herself, growing up on the tough streets of Newark.
Green carefully began socking away 10% of the payment she received for her photography jobs and used much of the rest to turn OMG Photography into OMG Enterprises, a nonprofit organization that aims to motivate and inspire young people through entrepreneurship and education. The organization awards scholarships to college students, conducts business leadership classes, and provides support to students who may find themselves overwhelmed by the college experience or who may just need someone to talk to. Green uses about $2,000 in proceeds from photography jobs, $4,000 in business...