Jasmine Cooper Interview On Finances
Hi Jasmine! First, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about finances! Lately, I feel like a lot of millennials are looking to maximize on their financial situations and make the best decisions to be in better positions when they are older.
Please take some time to introduce yourself and share how you started in the financial field. What drew you to be passionate about this?
My name is Jasmine Cooper and I started my career in the financial services field working as a staff accountant at a local nonprofit, and my career development has lead me toward the internal audit/compliance side of the financial industry. I currently work as a member of the Compliance Department at a brokerage firm, where I perform regulatory audits for the investment industry. In my free time, I enjoy spending my time working as a personal finance consultant. Much of the financial literacy work that I do is with Arch Assets Financial Group, a black owned financial services firm in Saint Louis County. That passion developed from recognizing the lack of financial education that is provided to young people, and specifically, people of color. The barrier between financial freedom and most people is simply a lack of access to the appropriate information.
Some things that I know I want to better at understanding as I get older are paying off my debt, saving, taxes, stocks & investments, and so on. I know personally I did not always see good financial habits in the people that were around myself. I had to do a lot of growing up and research to truly see how I can be in a better financial state. What would you say is the biggest misconception young adults have about money? What are the key things we need to know?
I think the biggest misconception that many young people have about money is that it is more valuable to you today, than it is in the future. What I mean by that is, many young people don’t understand the importance of saving and retirement planning. Making small sacrifices today to save for large purchases can save you tons of money in interest. Likewise, making small sacrifices today to save for retirement can make you lots of money over time in the form of investment gains. I think in general, many young people live for today and not for tomorrow, next year and next decade. While tomorrow is not promised, I want to make sure that I have the means to sustain my lifestyle when tomorrow gets here.
A few things that a key to planning for a viable financial future include:
Living below your means
Understanding how credit scores work and improving your score to obtain favorable borrowing rates
Establishing an emergency fund
Obtaining a life insurance policy for yourself, spouse, and children outside of what your employer provides.
Establishing an IRA
Contributing to a 401(k) plan
I’ve always been told that multiple streams of income are key. What can those multiple streams of income and how many should we really have? How can we change our financial situations with these multiple streams? Also most people will say they don't have TIME so please share!
There is no magic number of income streams that one should have to guarantee a healthy financial situation. Multiple income streams are important, because unemployment is a sometimes unavoidable, the cost of living is always increasing, and it is most favorable to pay for cash for purchases—but you have to the cash flow for that. The most beneficial sources of income are passive income—income earned regularly, that requires little-to-no-effort. Passive income beats the “I have no time” argument. A great way to earn passive income is to find a way to generate money doing something you already enjoy doing, like running a blog. Another popular passive income source is owning rental properties, or using your home for as a vacation rental through sites like AirBNB.
So as of now I work a 9-5 and have a side hustle. What do I need to be maximizing at my job? I recently started a new job and I was filling out those dreaded W-4s and meeting with HR about retirement, taxes, health care plan, etc. How can one make the best decision on what to decide what works for them? Everyone wants to have money saved up, a refund around tax season, take home money, and so on but what could they be overlooking.
There is also not magic answer to tax planning. The answer lies in what your financial goals are. If your goal is to not owe tax at the end of the year, you will want to claim fewer allowances via your form W-4, and maybe even pay an additional amount towards withholdings during the year. Alternatively, if you have a need more cash flow during the year to cover expenses, I suggest using more of your allowances, and be prepared to pay tax at the end of the year. You can also influence the cash you receive during the year by reviewing your medical benefits. Make sure to research all of the options provided by your employer. The best way to ensure that you are making the best decision is to set your goals, and meet with qualified individuals (a financial advisor, your employer’s Human Resources department, etc.) to help you make the best decisions to meet those goals. The right financial decisions for you are based upon your specific circumstances.
So I know the biggest thing you specialize in is taxes. Please give us your best advice on taxes and what someone 22-40 should be doing. And what can I be doing if I am behind on where I need to be?
My tax advice for young professionals consist of 5 key tips:
If you have a “side-hustle,” you have a business. Make sure you maintain excellent records of business expenses, don’t forget to withhold and pay your own taxes on a quarterly basis, and get assistances from a qualified tax professional.
File early. File your return as soon as the IRS begins to accept them. This helps protect you from identity theft as the IRS will accept the first return they receive and kick out any subsequent returns filed.
Make an IRA contribution. Traditional IRA contributions are tax deductible.
Itemize, if you can - this applies primarily to 2017 tax filings, as the 2018 standard deduction will make it almost impossible to beat through itemizing. Make sure to claim mortgage interest and property taxes, certain medical expenses, charitable contributions, etc. The instructions for Schedule A of the federal return are a good resource for determining allowable deductions.
In the eyes of the IRS, you are responsible for any and all errors and omissions on your tax returns. Utilize a qualified tax professional that has a registered IRS tax preparer identification number, and knows how to file your returns competently and in an efficient manner. Ask how the tax professional can be of assistance to you in the event that your return is audited and questioned.
Maybe you have some insight in this: Stock. I hear it, I see it, and I want it. How do I dabble in that ministry? Where do I need to even start as the average young person?
I recommend that anyone that is interested in investing use one of the user-friendly apps such as Stash or Acorns to get their feet wet. Research any stocks you choose to invest in. If you are interested in investing large amounts, consult a licensed professional.
Jasmine, thank you for sharing your treasure with us on your knowledge about finances. What would be the biggest take away from everything you are saying? And what is your ultimate goal with helping people with their finances?
My biggest piece of advice is to always use a qualified professional for whatever financial service you need—it’s the only way to protect yourself.
My ultimate goal is to help individuals build wealth by providing them with a few tools for success. I want to teach others how to make their money make more money, and to end the cycle of dependence on predatory companies.
Lastly, I always like to end my interviews in loop! What is your favorite 90s RnB song? And What adventure are you going on in 2018?
My favorite 90’S R&B song is Brandy feat. Mc Lyte, YoYo, and Queen Latifah – “I Wanna Be Down” (Remix)
Many of my adventures for 2018 have yet to be determined. I have a trip planned to go to Miami to celebrate my best friend’s 30th birthday. Other than that, I hope to spend much of it helping people make the right steps toward financial empowerment.
Please share how followers can follow you and write a small bio!
Jasmine Cooper began her career as an accountant and budget analyst at the YWCA Metro St. Louis, and continued her work with nonprofit entities as a staff accountant for RubinBrown LLP, a CPA firm in the Saint Louis area. While at RubinBrown, Jasmine primarily provided financial statement and compliance audits to nonprofits and governmental entities. Currently, Jasmine serves as a member of the Compliance department at Wells Fargo Advisors, a brokerage firm that provides investing services and financial solutions to clients worldwide.
Jasmine earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Truman State University and a master’s degree in accountancy from Fontbonne University.
She volunteers her time to various St. Louis area organizations to facilitate college readiness and economic empowerment.
Jasmine is a native of St. Louis, MO, where she resides with her husband, Eric Cooper.