Image of open copy of Financially Lit book by Jannese Torres

Jannese Torres Tells Latinas What We Need to Hear

I first met Jannese Torres (virtually) as a student of her Side Hustle Moguls course in January 2021. I was a newbie in getting in online financial spaces. And of course, there was the pandemic. I found Jannese the previous year on Instagram and began listening to her podcast, Yo Quiero Dinero, while I delivered for DoorDash. I trusted her so much and couldn’t stop talking about her. For Christmas, my family gifted me the course.

For about two months, our group met once a week to get advice, information, resources, training, education and community. Guest speakers talked to us about everything you need to know about a business. From accounting, making time, creating a business plan, marketing and so much more. About halfway through the course, I thought, “this girl has to write a book.” I once said it aloud and she sort of smiled and said, “yeah, maybe someday.” And now, here we are! Financially Lit! The Modern Latina’s Guide to Level Up Your Dinero & Become Financially Poderosa is the book we’ve been waiting for!

Financially Lit!

I received an advance copy of Financially Lit! and when I accessed the file, I read through half the book in one sitting. I laughed out loud and cried because I saw parts of myself in the words.

As a teen I told my mother I wanted to be a writer. I was editor of my high school newspaper and also worked at our local city newspaper writing obituaries. Her response was that writing wouldn’t earn me an income. My mother’s view of writers was that I’d end up a hairy alcoholic who tried get books published. It wasn’t practical. But if I told her that I got a job working in an office as a receptionist, I’d have been met with approval. To her, an office job meant a steady income. Never mind following a dream that could potentially give me financial freedom.

Why didn’t anyone prepare us to become financially powerful mujeres? As kids, we’re encouraged to follow our dreams. But then as we grow up, we’re told to be realistic. We’re told our passions won’t pay the bills.

Jannese Torres

And don’t get me started on mental health issues. She touches on that too. I’ve longed talked about the relationship between financial and mental health. As Latinas, we have the challenge of language, belonging and immigration, and breaking the taboo of talking about mental health!

Jannese writes, “Money is a stressful subject for many Latinos…I think it has a lot to do with the financial trauma we experienced watching our caregivers navigate financial pressures.”

And that’s where she got me. I cried for my younger self because I saw how much my mother was bullied by my father, made to feel less than because she didn’t speak the language and didn’t know her rights. She depended on him completely. Until she couldn’t anymore. My parents’ fights about money imprinted on me the desire to never touch the subject. When I married, my then-husband and I joined bank accounts but never discussed finances.

Reading Jannese’s story, telling us about watching her parents struggle and then facing struggles herself speaks to so many of us who saw the same thing. Sure we have our differences because every family has different barriers. But thread that binds us together is that of watching our parents or primary caregivers struggle with finances.

The great thing about Financially Lit! though, is that we can create new narratives and overcome challenges with knowledge. That’s what is so important about a book like this. Finally, someone gets us!

Speaking Our Language

Financially Lit! is, at its core, a book to teach you how to manage your money. Lot of personal finance books cover the basics: budgeting, investments, retirement and increasing your earning potential. But what makes Financially Lit! special is its dedication to Latinas and the challenges many of us face when it comes to money.

Whether we’re immigrants, the children of immigrants, whether we speak Spanish or not, we all face many of the same barriers to building wealth. I came to the United States as a child, not knowing how to speak English. My mother didn’t speak English at the time. She and my dad divorced when I was a teen. I watched my mother struggle while she was married to my father and for a long time after.

The child of Puerto Rican parents, Jannese knows this story. Her story resonates with many of us, so to see her come from a background lacking in privilege, and working her ass off to build a life under her terms, is liberating for all of us.

Financially Lit! is filled with personal anecdotes, from her childhood in New Jersey, to her marriage and subsequent divorce. Jannese weaves the financial challenges and successes throughout the book, teaching us and giving us hope that financial freedom is more than just a buzzword. And she teaches us how to do it!

If anyone knows how to give someone a reality check, it’s Jannese. Her no-nonsense approach in the book is reminiscent of what she was like during the side hustle course. I can still hear her voice, telling me to “just fucking do it and get out of your head!” And then when someone reported back that they had done THE THING, she cheered them on, celebrating that one step.

This is For You

Chapter Four tell us to stop the bullshit and just get real. Doing everything that’s expected of us will tear us down and take us to a place that could potentially upend everything we believed. In this chapter, she talks about the home she bought and how it landed her in therapy. That doesn’t mean we have to stop dreaming of this life or that one, but to figure out our values before we delve into what we believe. And work from there.

In Chapter Five, she shares the story of her firing and how she saw that as an unexpected blessing. It put her on a path to independence and taught her not to depend on a W-2 job. She practices what she preaches. If you follow Jannese on social media or read articles about her or listen to her podcast, you’ll know she’s one of the Latina OGs of passive income and multiple streams of income. If you read this chapter and become inspired, take the Ultimate Side Hustle Start Kit course because it’s essentially that chapter but in a fully-fledged version.

How to Invest in Us

One of Jannese’s passions is investing and she wants Latinas to invest. Chapter Six covers different investing vehicles, but also recognizes the reticence many of us have to invest our hard-earned dinero. “Our fear of losing it all holds many of us back from participating in one of the most powerful wealth-building tools that exists.”

Yet earlier in that paragraph, she writes about how family members believed investing in the stock market was too risky, and yet, they (and other Latinos, like my mother) had no problem putting $20 on the latest Powerball numbers! And it’s like ay ay ay! Why are you so confident jugando los numeros, but wouldn’t even invest $10 in something that is more of a sure thing?

From personal experience, and Jannese backs this up with data, Latinos don’t have a lot of trust in financial institutions. I know this from experience. We’ve not been welcome in these spaces, so it makes sense that we wouldn’t feel like it was a place for us. I was scared to death to open a brokerage account. At 50! I wasn’t sure what it was. But then I did research and discovered it wasn’t so scary. With each investment, it became second nature.

Love and Dinero

Chapter Nine covers a topic not often seen in personal finance books. Talking about your personal life is taboo, so to discuss your marriage, the financial abuse you endured and subsequent divorce is not exactly what our mamas and papas want us to display for the world. But it’s such a necessary topic. It’s hard to say how many of us are out here, suffering unnecessarily, thinking we’re alone. So, Jannese talks about it and tells us what she learned from her experience. Bottom line: protect yourself. As someone who endured a sort of financial infidelity, I’ve been hesitant to talk about my experience in detail. However, after hearing Jannese’s story, I’m more willing to talk about what I learned and how I’m protecting myself in the future.

While Jannese wrote this book for us, the Latinas and Latinx community, the topics covered and the information she shares is for everyone. You’ll find everything you need to manage your money, pay off debt, invest and protect yourself.

The book ends with a call to Latinas to harness the energy that comes from within (and from those ancestors who came before us) and bring our community with us on this journey to financial wholeness. This isn’t just for me or for you, but para todas.

If you want want to read more book reviews by smart and powerful women in finance, check out my blog here.

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