Tiffany Aliche, known by many as “The Budgetnista,” is a former pre-school teacher turned financial educator who is dedicated to helping adults and children make smarter financial decisions.
Recently, she partnered with lawmakers in the state of New Jersey to help pass a law that will require middle school students to learn about financial literacy in the classroom.
“I want to make talking about money normal,” she tells Because of Them We Can. “Like, the way you talk about TV and hair and playing outside because when you normalize it there is not this weird fear about [it].”
Aliche says she was first approached with the idea about three years ago by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight who was a student in one of her financial literacy courses years ago.
“She contacted me and said, ‘You know, your financial class that I took with you was so helpful and as an assemblywoman I want to make it more accessible,'” says Aliche, who explains that the state already has a financial literacy law for high school students.
Aliche says she immediately told McKnight “yes” as she had once created an age-appropriate financial curriculum for her pre-school students as a teacher in Newark, New Jersey.
Initially, Aliche explains, both she and McKnight were pushing for financial literacy to be taught in both middle schools and elementary schools. But, after a bit of pushback around when teachers would find the time to incorporate the lessons into the school day, lawmakers eventually decided to go with having financial education only in the middle schools.
“We decided we would make it integrated into the day,” Aliche says. “For example, we said for an art project we could have the kids do something like a savings box where they would bring shoe boxes from home, decorate them and talk about what they could save in it.”
Last month, Aliche, along with McKnight and New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, celebrated the new law being passed with an official signing ceremony at Barack Obama Elementary School in Jersey City. With Aliche, McKnight, Oliver and the school’s principal all being Black women, Aliche emphasizes that she was excited to be part of a ceremony that felt like a “Black girl magic moment from head to toe.”
According to NJ.com, the bill, which will take effect this coming school year, will provide students with the opportunity to learn about budgeting, savings, credit, debt, insurance, investment and more.
“Financial education is a critical component for your success as an adult,” explains Aliche. That’s why, in addition to working with New Jersey lawmakers, she tells Because of Them We Can that she is now working with lawmakers in Texas and the D.C. area to get a similar law passed there.
“If we can set the tone when people are young, then we can change what is happening now,” says Aliche in regards to more and more adults being in debt. “That is my aim. To help folks and to help shift how we got here by starting with kids when they are young.”