For our first #MyMoneyStory, I figured I would tell you ... MY money story! Well, really, my parents' story.
And I invited them to join me, so you can hear all about who and what shaped the way I am with money.
And if you haven't already, hit subscribe and turn on the notifications for our future videos!
Brenton: [00:00:00] Hello, this is Brenton Harrison, host of New
Money, New Problems podcast. I wanna welcome you guys in to an episode
that I'm hoping will be really cool.
I wanna make
that we have these
stories where we give some context for why we spend
the way we spend.
Why we are the way we are and
why we do the things we do with money.
So, if I'm gonna be authentic, I
need to start with
bit from whence I came. Which is why
I asked my parents to join me
for this session,
a little background about their lives. And maybe I'll do a replay or response
episode so I can tell you what they were truthful about and
I disagree with. Thank
you guys for joining the New Money New
. All right.
I wanna start
from the beginning. If you all could introduce yourselves beyond mommy and Daddy and tell us your names. Tell
us a little bit
about your background.
us about your parents, like, just tell us about your childhood.
Donna: My name
is Donna Harrison.
I [00:01:00] am
from Memphis, Tennessee.
father is from Memphis, born and raised in
except for college
when he came to Tennessee State. My mother is from Belize in
America, and she lived there until her teenage
she came to the
United States, which is a long story
Brenton: How did
in terms of...
was it a long process? Was
legal process? How did she come?
not a long process. It was not
a legal process. She
actually, came up through Guatemala into Mexico
in really kind of in a dangerous way, risking
And she was blessed when she got
to the border of Mexico and
the United States in that
she met a family from
family, that had three small children with them. And they actually were
[00:02:00] vacationing in
Mexico and for some reason they
to bless my mother by
bringing her across the border with them
when they were coming home from their vacation in
And she was able to successfully
cross the border with this family and actually live with them for the first few years when she came into United States and was able to get on
her feet and stayed with them
until she met my father. And married my father and moved away. Okay
My dad was
a lifelong educator in Memphis, worked
for the Memphis public city school systems, but
right out of college he was in the Air Force.
And he was
one point in
the Galveston area, and at that
point that's where in you know,
as soldiers do, they were out for an evening and in one of those evenings he met my mother.
in St. Catherine, Jamaica, and [00:03:00] he came to the United States with
they first came to Florida.
took a job working on
a sugar cane plantation
He was a tailor and a teacher.
He came, worked on the sugar cane
plantation, and they migrated
to Fox Lake, Illinois. They all got jobs at the Green Giant Cannery, and someone informed them that International Harvester was opening up
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So
all eight of them went to
Milwaukee, Wisconsin and got jobs at International Harvester.
And that was
what he did until
he retired. My mother was from Versailles, Kentucky.
sure what she did, but her father
was a Pullman on the
and was very successful. He was
lead Pullman on most of the trains that he worked on. She
went to nursing school at Meharry in their first nursing class.
Michigan where her sister was teaching school.
And at a camp meeting
she met my father,
who had come from Milwaukee to
Michigan for the camp meeting, and that was how
Brenton: Daddy, you have, not that mommy you don't have siblings, but you have a brother and a sister, uh one of
whom is my
months older than me, and my sister
13 years [00:05:00] older. And
we were told he was only going to live to be 20
because he had sickle cell anemia.
So, at the age of
we only had
seven more years together. Our relationship
became tighter in
respect, that I
wanted to have
him with me
as long as I could. And
respect, it diverged because he felt that this
was the worst curse in
the world to tell a
live to be 20. And
that point in our
it was a constant me pulling after him
and him deciding, 'I'm gonna
do whatever I want to do because I've only got
seven more years', and
become a hell raiser.
He lived to be
was such that I
wanted him more with me.
when he came, he had a
that was you.
almost a lot
like my grandson and mine.
He would come and he would play and
you all would
yell in the
basement. And then he would
teach you things that I didn't know he
was teaching you. And he
would give you perspectives that were different than
mine. But when I knew I was having
a son, I had no other name that I wanted you named
other than his.
And I gave you his name and
you my name as your middle name.
Brenton: Mommy, you grew
up in Memphis. And you know I've been going to that neighborhood, even though you didn't grow up in that neighborhood your whole life, and since I was a kid, everybody who [00:07:00] lived there
lived there for years.
Everybody was in a similar situation it seemed
financially. So, I could see
being a delay in you realizing
the differences between money and what it could
not do, cuz everybody was in a similar
situation. So, when was the first time that you realized,
of the power of money or the differences that money contribute to?
will admit we moved into
the neighborhood about
everybody was moving into the, to the neighborhood, all
young black families.
Just looking for home
ownership, the opportunity of home ownership. And
most of the kids were around the same
age. And so,
I don't remember,
needing anything or
really wanting anything that wasn't available.
It was just a, a
strong, strong community.
when it, the
Light Bulb actually turned on.
But I think it was
probably really more
close to the
time when it was higher education.
I wanted to go to a small Christian college, an Adventist College, which cost. There were
not a lot of scholarships available for
private institutions at that time.
the back and forth with my parents
there were many scholarships that I had the opportunity to have if I had decided to go
to a Tennessee State
or some of
the other colleges that had offered me scholarships.
And so there
was a little
discussion in my family as to why we were having to
struggle to pay tuition when I could probably go someplace and not have to pay for college.
And so that's probably when the
bulb came turned on for
Brenton: Me. You mentioned that
Granny is from
and she was a conduit for a
whole lot of [00:09:00] other Belizean family members
to get to the
The house in Memphis is, you say about
A thousand square feet?
A thousand would probably
stretch. Yeah. Okay. Mm-hmm. So, you have
any given point
in time, how many other family members would be
in the house
in terms of cousins or aunts
that would come over from
Donna: As long as I can remember, there was always somebody
in the house from the time that I was
born until long after I was
an adult and moved away.
But the largest
amount that I
at one point when I had three cousins in the house
with us. So, there were three cousins, four of us.
And then my two parents in a
three bedroom, very small house with how
right. Daddy, so you
were raised by a
big community, yes? And got to experience
than just one family when
it came to
finances. When you were in Detroit, [00:10:00] you were with Aunt Dee and Uncle Bernard. So
if you could tell me a little bit about them in terms of what they did
you know, specifically.
Duane: Aunt Dee taught school.
First, second and third grade for
44 years. Uncle Bernard worked for Ford glass Company. They
managed money together.
In my own home, my
mother made more than my father as a nurse, and
I didn't learn until later that
it was the source
of some of the difficulty between the way they managed money. I grew up realizing that my mother's biggest cry was if we
would, if he
would just put his money
with mine we could do so
much more together. And I was older
when I learned that part of the reason [00:11:00] didn't bring
his money and put it with my mother's were twofold. One,
he didn't want to face the fact that she made
more than him. Two, he didn't want to
lose what he would call control.
Brenton: So, you all meet at
Oakwood, you get
married. mommy you did nursing. So, you were finished in two years.
come down to Meharry and go to
Meharry. When was the first time
you all can remember money being a conversation in terms of how you all deal with it as a couple?
Donna: I think that it
was, it was
probably out of
you know, some of the
decisions were made or, our money philosophy
was developed. I am a
person who has a greater need for
Brenton: Where do you think that comes from?
Donna: Well, I'm sure it
from seeing money [00:12:00] emergencies when I
grow up and seeing, you know,
my parents trying to figure out, you
know, because you have four children and you have extras in the house,
so, if, if there was an emergency, then
to figure it out. And I
don't like emergencies. I don't like,
the feeling of needing to figure it out, so I would rather have the security of having
something there put aside
for those emergencies.
Duane: I, I think that
got in the
way. At the
age of 12, I
had an uncle,
one of my dad's eight friends who came to the house. And Uncle Jimmy said,
come with me
on Tuesday and Thursday nights for two hours and make
And I couldn't believe that my parents
would let me go
on a school night.
But I would go with
Uncle Jimmy and sweep up
the floor of a garment factory in Milwaukee, and I'd make $25 a night. That's $50 a
week [00:13:00] for a
12-year-old kid. In the summertime at the age of 13, Uncle Jimmy
asked me 'Do you wanna work with
a construction crew with me?' And
I said, Yes, sir.
And I was paid
out of a safe because it wasn't
legit for a 13-year-old, no matter how big, to work. And from that time on, I had two and three jobs. A summer. Every summer
I had that kind of money.
My parents never bothered
me about that money. They asked me would I pay, tithe and offering, but they never said what to
do with it. And
I developed a habit of, if I want something,
I work for it. And if I work for it, you can't tell me what to do with it because I worked for it.
And if you tell me, it's not enough, I'll go work more.
And that was what I brought into our
I wanted to make sure that
we put our money together. I didn't want
to be like my father.
I wanted to do whatever I wanted to, [00:14:00] and I had
to learn a lesson.
And the lesson was, you
don't have to work more.
If you just manage what
you have, you can still find a way
And it was the control of working more that I, I resisted. Although mommy says,
you know, things that would come up would, would cause us to realize our
differences. The first thing that
I remember was, 'we don't have the money'.
And I couldn't go and work because I was in school for, for medicine.
So, I would say, Okay, and, and my parents would give us money and, and
mommy would work. But there was always a good deal that
mommy found. And I'd come in and there'd
be something I
like. 'Do you like that? It was on sale'. And it was always something for the house. It was never anything for her. But I would question,
[00:15:00] 'if we don't
have any money, we don't
have any money, or put the money on the table and
let's decide what
we're gonna do
with it.' And, and that was the
of how we began to realize our differences. My friends had a joke that
they would say,
Dwayne wants something. Oh, he's just
He's just gonna get another contract and go to the hospitals and, and
he does it. And
constantly be at home saying,
What we need to do manage what we have.
Brenton: And then get something
house. I bring up the house.
I bring up the house
because you guys had a unique
initial home ownership.
with me how you got the money
to buy your first
Duane: We, at, at the time we were married, I had a friend who
I worked with and painted with in my younger years in [00:16:00] Milwaukee. And they offered to buy us, they offered to renovate anything we bought and just charge us for materials. And I wanted to do that, and mommy needed the security of an apartment. Something that's taken care of.
So, we rented the first four years of our marriage.
And mommy decided that
if we're staying in Nashville, I do want a home.
Well, we didn't have a home or down payment. And I
told my parents what we were trying to do. And my father had an accident. He was struck by a garbage truck in Milwaukee. Was in the
hospital and he got a settlement. And the settlement
came through and it was $7,500. And he sat down at the table,
looked at my mother and asked, are
The children trying to
buy a house?
And she said yes, so he said 'here, give it to them'. And
that was how we
got the down payment.
Brenton: So [00:17:00] all it took was your dad getting hit by
a dump truck.
Duane: I love your perspective.
Brenton: You talked about working more. And
I mentioned medicine, but
we have not gotten into what each of you do. So
first, if you could share what it is that
you do and, and how you
made your money up until recently
then after you
mommy, I'd like for you to share what you
to do and what you do now.
Duane: I came out of residency and worked in an
emergency room for approximately a year
before my hospital administrator said, in
your role as medical director of
this emergency room,
You have brought in a significant number
of people outside of the company you work for.
friends of yours. We'd like
you to take the contract
and [00:18:00] staff it for us.
And I got a contract with the hospital
I could determine my profit margin in the negotiation. And I did that and.
several physicians who helped me
Brenton: Well, let's, let's go back
a second. So, you're now no
longer an employee you're a business owner. Yes. And you're providing physicians to the hospital?
are you determining your profit margin?
What does that
just you, you pay us 300, I pay my guys and
girls to 50. Is I, How
Duane: does that work? Well,
we, you look at the average
rate, hourly rate for
the emergency room and
look at what it costs for their insurance, for their continuing
education, for holiday pay
for incentives on busy
days or nights
high acuity patients,
you put all of that into an hourly rate and
you [00:19:00] determine a percentage of profit It was always easy for me as a
fair minded person because most of my business
in any classroom. It was what
is the right thing to do and what is the fair
thing So I
would look at my hospital administrator
would say the owners of this hospital have asked you to have a budget that
requires what percent profit. And my first contract,
it was a 18% profit
And I ask,
that okay for me to
do the same thing. And they, the attorney and the
be perfectly fine. And that was how
my profit margin Now, in those days when I got started, you worked, they paid
you that hourly and as an owner, they paid you the entire
hourly rate profit margin and your,
fees for your or expenses for your physicians. And you could walk away from a
contract knowing [00:20:00] that
Keep to my budget.
Here's my profit
nine months I had a second contract. Within two years
I had three contracts and up until
that third contract, that
was. The third contract, it was,
you need to
learn to bill for your services and what
you bill for. Your services need to take care of your
expenses but we are
not going to subsidize at all. At that point,
a billing company
and I needed help with a billing company just before
we took that contract
found a company that was going outta
Grabbed their manager
their lead coder, and I started another
company. The third company was a scribe company
the government mandated that all
patients should have electronic
health records. And trying
an electronic health
record in an emergency room setting
difficult. So, I just
developed the scribe
where the records could
for us computer
while we did the work
emergency those were the three I
Brenton: three contracts.
You had friends that I know and
grew up with
their children were in
contracts with you.
billing company and that me medical
billing company was
place where I worked, I think starting at
12 or 13.
I would go for four hours a day
and work in the summers.
Duane: Actually, I had seven contracts.
Brenton: Okay. Seven contracts. And then Uncle Brenton worked at the billing company.
family working for you with you?
So, everybody in the family in some way or another is, [00:22:00] is connected.
back Mommy, if you could share
did two years for nursing
but you work now, but you're not a nurse now, so if you could explain
what you do. Sure.
Donna: I worked
after we married for several years at Vanderbilt.
But then I had Jennifer
and then I
after you were born that I would just come home.
And so, I actually stayed out of the
workforce until you
15, maybe 16.
I decided that, okay,
maybe I can do something you know, that,
you know, in the workforce again. And at that time
encouraged me actually to consider real estate.
And I did. And when I did it,
it enough to, I think I
if he minded if
I would give
it a shot full
time. So, I did. Twenty years ago
seen you work Way past 40 hours as you built that. How many hours a week
would you say
work now, [00:23:00]
I worked hard and long at the
Brenton: and there's a reason
for this question. I'm
not just digging at
Donna: I mean, and it, it ebbs, it ebbs and flows Yeah.
With, with the market. So right now, it's really light. So, I, you know, I,
usually, can do a couple of hours a day to take care
that I need to take care
of, and that's
Brenton: it. And on
a given year, what
multiple of what.
on the schedule of what you were working as a nurse, like,
Donna: I mean,
I can't even remember what I made as a nurse, but it was a much
larger, So more than that.
Brenton: large. Oh, absolutely, definitely. It's
double So you are working
probably a fourth of the time.
and making double
what you would've been making
do you think you have been able to build
that level of reputation that
would allow you to
Donna: Well, [00:24:00]
beginning, like I said, it
was working long and hard.
building up a sphere of influence of people who trusted me,
who would refer
you know, clients to me who became
client, repeated clients. So, you know, it, it was truly just d doing what you say you're gonna do, working hard to
on, on, on people's behalf to
give them the best,
to always have their
interest first, as
opposed to what I'm
gonna get at the end
And, and enjoying doing that. So, you know, just
enjoying the interaction, enjoying connecting with people and building a book of business so that now,
you know, I'm
servicing people's children
their grandchildren their second, third, and sometimes
fourth homes. And so,
that's what I've been, how I've been able
Brenton: do it.
We talked about
Belize and Jamaica and cousins and siblings and
extended [00:25:00] family because for, for most
of you all's married life, there has have been
family members that you've supported and Some
way or often, consistently.
recall there was
I did where
I asked how much support was being given or had been and.
the number of cars that you had
purchased or given away
to family members,
and it was 12
We totaled up the
number of people that you had helped.
And on a monthly
it averaged out to about $2,500
a month of assistance.
Does that sound about
right? $30,000 a
the low end. On the low end. Mm-hmm.
You're giving 10% of your payback to God, you are helping people
at, on the low
end, $30,000 a You are not getting the
sales [00:26:00] from
resources of reselling
and things of that nature.
That is a significant
Where do you think that comes
Donna: was absolutely modeled for us for me. Mm-hmm.
And I'm sure daddy would say
the same thing. You know, I can
say it not just on my
but I can start
with my mother's side There was always a way.
That they found to help
someone were cousins that needed to
come over to the country and you
know, they come
for school and
they wanted to
experience the same things we experienced the programs, the clubs, the
trips and things that
provided for us.
You know, before my cousins, it was my mom's
younger sisters that would come and live
with us until
they could afford to find
a place of their own and a
and things like that. I can
remember my dad is the youngest
But I can remember he had a couple of
brothers with children that, [00:27:00] you know, When
things needed to
in high school
or important events where they needed
extra funds and things like that. You
know, I you realize later, you
know cuz it was done without them
but I realized later that my dad was the one
and my dad was the one that paid for that.
And to this day, you know, my mother, she's still
models. If you need help, I'm gonna
Duane: it. we hadn't talked about
it, but my dad was pretty much
the same way as her mom in the fact that
from a young
age, we always knew that there was $10,000 in the bank.
Because to sponsor someone. In those days
have resources in the bank and you had to have a guarantee that they would have a place to live and a place to work.
gonna sponsor as many people as want
And between him and his brother [00:28:00] in New York a lot of West Indians came
to Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
and Brooklyn, New York because of Woodcliff
Brenton: You know, I bring up the
amount of support
and you all still work.
Some of that's cuz you enjoy what you do, but some of that is the cost of an amount of money you've given away that if you had kept half for yourself,
probably could have stopped working 15 years It's one thing to say it on the front end. I'm okay doing with less.
Now. You all are somewhere in your and
and healthy and doing
you feel about
having seen through that promise of I'm okay
if I gotta do a
if it means
little more. How
do you feel about
Donna: still the
we still enjoy
standard of living, I [00:29:00] think is one that I could never have imagined.
I don't believe that we've wanted for anything.
it's been a joy to be able to
provide. Security a leg up. Help when somebody's in a crunch and all the things
we've been able
to provide along the, you know, through the
to friends and family.
So, I, I
wouldn't have it any other
I never had
an idea of what
it was that I wanted
my life to look like. I never
went into it with I'm gonna get this
and I'm gonna get that
and oes when I make x.
As So for me I do think that we have
in so many
ways that I don't have regrets. I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy solving problems. I enjoy, I believe I was put here on this [00:30:00] earth to be a And I enjoy emergency medicine.
Brenton: let's, let's talk
about some of, cause
we've, we've now learned
a lot about each
of you. I know you don't regret helping
in terms of
what you know
you have any regrets in that? And if so,
Donna: I believe that
money works now,
that we had to learn the hard
I believe that even with all the
expenses and I
think that had
had just been more literate
financially in our early years
there's so much
more that we could
have done and
would've been able
to do so.
I believe, I
regret that I didn't have the [00:31:00] opportunity
to become financially
know, before. Before we became wage
Brenton: Daddy, the question was posed. Are there any
regrets that you
have in terms of how you
Duane: I think
that the regret for me
what my son knows,
I could have done so much more.
But I do believe that part
of the problem
for me was that 12-year-old boy who no one ever touched when he went out and made money.
And I think that that 12-year-old guy damaged.
year old that started in medicine and didn't help
you can probably do a
lot more than you
Brenton: What if you had to guess based on the
children that you raised and what
you see us doing now?
entrepreneurs. Both very stubborn. What, what do you think
parts that we pick?
Donna: A strong work
I can do it. You know, this, this is what I,
what I want to do
and I'm gonna figure out
a way to do it.
. And also, I think that you both got a spirit of benevolence and, you know, I'm, I'm never gonna want,
or I'm never gonna miss it if I'm, you know, sincere in, in helping to meet a need
of a, of someone that I love
that that needs something.
So those two things I think I like
Duane: proud work ethic
with. And that was,
The only goal that
when you were growing up, that you would have a [00:33:00] work ethic,
and give you a work ethic. And I always believed that
the rest would take care of itself. The other thing I
to make sure was
you both developed the ability to question the status quo, and you both question the status quo.
there is no, this is the only way and
just like me, one like his mother.
and for, for me I, I think it was an excellent mix
think you all.
Exceeded in all
aspects. Absolutely What we could have thought
was going to be now if you caught us
Brenton: All right,
question. So, what
are the things
that you see a struggle
you identify with?
are the things that you wish we probably
Donna: for you, The high, high need [00:34:00]
make sure that
you have in the forecast
to be taken care of. You see a way.
it to be
I think that I, the times when I pray for you are the times when I
see you worrying,
because now I've lived long enough to realize that
it's gonna be taken
But it's hard
to now, because you've seen that in me turn around and look and see you when you worry
about how it's gonna fall, how all the apples are gonna fall, how it's
gonna work out
to tell you
it's gonna be okay.
Brenton: What about
Donna: My favorite
figure it all out
and not really, I think, and I can only speak for
the things from me,
you know, daddy probably sees
some of, a lot of her
in him, but I, but for me financial literacy and
any [00:35:00] other thing that I've gotten, I, I would rather go and find
it myself than to
Oh, I need help.
Can you help show me what you've done? Can you help me with this?
And sometimes you'll learn it takes longer
It's harder to learn
and figure it out when you don't look for those resources outside of
Duane: yourself. I
be I, I think
the same thing. The
that I make to you come
that you are that your environment is such that is going to cause you to worry.
Those are the things
know enough about from
living with your mother. I can talk with, you know, when you're stressed
why you're stressed.
not with your sister, it is like looking in a mirror.
I'm fine. She
parrots her father.
Because I didn't grow up
[00:36:00] with the ability to tell you
much less stop and say that everything's not fine. here's, here's why.
Brenton: When I'm operating at my
me that is daddy
is, I very much believe
go earn more.
are times when I will
work my way out of debt or work
my way out of a hole, not based off of my initial thought being could you have managed that debt better on the front end, But the constant belief that I can out earn. And that can definitely come back to
bite me. The
is, if I owe
if I owe anybody, I,
I cannot go to sleep.
on the positive
to me, I, I may want to cap on how much I give, even
some of [00:37:00] that dips
into my ability to out earn if I, even if it's not the greatest time
me, a cousin or a
Might benefit from $50. I may have 52 but to me that, that is a mindset that I know that I got from
each of you
that I'm very proud And
in terms of,
Cause I brought up you
having two entrepreneurs. To me,
one of the
biggest things I
each of you and it's, it's so funny cuz it came at different
phases. I was
a kid Mommy,
you were at home,
seeing daddy and knowing that he worked more than
parents I knew
who were in if you're listening to this podcast and you know me and know my uncle Robert,
that might be the only person I
know who was like, Oh, well there's probably one person out there
who might be working ass
hard or harder,
spite of all that,
I honestly cannot recall an event that either
of us had where Daddy [00:38:00] and to me it
wasn't even just
the fact that he would work that hard and come,
it was the fact that because he worked for himself, he could find a way to get there, And mommy, later on in my childhood,
oh, my goodness, she literally picked this up when I was a teenager and in less
than 10 years
making double what she would've been and that
a role, cuz this is from both of you in terms of like, there are so many ways to make money in this
you go about it the right way And I know that those are lessons that both of us picked up from you because I
don't think that both of us would have ventured into entrepreneurship
having that ability modeled,
something that I
I appreciate you for the [00:39:00] conversation. I appreciate you for being
on the first version of My Money Stories. I wanted
to make sure you all had
my origin story and my sister's
origin story, and
even my grandmother and grandparents’ origin stories.
So, thank you for joining us
on the New
Money New Problems
Duane: You’re welcome.