Interviewer: Thank you for joining us today, Andrea. Your foreword to the book Currency of Conversations: The Talk You’ve Been Waiting For About Money is inspiring and showcases the incredible influence your brother and author, Linsey Mills, has had on your life, particularly in finances and entrepreneurship. Can you start by telling us more about your relationship with Linsey and how it shaped your financial journey?
Andrea Stephenson: Of course, thank you for having me. My relationship with Linsey is incredibly special to me. He’s not only my big brother but also a father-like figure who stepped up when our father passed away. Despite the age gap, Linsey always made time for me and used creative ways to teach me about money and finances, even from a young age.
Interviewer: It’s evident that Linsey’s teaching methods were unique and effective. Can you share some specific memories or lessons from your childhood?
Andrea Stephenson: One of the earliest memories I have is when I was in kindergarten, and Linsey used games and role-play to teach me about the value of money and how to count it. He made learning about money fun, which stuck with me.
Another significant experience was when I was nine and had the opportunity to participate in the Our-Story 101 program that Linsey and his now-wife, Michelle, developed. This program allowed me to spend quality time with my brother and introduced me to financial literacy and entrepreneurship. During this time, I started a handmade keychain business with my cousin, learning about creating value and entrepreneurship at a young age.
Interviewer: It’s remarkable how those early experiences ignited your passion for entrepreneurship. How did this influence continue into your college years and beyond?
Andrea Stephenson: Well, my time with Linsey and Michelle extended beyond my childhood. During my summer visits, while he attended college, I had the chance to work in their award-winning T-shirt and desktop publishing business. This hands-on experience taught me various aspects of running a business, from taking orders to budgeting and marketing.
Moreover, Linsey and Michelle introduced me to crucial financial concepts like credit, debt, investing in the stock market, and mortgages through role-play and games like Robert Kiyosaki’s “Cash Flow.” Their frugality also left a lasting impression on me.
Interviewer: Your journey of financial education and entrepreneurship is truly inspiring. Can you share how these lessons influenced your decisions after college?
Andrea Stephenson: After college, I continued to apply the principles Linsey and Michelle had taught me. I secured a studio apartment for an affordable rate and even bought my first car in cash. While pursuing a master’s degree in social work, I remained mindful of my finances and chose to take out student loans with a plan to repay them despite the low-paying nature of social work.
During this time, I also founded Simply Outrageous Youth, an organization that taught young students life skills and financial literacy. The support and guidance of Linsey and Michelle were instrumental in expanding this initiative, which eventually led to contracts with multiple schools and helped me pay my rent and utilities.
Interviewer: Your dedication to teaching young students life skills and financial literacy is commendable. Can you tell us more about your journey after graduate school and the impact of your brother’s guidance on your decisions?
Andrea Stephenson: After graduate school, I worked at Entrenuity in Chicago, teaching kids how to start businesses. Linsey’s influence continued to shape my approach to financial education. We had a group of young entrepreneurs called Chi-Town Jewelry, and they made over $900 in sales, which was incredibly rewarding.
Later, when I moved to Philadelphia, I used the same principles to revamp Simply Outrageous Youth. Although the business was successful, I always remembered Linsey and Michelle’s advice to save for a rainy day, which proved crucial during the 2008 economic downturn when many of my contracts were lost. It was a challenging time, but I adapted and saved while working part-time.
Interviewer: Your resilience and financial acumen are evident in your journey. Can you share how Linsey’s influence continued into your married life and raising your children?
Andrea Stephenson: Certainly. Linsey’s advice extended into my married life. When my husband and I were looking to buy a home, Linsey recommended that we live off one income, even though we both worked. This prudent approach helped us become debt-free, including my student loans, a tremendous achievement.
Now, as a mom of two boys, I’m sharing the financial knowledge I’ve gained, and Linsey continues to be involved. He meets with my oldest son over Zoom to discuss the stock market, and my son spends summers with Michelle and Linsey, learning valuable lessons. We are dedicated to continuing the legacy of financial responsibility and peace that Linsey and Michelle instilled in me.
Interviewer: Your story is a testament to the positive impact of family and mentorship in shaping one’s financial journey. Is there a specific message or lesson you hope readers will take away from your book?
Andrea Stephenson: Absolutely. I hope readers realize the power of early financial education and the importance of teaching children about money in creative and engaging ways, much like my brother did for me. Financial literacy is a vital life skill that can set the foundation for a prosperous and financially peaceful future. I also hope readers see the significance of passing on these lessons to the next generation, as my brother continues to do with my children.
Interviewer: Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your inspiring journey and the valuable lessons you’ve learned from your brother Linsey. “Currency of Conversations: The Talk You’ve Been Waiting For About Money,” is sure to resonate with readers and inspire them to embark on their own paths to financial wellness.
Andrea Stephenson: Thank you for having me, and I hope my story can inspire others to take control of their financial future and pass on the knowledge to their loved ones.