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Diversity in Finance: Money With Mary

Updated: May 7, 2023

Harrison Zuritsky, Business Editor


March 10, 2023

 

The Canadian Young Investors Society’s Diversity in Finance series brings you Money With Mary. Mary Esposito is a nineteen-year-old freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Mary also runs Money With Mary on TikTok. She is not only a financial guide for our generation but someone that is breaking down societal norms and redefining what it means to be an investor, budgeter, and entrepreneur. CYIS has been following her social media posts for a while now and she has inspired a great many of us. We wanted to talk to her and share her story with you, in hopes that you will take away new ideas about the world of TikTok content creation and the value of financial literacy. Here are each of Mary’s responses to our questions:


Angie: What started you on your journey on TikTok?

Mary: I went to a really small private school so I have always been really interested in finance. First, I started a business when I was fourteen. Then I ended up making enough money and was thinking, “What should I do with this?” Then I got introduced to investing which piqued my interest in personal finance. But my investing club at school only had guys in it. It was a really small school, like an academy, and we were all together for seven years. So I did not know a lot of other people that were interested in finance, especially women. During my gap year, between my senior year of high school and my first year of college, I decided to start a TikTok account. My original purpose was to just post entertaining relatable content and hopefully meet other Gen Z girls from around the United State or around the world who were also interested in finance. However, my videos started to gain traction. I was receiving questions like, “How do I start investing?” or “How do I start a business?” That is when I realized that I wanted to pivot my focus and make my mission to empower Gen Z, especially women in Gen Z, to become more financially literate.


Angie: What have been the biggest challenges and successes you've experienced in your career?

Mary: One of the biggest challenges is starting. However, a big challenge that I had to deal with throughout my career, and continue to deal with even more is harassment and online bullying. I think a lot of people underestimate it and think that it only happens to celebrities. I get comments all the time about my appearance and what I do with my life, and besides all of the technical TikTok stuff, that has taken the biggest mental toll.


Angie: What advice would you give to young girls who want to pursue finance?

Mary: I started with this book—and I will recommend it to anyone. The problem is a lot of investing books show investing as something that is intimidating and complicated. But I read the Motley Fool’s Guide To Investing For Teens and it broke it down into words that I could understand as a seventeen-year-old at the time, and it was so interactive because I could like plug-in numbers see what an annual percentage yield was or how compounding interest works. I would recommend this book to any girl that is interested in finance, especially in investing. Investing is a core part of finance and everybody should be investing as soon as they learn about it. I would also recommend every watch my TikTok.



Angie: What personal finance tips do you have for teenagers about to enter post-secondary education?

Mary: For college and university, the first thing I recommend is getting a student credit card. Employers, at least in the United States, will check your credit score when you are applying for a job, so it is important to start [with a credit card] as soon as possible. As soon as you turn eighteen, start building up your credit score to prove to banks that you are a reliable person that will pay back loans, and that will save you money on interests and mortgage in the future. I know a lot of my friends do not have credit cards but there is a lot of credit card companies that cater specifically to students, which offer cashback incentives or good grade incentives. They accept beginner people too! Another thing is setting up an investment account, even if you put $20 into it every week. With it compounding, it will all accumulate and help out with dealing with inflation.


Angie: What strategies do you use to help people become financially independent?

Mary: Well I feel like first everyone should have their first bank account. I think that is very important. I understand that the target demographic here is teenagers but even when people get married they should still have their own accounts because it is important to be financially independent in that regard. Also, it is important to have a stream of income that is not just your parents allowance. I started a business but you don’t have to start a business. You can work a part time job. I know that college campuses have tons of ways to earn money, whether its paid research opportunities or a college investor program. When I was a teenage, I pet sat, babysat or drove carpool for the neighbors kids.You can also work at restaurants, like I also worked at Chick Fil A. It was not the best experience but you should try to reach out for oppertunities.


Angie: How did you gain a following on TikTok?

Mary: A big way that I was able to reach a lot of people and gain a following was by being unique. This was because I dressed the way I do which is typically alternatively, I identify as queer and neurodivergent, and I am also a young woman in finance. A lot of people who are typically marginalized in this niche can resonate with me and therefore feel more comfortable interacting with my videos. This is a big factor because I know when you think of a person that is an investor, you probably think of an older white man in his office overlooking Wall Street. You don’t really think of someone with a dog collar, thick eyeliner, platform boots, blonde and nineteen years old with a southern accent as that person. So I think that me being able to express myself authentically and not catering to societies expectations for a succesful woman, especially in finance, has definitely allowed me to reach more people, like the silent majority.


Social media can be a tool to educate for good, assisting and inspiring us to focus on building financial safety. Mary’s stand on our current generation of students matters, and we need to focus on expanding the ideas of spreading good messages and educating each other on these platforms. Follow her TikTok account, with over ninety thousand followers, so you can learn about the value of saving, investing in new ideas, and planning your financial future.


Her identity and pride also establish important ideas in the young eyes, as she drives a movement for acceptance of a new group in the financial force. By breaking down societal norms, Mary establishes a new pathway for young people to enter this tightly gated labor force and branch it out to people of all backgrounds and identities.

 

About the Contributor


Harrison is the Chief Editor of the Canadian Youth Journal for Investing. In addition to the journal, he is also on the national exec team at CYIS and a Business Editor at the Harriton Banter.


For inquiries regarding publication please contact Harrison at: harrisonzuritsky.cyis@gmail.com

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