Kikoff Advisor Wanda Holland Greene on Financial Wellbeing

Wanda Holland Greene is an advisor for Kikoff. She’s currently the Head at Hamlin School, an all-girls school in San Francisco, and a trustee at Columbia University.

What drew you to Kikoff?

I think the biggest barrier to financial wellbeing is lack of education and access. But Kikoff is giving everybody a way in — a chance to create stability and freedom. The barrier to building credit is very low at Kikoff. 

I’ve been working in education for 30 years, and Kikoff’s work aligns so closely with what I believe about education — that it should level the playing field.

What was your credit journey like?

I grew up working class in New York City. My parents lived paycheck to paycheck, and they didn’t have credit cards. My mom wouldn’t even go to an ATM. She was like, I don’t know who’s behind that thing. I’m not putting my money in there. 

I got my first credit card in my 20s. I didn’t have the education to understand APR, so I was just always paying the minimum balance — but never enough to pay down the debt, to actually free me financially. I finally educated myself by looking at my statements. I spent a lot of time paying off my credit card debt.

What advice would you give someone trying to improve their credit score?

  • Set goals.

We live in a world now where everything comes instantly. I think you can get in a lot of trouble — and debt — if you’re inclined to have something right away. There’s no saving, no delayed gratification.

Set long term goals and be satisfied in reaching every milestone. If you stay the course, you will get there.

  1. Figure out what brings you joy.

The end goal is not money. Your money is just a means to getting what you actually want. Do you want to travel? To live in a house with a yard?

Come to know yourself and what inspires you. When you figure out what brings you joy, you can figure out how money and stability can get you there.