Bola Sokunbi on Overcoming Discrimination and Building Wealth

By Lauren Bringle
Published on: 03/14/2019

Bola Sokunbi is a woman on a mission – to help other women become more accountable, ditch debt, save money and build real wealth. As a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Bola uses her platform Clever Girl Finance to help empower other women with the knowledge they need to make smarter financial decisions.

She believes that each mistake we make is another opportunity to learn and do better, which is a goal she’s committed her life to. We wanted to sit down with Bola to find out how to break the cycle of poverty, how to financially “arm yourself” to find the right finance products for you, and – the ever-present question for any woman of color in finance – how to deal with pervasive discrimination in this space.

Here’s what Bola had to say...

Q: What role has race played in your financial life?

I’ve definitely felt, many-a-time, that because of my race as a black woman, I’m not expected to know as much as I do about money. Or, it’s a surprise when I know my stuff or can show the financial backing to pay for something.

I think it’s unfortunate that time and time again, minorities face financial discrimination as a result of their race – including being the targets of unsavory products. But I will continue to counter this by building wealth, staying informed, and teaching my children and other women like me the critical things they need to know so they can become financially successful.

Q: What role has being a woman played in your financial life?

Being female has its pros and cons when it comes to my financial life.

As a woman, I was raised by my parents to never be a liability for anyone. My parents wanted me to be independent and self-sufficient. That being said, not everyone has the same perspective. As I’ve become financially independent, I’ve been told I’m too ambitious. I’ve been asked by a male financial advisor where I got the money I had and where my husband was.

I’ve even been told it would be difficult for me to get married if I had more money than my spouse. All of this, to me, is a very backward way of thinking.

That being said, as a woman making strides with my finances, I can set the example for my daughter. I can show her how not to let other people user her gender as a limitation for her success.

Q: What’s your best advice for a woman facing roadblocks on her journey to greater financial stability and wealth?

Roadblocks are part of the journey to achieving any major life goal, including financial stability, and this is because life happens! What matters is how you navigate and recover from the various roadblocks that you’ll face.

When you encounter roadblock my advice is to stay calm, be objective and don’t let your emotions as a result of the roadblock cause you to stop making progress. Instead think of what you can do to overcome the situation as quickly as possible, what steps you can take to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself and how you can apply the lessons you’ve learned from the experience to your journey going forward. Don’t let your roadblocks keep you permanently stuck.

Q: What’s your best advice for someone trying to break the cycle of poverty?

When it comes to improving your personal finances and achieving financial wellness, it’s 20% skill and 80% behavior and mindset. So for anyone focused on turning their finances around – be it budgeting, debt repayment, learning to invest, improving their credit or otherwise, you first have to know your why.

Why do you want to achieve financial wellness? This will be your main motivation.

Next, it’s important to assess where you are coming from and where you stand right now with your finances. How were you raised with money? What habits did you inherit from your parents? What are your spending triggers? What are your money beliefs? How much do you own and how much do you owe?

Once you know these things you can outline a plan of what behaviors and mindsets you want to change as well as what specific financial goals you want to accomplish.

Finally, surrounding yourself with the right influences can make all the difference. Finding mentors locally, listening to empowering financial podcasts, watching videos and reading financial books will all have a positive impact on being able to accomplish your financial goals and change your money story.

Q: What advice would you give someone who might distrust the financial system? Either because they’ve been taken advantage of in the past, or haven’t delved into that world yet?

Knowledge is power. The more you know about how banking, debt, credit and investing work, the more you can empower yourself to make informed decisions around your finances. Empowering yourself with knowledge will help you decipher scams and unnecessary complexities and overall, will make you more confident in the financial decisions you make.

A great place to start is with an educational personal finance book or blog, such as

When it comes to products and services, Google is your friend. Spend time reading reviews and learning about exactly what is being offered, paying close attention to the fine print. The more you understand, the more confident you’ll be.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is hesitant to get a financial product, or afraid of facing discrimination if they try?

Make sure you do your research to learn everything you can about the financial product you are considering. If you are uncomfortable, don’t sign up for it.

If you are being discriminated against, don’t hesitate to take your business and money elsewhere. Discrimination is not acceptable. You work too hard for your money to be treated poorly, and at the end of the day, financial institutions profit from your savings, investments, and even your debt. So you should be treated respectfully.

Regardless of what anyone might tell you, you have more options than you realize. Do your research to find out what’s right for you.

Q: Anything else you want to share or think others should know?

Financial wellness is something everyone should strive for regardless of your current financial situation. You are more than capable of achieving your financial goals – even though it might take time and a lot of effort.

However, educating yourself and having the right support system and accountability with help you get there.

How to Connect with Bola

For more info on Bola, visit her website or sign up for one of her online courses at:

You can also check her out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or check out her podcast.

Please note We have a paid marketing relationship with Bola.

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Written on March 14, 2019
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings.

Self does not provide financial advice. The content on this page provides general consumer information and is not intended for legal, financial, or regulatory guidance. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks. Although this information may include references to third-party resources or content, Self does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. Any Self product links are advertisements for Self products. Please consider the date of publishing for Self’s original content and any affiliated content to best understand their contexts.

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