Karen Gibbs’ Financial Perspective and Advice for Women of Color


Karen Gibbs, who runs “The Gibbs Perspective” blog, received honor with a “Community Champion” award at the recent 5th annual Maryland Financial Education & Capability Awards – a statewide program that recognizes the importance to children and adults of understanding money.

Gibbs, who many might know from Maryland Public Television where she co-hosted “Wall $treet Week with Fortune,” says she is humbled and honored to have been nominated and stunned to win the award.

“It’s a wonderful validation of my efforts to preach the financial literacy gospel to any and to all who would listen,” said Gibbs, who started her blog because she recognized the need for an objective, independent source of personal finance and investing information for those with limited means.

Gibbs, who was featured during Black History Month by Roosevelt University, desires to help close the gap between the “haves and the have nots.”

With April designated as financial literacy month, Gibbs’ message resonates as she continues her work also with the CASH Campaign of Maryland.

“I became involved the CASH Campaign of Maryland through my work with Maryland Public Television and the Maryland Council on Economic Education … there is a common goal of financial literacy and financial capability,” Gibbs said. Knowledge is power and being financially literate empowers you to make smart financial decisions, establish good credit habits, build savings and investments and become financially secure.”

Being associated with the CASH Campaign has enabled Gibbs to reach more low and middle-income homes eager to strengthen their family’s economic stability. Her blog is just one way that she delivers the “gospel” of personal finance and investor education.

“I frequently moderate panel discussions on issues pertinent to financial and social issues facing low and middle-income families,” she said. “I wrote the ‘Ask Karen’ columns for Maryland Public Television’s ‘$mart Thinking about Your Money’ campaign’ and I was a contributor to the PBS Nightly Business Report and a contributor to ‘Retirement Living Television.’”

As the public relations committee chair of the Maryland Council of Economic Education, Gibbs says she also can engage the community, explore issues and initiate conversations that have a lasting effect.

She said she loves to engage people wherever they might be.

“My passion for economic theory, how policy affects families, and programs that make people stronger and more confident is sincere and, coupled with my expertise, motivates me to convene and converse anywhere,” Gibbs said.

As a woman, Gibbs is well aware of the challenges faced by females when it comes to finances. She says the biggest challenge to women of color is the “double-jeopardy” of race and gender.

“Pay for black women is just 66 percent of a white man; for Latinas, its 59 percent,” Gibbs said. “It’s hard to make up the disparity and, over time, we fall farther and farther behind. As women, we are penalized for having children, losing out due to the ‘mommy track.’

“With upper management dominated by men, and the bias toward being one of the boys, we are considered outsiders and rarely have a mentor to help us advance. Very subtle biases that have a huge impact on financial security,” she said.

So what advice would Gibbs have for women of color?

“Decide to take control of your financial health. Start an emergency fund with however much you can afford,” she said.

“If possible, invest in your company-sponsored tax-deductible savings plan. Find out if your company offers financial literacy as part of your benefits package and take advantage of it. Get familiar with their maternity leave policy.

“Enroll in short-term and long-term disability insurance. Protect yourself from the unexpected. Attend community discussions on personal finance and investing issues. Do your research before giving anyone your money.”