Family Money

Family finance lessons: Lawyer-turned-activist Reshma Saujani

Nick White Feb 12, 2014

The most important lessons we learn about money don’t come from our accountants or our radios. They come from our family. Each week, we invite someone to tell us about the money tips they inherited from the people they grew up with.

This week, our guest is Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code: A national non-profit group that strives to close the gender gap in technology.

Today, she’s an activist and politician. Earlier in her career, though, she was a corporate lawyer.

It was a better paying gig, and she picked it because of what her parents had taught her. “They’ve always put a big emphasis [on] picking careers where you can actually go make money and support the family,” Saujani says.

Saujani’s parents are immigrants, who moved to Chicago in 1973 from Uganda, where they moved to from India.

“They came here with no money. They didn’t speak the language they didn’t know the culture. So they were literally starting out on their own so they struggled a lot and money was always a big concern for them,” she says. “That’s something that has stuck with me from childhood that I feel like I’m imparting on my organization. We’re really conscious of how we spend money and that we save money … and I think that’s been a good thing for the organization.”

But, initially, her parents would have preferred she stick with being a lawyer. “I remember when I went and got my masters in public policy my parents wouldn’t speak to me for a couple years,” says Saujani. “Eventually, my parents came around.”

Saujani has learned not let money dominate her big life decisions. “Now, I have a fraction of the money I had when I was a corporate attorney and I’m really happy.”

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