Elaine King Fuentes (B.B.A. ’95) will tell you herself: “I am a numbers person.” But when it comes to money, she relies on the lessons she learned in childhood. “I became a saver because my parents taught me about it.”

That we mimic our family’s financial habits is the thesis of her first book,
Family & Money Matters: Life Lessons for the New Generation. “The book’s sweet spot is teenagers,” says the international business major who has worked in
various consulting roles with companies like the Royal Bank of Scotland and
Citigroup. “It prepares them to live on their own.”

Elaine didn’t always think of herself as a writer, though, and it wasn’t until her grandmother’s passing that she knew what to write about. “I looked in my grandmother’s closet after she passed and found diaries from her life,” says Elaine, a native of Peru who spent time in Mexico, Canada and the United States. “I thought, ‘how am I going to tell the story to the next generation? What did I learn from my family?'” She discovered that what she has to offer the next generation is answers about money.

Elaine’s advice to teens is simple: have only two credit cards, and use an online expense-tracking tool, such as mint.com.

To illustrate these lessons, Family & Money Matters looks to the animal kingdom. The hibernating bear shows economy and forethought, for example, while the altruistic monkey models philanthropy. As Elaine puts it, “Nobody ever became poor by giving to others. If you give back, you’ll get ten fold. Even if not monetarily, you get a lot of heaven chips.”

Family & Money Matters was released in fall 2010 and is already in its second
edition. Elaine has also given television interviews, conducted speaking tours, and received inquiries from PBS about sharing her expertise on planning for retirement.

Elaine incorporates her teachings into her current job at Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust where she works closely with families of all income levels. “We help the next generation gain a 360-degree understanding of wealth,” says the Vice President and Director of Gibraltar Private’s Wealth & Well-Being Institute™, which she helped create.

When asked how she juggled her day job with writing a book, she says it took “a lot weekends and late nights.” She also says that you get more out of writing than you’re giving, because you learn so much about yourself. The ultimate take-away from Family & Money Matters is that if you know where your money habits come from, you can change them.

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