40% of Americans won’t have enough money to retire, and that number hits especially hard in marginalized communities.

At TIAA, we believe in the right to retire securely. That’s why, throughout 2024, we will highlight real individuals’ success stories, showcasing diverse paths to financial goals. Swipe through their Blueprints to Believe In for unique perspectives on building a brighter future.


February: Black History Month

N. Eweka
Dr. LaVie

N. Eweka

TIAA Institute

I grew up on Long Island, NY.

I was 16 when my parents split up, and I saw my mom struggle as a single parent of four.

I often worked two jobs in college.

I prioritized maxing out my 401k over owning a car.

I bought a multi-family home. Lived in 1 unit, rented out the other 2.

I sold rental property for a profit and bought a new house outright.

When I retire, I hope to spend time in Nigeria with family and promote diversity in financial planning careers.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Spend less than you earn.

Budget what matters and live below your means to start building surplus wealth.


Think of saving as an expense and pay yourself first.

When prioritizing savings, think about paying yourself first.


Work with a financial professional.

Remember, you do not have to do it on your own! No matter the size of your bank account, you can work with an expert to help you chart a course that works for you.

For young people of color building their future:

Focus on what is important to you. Make sound financial decisions, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Work efficiently and make sacrifices to reach your goals.

Dr. LaVie Leasure, Ph.D.

State University

I grew up with a brother, sister, and two parents who loved us but it was a modest upbringing. My father was college-educated but did not find stable employment until I was in college.

I paid for college and graduated school via scholarships, a Pell Grant, and often working two jobs.

I married Al in 1994. Even with dual income, we lived frugally off of Al’s salary and benefits as well as the income from my two part-time jobs.

We became parents to two daughters, Ciara and Camille!

Once I began working full-time in academia, I started to focus on my future by investing in my retirement plan.

When I retire, I look forward to travel, philanthropy, consulting, and watching my daughters and granddaughter, Emory, thrive.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Invest smart and early.

Be considerate to your future self and start to grow your money for the long run.


Hope for the best, have 6 months’ of savings for the worst.

There’s no way to predict what life has in store. I rest easier when I have at least six months’ savings in the bank.


Pay for things strategically.

For big purchases, I use a credit card with no interest and rewards or cash and always think about the implications of interest and debt.

For young people of color building their future:

See yourself and your future as investments! A wise sage told my husband the following: “Let the young man/woman take care of the old man/woman.” In other words, do what needs to be done today financially/health wise so that your older self will thank you for taking care of him/her.


Global Head of Real Estate Impact at Nuveen

My mother raised my three siblings and me in the Bronx.

Money was tight, but we grew up with love and a real understanding of the importance of family.

I completed my bachelors and two masters degrees, and became more financially literate.

Over the past 15 years, I found security and success in the real estate investment management industry.

Little by little, I paid off student loans.

I saved enough to buy a home and save for my children’s future.

When I retire, I want to cover my children’s college tuition fully and travel the world with my wife.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Live below your means.

Saving a portion of your paycheck builds emergency and retirement savings quicker than you think.


Slow and steady wins the race.

Always pay towards your debt, even when it seems like the balance is extremely large and will never get paid down.


Find inspiration.

Identify financial literacy gaps and seek knowledge from reliable sources. The Earn Your Leisure podcast offers great insights for Black Americans interested in retirement savings and entrepreneurship.

For young people of color building their future:

We don’t learn a lot about investing or saving early, because there is often not enough for the basics, yet alone to save. I would say it’s extremely important to start saving early, even if it is small amounts.


Musician, Rapper, and Producer

I was born in Haiti.

My family immigrated to New York.

I witnessed my dad’s hustle, which took us from Brooklyn projects to a Jersey home.

High school music teacher saw some talent and believed in me.

My parents hoped I’d be a doctor or lawyer.

Instead, I am now a 3x Grammy winner, hip-hop legend.

I didn’t take success for granted and keep investing for tomorrow.

I’m raising my daughter to see the value of hard work.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Have a grind mindset.

I always say that the success, in order to love it and to respect it, it comes from that original story of that grind and that hard work. And you got to put in that time.


Don’t get complacent.

Every dollar that I make, I’m mindful of. What I have today might not be here tomorrow.


There is no money tree.

Even if you’ve made it, if you don’t save for a rainy day, you find yourself in trouble.


When you know better, you do better.

Ask what you don’t know, never be ashamed. Because what happens is you have a chance to actually turn the key.

For young people of color building their future:

When I was in my 20s, retirement wasn’t on my mind- it’s just not what you think of when you’re young and dreaming big. But the truth is, once you make that future more secure, that’s where real confidence comes in. A dollar today is worth more every day you don’t spend it. Don’t make emotional buys that won’t help you tomorrow. Keep choosing yourself.


Monica Moreno


Advisory Consultant II
Wealth Management

Born in Russ’ka Polyana, Soviet Ukraine, I was one of ten siblings.

Where I grew up, education for girls was highly discouraged.

Women in my community were only taught to be wives and mothers. When I eventually entered the work force, I was financially illiterate.

I became a single mother at 25, and realized I was on my own financially.

I put myself through college.

I worked hard and eventually secured a job as a financial advisor at TIAA.

Now, I help clients secure their financial futures while aiming to do the same for my son and myself.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Trust your instincts.

Your inner child is smarter than you may think. Honor their wishes. My inner child was my strongest advocate during my darkest moments.


Knowledge is power.

Whether it is going to college or educating yourself about money, never stop learning.


Unlearn biases.

Personally, I had to work through lots of psychological untruths about the relationship between women and money. Educate yourself and work through them so that you’re operating from an empowered mindset.

For young women building their future:

Take a class on financial literacy as young as possible. Money conversations at a young age will leave a lasting blueprint for sound financial decisions in your personal economic journey.

Stephanie Pressley

Executive Director,
First Generation Investors

I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Though a modest upbringing, my parents ensured my sister and I had everything we needed.

In elementary school, my parents took my sister and me to the local bank to open our own savings accounts. Still, when I was younger, I prioritized making money to spend it. I was a long ways off from thinking of investing.

When I got a credit card at 18, I found out the hard way that it wasn’t “free money.”

I enrolled at my local university, which I was fortunate to attend at no cost.

In my 20’s a purchased my own home as a single woman, going against the norms of my Deep South upbringing. It was both empowering and a great financial investment.

Now, I aim to attain financial freedom to enjoy time with loved ones, continue to learn, and explore new hobbies.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Teach your kids about banking.

Learning to navigate banking at an early age helps children manage finances responsibly and be more financially literate in the long run.


Don’t fear credit, but be savvy about it.

There’s good debt and bad debt, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before signing up. Also teach your kids about credit cards instead of just telling them to avoid them altogether.


You don’t have to be married to invest in a home.

Don’t wait for a specific life event to buy a home. Be very mindful of the market, but don’t feel like you have to hit a milestone before taking on homeownership.

For young women building their future:

I want young women to feel empowered to make their own financial decisions. Learn as much as possible about bank accounts, investing, real estate, reviewing contracts, 401k, etc. Knowledge is power; we should use today’s resources to be informed. Any day is a good day to start securing your future.

Monica Moreno Nagami

Internal Advisor Consultant

My parents immigrated to the west side of Los Angeles from Mexico before I was born.

I gained practical skills and confidence helping my dad in his woodshop on the weekends.

I attended an all-girl high school, which reinforced the mindset that my dad helped me develop as a strong, independent, self-reliant and empowered young woman.

I learned financial management skills the hard way in college, handling credit cards, and balancing my own checkbook.

I moved into my own apartment after securing my first corporate job. I married an accountant; together, we learned to budget and pursued our dream of owning a house.

My husband and I have made it our goal to teach our now-teenage daughters financial literacy. We hope to retire in Mexico, where I’d like to run a sanctuary for street dogs.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Don’t count out community college.

Instead of paying pricey university tuition for general education courses, consider taking the same courses at a community college at a fraction of the price. Consult an educational advisor to help navigate what courses to take and lay out a 2-year transfer plan.


Talk money before you say “I do.”

It can be a difficult conversation, but it’s important to discuss finances long before you get married. Cover assets, trusts, beneficiaries, joint or separate accounts, and long-term goals.


Find a realtor you trust.

When buying a house, work with a reputable agent who inspires confidence and expertise. Interview multiple agents and choose one who aligns with your goals.

For young women building their future:

Be consistent in your saving every month. It does not have to be large, but with every pay check, pay yourself first. Set aside a feasible amount every month and stay consistent.

Crystal Dunn

Defender, USWNT
VP Secretary, USWNTPA
TIAA Athlete Ambassador

I was born in Queens, but moved at an early age to Rockville Centre, NY. Growing up in Rockville Centre, soccer was a big part of the town’s culture, and I fell in love with the game.

I learned the importance of saving from my parents at a young age.

When I went pro in 2014, I found that my income was unpredictable so I made sure to save money from each paycheck.

When I received my first significant bonus, I put it toward long-term goals like buying a house and starting a family.

I hope to instill in my son the same long-term goal setting as my parents did for me. When I retire and transition out of soccer, I want to spend more time with family and pursue other hobbies.

Advice I’ve Lived By


Make your game plan and stick to it.

Identify long term financial goals, and live your day-to-day life accordingly so you can accomplish them.


Save a portion of every paycheck.

Put away a certain amount of each paycheck to allow yourself some financial freedom when emergencies arise.


Parenthood is a long game.

If you choose to have children, realize that a child is a long-term investment, with 18+ years of financial dependency. It’s all about long term goal setting.

For young women building their future:

Professional athlete or not, you must think about how to save and invest to ultimately achieve financial freedom. Take every opportunity to familiarize yourself with financial education tools and resources.



lgbtq+ pride MONTH


July: disability
awareness MONTH


Latin heritage month


November: veterans &
military families MONTH