Using 32-year-old Dasha Kennedy's money tips, "women are paying off student loans, they're getting out of debt"
Dasha Kennedy

A Missouri woman has completely transformed her life — and helped 62,000 others — after launching a Facebook group aimed at helping Black women take control of their financial situations.

Since creating The Broke Black Girl in November 2017, Dasha Kennedy has watched her Facebook group grow from a small pack of women sharing their experiences with money to a massive community focused on sisterhood.

“I never expected that when I clicked on ‘Create Facebook Group’ two years ago that it would be anything like this,” Kennedy, 32, tells PEOPLE. “What I have seen and done in the group — women are paying off student loans, they’re getting out of debt, they are creating a household budget that their kids and husbands are able to stick to — has been an amazing ride.”

“I feel like I have 62,000 sisters who are rooting for me and I’m rooting for them and we’re all rooting for each other,” she continues, emphasizing the size of the group. “To be connected because of financial hardship, and wanting to overcome that and bring other people with you, has been one of the most empowering things to me ever.”

Kennedy was just 19 when she started her career in finance. At the time, the St. Louis resident decided not to go to college but landed a job working as a mailroom attendant at an insurance company.

While there, Kennedy crossed paths with another employee who was working as an accountant.

“When I would get done with work early, there was a lady who sat across from me,” Kennedy recalls. “She would show me what she was doing and teach me a little bit about the problems that she was working on and how it worked in the insurance world.”

Over time, Kennedy picked up the craft, finally learning enough that the woman’s manager decided to hire her. By 25, she was a senior-level accountant at the company and later moved on to work as an insurance counselor at a bank.

In that role, Kennedy began working with clients one-on-one and teaching them about personal finance. Through her interactions, she noticed that “there were a lot of women, primarily African American women, who were really struggling with their finances.”

Part of the problem was a lack of financial tools, as the women “didn’t have a clear understanding of how to budget” or “how to cut back on expenses,” Kennedy tells PEOPLE. “The bank didn’t have any extra financial literacy programs available for them where they can go get that information… I knew there was a need for them. It’s not something that’s widespread through the family where that information could be passed on.”

Also clear was the financial inequality in the U.S. “In 2016, blacks at the 90th percentile of their distribution earned 68% as much as whites at their 90th percentile, the same as in 1970,” Pew Research Center said in 2018, citing an analysis of government data. “At the median, blacks earned 65% as much as whites in 2016, up from 59% in 1970. Similarly, lower-income blacks narrowed the gap slightly from 47% in 1970 to 54% in 2016.”

“In the Black community, a lot of us are making less … in single-family households … or on one income,” Kennedy says.

Dasha Kennedy
Dasha Kennedy
| Credit: Courtesy Dasha Kennedy

“It gets to a point where we’re just merely trying to survive,” Kennedy adds. “We’re not thinking about the future, we’re not thinking about building generational wealth, we’re not thinking about saving for tomorrow. We’re just trying to get through today.”

Around that same time, Kennedy, who had by then graduated from Lindenwood University and became a mother to two sons, says she was going through her own hardships that impacted her financial situation.

“A lot was changing in my life,” she says. “I had had another child, I was going through a divorce, I broke my foot, and in the midst of this, my father passed away.”

“I said, ‘Okay… I know a lot about personal finance, how to budget, how to dig myself out of a financial hole. Let me start documenting my journey on social media and see if maybe I can help or if someone else can relate,'” she recalls.

And so came the birth of her Facebook group The Broke Black Girl — a title Kennedy says she felt personally connected to at the time.

“That’s how I identified [and] where I felt I was in my life. I felt like I was broke, I really didn’t understand what to do with my finances, and I knew that there were more women who can identify to that, as well,” she says.

Dasha Kennedy
Dasha Kennedy
| Credit: Brooke Sanders of The Bee Glow

Though it started with only a few hundred members, the group quickly grew through word of mouth and local news coverage. Today, her members receive daily financial lessons and tips — all inspired by the group’s interests — from Kennedy.

So far, some of those topics have included taking what Kennedy calls a “money minute” each day to check over bank accounts, setting a “money date” each week to track finances and budget, honoring financial obligations immediately, and the importance of asking for help.

“I use the group and the content to build my curriculum — whatever is a popular topic at the time,” she explains. “The girls take what they need, they leave what they don’t.”

Kennedy also launched a website based on her Facebook group, where she now markets herself as a millennial financial coach and speaker. She offers various financial services tailored to her clients’ needs, which can occur in person or virtually.

Because both the Facebook group and website took off, Kennedy was ultimately able to quit her day job only nine months after starting The Broke Black Girl. She has since focused on growing her business as an entrepreneur.

“Me starting at that job when I was 19 as a mailroom attendant — and I hated it, I hated it so badly — but it’s a reminder that everything happens exactly how it’s supposed to happen,” she says of her success. “For me to see where I started at 19, and to see the work I began when I was 30, I pretty much didn’t realize what my purpose was… until almost 10 years later.”

Her purpose of helping others — especially females of color — was majorly influenced by the woman who first taught her accounting when she was a mailroom attendant, Kennedy says.

“Jobs at the top are so scarce in the workforce that it’s easier to tear down what people believe to be competition. Honestly, this woman had all the reasons to do so,” she shares. “I was young, a fresh set of eyes, and eager to prove myself. She had every reason not to want to help me succeed, yet she did it anyway.”

“I could never repay her for what she did,” Kennedy adds. “She put me in a position that secured my job for the next seven years … She encouraged me to always see other women as someone who I could connect or collaborate with, never as competition. For that reason, I take it as a personal responsibility to pay it forward as often as possible.”

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That type of camaraderie is what Kennedy now fosters with her followers. Many of the group’s members have developed bonds and gone shopping together to hold each other accountable, she says. The result is something she wishes her dad would’ve been around to witness.

“It almost brings me to tears because I never expected this [success],” says Kennedy, whose dad died a month after she started the group. “My father and I were very close and I told him everything, and because I didn’t expect this to be what it is, I never mentioned it to my dad.”

“I didn’t think it would be anything,” she continues. “I thought that it would just be a community and we would talk about money… I had no clue that it would be as life-changing, not only for me but for so many women in the group.”