How Sunem and Israel Tovar secure generational wealth

  • Siblings Sunem and Israel Tovar have a combined investment portfolio worth $327,000.
  • They hold each other accountable and have even taught their extended family how to invest.
  • They started the Dream Teacher Project to help other teachers of color achieve financial independence.

Sunem Tovar’s financial journey began in 2016 when she realized her student loans of $16,000 had ballooned to $42,000. At the time, she only earned $20,000 a year. She told the insider, “All my money was just going to pay off my loan. I was very, very overwhelmed by it.”

On the other hand, Sunem’s brother, Israel Tovar, got full scholarships from Yale and Stanford in 2018. Israel returned to Tennessee to start his teaching career, but he hadn’t anticipated the price of to be one of the only LGBTQ+. teachers of color working in a school that served low-income students of color. “I was paid $44,000, I worked in a school that looked like a prison,” Israel explains.

Going against Sunem’s advice, Israel bought a house it could barely afford. “My understanding of financial literacy was that buying a house is the way out of poverty,” he told Insider, but it only made things worse for his mental health. . “My anxiety was at its peak. I couldn’t sleep at night and had sweaty palms all the time. So I quit this job. I had no plan.”

The Tovars took advantage of these financial difficulties to work together to achieve financial freedom and set the rest of their family up for success. Here are three strategies they used to do so.

1. They held each other accountable

Of the two, Sunem was the first to know about money. She started reading articles and books on personal finance, then created spreadsheets to track her student debt repayment progress. “I started investing because I used to limit my spending. By then I had learned about compound interest and why it’s really important,” she says.

Compound interest is commonly described as “interest earned on interest”. For example, if a $1,000 investment grows at a fixed rate of 10% each year, the first year will produce a 10% increase to $1,100. To calculate the gains for the second year, you would add 10% to $1,100, which equals $1,210. In 10 years, you will have $2,593.74, much more than if you simply deposited $1,000 in a savings account.

Sunem taught Israel everything she knew about personal finance and investing. Israel eventually moved to Washington, DC, to take a better-paying teaching job while renting the house he bought in Tennessee. While living frugally, Israel followed in her sister’s footsteps and began investing in the stock market. Eventually, Israel sold her house and invested the profits.

All the while, the siblings held each other accountable to save and invest consistently. According to records seen by Insider, Sunem has a wallet worth $200,000, while Israel has a wallet worth $127,000 with $13,000 in an emergency savings fund.

Sunem says: “The support we had, the fact that we could talk to each other, that was really important. We were able to motivate each other.

2. They shared what they know with their extended family members

Soon, news of the siblings’ financial independence journey spread to their parents, tíos, tías, siblings, and cousins. Their extended family began showing Shunem and Israel their financial statements and asking for advice.

The Tovar family came to Los Angeles in the early 2000s from Mexico. “Our parents didn’t finish primary school in Mexico,” Israel says. “They don’t know English. Our father was able to raise a family of eight in Los Angeles in the early 2000s on a salary of $17,500, so we grew up with a lot of financial trauma and shortage of money. .”

He continues: “We had even more support from our family because they were also part of this trip. We brought more of our siblings – we have five – and they really accepted. They They’re like, ‘OK, let’s get that money.'”

Now Sunem and Israel regularly strategize with their families on saving, investing and paying off debt.

3. They started a business to share what they know with other teachers

The siblings started a financial education business called the Dream Teacher project to “give teachers of color the financial means to make their money right,” Israel says, by leading workshops and offering one-on-one coaching.

Of the project, Israel says, “Teachers of color in particular are severely underpaid and overworked. They are actively driven out of the profession due to systemic forces. So we’re working with teachers of color across the country to improve their financial mindset and heal. financial trauma.”

The siblings agree that the company holds them accountable to their community, tying a bigger purpose to their financial journey. According to Israel, “We want to make sure our money is fair because we want to give our clients the best coaching.”

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