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Making Money Matter

By Sarah Ching, Dispatch Staff

Running a business on Molokai can be tough, but it can be easier with healthy money habits, according to financial educator and entrepreneur Helen Wai. No stranger to financial struggle, Wai is incorporating her personal experiences to assist community members in breaking detrimental money habits that have often been instilled since birth.

“It’s time to break the cycle, and change what has become second nature,” she said of a two-hour workshop she is offering on Molokai called “Money Habits Matter,” on Aug. 29 at Kuha`o Business Center.

Growing up in Hawaii, Wai has overcome her own trials with finances and persevered to become the self-made business owner she is today. She credits her lack of money management knowledge at a young age for inspiring her to change. Battling the constant ebb and flow of trying to stay afloat financially eventually took a toll and she decided to make a difference in her own life by educating herself on diverse financial topics. Now, after 15 years’ experience and speaking on various topics such as, energy efficiency, financial literacy, home buyer education and lease cancellation, she is always looking for ways to improve and turning the often uncomfortable topic of money into something people are excited to talk about. She said a person’s core belief about money, whether good or bad, is important and drives their everyday choices and habits.

Wai taught a workshop at the recent Molokai Business Conference, and she said she is excited to return to Molokai and hopes the upcoming workshop will offer attendees a new perspective on money management.

“I’ve been to Molokai numerous times before, this is my third time offering a financial literacy class, but this is a totally new workshop and it’s through the partnership with ONABEN [Our Native American Business Network] that this is possible,” she said. “This is a great tool and I’m hoping to have an even bigger turnout this time around.”

Wai said her place is not to diagnose and point out specific issues, but to introduce new and innovative ways to allow attendees to figure out their own financial challenges and if those habits are helping or hurting their cause. She credits this hands-off approach to using Money Habitudes cards. Money Habitudes — or what other participants often jokingly referred to as money tarot cards — is a simple money management game which allows the player to understand their money personality, she said. . Wai added that the workshop is great for couples who need an icebreaker in opening their own financial discussion.

“This will help find the root of their financial issues, but in a fun way that will benefit their relationship,” she explained.

Those who are interested in attending her Money Habits Workshop can contact Kuha`o Business Center at 808-553-8100.

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