Q&A With Tavis Smiley

The author and talk show host shares observations from his most recent tour.

Tavis Smiley, host of the Nationwide On Your Side® Tour, has inspired people across the country—especially those living in African-American households—to focus on financial preparedness. Here, he shares some of his findings from last year’s tour with myNationwide.

myNationwide: What was the financial situation of people you met during the tour?

Tavis Smiley: I’ve said it before: when America gets a cold, African-Americans get pneumonia. We know we have to be diligent for ourselves, our children and their grandchildren. I just don’t think we’re as committed to planning our financial future as we should be, and that’s why I’m on tour.

MN: Was there a common theme you heard?

TS: In each of the 10 cities we’ve toured over two years, people were hungry for financial planning information. They wanted to know what to do and how to do it. I find it so interesting that we will buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like, instead of staying focused on what is important to us and our families from a financial planning perspective. It’s all about education, planning and being disciplined enough to stick with your plan. Don’t worry about what others have.

MN: What was your biggest take-away?

TS: When we developed this tour, we had no idea the economy would be the worst since the Great Depression. So now, we’re meeting a need. People want to be able to set aside money for their children’s college education, and to have dollars available for when the unplanned happens, they just need some help getting there.

MN: What are your plans for the 2010 tour?

TS: The experts say we’re heading out of this recession, so we’re asking what that will mean for our pocketbooks. What steps should we take to assure we’re in a position to meet the needs of our families now and in the future?

The Nationwide On Your Side Tour with Tavis Smiley is about helping people help themselves, so my goal is to continue to make a difference and to provide resources, information and tools to help people stop living beneath their privilege.

After all, it’s about helping somebody as we pass along in this great journey called life. If we help people focus on what matters most to them, and they improve their financial literacy skills as a result of our tour, then that’s what makes a difference for me. That will be my focus in 2010.

See Tavis in person – The 2010 On Your Side Tour is gearing up. Learn more about it on the tour page.