Anthony Copeman’s interest in money management stems back to his first savings account, opened by his grandmother.
She opened a savings account for him shortly after he was born. Copeman would accompany her to the bank and watch her make deposits and withdrawals. As Copeman got older, she let him handle some of the transactions himself.
After graduating in 2014 with an accounting degree, Copeman said he realized many millennials do not understand their finances. To help, Copeman created “$hares,” an animated YouTube series with four Black characters who give tips about financial management.
“I wanted to create a platform that would help them understand personal finance in a fun and exciting way through video and through characters who look and dress like them and [who] they can relate to,” Copeman said.
College students who graduated in 2017 finished school with an average of more than $39,000 in student-loan debt, according to Student Loan Hero.
The characters, Michael, Troi, Essence and Brandon, discuss financial topics like debt, health insurance and saving money in one-minute videos.
Copeman initially started sharing knowledge about money management in 2016 on a blog and Instagram called Financial Lituation. The financial resource offers mindset tips related to finance, like “your job is in charge of your salary, but you are in charge of your income.”
Copeman turned the brand into a financial planning company in July 2018, building the foundation for “$hares.” Financial Lituation now sells financial planning sessions, and Copeman has attended webinars and speaking engagements as a representative of the platform.
“$hares” started on Instagram in May 2018 after planning with a content writer began in December 2017. The Instagram features shorter videos of “$hares” characters. Copeman also posts photos of finance tips on the account.
In August 2018, Copeman uploaded a six-minute episode, and he is working on adding more longer content to the YouTube series.
Autumn Johnson, 28, who is a friend of Copeman’s, said the “Did Your Parents Have McDonald’s Money?” episode was her favorite because it’s relatable. The four characters discuss how their parents’ financial situations influenced whether or not they could have McDonald’s and the money management skills they learned from their parents.
As a kid, Johnson remembers asking her mother to pick up food, and her mom responding by asking if she had McDonald’s money, Johnson said.
“Growing up, I know a lot of parents who got requests from kids when they wanted to eat out, and they didn’t have money to spend,” Copeman said. “It’s an urban phrase that some parents use to inflect talking about money.”
Now an aunt, Johnson said “$hares” is helpful. It’s taught her how to save and invest, and she hopes to pass that knowledge to her nieces and nephews.
“Anything that I’ve done in college and beyond I wanted to always think outside the box and do things unconventionally,” Copeman said.
Crystal Mwende, a freshman public health major, said watching “$hares” could improve her financial awareness.
“In the next four years, I’m going to have to go out, get an apartment, all of that stuff,” she said. “Financially, it’s definitely going to help me a lot knowing what to do, steps to take, what not to do.”
Sierra Echavarria, a freshman psychology major, said “$hares” is a great resource for young people.
“Not a lot of people on college campuses know much about their own finances, [like] what they’re paying for college and the debt they’re going to get into and how to use credit cards,” Echavarria said.
Copeman hopes to show young people that finances can be easy to understand.
“My goal is to shift people’s mindset from simply being a consumer to being an owner of their habits, finances, companies and businesses, in order to build wealth and also gain freedom,” Copeman said.