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Spreading the Save10 Message in Prison

Olivia Farrell, the founder of Arkansas Business Publishing Group and Save10 co-founder, joined a group of incarcerated women who are part of a work program and the Mindful Money Reading Group to emphasize the importance of saving a portion of their income for retirement.

We spoke with Connor Thompson, who leads the Mindful Money Reading Group at the Women's Re-Entry Unit in Tucker, AR, about the Save10 talk and the group members’ perspective on the message of women paying themselves first.

The participants range in age from 20s to early 60s. They use the book Mindful Money by Linda Bessette as a guide for the 12-week course, with the book discussion serving as a launching point for conversations about each woman’s personal experiences.

The purpose of the group, according to Thompson, is that “they get a more mindful perspective on the kinds of financial decisions they make, big and small, and have a relationship with money that will let them live the way they want to and make decisions that are intentional toward the kind of person they want to be and what they want to do with their lives, instead of being influenced by societal ideas of what they should be spending their money on.”

“Olivia talked about avoiding debt at all costs. That hit that home. She was able to say, ‘I’ve been able to avoid debt myself…I was able to be successful with my business without relying on debt to do that.”

Thompson said the group viewed Farrell as inspirational and credible. “The feedback I got was, ‘We believe in what she said because she’s highly successful and was able to say, Here’s how I got there.'"

Farrell made the point of the urgency of saving and preparing for retirement. Even if it’s difficult, it’s critical. She told the group that saving may seem like“having to take your medicine” sometimes but emphasized tangible results and spoke about the percentages of income that women should withhold specific to each age group represented in the group.

Farrell went around the room, shock each woman’s hand, and asked them for a verbal commitment to the question: how much will you save?

The women in the group are all earning money as part of the work program, which sets aside 30% of their income into an account that they will be able to access upon their release. One woman commented, “Being in prison has taught me about saving.”

What does that say about the need to spread the message of Save10 far and wide?

We're thankful for Olivia and Connor's commitment to women's financial empowerment and especially to the women of the reading group for the thoughtful and engaging conversation about saving for their future selves.

Connor Thompson is a concurrent JD/MPS student at the William H. Bowen School of Law and the Clinton School of Public Service. He leads the Mindful Money Reading Group in the Woman's Re-Entry Unit in Tucker, AR, as a volunteer for Compassion Works For All, a Little Rock-based nonprofit that offers healing and hope by teaching compassion, particularly for the disenfranchised and people in prison. The reading group spans 12 weeks and covers financial literacy skills including saving, retirement, renting, investing, insurance, debt, and other topics from a mindfulness perspective. The 18 women participants learn close reading and discussion through analysis of the book Mindful Money by Linda Bessette and from guest lecturers.

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