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Women Leading The Finance Industry: “We need to overhaul the education system to include core financial literacy courses from elementary school all the way through college” with Alina Trigub and Jason Hartman

I am repeating myself, but only because it’s extremely important. My first order of business would be to overhaul the education system to include core financial literacy courses from elementary school all the way through college to help prepare the kids for the reality waiting for them after graduation. The second change would be to […]

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I am repeating myself, but only because it’s extremely important. My first order of business would be to overhaul the education system to include core financial literacy courses from elementary school all the way through college to help prepare the kids for the reality waiting for them after graduation. The second change would be to lower carbon emissions in the highest carbon emission producing countries, such as China and India. And the third would be to make access to medical services more accessible to underserved areas in the United States. All of these topics deserve a thought-out article of their own, and since they don’t quite fit into the scope of this interview, I will leave them at a very high level.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Alina Trigub. Alina was born and immigrated from Ukraine in the former Soviet Union. A large part of her family perished in World War II defending the country from the Nazi invasion and in the Holocaust; same as many other Soviet citizens. National patriotism remained high for decades after the war. Alina’s grandparents settled in Odessa, Ukraine after the war, and they could not imagine a better place to live than Odessa; Alina’s city of birth. The former Soviet Union, however, was a so-called Utopian dream only through government propaganda and oppression, and as anti-Semitism escalated (Alina’s family is Jewish) and as some pro-fascist organizations planned pogroms, the dream turned into a nightmare. The short of it was that it was at that time her family finally realized that it was time to leave Soviet Union. Alina was twenty years old when her family decided to immigrate to the United States to escape growing anti-Semitism. Alina’s story is really a glowing example of the “Pursuit-of-the-American-Dream” tale. When Alina arrived in the United States, she knew that she was not entitled to anything except an adventure, and that in order to succeed she had to work hard and learn harder. She pursued a degree in Accounting from Baruch college, while working as a sales person in a busy clothing and shoe store in NYC. She was excited to be granted a Green Card after arriving in the US, and five years later she was ecstatic to pass the US Citizenship test. Alina is proud to be an American, and she shares a strong work ethic with her husband of nearly 20 years that they instilled in their two children. Alina loves the United States and feels that it provides all its citizens the freedom, equal opportunity, and the tools to succeed. Nevertheless, when she looks back to the first few years in the US, she believes that the most difficult, and yet the most rewarding task for her was adapting to a new culture and finding her place in a foreign country. Alina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting as well as an MBA in Finance and Management. She’s a former tax accountant with the Big Four experience. Later in her career she transitioned to the technology industry as a liaison between the business and technology worlds.


Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

My career started in the Tax Accounting industry and as I climbed the corporate ladder, I’ve become increasingly concerned about our family paying higher and higher taxes, and by the impact of Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). In addition, I was always interested in real estate investing, but I hadn’t done much about it other than buying a handful of single-family and condo properties to be used as rentals. Finally, about six years ago I decided to take action and dove into studying real estate investing in more detail. After doing the initial research I invested as an equity partner in private placements. The returns and the personal input correlation made me realize that the industry brings tremendous benefit to those interested to diversify into real estate with minimal effort. I also realized that this was a great way to help communities build their wealth passively. It triggered my idea to start my own boutique private equity firm with the primary purpose of helping others build their wealth via passive real estate investing. I’m very happy I did.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I host local real estate meetups in New York and New Jersey. I recently invited a mindset coach to our meetup. It was not by any means is a typical type of speaker since the coach didn’t specifically speak about real estate. Instead, the speaker illustrated what it takes to have a mindset of abundance versus scarcity, as well as how each and every person can change themselves for the better by applying some basic principles. I didn’t know what to expect from my meetup group because they were so used to presentations about real estate investing. However, I knew I made a small difference in people’s lives that night by hosting an out-of-the-box speaker who shared an extraordinary message. It was extremely gratifying when almost every single attendee came over to me to thank for inviting this amazing presenter. The takeaway is to always challenge yourself and people around you to try things that are outside of their main sphere of knowledge, and you will be sure to bring value to people in a way they do not expect.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m always working on new projects. All of my projects are about positively impacting people on both sides of the spectrum; both investors and the community. When we buy large apartment complexes and implement our value-add strategy, we renovate units and beatify the communities so that the tenants would be attracted to stay there for the long term. At the same time, we offer investors a way to increase their nest egg via passive real estate investments without any interruption to their day-to-day life.

Currently we’re evaluating a new project in an Opportunity Zone. For those that are not familiar with the Opportunity Zones investing, it is typically done in undeveloped areas requiring heavy lifting. These projects are about revitalizing the areas and allowing the community to find a better housing for their families.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?

In my opinion, the exponential advances in AI (Artificial Intelligence) and technology impact people’s desire to study and learn. We’re relying on technology a lot and hence, allowing our brain to relax and ignore the need to study. Looking back in history, the humankind had less access to information, and at the same time humans excelled in learning on their own. When everything is easily accessible and information is at your fingertips, people become lazy and don’t take any action. I’m not saying we need to go back in time and that technology is evil, but I’m strongly encouraging to change the educational approach the schools are taking nowadays and update it to include subjects in financial literacy.

If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?

I am repeating myself, but only because it’s extremely important. My first order of business would be to overhaul the education system to include core financial literacy courses from elementary school all the way through college to help prepare the kids for the reality waiting for them after graduation. The second change would be to lower carbon emissions in the highest carbon emission producing countries, such as China and India. And the third would be to make access to medical services more accessible to underserved areas in the United States. All of these topics deserve a thought-out article of their own, and since they don’t quite fit into the scope of this interview, I will leave them at a very high level.

Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

My “finance insider” advice about non-intuitive essentials for smart investing to my adult child would include the five topics below:

1. It is very important to set up your short- and long-term goals. If you don’t plan ahead, then you have no idea what you’re going to achieve and when. For example, if a student in college decides they want to be a CEO of a company in 20 years, that’s a perfect example of a long-term goal. Now they can break it down into smaller measurable and specific chunks of time and actions. For example, they will be a manager in 5 years, a director in 10 years, and VP in 15 years, and so forth. Breaking it down further into even smaller chunks such as 6–9 months increments will help them take the steps in the right direction. Keep in mind that this plan will be ever evolving, and you will need to constantly assess it, but you need to start planning your future in order to achieve the results you desire.

2. Keep the good debt and pay off bad debt. How do you determine which is which? Let’s start with an example of bad debt. If you have a college loan, you’re probably incurring a high interest rate on it and it is not benefiting you. So, this is definitely bad debt, and you need to pay that loan off. However, if you own a house and decide to get a Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC) on it, and then invest it so that your return is higher than the HELOC’s interest; that’s an example of good debt. To add a cherry on top, this interest is also deductible on your tax return!

3. Take full advantage of time. Compound interest is a beautiful thing. Most people are not familiar with the term, hence they are not aware of its magic power to passively generate significant returns over time. And the earlier in life you start, the better. As an example, the earlier you start investing in your pension plan (401(k) or IRA), the more money you’ll be able to accumulate by just putting in little amounts.

4. Ignore the social media. There’s information overload due to social media. Paying attention to it is a waste of time since for each article, interview, video posted, there’s always an opposite view posted almost immediately. Hence, it is essential to come up with a plan for yourself to ignore click bait and stick to it.

5. Pay yourself first! If you never read “The richest man in Babylon” by George Clamson, then it is a must-read, and if you have read it, then reread it again. This ancient over-100-year-old book shares the principles that were true then and are still true now!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Ever since I started my real estate venture, I have met and befriended a ton of outstanding people who were ready to help me along my journey. However, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today have I not had the support from my family members, particularly my husband. At the beginning of my business venture, I was adamant of bringing him into it. However, he never expressed any interest in it. Nevertheless, he’s been very supportive of my career in many other extraordinary ways, and this helps get me through the business challenges and keeps our family happily together.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The quote on my business card states, “Someone sitting in the shade today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago” by Warren Buffett. While it doesn’t require much explanation, I’m a strong believer that I’m here on our planet Earth to serve others, and hence the more people benefit from my knowledge and success, the happier I become.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

While I am repeating myself again, but I cannot stress enough that I’d love to change the school curriculum. I think that children are not being prepared for important life lessons. In fact, not only should elementary school children be taught about finances, but it is a total gap at any level of our education system, and the first time that kids and young adults are forced to learn about finances is after college! I believe that schools need to teach them the basics as early as possible; what does it take to make money, come up with a budget, live below their means, and so on. If these topics would be included in the school curriculum, our youth would be more financially literate and better prepared for life ahead.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you continued success!

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