When Lianne Wang was 9, she and her family moved from Taiwan to the United States. Despite being desperately shy, Lianne found herself translating for her parents when they did their banking, helping them understand how money worked in their new country. It also inspired Lianne to become a Truist teammate. Today, she helps others understand—and feel confident in—their finances.
When my family immigrated to America, the six of us moved into a two-bedroom, one-bathroom basement apartment. We didn’t have much, but those were some of our happiest years together. We were grateful to have a place to call home. Despite our lack of resources, my parents instilled values of community and giving in me and my siblings. It was important to give what we had to help other people and to share with our neighbors—no matter how little we had.
Building my financial foundation
My parents’ money challenges—and their approach to finances—made a lasting impression on me. I learned the importance of sharing with neighbors and friends, and also good financial management.
My father, a chef, worked hard to open his own restaurant. But entrepreneurship can be unpredictable, and if his restaurant didn’t do well that month, we didn’t, either. It was our sole source of income. None of us knew English very well, but I’d go to the bank with my mother and help translate for her. I’d also write the checks, because she didn’t know how. But she did know that it was important to keep our checkbook balanced and not get into debt. I admire her for that—it’s not easy to stay out of debt when you don’t make much.
In school, I was a straight-A student. That got me into the University of Virginia, where I also took on a part-time job to help my parents financially. But I still had a lot to learn about money.
When I got my first checking account, I thought if I wrote a check for $50 more than I had, that the bank would loan it to me. I was wrong and got hit with fees. I also took out a cash advance on my credit card, and it wasn’t for an emergency (unless you count going to the beach as an emergency). When my credit card bill came, I couldn’t believe how much they charged for that advance! I decided then and there to stick to a budget and never spend more than I had.
Using my financial education to care for others
My first job out of college was with a bank that eventually became Truist. Part of the reason I took the job was because I was passionate about financial wellness. I knew from my own experiences just how important feeling confident about your money can be. I wanted to learn more about investing, saving, and becoming financially stable.
Lianne's top three money tips
Don't spend your paycheck entirely on wants versus needs.
A great credit score determines your future buying power.
Ask people who are financially fit how they do it.
One of the first things I learned was the importance of a good credit score. It makes things like renting or buying a home, getting a credit card, or leasing or buying a car a lot easier—and sometimes even less expensive. I worked on improving my credit score, and was eventually able to buy the house my family had been renting. I was so proud to be a homeowner in my 20s.
A year or two after I started at the bank, I began volunteering with a nonprofit called Junior Achievement, teaching kids of different ages how to budget and differentiate between needs versus wants. These days, I volunteer with the Excel Center and help adults with things like mock job interviews. I also talk to high schoolers about their goals, career plans—whatever it takes to help them improve their financial literacy.
I love doing this work because I know what a difference it would’ve made for me to learn these things when I was younger.
Finding purpose in teaching financial wellness
Financial literacy is important for everyone. Aside from my work with the Excel Center, I’m also on the board of New Hope Housing, a nonprofit that helps people facing homelessness. Homelessness is a complex issue, and it shouldn’t be chalked up to personal failure. I love helping people gain financial confidence as they get back on their feet, and it’s an honor to support them on their journey.
Lianne recently rappelled a 14-story building to help end homelessness—even though she’s afraid of heights. See her journey.
Helping others achieve financial wellness is my purpose, and it drives a lot of what I do and who I work with. I’m grateful to my family for helping me learn the importance of financial wellness—and the joy in giving to others.