Dr. Cynthia (Thia) Crawford is our Director of Education and instructor for the Richer Retirement course. MPower Co is thrilled she chose to use her extensive knowledge of retirement planning to help others prepare for their future.

Dr. Thia loves learning and has become an expert in the field of financial planning—specifically with respect to retirement planning. Before starting her course at MPower Co, Dr. Thia worked for the University of Missouri as a professor teaching financial education to adults. Using her experience at Mizzou and her passion for personal psychology, Dr. Thia has created a reimagined retirement course balancing financial education and positive psychology into our course offering Richer Retirement.

In Part 1 of our “Ask the Professor” series, here are five questions for you to get to know Dr. Thia better.

What started your interest in personal finance?   

Money was a constant source of conflict between my parents. They made good financial decisions, but the process was a battleground for control. When they disagreed the angry voices scared me. I didn’t want money to be that stressful for me or impact my adult relationships.  

I also think my grandmother was an influence. She had a little jar of coins she brought to church to entertain me when I was restless. I liked seeing how they stacked and puzzled at why some coins that were bigger in size were actually worth less than smaller coins (like the nickel and dime). I liked knowing two dimes and a nickel bought the same as a quarter. I still smile with memories of her when I see her little jar of coins on a shelf in my home. 

coins spilled out

Why is Richer Retirement important to you?

Retirement planning has fundamentally changed in recent years and so many aspects of retirement planning are going the way of the dinosaur. 

For instance, employers are shifting responsibility and risk of funding retirement to employees, and health care benefits from our last employer are no longer a given in retirement. If you retire at 60 and live to be 90, that is one-third of your life. People need to wake up and realize that it is up to them to make plans for what may be as much as the last third of their life. 

I want people to thrive in retirement—not just survive—and to do that requires initiative. People can’t afford to procrastinate.

What was your biggest financial milestone?

There are two things that come to mind to answer this question.

Early in my adult life, I had little disposable income and I had to think about how I could substitute my time for money. It really felt meaningful when I could start substituting my money to free up time. Time has become my scarcest resource.

Second, net worth milestones matter too.  The first $10,000 in net worth was something to celebrate. The first $100,000 was the hardest to accumulate.

Today, I am truly the “millionaire” next door. I am enjoying living below my means while also living a life that is more interesting and meaningful than I’d ever dreamed it could be. Being at this place in life is freeing.

house for rent

What is your favorite piece of advice you have received? 

Never give up what you want most for what you want right now.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment? 

While I have earned degrees that were important to me, traveled the world as a Kellogg International Leadership Fellow, reached millions of people as a financial radio personality, and given thousands of workshops, I am optimistic my biggest professional accomplishment is yet to come. I’m not done yet!

Dr. Thia’s knowledge and passion for financial wellness shine bright in her course Richer Retirement. Learn more about the course she offers through MPower Co.