FINANCIAL LITERACY CAN LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
Money is touted as ruling the world. The OJays sing about the love of money. We earn it and we spend it. What about the other aspects of money? Its extricable link to debt, credit, spending, saving, investing and wealth creation. Each directly impact the others. Saving instead of spending; timely payment of debt; limiting debt and investing are skills necessary for creating and maintaining wealth. These are all learned skills that are typically less practiced in Blacks and Hispanics household.
Our spending far exceeds our property/business ownership and investments. Case in point, Blacks spend $1.1 billion dollars on ethnic hair and beauty products – nearly nine times more than our non-Black counterpart: yet, much of the business are not owned by Black or Hispanics. Moreover, just in Mount Vernon alone Blacks account for 63% of the population and Hispanics 16.3%, but there is not one beauty supply shop owned and operated by either group.
The distribution of wealth in America is a little topsy-turvy. Ten percent of the nation’s population controls 90% of the nation’s wealth. That leaves 90% of the population (that’s us) controlling only 10% of our nation’s wealth.
When we make our purchases, we are often times contributing to the wealth of the top 10% (not us). We all need food, shelter, transportation, medicine and education. But, how do we use our money in ways to create personal wealth? Did you know that Warren Buffet one of the world’s wealthiest men, estimated to be worth $86.7 billion still lives in same house he purchased for $31,500 back in 1958? Or that by 1990, Bill Gates was worth $2.5B and was still flying economy class. You might think to yourself: “Well these examples don’t apply to me. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett had better opportunities than I did or ever will; moreover, they could enter places and sit at tables that I would never be invited. These guys are worth billions while I only have just a few dollars in my pocket. I just don’t identify with them.” And you would be correct on most counts. The point though is that wealth creation requires a plan, discipline and commitment. And that is something we can do. If you think not, then recall the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the economic distress it created for the offending bus company.
For 381 days, 1955 to 1956, Black people refused to use Montgomery transit system because of the bus company’s discriminatory practices. Black commuters chose instead to walk, use cars and truck pools. Despite suffering violent attacks, bombings and arrests, the boycotters persisted until they prevailed. Since 75% of the ridership were black, the absence of their patronage forced an end to the boycott. The boycotts from the civil rights era can teach us many things. It teaches us that even poor people with little education can determine how they spend their money. It also shows how we as individuals can affect policy by deciding how we purchase. It is a lesson in spending choice, discipline and commitment.
If we want to garner a greater share of the wealth distribution in this nation then we will need to educate ourselves. We need to learn the basic rules. Yes, just as sports have rules, so does wealth creation. We will need to understand the difference between the appearance of wealth and the substance of wealth. We will need to educate our children if for no other reason than they don’t squander the wealth we leave them. We need to learn the principles of running a successful business. We need to learn how to maximize our savings and investments. We need to learn how to save for retirement: it’s never too early. We need to learn how to use our spending to change policy. We need to understand how wealth creates financial security and widen our choices.
Some will shake their heads and say they are not interested in money management or that credit repair or wealth creation is boring stuff. Be reminded, that even the purchasing power of recent college graduates are lower relative to when their own parents graduated college. More young people live at home than ever before. If that’s not troubling enough. There are some medical school graduates who can’t afford to make ends meet. Student loan costs are going higher, wages are going lower and Washington is offering less help for low wage or no-wage earners. Help is not going to come from someone else. It’s time for self-sufficiency. Every man and woman must earn, save and invest for themselves and their families.
It’s almost impossible to exist in America without credit. Auto insurance companies check credit score before deciding cost of premiums. Many employers require credit score as a prerequisite to employment. Many business establishments will only take credit cards. In the world of online commerce, credit cards are the only options. Credit cards, mortgages and auto loans all rely upon a credit score. The lower the score the more it will cost to borrow money. The first step in wealth creation is to ensure you are not paying a high premium to borrow money. Luckily, we have financial experts in our own community who can help. On Saturday September 8, 2018 from Noon to 6pm, at 28 East First Street, Mount Vernon. There will be free seminar and workshops with financial literacy expert Jeff Broome (The Business Kings) and other guests who will provide valuable tips on budgeting, saving, improving credit, and putting you on the path to home ownership. Mr. Broome, I’m sure, will emphasize his important motto: Impress your Banker, Not your Friends! If we can raise the credit, we can raise the community!
This is also the venue for RapaCon/DJ-Con: “The Impact Of House Music On Hip Hop” The event celebrates the hybrid of Strictly Rhythm Beats and hip-hop breaks, responsible for some of the funkiest moments under the mirror ball from the 1980s to today.
For more information about the event and the free financial services offered this Saturday, visit https://rapacondjconimpactofhousemusic.eventbrite.com.
If you have any questions or comments on this topic or have other topics you’d like to see featured in a future column, e-mail me at ADWCMV@gmail.com.
See you on Saturday. This Saturday, September 8th from Noon to 6:00 pm at 28 East First Street, Mount Vernon. Come learn with us and celebrate with us.
Let’s get to work!