After you have weighed the pros and cons of a home-based business and decided that self-employment is right for you, your next step is to develop a plan. Your business plan should define your business and identify goals. When developing your plan, research laws that may impact your business. For starters, you must find out if you need a license or permit to operate your business. A good business plan also includes financial information such as a balance sheet and income statement.
When working on your business’ financial plan, don’t forget to develop a method for managing your new personal financial situation. Unfortunately, statistics show that many home-based businesses fail often due to poor financial planning. Following are some ideas to help make self-employment work for you.
Don’t underestimate your expenses. Fortunately, more than 40 percent of all home-based businesses require less than $5,000 for startup. However, there are many other costs associated with running a business. In your spending plan, don’t forget expenses such as childcare, insurance, postage, gas, and dry cleaning.
Manage your income. Most self-employed workers have sporadic incomes. If your income varies from month-to-month, determine your average monthly income. Then, if you have a month where you earn more than average, put the extra amount into a savings fund to supplement less lucrative months.
Avoid relying on credit cards. Borrowing from a credit card can quickly lead to costly trouble. If you need to use a credit card for business expenses, open an account specifically for that purpose. If you need money to launch your business, consider a small business loan instead.
Keep tabs on your taxes. Some self-employed individuals may have to pay up to a 15 percent self-employment tax in addition to their regular income taxes. To avoid tax-time surprises, periodically review your taxes throughout the year. Don’t forget to make necessary quarterly tax payments to avoid under-withholding penalties.
Keep accurate records. Complete all of your paperwork on-time, particularly if you are billing clients or customers. Many companies will take several weeks to process invoices. Keep copies of all receipts for tax time. Because networking is so important, keep business cards and contact information in an organized manner.
Get help. Consider working with a lawyer who can help you with necessary, and sometimes complex, legal matters. You should also contact your insurance agent to make sure you have appropriate coverage.
Finally, realize there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that home-based businesses make up half of US businesses; take advantage of their resources at sba.gov.
While all members should be aware of the family’s overall financial situation, choosing one person to conduct the day-to-day financial tasks is a good way to stay on top of things. The appointed individual should be organized and a good communicator. They should be given uninterrupted time to do their tasks effectively.
Consider making the job of family CFO easier by establishing an online bill payment service (offered free-of-charge by many banks and credit unions). Even better, check with your creditors about setting up automatic bill payments.
Designate a spot in your home for organizing financial paperwork. Used office supply stores offer great bargains on filing cabinets, or consider small plastic filing cabinets instead of metal or wood. If your goal is to have a paperless filing system, make sure that you back-up your computer regularly and invest in a good security program to prevent criminals from obtaining sensitive information. To keep your most valuable documents safe, consider opening a safety-deposit box at your local bank or credit union.
5 easy steps to get organized and save money
Did you know that being organized saves you money?
• You waste money buying duplicates of items you didn’t know you had
• You waste money on late charges because you can’t find the bills you need to pay, or you forget to pay them on time
• You also waste money not deciding in the store where you should store the item you’re thinking of buying, and then not using it
So now that you know why you should get organized, let’s discuss some practical tips to show you how you can get your finances organized. It’s a big myth that organizing is difficult and time-consuming. Yes, you do have to take some time initially to set up your system but unless you want to make things really complicated, it’ll only take you about 15 to 30 minutes.
1. Put all bills to be paid in a specific folder
When you bring in the mail, throw away the junk mail and envelopes immediately and only keep the actual bill in a dedicated plastic see-through envelope in a specific place. Arrange the bills in order of when they have to be paid so that the one facing you is also the most urgent bill.
This way you and the rest of your family always know exactly where to find all the bills.
2. Automate as many bill payments as possible
We live very busy lives so if you don’t have to think about paying it, all the better for you. That said, schedule a day of the month to check your online payments against your actual budget.
3. Dedicate a specific day or days of the month to pay your bills.
Mark off a date on your calendar when you pay bills. If your bills are due on different days of the month, you may need more than one date. Because life happens, schedule the date a couple of days before the payment is actually due so you don’t incur any late fees.
4. File Once your bills are paid, file them in the way that’s easiest for you to manage. If you’re not a file puncher, don’t fool yourself that you will start punching and filing. The road to hell is paved with good intentions! 🙂
Restrict your filing space so that it forces you to clear out old bills every 6 – 12 months. This easy-to-use system will take you only a minute or two a day, and about 30 minutes when you sit down and pay your bills.
For more on organizing your finances, I invite you to my private Facebook group, Cocktails, and Coins where I recently did a live broadcast about organizing your financial paperwork. How do you keep your financial paperwork organized? Let me know in the comments below.
When I was in school, the most we learned about personal finance was how to write and check, how to balance a checkbook, and how compound interest works. Did you know that as few as 13 states require high school students to take and pass a personal finance course to graduate? I know that some of these may seem pretty basic, but you would be surprised the number of people who don’t know or understand these personal finance basics. Here are five personal finance basics everyone should know.
1. How To Budget
I was well into my twenties before I learned how to budget and I am not ashamed to say that. Budgeting is as simple as learning to prioritize. The best way to decide where your money goes is to create a monthly budget. First, calculate how much money you have coming in. Next, identify your needs, i.e. food, shelter, insurance, transportation. Finally, add those up and subtract from your monthly income. You may want to add your monthly savings to your needs, just to make sure that you are making saving a priority. Once this is done, you will know how much you have left over for discretionary spending. If you need help with setting a budget, you may want to participate in my beta test for the new Money Makeover Planner.
2. The Time Value Of Money
Saving a small amount each day can do a world of good for your finances. Instead of spending that $8-10 a day on lunch try putting that amount in an interest-bearing savings account and let it sit. This concept is something that is beneficial to all ages but can be super beneficial to younger people, who can accumulate a lot of money over the years from learning simple steps to cut their daily expenses.
3. Checking Account versus Savings Account
Okay, I know this is super basic but I am going to cover it anyway. A savings account is an account in which you deposit money into and watch it grow to accumulate interest. Some banks may require you to have a minimum balance in order to keep the account open. Since you won’t be using this money daily it can grow. Daily use money is to be kept in a checking account. You can use the checks to pay for expenses such as bills. You can also get a debit card to go with the checking account so that you can make purchases or withdraw money from the ATM.
I understand some debt is unavoidable. Accumulating massive amounts of debt such as with student loans, credit cards or car loans can wreak havoc on your personal finance and credit score. The average household carries $16,000 in credit card debt. If you miss a payment on any of your debts it may be hard to recover.
A high credit score makes businesses like auto lenders, banks, and insurance companies view you as a trustworthy risk. When you are just starting out, opening a checking or savings account enables you to show lenders that you can manage money. Keeping your credit score high also helps with qualifying for that dream job you want, as many employers check your credit before hiring you.
Money has been a part of human history for almost 3,000 years. From the origins of bartering to modern money, this is how the system has evolved.
Way back when bartering was used in lieu of money to buy goods. As early man began to rear domestic livestock, one of the earliest forms of barter included cattle, sheep, as well as vegetables and grain. Bartering is the exchange of a good or service for another good or service. For example, a bag of rice for a bag of beans. However, what if you couldn’t agree what something was worth in exchange or you didn’t want what the other person had? To solve that problem, humans developed what is called commodity money.
A commodity is a basic item used by almost everyone. In the past, items such as salt, tea, tobacco, cattle, and seeds were commodities and therefore were once used as money. However, using commodities as money had other problems. Carrying bags of salt and other commodities was hard and commodities were difficult to store or were perishable.
Coins and Paper Money
Metals objects were introduced as money around 5000 B.C. By 700 BC, the Lydians became the first in the western world to make coins. Countries were soon minting their own series of coins with specific values. Metal was used because it was readily available, easy to work with and could be recycled. Since coins were given a certain value, it became easier to compare the cost of items people wanted.
Some of the earliest known paper money dates back to ancient China, where the issuing of paper money became common from about AD 960 onwards.
With the introduction of paper currency and non-precious coinage, commodity money evolved into representative money. This meant that what money itself was made of no longer had to be very valuable.
Representative money was backed by a government or bank’s promise to exchange it for a certain amount of silver or gold. For example, the old British Pound bill or Pound Sterling was once guaranteed to be redeemable for a pound of sterling silver.
For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the majority of currencies were based on representative money through the use of the gold standard.
Representative money has now been replaced by fiat money. Fiat is the Latin word for “let it be done.” Money is now given value by a government fiat or decree. In other words, enforceable legal tender laws were made. By law, the refusal of “legal tender” money in favor of some other form of payment is illegal.
There you have it, the history of money and how we know it today!
Today starts National Financial Literacy Month and what a month it is! To kick it off this month we start with National One Cent Day. Although the penny is nearly obsolete, here are some fun facts about this day and the penny.
What does Benjamin Franklin, the phrase “mind your business” and April 1 all have in common? The answer is the penny, which we recognize on National One Cent Day.
The United States first issued a one-cent coin produced by a private mint in 1787. It was designed by Benjamin Franklin. On one side it read “Mind Your Business” and the other “We Are One.” This coin was made of 100% copper was larger than today’s penny and came to be known as the Fugio cent.
It wasn’t until 1792 that the United States Mint was first created. The first coins struck by the newly established mint were called Chain cents, or Flowing Hair Chain Cents by collectors today. On one side of the was coin a circle of 13 links of chain representing the 13 colonies. On the reverse was an image of a woman with flowing hair, otherwise known as Liberty.
The one cent coin was reduced in size in the 1850s to make the coin more economical and easier to handle. In 1856, the mint produced the Flying Eagle cent with a wreath on the reverse side. This coin was soon replaced with the Indian Head cent in 1859 which quickly became popular and remained in circulation for decades.
Today’s one-cent coin is made of copper and zinc and has borne the image of President Abraham Lincoln since 1909. From 1959 to 2008, the reverse featured the Lincoln Memorial. Four different reverse designs in 2009 honored Lincoln’s 200th birthday depicting various scenes from his lifetime and a new, permanent reverse – the Union Shield – was introduced in 2010.
Pennies Add Up
Even if you don’t possess the rarest and most valuable of pennies, you can still cash in on the ones you do have. Every penny counts and every coin is worth saving. Get a jar or one of those big plastic water cooler jugs and fill it with your loose change. After a few years have passed and your change jar is filled to the top, roll up your coins and take them to the bank. It may take time, but hey, it’s a payday worth waiting for.
Overall, if you wish to observe this national holiday known as “National One Cent Day,” try doing a little of your own research on the history of the penny. Look at how much pennies are selling for online. Count your own pennies and maybe even start a penny collection. Whatever way you choose to celebrate National One Cent Day, remember that every penny counts and when several little coins come together, they can add up to big things
Throughout the month of March, Asset Management Awareness Month urges businesses and organizations to learn how improved asset and property management practices can contribute to the overall mission and revenue goals of their organization. I thought to myself, what if people treated their personal finances just like a business, and learn to improve their financial management practices.
Much like getting in shape by losing weight or working out more, living a healthy financial life is easier said than done. When it comes to understanding and feeling confident about finances, many can feel overwhelmed. That’s understandable because when you think about all of the things that have a dollar sign that affect you – like saving, investing, insurance, estate planning – there’s a lot to consider.
My first piece of advice is to take a day and “hire yourself”. Sometime in the next few months, set aside a day to learn more about your personal financial situation. Let’s face it; most people would rather do almost anything on a personal day than think about their finances. But the things you will learn in just that one day will have a tremendous positive impact on the rest of your life. That’s not a bad tradeoff.
Personal Finance Best Practices
Financial literacy is not taught in American schools. It is up to each of us to educate ourselves, or we leave ourselves open to making bad financial decisions or being scammed. Here are seven basic financial tips to help you better manage your finances. Put these “best practices” in place to keep from falling into financial trouble.
Make a Budget — Developing a personal budget is a crucial first step to building and maintaining your financial health. An accurate budget helps you:
Figure out what you can afford
Understand where your money is going
Set appropriate spending targets
Make a realistic plan for a solid financial future
Cut Spending — The modern world is full of pressure to spend money. As our consumer culture expands, it takes more discipline to separate what you need from what you want. Don’t let a desire for the newest phone or fancy car lead you into spending more than you can afford. Trim expenses where you can. Even a small change in habits can save a lot of money.
Pay Down Debt Effectively — If you are already accumulating credit card debt, take the steps to correct that problem before it spins out of control. Don’t develop the habit of paying only minimum monthly payments. Find a way to pay more, if at all possible. Use any funds you free up by trimming expenses and apply them to your debt. You can choose to put the extra money towards your smallest debt or towards the one with the highest interest rate. Either way, stick with the strategy you choose and keep your total monthly debt payments the same, even as you pay off creditors. This way, you pay off the debt quickly and save a large amount of money in reduced interest costs. It may be worth researching a little about the two types of equity release that you may want to consider when you’re getting older. I recommend doing your research now so you can plan ahead and live stress-free!
Use Debt Relief Programs Cautiously — If your credit card debts are already out of control, you may consider working with a Consumer Credit Counseling Service or a Debt Settlement firm. Credit counseling offers budget advice and a debt management plan that can lower your interest rates, so you get out of debt faster. Debt settlement works by negotiating reduced balance settlements, so you pay back less than you owe. To do debt settlement, you have to choose to stop paying your creditors, so your credit is harmed. Before signing up for any debt relief program, check into the effect the debt relief program has on your status with your job. Some jobs frown upon using debt relief programs, and me personally, I don’t recommend them either.
Monitor Your Credit — If you don’t have strong credit, you can’t qualify for the best interest rates available. Check your credit report for free at http://www.annualcreditreport.com, where you can get one free report from each bureau once a year. Stagger your requests every four months, pulling one bureau at a time, and you can check your report for free three times a year. Dispute any incorrect information.
Build Your Credit Score — Even if you’re not planning any large purchases in the near future, you should work to build a strong credit score. This way, when the time comes to buy a car or home, you can get the best financing available. It takes using credit responsibly in order to build a good score. You should have three active accounts in good standing. Don’t run up debt on your cards, but use them and pay them off each month. If you don’t have any credit history because you have never had any credit accounts, you’ll have to start from scratch. Applying for a secured credit card is a good way to build credit when you have no credit history. Just make sure the secured credit issuer reports to the three main credit bureaus.
Watch Out for Scams — Don’t fall for any of the variety of scams that target consumers. Many scam-artists use the internet to lure their victims. Common scams include online offers to sell cars at an extreme discount or offering loans that don’t require a credit check. If you are looking to rent a home or apartment, make sure that you know whom you’re dealing with. Scams exist where someone who is not the lawful landlord offers a home for rent. One red flag is if you’re asked to wire-transfer a security deposit.
If you can follow the basic advice in this article, you’ll find ways to save money and establish the foundation for a solid credit future. Before you take any action, be sure to carefully evaluate your financial decisions so you don’t rush into a bad one.
Buy Thin Mints, buy Thin Mints, buy a box today. Enjoy them only once a year before they go away HEY! (Sung to the tune of Jingle Bells) It’s that time of year again, Girl Scout Cookies can be found on just about every street corner in America. I don’t know about you, but I love Girl Scout Cookies. Lucky for me, I have two personal Girl Scouts, two of my beautiful granddaughters (T’Aliyah and A’Lona) keep nanny stocked with those delicious cookies.
Yesterday was the beginning of National Girl Scout Week and today is National Girl Scout Day. In this month’s community spotlight, I am spotlighting Girl Scouts and my favorite troop, Troop 25102. National Girl Scout Day commemorates the birthday of the Girl Scouts of America.
As part of Girl Scout Week, National Girl Scout Day is observed annually on March 12th.
Girl Scouting in the United States of America began on this day, March 12, 1912, when Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop meeting. At this first troop meeting in Savannah, Georgia, there were 18 girls present. For these girls, Juliette Gordon Low organized enrichment programs, service projects, and outdoor activities and adventures. Since the time of the first meeting, Girl Scouts has grown to over 3.7 million members.
The organization’s original name was the Girl Guides of America
By 1920 there were close to 70,000 members
By 1930 there were over 200,000 members
In 2005 there were over 3.7 million members
Motto “Be Prepared”
Slogan “Do a Good Turn Daily”
“Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”
In honor of National Girl Scout Day, let’s celebrate all that the Girl Scouts have done to empower girls and what the organization has done for communities across the country.
I know you are wondering what Girl Scouts have to do with financial literacy. That’s where the cookie sales come in. Girl Scout Cookie sales is the number one financial literacy program for girls. Cookie sales help the girls with goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, entrepreneurship skills, and business ethics. Girl Scout cookie sales, teach the girls how to network with family, friends, and individuals that stop by our cookie booths.
While we may just view the cookies as a yummy treat that comes around once a year, please know that your support is helping to teach our girls valuable skills they will need in life. So next time you see a cookie booth, stop by and support the girls.
To Troop 25102 and all troops across the USA, we here at Traciebthreadford.com salute you and all you do to in teaching financial literacy! Special thank you to troop leader, Donisha Collier, for allowing me to spotlight our beautiful girls.
As you can see, Girl Scout Cookies are more than just a tasty treat, they are a learning tool for Girl Scouts.
Don’t forget, if you know of an organization or individual that is working to teach financial literacy or close the wealth gap in the African American community, you can nominate them for the community spotlight. Email me at Tracie@traciebthreadford.com for details.
I’ve been holding this post just for this month, Black History Month, in order to spotlight those in the African-American community that are doing their part to close the wealth gap. If you haven’t read my post about the wealth gap and how we can close it, then I invite you to go here and do so.
Today, I want to spotlight a gentleman who is doing his part to help close the wealth gap in the African-American community. Pastor Andy Ragland.
Last month, I had the privilege to attend a personal finance conference here in my city. The conference was entitled Money Matters: Put Some Muscles In Your Money. This seminar was conducted by local pastor, Pastor Andy Ragland of Christian Fellowship Church. In this seminar, Pastor Ragland teaches personal finance from a Biblical perspective.
About Pastor Ragland
Pastor Ragland has been teaching personal finance since 2003. He’s has spoken all over the United States, teaching Biblical principles to personal finance. He also offers personal finance coaching where since 2003 he has taught over 200 people how to escape financial bondage and be good stewards over that which God has given them. Out of the people, Pastor Ragland has taught, he boasts a 50% ratio of those remaining consistent in their money management and remaining debt-free.
I had a chance to sit and talk to Pastor Ragland after the seminar and here is what he had to say.
Tracie Threadford: What is the biggest thing we, as a community, can do to close the wealth gap?
Pastor Ragland: Continue to enlighten through teaching. We must create the dialogue, we have to talk about it. Talking is essential because when we talk about it we create buzz. Once we create buzz, it becomes a fad. Just as the #metoo became a fad, we in the personal finance realm have to make personal finance a fad. We have to continue to talk until we have the attention of those who need our help the most.
TT: I noticed the number of people that you invited to the seminar, versus the number of people who actually showed up. Does that disappoint you and what makes you go on in spite of?
PR: No it doesn’t disappoint me, it used to but not anymore. Not in the sense of, oh I am sad but it does disappoint me because I know my people need this education. I also know that those that want change will come and they will stick with the program, and that keeps me encouraged and makes me get up and continue to do the work that I was created to do.
TT: One of the things I feel we can do to close this wealth gap is teach financial literacy in school. What is your view on that?
PR: Absolutely. That goes back to creating the dialogue. If you teach in school or at home that one needs to go to school, get an education, then go on to get a good job; you certainly should teach me how to manage the finances that you want me to be able to make. My motto is Make, Manage and Multiply.
Know your limitations
Having a budget/spending plan teaches you self-control. Self-control and discipline are crucial when handling your finances. Pastor Ragland went on to say, ” The problem is you really like you! You convince yourself you deserve this or that because you work hard.” I know I have said that same thing a million times. In his analogy of you liking you too much, he drives home the fact that your money is a direct representation of how much control you have. “You know what to do but you don’t do it.”
Time is money
“Rich is a status, wealth is a lifestyle. Oftentimes, we spend too much time with people who are not trying to accomplish what we are.” Your time is valuable. You spend eight hours a day or more, working to gain income, but what you do with that income shows you don’t value your time. Pastor Ragland said that the reason he wears nice watches is that he values his time. Trust me, if you ever see him, he really does wear extremely nice watches. In the finance game, you don’t have time or money to waste. If you aren’t already taking the necessary steps for retirement and legacy, you still have time and the time to start is now. Remain focused, set a plan in motion and work the plan.
My question to you reading this is what can you do right now to earn extra and cut costs? Here’s a little bit of what I do. I do makeup to earn extra money. That money has a purpose, I save the money until I get enough to open a CD, or invest it in some way. For more on saving and earning extra income be sure to revisit a couple of my articles on saving and earning extra income.
Your money is a business
“You are the CEO of your finances, your money is a business and you should treat it as such. You don’t have to support every cause that is presented to you. If someone asks you to buy a ticket from their child or brings one of those candy fliers to you, it is ok to say no and not feel bad about it. I tell people that the corporation has made all of its charitable contributions for the year, but we will put you on the calendar for consideration for next year. This is how the big corporations do it, they have all of their charitable giving on the calendar at the beginning of the year and distribute it as necessary.”
This is one that I personally will be using, because it was funny and because he was correct. I am the CEO of my money and my money is my business. We all have been present with will you support my child in such and such. I know that I have a niece that is a cheerleader and grandchildren who are school age who sell things all the time. Heck, I am selling Girl Scout cookies right now. Do I intend to give, of course, I do, but Pastor Ragland opened my eyes to the fact that it is ok not to if I don’t want to. I will still support others in their endeavors but from an allotted spending amount that my husband and I will set at the beginning of each year. Once that money has been used then the answer will be, “The corporation, W&T Threadford LLC, has made all of their charitable contributions for the year, but we will be happy to put you on the calendar for consideration next year.” This not only liberates me but by using the word consideration, it lets that person know I will think about this cause and see if it is something that aligns with my charitable giving goals. It does not guarantee that they will receive that contribution it just lets them know they are on my radar and it is a possibility that I will buy that raffle ticket next year.
It is a process
You don’t become financially free overnight because you didn’t get in the financial situation you are in overnight. It is a process. You have to walk in the season you are in right now. If your finances don’t allow you to go shopping and ball till you fall, then don’t do it. “If you want to see something different, you have to do something different. Your job is just your income, not your increase. ” Pastor Ragland was preaching then!.
Again, I agree. There was a time when I could not enjoy the creature comforts that I enjoy now because I just didn’t have the money. I was ashamed and I was hurt I wanted to do all the things I saw the proverbial “Joneses” did and I couldn’t. You know why I couldn’t? I was broke and knew that I didn’t want to be broke. I knew I wanted more out of life for myself and my children.
One day I was going to be a grandmother and I would want to give those grandbabies everything and I could and leave my children and grandchildren a legacy. Begin the process today to get your finances in order. If you are in debt, then write down everyone you owe, including any family or friends.
Stop using credit, because with credit you are spending money now that you will earn in the future. “You must block your money from going out. When your money does not have a purpose you flounder around in the financial world. When the purpose is unknown, destruction is sure.” He said a mouthful then because I used to be in that same situation. You have to have a game plan, you have to prepare. Pastor Ragland gave five ingredients to prepare and if you know me then you know I am going to share them. I want to see everyone succeed in the game of finance.
Ingredients To Prepare
1. Assessment- Preparation begins with knowing what to prepare for. Write down everyone you owe. Determine where you are and where you are headed. Examine what the conditions will be along the way. Determine what price you are willing to pay to get to where you want to be.
2. Alignment- Although you know where you are going, you still won’t make it unless you line up right. Good alignment makes success possible. Bad alignment makes success impossible. You can’t just work hard, you have to do the right work.
3. Attitude- Your attitude determines your altitude. Lazy people rarely prepare, but diligent people do prepare. Don’t be fooled, however, even the diligent get tripped up by the neglect of their attitude. You must have a positive attitude about yourself, your spouse (if you are married) and your situation.
4. Action- Ultimately you have to take action. It means being ready for the first step when the time comes. Without action, preparation has no purpose.
Here are some final words from Pastor Ragland. ” Courage is going forward in the face of fear. Become a process thinker, getting ready requires thinking ahead. By thinking ahead you recognize now what you will need later. Do more research, people in just about every profession or situation use some kind of research to improve themselves. Learn from mistakes. The greatest prep tool can often be a personas own experience. Be willing to remain faithful and stay the course until the end.
While Pastor Ragland not only teaches personal finance, he is an example of his own teaching by keeping his expenses low and his income high. He is doing his part to close the wealth gap in the African-American community by Making, Managing, Multiplying and putting some muscle in his money and he wants to show you how to do the same.
We here at traciebthreadford.com salute you, Pastor Ragland, and all you do to close the wealth gap in the African-American community. If you know of someone who is working to close the wealth gap in the African-American community, I want to know about them. You can nominate them by sending me an email at Tracie@traciebthreadford.com telling me what they do and how they do it and I will feature them on my blog. This will now be a monthly feature on the blog and I am ready to hear from you.
Often overlooked, there are serious disparities in the African-American community when it comes to amassing wealth. While this may be a topic that people want to sweep under the rug, it is a topic that needs attention. Why is there such a vast gap between African-Americans and other ethnicities when it comes to amassing wealth? Wealth is defined as being the value of homes, automobiles, personal valuables, businesses, savings, money, and investments.
According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) in 2011 the average Caucasian household had $114,000 wealth holdings, compared to $8348 average for Latino households and just $7113 average for African American households.
The study also found that 73% of Caucasians own their own home compared to 47% of Latinos and 43% of African Americans. Furthermore, African Americans saw less of a return in wealth on their investment of homeownership than Caucasians.
Historically, wealth that African-Americans have managed to amass, has been taken from us by way of force. Don’t believe me? Take, for instance, Seneca VIllage. Seneca Village once stood where part of the famous Central Park stands today.
For those of you who don’t know about or never heard of Seneca Village read on. It was a settlement of mostly African-American landowners in the borough of Manhatten in New York City. It was founded in 1825 by free African-American people and was the first such community of its kind in the city. African-Americans were not the only minorities there, others included Irish and German immigrants and quite possibly some Native Americans.
This community, comprised of about five acres stood where 82nd and 89th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues would be now if Central Park had not been built. It was home to at least 350 people, three churches, two schools, and two cemeteries. It existed until 1857 when due to eminent domain, it was torn down to build Central Park. Basically, it was taken by the government.
That wasn’t enough for you, how about Greenwood a neighborhood in Tulsa, OK also known as Black Wall Street. It was one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States in the 20th century. Popularly known as “Black Wall Street”, until the Tulsa riot of 1921. During this riot, instituted by the Oklahoma state government and Caucasian residents, hundreds of African-Americans were slaughtered and the community burned and pillaged in hours. Once again, our enterprise was taken.
While those are two instances, I am sure if time permitted I could give you more. My question is what happened to us as a people after these two instances? Did we just give up on creating our own enterprises? Why has there been such a disparity in African-Americans creating wealth since the 1930’s? Have we become complacent in that we are used to our land and our ideas being taken from us that we just don’t even try to build wealth anymore? While I can’t answer those questions for anyone but myself, I would like to offer some suggestions that we as African-Americans can do to close this wealth gap.
Begin to save. Find way’s to boost your savings for things such as what some experts call an emergency fund, which I like to call a capability fund. I know many are living paycheck to paycheck. However, finding a way to save 10% of your take-home pay each payday will make you more prepared in case a situation arises that needs financial attention. Boost your retirement savings. If you need help or ideas to boost retirement read 10 Tip’s To Boost Your Retirement Savings.
Become financially literate. In the information age, financial literacy materials are not hard to find. For example, this blog has a wealth of information to aid you in increasing your financial literacy. Your local library has a wealth of materials (no pun intended) to help you along on your financial journey. Commit to learning something new each month that will improve your financial situation.
Pursue Entrepreneurship. Take that hobby or craft that you are passionate about and turn it into a business. This will help you earn extra income to pay off debt, put in your savings account or invest in your retirement account. Extra income is always a plus and can be used in many way’s to aid you in creating wealth.
Invest windfalls. I have heard tax time referred to as “black folks Christmas” because African-Americans tend to use their income tax to afford items otherwise unaffordable throughout the year. I know, because I have been there. When I learned better I began to do better. Take windfalls and fund your IRA, your mutual funds, or invest in stock options. Let that money work for you over time.
Live within your means. I know this may be easier said than done for some as it was for me at one point. However, once I learned the difference between a need versus a want it became a way of life. While my husband and I make a considerable salary at our jobs, we still live off the money we made at our last lowest paying jobs. Mine was $12.88 an hour and his was $16.00 an hour for a total of $28.88 an hour. We have learned to keep our expenses low and our income high. This has afforded us to pay off debt, purchase income producing properties, and live a life designed by our core values. We value quality over quantity. Yes, we have nice things, but we learned how to save and pay cash for them rather than creating debt to obtain them. We practice delayed gratification in this microwave society.
Financial literacy and wealth creation don’t happen overnight. With determination, the right mindset, discipline and the development of a spending plan, it can be done. It may not be easy. It may take trial and error to find the right balance, but it sure will be worth it all in the long run.
Calculating your net worth is as simple as comparing what you owe (liabilities) and what you own (assets). Use the simple form below to determine your net worth as of today.
Net Worth Worksheet
Cash and Equivalents
Mortgage (principal only)
Home improvement loans
Real Property (Mkt. Value)
State and local
Calculate your net worth
Pension Fund (vested)
Calculating your net worth is the best way to know exactly what your starting point is, in any financial plan you develop. It’s essentially the foundation of your financial plan and goal setting and needs to be updated at least several times a year so that you can track all of your progress. Putting together a balance sheet is quick and easy, even if you aren’t a finance expert!
A balance sheet calculates your net worth, by comparing your financial assets (what you own) with your financial liabilities (what you owe). The difference between the two is your net worth. Don’t be discouraged if your net worth is negative — keep in mind that this should be an accurate depiction of your financial situation. Setting goals is much easier once you know what your current net worth is.
Before you get started, pull together all of the information that you have available. You’ll need your latest bank statements, as well as the principal balance of any loans you have. Once you have all of that information available, start developing your balance sheet by listing all of your assets (financial and tangible assets) with the values. You can use the tool on the microsite, or create your own version on paper or in a spreadsheet tool.
• Cash (in the bank, money market accounts, or CDs)
• All investments (mutual funds, college savings accounts, individual securities)
• Home value (the resale value of your home)
• Automobile value (the resale value of your car – use Kelley’s Blue Book if you don’t know)
• Personal Property Value (resale value of jewelry, household items, etc)
• Other assets
The sum of all of those values is the total value of your assets. Your goal should be to continually increase your assets.
Next, you can look at your liabilities, which should be everything you owe. Here are some common liability categories:
• Remaining mortgage balance
• Car loans
• Student loans
• Any other personal loans
• Credit card balances
The sum of all of the money you owe is your liabilities. As you start to pay down your debt, your total liabilities will decrease. The difference between your assets and your liabilities is your net worth. You can start to increase your net worth by decreasing your liabilities, increasing your assets, or by doing both! Make sure you continuously update your balance sheet – at least twice per year – to ensure that you are meeting all of your financial goals.