Black folks and money (or lack thereof)

You know what I hate? It’s when Black people who have somewhat of a handle on managing their money don’t pass on that information to other people. We here at Superspade are well aware of all the financial trials that Black people face on a regular. (Like when the only “good” groceries you get are the week after payday but you’re eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the week of payday) But rarely do you see discussions focused on the tools others have used to reach their financial goals. This is where you come in.

If you have made some moves financially, whether it was learning how to budget or buy stocks, or you want to know how others have done it, you need to make your presence known on this post. I’ll go first. I am a recent college graduate and I am currently working my first “real” job. As such, there are several things I learned that have really helped me out. For starters, I realized the difference between needs and wants. For example, I used to buy Reynold’s Wrap just because I saw it on TV. But did I really need name brand aluminum foil? Probably not, so I made the switch. And if you multiply this example many times over, you will get an idea of how I spend my money.

The other thing I learned was balancing a checkbook didn’t help me keep things in perspective. So I started a budget in Excel such that I have three columns for each pay period. The first column shows all the money I have coming in and the second column shows all the bills and expenses I have to pay. The third column is my cash flow that I use to keep track of everything I pay with cash. The advantage I found with this method is that by using addition and subtraction functions within Excel, bills never sneak up on me and I can quickly see where I can cut back and where I am spending too much. Now I still use my checkbook but using Excel helps me see the big picture.

I have also started to take out cash that is strictly used for groceries and gas. For example, on a typical week I may spend anywhere between $30 and $40 on gas so I take out $40 for gas and I keep track of gas spending in my Excel spreadsheet as well. The same thing goes for food. I make a point to shop once a week and I am one of those people who shop with a calculator, notebook, and pen. Because I know it’s hard for me to put something back after the cashier rang up my bill, even if I am over budget. So rather than cross my fingers, I already know how much I am getting before I get in line.

Right now, I am preparing to go to Law school in fall of 2007 but I don’t know how people make the financial transition from working full time to going to school full time. So for all my Superspades who have been there, help a brother out.

For all my shareholders out there, what books/websites were helpful in allowing you to get a handle on investing?

I want everyone reading this post to put a comment that shows something you learned to help you financially and something you would like to know. Because whether you are in high school, a college graduate, or a seasoned investor, we are all in this together and we learn as we go. And while you may think your financial woes will end if you made more money, they won’t unless you learn how to budget, save, and invest. Essentially, I am tired of Black folk getting all riled up over anything political, but get all quiet when someone asks us about our finances. Let’s step our game up because solutions have a weird way of canceling out sorrows.

Stay up fam,

Brandon

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6 responses to “Black folks and money (or lack thereof)”

  1. Free says :

    Good point made. You have a brilliant way of looking at things.

    I have 2 tips: #1 shop the warehouse stores for groceries, even if you’re single. It’s cheaper & all you have to do is separate food into meal-sized baggies & freeze the rest. This works for everything from vitamins to soap, etc. It saves gas running to & from higher-priced grocery stores & the less time you spend at stores, the less temptation.

    #2 Just heard this morning on CNN about getting more out of your savings by using online banks. (Can’t vouch for this personally, but it’s worth checking it out.)

    Also, for passing on good savings sense to younger people, try gifting kids with Savings Bonds and Passbook Saving accounts instead of toys, etc. And don’t forget to enjoy some of your money – which doesn’t have to mean blowing hundreds of dollars, planned spending on yourself will help ward off splurge-spending.

  2. Anonymous says :

    Free, you’re right about the warehouse stores, Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club to name a few are great. The yearly membership fee is well worth it. Using coupons are an added benefit as well. I know cutting coupons can be a headache but, by using them, the savings really add up. I too,have put items in baggies to store in the freezer and containers to store in cabinets. I think that would really work well for you Brandon, especially when you go back to school. You decrease your shopping to once a month. I have known individuals that do not want to share financial information on how to grow financially. It’s so unfornate but what can you do?
    I say, as long as we do not emulate that behavior, and share what we know as we grow then maybe that attitude will become contagious.
    Now, I know a couple of folks that attended law school and I can say that one lived off of school loans and decreased his spending, by cutting back on extracurricular activites. Well, by being in school anyway he didn’t have alot of free time to play. In his third year he obtained a job in his and bought a house. Then refinanced and payed off all debt and paid one bill(mortgage) and got a renter to rent the basement. Still living modestly he, a couple of years later sold that house which paid off the mortgage/other debt(hence nor more school loans) and bought a smaller condo, and use the left over money to invest in other properties and so on…
    Real Estate is definitely a way increase your finances.
    I’m interested in building generational wealth & investing in real estate and stocks is definitely a step in the positive cash flow direction. It’s also important to pass on the knowledge. A book that someone mentioned to read at the meeting on Wednesday was, The Jewish Phenomenon, not sure if you guys have read it, but it was highly recommended.
    I agree with you Brandon if there are other books that anyone could recommend I would definitely be interested.
    Very, very good post B!

  3. The Blog says :

    I just hate to see when people buy escalades and louis vuitton luggage but they won’t pay for their child’s education or buying a house (having an asset). I don’t know when people are going to start realizing this is all a scam to keep black folks in the same middle/poverty class we’ve always been in and we just buy into it.
    My tip: Spend that money on buying your own home and on your child’s education. Like Paul Mooney said, “there ain’t nothing scarier than a black man with an education.”

  4. Single Ma says :

    “I am tired of Black folk getting all riled up over anything political, but get all quiet when someone asks us about our finances.”

    *CLAPPING*

    I hear ya and agree 1,000%!!! My blog is dedicated to making money, saving, investing, and enjoying life. Check me out when you have time. I love the presence of like-minded people.

    Happy Monday!

  5. Steve D. says :

    First B, let me applaud your burgeoning financial discipline. It is definitely a journey that too few of us make. I believe that we also fail to continuously educate ourselves and improve our Money IQ. You would be surprised at how many professionals, educated folk, know nothing of how money and business works fundamentally. I would suggest as others have, that we should constantly read books like the “Richest Man in Babylon” and “Millionaire Next Door”. Another thing I have learned is to know whether I am making a quantity or quality purchase. This is dictated by the length of time I will have the object and the nature of the relationship. For example, I do not need $4 body wash, when a $1 one will do. Whereas a watch or cologne will amplify professional success, so I will spend more on it.

    As to your point about going to law school full time, I think that you are well on your way. The budget is the starting point in order to know how much you will really need. When I made the jump, I looked at my expenses and calculated how much I would need per semester. Just accept that loans are the reality and that is an extra incentive to do well and get placed in a lucrative position (read:start hustlin). There are also a number of enhancement loans, because the government will shaft you. In the meantime, I would stack chips like pringles and practice cutting back so the shock aint that bad.

  6. BrownSugarFlyyGirl says :

    As a Spring 2005 college grad and as someone who is planning on going to law school in the fall of 2007 as well, here is my strategy. I am currently working a full-time job but I also picked up a part-time job. (I am young and single..I can handle it) I am putting 100% (minus tithes) of that money from my part-time into an online ING account (it has one of the highest interest rates and is FDIC insured). You could also put some of that into a mutual fund to diversify your investment. (I am still learning about those…but I will be making that move soon.)I am working with a friend who is a financial planner to further improve my credit score through strategic credit card use and other strategies. My goal is to use 50-75% of the money that I saved (which will be around 10-15k)as a down payment on a house that I will purchase in the city that I am going to law school. I will probably buy a 3-bedroom investment property that I will fix up over the summer…I will convert the basement to an apartment and rent out two of the bedrooms and live in the third. The revenue from the three renters will cover my mortgage and a little extra added on to their rent will cover my utilities. So I will be living rent and bill free for three years :o) My car will be paid off by then…so I really just have to worry about food and gas. This is completely feasible (others have done it)…you just have to be diligent, well informed about real-estate and take property values into account when you decide on your law school. It may be a little added stress to be a landlord…but the equity that you will gain when you sell after three years…will be well worth it. Best wishes.
    Oh…and I studied like I had lost my mind for the LSAT so that I could get a nice scholarship to cover my tuition :o)

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