All Articles Tagged "finance"
My cousin recently died at the age of 45. He passed just shy of his 46th birthday and nearly lived long enough to have scheduled heart surgery that could have likely saved his life. I was stunned, depressed and confused after he went back to the essence.
How did this happen? Why wasn’t I able to help? Where did we go wrong?, I questioned.
After his passing, I continue to battle with something that I wrestle with in life. Frankly, Black man and fathers die younger than everybody else in the United States. (Native American men are the single exception.)
My father died in his 40’s and before he died, several of his friends died in their 30’s and 40’s. They left a trail of tears, widows, children and lifelong mourning. I’d later realize that this was a tragic norm for people of color, specifically African Americans. Our men die young. Period.
So, I did some research to back up my views on this.
Ravages Of Racism
It’s a proven fact that racism, or even perceived racism, gradually and viciously wears down its victims. Men are not exclusively succumbing to racism, but we now know that it is a quiet killer. Lisa Wade, PhD, wrote a story on the dire effects of racism and proclaimed: “Directly and indirectly, racism kills.” A study by PLOS One backs this up stating that a, “unique constellation of environmental stressors and psychosocial challenges experienced by Blacks” accelerates “declines in health and generates racial disparities.”
Most people don’t know the “mere” feeling of of red and blue lights in the rearview as a Black man. I have to tell you it is terror. However, that’s the tail end of it all. From a very young age, I realized that we were in a constant, never-ending war of attrition with racism. And it wears you down until it kills you overtly or through one of its agents. In fact, areas which more readily use the n-word account for an “8.2 percent increase in mortality among Blacks,” says Dr. Wade, citing the severity of racism in those areas.
One of racism’s mightiest agents is stress. Stress is something people generally deal with, but for Black fathers, I feel it’s exacerbated. It leads to other things. Studies say too much stress results in emotional strain, heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and depression Let me speak from the heart, I have experienced every one of these symptoms, but fortunately have made overt steps to reduce the stress of fatherhood, running a company and other factors like negative relationships. Don’t even get me started on the trauma of seeing murdered Black men shared on social media – over and over and over and over again. Pure stress.
Health And Cash Rule Everything Around Me
Health and money are absolutely linked in how long you live. Somehow, wage disparities along racial lines still exists even though the practice was made illegal when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Fact is, socioeconomics are a major factor in differences between the death rates between Black and White fathers. So, when you have all of the issues created by the stress and the racism, we typically deal with it differently than others. They go to a therapist. We go to the liquor store. We have a fundamental mistrust of doctors, rooted in history. They don’t mind the flu shot. Clearly these are not absolutes, but you know much of this to be true. Obamacare was helpful to some, but it still costs money to have.
Then there are other factors. Men, especially Black men, are less inclined to seek medical attention when they are sick or unwell. This was the case for my father. He simply waited too late and dismissed my mother’s words for him to go to the doctor. Typically men engage in jobs or other activities that can result in early death. Men do some stupid things, but a lot of us also work very hard. We tend to drink too much, smoke more, fight more, have accidents more, eat poorly and go to jail more. For Black men, jail is a big one, because we know that we are disproportionately targeted, jailed and consumed by the injustice systems here in America. The movie “The 13th” is perfectly timed to articulate this travesty of justice.
There are some things we cannot avoid. Dad bods are all the rage, but they also ensure that we typically die before others. A few of my dad’s friends died from obesity. Others, suffered from heart attacks. The bigger the body, the more it takes to keep it alive. When I was working 18-20 hour days, I ballooned in weight and literally hated myself. However, after I smartened up, I focused on my health – for myself and my daughter. My father, who also wrestled with his weight, was a bigger man than I am. I always kept his issues and challenges in the frontal lobe of my brain so that I don’t repeat his mistakes. In that way, he continues to guide me. My cousin – I found later – faced many issues – diabetes, heart issues and obesity. If I’m honest, I figured some of this would be an issue later down the line, but I assumed things would work out. I assumed wrong.
We Are Weaker Than We Think…
In Sunday’s sermon, a female pastor at my church said, “Warriors are weak.” I found the statement profound, but it made me think. We Black fathers often wear titles like “Superman,” “King,” or whatever cloak of invincibility we choose to adopt. Our Black men have been under siege here in America and continue to be. It’s not a competition so we recognize thoroughly that our women have been too. Men just die sooner. In my opinion, it is largely because women recognize their weaknesses whereas men believe the myth they are not weak at all. So women address their body’s health readily, read wellness magazines and they gather to talk about them, even if it’s to vent. Men don’t talk to each other about anything but hip-hop, sports, women, racism, some politics and a bunch of there stuff that generally amounts to very little. We always stress over money. Honestly, I have some close friends and I would call it a “Black Male Support Group” of sorts. If we could only scale it to the rest of Black America.
A lot of men are strong, but often ignore other forms of strength like endurance. They often lack mental might to weather the storms that the body struggles with. There is some good news on this front. National suicide trends are on the rise, but with Black men it is on the decline. While the suicide rate may be shrinking, we may be killing ourselves in other ways. All the aforementioned reasons, which include environmental factors, disease, and violence, are additional causes for early death in Black fathers.
Lastly, some Black men just tap out. They give up, dying before their time.
“Does one really need a DJ and alcohol at a wedding reception? I could just hook up my mp3…”
As crazy as that thought sounds, it ran through my mind this morning when I looked at my wedding budget and thought about the money I can actually come up with for the big day. In the ever so eloquent words of Dave Chappelle, at this point, “I’m broke ni–a, I’m broke!”
My fiancé and I were hit with some depressing news last night about our finances for the big day, and just like that, I felt like I was back to the stress I was trying to quell at the very beginning of my wedding planning journey. The question of, “Where is all this money going to come from?” always was there, but I was optimistic that through savings and the contributions of a few who said they would like to help, things would come together. We wouldn’t be drowning in debt the day after saying “I do.” So I went ahead with planning a wedding. Finding a venue. Securing catering. Scoping out a photographer, a makeup artist, and buying my dress.
Yep, it was all good just a week ago.
But financial struggle happens, and when it does, there’s nothing you can do but adjust. Or cry. Whatever works.
I’m currently in a place where I’m wondering why I didn’t just push for the simple wedding I told people I wanted years ago. Or why I didn’t fight for the small church wedding followed by a cozy dinner and dance-erie at the restaurant where my fiancé and I first met. It’s probably because people looked at me like “What the hell? We have guests traveling for THAT?” When I suggested it.
So I let myself be talked into some ish I’m now wondering how to cut costs for.
With all that being said, I’m wondering what should be the move when it comes to cutting back on expenses for a wedding? What is important to keep and what either needs to go or find the discount version of?
Maybe it’s my plan to dye my hair light brown before the wedding? On top of a retwist and updo, that might be an unnecessary expense. My loc-a-listas know how these stylists want a cool $200-$250 for all that.
Or all the candles I wanted placed around the reception hall and on the tables? Maybe just a few candles and some bistro lights will do the trick?
Gold curly willow centerpieces and gold chargers? Yeah, I don’t see that happening anymore.
Pipe and drape? Nice idea, but it might not be worth it.
Gold chiavari chairs? Er, how much for the basics? Like basic brown?
And about that honeymoon…
I would love to have all the extravagant details that I did research on with my wedding planner, but I’m at a point now where I’m wondering just how worth it such trappings really are to have. I want to have a nice wedding and a good time with family and friends, but I don’t 1) want to start asking a bunch of people for money for things so frivolous, and 2) pull more money than necessary out of our own pockets into something that only lasts one day. I want a nicely furnished apartment in Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, or Clinton Hill more than I want a scene out of Four Weddings or something off of BellaNaija Weddings.
I think the shock of having our pot of money decrease drastically has helped to put things in perspective for me. But still, because deposits have been made for certain things, the show must go on. So, I’m wondering, when it’s time to scale back for a wedding, what is important to have and what can go? When and where can you cut corners and still be happy with the way things turn out? I’m all ears…
If you needed another reason to blast Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls),” here’s one: women are outpacing men on the path to becoming billionaires.
According to a study by UBS, only twenty women in the world had billionaire status twenty-two years ago. However, that number has jumped to 145 in recent years. Yes, women have boosted their billionaire status seven-fold, while the population of male billionaires has only grown by a factor of 5.2.
Of course, the billionaire’s club is still male dominated, there are currently 1,202 male billionaires, but if women continue to break through this glass ceiling at this rate, it’s only a matter of time before the numbers are more even.
“Although female billionaires remain a minority, the growing opportunities for women to accumulate wealth suggests female entrepreneurs will drive significant growth in the number of billionaire women,” the study explains.
Leading the group of women billionaires are Asian women, and according to the report, more than half of them are first-generation billionaires. In 2005, there were just three Asian women billionaires, now there are 25.
While not all of us will achieve billionaire status in our lifetimes, this is still great news for women entrepreneurs.
If you’re a college graduate or home owner, there’s a chance that you’re in a bit of debt. Do you have a strategy in place to pay back your student loans? Do your #lifegoals include paying off your mortgage? Will you clear your credit card balances in the foreseeable future? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you’re not alone.
According to a recent survey conducted by CreditCards.com, more than 1 in 5 (or 21 percent of) Americans expect to die in debt. This is a slight increase from the 18 percent, who expressed that they never expect to pay back their debt, last year.
Of the participants who expect to be debt free in their lifetimes, 48 percent predicted that they would be in debt until age 61 or later. However, the average age that Americans expected to clear their debt by was 54.
“It’s a troubling divide,” said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst. “While it’s great to see more people freeing themselves from debt, the fact that more and more people still feel trapped and hopeless means that Americans still have a major problem with debt.”
Things got quite interesting when the poll began to split up reports by race. 24 percent of white participants reported that they never expected to get out of debt in comparison to just 16 percent of minorities who expect to die without paying back creditors.
“Hopelessness can be paralyzing,” Schulz said, “but the reality is that people have more power of their debt than they realize. The most important thing is simply to take action – even small ones – to start knocking that debt down.”
The most baffling results of the poll; however, is that those with jobs were twice more likely to have debt than those who are unemployed.
Are you currently debt free? Do you believe you’ll ever be?
When it comes to establishing wealth, not all cities are created equally and according to Bankrate, the size of a city doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the area most conducive to stacking those coins.
In a newly published survey, the financial services institution ranked the 18 largest metro areas in the United States by their wealth-building qualities according to the following standards:
After-tax, savable income: This is what’s left over after taxes and necessary expenses. It’s what you could sock away in an interest-bearing account.
The job market: Can workers find jobs at competitive wages?
Human capital: Can residents find educational opportunities to help advance their careers and earn more money later?
Access to financial services: Do people have access to financial products that allow them to invest, save and borrow efficiently?
The local housing market: For better or for worse, homeownership is a key way Americans build wealth. If your local housing market is struggling, it can be harder for prospective homebuyers to get a mortgage and for homeowners to accumulate equity.
Each city received a rating for the five benchmarks mentioned above, which helped analysts make their picks.
“Many of the cities that ranked high in the study may not be synonymous with wealth in the public mind, but they do a better overall job of creating an environment for typical households to get ahead financially,” said Bankrate.com banking analyst, Claes Bell, CFA. “For instance, living in a killer job market is great, but if you’re spending half your income on rent, it’s going to be hard to save and invest. You have to look at the whole picture.”
“Just because a city ranks at the bottom doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to live, or that you can’t make a good living there,” Bell continued. “The best city for a particular person to build wealth is going to depend a lot on their walk of life, occupation, education and a whole host of other factors.”
To find out if your city made the list, continue reading.
When it comes to desired traits in a potential partner, singles generally express that they want someone with similar values, earnings, and perhaps even hobbies. However, according to the Washington Post, new research suggests that credit scores should also be taken into consideration—especially if a long-term relationship is the intended goal.
A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Board explores the connection between credit scores and committed relationships. The findings may be alarming to some. According to the study, a partner with a poor credit score could mean bad news for the longevity of that relationship.
Research suggests that people with higher credit scores are more likely to form and remain in committed relationships and marriages when compared to those with less than stellar credit. This, of course, makes sense since a person’s credit score speaks to how trustworthy and responsible they are in some ways.
“We argue that one such skill could be an individual’s general trustworthiness and commitment to non-debt obligations,” the researchers write.
But before you go adding “must have 850 FICO credit score” to your list of non-negotiables, be sure that your credit falls within that “exceptional” bracket as well. The same study suggests that couples who have similar credit scores at the beginning of the relationship are more likely to stay together than couples with drastically different scores.
Of course, sustaining a lasting relationship is going to require a lot more than matching credit scores, but researchers believe that having them will certainly swing the odds in your favor.
If you needed another reason to finally clean up your Facebook friend list, here’s one: the social networking site recently patented a new feature that will allow banks to determine your creditworthiness based on the credit histories of your Facebook friends.
According to The Atlantic, the new technology will provide banks with a platform to review your Facebook friends, and if too many of them have poor credit, the bank can reject your application. In other words, your credit could be perfectly fine, but Sister Watermelon from church, Bobby What’s-His-Face from high school and Suzy So-And-So from work could cost you that home loan. The patent reads:
When an individual applies for a loan, the lender examines the credit ratings of members of the individual’s social network who are connected to the individual through authorized nodes. If the average credit rating of these members is at least a minimum credit score, the lender continues to process the loan application. Otherwise, the loan application is rejected.
While news of the patent is certainly enough to make you want to reevaluate your friend list, Aaron Rieke, the director of tech policy at Upturn, says that it’s unlikely Facebook will make this feature available to financial institutions anytime in the near future.
“Facebook makes its money by encouraging people to have large friend networks and create lots of content for it to show ads against,” he said. “It would really surprise me if they decided to get into the credit-scoring business, just because I think that’s going to make people feel panicked and uncomfortable.”
It’s definitely something to think about though.
In less than 24 hours, I turn 25.
Shout out to Big God and Baby Jesus from whom all blessings flow.
While I’m not much of a partier, I’m looking forward to celebrating my 25th year with my closest relatives and loved ones. I’m also anticipating gifting myself with a big-ticket item, considering the occasion and all. I rarely go all out for my birthday, but I’m hellbent on making 25 a memorable year.
Since I was 16 years old, I’ve been in love with the Chanel 2.55 quilted double flap shoulder bag. At the time, I knew that there was no way in hell that I could afford (or manage to convince my parents) to shell out thousands of dollars on a purse. Nearly 10 years later, I’m still obsessed with the luxury pocketbook. As I began to ponder what my gift to myself should be, this well-crafted piece came to mind. I initially considered purchasing a used bag, which would run me about $2,000 to $2,500. However, as I began to think about it, the more I realized that if I were going to pay more than $1,000 for a bag, I should buy it from the source. This way, I’ll have the confidence of knowing that should I ever experience any problems down the road, I’d be covered. It would also provide reassurance that I’m receiving an authentic Chanel bag, as opposed to a well-made knockoff. Problem is, walking into a Chanel store and walking out with this purse would cost me $4,700 before taxes, and I’m definitely not willing to leave my savings account in shambles over this bag, so I’ve been considering using my one of my newer credit cards, which will not begin accruing interest for a year.
Every woman has her weakness, and nice purses happen to be mine, but when it comes to making this purchase, I’m torn. On one hand, I feel that this is a time in my life where I’m allowed to be selfish and slightly reckless. I’m not married just yet, and I don’t have any children to cater to. I have two degrees under my belt, a well-paying job, my finances are in order, my car is almost paid off and I save regularly.
“Live a little,” the voice in my head whispers over and over. “You only turn 25 once and 10 years from now, you’ll wish you’d done it.”
I’ve even managed to convince myself that buying this bag is an investment. Over the past five years, its value has appreciated by nearly $2,000. In addition to that, it’s a classic that is unlikely to go out of style.
On the other hand, the thought of paying down a credit card bill of this magnitude drives me crazy. It makes me anxious that something could possibly go wrong, and my good credit might be compromised. When I asked my coworkers, what they think I should do, many of them were surprisingly encouraging of the decision. They agree that this is a time in my life where I’m allowed to do wild and crazy things like blowing $4,700 on a handbag. They’re also confident that I’ll be responsible enough to pay it off within a reasonable span of time. A few, however, feel that this is a lot of money to drop on a purse and that I should consider treating myself to a nice bag with a less ridiculous price tag.
So here I am, with a decision to make.
P.S. I have not had this conversation with my mama, who would likely blow a gasket if she knew that I was even considering spending this much money on a handbag.
How do you justify treating yourself to a pricey item? Do you usually talk yourself out of it?
Let me start by clearing some things up. There is nothing wrong with being unemployed these days. Things happen. Companies downsize and you get laid off, a work mistake leaves you at the unemployment office filing a claim–I get it. But it is another thing to be unemployed and broke, content with your situation, and pursuing a woman. This is where we have a problem.
Let me start from the beginning. I met this guy who I like to call Grown And Sexy. He was well-groomed, had a nice beard, was tall, and built immaculately. We would have some interesting conversations about everything under the sun, from culture to food and even religion. And he talked a lot about settling down and starting a family. We met through a mutual friend, so for a while our only interactions were at social gatherings. My friend would host things at his house, or invite a group of us out to eat, and I would see Mr. Grown And Sexy there. One night we took it a step further and exchanged numbers. We ended up swapping texts often. It was the first time in a while that I had received “Good morning” texts from someone nice.
He would ask me about my day, and I would ask him about his. His response would always be “Chilling.” I didn’t think anything of it. I too “chill” at work, at home or wherever I am. No big deal. But looking back, the fact that chilling was always what he was up to during standard work hours should have raised a red flag or some signal for me. When I asked what he did for a living, he said he was into real estate. Once again, didn’t mean he worked in real estate. Maybe he just liked looking at postings online or in the paper.
When it came time to plan dates, I had high expectations. We had such cultured conversations I believed that he would have creative date ideas too. He didn’t. I would suggest different restaurants, and he wouldn’t give me an answer. He would always suggest going to the liquor store, grabbing a bottle and going back to my place to talk and chill. There goes that word again.
I had to speak up and tell him I didn’t want to drink any hard liquor in my house and just “talk.” I suggested a restaurant, and we went. On the way, I asked him again what his job was, and he finally told me the truth. He was unemployed. All I could say was “Oh.” Then he went on a rant about how he hates sitting in the house all day because he also doesn’t have a vehicle. The car we were in for date night turned out to be a relative’s.
I tried to find ways to be okay with this. He was a great conversationalist. He was into adventure and outdoor activities. He was always down to do fun things, but how if he was unemployed? I decided that maybe he had savings or was collecting unemployment. But that was until we got to the restaurant, ate, ordered drinks, talked for hours, and I ended up paying the entire bill.
I do believe that having little money does force you to make dating ideas a bit more creative, but it can also be extremely limiting. And for a man in his 30s living in what resembled a trap house, conversations about settling down soon and starting a family should have been the least of his concerns. You need financial stability before you seek out anything else. It got me thinking about a lot of men I know, and I wonder, what were they doing in their 20s? I believe that your 20s are a time to find, build and establish a foundation for yourself. Of course, you don’t have to have life all figured out, but at least having a solid understanding makes for a promising 30s.
For me, I knew he wasn’t going to cut it. I caught glimpses into his lifestyle, and there was a reason Grown And Sexy was so different. He wasn’t a preference. Sure, he was nice to look at and talk to, but he lacked direction in his life, and I’m talking about more than money.
If a lack of employment and financial stability doesn’t bother you, there are ways to date on a budget that won’t break either of your pockets. There are free museums, free festivals in your city, as well as outdoor movie nights. But before you can do any of those things, he needs to be upfront about his financial situation. And in all honesty, if it’s a really tough situation, he probably doesn’t need to worry about dating in the first place.
Whether you’re in college, in between jobs or simply working a job that doesn’t pay enough, you know that being broke sucks. You’re forced to make some major compromises just to afford food and bills. Using your friend’s Netflix account, sneaking snacks into movies, and dodging bill collectors is a full-time job in itself. But no worries, we have 15 life hacks that will save you time and money. Let’s take a look!