Sister Space

Making money, using money and making sense

By Laila Muhammad | Last updated: Jun 5, 2014 - 10:19:10 PM

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“Just know that it’s fear that keeps most people working at a job. The fear of not paying their bills. The fear of being fired. The fear of not having enough money. The fear of starting over. That’s the price of studying to learn a profession or trade, and then working for money. Most people become a slave to money … and then get angry at their boss.”  -Robert T. Kiyosaki, author Rich Dad, Poor Dad

How many of us still hide money under our mattresses? How many of us hide our money in books because we know that is the last place thieves will look?

My granny still hides hers in socks, braziers and cookie jars, only to call me over to help her find it, because like most of us, she forgets where she has hidden it.

Before getting into a relationship, did you discuss your credit score, debt to income ratio, retirement accounts and finances with your perspective partner?

Did you sit down over a cup of coffee and lay it all on the table and discuss how you were going to manage bills, invest, pay for your children’s schooling or buy a house?

Hmmm, I wonder how many of us as women actually ask men if they can even afford to take care of us. Will he be moving in your home, driving your car, or vice versa? Will he be upgrading you? When getting married will you become an asset or a liability, will he? These are the tough questions we have to ask ourselves and potential partners. Conversations about money can no longer be taboo. We will save ourselves a lot of time and disappointment by having this conversation early on.

Those of us who are married, or have been married can bear witness that this is one of the problems in relationships, money problems, and not necessarily for a lack thereof.

How much money do you have in savings, in the bank right now? Most of us are simply living from paycheck to paycheck, just barely keeping our heads above water. It’s tough financial times for Black people all over this country. We are constantly pinching pennies to survive.

But somehow or another we seem to find money for frivolous things. We spend money on clubbing, alcohol, fancy restaurants, fancy gadgets, expensive clothes and shoes. Yet we don’t invest a dime into our future or our children’s by enrolling them into enrichment programs, or sending them to science camps for the summer.

We have to change the way we think about money.

Let’s say you don’t waste your money on intoxicants, harmful substances or designer clothing. Add up all the money you spend every day on gourmet coffee, fancy lunches, and the latest electronics. How much of that money could you be investing?

Instead of buying a small cup of coffee each day averaging about $2, which will add up to about $730 a year; take that money put it to the side as startup money for that business you’ve always wanted to open. It may be a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction. How many of us have sat back and said that if I had a chance to do it all over again, I would make different choices in my life? I’m not encouraging you to quit your job today, I’m saying that working a job every day and not taking time to invest in your own business, or pool your resources will cause you heartache and un-fulfillment in the end.

But you have to be wise and slowly steal away from your job by doing a little for yourself and your business every day, after you have given a full and honest day’s work to your employer.

According to the Nielsen Company study entitled “African-American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing,” which was commissioned by the National Newspaper Publishers Association,  there is untapped potential and spending power of the Black community. Black buying power is projected to be $1.1 trillion by 2015.

So we have money as a people, but how are we spending it?

I recently attended a Black networking event and the presenter posed a question to the audience, he asked, “How many people from other races come into our neighborhood and spend their money with us? Do the Asians come in to shop at Black-owned beauty supply’s? Do the Indians come and buy coffee and subs from our delis? Do the Koreans come to us to get their nails done?” Complete silence. His point was that we have to spend our money with our own people. We have to come together as a community and support our own. The saying that “God helps those that help themselves” is so very pertinent to our rise as a people. We’re not waiting for Superman to come and save us and we can’t leave our financial standing in the hands of people who are only out to benefit themselves. We have to sincerely unite. The presenter said, “It’s easy to buy Black, but it’s easier not to.”

Will you sacrifice a little time, a little money, and invest in your people—which is ultimately investing in yourself and your future?

May Allah (God) bless you with financial acumen, to understand money, and to let it work for you. May he bless you to join on with your own kind, pool your resources and secure a future for your family and Nation. I pray that we all become better stewards of our families’ well-being and be examples of making plans, working the plans, and reaping the benefits of our labor, which will inspire others. 

(Laila Muhammad is a writer, videographer and Final Call production assistant based in Chicago.)