Photo: Kevork Djansezian (Getty Images)
After reading the positions of MANY on the recent news relating to Jay-Z and his purchasing a majority ownership stake in an NFL team I think we need to have a discussion about capitalism.
…and while I think EVERYONE can use a refresher, when I say we I’m specifically talking about Black people…
Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system and competitive markets.
Being a student of money myself I try to look at 3 things financially:
-Where I come from
-Where I am
-Where I want to be
When I think about where I come from I’m not talking just about the household I grew up in. I’m talking about the patterns of money reaching back generations. I think about the history of Black people in America and the disproportionate wealth in this country as a result of a system build to our disadvantage. A system that extends beyond an economic or political ideology and extends into religious thought or spiritual oppression, a lack of access to education or mental oppression, and institutional racism that keeps us physically oppressed. As a result of this, I can understand a reluctance to want to understand capitalism because we as a people haven't ever really had a fair shot at it. Fair however, is for fables...I elaborate more on this here.
When I think about where I am I’m not just talking about what I physically possess as balances in my bank account or property I own. I’m talking about the knowledge I’ve acquired, the people I’ve met, the responsibility I hold to share what I’ve learned and accomplished with others who continue to be impacted by the different forms of oppression I’ve outlined above. I teeter on the line of being mindful of the obstacles and set backs Black people have and continue to face everyday, vs. taking personal responsibility to educate myself on methods to navigate around those obstacles so that I can become a private owner as described in the definition of capitalism above. That is to say very boldly that I acknowledge the obstacles and feel myself, empowered to do something about it.
Finally, when I think about where I want to be I can’t say it’s unlike a position similar to Jay Z’s. You see hurt feelings and emotional reactions aside, he’s in a position to make the most change by learning the rules of this game and using it to his (and his family’s) advantage. He’s in a position to earn, to learn, to grow, and to influence in a way that many of us cannot.
That’s not to say it won’t come without struggles or strife. That his character won’t be tested. That his dedication to social causes won’t be challenged. What it does say however is that he’s in a position to make decisions that the average Black American is not. He’s in a position of POWER, and having power does NOT make him a sell out. Refusing to learn how to acquire power makes you one though.
I know that is a bold statement and that it won't be popular with many. However what we need to all do, is follow his lead and become students of money. We need to understand how capitalism works not because we agree with it or because we want to be capitalist (and there is nothing wrong at all with wanting to become one), but because in order to play the game, and play the game right we need to understand the game.
The advantages it affords us.
The power it brings us.
Because until we build ourselves up to a position where we can make a difference in the way the system works, all we can do is kneel in protest or complain about how unfair things are.
…and well… we see how well that works.
I know that to many of the potential readers of this that there is no grey area. That social justice is social justice. However, I implore you to consider that there is more than 1 way to skin a cat and that Colin Kaepernick is doing things one way, and Jay is doing things another.
You certainly CAN bring a knife to a gun fight, however you’ll probably get shot before you can use said knife. I think it’s still very early to tell, but in my opinion Jay Z is getting his guns ready.
Let me know your thoughts on this or any of my other blog posts
by emailing me at Unlimitedinvestmentinquiries@gmail.com or reaching out to my
Instagram handle @unlimitedinvestmentinquiries
or my twitter handle @finance_Fridays.
Cat’s out the bag, I have an 800+ credit score and I’m under 30. How did I get here? What did I do? How long did it take me? How can you join the 800 credit club? My answer might shock you.
You stop worrying about it. Seriously, it’s like trying to watch a pot boil.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you not to worry about credit, just not to worry about achieving the 800 credit score. What you should be focusing on are these 5 things.
Of course I should mention that these are very high level and basic tips that would include a strong discipline around not abusing credit and patience in waiting for the pay off of these consistent behaviors having been used, but that is the secret sauce. When I started my journey to credit awareness at 21 years old I was approved for a credit card with a $300 limit. I won’t tell you the limit on that same card today, but I will say that it’s been a slow build over close to 10 years that has landed me where I am today. The first step is often the hardest and that is simply getting educated. The next step is putting it all into practice. The high 700’s is considered excellent credit and can get you most everything an 800 credit score can. This is a long game, if you understand how credit works you’ll understand that fluctuations over time happen and you can weather the storms by implementing the above practices.
Here’s a reminder:
Sometimes, the old school idea of budgeting until you have enough to buy it (or buy it twice according to Jay-Z) is the best way to acquire a liability you may or may not NEED.
Here are a few free (because everyone loves free) resources to get you started on your education.
If you have any topics you’d like to see me write about or questions to ask feel free to email me at email@example.com
or twitter @finance_fridays
or instagram @unlimitedinvestmentinquiries.
You might imagine that as someone who screams financial literacy from the mountain tops the look on people’s faces when they hear that I choose to live paycheck to paycheck. It’s irresponsible! It contradicts everything that I advocate for. It makes me a hypocrite! Well let me explain first my reasoning.
I was always taught as a child and young adult that I should be saving. Save SOMETHING! Save 1/3, save for retirement, save to avoid going into debt, save 6 months of living expenses, etc. It wasn’t until I learned about inflation that I realized that “saving is for suckers!”.
I’m sure someone somewhere reading this is livid right now. Saving is for suckers? Since when?! I must not know what I’m talking about. No, the discipline around saving is important to cultivate but the accumulation of cash for the sake of accumulating cash is where many people go wrong. Gone are the days of the double digit interest rates on savings accounts, money markets, and CD’s. When you hold cash in deposits or under a mattress (god forbid) you’re actually LOSING money due to inflation. That simply means that the value of your money is decreasing every day while you are steady holding on to it.
So what can be done about this? And what does this have to do with me choosing to live paycheck to paycheck?
Simple. After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki I became sold on the idea of “paying myself first”. Then after reading George S Clason’s book, The Richest Man in Babylon I decided to make sure that my payment to myself was always 10 percent of what I made (or more). Applying these principals, I always take from my income and “pay myself” before I touch it for any bills, expenses, or debts. Of course coordinating that involves my knowing what’s coming in or going out and planning for it (budgeting). After I remove that money from my spending accounts, pay my bills, and account for the expenses from the time I get one check until the time I get the next, I’m literally in a check to check cycle. I sacrifice, I go without, I count down the days until my next check, however I’m CHOOSING to do so by choosing to pay myself first.
“But you said saving is for suckers!” And I stand by that. At present I have absolutely no liquid savings. So what do I do with all the money I pay myself? I immediately put it to work making me more money.
So yes, I choose to live paycheck to paycheck because I understand that money held will slowly lose value due to inflation. I have mastered the discipline of saving. I believe I should pay myself first and take 10% of the money I make for myself.
…sometimes however, I do give myself a bonus.
Rahkim speaking to students at MVHS
On the first Monday of the year I walked through the doors of a High School I’d graduated from 10 years prior. The students watched me as I navigated the halls; not a student, yet not a teacher or administrator. I walked through the metal detectors, a strong memory of my high school’s past and was greeted warmly, “Rahkim right? What year did you graduate again?”
I was there to give back to a group I felt for. A group I CAME from. I spoke on the topics of Mentorship, Financial Literacy, and real world application of Networking. I spoke on my own journey to success, and how I define that success. “Success to me is paying it forward” I said, “ 10 years ago I was sitting in your seats wanting to do what I’m doing right now.” When I brought up An Extended Hand, Inc., a non-profit I cofounded focused on ending homelessness I was asked, “Why are you trying to end homelessness? There will always be homelessness, it’s a never ending battle!” To which I replied, “should I then sit and do nothing when I’m capable of changing at least one life at a time?” The student then replied, “But it’s their fault!” to which I responded that it wasn’t their fault, and that there are many homeless people his age who don’t even have a means to support themselves.
He quieted. As did the rest of the room.
When I reflected on this interaction and the lesson in my words to both him and the other students I couldn’t help but to reflect on the irony present. Of the consistency in thought many adults dealing with these young people probably share, “it’s their fault.”
It’s their fault they misbehave.
It’s their fault they have bad grades.
It’s their fault they give up on their dreams.
It’s their fault they fight and can’t communicate effectively.
No, it’s OUR fault for not acknowledging and accepting them.
For not mentoring and encouraging them.
For not loving them.
My answer, “should I then sit and do nothing when I’m capable of changing at least one life at a time?” is the labor of love, love I will and do readily give, no matter how endless the battle might be.
As of today's date the government shutdown is on day 21. Day 21! That's 21 days that many government employees haven't been paid. The US Coastguard recently recommended via a tip sheet that Step 4 of a 7 Step plan to manage finances during a furlough involving supplementing your income should be focused on. Tips on supplementing your income included:
The tip sheet has since been removed.
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