"Financial Literacy" is all the rave right now as lawmakers and educators are rushing to the front lines promoting its relevance.
And it is relevant!
In fact according to FINRA 2/3 or 66% of Americans show low levels of financial literacy. However when white teachers who have never experienced poverty teach black, latino, and other minority students who live it everyday, about the importance of saving and budgeting when their stomachs are empty the message won't stick.
I had a coworker ask me once, "how does it feel to be poor?" and I had to go into detail about some of the ways to survive, and what have become nostalgic memories, it really brings into perspective the NEED for cultural sensitivity training included in financial education.
Have you ever had to:
-Eat white rice with butter and sugar for breakfast?
-Mix sugar and water for a beverage?
-Had a syrup sandwich?
-Split 1 dinner among a family of 4?
-Wash your dirty clothes in the sink?
-Boil water on the stove to bathe?
How then can you as an educator teach, encourage, or inspire a child who is ACTIVELY worrying about their next meal? How can you change their mind that success is not just for you but also for them? Can you understand the trauma and anxiety associated with their poverty mindset?
This article demands 2 things:
1) The need for cultural sensitivity and awareness training on the part of educators who don't look like their students.
2) An increase in advocacy and educational leadership from members of/from the communities that these young people come from.
MORE minority educators and examples of financial literacy!
MORE cultural sensitivity!
and that is why I wrote "Financially Irresponsible" outlining not only my experiences with poverty and MY shift in mindset, but also my charge to others to "Pay it forward."
Check out my TEDxTalk on Financial Empowerment being a team sport below!
Recently a business coach and friend pointed out that I had a powerful 30 days of achievements.
I did a press release to announce the arrival of my new book “Financially Irresponsible”
Released the book on the Amazon platform
Delivered a TED talk at TEDx Hartford
Dropped another press release announcing the talk and my call to action
Black Enterprise Magazine picked up my story and not only posted to their website, but their social media handles as well (Facebook is showing almost 600 shares and 1.5k likes).
IHeart Radio called inviting me to appear as a guest on one of their National shows.
Of course my friend knew that those 30 days was the culmination of nearly 10 years of a slow build and disciplined approach to shaping my future. He pointed out that outside of that discipline there were several factors that led me to the position I’m in today. Several factors that I’m going to share with you now.
1.I was comfortable betting on myself. Yes that means financially, that means mentally, physically, even spiritually. I decided that no matter what I was not going to fail and that I would do whatever necessary to learn, grow, and show.
2.I stayed out of my feelings. When disappointment hits for me, it hits HARD. However I knew my mission was too important to let my attitude or disappointment stop me. Sometimes that mean having a plan b and a plan c. Speaking of plans…
3.I had a plan and I stuck to it. One thing I realize separates the successful from the talented and hardworking is consistency. Often times people give up when they don’t see enough traction, enough dollars, enough responses. I believe in what I do and what I produce so much that sure, i’d be disappointed if no-one budged or responded but I wouldn’t stop. I would just have to keep coming up with ways to come at my goal until I won.
4.ABL- Always be learning. I leveraged the insights not only of the coach, but also the market. There were times I wanted to go left and everything told me I needed to go right so I listened. Too often, creatives and business people want to be “Bosses” and do thing THEIR way. I’ve learned that true Bosses make decisions that are best for the final product and the end user. Fortunately, the market was receptive to my ideas and gave me feedback that I implemented immediately.
Again, success was not an overnight thing. Nor does it come and stay. Anyone who’s been watching knows that I’m riding this wave as long as I can while also “Thinking of a master plan” to continue to build and develop.
They say the climb to the top is one thing, but staying there… well that’s something else.
Let me know what you think and as always feel free to share with others.
Wiz Khalifa broke the internet by saying "Being broke is a mindstate".
“Easy thing to say for a millionaire”
“Literally things only rich people say”
“Give me some money then”
The list goes on and on. Apparently Wiz ruffled some feathers when he made that statement but the truth is, he isn’t wrong. The majority of responses to his post are reflecting a scarcity mindset that is all too common in our communities. “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” they say, but why do you think that is?
I personally weigh in on it because I think it's disgusting how many people are in this mans pockets... (Follow me on Twitter)
I believe one of the things that are foundational to any successful person is belief in themselves.
That includes how they talk to and about themselves. Surely walking around talking about how “broke” you are is having an impact on how you identify and execute on opportunities to change that because you’ve already told yourself that this is what you are.
I remember my very first talk on financial literacy. I discuss the “illusion of poverty” and state that the word poverty comes from the old french word “poverte” meaning a wretched state or condition. That state or condition refers to the state of mind. In my book, Financially Irresponsible, I spend the entire first half discussing mindset and the spiritual relationship we have with money. I discuss the poverty mindset and how we often block our blessings simply by not believing.
Sure, Wiz has attained a level of wealth many people will never see in their lifetime. But shouldn’t that be a clue to the fact that maybe what he says is actually a gem and the secret to success? Between a “broke” person and someone amassing wealth, if I was told the secret to wealth building was in the mind i’d believe the person with wealth…
But that’s just me (shrug).
I’ve been experiencing a lot of exposure as of late. Between my TEDx Talk and the publishing of my book “Financially Irresponsible”, I’ve had multiple people reach out or pick up my story. From local podcasters to IHeart Radio and Black Enterprise Magazine, the word is getting out.
What strikes me most however is when individual people write me to let me know how my work has impacted them, or come to me sincerely looking for advice. I think at the heart of what I do, THIS is the goal. To make a difference and inspire people to create change in themselves.
Recently, a woman wrote me letting me know her situation and asked me for help. She had shared that she had read an article about me and wanted to make a change. The reason this is so impactful is that most people are too fearful or too proud to begin to utter the words help.
I poured as much as I could into my response.
Surely the mini essay I wrote won’t change her situation, but I believe the gesture to be enough to give encouragement and a place to start. I also became inspired.
I want more people to write me and share with me not only their struggles and inquiries, but their successes and wins! I would like to invite anyone reading this to head on over to my website and send me a message via the contact us form, or send me a DM on my various social media handles. One thing i’ve learned is that if you don’t know it, someone else probably doesn’t either!
Thanks for your time.
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.
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.
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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