Black Investment for the 21st Century

As calls for blacks to invest more aggressively become more insistent, our Board of economists examines the potential for building wealth in the new millennium

I know Social Security won’t be there and the only way you can ensure something is going to be there when you retire is to take care of yourself now.”

Are you concerned about the current volatility in the market?
“I’m taking this time to invest in companies I believe in. I invest where I shop because I know those companies are growing. And if you’re investing for the long term eventually the volatility will subside and what you’ve put in the market will still be very valuable.”

For what purpose is your investment portfolio intended?
“I want to retire early. If my stocks do well I might be able to retire at 50. I live moderately now but I’ll be rich when I retire. I’m working for my future now and that works for me.”

ROBIN SUMMERS, 43, widow, bond clerk for the New York Times.
Household income: $50,000-$75,000

Are you currently invested in the stock market?
“Yes. I started out with $3,000 from my income tax refund. I recently came into some money and I invested every penny of it. Today I have over $125,000 invested in the market.”

Why did you decide to invest?
“I majored in economics in college. My first course as a freshman introduced me to what could be earned from the stock market. It’s one thing to have money but it’s something else to understand how to use it to create wealth.”

How did you get your first introduction to the market?
“I’ve been investing since 1987 when I became eligible to participate in the New York Times stock purchase program and the 401(k) plan. I didn’t jump into the market on my own until 1994.”

What’s the size of your portfolio?
“I have about 18 different individual stocks and my own company stock. I’m invested in my company’s 401(k) and I belong to an investment club.”

Are you concerned about the current volatility in the market?
“Not really. Too often people try to jump in on the new wave, like with technology stocks. But if you understand your own risk tolerance going in and plan on being invested for the long term it doesn’t matter as much. Besides you really don’t gain or lose anything until you sell the stock. Until then it’s all on paper.”

For what purpose is your investment portfolio intended-long-term retirement or short-term investment-i.e., purchase of a home, children’s education etc?
“Initially I started for my retirement. I looked around and saw too many people having to take jobs at McDonald’s just to get by or having to step down a notch or two after they retire. I don’t want to be like that. I want to enjoy retirement.”

Are your family or friends invested in the stock market or another investment vehicle?
“My friends seem more reluctant to put their money in the market. But they’ll easily go out and get a loan for a new car which won’t appreciate in value. I’ve gotten my children involved in the market. Children need to understand what money is.”

ROLANDO RICHARDSON, 31, married, New York, outsourcing specialist with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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