Financial Wake-Up Call

From advice on homeownership to unemployment, our economists offer strategies on how to secure your financial future

Act, which has reduced redlining in lending, have given African Americans increased opportunities to realize the American dream of homeownership.

Williams and Boston offer this advice when house hunting: Get yourself into position to buy a house by managing your finances and learning how to build your credit profile, which may mean correcting credit reports. Once you are psychologically ready to take the first step, find a good real estate agent. Shop around for good mortgage rates keeping in mind that it may be wise to get a 15- vs. 25-year mortgage. Boston also cautions against being too quick to sell your parents’ home if it’s located in the inner city because you want to be ahead of the gentrification curve. Anderson projects that low interest rates will hang around for at least the next six months, so this is still a very good time to buy.

THE CALL OF DUTY
The BE economists agree that the greatest impact of Operation Iraqi Freedom is likely to be on the price of oil.

“My concern about the war revolves around the increased estrangement of the United States from its European trading partners, coupled with increased terrorist activity in the West. This can contribute to foreign disinvestment in our economy,” Spriggs says.

Jaynes asserts that although a lot of money will be spent on the war, “much of this will be ‘export spending’ and focused on rebuilding Iraq. Only a few big construction firms with the ability to bid on a $900 million construction contract will benefit there.”

Even though some board members, like Anderson, don’t think that the war will have a major impact on the job market for African Americans — because African Americans are concentrated in less cyclical service industries like transportation, communications, and financial and health services — Navy wife Tomasita Jasey will tell you that it has made a significant impact on her family’s finances, as well as her heart.

When her 30-year-old husband, Aviation Boatswains Mate Kevin Jasey, shipped out aboard the USS Tarawa from the San Diego Naval Base in January, he left his 29-year-old wife and three children — Eldaliz, 4, Keyon, 1, and Kianna, 2. As a result, Tomasita was forced to take over the family’s finances and other household responsibilities that would otherwise be shared.

Kevin’s Navy salary of $1,650 a month is the family’s only income. Tomasita has to stretch his paycheck to take care of the basics — food, clothing, and shelter. This has been especially difficult for her because the Navy made an administrative error and stopped Kevin’s direct deposit pay from December 2002 to February 2003, when the error was corrected. Tomasita has had to rely on MOMS (the Military Outreach Ministries) to help keep her two youngest children in diapers.

She hopes that after graduating from a nine-month training course as a medical assistant, she will be able to contribute to the family’s income. But in order to be certified, she has to complete an unpaid internship, which would mean paying childcare of $150 a week while she studies.

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