Birmingham, Alabama, for 15 years. But it wasn’t until five years ago, when he planned and attended a Wealth Building Seminar, that he started to get serious about his finances. “I really didn’t start planning for the unknown and for my children’s future until after hearing [Personal Finance Editor] Matthew S. Scott at that seminar,” remembers Mahdi, 38. Prior to receiving the DOFE principles, Mahdi thought he had sufficient coverage with the government’s retirement package. He’s been contributing up to 5% of his salary into the Thrift Savings Plan, but now he also has a separate life insurance policy and a supplemental retirement account. “When I went into a separate retirement account and got supplemental insurance, people laughed at me,” explains Mahdi, who has two children, ages 11 and 13. “Some feel that the government has all of these ‘giftuities,’ and that our insurance pays for everything, and that everything is already laid out for you and yours. But government employees are just like every other employee.”
Mahdi is the conference planner for Blacks in Government and he says that African American government employees often overlook supplemental insurance and retirement packages. That’s why he has asked the Wealth Building Seminar to come back to the organization’s national conference every year for the last five years. He says the attendance continues to grow. “You have people that are financial investors that are part of our conference, and they look forward to it every year as well,” says Mahdi of the diversity of the audience.
Mahdi says the seminar’s emphasis on credit is also a big draw and has made him take action regarding his own credit report. “I got my reports and I saw two things on there that were wrong. I had to be persistent to get them off, but it didn’t take long,” says Mahdi, who says that more government employees should do the same.
Like Mahdi, Johns and Denkins are both more conscientious of their credit because of DOFE. They are also more concerned about passing their wealth on to
future generations. “It all boils down to my children’s well-being. If something happens to me, what will happen to them?” asks Mahdi. Likewise, Johns says that he does not want his children to struggle.
Denkins isn’t waiting for something to happen to her for her child to reap the benefits. She says, “I want to teach him the principles to build wealth that I didn’t know.” In the meantime, Denkins has started buying savings bonds for Sterling and has asked her family to do the same instead of buying toys. “Before I just knew that I wanted a home and that I wanted my son to have a good life, but I didn’t have a plan as to how I could make that happen,” says Denkins. “But then I read those principles and I said, ‘I’m going to sign this (declaration).’ Then I started to take control of my spending and now I’m taking control of my financial destiny.”
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