Wealth For Life

Adkins, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, says the allure of working in a corporate environment with a big salary and perks was an option he only briefly considered pursuing once his professional track and field days ended. “I would have made a lot more money than I am now,” he says. “I chose to work with urban youth for a not-for-profit, and I have no regrets.”

Rein in poor spending habits. One of the first steps toward financial stability is learning to develop and maintain  good money management skills. Smart money moves such as devising and sticking to a budget are vital for a secure financial future. Adkins says he made it a priority to spend less. For tips on how to improve money management and cut costs, visit blackenterprise.com and click on the Wealth for Life tab.

Live below your means. The old adage, “it’s not how much you make, but how much you keep,” still holds true today. Even if you have a million-dollar budget, you don’t have to spend like it. Spend only what you need, and commit to socking away at least 10% of your take-home pay in a high-yield savings account. Once Adkins’ career as a track and field star came to a close, he began to see the truth held within this adage and made the decision to live a simple lifestyle.

Separate needs from wants. Before you purchase an item, ask yourself if you really need it or if it’s merely a fleeting want. For example, do you really need another car or are you just trying to keep up with your friends, colleagues, and neighbors? When buying big-ticket items, give yourself at least one week to think about whether you really need to make that purchase. Adkins makes an effort to buy things only within reason. For example, he has made a conscious effort to cut out excess by not following in the footsteps of his single peers who have purchased multiple cars and houses.

Use cash whenever possible. By using cash instead of credit, you’ll be more aware of how much you spend and what you spent your money on. With credit cards, on the other hand, it’s a lot easier to lose track of your spending. For big shopping trips, it’s best to keep the cards at home and bring cash instead.

The 10 Wealth For Life Principles

1. I will live within my means.
2. I will maximize my income potential through education and training.
3. I will effectively manage my budget, credit, debt, and tax obligations.
4. I will save at least 10% of my income.
5. I will use homeownership as a foundation for building wealth.
6. I will devise an investment plan for my retirement needs and childrens’ education.
7. I will ensure that my entire family adheres to sensible money management principles.
8. I will support the creation and growth of minority-owned businesses.
9. I Will Guarantee My Wealth Is Passed On To Future Generations Through Proper Insurance And Estate Planning

10. I Will Strengthen My Community Through Philanthropy

This story originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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  • Montell G.

    I remember Adkins in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta–he was outstanding and left his competitors in the dust! Great story..happy to see that he didn’t splurge and waste all of his money like so many other athletes and former Olympians!