Why is a new car so important to us? Does a new car proclaim to the world that we have achieved financial success? Earl Graves Jr., CEO of Black Enterprise, said, “Blacks on the average are six times more likely then whites to buy a Mercedes, and the average income of a black who buys a Jaguar is about one-third less than that of a white purchaser of the luxury vehicle.” There are those of us who can save to buy rims, but struggle to put their children through college. If I were to give you a stock tip to buy 10,000 shares of a stock at $2, and told you in advance that the stock would be worth $1.50 tomorrow, would you buy it? Why is so much of our money going into depreciating assets? Furthermore, would you take out a loan to buy that stock? Many of us are going deeper into debt everyday in order to buy these assets that lose 25% or more of their value as soon as we take them from the vendor. Are you rich because you have a nice car? Is it so important to prove your net worth to others that you are more concerned about your nice car or fancy watch than your children? Yes, I said it! It is our children who are suffering from this irresponsible behavior. The typical millionaire has never spent more than $399 for a suit, $140 for a pair of shoes, or $235 for a wristwatch (stats according to The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko). “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” (Proverbs 21:20)
When I was in school, many of my friends, black like me, were there with borrowed money. With my other friends I couldn’t understand how they so readily afforded college. I now refer to them as the “trust fund babies” and as you can probably guess, few of them were black. This behavior must stop. Many African Americans are more concerned with what we are wearing, what we are driving and where we are eating, than what we are leaving behind for our children. Why are some of us more concerned with material wealth than with establishing trust funds for our children? What inheritance is your child going to be left if you are forever increasing debt and spending money frivolously?
It is also unpleasing to me to hear why people won’t support our own businesses. However, I can’t fault the argument that one can’t support what is not there. According to “Black Economics: Solutions for Economic and Community Empowerment” by Jawanza Kunjufu, the business ownership ratio per thousand people is, “107 Lebanese, 93 Syrians, 89 Koreans, 65 Japanese, 64 White, 60 Chinese, 30 Columbians, 21 Jamaicans, 17 Hispanics, and 9 African-Americans.” Why do we often appear to take more pride in the company we work for, then working for ourselves? Why are we so afraid to step out of our comfort zones provided by somebody else, and take a chance? Why are we so content to “just get by” and be comfortable? Are you so dependent on that job that if you were laid off you wouldn’t know how to deal with it? Have you referred to your job as a plantation (I have heard that many times)? “[Y]ou were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” (I Corinthians 7:23)
Part 3: Taking Stock of How We Spend
Ryan Mack is the president of Optimum Capital Management LLC