What you don’t know can hurt you. It’s no secret that our education system has not equipped Americans with a foundation of financial literacy, and the Black community has been hit especially hard by this failure.
In a recent financial literacy test, Black Americans scored 38%, with only 28% answering over half of the questions correctly. I see a direct correlation between this lack of knowledge and the fact that between 2009 and 2018 Black Americans saw only a 9% increase in the ability to cover life costs, compared to 14% for Hispanics, 15% for Asians, and 16% for Whites.
That’s unacceptable, and the situation is a major contributing factor in the perpetual cycles that have continuously damaged the Black community in America. It doesn’t matter if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, just got your first job bagging groceries, or you’ve been at a company for 30 years: you must take steps to educate yourself in the essentials like personal finance, budgeting, and investing.
Not sure where to get started? Here are a few first steps:
All right, so school failed us. That’s done and in the past. Are we going to sit around and cry about it? I’m not, and I hope you won’t either. Taking the first steps to create financial independence can be confusing, even overwhelming. The good news is that we live in the age of the internet, and all the knowledge you need is right at your fingertips.
Watch videos, read articles. Ask questions in forums, find a financial coach. These are the keys to your financial freedom. Learn. Learn. Learn. And then, with that knowledge in your hands, do something with it. Don’t freeze up, lean into the best practices, and trust in yourself. Do it for your future self and loved ones!
Plan for the worst
Trust funds aren’t just for kids born with a silver spoon in their mouth! If you’ve ever lost a loved one and dealt with the fallout of picking up the pieces without a will in place, you know the difficulties that this can cause. Especially during a time that deserves mourning, not stress.
Everyone needs a will and a trust to ensure assets and possessions end up where you want them to go, particularly if you have children. If you own anything (jewelry, car, home, etc.) a trust will streamline your transfer in the worst-case scenario.
Save, save, save – invest
Look, we all like stuff. But if you want to be able to set yourself and loved ones up for a prosperous future, you need to cut back on frivolous purchases today. Ask yourself if you really need it before you buy it.
Money makes money! With extra savings, you’ll open new possibilities for investing. Begin learning about how to get started in the stock market by combining your unique perspective on what businesses you foresee blowing up with an understanding of trading signals (start here and keep going!). Or begin exploring the real estate market and the power of passive income that becomes possible when you purchase a rental property.
The true power of entrepreneurship
When you’re working for someone else, you trade your time for a salary and make someone else rich. I’m not advocating running out and quitting your job without a plan, but start laying the foundation and trusting in your entrepreneurial spirit.
Find something you love and feel passionately about, then create a side hustle around it. Pour yourself into this passion project and watch it burst and bloom. Once it begins bearing fruit, you can start thinking about turning this part-time gig into a full-time life trajectory.
Repay your debt
Credit bureaus aren’t giving out free passes for 2020. If you stopped paying bills due to job loss or illness, try your best to start again. Set up a budget to start paying down some of that debt: it makes up 35% of your credit score!
If you’re under a mountain of debt, start chipping away at it. You’re going to sleep better at night knowing that you don’t have that weight on your shoulders. And without debt holding you back, you can begin to think strategically about leveraging credit to bankroll your plans.
These tips are starting suggestions, not the whole journey. As you start to research, learn, and grow comfortable with making financial moves new possibilities are going to open in front of you. Don’t put it off, take the first step in this journey and start building a better future today!
Tay Sweat is a self-made, eight-figure business owner, investor, business inventor, author, and stock market trailblazer — he has mentored 6,000+ to financial freedom through his program, Secure The Bag. Sweat has dedicated his life to using his skills and wealth of knowledge to improve people’s lives and help build stronger communities that can prosper for generations.