Financial ‘Musts’ for Gen X Black Women

Black women who are members of Generation X get a double-whammy. In addition to dealing with the financial challenges that all black women face — having a harder time than others getting loans and paying bills, making 64 cents for every dollar white men make and, often, raising children on their own — they also have the burden of belonging to what’s being called ‘the forgotten generation.”

Generation X, a demographic group (born between 1961 and 1981), is overshadowed in discussions, marketing efforts, and just about everything else, by baby boomers and millennials. There are more than 75 million baby boomers in the U.S., according to Census data, and even more millennials. The Census Bureau expects Gen X to peak at 65.8 million in 2018.

Statistics aside, Gen X black women are feeling pinched, often balancing childcare, eldercare, and career. spoke with Jacquette Timmons, financial behaviorist and author of Financial Intimacy: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Your Money and Your Mate, about the financial moves Gen X women should be making.

[Related: Generation X, Not Generation Y Is Still Most Entrepreneurial Group] Gen X women are in their mid-30’s to early-50’s. What are the biggest financial challenges to women in this age group?

​Timmons: Given the swiftly changing employment landscape, one of the biggest financial challenges for Gen X women is maintaining positive cash-flow and sticking with a savings and investment plan as their income fluctuates. Currently 1/3 of adult workers identify as freelancers. By 2020 that number is expected to increase to 50%. As such, Gen X women will have to be far more engaged and proactive about their money management…and flexible.

What’s happening financially with women of color in this age group?

​They are feeling stressed about having enough money and not becoming a ‘bag lady,’ especially if they are single, whether due to divorce, death of a spouse/partner or having never been married. Gen X women who reside in single-income households tend to experience less financial stability, and this fragility is frequently amplified when they extend themselves by helping out family and friends that don’t pay back the loans given.  ​

What should people in this group be focusing on, when it comes to creating financial well-being?

​Managing and expanding your network. There is a saying and a book that says, ‘your network is your net worth.’ ​ ​Creating financial well-being and security is becoming more and more tied to how well you manage your professional relationships. You never achieve success, financial or otherwise, on your own. But it is becoming ever more imperative that you have a relationship-management strategy if you want to maintain and grow your wealth.​

This group is really sandwiched between childcare and eldercare. How should they manage that financially?

​This may sound very selfish, but the truth is that you can’t take care of your children and parents if your financial situation isn’t stable and thriving. So focus on that first. Make choices that put you in a position to help and support from a place of strength, not financial weakness. That may look like your child/children taking out student loans to go the college. For parents, it may [mean] helping them downsize from a house to an apartment, or moving closer to you to help minimize transportation and shorten how long it takes to get to them or for them to get to you. ​

What’s a healthy investment mix for retirement savings for this group?

​There really isn’t a standard, one-size-fits-all investment mix that will work equally well across the board. It truly does depend on the particular circumstances of each woman. That said, it’s probably best to have more stocks/equity than you may feel comfortable having, simply to increase the appreciation potential for your portfolio.