Althea Denkins was driving from her home in Kelly, North Carolina, on her way to work in Wilmington when she heard BLACK ENTERPRISE Editor-in-Chief Alfred A. Edmond Jr. on the Doug Banks Morning Show. “He was talking about how to live with the money you have,” recalls Denkins, who called 1-877-WEALTHY for a Wealth Building Kit soon after the radio program ended. “Before, you would say [of me], ‘She is very frivolous with her money.’ But after I listened to Alfred and started getting the magazine, I had to say to myself, ‘I’m not building any wealth here. I’m living paycheck to paycheck,'” says Denkins, who now lives faithfully by the principles of the Declaration of Financial Empowerment.
Denkins, 27, is just one of the 94,000-plus people who have received the DOFE principles in the Wealth Building Kit over the last five years. In addition to publishing the principles in the magazine every month, BE conducts wealth-building seminars where editors discuss the DOFE principles and ways to incorporate them into one’s life. On this fifth anniversary, BE celebrates some of the people who have been empowered by the magazine’s wealth-building initiative and changed their attitude toward money management.
A former Limited clothing store employee, Denkins shopped as a regular pastime. “Don’t let me find a sale. I viewed that as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Denkins. Less than a year ago, the University of North Carolina graduate got a full-time job as a data analyst at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington. She had moved back home with her parents in Kelly a year prior. “When I first moved in with my parents, I really thought I had it made,” says the mother of a 2-year-old named Sterling. Denkins’ retired parents don’t charge her rent and they babysit Sterling free of charge while she works. “With one paycheck, I could set aside money for my car payment and other bills. The other paychecks were mine,” says Denkins. And with that disposable income, she would eat out a lot, treat her nieces to the movies, and buy brand-name boots and clothing for herself and her son. “Now I ask myself, ‘Does he really need those Timberlands?’ He is much happier with those Blues Clues cheap shoes. That was just pure ignorance to spend money like that,” realizes Denkins, who now writes down her financial goals and carries her DOFE principles reference card in her wallet.
“The Wealth Building Kit has made me take an honest look at my finances and make necessary changes in my spending habits,” says Denkins. “For about a month, I would sit down and write every dime I spent, and I realized that all of my money was going to food and clothes.” With the kit as a guide, Denkins stopped all unnecessary shopping and is now focusing on DOFE principle No. 1: to use homeownership to build wealth, and DOFE principle No. 6: to be proactive and knowledgeable about investing, money management, and consumer issues. She contributes 5%