“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” – Matthew 6:24 ESV
Black people, are we accustomed to being in debt? Why is it that when we get a raise, instead of looking into investment options, we buy a new car or get a bigger house? Why do we always fall victim to our superficiality? Why is important to Black people, that we drive a nice car or wear nice clothes, despite living paycheck to paycheck? Some of the richest people are the ones you would least expect; the ones who drive modest cars or bike to work. Why do we constantly put ourselves in dire financial straits just to keep up with appearances?
Perception is very important in the black community. While some can afford what they purchase, a large majority of us make decisions based on impressing others and rewarding ourselves with material items.
Driving a BMW, but having to borrow money from your friends to pay your light bill, is not “balling.” Having a big house, but being late on your rent every month, is not good money management. Charging expensive trips on your credit card because you have no money in the bank, is reckless. We have become a society in which our wants supersede our needs.
It seems to me, this is a generational problem that has been passed down over centuries and originated during the days of sharecropping. As soon as we became “free,” there was already another form of slavery to take its place.
“Sharecropping is a form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land. Sharecropping has a long history, and there are a wide range of different situations and types of agreements that have used a form of the system.” -Wikipedia
White land-owners arranged agreements in which, most sharecroppers would not make enough money to buy food and clothes for themselves and their families. They ended up having to borrow money from the land-owners. This began a vicious cycle in which Black families were always indebted to the white land-owner.
The problem is, the cycle hasn’t stopped for everyone. In a recent post, Sallie Mae doesn’t play nicely, I commented that 73% of Americans are in debt. But these statistics are even worse for the Black community. Our student loan debt is triple the amount of our White counterparts. According to debt.org, Whites have the most assets of any other race in the US, with Latinos following close behind, and Black people coming in last. What’s worst, on average, 53% of our income goes directly to debt payments.
I am fully aware that we are targeted by many corporations, and that we don’t receive the financial education that others receive growing up. Parents mean well, but they can’t teach you what they don’t know themselves. Some people like to use these excuses to justify their poor financial habits, however, when is enough, enough? At 30 and 40 years old, you may have made a few poor choices when it comes to your personal finances; we all have. And you may not have received the money management skills that you should have been taught as a child, but at what point do you take responsibility for your own financial freedom, and decide that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life in debt?
Today, there is no shortage of information, especially concerning money. We need to stop making excuses for our bad behavior and start working on changing our habits as it relates to our money. Can’t afford to buy a book? The library is free, and there is a wealth of books written, dedicated to the subject of personal finances, getting out of debt, budgeting, investing, and more. Don’t like to read? Well, put that expensive smart phone you love to use, and utilize your “good friend, Google.” You can find answers to money management questions in a matter of seconds, and it’s all at your fingertips. Instead of scrolling through Facebook a few times a day, chose to use some of that extra time and dedicate yourself to learning. If you aren’t into books or blogs, then visit YouTube. There are plenty of people on YouTube who give great financial advice, my personal favorite is Dave Ramsey, who also has a podcast that you can listen to on your way to work.
It may take sacrifice for a few years to get completely out of debt, but believe me, it’s worth it. Credit card debt, personal loans, and student loan debt are nothing more than a contemporary form of sharecropping. We end up paying hundreds of dollars in interest every month, doubling the amount of our original purchase. Where is the outrage? Why do we accept debt as a natural part of life?
We don’t have to be in debt. We don’t have to struggle every month to pay for unnecessary expenses. All expenses are not essentials. Most of them are luxuries. I often wonder if we truly understand the difference. By living above our means, we don’t get to travel through life unencumbered by financial concerns. We don’t get to amass a huge savings account, which will allow us to buy items we want, outright. Most of us, don’t know anything about investing or building wealth because what we have is already stretched too thin. And it’s not because we don’t make good money, we just haven’t been making good decisions. We haven’t been given the tools. But the knowledge is out there. Seek and ye shall find.
So, when you’re buying that hooptie at the auction, instead of that Benz with the $500 car note attached, don’t look at it the situation, as depriving yourself. Look at it has freeing yourself from consumerism and indebtedness. Imagine that $500 piling up in your own bank account as opposed to giving it away in exchange for frivolous material items.
Black People, there is a tremendous amount of power within our collective dollar. But it must start first, with the “man in the mirror.”
“Poor people are slaves of the rich. Borrow money and you are the lender’s slave.” Proverbs 22:7 GNT
Until Next Time