The National Urban League is an organization that attempts to aid in raising issues that plague urban residents, most of whom are minorities. Marc Morial the CEO of the National Urban League addressed a major issue of the wealth gap at the recent national conference held inBostonthis past July. According to Mr. Morial, Blacks and Latinos have been especially hit hard by the economic meltdown. According their study, gains made by these two groups over the last 30 years have been wiped out by the weakening economy. Blacks and Latinos have a lower net worth than whites inAmerica. Much of this had to do with the fact that Blacks and Latinos have most of their wealth tied up in their homes. When housing values decreased, the overall net worth of these groups did the same. The net worth of Latino households decreased by 66 percent between 2005 and 2009. Black households saw a decrease of 53 percent. According to their study, Whites have an average of 20 times the net worth of Blacks, and 18 times that of Latinos. If we continue down this path, our children will be at even a greater disadvantage than our grandparents were as far as wealth is concerned.
Don’t misunderstand me. Being rich is not my ultimate goal in life. I do however want my children to be enterprising, self sufficient individuals who are generous and capable of serving their communities. I do believe that on some level, they can focus on others a lot better if they don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. I do believe that if they have a cushion, they can focus on others more, and not be too fixated on money. This led me to begin to think about my own money habits and how I can strengthen my children’s.
I began to think about my own personal wealth, and how I can make sure my children have good money sense. Although I believe we have come a long way, it is still important as a parent of cocoa children that I do my best to insure I raise children who know how to handle their money. I did not grow up learning how to save, and I suffered for many years learning how to fix my mistakes. I don’t completely blame my mother for not teaching me, she had to survive as a single parent with 5 children. I do however believe that if I don’t teach my children the basics of fiscal responsibility, they will learn the same poor skills I learned, and thus be at the mercy to the above statistics.
I don’t consider myself rich, but I realize that many of my past money sins continue to affect me. First, I took out way too much debt while in college, and thus killed my credit score. I have a few credit cards with low limits, and therefore I rely very heavily on my income. Although I own a house, and own stock, just like many people, I am not sure how long we would survive if my husband lost his job, especially now that I am in school.
My 8 year old gets a biweekly allowance, and I do my best to personally discuss with him how he should divide his money. I explain to him the importance of tithing, saving, and treating himself. I realize each time, how cheap my son is. If he wants a video game, he now says to my husband, that instead of getting it when it first comes out, he will wait awhile, and buy a used game. He is beginning to get it, and I believe over time, he will have strong control over his assets.
Although I still struggle with my fiscal choices, I actively work on how I can help change the overall climate of wealth amongst African-Americans. I talk to my friends, family, and acquaintances about how to make better choices. I implore people to not do what I did, and before they spend money, think about the best way to manage it. I believe that God will not give you more than you can manage, and if you cannot manage $25,000/year, you will not manage $100,000 any better. I believe we have come far, but have a long way to go. I am sure many of you who reading this are much better than money than I am, so none of this applies to you. For anyone who is or was like me, I hope this makes you think more about your money habits and how to change them for the better, if not for your sake, for your children.