Tag: Money

Money Thoughts

Money. Money. Money. It’s something that we all need & most of us don’t have enough of. While we understand the purpose of money & it’s importance, some of us are clueless when it come to our ideology of money.

But no matter how much money you have, you can always improve your thought process behind money. Here’s how to begin that process:

  • Think about what your parents told you about money – some of us grew up thinking that having too much money was a bad thing or that money is only a means to an end. You may have heard your parents arguing about money or feeling guilty about not having any to give to you when you ask for it. Really reflect on the attitudes your parents had on money and how that may have rubbed off on you.

  • Remove any negative thoughts – once you have truly identified where your thoughts & feelings about money comes from, you should separate the negative from the positive. Not everything having to do with money is bad. Determine how to turn those negative thoughts into positive ones so you can begin to have a ‘healthy’ relationship with money.

  • Create your own truths about money – what are your earnest beliefs about money? What have you learned about money (or the lack thereof) from your own personal experiences & from others around you? It’s up to you to change your money mindset.

  • And don’t forget to save – remember money doesn’t grow on trees!

 

Once you reflect on these 4 things, it’ll be easier to determine whether or not you need to re-evaluate your thought process on money.

Where did your thoughts of money come from? What are your current thoughts on money?

“Class-Passing”: How Do You Learn The Rules of Being Rich?

On an October night in 2003, a flat tire changed Muhammad Faridi’s life forever.

Faridi was 20. An immigrant who’d moved from a small village in Pakistan to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn when he was 12, he split his time studying at City University of New York during the day, and driving his dad’s cab at night to make money.

One of his professors had organized a human rights conference in New Jersey and, knowing about Faridi’s side job, asked him to drive the woman delivering the keynote lecture to the conference and back. And that’s what Faridi was doing until he got a flat and had to pull over in the dark on the side of Route 80. As it turned out, Faridi’s passenger was Mary Robinson: the first female president of Ireland and the United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002.

It took Faridi a while to change the tire – everything seemed to be going wrong that night – and as he was struggling with the car jack, the two got talking. It was coming up to the second anniversary of 9/11 and Faridi told Robinson that, as a Muslim, he was no longer sure what his place was in America. A lot of his Pakistani friends had been rounded up in immigration raids and had been deported. “You’ve got to become a lawyer,” Robinson told Faridi firmly. That would be the best way to help his community. Her words stuck with him.

Fast forward 14 years, and Faridi is a partner at a prestigious New York law firm. As a kid, Faridi’s loftiest goal was maybe one day being a limo driver, doing just a little better than his father. He never thought he’d be where he is today: conducting billion-dollar lawsuits and leading pro bono cases, representing Muslim community centers and death row inmates.

I’m talking to Faridi in his plush office on the 30th floor of a fancy Manhattan skyscraper. Our conversation is part of a number of interviews I’m conducting with people who have dramatically changed their social class. I want to find out what it’s like to be a class “migrant”. What you learn when you journey from one socioeconomic group to another, and whether it takes an emotional toll.

Stories like Faridi’s are becoming increasingly rare. Economic mobility has fallen steeply in America over the last few decades; one study estimates it has almost halved since 1940. Increasingly, your class is your destiny. Nevertheless, the country remains enamored of these rags-to-riches tales which perpetuate the myth that, in the US, anything is possible if you pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

It’s not just hard work that propels you up the social ladder. Success, as Faridi stresses repeatedly, is often large parts luck. But there’s also another, less tangible ingredient involved: “class-passing”.

In the UK, class consciousness is woven into the national identity. In America, however, people often like to pretend that a class system doesn’t really exist. But, of course, it does.

Going from a taxi driver’s son to a partner at a law firm isn’t just about academic qualifications. It’s also a matter of figuring out the right social cues. You have to understand the subtle signifiers that indicate to people that you’re one of them – whether that be the way you hold your fork, where you go on holiday or what brand of shoes you wear.

As a young lawyer, Faridi spent large amounts of time trying to figure out how to crack the unspoken conventions of his new world. How to dress, for example. “I remember wearing a lot of cufflinks, because that was the thing to do,” he says.

Fancy lunches with clients also became a minefield. “I was very nervous about how to pick up the cutlery so I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on proper ways to handle silverwear,” he says. Faridi grew up in a Muslim household, where you get taught to eat with your right hand. According to YouTube, Faridi chuckles, “the proper way of putting food in your mouth is by using your left hand. And I remember having a lot of discomfort with that because it was something I’d never done before.”

In law school, Faridi clerked for a judge. One night, he helped the judge load some heavy documents into a taxi; the driver was his father. Faridi froze, not sure what to do. “I was embarrassed to go over and shake [my father’s] hand, so I waited until the judge had already gotten in the cab. I didn’t want the judge to see me, and I didn’t want my father to think that I was embarrassed to see him.”

It wasn’t until he made partner in 2016 that Faridi lost his sense of embarrassment. After the big announcement, he remembers, he took the elevator down to the bottom of the building, where his dad was waiting in his taxi. “And he came out of the cab and we hugged each other for a good couple of minutes.”

But there’s still a gulf between his new life and his old. His best friends from high school work as cab drivers and busboys or in Pathmark, a major supermarket chain, and he doesn’t get invited to poker nights at their houses. “None of them came to my wedding,” Faridi says sadly.

While he’s proud of everything he’s achieved, there is part of him that mourns the person he used to be.

The Clean-energy CEO Meeting Silicon Valley Elites

Donnel Baird spent part of his childhood in Brooklyn. In the years since, the borough has rapidly gentrified, and so has Baird. We’re chatting in a WeWork co-working office in the pricey Dumbo neighbourhood, where Baird is the CEO and founder of BlocPower, a clean-energy startup that has raised over $1m in funding from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names – including Andreessen Horowitz, which has invested in the likes of Twitter and Airbnb.

BlocPower had $4m in revenue in 2017 and has a contract to perform sustainability retrofits of 500 buildings in Brooklyn. It likely won’t be long before the company outgrows its current office space.

There weren’t any trendy office spaces in Baird’s Bed-Stuy neighboorhood when he was a kid. Co-living, on the other hand, was common. He lived with his parents and sister in a in a one-bedroom apartment; two aunts and five of his cousins lived in a studio upstairs. They shared a bathroom in the hall with another family.

Bed-Stuy in the 1980s was rough. Baird saw a teenager shoot another kid in the head when he was just six. It was all a far cry from the Baird family’s life in Guyana. Baird’s dad had had an important job and a big house, but in America they had to start from scratch. It took a toll on the marriage and, when Baird was eight, his parents split up and his mom moved with him down to Atlanta.

In Atlanta, Baird managed to get a place at one of the better public schools, the one where rich white kids went. At first they told his mom there was no room; there literally wasn’t a spare desk. “So she got on the bus to Home Depot and bought a desk,” Baird remembers. “She dragged it back to the school and said, ‘You can just stick the desk in a corner of one of a classroom and my son will sit there. He’s extremely well behaved.’ And they said ‘OK’.”

As a senior, Baird got offered a full scholarship by Howard, a historically black university. It was a great deal. But he’d also been accepted to Duke, a prestigious, largely white school. The financial aid package they offered was nowhere near as generous. Still, he ended up picking Duke, his mind swayed by a conversation with the father of one of his white friends.

“Her dad was a lawyer and he told me, you know, I’m 55 years old and I come to an event like this with all these other rich, white guys, and they still ask me where I went to undergrad. I live next door to them. I have as much money as them. And they still ask me because it still matters to them.” Because he didn’t go to a prestigious school, the man told Baird, he’s always treated as somewhat inferior, no matter how much money makes.

“Now, you’re black,” his friend’s dad said. “If you go to Howard you will never have a shot at getting the inside track. You have to go to Duke.”

Having learned how to navigate the old-money world of Duke, Baird now finds himself struggling to adapt to the culture of new-money Silicon Valley as he attempts to fundraise.

Rather than bonding over golf, the tech set play Settlers of Catan. They wear hoodies rather than suits. They have their own set of conventions and Baird has to code-switch accordingly. In his meetings with New York banks, for example, Baird dresses formally. “But if you go to Silicon Valley dressed like that,” he explains, “they’ll be like, this guy is a suit, he doesn’t dress like a tech person. That matters. The meeting is over.”

He has even, he tells me with more than a tinge of embarrassment, bought a pair of Allbird loafers – which are de rigeur in the Valley.

Class and colour are, of course, inextricably intertwined, and moving to a higher social class in America often seems to involve “acting white”. Throughout his life, Baird has been accused of betraying his race.

“Early on, people say that I talked white, even in my own family, which was painful. I don’t think that they would say it to hurt my feelings, they were just stating it as a fact. There’s a mix across my family of people who are very proud of me, and people are kind of resentful.”

“I have family members that are living here illegally, who can’t find work, who are addicted to crack cocaine. I’m still very much connected to them, but we live in very different worlds.”

The Real Estate Queen Who Went From South Bronx to Southampton

Someone who knows more than most about moving between different worlds is Mary Ann Tighe, routinely ranked as one of the most powerful women in New York.

The 69-year-old CEO of the New York Tri-State Region of CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, may be a property legend, but she got into the industry fairly late, at age 36. Before that she worked as an arts adviser in the White House and helping to launch the TV channel A&E.

Tighe grew up in a working-class Italian American family in the South Bronx. She’d always hoped to live in Manhattan one day, so she could visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but never thought she’d end up owning an apartment opposite the Met and be brokering billion-dollar deals. Her ambitions stretched nowhere near that high, nor were they encouraged to.

One of the biggest revelations of her life, she tells me, is that many of the people around her “had lowered their own personal expectations because life had been hard. They didn’t expect to be special”.

It’s a common phenomenon: research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2015, for example, found that those experiencing poverty are significantly less confident in their own ability to succeed, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For a short time, Tighe internalised this attitude. She was 13 and had just moved from a free elementary school into a fee-paying high school; her parents were working all hours to afford it and Tighe was acutely conscious of this.

*Taken from The Guardian.

And This Is Why I Don’t Like Tipping….

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So last weekend I went to this new spot (well, new to me) and had quite an experience. It was a juice bar/yoga center combined & was very earthy yet modern at the same time. The café was rather large & had concrete floors and open ceilings. There was some “groovy” music in the background and the place was well-lighted. There was an atrium in the center of the café & the place even had free parking (which is always a bonus in LA)!

I was there with a group of people but when it came time to eat I went up to the counter to place my order. After some deliberation and a little bit of taste-tasting, I ended up getting a bottle of organic juice served in a glass bottle for $10. (Think of a Naked juice bottle but twice as large) I’m neither a vegan nor a vegetarian and I normally don’t order organic food but that’s all that was available so I decided to give it a try. The juice I ordered had beets, apples, other various fruits & vegetables and some seasonings like ginger, turmeric and lemon. The juice was pre-bottled so as soon as I made my selection the cashier simply turned around, reached into the cooler behind him grabbed my juice and handed it to me. Before doing all of that, he took my debit card & ran it, flipped the computer screen or “register” around and had me sign for the bill with my finger. Before I could get to the signature line, a “tipping screen” popped up. The “tipping screen” had multiple options for me to select how much of a tip I wanted to leave before proceeding to close out my tab. At this particular joint, the options were: no tip, 18%, 20% and even a whopping 30%!

I was immediately turned off. Here I am buying something to drink that is already premade & I’m expected to leave a minimum of $2?! And to think that there was even a 30% tip option is ludicrous!! Of course, I could’ve selected the “no tip” option, but I didn’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes (African Americans don’t tip well) nor did I want to seem cheap. Since I was with a group & the café was letting us use their space, I wanted to support a small business owner, which is why I was purchasing a $10 pre-bottled beverage in the first place (can you say: overpriced?!). But when no work is involved and no service takes place, I don’t see why a tip is expected. Maybe their computer software is set up to automatically request a tip with any purchase, but if it’s something as simple as a drink (again, pre-bottled), that screen should be bypassed. The worst part about it all was that 18% was the lowest tip you could give, as there wasn’t an option to change the percentage or alter the tip amount at all. Tipping has seemed to take over the service industry completely, but not everybody handling food deserves it.

Normally, I don’t have a problem tipping. If I’m going out to eat at a SIT DOWN restaurant and receive service from a waiter or waitress, then that’s fine. But if I’m picking up my order or simply buying some juice (as this was the case), then I don’t see the purpose in tipping. Am I tipping because you know how to lift a glass of juice? Or am I tipping because you wrapped up my to-go container in a plastic bag & tied it up for me to carry out? Will I go back to that place again? Probably. Will I order the same thing when I go back? Maybe so. Will I leave a tip next time? I don’t think so. I’m sorry, but my hard earned money only goes to hard-working servers.

What are your thoughts about tipping? Do you tip for a carry-out meal? Do you think restaurants are getting greedy expecting patrons to tip 18%-20% nowadays?

Black Wall Street: The True Story

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If anyone truly believes that the attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was the most tragic bombing ever to take place on United States soil, then they’re wrong — plain and simple. That’s because an even deadlier bomb occurred in that same state nearly 95 years ago. Many people in high places would like to forget that it ever happened.

Searching under the heading of “riots,” “Oklahoma” and “Tulsa” in current editions of the World Book Encyclopedia, there is conspicuously no mention whatsoever of the Tulsa race riot of 1921, and this omission is by no means a surprise, or a rare case. The fact is, one would also be hard-pressed to find documentation of the incident, let alone and accurate accounting of it, in any other “scholarly” reference or American history book.

That’s precisely the point that noted author, publisher and orator Ron Wallace, a Tulsa native, sought to make when he began researching this riot, one of the worst incidents of violence ever visited upon people of African descent. Ultimately joined on the project by colleague Jay Wilson of Los Angeles, the duo found and compiled indisputable evidence of what they now describe as “a Black holocaust in America.”

The date was June 1, 1921, when “Black Wall Street,” the name fittingly given to one of the most affluent all-Black communities in America, was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites. In a period spanning fewer than 12 hours, a once thriving 36-Black business district in northern Tulsa lay smoldering–a model community destroyed, and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused.

The night’s carnage left some 300 African Americans dead, and over 600 successful businesses lost. Among these were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 grocery stores and two movie theaters, plus a hospital, a bank, a post office, libraries, schools, law offices, a half dozen private airplanes and even a bus system. As could have been expected the impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials, and many other sympathizers.

In their self-published book, Black Wall Street: A Lost Dream, and its companion video documentary, Black Wall Street: A Black Holocaust in America!, the authors have chronicled for the very first time in the words of area historians and elderly survivors what really happened there on that fateful summer day in 1921 and why it happened. Wallace similarly explained to me why this bloody event from the turn of the century seems to have had a recurring effect that is being felt in predominately Black neighborhoods even to this day.

The best description of Black Wall Street, or Little Africa as it was also known, would be liken it to a mini-Beverly Hills. It was the golden door of the Black community during the early 1900s, and it proved that African Americans had successful infrastructure. That’s what Black Wall Street was all about. 

The dollar circulated 36 to 100 times, sometimes taking a year for currency to leave the community. Now in 1995, a dollar leaves the Black community in 15-minutes. As far as resources, there were Ph.D.’s residing in Little Africa, Black attorneys and doctors. One doctor was Dr. Berry who owned the bus system. His average income was $500 a day, a hefty pocket change in 1910. 

During that era, physicians owned medical schools. There were also pawn shops everywhere, brothels, jewelry stores, 21 churches, 21 restaurants and two movie theaters. It was a time when the entire state of Oklahoma had only two airports, yet six Blacks owned their own planes. It was a very fascinating community.

The area encompassed over 600 businesses and 36 square blocks with a population of 15,000 African Americans. And when the lower-economic Europeans looked over and saw what the Black community created, many of them were jealous. When the average student went to school on Black Wall Street, he wore a suit and tie because of the morals and respect they were taught at a young age.

The mainstay of the community was to educate every child. Nepotism was the one word they believed in. And that’s what we need to get back to in 1995. The main thoroughfare was Greenwood Avenue, and it was intersected by Archer and Pine Streets. From the first letters in each of those three names, you get G.A.P., and that’s where the renowned R and B music group the Gap Band got its name. They’re from Tulsa.

Black Wall Street was a prime example of the typical Black community in America that did businesses, but it was in an unusual location. You see, at the time, Oklahoma was set aside to be a Black and Indian state. There were over 28 Black townships there. One third of the people who traveled in the terrifying “Trail of Tears” alongside the Indians between 1830 to 1842 were African Americans. 

The citizens of this proposed Indian and Black state chose an African American governor, a treasurer from Kansas named McDade. But the Ku Klux Klan said that if he assumed office that they would kill him within 48 hours. A lot of Blacks owned farmland, and many of them had gone into the oil business. The community was so tight and wealthy because they traded dollars hand-to-hand, and because they were dependent upon one another as a result of the Jim Crow laws. 

It was not unusual that if a resident’s home accidentally burned down, it could be rebuilt within a few weeks by neighbors. This was the type of scenario that was going on day- to-day on Black Wall Street. When Blacks intermarried into the Indian culture, some of them received their promised ’40 acres and a mule’ and with that came whatever oil was later found on the properties.

Just to show you how wealthy a lot of African Americans were, there was a banker in the neighboring town who had a wife named California Taylor. Her father owned the largest cotton gin west of the Mississippi [River]. When California shopped, she would take a cruise to Paris every three months to have her clothes made. 

There was also a man named Mason in nearby Wagner County who had the largest potato farm west of the Mississippi. When he harvested, he would fill 100 boxcars a day. Another brother not far away had the same thing with a spinach farm. The typical family then was five children or more, though the typical farm family would have 10 kids or more who made up the nucleus of the labor.

On Black Wall Street, a lot of global business was conducted. The community flourished from the early 1900s until June 1, 1921. That’s when the largest massacre of non-military Americans in the history of this country took place, and it was lead by the Ku Klux Klan. Imagine walking out of your front door and seeing 1,500 homes being burned. Survivors we interviewed think that the whole thing was planned because during the time that all of this was going on, white families with their children stood around the borders of their community and watched the massacre, the looting and everything–much in the same manner they would watch a lynching.

Oddly, there is more awareness of the event in other countries than in the U.S.

 

How African American Middle-Class Kids Become Poor Adults

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When it comes to financial stability, black Americans are often in much more precarious financial situations than white Americans. Their unemployment rate is higher, and so is the level of poverty within the black community. In 2013, the poverty rate among white Americans was 9.6 percent, among black Americans it was 27.2 percent. And the gap between the wealth of white families and black families has widened to its highest levels since 1989, according to a 2014 study by Pew Research Center.

The facts of this rift aren’t new, or all that surprising. But perhaps what’s most unsettling about the current economic climate in black America is that when black families attain middle-class status, the likelihood that their children will remain there, or do better, isn’t high.

American Income Distributions, by Race 

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“Even black Americans who make it to the middle class are likely to see their kids fall down the ladder,” writes Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. In a recent blog post Reeves says that seven out of 10 black children who are born to families with income that falls in the middle quintile of the income spectrum will find themselves with income that’s one to two quintiles below their parents during their own adulthood.

A 2014 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which looked at factors like parental income, education, and family structure, shows a similar pattern: Many black Americans not only fail to move up, but show an increased likelihood of backsliding. According to the study, “In recent decades, blacks have experienced substantially less upward intergenerational mobility and substantially more downward intergenerational mobility than whites.”

The greater probability of slipping back applies to blacks across income groups. According to the Fed study, about 60 percent of black children whose parents had income that fell into the top 50 percent of the distribution saw their own income fall into the bottom half during adulthood. This type of downward slide was common for only 36 percent of white children.

But the gap in mobility was also significant for lower-class families as well. “For most of the bottom half of the income distribution, the racial differences in upward mobility are consistently between 20 and 30 percent,” writes senior economist Bhashkar Mazumder, the study’s author. “If future generations of white and black Americans experience the same rates of intergenerational mobility as these cohorts, we should expect to see that blacks on average would not make any relative progress.”

The explanations for this phenomenon are varied, but largely hinge on many of the criticisms that already exist in regard to socioeconomics and race in the U.S. Economists cite lower educational attainment, higher rates of single-parent households, and geographic segregation as potential explanations for these trends. The latter determines not only what neighborhoods people live in, but often what types of schools children attend, which could play a role in hindering their educational and professional attainment later on. According to Reeves, “In terms of opportunity, there are still two Americas, divided by race.”

Still, most economists lack a clear, definitive explanation for why, after reaching the middle class, many black American families quickly lose that status as their children fall behind.

poor

*Originally published on The Atlantic.

Things I Gotta Get Done Before The New Year!

The new year is coming up & I have lots to do!   I’m sure more things will come to mind but for now, here’s my list:

Buy a 2015 calendar: It’s that time again! Off with the old & on with the new – calendar that is. It’s time to take those important dates from 2014 & transfer to next year’s calendar (if you haven’t gone digital, that is). What to do with the old calendar? Recycle it! I’ve even been known to save my little pocket calendars just so I have a reminder of years past.

2015

Set up all my doctors apt for the year: Considering I don’t go the doctor’s very often, the end of the year (or the very beginning) is the perfect time to set up all those appointments before my ever-so popular doctor/dentist get booked up. Sometimes it can take months just to get an appointment, or at least several weeks so it’s best to get that out of the way now.

dr appt

Clear my inbox: I have thousands of unopened emails between all of my email accounts. Some I’ve read & not responded to while others just haven’t even been opened. As much as I love sending emails to people sometimes all of the responses can be overwhelming.

Email

Get rid of my old clothes: It’s time to give to Goodwill! I have so many clothes that I either can’t fit anymore or haven’t worn in years. There’s really no need for me to hang on to them so I need to plow through my closet and donate my gently worn clothing to a place where they will be appreciated.

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Make amends: There are some people I have fallen out of touch with or had a falling out with altogether. Now is the time to put all that negativity behind me and renew old friendships.

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Get rid of folk: Before the year ends I want to purge everything I don’t need. After I get rid of some old clothes, I plan on getting rid of some old friends. Everyone wasn’t meant to be in my life forever – some for a reason and some for a season. I’ve grown apart from some while others haven’t reciprocated the friendship. And I need good friends, not necessarily a lot of friends.

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Plan to get outta debt: This is a perpetual goal of mine; LOL! Even if I get out of debt, something always comes up that causes me to get right back in. Fortunately, I’m not in any major debt but it would be nice to have one less bill every month!

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Make a vision board: Don’t just think about or say what you want, make a vision board! This is a visual way to keep you accountable for your New Year’s resolutions. And it actually works!

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Write a letter to myself: Every year I write myself a letter listing out the goals I have set for the upcoming year. I like to open it up at the end of the year to see just how much I’ve accomplished.

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Write more blogs!: I really like getting my thoughts out there (no matter how crazy they may seem). I will continue to write them for as long as you continue to read them. Thank you!

write a blog