I recently saw a meme that listed three things you should keep private: Your love life, your income, and your next move. Thinking back to previous conversations with friends and family, if at least one of these topics doesn’t cause your chest to tighten when conversing with others, then you’re one of the lucky few.
Zooming in on income for a second, when was the last time you fully engaged topics surrounding your income or even had the courage to have a conversation about your finances with someone else? Though seldom discussed, money oftentimes seems to be the root of many of our problems. Could it be that we feel that it is of no object to us? Does the thought of money cause you to feel afraid at the thought of not having much of it? Or, is it that we can’t help but compare our financial success to others and deep down feel that we fall short? No matter the reason, we rarely talk to financial advisors, our friends, or even ourselves about how money affects us and how it can be a vehicle out of survival mode, so the conversations about money have to start today.
Here’s a fact: nearly 63% of American adults do not have a savings account or enough in it to cover $500 to $1,000 in unplanned expenses. And while Millennials have shown some improvement with about 47% being financially ready to cover emergency expenses of that magnitude, for the rest of us (our parents and grandparents), we’re just not there yet. [Money.com]
Throughout our history, money talk has presented itself as a culturally taboo subject, which can be seen looking at systematic oppression. The onset of colonization and slavery left bartering goods to be a system of the past, which meant that modern forms of currency would derail an established system of community economics. Captives of an inescapable system, we were paid literal pennies that would only pay for our freedom after countless years of inhumane labor, beatings, and death. Still today, we work, toiling endlessly for the money we never had. Scraping by to get our bills paid, but never forgetting to look fresh while we do it. We saw physical signs of money then, that became the physical signs of money now, cars and luxury clothing, the mark of having it together even if you really don’t. We never learned how to handle money, but we sure know how to show it off.
And still the struggle persists, we don’t talk about money and we act like we have it but really don’t. Money never truly bought our freedom, so why would it now, why would we depend on this system to set us free financially? There’s no ignoring that history, systems, and resulting cultural norms have many of us existing on the defense, fighting for progress. I’m telling you right now, e cannot get beyond survival if we do not start talking about moving beyond it and putting in action. Continuing to ignore what has prevailed as an off-limits topic, has economic and generational consequences that are avoidable. We can have money, talk about it, and show it off at the same damn time. NOW is the perfect time to understand why we must talk about our finances, what that can do for us, and what happens if we don’t.
While “money” is a taboo topic, here are 4 reasons why it shouldn’t be:
1.If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
We can’t rely on crowdsourcing platforms to take care of the needs that come unexpectedly to us. It is imperative that we discuss life insurance, so we can leave our families with more than we came with. We must prepare for emergencies and life events like pregnancy, death in the family, or a car breaks down. Be prepared for life, because life happens to all of us! Better for you to be prepared for something to happen and it not, than for you not to be prepared and it does.
2. We have the power!
We hold an incredible spending power of over $1 trillion dollars that holds the potential to influence economic activity. In 2014 a collective effort decreased Black Friday sales by 11%! And, If you take a moment to think about how much money is spent on Jordan sales alone, we have the power to make our dollars count for a substantial lasting change, like stores, centers, and retailers for us by us. We must start putting our funds towards projects with longevity, like home buying and building companies for the people who will outlast us, our families. Think about it, you could own twitter or have voting rights in Nike.
3. Delayed Gratification
As difficult as it may be to give up buying some new Chelsea boots, that upcoming Fenty or Jordan’s release, investing in delayed gratification will leave you and your bank account more satisfied in the long run. Lifestyle and status symbols (luxury cars, clothing, etc.) typically don’t gain any significant value over time. Buying cheaper alternatives and saving the leftover will produce a residual income those retro Js will never see sitting in your closet. Knowledge is only power with action. Adopt a more frugal lifestyle and SAVE SAVE SAVE!
4. Generational Wealth
Set your kids and their kids up for success. As you become more financially literate, you gain a duty to pass down knowledge to your family and friends, especially younger generations. Investing in the stock market may not translate so easily to your 5-year-old cousin, but the concept of saving will. As they get older they’ll likewise gain the ability to grasp the relationship between saving and investing. Until then, you must first practice what you’ll preach, preach it, and gather a community to regenerate the cycle. When you know better, you do better. We must work for our futures, teaching the younger generations about money so they can handle with purpose all that is passed down to them.
Acknowledging the impact that not talking about money has had on the general economy, FinTech companies like Freeman Capital and Intuit Inc. (Mint), and mainstream music, Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.” a track on the 4:44 album, have promoted the movement of financial health. Given the newness, there has not yet been significant changes in general behavior and there’s still much work to do.
Utilizing tools for education and keeping track of your individual finances is a great start for some, but for the many who aren’t at the point of action, we must continue to encourage and have the conversation. We have to talk to each other, our friends, our family, and our communities about money. We’re so much stronger together. It’s more about support and accountability than it is about knowing what your neighbor down the street is making. It’s knowing that you can go through life with some confidence that you are getting your finances in order, setting yourself and future generations up for life beyond survival.