Fashioning Our Economics
Fashioning Our Economics: The quest to secure our financial futures often eludes us as the future can seem so far off. The idea of ‘the Joneses’ and other symbols have been used to propagate a culture of consumerism within our communities. While hypnotized by their possessions, we fail to consider how the Joneses acquired their wealth. We can’t name wealthy African Americans (that aren’t entertainers) without stuttering, yet, our continuing to save for $1500 monogrammed handbags or identical chronograph watches pulls us further away from our financial freedom while allowing others to maintain theirs.
As a recovering shopaholic (self-diagnosed) on a journey to financial freedom, I would like to humbly share key lessons I have learned on managing finances as a young business owner and future law student; this list is in no particular order nor is it exhaustive. We’ll have moments of weakness, but it is paramount you don’t beat yourself up! This is not a sprint; bear in mind the light at the end of the tunnel is a new house and even better: an economy built For Us, By Us.
~ Save at least 20% of every dollar you receive. This includes monies earned from the 9 to 5, the side gig and the “just because” cash Aunt Jackie balled into your hand; EVERY penny counts.
~ Set a budget and penalties if violated. Making the budget is easy, but sticking to it can be hard. However, if you want to save money you can’t spend it- that simple. Be sure that you are setting reasonable expectations for yourself by including lines for pampering and entertainment. Various online banking apps have customized settings where you can get alerts about balances, deposits, and bill payment dates. If you violate your budget, set penalties such as paying double the next week or skipping a night out.
~ Stay away from store credit cards! They will eat you ALIVE! The interest is ridiculously high and it just encourages you to spend money that you don’t have.
~ Cook more… eat fast less. Eating lunch out every day will drain your pockets. Set time aside to go to the grocery store to stock up on what you need to prepare meals for the week. You can search for *recipes online to keep it interesting and tasty. It’s a healthier option that saves you a few bucks every month and maybe even takes a few inches off the waistline. What more incentive could we need right?
~ Date night in. Now, I love a night out as much as the next person, but the drinks, food, entertainment… it all adds up, especially if you’re out every weekend. Instead, you can stay in and invite other couples over for game night or have your own wine tasting with a few bottles of wine and make a cheese and veggie platter. I promise you, it’ll be a lot more romantic and comfortable.
~ Be trendy and shop thrifty. Designer labels and department stores do not serve us, the faster we realize this the sooner we can take control of our economy. According to Bianca Bailey for Atlanta Black Star, our “… designers represent less than 1% of apparel products sold in department stores, yet… the black community is on track to spend 1.1 trillion dollars by 2015.” Needless to say, if they aren’t checking for us we need to check on ourselves.**Thrift stores and consignment shops are great places to get great fashion forward pieces with character at a reasonable price.
~ BUY BLACK. In order to build our economy we must contribute to it. Our people are represented in every industry, it’ll just take some perusing to find them. Your budget is a great place to start the initiative; dedicate at least one line item to supporting black business per month. And please lets try not to complain about price points because you did not consider that when you purchased Mr. Monogram or your latest time piece. No one else can build our individual and collective wealth but us, so let’s get to Fashioning our Economy!
**Shops to check out in Bedstuy, Brooklyn are Tracy Chambers Vintage and Calabash, both owned by dynamic black women. Bianca Bailey is the creator of Consignments Cousin’s Vintage, a source for everything vintage in the Atlanta area.
Written by Uri B.