The #1 Financial Principle YOU MUST KNOW
Financial literacy is not just about knowing how to save your money.
Anybody can do that.
Financial literacy is about knowing how to — USE money.
Look, we know that the average White family in the U.S. has 13 times more wealth than the average Black family1 with Whites at $144,200 compared with Blacks at $11,200.
The income of the average educated Black income is $43,300. For Whites, its, $71,300.
Do not be confused by the difference in wealth and income.
Wealth is the total sum of your assets (things you own with value i.e. houses, businesses, stocks) MINUS your total debt.
Annual Income is merely the amount of money you make in a year.
Of course, most of that wealth gap can be attributed to historical racial oppression:
The long history of Black exclusion by Whites from homeownership2, education3, and jobs4 worked to keep Black folks from generating and maintaining wealth.
But you knew the wealth gap existed before you read this.
That’s not why I’m here.
I’m here to tell you that real financial literacy is about knowing how to — USE money & how to THINK with money. It’s using your money like little soldiers, sending your dollars out on a mission to recruit and capture more dollars.
Let me let you in on an often forgotten secret…
Black people save.
Black people are responsible.
Black people are tremendously intelligent.
The problem is not that we don’t know how to save money or that we only care about Jordans’.
The problem is that saving is not enough.
Saving is only one aspect of financial literacy.
It’s like you’re learning to read and write again- you finally learn where the Period goes in the sentence…Good. But there are key principles that you still need to know in order to actually become literate.
I want to share with you the # 1 key financial principle that you must know. It’s time to learn the rules of money. I’m so grateful someone shared the game with me back when I thought that if I just play by the rules, get my Master’s degree, then I’ll be alright.
Back when I didn’t understand the Rules of Money, I found myself standing in the EBT line like so many of our people. I was demoralized… I mean, I never went to jail, I got an education, a Master’s, networked, treated people nicely….
I never knew The System was not built to reward Black people for being educated and hardworking. The system was built for people who know and play well by the Rules of Money.
Like it or not.
That’s why I’m sharing this with you.
Still though, I hear too many people talking about how Black folks will never be able to overcome the wealth gap, how Whites will destroy whatever Black people build, or how there is nothing Black people can do to live better if government does not intervene. It’s infuriating to me.
The problem: These naysayers are often right.
However, this Does Not Mean that Black people should be doing NOTHING but marching.
Why? Because there ARE ways to GENERATE WEALTH for the average Black family if we understand the Rules of Money.
White folks are not stopping you from reading this. They will not stop you from investing, either.
You have tremendous Power.
If you start with the #1 financial principle, you can enhance what you know and generate wealth for yourself and our community.
The #1 financial principle I want to share with you is: LEVERAGE.
Let me ask you a question:
I want you to really imagine that debt collectors are knocking down your door, you’ve been stressing for months, your debts fall into default mode. You can’t sleep.
Let’s say your total debt is $60,000 (student loans, credit cards) & your total annual expenses are $40,000. You’re having a hard time finding work.
If you had $60,000 dollars in debt and you were given $100,000 to use any way you want, how would you spend the money?
Would you pay the $60,000 debt, then invest the rest in a business?
This decision shows a lack of understanding of financial principle #1- LEVERAGE.
If you completely pay off the debt right now, you just lost $60,000 and now only have $40,000 to work with.
$40,000 in free money sounds great don’t it? Especially to someone who couldn’t sleep only nights before because of crushing debt.
However, there is a bigger picture at work.
Financial Leverage= using a small amount of money to acquire assets that generate larger amounts of money.
You are going to purchase an ASSET. Assets are things that make you money. For example, when you purchase a stock, every year that stock will pay you just for owning it in the form of interest and dividends. This is what makes the stock valuable.
After you purchase the asset, you are going to make that asset pay off your debt for you.
Here’s What You Do With The $100K:
First, pay down your debt to the point where it falls out of default. THEN STOP. Let’s say this requires $10K.
You will keep up monthly payments so that you are slowly paying down your debt. Your monthly payments on this loan are $800.
Now you have $90K left. You are about to create a debt plan that applies LEVERAGE.
With the $90K, you go to a bank and finance a rental property. You will put 20% down on a property in a great, affordable location. The property cost $200K.
20% of 200K means that you will put down $40K to purchase the home. You’ve done your research and see that the mortgage payment plus all expenses is $950 (assuming a 3.5% interest on the mortgage).
You also know that you can rent out this property for $1950 a month.
This will create a profit of $1000 each month.
That means that you just used $40K to acquire a $200K asset. You generate $1000 each month off of the asset ($1950 rent-$950 you owe to the bank for the mortgage).
You use this $1000 a month to pay down your $800 monthly debt in credit cards/student loans. This is applying LEVERAGE.
Think about it- If it cost you $800 a month to pay down your $50K credit card and student loan debt, that means you will pay off the debt in 5.2 years.
Now how long will people be renting your house?
You will still be able to rent out your property even after your debt is paid off.
This means you have an asset consistently working for you even after it pays down your credit and student loans debts.
This is applying Leverage- you have purchased an asset that consistently generates money for you and you didn’t have to spend a lot to do it.
You spent $10K to get out of default, $40K to finance a property. You still have $50K left to invest in another property, stock, business, or seed through crowd-sourcing to your community.
If you would have paid off the $60K right away, you would only have $40K left, and no assets that are making you money. You would be in a financially worse position.
Much better than just paying down ALL your debt outright.
Right now, you’re thinking- “That’s smooth and all, but no one is about to give me $100K”.
The point is for you to get busy thinking about how you can LEVERAGE the money you do have in order to improve your future financial position.
Here’s what you can do today:
Purchase some stock– From the privacy of your own home, you can put money in the S&P 500 ETF (purchase thru Vanguard or any online trading platform). Interest is around 7%. That means that every 10.2 years, your money will double. So if you only put $1K in today AND NEVER PUT ANY MORE MONEY IN, in 10 years (on average), that $1K will turn into $2K.
However, if you put $1K in EVERY Year for 10 years consecutively, you will have $14,783. At the end of another 10 years, $43,865.18, if you continue for another 10 years, $101,073.05. This keeps on going.
In a total of 30 years, you will have generated $100K.
Keep in mind that only $30K is money you put in directly- $70K is pure earned compounded interest.
Let me put it another way:
At the end of 30 years…
you would have generated more than $100,000…
for less than $2.80 a day…
That’s using rule #1- Financial LEVERAGE in order to create large sums of money with very few dollars. Your money is working like little soldiers for you now.
Now, maybe some of you are saying- “I ain’t got 30 years to wait.”
First, you don’t need 30 years. Imagine if you could put $10K into the market instead of just $1K.
Imagine if you began crowd-sourcing to raise money directly for your business today.
Imagine doing both. Having a long-term strategy of disciplined investment in the stock market and a short-term strategy of starting your own business to generate income.
For people who think that Time is STILL a problem…
I’m sorry, but it’s not really about you.
Never invest in the market just for yourself.
If you have children, in 30 years, they may be able to use $100K to fund real estate, businesses, and invest in stocks.
Invest NOW for THEM.
The wealth gap between Blacks and Whites is staggering. This will likely remain the case.
That does not mean that you are powerless to enhance your financial future. If you understand the #1 financial principle- you can take steps to build Generational Wealth today.
We Black folks are good at doing a lot with a little.
Luckily, the rules of money DEMAND that you learn to do a lot with a little…
Sounds like you already got a leg up.
Founder of Black Health HQ, Shawn Smith is a Health researcher and writer deeply dedicated to the personal enhancement of Black Bodies, Black Minds, and Black Bank Accounts. Black Health HQ is a research driven platform for the development of Black physical, mental and financial health. Black Health HQ works toward the extreme well-being of Black people, offering free content along with coaching services and products to assist you on your journey to maximum Black Living.
Learn More Financial-Health Principles at: Black Health HQ-Finance
- Tanzina Vega. “Why the racial wealth gap won’t go away.” CNNmoney. Accessed January 26, 2016. http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/25/news/economy/racial-wealth-gap/. Pew Research Center. “On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart.” Accessed June 27, 2016. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/06/27/on-views-of-race-and-inequality-blacks-and-whites-are-worlds-apart/.
- Tanzina Vega. “Blacks still far behind whites in wealth and income.” CNNmoney. November 26, 2016. Accessed June 27, 2016. http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/27/news/economy/racial-wealth-gap-blacks-whites/. Gillian B. White “In D.C., White Families Are on Average 81 Times Richer Than Black Ones Other major cities aren’t much better.”The Atlantic, November 26, 2016 https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/11/racial-wealth-gap-dc/508631/.
- Richard Kluger.Simple justice: The history of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s struggle for equality. Vintage, 2011.
- Devah Pager and Hana Shepherd. “The sociology of discrimination: Racial discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and consumer markets.” Rev. Sociol 34 (2008): 181-209.