The Charge (MLK, Jr. Day 2018)

“We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know we will win. But I have come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house.” — Rev. Bro. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This quote is of the Dr. King, Jr. that I have come to love even more than the “I Have a Dream” M.L.K., Jr. It takes a mature person to take a step back and say, “Though my heart was in the right place, I was wrong.”

Segregation was a struggle because of a lack of equal resources combined with an abundance of white people who looked to stand in the way of our self-sufficiency. Integration, however, has been a struggle of epic proportion because many of those who would be our strongest leaders divested from our communities in hopes of separating themselves from the negative stigma America had placed on our communities. White America gave them jobs and titles and affirmative action on predominantly white college campuses and athletic scholarships and, before we knew it, our community was devoid of its greatest resource: leadership.

As they moved the Talented Tenth out, and subsequently their offsprings, we saw the illicit drug industry thrive, single-parent households increase, a spike in black-on-black crime, and the value of education decrease in more impoverished black communities. Miseducation and distractions in the form of substances and soulless entertainment had replaced much of the pride that once defined the exclusively black community. And, on the other side of town, those blacks who had “successfully” integrated themselves and their families into white society felt accomplished and that their mere existence (even if from a distance) serves as an example to those with whom they never come in contact. It is sad to feel uncomfortable walking into a community that is one you should be taking ownership of, only to realize that, in actuality, it is owned predominantly by WASPs, Jewish people, and Asians.

On this Dr. Martin Luther Luther King, Jr. Day of 2018, I charge you to embrace these next few years as a resurrected Harlem Renaissance. Creatives, create. Business leaders, develop. Educators, educate. Investors, invest. But do all of this in our communities.

And, lastly, put your money where your mouth is. This past weekend, I placed a decent amount of money into Mechanics & Farmers Bank, a black-owned bank out of Durham, NC. When I look to secure my home loan, I will be doing so with a black-owned bank. I work out at a black-owned gym (Prime Athletic Training & Fitness Institute). My tailor shop is a black-owned tailor shop (Levi’s Tailor Shop). My graphic designer is black (Charity Coleman). My photographer is black (Reko Daye). My financial advisor is black (George Acheampong). My go to artist is black (Tatiana Camice). Sadly, my grocer is not (though I hope to start growing my own vegetables next year) and my black dentist recently retired and sold her practice but I’ll be back in the market soon.

Self-preservation is not racist. I’m not saying we need to segregate again. I’m saying reinvest in the growth of your own communities. Ironically, for those who think it’s unsafe, we know for a fact that, where money flows, safety becomes a priority. We can no longer return to the times of an untainted Black Wall Street. What has been done is done. But we can take what we’ve learned in these decades since realizing the watered down version of Dr. King’s dream and use it to build our own communities back up and to fortify them.

Feature image by Ernest Camel. Click here to follow him on Instagram.

 

Make a well-rounded community a priority.

Betting On Yourself

While at work today, I listened to George Acheampong’s, founder of Makes Cents 2 Me, podcast and I picked up so many jewels. One major takeaway was that, if your job is paying you $5,000 or $50,000 or $5,000,0000, how much more do you think they’re making off of you? That resonated in me because I know that, while I’m grateful for my income, I could be bringing in so much more and I can do that while keeping my current job and gaining this valuable experience.

His most recent episode on “The Legacy & Lifestyle Show” focused on the fiscal responsibility, financial mistakes, generational wealth, and black entrepreneurship that rapper JAY Z touches heavily on throughout his month-old album “4:44.”

Check out this and other episodes of “The Legacy & Lifestyle Show” by clicking here.

 

Make generational wealth a priority.

Do You Want to Be Rich or Wealthy?

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor. For financial advice, please seek out the help of licensed professional, like George Acheampong.

Income does not indicate wealth. I am learning that more and more every day. Some of the people I know with the highest incomes are the worst with money. New cars every year, new homes every five, eating out for lunch every day. And I don’t know what kind of deal someone gets on a home or a car so I won’t speak on those. Instead, I will touch on how much money you save by bringing your lunch to work and you can see why, on any level, spending unnecessary money is unwise.

Let’s say I go out for lunch four days a week. One day, I go to Panera Bread. Another, Chick-fil-a. Then a local pizza spot. And last, I hit the food bar at the local grocery store. If I get an entrée, side, and drink at all of these places, I could quickly spend $8. But we’ll be optimistic and say I got the lunch special at all of these locations and I only spend, on average $6.50/day. Then add in tax at 7.25% and I’m spending an average of about $6.98 on lunch every day. That’s $27.89 weekly. And, assuming you get four weeks off per year (observed holidays, vacation time, sick days), that’s $1,338.48 per year spent on lunch.

On the opposite end of the spectrum (because I do believe in working and enjoying what you work for), what if I went out for lunch once every other week, spending $2 more per meal? Likely a higher quality lunch from nicer places, just less frequently. That’s about $9.14 per meal and $204 annually.

Life doesn’t have to be bland to be great. You can still go out, enjoy yourself, and keep money in your pocket. I’d rather save that money than to say “Well, I was so lazy that I wasted $1,100 this year.” Over a lifetime of working for 40 years, that’s $45,379.20.

Just some perspective on how much you could be saving.

People who either want to look rich or are undisciplined spend uncontrollably. People who want to be wealthy find better uses for their money, whether that use is savings or making memories or investing in their happiness. It’s a process. I still waste money but I waste a lot less than I used to. It’s all about making a decision that you’re going to do better. Take that and apply it not only to food but to how often you buy a car or a home.

 

Make financial discipline a priority.

Economy Proofing

Two nights ago, around midnight, one of my fraternity brothers put in our group chat “Drop everything and go get gas!!!” He had heard that there was about to be a rise in gas prices.To provide a disclaimer, I go get gas every Sunday after church from a bulk store I have a membership at but, even still, knowing that gas will rise in price, I still didn’t “drop everything.” Know why? Because I am working to economy proof my family (right now, it’s just my wife and me but eventually there will be more).

Economy proofing is important. You don’t want to go into a deep depression every time a gas tank explodes because you don’t know how you’re going to get to work. You have to have enough money to handle the extra 18 cents per gallon that economic crisis bring. Because those crises will come. It is inevitable in this day and age of capitalism.

But how do you do it? How do you economy proof your household?

I have a few tips but I strongly suggest you speak with a financial advisor and, in the meantime before your visit, check out Makes Cents 2 Me, the site that my advisor, George Acheampong, created to assist those of us who need help with our financial literacy. I strongly suggest you check his site out and contact him (or another professional in his field if you know one) for assistance.

But here are my 3 cents…

  1. Get a better job. If your job doesn’t allow for you to save anything outside of what you make, it’s time to move on. Start thinking about your future and the future of those you love. Not being able to save doesn’t just hurt you. It hurts those connected to you because, after your death (an inevitable and sometimes unexpected part of life), you leave nothing behind but debt if you don’t plan.
  2. Save. Life happens. Economies crash. Companies go under. You cannot go through life living day to day. I have seen it happen first hand and the end is never pretty. Every dollar you get, make an intentional effort to put at least 10 cents in the bank. That way, when all is said and done, even if you make $120,000 every decade, that’s $48K saved, before interest. Now, imagine tacking on interest. OR imagine, taking my first piece of advice and getting a job that pays better so that annual $12,000 quadruples to almost $50K! Wowzers. Now you have $200K, before interest. And that’s just in one decade. The possibilities are endless.
  3. Cut your expenses. When the economy hits, if you can help it, you never want to change your saving habits. What can you cut? Maybe the cable. Maybe you can lower your monthly data allowance on your phone if you’re never near reaching it. Find things that you don’t need and find creative ways to move money around. You can do it. So do it.

Fiscal responsibility is so important. Poor decisions can ruin your happiness, your job, and your family. Is it worth the pair of Jordans? Nope. So get a better job, save money, and cut your expenses where you can. And check out Makes Cents 2 me. These 4 suggestions will change your life (unless you’re already doing them).

 

Make professional development a priority.

I’m Starting a New Habit

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (my personal accounts, not the @DanDailyReader accounts which I hope you’re following anyway), you’ll know that I was in Chicago last week.  My personal handles on both are simple: @DeryleDanielsJr.  Anyway, while in Chicago, my fraternity brother, financial advisor, and close friend, George Acheampong, was in town and we ended up getting together one evening for dinner and a couple drinks.  Since I moved from Charlotte, we haven’t been able to get together as regularly as I’d like but this was the perfect time to connect because we both came to the city on business and we were both alone.  (By the way, I don’t believe in coincidences.)

Over drinks, GA and I were talking and we discussed reading.  He said he finishes a book a week.  Now, I know how busy this guy is and I did not see how he did that because he is always on the move.  But he said that, like anything else in life, it’s not about one big decision to read a book. Instead, he makes several small decisions every day to get through the book of the week.  George reads 2-3 pages every hour that he is awake.  At a conservative 16 hours each day, that’s 224 pages (assuming 2 as opposed to 3 pages).   George puts the same practice into play when advising me on my finances.  Retirement isn’t putting away $5,000 each year at one time.  It’s putting away $100 each week that, in 20 years, will grow to $100,000 before interest.  Now, get married, and multiply that $100 to $300.  Then, 10 years down the line, when your student loans are paid off, up that $300 to $700.  You see how success works?

So, this week, I challenge you to start a new habit that will set you up for success.  Want to write a book?  Write a page a day.  Just a page.  Want to read a book?  Read 2 pages an hour.  Want to lose 15 pounds?  Shoot for a pound a week.  We can do anything we set our minds to but we cannot do it all at once.  Be patient.  Set goals.  And know that you are just as able as anyone else who has done it.

Everyone, do this for me this week: Take a picture of you working toward your goal and post it on Twitter or Instagram, mentioning @DanDailyReader and using the hashtag #SmallThingsChallenge.  It can be to eat a bit healthier, read a bit more, or fill out 5 more job applications each week.  I just want folks to know that they, too, can do it.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Find a Great Barber/Hairstylist

I’m so fortunate.  Since college, I’ve had some awesome barbers.  But, with each relocation, it takes me getting through the not so awesome ones to get to the ones I need.

Over the past decade, I’ve made four moves within North Carolina: Durham > Greensboro > Charlotte > Durham.  Growing up, I went to the neighborhood barber.  There wasn’t a decision to be made.  That’s just what was.  Then, when I got to college, I didn’t have a car so I went to this barbershop that was near campus and it was like the one back home.  But I wasn’t satisfied.  I saw guys on campus with sharper lines than I had.  So I asked a few of them where they went and, my sophomore year, I switched to a different barbershop.  In between cuts, I would get shape ups from this guy in the dorm who was trying to develop his barbering skills.  He got so good (and was so cost effective) that he took the spot of the actual barbershop.  That guy from the dorm turned out to be Vince Jamel of Adrian Fanus Grooming in Brooklyn, New York.  Now, one of my best friends, I was lucky to have him cut my wedding party and me last October.

Soon after graduating from UNCG, I moved to Charlotte and only heard the name of one barbershop: No Grease.  Everyone I asked who had a nice haircut (with the exception of my financial advisor George Acheampong) said the same thing.  So No Grease it was.  I tried two barbers there.  The first did a good job but I didn’t communicate the cut I wanted well enough.  So I tried one more and I hit the nail on the head.  Currently in North Carolina, Tim Doe holds the crown for cuts in my opinion.  Great customer service.  Accommodating.  And he gets to know who he’s cutting so that he can give good suggestions on what would best fit your style and industry.  See, a barber/groomer/hairstylist shouldn’t just be there to do the job.  (S)he is a friend and consultant.  Shoot, half the time, a good barber is your unofficial therapist as well.  When I had friends move to town, I pointed them to No Grease.  “Everyone in there can cut well,” I always said, “but see if you can get on Tim’s schedule.”  I even had a frat brother come down for a wedding and his barber in DC was out of town when he left but he really needed a cut.  I took him to Tim and got him squeezed in.  As always, an immaculate cut was given.

You can imagine how hard it was for me to move back to Durham and know that, as much as I wanted to go to No Grease like usual, a 3 hour drive would turn that into a $50-$60 haircut every two weeks, including gas (or, as I like to think of it, at least $1,300/year).  So I started the process all over again back home.  My old barber was no longer around.  At the time, I worked at Nordstrom and one of my assistant managers heard me say I was looking for a new shop so he recommended his, Rock’s Bar and Hair Shop.  Now, cutting straight hair and curly hair are two different processes, so I figured “I may check it out but I need someone who knows how to cut black hair.”  And I found someone there who does it very well.  The customer service there is exceptional and the environment is super cool.  Plus you get a free beer with your haircut!

As I said in the first sentence, I’m fortunate to have been blessed with great barbers over the past decade.  If you find a good one who knows you, your professional aspriations, and your style, keep him/her.  Do I have a favorite over all of them?  Of course.  But, since they’re all in different locations, you should just try each brand out when you’re in their respective cities.

 

Photo credit: Suave Visions

 

Make professional development a priority.

Makes Cents 2 Me

MAKES CENTS 2 ME

 

Today, I would like to introduce you to another financial resource. My financial advisor, Mr. George Acheampong, in conjunction with his company Timeless Solutions Financial Advisory Group, recently launched a website called Makes Cents 2 Me. It is focused on educating and updating those of us who may not have degrees in finance but who still want to be aware of ways we can make our money work for us. I’ve been thumbing through it and would highly recommend you taking advantage of this free resource and allowing it to help you build a more solid financial base. Now, growing from that, I would recommend hiring someone from time to time to look over your finances if you feel that you are still not where you need to be, whether it be Timeless Solutions or another financial advisor. Sometimes, you need a bit more help than your own mind can provide. I can read about painting techniques all day but I cannot recreate a Picasso because that is not my art form. When you want something done exceptionally well and you have the means to pay for it, of course utilize the free resources you can to do for yourself what you can, but treat the rest as an investment. But I digress. Check out Makes Cents 2 Me when you get a second. I’m sure you’ll gain a lot from it.

 

ABOUT

Makes Cents To Me was started because so many people are in need of simple, practical and useful financial information yet they do not always know where to get it find it. Dealing with your finances can seem overwhelming and the idea of hiring a financial advisor may seem intimidating. In todays society it is increasingly important to be equipped with the tools and resources to make the right financial decisions. You need to know that the information is reliable and comes from a credible source, and most importantly; that it is information and advice that will allow you to take action TODAY. So as a Financial Advisor, you can rest assured that credibility and reliability are at the forefront of this site; however, this virtual community will allow you to be empowered to make the right decisions with the resources you will have at your disposal just as if you were a client sitting across from me in my office. This site is designed to give you the financial tools and resources you need to start taking immediate action and have a little fun while you are doing it. We hope that you find the information on this site valuable and most importantly that it “Makes Cents” for you and your financial goals.

Welcome!

George Acheampong

Founder, Makes Cents 2 Me

Want to Get Out of Debt?

I just got my financial adivsor/close friend/fraternity brother George Acheampong’s monthly e-newsletter and had to share it with you all.  In it, he not only hones in on being financial savvy but also he gives advice to live a more well-rounded life.  I strongly recommend subscribing.  Since today is #FinancialFriday, I will share 3 of the newsletter’s 7 tips to become debt free.  To see the rest, check out his newsletter here and, if you like what you see, please subscribe.  Thanks and have a blessed weekend.

7 Steps To become Debt Free

Got debt? You’re not alone. The average American’s credit card balance is over $8,000. In 2001 we paid $50 billion in finance charges, and 1.3 million people declared bankruptcy. Fortunately, you can become debt free. If you’re ready to eliminate your debt once and for all.
Preparing to be debt free
There are no complicated calculators or special tricks to becoming debt free––as personal finance guru Dave Ramsey says, it’s 20% knowledge and 80% action. That action is what’s so hard. Getting out of debt is like making any big personal change–losing weight, starting to exercise, or quitting smoking–it is not easy, but the results will change your life.
The seven steps to become debt free

  1. Write Down Your Financial Goals — You have to know where you going before you can get there. Often times our debt is the result of short-term thinking. It’s time to think long-term in order to begin to change our short-term habits.
  2. Determine How Much Debt You Have — Are you afraid to look at your credit card balances? I’ve been there. But ignoring your debt will not make it go away. It’s time to swallow hard and take stock of just how bad your debt is.
  3. Develop Your Debt Management Plan — Your personal debt management plan is your road map to becoming debt free. It can be a long road, and you’ll need this plan to make sure you stay on course when things get treacherous.