I want to take a moment to discuss a very serious topic. A topic that the success of our children, future grandchildren, and even our Nation depends on. Let’s have an open dialogue about wealth in the black community. According to a study completed by Prosperity Now, “If the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed and is not exacerbated further over the next eight years, median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053.” $0?!? That is in less than 35 years. Personally, my son will only be 47, and I, for certain, cannot let this become his reality. WE cannot let this become reality!
Reflect on the concepts you learned growing up around wealth. Where did you learn those concepts? Most likely, you didn’t learn anything about wealth in school. I’d be willing to bet that whatever you learned, good, bad, or indifferent, you learned from the examples within your family dynamic. Have you noticed the difference between the wealth of blacks vs. wealth of whites? I’m sure you have. But how can we close this gap? And how can we blur the lines to make it impossible to notice this difference? The answer is within our children! But who’s going to teach our children about generational wealth?
This difference in wealth that I mentioned is referred to as the wealth gap. The wealth gap measures the difference between the median wealth of blacks versus the median wealth of whites. Wealth is determined by your net worth. In my opinion, your net worth is the most important measure in determining your financial health, even more important than your income (Net worth = Total Assets – Total Liabilities).
Let’s look at some statistics. The Economic Policy Institute found that more than one in four black households have zero or negative net worth, compared to less than one in ten white families without wealth. According to the New York Times, for every $100 of wealth within white families, black families hold just $5.04. According to the New York Times, for every $100 of wealth within white families, black families hold just $5.04. That wasn’t a typo. I repeated that statistic because I couldn’t believe it myself and I want you to let that sink in.
It’s no secret that there were extreme historical obstacles that put blacks at a disadvantage and prevented us from building wealth (slavery, Jim Crow Laws, the Homestead Acts, and the Social Security Act, just to name a few obstacles). Consequently, we are here today. That is not to say that this is
The wealth gap is a huge issue that not only affects communities of color, it affects our entire Nation. As we, the minorities, continue to grow and become the majority of the population, our inability to spend (due to the lack of wealth, low credit scores, excessive debt, etc.) will slow economic growth. We have to teach our kids about generational wealth, we have to teach them about our history, and we have to set them up for success.
So, how can we teach our children about generational wealth and start preparing them for the wealth we plan to leave them?
It is unlikely our children will learn about finances in school, therefore we have to teach them at home. Even if financial literacy laws are passed and it is taught in school, we can’t put all of the responsibility on their teachers and we can’t expect children to learn how to have a healthy relationship with money unless we explicitly teach them how. Introduce financial literacy to your children at an early age. By the time they reach adulthood, they should know what an asset is, they should be able to calculate their net worth, they should know all about compound interest and how they can use it to their benefit because you taught them. Help them to understand that money is not everything and “being rich” should not be their ultimate goal, but money is a tool to provide stability and opportunities for your family.
Set financial goals as a family and get the kids involved. For example, set a goal to save $10,000 in 1 year. Make a visual and keep the kids active with checking the progress. Celebrate achieving your financial goals as a family
The kids are always watching! So, the “do as I say, not as I do” concept is not effective in this area. In addition to talking to your children about how to build and maintain wealth, you also have to show them. Make sure you are financially responsible. Show them that “things” cost money and money is earned, not given freely. Avoid impulse purchases. If there is an item they really want, let them earn the money for it and give them the opportunity to evaluate if the item they want is worth the work they completed.
This is just breaking the ice. Teaching our children about finances at an early age and setting the right examples is just the tip of the iceberg. Once we teach them about generational wealth, we have to set them up for success and build the wealth that we want them to pass down from generation to generation. Stay tuned for Part II: Who’s Going to Set Our Children Up for Generational Wealth? dropping next Monday! In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts around this topic. What did you learn about wealth as a child? How has that affected your finances today? And what do you hope to pass down to your children?
PS… I’d love for you to follow my journey to financial freedom on Instagram