We often talk about forward-thinking and planning where we want to be. But it’s just as important to see where we don’t want to be. Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of that.
I attended the first of five sessions in a personal finance workshop at the local women’s center. It’s free, it’s during my lunch break and it’s another opportunity to learn and grow from a professional financial advisor, so I couldn’t pass this up.
When I walked into the room, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the women holding court was young and black! The two pupils sitting at the tables were older, black ladies. SCORE!
I told them, “Oh, this is intimate.”
I immediately felt at ease because I know that the black, female experience with anything, especially money, is different than experiences of other groups. That’s not news. Throughout the session, we talked openly about everything. I hadn’t been able to do that with my mom. This was a pleasant surprise.
The advisor, I call her Teacher, said she at one point was broke and, as a single mother, sought help from her parents too often. Teacher knows where we’re coming from and how we can climb out of a bad situation.
The 55-year-old student talked about how her long-term marriage has been severely damaged by financial mismanagement. Unfortunately, her adult daughter is still asking for handouts, even for car payments. She’s at a point where she wants to take care of her money so she can live the rest of her life in peace. She’ll do it with or without her husband or daughter.
The other lady, 65, I think, spent 25 years in a less-than-stellar marriage before she had the courage to drop everything, pack her car and start all over. She said she realizes that she didn’t teach her children good money management. Actually, one of her sons is doing so well that he inspired her to improve her situation and maybe become an entrepreneur.
As I shared my story about wanting to plan ahead and break the cycle of poor money management, the ladies encouraged me keep at it and be a good example. Then maybe friends and family would fall into place. It’s the reverse of the 65-year-old woman’s story.
Teacher told us about her mom using money set aside for the light bill envelope to pay the insurance man. She saw the bad habit of not paying bills on time and heard the phrase “I’m broke” several times growing up. When she had her child, now a teen, she decided not to say that phrase around him and to teach him about money from a young age. His mindset is of abundance, not lack.
Teacher then hit us with some sad, sad statistics:
- The average savings rates for Americans is less than 1 percent. For every $100 earned, less than $1 is saved.
- Single, white women in their prime working years (ages 36-49) have a median wealth of $42,600. The median wealth for single black women is $5.
Five dollars?! See. That’s not what I want for myself. The stories of my classmates – that’s not what I want for myself and my future husband and children.
I’m excited to be part of this workshop. It’s what I need right now to stay focused.
Our financial advisor showed us how she’s been tracking expenses for the past few years. She accounts for everything. Our homework is to fill out the same spending plan worksheet she uses every month. Thank heavens I’ve been tracking my spending all year with the Toshl Finance app and my spreadsheets. Teacher said tracking expenses is one of the habits of highly successful people, even if Steven Covey left that out of his best-selling book.