Is Your Blade Growing Dull?

When I was in undergrad, I intellectually stimulated almost every day. Sure, there were the Saturday nights when the most intellectual discussion was how fast can we finish the beers at the track team’s party (shoutout to the homie Devon Smith), but regular days consisted of my group tossing around ideas about how we would take over the world while either eating in the cafe, working off our cafe eating in the gym, or making sure we still had access to the cafe/gym next semester by sitting in the library to keep our scholarship dollars rolling in.

I miss those days — the days when we dreamt and planned more than we worked ourselves into an apathetic torpor. Whether the goal was entrepreneurship or figuring out how we would climb the corporate ladder or improving the quality of life for others, we used our minds in an unconventionally imaginative fashion.  Their iron sharpened mine and mine theirs.

I still talk to (but rarely see) many from my circle, as many of us have gotten bogged down in the mundane and monotonous movement from Monday to Friday, only to pray on Friday for the weekend to move in the slowest motion possible and, conversely, for Monday morning to prey on us as hard as we pray on Monday for Friday. This is week in and week out. We do it for the bills and the insurance, the 401(k) matches and the paid days of sick leave, benefits which ultimately catalyze the very mental health days that we end up taking and retirement we long for (because I am convinced that I will never truly want to retire from a passion but I’ll be in a hurry to leave a job). Security holds many of us hostage, which is ironic, because our “security” only secures the prison we have chosen for ourselves.

Instead of security, we should reach for risk, which lies in having those around you  keep you sharp and hungry and thinking outside of the box that would become a cell were you to think inside of it. To keep from being a prisoner of habit, you must have friends with whom you can toss ideas around over a glass of bourbon on the rocks or a good game of Spades. Those who remind you that you are not the smartest person in the room. A circle whose skill sets don’t mirror yours but, instead, complement them. People who specialize in various fields so that, when one of their clients/friends needs help in your field, you’re going to be the first to get the referral.

Today, I charge you to reconnect with an old friend who once inspired you. Whether they pushed you to strengthen yourself spiritually, financially, physically, professionally, or otherwise, give them a call or shoot them a text. See when you all can get together for coffee or lunch or a drink after work. If they’re in a different city, find a time when you all can meet somewhere just to catch up. While I love technology, there is something magical about tossing ideas across an actual table and working through a problem face to face. In short, allow their iron to sharpen yours and do the same for them. It’s the only way you’ll get out of this stagnant stupor that “security” supplies.

 

Make sharpening your sword a priority.

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Follow the Money (part 2)

My post yesterday (which I didn’t know I’d be writing a follow up to) was about whether or not what you say you value is reflected in how you allocate your money. Interestingly enough, today at work, the company that manages my school’s 401(k) plan came in to speak about the importance of saving.

I’m not going to go into all the numbers and what they can mean but I will say this: the sooner you start saving, even if it’s a little, the better of you’ll be in the long run. Compound interest is a beautiful thing. And, if your company is matching, take advantage of that maximum amount that you can contribute if you can.

I’m trying to set myself and my family up to be in a great position thirty years from now. You should probably be doing the same thing.

 

Make financial planning a priority.

How Does Your Wealth Management Measure Up?

As the year closes, it is almost time to start making those 2015 resolutions.  But if you wait until January 1 to start a good habit, you’ll be well into February before it starts to take root in your life.  So I strongly recommend reading this Black Enterprise article about managing wealth and using it to set some goals for yourself now.  That way, 2015 will really start with you being financially responsible.  And, if you click on the link at the bottom of the article, it’ll take to you a page where you can download a report on the financial state of the American family.  Great foundation for your own wealth planning.

by Sheiresa Ngo

As the economy rebounds, millions of families have been engaged in the long, challenging process of restoring their household’s financial health. For many, however, the persistence of unemployment, underemployment, and shrinking wages have caused the delay and derailment of such efforts. African American families represent the group hit hardest in this environment but most remain optimistic about their financial future.

That was among the findings of a recent national SOAAF survey of American families conducted by Massachusetts Mutual Life Company (MassMutual) which took an in-depth look at the finances of African American households to determine their unique challenges. The objective of the study was to understand the changing landscape of financial security of American families, including that of African American families.

The following are survey highlights:

African Americans remain positive about their financial future and desire to put their family’s needs in the foreground:

African Americans still believe in the American Dream. About 28% of respondents say they believe the American Dream is disappearing compared with 40% of the general population who believe the American dream is harder to achieve–a reversal of 2011 survey results.
Family comes first. Three-quarters of African American households base financial decisions on their family’s best interest, compared to two-thirds of the general population. In addition, nearly 7 in 10 do not want to burden their children with having to take care of them during their golden years.

Debt remains an obstacle:

Close to one-half of African Americans have less than three months of emergency expenses.
Three-quarters have a mortgage that is underwater, with nearly 30% owing more on their home than it is worth.
The study concludes that even though many African American families face enormous financial challenges, they’re making efforts to overcome them by assuming an increased role in planning and decision-making. Moreover, parents ensure their children gain access to financial education.

By answering the following survey questions, you will share your views on key topics covered in the research. Black Enterprise and MassMutual would like to hear from you.

Source: Black Enterprise