Money Monday: New Study Shows Blacks Making Financial Gains But Still Facing Some Financial Hurdles

BY: - 27 May '13 | Money

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Prudential Financial has just released their African American Financial Experience study. This bi-annual survey of more than 1,600 American households measures the financial pulse of the Black community. The respondents were ages 25-70 with household incomes of $25,000 or more.

There is both good and bad news. “The study shows increasing economic power and an emerging middle class within the community,” said Charles Lowrey, Prudential’s chief operating officer. Unfortunately, the survey also illustrates that large consumer debt loads and insufficient retirement planning still hamper our financial success.

Some of the most intriguing points of Prudential’s study:

We’re earning more.
Approximately four in ten African Americans surveyed have an annual household income of $75,000 or more, with nearly 25% of households earning six figure incomes. About one third of the African-Americans surveyed possess more than $50,000 in financial assets like savings, investments, and 401K plans.

We’re also optimistic.
Whether due to faith, family, or our history of overcoming adversity, African Americans are financially more optimistic than their counterparts. Even during the current economic downturn, half of African Americans surveyed feel better off financially now than a year ago. And those that attend church regularly are more optimistic than those that don’t.

But debt is still a big problem in our community.
Unfortunately, 94% of African Americans have some type of significant debt compared to 82% of the general population. Credit card debt and personal loans are also higher in the African American community. College educated African Americans are handcuffed with twice as much student loan debt as their counterparts. As a result, one in four African Americans has felt anxiety or depression because of debt. Fortunately, paying down that debt remains the number one priority for African Americans.

We’re supporting a village.
The Prudential report highlights a key reason why African Americans, especially, need to be smart with our money. Simply put, we’re supporting more people with the money we make. Compared to the general population, we live in a higher percentage of multi-generational households – with parents, adult children, and grandparents all living under the same roof. Moreover, the survey found that African American families are more likely to provide support for extended family members regardless of whether they live under the same roof.

As Sharon Taylor, senior vice president and head of human resources at Prudential, summarizes:

“Family remains a key factor in the African American financial experience. African Americans also report managing more financial priorities than the general population, despite doing so with lower incomes. African Americans have a greater number of family-oriented financial priorities, like adequately protecting loved ones, leaving an inheritance and funding education.”

We may be deceiving ourselves about our retirements.
African-Americans expect to retire earlier than the general population. In fact, one in four African Americans expects to quit working before the age of 60. This is despite the fact that we generally have less retirement savings than the general population. And while eight in ten African Americans contribute to a workplace retirement plan, many contribute less than their employer match or take loans from their plan. In essence, many African Americans could be in for a rude awakening when they retire without the funds needed for a comfortable retirement.

You can see the full Prudential report here.

BMWK, do you feel better off financially now than a year ago?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 257 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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Personal Finance 101: 10 Money Messages Undergrads Need to Hear Before They Hit Campus

BY: - 29 May '13 | Money

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Yes, your child has been accepted! An excellent financial aid package, scholarship, work-study, or a combination of the three, I hope. He or she may be the first in the family to go to college or the first to attend college in the U.S. You’ve already warned them about the dangers of college life: sex, drugs, mindless recreational activities and the squandering of time.

But what about money? What tips, strategies, and warnings have you made part of your child’s arsenal as they venture into adulthood away from home. Here are ten messages that you should drill communicate to your undergrad before they hit campus:

1. Stay away from free credit card offers/vendors.
At the beginning of every semester, credit card companies flock to college campuses in search of unsuspecting prey–young, undisciplined coeds– and approve them for credit card at interest rates as obscene as 24%. They do this because they know that the typical American college student is consumption-driven and fiscally unsavvy. What often results is that college students rack up uber levels of debt, find it difficult to repay, and end up ruining their credit. Plus, they have nothing of benefit to show for it other than outdated dorm furniture, clothes, and accessories.

2. Live like an undergraduate, not a superstar.
Your primary objective in going to college is to equip you with the intellectual foundation, network contacts, and social skills needed to navigate your personal and professional path upon graduation–not to be featured on the college version of MTV Cribs. Decorate your room with inspirational figures, quotes, and artifacts. Keep it clean and conducive to study.

3. Make your part-time money work full-time for you.
Whether it is an off-campus or work-study position, save 10% of your income no matter how modest your take-home pay will be. With youth and compound interest on your side, you can begin stashing money away for retirement, home-buying, and graduate school while you continue to study (and while you actually do not mind having to work).

4. Apply for scholarships and fellowships.
There is literally thousands of dollars out there waiting to be grabbed–only if you take the initiative. Scholarship websites like fastweb.com and your college’s career center have listings of scholarships, fellowships, and grants based on field of study, age, ethnicity, state, and nationality. Despite what many believe, you can apply for all types of funding throughout your college career, not just at the onset.

5. Take a finance course.
Take advantage of all of the information/courses that your university has to offer. A basic finance course will equip you with invaluable knowledge about investing and savings. It will also provide insight into the role of that consumption (spending) plays in a capitalist economy and the workings of the nation’s chief financial institutions.

6. Secure an internship.
Get hands-on experience in a particular field during your summer vacation. Internships help you discover if a job ideally matches your strengths, talents, and abilities. Additionally, summer internships often translate into full-time jobs at a higher starting salary after graduation.

7. Sell your old textbooks.
There are some textbooks, books, and other materials that you may not want to add to your personal library. List or post them at the Student Union, E-bay, or other high-traffic areas as a way to recoup a portion of its price.

8. Study abroad.
As participants in a global village, there will be a demand for multicultural and multilingual individual. Use travel abroad and student-exchange to bolster your resume and future earning power while it enhances your world view, sense of self, and cultural competence. Learn a second language while you are at it.

9. Book trips for major holidays in advance.
The dates for Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break are made available at the beginning of the academic year. Take advantage of this information and save hundreds of dollars by avoiding the price gouging that accompanies last-minute reservations.

10. Rent with the option to buy.
If you know that you are going to remain in the same city after graduation because of an employment prospect, a serious relationship, or continued study, look for housing that offers an option of buying after several years of renting.

BONUS:
11. Ain’ts no more money because mommy and daddy have to save for retirement. Seriously. There is a level of financial responsibility that comes with growing up and being accountable for the decisions that you make, once you have left the nest. That means that you have to learn how to budget whatever money is sent to you because your parents are nearing the end of their work life and have to focus on ensuring they are financially set once it is time to retire.

BMWK- What money messages are you communicating to your college-bound child?

About the author

Kara Stevens wrote 138 articles on this blog.

Kara is a motivational speaker, life coach, and founder of the personal finance and lifestyle blog The Frugal Feminista .

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