Friday, November 17, 2006

Money. Finances. Future.

Mood Tune: Paid in Full by Eric B and Rakim (YouTube)

I got inspired to write about this because of Den's blog entry, Financially Fit, and Dumb Little Man's blog entry on 15 Debt Secrets. And in a minute, I'm going to share how I lost $25,000+ recently.

So one thing I've been trying to be better at is the whole managing money thing. It wasn't exactly dinner table conversation when I was growing up, other than "go to school, get a degree, get a good job... with benefits."

I've managed to always have good jobs (with benefits) and have never been unemployed. Lately, I added novel writing to my jobs. I've always had a check coming in. However, I never really got schooled on a lot of money issues that go beyond getting the paycheck, such as: saving for an unemployment crisis, saving for retirement, managing credit, saving for a house, and the ever-popular handling credit cards.

I'm not a financial planner. But most work places have a financial planner assigned to the organization, who you can usually meet with for free. I did, a few years back, and got put on a plan that I hated at first... but now I'm happy I did.

Well, I'm not good at the unemployment crisis saving since I'm gambling I'll never be unemployed... or without a book contract. I do save for book-publicity expenses. I'm very good at the retirement saving, since I'm gambling that I won't have kids to take care of me. I've learned how to manage credit and cards, and learned how to delay gratification, and my credit score has risen dramatically from then to now. And this year, mostly due to something my father left me, I was able to acquire a couple rental properties in the midwest.

Now, I wish I'd learned and acted on these areas in my early or mid 20s. And so for all you blogger brothas and sistas out there who are in your early 20s, it might be a good idea to start setting some financial goals for yourself.

Actually, the wake up call for me was this: I loved, Loved, LOVED clubbing and going out in my 20s. I still do, but I look for freebies and guest lists and all-inclusive parties and open bars when possible, lol. But back to the 20s. I did a rough estimate that from age 21 to 26, I might have spent $100 at minimum (sometimes more) a weekend on clubbing (not including pre-dinners, movies, or going-out clothes), at roughly 50 weeks per year... That's $5,000 a year on nightlife (entries, valet, drinks) alone. Now multiply that by 5 years... I gave club owners at minimum $25,000 during those years in my early 20s. And when you factor in paying for other people, or holiday nights that cost more, or bartender tips. We're talking minimally, $25,000. That was my early 20s. Now I'm in my early 30s.

I always joke about that time, $25,000 and no husband to show for it. Not that going out is all about meeting Mr. Right, but if that search for Mr. Right is keeping you in debt and away from owning property or having a decent retirement -- because let's face it, if you're LGBT more than likely you'll be taking care of yourself in your 60s and 70s-- is the fun worth the financial sacrifice?

Anyway, I'm no expert. Far from it. I still worry about coming up short each month like everyone else. And I'm not against clubs or going out either. We need our social outlets and a lot of our black-owned and black-run clubs are dependent on our patronage. It's about perspective. I know a lot of my brothas and sistas struggle with money, finances, fun, and the future. And I hope that we all start to take it a little bit more seriously... for our community's future and sake. Maybe 2007 will be the year.


durante vita said...

That was absolutely brilliant.

FS, you can drop advice like that on me any time of day or night.

D-Place said...

I'm glad I was able to inspire you. I really think we need to know more about finances. Now if we could only trust each other we could be doing some major world shaking.