I was recently involved in a twitter debate about investing. I didn’t participate much but I was involved in the constant @ mention notifications from the responses, RTs and new people who wanted to chime in. Ever since I upset feminist twitter a year ago my mentions have been on fire so I am actually used to 20+ notifications at any point in time.
A good friend, business partner and mentor of mine made a comment that “if black america has the money to spend on alcohol and drugs that we could afford to invest.” Sound reasonable right? It takes money to invest, we spend money on drugs and alcohol, drugs and alcohol aren’t NEEDS so we can take money from there and put it to work for us right? This is especially true when I learned that black america spent about 4 billion on those two items last year. We also spent about 2 billion on Jordan’s. Embarrassing.
Some genius, and I say genius with all due respect, chimed in saying that this comment was misguided and that people need to clean up their lives (wouldn’t eliminating drugs and alcohol be considered cleaning up your life?) before they start putting their money to work. I know this person is smart. I know he gets it. But I feel like he is merely parroting the advice pushed out by Dave Ramsey and them. In my last article about investing NOW I touched on the fact that investing gives you the income and accumulated resources to clean up your life but I don’t want to harp on that too much, although I feel like it is relevant. This post is mostly about shifting from the employee and consumer mindset to that of an owner and investor. This is the shift that is almost as important if not as important as the money that you make.
The commonly accepted wisdom is that people need to pay off high interest debt and increase their income before they start investing. This is poor people knowledge. Do you think that when Donald Trump needs more money that he settles up all his debts and gets a job? Do you think that Carl Icahn or any big time investor settles up all his credit cards before he takes advantage of an opportunity? No, the opportunity, the property, the investment is what gives them the money to pay off all the bad debt and issues. This is right side of the quadrant (business and investor) thinking. Wealthy people make more money by investing, not by getting a job and not by paying off all their debt and becoming the perfect person on paper.
My long standing opinion is that people need to become investors NOW. We don’t lose because we invest at the wrong time or because we invest before we are ready or even because we invest in the wrong things. We lose because we don’t invest, period. Folks are really out here just trying to survive off a job not realizing that the job was designed to keep you just above water. You will never, ever ever ever ever get to a point at your job where you can live comfortable and invest aggressively. If they paid you enough to give you that option they wouldn’t have employees. Play the game don’t let the game play you. To play the game you have to realize that a lot of the times the things you think you can’t live without are things you don’t even need. When you give those up you can free up cash to make moves (read drugs and alcohol).
During my second year of law school I had to give up to go up. I had to sell my iphone, my Jordans, my watches, I stopped getting haircuts, I stopped going out to eat, I stopped buying fresh gear, so that I could stop working and turn law school into my job. After this process was over and I was able to get the aid I needed and return to my lifestyle I realized that while I was going through all of this, while I had given up everything I thought I needed, that I didn’t die. I made progress and it was grimy and I didn’t die. I also began to invest my but off. Everytime that I scaled back I also free up mad cash to invest hard. This cash and freedom let me walk into trades like Tesla.
As a culture, most of us have so much more money than we think we have. We just waste it on things that we think we can’t live without. In doing so, we remain comfortable and through our comfort we make no progress. That is what that tweet was saying. What is unfortunate is that we have the money to do it but people are so afraid of failure and responsibility that they self sabotage themselves by giving away their wealth and then complaining that they don’t have any. You can’t tell me that we cant build wealth, we build it for every other group in America.
We have the means to elevate ourselves. We have the knowledge to pick good investments. The problem is that we have been marketed a lifestyle that makes us think we need to consume the things that make other people rich. Cutting back on alcohol and drugs was just the first step but that guy was so focused on shooting at the person, I think his dispute was over a girl, that he ignored the message. After you cut out liquor you cut out wasteful money on entertainment, then sneakers then grooming. You cut out all that money we WASTE and put it into elevating your community. I was shocked that anyone could even argue against this notion.
The time to invest was last week but the best time to invest is now. Don’t push it off and don’t wait. You need to learn how to make your money work for you and invest on a small level so that when you get to a higher level you have the knowledge and experience needed to manage large amounts of wealth. You have to master the small to manage the tall.
A lot of the Dave Ramsey, Grant Cardone and Suze Orman advice is great but none of them can truly relate to the African American experience in America. We don’t have time to waste. We have to do double time and the sooner we get moving the better.
Investing isn’t just about the numbers, it is about the habits, the skills and new behaviors you take on as you step into that arena. That is why I push investing and frugality as hard as I do. Frugality allows you to carve out the extra cash you already have, or even sell the items you own but don’t need. This cash gets you in the market, it gets you watching trends, looking for opportunities and participating in the economy. See how investing turns you into the person that you needed to become in order to get out of debt in the first place? Pulling your money out of drugs and alcohol turned you into the person you needed to be. Habits create other habits, success in certain areas pull you into other successes. It is a little known fact that most wealthy people don’t consume drugs or alcohol. They are too focused on their goals. Therefore, by pulling your money out of alcohol you not only free up cash but you free up space in your mind that was clouded by foreign substances.
All that other stuff people want you to put before you invest won’t elevate you. It will likely keep you running the same rat race of working, paying off credit cards and saving long term. I always say that people who get out of debt and pay off credit cards just load them up with more balances. People that save tend to just spend the money on bigger purchases. Their problem is that they operate like consumers, not owners and investors. Investing now is part finance and part psychology. The sooner you can get out of the employee/consumer mindset and start thinking like an owner the sooner you can become free. This is why you need to be in the market asap. Take action now. Run as far as you can and invest how much you can and next year, next five years you will be leaps and bounds ahead of where you are now.
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