The People’s 101 Guide to Finances:

We gotta talk — The threat to our communities is too great to not practice being better with our resources. I’m tired of hearing people speaking ambiguously, or soley on the systematic level when the majority of us right now live in a real life crisis. I’m not speaking hyperbolically.

Let’s tall about ALL of our resources including the biggest elephant in the room — money.

  1. Pay yourself first in cash at least 10%, if not 20% of any income coming in.
  2. Pay yourself second in an alternative currency (cryptocurrencies) at least 5%. Diversify your financial portfolio outside of gov’t backed currencies, especially the US dollar.
  3. Pay yourself third in self-care, food, time, and mental health needs. (this does NOT include cars, travel, mortgage, eating out, or clothes these are all extras)
  4. Stop working for free for anyone outside of your chosen family. Your chosen family should not accept free work, even as a gift. This includes emotional work such as ‘can I pick your brain’, ‘can you share your network’, etc. This does not include trading services/goods.
  5. Reduce your expenses at all costs, move out of cities that are bad for small businesses and are only for the wealthy. There are other places to live other than NYC, SF, LA, etc. You do not have to live in a building owned by developers, even in if it is affordable housing (as was my former situation).
  6. Reduce your western medicine health insurance costs by balancing your wellness plan with non-colonial medical advice. There is a wealth of information that is preserved solely via oral history especially if you are a gender minority. You are not alone, you are simply isolated because white men control ‘credible’ academic sources, media, and even our ability to communicate (via fluctuating algorithms, stopping net neutrality, etc.)
  7. Disinvest in colonialist currencies and products. This includes scratch offs and lotto tickets! The biggest domestic transfer of wealth from the poor to the state is via lotto tickets and scratch-offs. The money that is supposed to be spent on public schools is now getting syphoned off to private for profit charter schools owned by the 1%. Also, there are other forms of retirement investment other than 401k, pensions, and real-estate. (see #2, you can own portions of businesses that are mutual, or not publicly traded.)
  8. Share your time, skills, and resources with other working class people, if and only if you have the bandwidth to do so and it does not effect your health.
  9. Stop donating if you are living pay check to paycheck, or month to month (this is over half of Americans, that number explodes when looking at POC). Save for 3–12 months and build a nest egg — then do not touch that nest egg unless it is literally the difference between life and death for you or your personal chosen family. Systematic issues are not our personal responsibility, especially when there is very little transparency in even the most progressive organizations and every donation is reduced significantly due to predatory POS (point of sales) systems. Systematic issues need to be handled at the organizational level through unions, cooperatives, social networks, etc. Once you are not living paycheck to paycheck then and only then should you donate funds out of your discretionary income budget.
  10. Tell yourself everyday that you are valuable, worthy, and worth every penny you have worked for.
  11. After Steps 1–10 are all complete then and only then should you pay your essential bills and pay back your family first.
  12. After Steps 1–11 are complete then and only then should you pay your debt. Never sacrifice your savings to pay off your debt. We will always have bills… However, we may not always have bail money, the means to lawyer up, or to eat — if you follow steps 1–10 you will have more options. When the people have more options predatory capitalists won’t have a monopoly of critical goods and services needed for every person to live with basic dignity and respect. Fuck your credit score, our communities are literally not eating, getting healthcare, or able to live in their homes/communities without being slaughtered by the state.

I went from living below the federal poverty level to having a considerable savings to then allowing capitalistic financial rules to ruin all of my hard work and years of sacrifice in order to be a provider. As it turns out, most financial listicles are not made for people with disabilities or who are disenfranchised in any other way. Nor do the fundamentals of economics or graduate level academic books, articles, etc. My undergrad degree is in International Economics and I recently was awarded my MBA as well… Needless to say this is not my first time thinking, or talking about this topic although I am no expert.

Having drank too much capitalism kool-aid, in 2015 I didn’t change my financial strategy when my disability expenses ate away all of my savings and I found myself in a considerable amount of debt. I am finally back on track to have more financial choices mainly due to my white privilege, nepotism, and my fantastic wife who helped me do the emotional work needed in order to get the medical procedures I required to not be in chronic pain. That said, I’ve made conscious and specific decisions to be a provider again even with a disability. The above is merely a simple listicle that I live by in order to regain freedom and do my part in realizing a new world order. If some of the above resonates, great! If some doesn’t then do what feels right to you! Be safe, build your savings.

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