Behaviors That Keep the 99% in Financial Bondage

Do as the 1%, which could take a little strain off your budget

Photo by Katie Harp on Unsplash

Invest in yourself.

And, I’m not talking about stocks, bonds, mutual funds and NFTs, bank products, options, annuities, retirement or education funds, coin offerings, insurance, or futures.

I’m talking about physically investing in YOU, right now.

In the Black community *where I grew-up, everyone knew who had money (at that moment — it wasn’t in their hands or pockets very long).

The working poor [figuratively] had “pockets with holes in them.”

Their money would definitely be spent, if they had a drug or alcohol problem — all of it.

If those who had money [for the moment] didn’t have a substance-abuse problem, they still had to spend it. They had to spend it on something — anything!

My mom use to say, “I might as well spend it. I ain’t got that much no way.” Or, she would say, “It ain’t enough to do anything with.”

But, the irony was that my mom bought me a pink ceramic piggy bank when I was six years old.

She also bought my big sister, who was thirteen at the time, a ceramic bronze bank, in the shape of a U.S. mailbox.

She instilled in us to save our money.

It was one of those situations to ‘do as I say, not as I do.’

Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

Everyone, knew when someone in the neighborhood got a hit at the pea shake house.

The winner either told any, and everyone of their lotto jackpot, or if they were in the presence of others, they would flash their money.

Then, after the lottery winner revealed their prize money, they would go on a spending spree.

At that point, the cliché advice, “don’t spend all of your money in one place,” went totally out the window.

The winner did often spend their gains in one place.

But, this isn’t about the Black community and money.

*This is my personal experience about money, and the way it was handled within my community of the Black working poor; a great example by which to make my point about a small segment of the 99% populace, and their relationship with money.

Again, *I’m only referencing my community where I grew up.

It’s about the mentality of the 99% versus the 1% — the way they view, value and cause money to “vaporize,” if you will.

As a liquid asset, money can be converted into— cash-on-hand very quickly.

And, with a play on words, money, being a liquid asset, which in *my community, it vaporized (was spent/or squandered) very quickly.

I want to share a true experience I had, which prompted me to write this article:

I create and design leather handbags — all handmade.

At a pop-up event, some years ago, I made a sales pitch with my bags, to some sistas who approached my booth.

When the ladies asked the cost of my purses, I wasn’t surprised that they couldn’t make a purchase, due to the price.

Laptop Bag — Designed and handcrafted by Arnita M. Williams @ Burnished Leathers Boutique

But, I was totally shocked at the reason they wouldn’t even consider buying a bag from me.

One woman’s reply, with the other women in agreement:

“Huh, I can buy me a Coach bag for that amount of money.”

Sure. Her bag would have been the tiniest knock-off of the brand during that time.

But, her signal to me was that she definitely didn’t want my leather bag — a classic, handcrafted, top-quality genuine leather, guaranteed for a lifetime of value.

She discounted my bag, because it was not what everyone else was carrying — most importantly, it was a ‘no-name.’

Tote Bag — Designed and handcrafted by Arnita M. Williams @ Burnished Leathers Boutique

She didn’t care about the cost of a Coach bag, which could have cost more than $120, just as long as she had the name brand like everyone else, which would allow her to keep-up with the trends, the Joneses and every bag that was chic at that moment.

She would opt for a cheap, pleather imposter of a name brand, just to be with the “in crowd.” Again, that was all she was going to get for $120.

Burnished Leathers Boutique — Laptop bags and portfolios designed and handcrafted by Arnita M. Williams

No value. No quality. Nothing classic. No class. No lifetime guarantee. No savings. Just a perpetual waste of money, season-after-season, while chasing for the next big thing in handbags.

I know this, because as a leather artisan, specializing in women’s handbags since 2004, I’ve talked to hundreds of ladies through the years about purses, which is one way I’ve always conducted market research, to determine what type of bags to create.

This is the type of spending mentality that will keep a person within the ranks of the 99%, and definitely in poverty.

A couple of behaviors of the one-percent, as it relates to money:

Now, I originally said this article is not about the Black community and money.

However, I have often wondered why some Black folks still like to flash their cash, and publicly put their assets on display?

Some hypotheses that just crossed my mind:

  • Does it boost their ego?
  • Might it give them a feeling of increased self-worth?
  • May it gain them acceptance into certain circles?
  • Do they like to follow the crowd, because everybody’s doing it?
  • Does it give them sense of liberation?
  • At least temporarily, might it push their blackness into the shadows, or make it disappear for a moment?

But, again, these are just hypothetical questions.

Photo by David Karp on Unsplash

Now, consider this:

What about the idea of being chic, conservative with classics that never go out of style?

There’s a shoe, Bass Weejuns, I used to wear in high school, which was the ‘trend.’ Actually, the shoe brand was a classic, but I didn’t know it at the time.

Then, as an adult, while in the military, I came across Bass Weejuns again.

I begin purchasing Bass Weejuns loafers, again in 1983. That’s when I discovered the loafers were classics, and had existed since 1876.

Bass Weejuns loafers were, and has also been promoted as the style for 2021 and 2022, respectively!

They are a wardrobe staple!

Investing in classics and quality items, will save you tons of money over time, which the “boot story” clearly demonstrates.

4 things you want to avoid:

  1. Keeping up with the Joneses — don’t shroud yourself with a false sense of security, that you do, and can have it all.
  2. Browsing and shopping without a particular product or service in mind — don’t spend carelessly and mindlessly.
  3. When you have “mad money,” don’t be compelled to spend — save it, instead.
  4. Spending money because you have it — leads to buying things we don’t need, clutter— hoarding — waste, AND POVERTY.

Sometimes, having more in your house, can turn it into your poorhouse.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

What Scripture says about money:

Some folks get it wrong — They say: “Money is the root of all evil.”

That is NOT what the Bible says.

1 Timothy 6:10 says:

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” (NIV)

It’s all about your mindset toward money — don’t allow it to control you.

Be mindful and take control of your money.

Additional Tips & Takeaways:

  • Tithe — FIRST, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, give at least 10% (before you spend a dime) to the Kingdom — you can’t beat God in giving. Gross or net is your personal decision.
  • Pay yourself second— at least 10% of your income, or save what you can, but save.
  • Literally, invest in yourself — buying trendy items is not an investment — buy quality, and things that last. In the long-run, you’ll spend less.
  • Conserve, and stop buying into every trend, even the ones you can afford.
  • Don’t flash your money — no one needs to know that you have a little disposable cash on hand.
  • Don’t browse for items to buy — save that money.
  • Stay away from the trendy items — learn how to buy classics.
  • Shop for the classics — clothes that are timeless — they never go out of style.
  • Establish an “evergreen” section within your closet — as the trendy items fade with the season, begin to replace them with some classic staples.
  • Accessorize, instead of purchasing a brand-new outfit for every occasion, and every season.
  • Buy what you need and want — but ask yourself “what is the reasoning for your want?”
  • Don’t buy “wants” if you’ll never use them.
  • Trendy clothes are guaranteed disposable — They’re worthless after one season, if not two.
  • When you have classic wear, you can begin to shop within your own closet — just accessorize your classics by purchasing a new item to coordinate with what you already have— in doing so, you can create a completely new outfit, for much less.
  • Do your laundry — I’ve actually worked with someone who shared that they would go out and buy something new, specifically undies, because they didn’t have anything to wear or had no clean underwear — everything was dirty. Really?

With the laundry story, I’m just sharing what was shared with me. But, do people really do that?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Again, getting back to the main points:

  • Invest in yourself.
  • Don’t flash your cash.
  • Minimize purchasing trendy wear.
  • If you can and desire, consider including a few classics within your wardrobe — it’ll be a huge savings over time.

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Enhancing Your Quality-of-Life | Taking care of your overall well-being: Mind, Body & Soul

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