Perspectives and Insights
THE PLAN – PART I
June Issue 2020
Picking right up where we left off, this month we will be getting into some asset, monetary, family, and community building actions to generate wealth and opportunity. f your job is offering a retirement account in which they are matching a percentage of your salary, this is truly a no brainer, you should certainly contribute up to their match. Some employers match anywhere from 50-100% on 3-6% of your salary….
If your salary is $10,000 and you contribute 3% ($300) of your salary, your employer will match that 3%. This is essentially a 50-100% ($150-$300) return straight-off, not including the long-term gains through compounding interest. It is a win considering most employers did away with guaranteed pension plans. If you do not have an employer and are a small business owner there are alternative self-employed 401k plans you can create and contribute to. Another account to consider is a personal Roth or Traditional IRA. I prefer the Roth IRA because it offers tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals. A Traditional IRA is the opposite. You do not pay any taxes on the money contributed but you pay taxes upon withdrawal. A bonus of the Roth IRA, unlike the Traditional IRA, is that if an emergency arises requiring access to cash, you can withdraw up to the amount you contributed with no penalties or tax bill, but any gains you withdraw will be taxed. Both IRA plans have contribution limits, which can adjust from year to year. Additionally, you can open a guardian IRA account on behalf of your child. Your child’s income (via lawn work, trash work, etc.) is what makes them eligible for this account. The advantage is that as the guardian you can match the child’s contributions 100%.
Subsequently, with your credit in good standing, major debts paid off, and a 6-month emergency fund you can make your way into real estate. To begin, a savings account needs to be established to stow money towards an investment property. The initial goal is to create cash flow and growth which eventually results in financial freedom. The effects of this financial freedom will bring about significant changes. Not only your own life but also that of your family and community. For starters, saving for a 20% down payment on a property, plus closing costs, rehab, and unexpected expenses is crucial. This will give you a strong position with the property by lowering your mortgage payment. Once you have a tenant you will see a larger return on your investment. Presumably, a $100,000 house will have around a $500 mortgage payment, if you rent it out for $1,000 that will be around a 30% annual return on your down payment, not including the potential increase in value on the property.
Obtaining a property manager is optional, however, a lot of information can be found online and/or in books and can be done remotely. Speaking from experience, this can be accomplished. In 2013 when I got laid off from my job in Virginia and moved to Florida, I did exactly that; remotely managed the rental of my property. I posted ads in Zillow/Trulia/MLS/Realtor.com and I am hesitantly going to disclose Craigslist. Though truthfully that is where I got my first and best tenant. I ran my own credit report and reference check, got a generic lease from Google docs, collected my deposit and ongoing rents through a mobile app and kept in touch via telephone. I did have a friend that helped with the showing and transfer of the keys. I share my story to say, if I can do it, so can you! In next month’s column, we will continue to dig deeper into other strategies and ideas
Note: Please consult a professional before making any final decisions
CONSUMER VS. PRODUCER
May Issue 2020
We live in the land of the free, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is what we as a nation have signed up for, regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status. Countless historic documents allude to the notion above but has this nation lived up to that?
We are living in a time in which half of 1% of the population controls 90% of the wealth. This didn’t happen overnight. This is the making of generational laws, rules, regulations, and access control embedded in the foundation that has been manipulated to fit those in power. From slavery to current day mass incarceration, there has been no let-up in this system. One breaks and another is formed, old money, new money, old rules, new rules, we have remained in the same predicament, still aiming to believe in documents not written for us.
In former times, uprisings and revolutions were stirred up when political institutions failed to incorporate changes that would benefit us all. Modern day pioneers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King did everything in their power to bring about change; unfortunately, their force was met with deadly force resulting in assassinations. Dr. King was shortly assassinated after he re-positioned his message to self-empowerment and using buying power to impact change. The re-direction was for the people to start building up their own businesses, their own network and putting that money right back into the community. Just imagine if his vision would have flourished. This could have kept our money within our communities promoting growth and thrusting us into wealth via land, property, and resource accumulation. “United we stand divided we fall” never rung truer. But it was evident, unification was not going to be tolerated or allowed. The establishment’s agenda was and is to control our money and mobility while upholding their powers, ironically, by any means necessary.
Which leads me to another tactic that has been used on us: Welfare, designed to meet temporary basic human needs at best partially responsible for controlling people since its inception decades ago. It has kept people from pursuing their talents, hopes and dreams through fear of no longer qualifying. It creates a crutch to the extent that you remain in the same income bracket feeding a perceived security net. It conditions you to stay poor, stay in your bubble, not to reach for a bigger slice of the pie. Before you know it, you fall victim to the welfare mentality not even realizing you are comfortable being uncomfortable. We need to destroy all chains designed to hold us down and relive Dr. King’s dream. The one he had while awakened, to save, to build, to own, to invest, to unite, to grow, to dream, to explore, and to expand our capacity. Let us do away with the grip commercial consumerism has had on us and begin to produce no matter how small. Currently the total of Black and Latino buying power is nearly $3 TRILLION! Let’s make our money work for us, build our communities, lets support our small businesses, add new skills, lets expand, gain real estate assets, open up more savings accounts, Roth IRA’s, workplace 401k’s, where we can invest and grow our money in our own banks to reinvest in our families and ourselves. We are the ancestors of future generations, let us begin to build a foundation they can not only stand proudly on, but also soar to new heights.
April Issue 2020
If our current situation were a sci-fi show, it would land a spot-on prime time television, with a script possibly written by Stephen king.
Collectively, our lives have been turned upside down in an overnight fashion. Our norms have come to a screeching halt as we scramble in our minds to make sense of many uncertainties being delivered our way.
Store shelves are empty, people are outside masked and gloved, healthcare workers and first respondents are fighting an invisible threat, vital supplies are running low, elderly and immune compromised, people are dying, hospitalizations to no end, families torn and quarantines in the works for entire cities, states and countries.
All governments are in response mode, but they are up against something they have no manual for. Strong, smart leadership is the necessity, and while some have ‘let the ball drop’, it’s important to highlight that many have also acted in response to this pandemic.
I have seen firsthand the overwhelming response some elected officials are providing to their constituents. They are having personalized conversations, holding late night conference calls, working the 7 days of the week, gathering and prepping staff to be prepared to help as many people possible. In this moment there are more questions than answers but at the core of it all, the people just want to know that all bases are being covered to achieve the best possible outcome.
This is life in 2020 right now and as we search for that silver lining let us also keep in mind that we must do our part. This virus indiscriminately chooses its host and our role is to flatten the curve by adhering to the prevention guidelines set.
Hopefully, sooner than later, we will reflect on these happenings and describe it as a time that ironically got us closer to what really matters. Our families, staying connected, looking out for one another and seeing past what has separated us. Not as a compromise, but as a realization that we ultimately are one people with the same basic needs, wants and desires. Everything else comes in as a distant second.
We will not only get better but also be better! Peace and love family, looking forward to life post COVID.
March Issue 2020
One of life’s treasures lies in the beauty of having a child. It’s an immense responsibility and as vast as the sky regarding parenting styles.
My perspective has allowed me to witness the changes that occur as the child goes through several developmental stages. Coupled with those stages, the parents also go through adjustment phases in which you aim to meet the child’s mental, physical and emotional needs. Within the context of this relationship, you carry the hat of life giver, caretaker, guider, first example, adviser, disciplinarian and the list are truly endless. Parents quickly learn the intensity of sacrificing and overcoming whatever obstacle to ensure the child’s well-being. Having a child is the purest form of unconditional love. It’s a sacred relationship that should be respected as such and held to the highest regard. However, I find that a shift is occurring where parents are trading parenting and aiming for the “best friend” title instead.
Let’s explore this a little further. According to the dictionary, a friend is one who is ‘attached to another by affection or esteem.” A friend is an individual you can trust, mutually support, love and choose. The key driver in a friendship is that you possess the choice for the person to be a part of your life for varying reasons. This choice is eliminated when it comes to your children. The relationship is not chosen but assigned to a degree and so naturally it takes on a completely different connection. I’ve asked myself plenty of times why the best friend path is chosen, and I’ve concluded that this generation would rather be “cool” parents because it’s the more popular option, and the one they never experienced with their parents; which merely reduces their roles to titles.
From the family unit to your work unit, or any unit, you are a part of – title means something. Your boss is not your secretary, your associate is not your CEO and your child is not your best friend! You are a mother or father and that encompasses so much more than that of a friend. A child might innocently say you are their best friend, which is inherently heartwarming, but clarity needs to be given to not confuse the roles. Declaring yourself as your child’s best friend will lead to confusion and skew the fine balance of the parental relationship and can eventually lead to a lack of respect.
In my family structure, I opted to delineate the parental roles and reinforce the unconditional love that I have for them, no matter the adversity; and subsequently, this strengthened my family unit. The phrase “friends are like a dollar in your pocket, here today gone tomorrow” sums up why your children are not your friends. It’s simply cannot be ranked in the same category.
In closing continue to navigate parenting with the approach of always looking to improve. Do it with love, honor, and respect.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis
February Issue 2020
|Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Is a disease that causes
the body’s immune system to attack the
central nervous system (CNS).
The CNS includes the brain and
the spinal cord.
Some say the “beauty of life is in the struggle.” German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche even went as far as saying “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Poetic in nature for the over-comers, but what about those during their despair. Could this ring true to them? Let me bring you into my world to demonstrate how that struggle can indeed lead to beauty.
Circa 2005, I experienced total numbness on the left side of my body. Several tests later, the doctor walked in to tell me what I then considered the definition of life being over. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 21 years old! Filled with denial and despair, I simply could not see a way forward. The life I envisioned did not include having a debilitating condition in it. What it had were plans and dreams that now felt impossible.
The reality I described above is now 15 years behind me. With time, pain, and tears, I came to terms with everything. Truthfully it wasn’t due to some grand revelation or even a spiritual journey, but indeed the struggle life presented to me. I just needed to survive, and that survival was driven by two forces, my girlfriend (now wife) and my first son.
With reflection, it became clear to me that the beauty was in the paving. The paving despite the difficulties is what allows you to overcome. We must keep going even if it’s just to survive for that moment because you don’t know what is waiting for you in the next.
My survival in taking it one moment at a time, yielded me four (4) beautiful kids with my wife. I have accomplished and endeavored in things that not even my pre-diagnosed self could have imagined. The beauty is regardless of MS I still have more to do.
The roadblocks don’t stop you; you just become better at handling them. My most recent bump was being placed on disability and relearning how to walk. I will spare you all those details, but what I will say is that instead of being a recipient of Medicare at 36, I am a licensed agent distributing it. Keep going, keep fighting, keep striving, keep giving yourself a chance for the beauty of life to reveal itself to you….
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January Issue 2020