Have You Spent Your Nest Egg On Crap?!

Do you even have one?

OK, I’ll admit it’s a provocative way to ask, but seriously — have you even considered the possibility that the bottom could drop significantly for you — if not fall out completely? I’ve covered the reasons why a majority of African-American women specifically needed to prepare themselves [and other black women by proxy] due to several key issues within the community. Now the high unemployment rate exasperbates things further.

While the majority of women from other groups do tend to have had stronger community ties overall and a more robust infrastructure to fall back on in case of emergencies, for an increasing percentage that’s no longer the case.

Women have been abandoned, widowed, divorced or become ill without warning, having no back-up plan in place. Economic empowerment is imperative.

With the diminishing economy even the obfuscators are losing steam in trying to deny that this “temporary recession” is far worse than their magical thinking supports. On top of that international upheaval amongst the members of the E.U. and our own gov’t shenanigans in not addressing debt, taxation or enacting true accountability will give way to a reckoning.

Of course that means they will look to ^&%$# you over if you are not part of a protected class, the elite, have multiple streams of income, international access or are otherwise the exception and can move held assets. I don’t care what these politicians are saying. This is about stealing transferring wealth to others. We can’t rely on having Social Security or Medicare, the much-ballyhooed Healthcare plan, or that any such coverage will meet escalating costs or beat rates of inflation.

I’m mentioning this so the proactive will make a move to protect themselves. Don’t get caught out there. I say this as someone who has worked for ad agencies, record labels and finance companies that are gone. No one ever thinks it’ll be them drawing the short end of the stick.

No one else will care about your finances [life, health, etc.] as much as you do. We earn less, live longer, and spend more time in and out of the workforce caring for a family.We also cannot rely solely on men, though I will always encourage women to make patriarchy work for them and find a mate who can provide for and protect them versus going it alone.

House Hunters International has had a series of shows featuring women who’ve moved to Budapest, the UAE and other far-flung places when their husbands were offered bigger career opportunities. Some of them took pains to mention they had to give up their jobs and I found myself feeling less sympathetic when I saw the homes they chose.  Their marriages seemed valuable enough for them to go, so why complain?

You don’t want to end up aged out of the workforce or too unhealthy to earn a living AND alone or without adequate support.

Which brings me to Season 4 of Sex and the City. When Adian left for good and Carrie had 30 days to buy back her apartment from him before it went on the market. Until then she’d been happily trotting along maxing out her credit cards for designer duds, particularly shoes. Pricey, impractical and gorgeous shoes. When it came time for her to add up her portfolio, reality hit. She was broke.

She only had to come up with $30K to purchase her rent-controlled studio and she could still get a mortgage? Okay, this was 2004. But…really? That’s television for ya. They wanted to give a slight nudge, but mostly allow our plucky heroine [and the audience] a wide berth. Carrie was not allowed to be poor or suffer any real setbacks — financially anyway. Her pocketbook may have taken a hit, but it was still a Fendi.

She ran in certain circles afterall, and it was revealed her closest friends had significant savings to match their posher lifestyles. They were willing and able to bail her out. Charlotte gave Carrie her MacDougal-era wedding ring to sell [remember her $15K Vera Wang gown?!] so she could make the down payment.

The only person who we’ve seen having less resources being produced is Miranda by the way. That’s because she married down.

I look back and I know I’ve made mistakes. I’ve had never-worn shoes and clothes in storage because I was in a smaller space. In my mind it was temporary. I was supposed to be prosperous and have it all. Mindless spending – like mindless eating will not fill an emotional void or add character.

Indeed, more than 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. During ‘better’ economic times, a person was probably more likely to get away with it if they remained healthy. The lack of stability still needed to be acknowledged and resolved. Remember Oprah’s Debt Diet series from a few years ago? I bet those families are so glad they addressed things then. Can you imagine trying to tackle them now? It would be so much more painful.

Around this time Oppenheimer Fund conducted an opinion poll on women’s spending. The women who participated were in their mid-20’s to mid-30’s. They felt entitled to shoes [we’re talking the $400+++ kind] instead of saving because society at large — well Western society anyway — tells us it’s okay.

You’ve heard the siren call: you deserve x, y, z. Don’t worry about it now. Go have another cookie. Just like the ridiculous notion women can have sex like men with minimal consequence, you can spot the patterns and realize we have been lied to by those with certain interests. As always we must evaluate the costs and benefits for what will work best for us as individuals and not be roped into OPAs [Other People’s Agendas].

Here’s an investment strategy report worth perusing. Read it pronto! I like my gadgets and accessories as much as the next person. I appreciate good food and engaging in world travel. I also support being socially active, joining clubs and groups. As women it is advantageous to look and feel our best, but choosing things over people is a poor reflection of character. It speaks volumes about our lack of values and the extremism of individuality that eschews community-building and sacrifice for others.

It’s not sexy or fun to discuss the downside of any situation or confront our collective sense of entitlement. Nor is it effective to bury your head in the sand to avoid challenges. We can pay now or pay later but the Reaper always collects. We can plan ahead or plan for failure based on our beliefs and actions.

36 comments to Have You Spent Your Nest Egg On Crap?!

  • Truth P.

    Hey Faith,sorry to write in on this old post again but I really just wanted to send positive vibes, well wishes, and prayers to anyone still reading this.Earlier today I wrote in about how I was looking into getting an extra income and I totally just landed a new job after I wrote that.My schedule is such that I will be able to attend college and work at the same time with this new job if I choose to.

    I just wanted to let people know that I had been struggling and things seemed hopeless but I kept going and now I have a better job with better benefits.I can be very down on myself and it can take a lot to get me motivated.If there is hope for me, there is hope for many others as well.Remember we need to be resilient!Never give up no matter how bad things seem to be.

    I would like to thank you Faith, Khadija,Gina,Roslyn Holcomb,Focused Purpose,the writer Socialite Dreams, and many many others in the BWE community for all of the well wishes and advice along the way.I will never forget to give back to those who have helped me.It is bad karma to only take and give nothing back.I thank you ladies for the many lessons I learned along the way.I trust that I will be a good representation of other black women at this job and even though I have landed this job I will not stop striving to become my very own boss and even more self sufficient.

    Thank you all and many blessing to you and your families!

  • Truth P.

    My community has a neighborhood garden.I have held out on joining in but now is the right time.This is an easy adjustment.There is a lot that I can learn at the community garden to expand my own.School is number 1 on the agenda still, as well as finding extra income.I'll be working at it.
    There are somethings that I have been wasting time on.Time is money so I'm putting an end to that as of NOW.

  • APA

    This post hit home. I started my job last month and have been really trying to save as much as possible. I didn't save much last month because I had to buy basic furniture since I lived in the dorm during college and my parents didn't let me take any of the furniture in my room. Now, that I'm done with all that, the majority of my money will be going to my savings account and possibly a Roth IRA once I figure out which one to buy. I don't have student loans or credit card debt, so there's no excuse why I can't save.

    The idea that the economy could collapse this summer/fall is scary. As of now, I don't have tons of money stashed away. If the economy were to tank and I lost my job, I would be SOL. I really need to get on the ball as far as saving, setting up alternative income streams, and marrying well.

  • itsmeak

    My plan that I have been putting in action so far, although I can SOOOOO much better (LOL!), has been to study for a degree in Accounting and putting in place a white 'face' to front my business. At the moment I don't have a mortgage and the nearest vegetable garden I could have access to would be my grandparents who don't live that far from me. But in certain borough of London, people in the community can get an allotment of land where they grow fruits and veg, possibly similar or exactly what they used to do during WWII in Britain's cities.

  • Karen

    We have been working our our nest egg and other than our house (which we working to pay off the mortgage as soon as we can), we have no debt. Our challenge now is to have our garden producing more vegetables for us in the coming years, developing other skills (they may be used for bartering in the future if it becomes necessary), other income streams and continue with building our nest egg.

  • KimP

    Great article, Faith!

    Vanessa, that is a boon indeed!

    I'm still working on my nest egg. I'm going the Suze Orman, 8 months of expenses saved route. It's tough to put the necessary discipline into place, but I long for that sense of accomplishment and security.

    I also try to up my time with savers and limit the time spent with serious spenders; similar to how I spent more time around health-focused people when trying to lose weight.

  • LaughingEyes

    for a people that spend all their life energy on money, the majority are-to put it bluntly- ignorant about the stuff. im not saying its right or wrong. that is not for me. in my books, nothing is neither good nor bad, one need only make sure that whatever it is serves who they want to be.

    case in point, i have a friend who graduated a few months ago and was immediately hired by a top IT company. on paper the company is doing well but not that well and they announced that they would be letting 200 (and later 2000) employees go!!! although i doubt he is at risk of loosing his position, building up that nest egg ASAP is something i have advised him to do but i doubt he will not be a part of the herd and spend it all and then some more (credit cards!!!). for most, transitioning from being a student to a working folk is often accompanied by a lifestyle inflation of sorts.

    on the issue of finances, may i go ahead and say that ignorance is never an excuse. personal finance 101 use to be SAVING YOUR MONEY. now its GETTING OUT OF DEBT and even that, a lot of folks seem not to be doing a good job of it. i have noted with something that resembles pain, that a lot of black people (more than others) are the big hat, no cattle type. the statement, a penny saved is a penny earned is uncorrect: a penny saved is more than a penny earned. i will leave it to the reader to convince themselves of the truth of the preceding statement. HINT: think taxes, compound interest, time etc.

    by the time one is in her early 20s, they should have a sizeable portion of savings and already be on their way to becoming investors in whatever market: financial market, real estate market etc. rarely is this the case-especially for black women because the sooner they accumulate wealth, the sooner they can secure themselves. we are the most unprotected group, so get yours. one of the PF blogs i have followed with much success has the clearest imagery that explains financial success:
    http://earlyretirementextreme.com/cash-flow-diagr

    the wealthy will inherit the earth. note it does not say the rich…but the wealthy.

  • Formavitae

    Faith,

    This post hits on the very thoughts I've been having recently. I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I've decided that I don't want to be a person who has lots of "things" but very little wealth. I've always known that I wanted financial security. But, I've always counted on my education elevating me to higher income brackets (and I still plan to utilize that strategy). However, I've come to realize that I need to work hard and make the necessary investments while I'm on my way to that higher level. I've been a student for some time, making many sacrifices. I'm working, and it feels like, "God, I've been sacrificing for SO LONG, I just want to enjoy A FEW pleasures." But, I realized that it is best for me to continue living at a lower level of consumption while maxing out my investment opportunities than to allow myself to become accustomed to a higher standard of living that is going to cost me more today AND tomorrow. I've made some commitments in my mind that I need to put into writing. I'm going to allow myself a couple of pleasures that help me feel more "whole" as a person, but they are going to be my only true indulgences. The rest of my focus is going to be on sustaining what I (my family) have, building for my future, and preparing myself to advance professionally (while maximizing my personal health status). I am going to learn to be content with who I am and what I have. This society is constantly trying to convince you that you need to purchase something else to feel good about yourself and be happy. I see clearly that the only reason certain people (like Kim K) are wealthy is because they can convince others to transfer their hard-earned funds to them. The game is to convince others that they should invest their money in you rather than their own selves. I GET IT. I'm investing in ME and MY DESCENDANTS. And, I'm going to marry a man who's going to make a SUBSTANTIVE contribution doing THE SAME. The days of relying on welfare, SSI, disability, defined-benefit contributions ARE OVER. It's time for people to wake up.

    Thanks for another of your wise, "reality-checking" posts!
    :)

  • Part 3--Last Part LOL!

    Ladies, I humbly suggest that most activities that aren't helping you move forward on the above-mentioned points #1-5 are a waste of your time. A destructive waste of time that might cost you dearly later on. Maybe as soon as a few months from now.

    Most people are keeping their heads in the sand, but those of us who take prudent action can survive and even thrive during this era. There's still plenty of opportunities for those folks who are willing to think for themselves and take action.

    For just one example, Mr. Konrath recently did a post about Amazon's pending expansion of Kindle books to India, which has a huge audience of people who read in English. [If I remember correctly, the number of East Indians who speak/read English is something like the population of the entire United States.] These are exciting times!

  • Part 2

    Quiet as it's kept by the mainstream media, this summer/fall is the point in time in which everything the legitimate BWE voices have been discussing for the past couple of years comes together for many people in an obvious, undeniable sort of way. Issues such as:

    1-doing what one can to preserve their health (including by maintaining a healthy weight);

    2-developing multiple income streams;

    3-securing wholesome, godly marriages to quality men (I clicked through the link and it didn't escape my notice that LA Banks is described as a single mom. A single mom facing needing anti-cancer medication that another reader at Joe Konrath's blog mentioned costs around $6,000 per month);

    4-joining better networks of mutually supportive people (I also noted that the writers' network she helped form is raising money for Ms. Banks);

    5-growing a portion of your own food, thereby giving yourself some margin of food security, and so on.

  • Faith,

    Thank you for this post! Years from now, this will be remembered as the summer when the Western world's economies collapsed. This is one situation in which the US mainstream media's steady stream of "bread and circuses" for the masses programming is a good thing: It gives those of us with common sense a bit more time to prepare before the masses start doing panic buying and emptying out the ATMs and food shelves in grocery stores.

    I would strongly urge people to start growing small vegetable gardens, and learning how to can some of their food for extended storage. With modern, just-in-time practices, the grocery stores throughout the country typically only carry about 3 days worth of food on the shelves. It's time for WW 2-era victory gardens to make a comeback.

  • Vanessa F.

    Timely post. Over the last year I have started getting my nest together for that one day were I no longer have the desire to work (or perhaps may not be able to do so…who knows!). Its interesting how many of my peers (the late 20s early 30s set) have the deer in the headlights look when I bring up the topic of finances. And these folks have so called 'good jobs.'

    On the topic of money/nests/etc…I am currently reading HuffPo that there are co-eds not selling themselves to the highest bidder to pay off sky high student loan debt! Yikes! Are times really that hard? I guess so… Learning about these desperate acts makes me glad 1. Had parents who had their stuff together to support my college tuition 2. Decided to go to a school while not in the top 10 on the planet, allowed me to come out of school without debt, which would have but a financial albatross around my neck out of the gate.