Dr Boyce Watkins: Poverty is not an incurable disease. Your kids can escape if you help them
by Dr Boyce Watkins
I’ve never wanted to be a conservative, because I am allergic to racism. But I can also get sick of hanging around liberals. Many of my liberals friends talk about every poor decision as if it’s some kind of disease or mental illness that can’t be fixed without our dysfunctional government coming in and saving us. Even when I gain weight, there’s someone out there telling me that getting fat is a disease, when the truth is that I decided not to go to the gym. Nobody forced those Cheetos down my throat, and while we know that sugar is addictive, the fact of the matter is that I can survive without it. The honest confession is that I sometimes just don’t want to stop eating stuff that tastes good.
This weird conversation continues when we talk about poverty. Some people talk about being poor as if there is nothing we can do about it. But as an expert on Finance who’s taught college students for the last 23 years, I simply cannot remain silent when people tell me that this problem can’t be fixed. It may never be fixed on a national level, but at an individual level, we all have a choice. I also don’t agree with those who think that every wealthy person must be some kind of lucky crook or Donald Trump wannabe. That’s just not true.
In many cases, people who are financially secure are a lot like my late grandmother: They make sound financial decisions even when they have little money, and they don’t waste their money on bullshit. Also, those who get ahead in America are typically those who own businesses, invest in the stock market and work their way up to owning property. You can learn to start a business on the Internet for free, so the information is not locked up in some magical book that only rich people have access to. The information is right there on your cell phone.
Also, I’ve seen people start businesses with just a few hundred dollars and make thousands in a very short period of time. A good business owner can see opportunity everywhere when you have access to the most lucrative market on earth. Americans are very rich and are always in need of goods and services. All you have to do is identify the need and fulfill it. But you’ll never see any of that opportunity if all you know how to do is go look for a job.
Andre Hatchett, founder of TheBlackRealEstateSchool.com, often talks about how he saved to buy his first home while making just $15.15 per month. He also bought the home in New York, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country. My point here is that we’re not doing ourselves any favor by allowing liberals to convince us to let go of free will and personal decisions as one of the key factors in determining how our lives are going to end up. There’s nothing to gain by simply hoping and praying that somebody will come and save you. The fact is that they are not.
Then there’s investing in the stock market. During the Obama presidency, the first people in America to get ahead financially were those who put their money in the stock market. Much of this was because the Obama Administration’s first big cash injection went toward Wall Street. Yes, the billionaire banksters got their payday, but so did the regular working people with 401ks, and those who were investing just a few hundred dollars a year.
You don’t need to be white to invest in the stock market and you don’t have to be rich. Buying a share a stock is as easy as buying a pair of shoes, the difference is that most people never take the time to learn how, and also, buying a share of stock is not as instantly gratifying as buying a new pair of Jordans or going to the movies. All of our students in The Black Business Schoolknow how to login and buy a share of stock. I’m able to teach them in 10 minutes.
People often ask me, “Dr Boyce, I want to invest for my kids, but I don’t know which stocks to pick.”
I then tell them about a study that showed that blind-folded monkeys were able to pick stocks as good as the experts and make just as much money.
They used blind folded monkeys to basically show that, according to a Financial theory called “The Efficient Markets Hypothesis,” which stocks you pick is not all that important relative to the importance of simply making sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Therefore, a person with no knowledge of investing, who simply makes sure they buy at least 30 or 40 different stocks, is going to (according to historical performance) have hundreds of thousands of dollars to leave their kids in a 30 year period. Thirty years isn’t very long to wait when it comes to your kids. The reason most people don’t do it is because we don’t have a culture that is accustomed to making long-term economic sacrifices for the benefit of our children, both born and unborn. We want all the rewards ourselves.
So, the bottom line is simple: Don’t let your money get spent up at the mall and don’t put it into silly stuff (like Christmas toys, new sneakers, movie tickets and trips to Applebees). Invest at least $100 per month for your kids and they will have hundreds of thousands of dollars available to them by the time they are in their 30s. At least this has been true for every 30 year period over the last 120 years.
Think about it. Most of us spend $300 a month on nonsense, so we can actually invest more than $100 per month if we simply value our kids’ future as much as we value instant gratification. I set the bar at $100 for people who want to do the bare minimum. Most of us spend far more than that on liquor, clothes and entertainment. I see a lot of people telling me that they can’t afford a tiny investment for their kids, but their kids are wearing Air Jordans on their feet, taking trips to Disneyland, and buying the latest iPhones. That doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s stop living for today and let’s stop playing strugglenomics. Poverty is not an incurable affliction, nor is it some kind of permanent curse that we are stuck with for our entire lives. It is something that can be confronted and modified with the right decisions – in fact, if we were to study wealth building as much as we train in football, basketball and entertainment, we would be the best in the world.
Let’s build a nation for our children. All you have to do is spend a few hours learning how to do basic investing and decide to appreciate owning things rather than renting everything from other people and working for them. Your community will never get ahead when your kids are all being taught to beg someone for a job. All it takes is planning, discipline and fighting for a stronger culture. We must become builders rather than borrowers, that’s the key to our eventual strength.
Dr Boyce Watkins is a Finance PhD and executive producer of the new film, “The Secrets of Black Financial Intelligence.” You can learn more about Dr Watkins’ programs and books by visiting BlackFinancialLiteracy.com.