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At the beginning of 2000, we announced the BLACK ENTERPRISE Black Wealth Initiative. In the few months since we launched this campaign for financial empowerment, I have been energized and inspired by just how ready African Americans are to take control of their financial future. Thousands of people have called 1-877-WEALTHY to order the BE Wealth-Building Kit, which includes a copy of the Declaration of Financial Independence (DOFE). Others are visiting our Website at blackenterprise.com to download copies of DOFE and to begin investing through Netstock Direct. Groups ranging from Harvard Business School students to the congregation of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church have been motivated by the BE Wealth-Building Seminar.
Still others are sending letters, faxes and e-mail, telling us about their new or renewed commitment to sound money management-along with the changes in spending, saving and investment behaviors they’ve made to back it up. They understand that the greatest threat to our future as African Americans is not the much-hyped digital divide, but the net worth divide.
Needless to say, we at BE are thrilled-but we’re far from satisfied. In fact, we are just getting started. There are too many people, including many who are reading this issue of BE, who have not made the commitment to wealth building, and we refuse to leave them behind. These are our neighbors, our co-workers, our family and friends. You know what they say: “It’s too complicated,” “I don’t know how to get started,” “I’ll do it as soon as I get my next raise”-or promotion, or a new or better job. Most of all, they ask, “Where will I get the money to invest?”
The answers boil down to this: Learn to live on 85% of your income. Save-do not spend-the rest; that is the money you will use to invest.
It’s really that simple. In fact, all wealth-building strategies boil down to the first principle of DOFE: to save 10% to 15% of your after-tax income. If you have income-any kind of income, from any source, whether the amount is great or meager-then you have the capacity to save and invest. Most of us can afford to save 15 cents on every dollar. Nearly everyone can save 10 cents on the dollar. And even children can save a nickel for each buck they get their hands on.
This means that the vast majority of us can start building wealth today, right now, with what we have. Even if you don’t have the slightest idea of how to get started as an investor, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can learn once you actually have some money to invest.
Have you called 1-877-WEALTHY and ordered your Wealth-Building Kit? Have you signed your DOFE document, and put it in a place where all in your home are aware of the principles by which you manage your financial resources? Have you taken steps to advance your financial education by reading BE and other personal finance periodicals and books, visiting blackenterprise.com and seeking out the help of a financial