Learning the True Meaning of Wealth

This post is part of Generation One Blog Tour which I am excited to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more and to join us as we tell the world how we are creating generational wealth, CLICK HERE!  

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Growing up I learned quickly that money was for spending. My grandmother had closets filled with clothes and, for me, many Saturdays were spent seated inside a department store frequently asking if it was “time to go eat yet (We frequently ate out and when she cooked she went all out)?” Her home was filled with beautiful things ranging from trinkets to furniture and her vanity displayed every beauty product known to (wo)man. I loved playing in her makeup.

My grandmother enjoyed a good retail therapy session and my mother and I picked up some of her shopping ways. Whenever I had money I spent it. In my younger days I frequented the Sanrio store and when I was older I made a beeline for Express and the B.P department at Nordstrom. I graduated high school with zero savings (I had a savings account but it was empty) and figured student loans was something you just did. Even when I worked I never saved, at least not for long.

But my grandmother was also a giver. She opened her home to the homeless, volunteered in the community and helped ensure that we had what we needed beyond what my mother, who was working very hard to build a life for us as a single parent, could do.

My father was hardworking and quite frugal but because my parents were divorced and we didn’t live with him the financial behavior he modeled wasn’t our norm. Instead it was over the top and unnecessary in my eyes. It would take some time before I came to respect the art that is living below your means and ignoring the Joneses and focusing on my own household.

He wore the same suits over and over, treating them with care.

My grandmother wore new clothes all of the time, though she also treated them with care.

He paid for things with cash — once he used change to take us to the movies and I was so embarrassed.

My grandmother simply swiped a glimmering plastic card.

He drove his cars until they didn’t go and wasn’t above buying used cars (with cash).

My grandmother drove a Cadillac and when she got a new one it had the works including the “gold package.”

He had a small house (in retrospect it was in a prime location) and the same furniture my entire childhood and went on to purchase several other properties.

She had a big house perfect for hosting play dates. When she and her husband divorced they sold it.

I could go on…

I reference my grandmother so much because I grew up in her home, her role in my life was prominent.

Later I learned that some of her financial choices were the result of her having spent so much of her life without. I think some of mine were out of fear of experiencing life without or that being my own child(ren)’s reality.

For most of my life I measured my worth by things and my appearance.

A life that looked well put together was a measure of success. I was focused on immediate gratification rather than preparing for the future. I sought comfort in the now and hoped that things would work out by the time later had arrived.

As a child I learned that buying nice things was one of the ways you showed love. It was a habit I carried with me into marriage and have worked so hard to break. To this day I still struggle.

As my family grew and changed my perception changed as well. I began to place more value on moments rather than mementos.

I realized that memories trumped merchandise. Every time.

Things get old, lost, break, depreciate in value.

But your people and the memories you create with them are lasting.

However, it didn’t quite end with that epiphany. Because as much as I love and value my people my financial decisions didn’t truly reflect that. I was failing to use wisdom when it came to our finances.

I look at my grandmother, who no longer has many of those once prized possessions.

I look at my own mother who would love to be at home taking care of her grand babies but must work. She has accomplished so much; her work ethic and steadfastness to her family inspires me as a mother who struggles with honoring my own dreams and juggling the demands of family life and adulthood (this grown up gig is no joke and I’m 31 ya’ll).

And I look at my father, still always with cash in hand, who can essentially retire and has positioned himself to be self sufficient when he enters into his “third act.”

I can’t help but wish that I paid closer attention to his teachings. Coupled with the generous spirit of my grandmother and the heart and determination of my mother and their work ethic just maybe I would have gotten things right the first time around.

Even so, there’s no reason why we can’t get it right now.

For the first time in years I have a savings account that has gone un-touched. We have savings. Life has shown us that rainy days are inevitable and you don’t fear them as much when you’re more prepared. I’ve also learned that a tag sale at Anthropologie is not an emergency :). My husband and I are attacking debt like crazy and always talking about ways we can get a little crazier with it.

We are consuming less stuff and consuming more financial wisdom.

We are learning over and over again that we may have to say no to some stuff so that we will eventually be able to say yes to the important stuff.

It’s a huge adjustment (read: hard) but it has been good. Especially as we’ve begun to see the fruits of our labor.

We want to model the importance of being a good steward of all of the blessings God has given us. We want to come from a place of gratitude.

We want to be able to bless others freely without worrying if it could potentially set us back. We want to enable our kids to venture throughout adulthood without the worry that they will one day have to provide for us and be able to bless our own parents who loved and labored to ensure that we had the best chance they could possibly give us. We want to take a family vacation.

My family and I will be watching Generation One: The Search for Black Wealth together. And I can’t wait to learn more about building wealth in the black community. We still have much to learn. We are learning and applying the tools to our lives. We’re ready to change the game.

“Generation One takes a hard look at the numbers, giving historical context to early wealth creation in the Black community and tapping the expertise of the nation’s top financial experts to weigh in not only on how Blacks fell behind, but surefire strategies families can implement to begin building a strong financial legacy for generations to come.”

Owning and maintaining business, homes (and paying off that mortgage) and paying for college without student loans, saving for retirement, becoming (and staying) debt free — all of these things and more are well within our reach. Yours too.

My 20s were filled with lectures from my dad. Today I am grateful for them. He planted the seed. My mom’s support as my husband and I have stepped things up has helped that seed take root.

Several years ago we were house poor and racking up debt to maintain a certain lifestyle (and do the maintenance our older home required). We were living beyond our means. I felt like a slave to a job that I believed in but took so much out of me that I had little left to give my own family. We got caught up in what we were told we should be doing rather than taking our time and trusting our gut. We made decisions out of fear.

Nowadays we are about that apartment life (dreaming and working towards another shot at home ownership), building our emergency savings, tackling debt and investing in our future and our family. I work part time and love what I do but remain open to a full time job that would be a good fit for me and where I am in my life.

In a sense, we were blessed with a second chance to do better when it comes to managing our God given blessings — not just money and material possessions but (most importantly) the people  — our people.

Lamar and Ronnie Tyler will kick off the debut of #GenerationOne with a live screening in a city near you:
Atlanta – Wednesday July 15
DC – Thursday July 16
Chicago – Saturday  July 18
More Cities TBA
*National Wealth Discussion via Social Media July 18th using #GenerationOne*
Visit www.GenerationOneMovie.com for the latest updates.

 

Lamar and Ronnie Tyler are co-founders of BlackAndMarriedWithKids.com. They wrote and directed Generation One to give African American families the tools and strategies they need to begin building wealth for their families TODAY. The Tylers know this film has the power to change lives. You can grab your copy HERE.

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Comments

  1. Great post (as usual)! I follow Black and Married with Kids on Facebook so I saw the trailer for the Generation One Movie through that and immediately began to rethink my life. I knew that I needed to but it was something about that trailer that struck a cord. Isn’t there an option to purchase the DVD? If not, I hope that there will be. I want to watch it with my teenager.

    I definitely grew up living above my means and didn’t know how poor that we really were until I was grown and went out on my own. I quickly realized that it wasn’t as easy as my grandmother and mother made it seem. Then I started to analyze my childhood and the small things that I had dismissed started to make sense. The sad part is that I didn’t learn my lesson then. I still made foolish purchases in my 20’s (and early 30’s SMH!) that my husband and I are cleaning up now in my mid 30’s. My goal is to not pass on my financial ignorance to my children but to equip them with the tools to make great financial choices early in life. It is definitely a work in progress. I am so thankful for bloggers like you that share your story and are willing to be so transparent with your life.

    God Bless!

    Andrea

    • Krishann says:

      Thank you Andrea. It really means a lot that you take the time to read my words. Yes! You can purchase the DVD!! At the end of my post is a link (it’s affiliate link, putting it here also and went in and made it larger :). If you click the link and scroll down there is an option to “buy now.” My copy is on its way!! As for those purchases, I can so relate. I have those “if only” moments often but I try not to dwell on what I could have done so much and instead focus on what I can do now and then do it! It is a work in progress for me too friend! Small steps are still steps though, I say that all of the time. And it’s true. I’m excited for your family (and mine) because you and I have the chance to give our kids the tools we didn’t necessarily have. I’ll be rooting for you! We can do this ;)