MONEY MATTERS Author Urges African-Americans to Invest in Their Futures

Article excerpt

Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young said politics doesn't control

the world -- money does. With that in mind, "we ought to begin

to understand how money works and why money works," Young said.

His quote, among 50 others, is included in the book, Smart Money

Moves for African Americans ($21.95, G.P. Putnam's Sons),

published in January.

Author Kelvin Boston, a former financial planner and now host of

The Color of Money PBS program, said he is often asked why he

wrote a money management guide targeted to African-Americans.

"It's my feeling that people's culture influences the way they

manage money," Boston, 41, said in an interview.

Until the 1964 Civil Rights Act, most African-Americans worked in

low-paying jobs with few pension benefits and little disposable

income. Economic empowerment was not a major thrust of the civil

rights movement, Boston wrote.

"Since then, we've been trying to do it by trial and error, and

making a lot of mistakes. We've been trying to spend our money

to access the American dream rather than investing it to achieve

the dream," he said.

Boston visited Jacksonville recently to participate in a benefit

for the Jacksonville Public Libraries.

His objective is to help readers, especially those with incomes

of $25,000 to $50,000, increase their net worth by $200,000 to

$500,000, based on investing 10 percent of annual income.

"The result is that, in 10 to 20 years, you could have a net

worth of over a half million dollars," he wrote.

Boston's advice is universal, although specifically intended to

help African-American families build wealth.

"Right now, we're in an economic rights movement in this

country, and I think that this book represents that movement,"

he said.

According to the U.S. Census, the nation's 33.12 million

African-Americans comprise 12.6 percent of the nation's

population. African-Americans are more strongly represented in

Jacksonville, at 21 percent of the population.

However, African-Americans average a net worth of $10,651, while

white Americans average a net worth of $51,191, reports Black

Enterprise magazine.

And Boston reports that only 7.5 percent of African-American

households earn $50,000 or more and on average earn $21,162.

His first piece of advice: Develop a written financial plan and

to start investing as soon as possible.

"Only funds invested for the long term can help you increase

your net worth," he said.

To build net worth and financial well-being, Boston details

seven financial moves.

Create a wealth-building plan

"For most of us, we will look at 20, 30 or 40 years" of

investing, Boston said.

He reports that long-term investing is the key to building net

worth, and the place to start is with a written plan. And he

recommends carefully choosing a financial planner.

Boston suggests getting references from friends or professionals

who have used planners and by checking credentials to make sure

the planner has experience. He recommends interviewing at least

three planners.

To create a plan, an investor must figure out: How much money is

coming in, how much is going out and how much is being saved.

On average, African-Americans spend 84.4 percent of their

income on living expenses, compared with the national average of

82.9 percent, he reports.

He urges households to look seriously at every dollar spent and

to cut back on impulsive purchases.

Invest in yourdreams every payday

Boston advises households to save 10 percent of take-home pay,

if possible. …