Throughout my early and mid twenties I have heard many forms of advice regarding my finances, investing, and entrepreneurship. Many pieces of advice helped me here and there, but after studying austerity and crisis economics along racial lines I realized something; none of the advice I received was ever really upfront about the scams that exist within our system. For instance, how burdensome and a scam FICO credit scores are. Or how much of the rich touting homegrown success have their wealth entangled in a web of corrupt resources and human exploitation.
So to premise one of my longer posts, this is not a guide to be a millionaire. This is a guide to navigate our current economic system in the U.S. and how to contribute to alternative systems if you don’t like the way things are run right now. There are plenty of books about adopting “habits of the rich” and how to manage personal finances. This is about providing context and also expanding what financial success can mean as a community rather than just for the individual.
As a Millennial, many people, including myself, have gone to obtain degrees and hone talents in many areas. However many feel under utilized and that’s due to “the market” not demanding certain fields for high pay. Many of us have taken jobs with retail (about 30%). One of the highest growing job creators for the next 10 years. There shouldn’t be shame in “having to do what you have to do” but in the 50’s being a Sears-Roebuck Sales Associate put food on the table for the family and sheltered them. Even then those jobs were restricted to mainly white men. Today it doesn’t cover rent for anyone. No longer is “keeping your head down” acceptable since these “basic” jobs no longer provide the basics. Demanding basics in a capitalist society is considered “being entitled”. Since basic needs are not factored in such a system. Hence the push back on the Fight for 15 movement.
There are a lot of us with misplaced talent and untapped potential to do more. People are working jobs that don’t give us the basic stepping stones to participate in independent adulthood. Many of us aren’t even able to afford homes. So, the bootstrap theory is one that doesn’t apply. It never has.
Completely following our “purpose” and dreams is a luxury in capitalism. It’s not even a factor. It’s something you must pursue knowing this.
The way jobs are set up in a capitalist system don’t factor in self-care, burnout, or reasonable treatment.
Seeking self-care and job fairness is rebellious by definition of neoclassical economics. It’s seen as a detriment to the market environment. Which it is, if we completely seek the needs of the market over the needs of workers and other citizens. This is the lens many economists use.
Also note: Much of the mystification of economics can be understood if one knows most theories are rooted in prejudice against the poor, underemployed, unemployed, and discriminated against.
These conditions in our economy are not by accident. Mass incarceration, Big pharmacology, Monsanto, student loan crisis, health care crisis, and other huge societal problems like these are in fact intentional.
The following is basically a economic projection that I have determined due to my research:
The economic patterns have been very much the same for years. We are in the “false prosperity” field right now. Whether or not the cycle will come back around to another “depression” is not a matter of chance but a matter of when; due to the wrecked system that is student loans and other looming clouds (e.g. mass incarceration). However, how it’s handled will be interesting since this time it’s not necessarily a sustainable market (colleges and prisons) that can bounce back from such a failure by asking for a bailout. However that’s a whole other conversation. If you’re not too depressed, the next few points cover how to manage such a burden and start the gears that signal change.
Where To Put My Money?
The storage of the funds you have can be a very good first step. Right now, thanks to Bill Clinton repealing the Glass-Steagall Act and Congress stripping the Dodd-Frank Act, commercial and investment banks are now running amok together again. A condition that helped to cause the Great Depression and the recession of 2008.
The importance explained:
“As important as the FDIC’s creation was, the term Glass-Steagall usually refers to the set of rules that kept a savings-and-loan type bank from engaging in speculative, risky trading with customers’ deposits. If a bank took deposits, it could not trade in anything other than government bonds; if it underwrote securities or engaged in market-making, it could not take deposits.”(nerdwallet)
So right now most big banks are once again engaging with the shady practice of making risky investments with our deposits. So in order to combat this, the best solution would be to take your money away from them as soon and conveniently as possible. Community run or cooperative credit unions normally don’t engage in this practice. Why? there are owned and governed by credit union members. Making it damn near impossible for the credit union to ever really play with a member’s money. If it is possible, put your money in one or at least a community bank that caters to members. The only downfall is they aren’t as convenient at times. A set back in the era of app driven devices, but there have been many that have heard member’s requests and made online apps and easier accessibility.
If this isn’t a move you can make soon, try starting a savings account with CUs instead of checking. That way, the money you save up can be in a safer place.
Quick blurb on FICO
FICO scores are such utter bullshit. The common misconception is that it gages how financially responsible you are as a whole. There’s a piece missing there. My definition is that it gages how financially responsible you are under the constraints of debt. If you never accumulated debt, they can’t measure your score and therefore you will have no credit. A few things to quickly boost this bullshit score.
- Keep a “rotating” debt: So always have a [manageable] balance on your credit card under 30% of the amount they lent you on it. So that whole “let me spend $30 and immediately pay” scheme doesn’t actually fly here. Especially when you try to build your credit score. And of course pay on time.
- The paying of bills doesn’t actually do much to your score, but your bills going delinquency and collections will in a bad way.
- As you build your credit, if you do have a better offer within the same company to get a better credit card, it usually means your score is going up. It took about 2 years to actually get this better deal.
- Get a Credit Karma account. You can catch any bills that may have got flagged to you. Medicaid screwed me over by not telling about four $5 deposits that went unpaid.
- It’s a long, tedious, money sucking process to build or rebuild your credit.
There is legislation and a fight in place to disavow FICO once and for all from the housing market. Since it’s main use has frozen a lot of us out a mortgage.
Credit Score Competition Act of 2015
Investing Money and Entrepreneurship
This is a topic of large discord for me simply because there have been so many to suggest I should invest in one the most corrupt and scamming systems of all time: The Stock Market. I don’t care how many success stories there are, they’re simply isn’t enough to justify the thousands who have been completely screwed over. Especially when recessions have occurred. I don’t have issues with starting a business; but I do have an issue with many using entrepreneurship as a silver bullet for poverty (a constructed societal problem) with individual bootstrapisms. However, if you really do look to invest money or start your own business in something here is my take on it and a request to think about investment in new ways as well.
Disturb the Flow
If you’re going to really do the stock market thing, at least get stocks in companies interrupting the sector they are in. No more business as usual. For example, if we want to advocate for clean energy and such, how about invest in a company that brings hybrid cars to the forefront. That’s all I have on that, because I already explained how I feel about the stock market.
Mainly these consist of countries that have had their resources trampled by colonialism and now they are at least trying to recover with the resources they have. Many budding micro-lending systems have the guise of being a “community resource” in these countries, however it still perpetuates debt and exploitation. If you are connected to these communities in any way help by investing in infrastructure and put their voice first. Always put their voice first. But that would mean putting your profits last. These are not spaces to make money from. Especially if you are residing in the country that helped to screw this country over.
The best investment, in my opinion, you can do is to create awareness of WHY they are considered an “emerging market” in the first place. Due to the history of globalization (colonialism/neo-colonialism), these “markets” (read: people, countries, communities) consistently get attacked and aren’t able to accumulate social and financial capital for very specific politically violent reasons.
Community Investment: Lift the Burden, Shift Power
Investment doesn’t only have to look like stocks, bonds, and individual contribution. It can look like creating alternative avenues and long term change to benefit everyone who is struggling financially due to the blights of capitalism.
Case: Municipal Broadband in Seattle: De-privatizing Resources
Municipal broadband was advocated for by a band of citizens from Upgrade Seattle. They are currently going to the Energy Committee City meetings in Seattle to advocate for MB. This would treat internet as more of a utility and expanding internet access to residents in the digital dark. The current internet providing giants like Comcast are obviously against this since it would provide much needed real incentive (reaching “perfect competition” doesn’t really exist in an oligarchy) to actually upgrade their services. Right now they run on minimum speed and many don’t feel the need to. Many cities and towns just have one option for internet service. These providers mostly just collude together on pricing and squeezing out profits before providing higher speed internet.
Municipal Broadband has already been successful in places like Chattanooga, TN. They are seeing job growth and many more citizens have access. Which means more productivity for each community and faster access to resources. This overall benefits the entire city and lifts the burden privatizing causes on the most poor and vulnerable.
This is one of many kinds of efforts that create alternatives to the financial sickness capitalism creates. Other examples could be community run food initiatives or participatory budgeting. To make these types of things happen, the best resource we can give is PROACTIVE CONSISTENCY. Time is a commodity under capitalism and can be invested as well.
Individualism is a trait capitalism needs to keep the illusion that it’s working (when it’s actually failed 4 to 5 times over, hence all market crashes). The burden to hustle all your energy away when you’re financially struggling is orchestrated but very real. Going against that narrative can help not only your finances but your health as well. Individualism and “Natural Selection” mentalities have shredded day to day activity as one long work shift.
Let’s take back our time in any way you can.
Get a coffee. Treat yourself to an experience. If you don’t have the money, get with others who don’t either and pool resources together. Maybe even get with some others in the struggle and share resources through a commune style set up.
Imagine a world where community businesses and resources are being supported. Where the unemployed can have higher access to mobility (ex: transportation) in order to gain employment. The more we think about de-privatizing publicly needed resources and less about becoming a billionaire, we can make our communities a less stressful state of affairs. We could actually be less burdened by needing to hustle day in and day out.
We could actually be happy.
If you have an idea or business you’d like to get started, try to also think of impact. Not just in the “market” of your product or service. Are you uprooting community resources for the sake of your business? Are you sudo advocating policies where your business will benefit but knowing it might hurt the surrounding residents?
In other words, is your dream harmful? You could even be a “Black owned” business that’s still being toxic. Check your presence and always consider the power you wield.
On the note of being a business owner and you having a genuinely great idea, don’t condemn yourself to bootstrap narratives of entrepreneurship. Time and capacity are your main needed resources in the beginning. Build those and then embark on your journey. Know that if your are a Black person, funding and loans will be a challenge. Be cognizant of these barriers and develop a strategy for that. Good luck to you in that endeavor. There are many great stories out there. I personally love to support Balm & Co for their sustainable products and the fact that it’s a Black owned mother-daughter business. So rare to see Black women living their truth and the owner displays that in her blog very well. I would gladly give my money to that.
I support happiness with my money.
I support alternative systems with my money and time.
I support access to resources so others can have a real chance.
I support decolonizing the world and getting back to the people.
Of course I’d like to see a whole new system, but this is how I manage capitalism currently.