In 2018, Black spending power was valued at $1.2 trillion, showing just how undeniably powerful the Black dollar is.
That same report also states that "African-American consumers are an important population for smart brands that want to grow market share and brand preference…brands can't afford to lose favor or traction with this segment without potential negative impact." With so many corporations looking to Black people and Black culture as a market opportunity - imagine if it was flipped. Imagine how much more powerful the Black dollar could become if we reinvested some of that buying power back into our individual finances and communities. One way to do this is by #bankingblack.
Meet Teri Williams, President and Chief Operations Officer of OneUnited Bank - the largest Black-owned bank in the United States. Through her work at OneUnited, Teri is committed to combating challenges and embracing the opportunities that come with educating and being relatable to people who look like her about the power of #bankingblack. "People start banking at the large banks because that's what they're exposed to," says Teri. "They don't realize there is a whole network of Black banks, credit banks, and community banks that better reflect their values."
Teri spoke to xoNecole about critical money management tips that can give Black millennials a step up when it comes to their financial literacy and building a strong financial base and future.
Check out her tips below!
1. Set up an automatic savings plan.
Though savings can be a bit of a struggle when you're trying to pay bills and other monthly expenses on time, paying yourself first is a MUST! "If the money goes into your pocket first, it's almost impossible to save," says Teri.
Try setting up your paychecks so that a certain amount is automatically deducted and moved into a savings account through direct deposit. "It doesn't matter the amount, it's the idea of taking money out of your paycheck and putting it into a savings account so you don't touch it," Teri explains.
You'll be able to look up a year (or more) from now and be amazed about how much you can spend. Making this process automatic will leave you little room to forget each pay period.
2. Adjust your student loan payments so you can still save.
For many of us paying back student loans is a major financial burden. However, Teri warns, "If you're paying student loans and not saving, you're sacrificing your future for your past."
She urges millennials to find ways to speak to lenders to negotiate payment plans that are consistent with one's current income. Many student loanees don't realize they don't have to pay the bill that's been sent. Speak to lending partners directly to see if there is flexibility in payment amount and payment scheduling. This will help make sure that though you're repaying a significant amount, saving towards your financial future monthly is also possible.
Courtesy of Teri Williams
3. Focus on buying (or investing) in real estate.
For many of us, getting out of the urban and low-income neighborhoods we're from can be seen as a rite of passage or a sign that "we've made it", but Teri thinks otherwise. "We look at our communities and say we want to get out of here, but instead we should be investing."
Gentrification isn't only affecting communities from a physical perspective, but it also affects potential wealth creation for Blacks and Hispanics. In order to fix this, it's important to "not turn your back on the community and run." She explains, "I'm someone who has been in banking in low-to-moderate income communities for the last twenty years. What I'm seeing on the ground is that our communities are being gentrified. We have been thinking about our communities from the past as opposed to the future."
Figure out where the real estate investing opportunities are in your community. "That dilapidated home down the street or that small condo you feel like is too small for your needs is going to be worth a whole lot more in the future." Now is the time to buy, while properties are still somewhat affordable.
This is also where banking at Black or community-oriented institutions is valuable. As a certified community development financial institution, the majority of OneUnited's lending is in low to moderate income Black and Hispanic communities. This is in comparison to other large banking institutions, where only 1-2% of the loans go to Black people. The odds of receiving a loan from a Black-owned bank like OneUnited is much higher. That's why depositing in a bank that looks out for the best interests of the community is crucial.
4. Don’t neglect your credit health.
Having bad credit isn't permanent, so it should be something that you're actively trying to fix and restore to good standing. Though this tip is pretty standard in the financial literacy world, Teri wants millennials to remember just how important an asset it is for one's financial future. If you're looking to rent an apartment, buy a car, or even buy a home - bad credit can significantly impact your ability to. Specifically, OneUnited offers a "How To Rebuild Credit" program that teaches customers safe ways to work on rebuilding their credit score.
If you're looking to use a credit card as part of your credit rebuilding, consider a secured credit card that reports to the major credit bureaus. Beware of prepaid cards with monthly fees that don't report to the credit bureau. Overall, working with a banking institution that offers financial education resources is important if you're in need of credit repair help.
Courtesy of Teri Williams
5. Create your retirement strategy early.
No matter how far away it is, planning for one's retirement future should always be prioritized. If you're working in the traditional corporate 9-5 structure, when choosing a place to work, always ask about the employer's 401k plan and contributions. It's always a plus if an employer contributes or matches contributions. According to Teri, it's basically "free money" and "helps you build retirement funds without money going into your pocket."
For those millennials who work in the "gig economy", which is also known as freelancing, short-term employment, self-employment or any other non-traditional job type - one of the things you're losing beyond health insurance and benefits is an automatic contribution to social security. As social security is an important part of one's retirement plan architecture, making sure you're contributing to your social security fund is critical.
Finding a career you're passionate is also another major key to the health of our retirement financial strategy. "The reality is that most people are going to work longer than they expect," says Teri. "Look for a career where you are paid your value, and would enjoy getting up and doing the work. Long-term, that will allow you to want to stay working longer which will help you with retirement."
Teri's excited about the future of Black banking and the impact Black millenials will have on the industry. "We need to start using our money more purposely. Bank Black. Buy Black. Build Black. Trust each other. Come together…" With confidence, she adds, "We're taught that we as a community are a failure. We're not taught the tremendous accomplishments within our community and contributions we have made to this country.
"We are not going to be defined by our liabilities. We are going to be defined by our assets."
Featured image by Getty Images
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Rana Campbell is a Princeton University graduate, storyteller, content marketing strategist, and the founder and host of Dreams In Drive - a weekly podcast that teaches you how to take your dreams from PARK to DRIVE. She loves teaching others how to use their life stories to inspire action within oneself and others. Connect with her on Instagram @rainshineluv or @dreamsindrive.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images