Try to escape a conversation about money. Whether it's a new poll showing that blacks aren't prepared for retirement, actress Kerry Washington urging women to be "financially literate," or Jay-Z rapping about generational wealth - conversations about money are all around us.
Honestly, these are topics that I've avoided like Trump speeches for years based on bad financial choices from the past. But burying my head in the sand won't change anything and, the truth is, black women are winning in business. It can't be said enough that we're the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in this country and our businesses generate $51.4 billion in revenues. Those are the kind of numbers that motivate a girl to get it together.
That and my kids.
I want to give them a better life than I had and enough money to never have to struggle when I'm gone. So, how do I get there? According to financial advisor Lola C. West, who has been educating people about money for over 20 years, building the type of wealth that can be passed down to future generations is easier than we might think. In fact, a lot of it has to do with awareness and the right mindset.
The key to generational wealth is having awareness and the right mindset.
Fortunately, she's broken down some gems about building generational wealth that can strengthen our financial literacy IQ exponentially, whether we're new to the conversation or just brushing up. So, in the spirit of sharing, here's the Woke Woman's Guide To Building Generational Wealth!
It Never Too Late To Start Saving
It's never too late to start building wealth. First, you have to know how much it costs to be you. If you spend more than you make, then you have to look at your daily habits and create a budget. At least, 10% or more of your income should go into a savings that you don't touch, and it's critical to have at least six months of living expenses saved up in case you lose your job.
Also, the first day you start a job, take out the max (in 2017, $18,000 per year, and $24,000 for 50 years of age and over) for your retirement account. By taking out the maximum amount, it could put you into a lower tax bracket, which could save you more money.
You could also speak to a financial advisor about setting up an SEP IRA. A Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account allows entrepreneurs, or anyone with freelance income to open an account and make tax-deductible contributions. Like a traditional IRA, the money in a SEP IRA is not taxable until withdrawal and business owners can contribute up to 25% of income, or $53,000, whichever is less.
Educate Your Kids About Budgeting and Good Money Habits
We have to look at the conversations we have at home about money and what we are teaching our children. For example: giving a child as young as five years old a $5 weekly allowance can build their understanding of money. 1/3 of that money could go to a savings account, 1/3 could be for philanthropy, and 1/3 for spending....NO CANDY!
By taking a child into the bank, they understand this is an institution. An ATM does not leave that impression. Explain that if you buy something with a credit card today, a bill will be at your doorstep in 30 days, and if you don't pay on time there are late fees. You can also give them things to budget. For example: give them the amount of money you plan to use for back-to-school clothes and let them help make the list based on how much you have to spend.
Invest In Your Child's Future
Also, establish a 529 College Fund account when your child is born, and every birthday, Christmas, and holiday that your child gets money - at least 50% of it should go into a savings vehicle. If you have significant assets or a child with special needs, establishing a trust with the support of a qualified estate attorney can be a powerful way to foster the longevity of assets and/or protect the welfare of your child throughout their lifetime.
Multiple Streams of Income and Diversifying Investments
I always use the analogy that if you're in an elevator that has three cables and one of them breaks, the other two will still hold it up. It's the same with multiple streams of income. If one stream doesn't work, the others should help balance. It's also the strategy behind diversifying investments between three asset classes: stocks, bonds and cash.
Stocks are the equity that you buy when a company is selling shares. You can buy one, two, or many. Bonds are considered fixed income. For instance, a company says if you give me $1,000, I will pay you 4 percent interest for the year. At the end of the year, I will give you back your $1,000 and you will have received $40 for letting us use your money.
Cash is the money you put in a bank that they pay you interest on. Interest rates for savings accounts are low now, but save anyway! You continue to earn because of the compounding effect of interest, which is interest on top of interest earned when you don't withdraw your money.
People often ask if buying a house is still a good investment? Yes. Because it allows you to build equity. You build equity in a house as you pay down your mortgage. The less you owe on the property, the more equity you have. When you have equity in your home, you can "borrow" money against it - we call that refinancing your home. The danger is mortgaging your home to its market value. You will then have no equity in your home. Property is one of the main assets that are passed from generation to generation.
Deeds And Setting Up A Will
A deed and a will are very important. A deed establishes ownership of a piece of property. If you and your partner buy a house, it's important that both names be on the deed so there are no issues when transferring the property to someone else. Because of the complexity of federal and state laws, we recommend working with a qualified estate attorney to draft your will to lessen the possibility of family conflict. Be specific in terms of what you want each child to have, even children you don't wish to leave anything, so that your will won't be contested. For example: each child should be mentioned by name and left something, even if that sum is $1, so it is clear that the child was not forgotten, and he or she can't contest your will.
Study Wealth Building
One of the best ways to build the wealth you desire is research. Attend workshops, study online, find a mentor, etc. There's a great book called 50 Billion Dollar Boss: African American Women Sharing Stories of Success in Entrepreneurship and Leadershipthat I strongly recommend because it highlights how successful black women worked through the challenges of creating their businesses. When you look at generational wealth beyond dollars and cents, it's also our stories of resilience that we want to pass down to future generations.
Lola C. West is a co-founder and managing director at WestFuller Advisors.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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This was first evident more than a decade ago when she quit her job as the corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company during a Periscope livestream. “I’m not sure if there’s an alignment of [our] future trajectory. I’m going to work for myself. I'm promoting myself to work for myself,” she said at the time before flashing a smile at the viewing audience. As she resigned on camera, a constant stream of encouraging messages floated upwards on the screen.
By 2021, she’d fashioned her work as a corporate consultant and her personal life with her husband and three adopted daughters into a reality show, She’s The Boss, for USA Network. This year, she released the New York Times bestselling memoir Nothing Is Missing, written as she was in the process of getting a divorce and dealing with her eldest daughter’s struggles with substance use.
Convinced that there’s no way the 39-year-old has achieved all of this without intentional strategic planning, I asked her about it when we spoke less than a week before Christmas. I’d seen videos on social media of her working on 2024 planning for other brands, and I wanted to know what that looked like following her own year of success.
She listed a number of goals, including ensuring that the projects she takes on in the new year align with her identity “as a Black woman, as an African woman, as a mother, as someone who has lived a [rebuilding] season and is now trying to live boldly and entirely as themselves.” But, I was shocked by how much of her business planning also prioritized rest.
Despite the bestselling book, a self-titled podcast, and working with numerous corporations, Walters said she’s been taking Fridays off. This year, she doesn’t want to work on Mondays, either.
“A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement,” she said, noting that she’ll check in with herself around March to see how successful this plan has been. The goal, Walters said, is to only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays by sometime in 2025. “It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to have happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change.”
"A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement... It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change."
Walters said the decision to progressively work less was partially in response to her previously held notions about her career, especially as an entrepreneur. “When I first started, I thought burnout was a part of it,” she said. “What I didn’t realize is that even if you’re able to bounce out of burnout or get back to it, there’s a cumulative impact on your body. If you think of your body as a tree and every time you go through burnout, you are taking a hack out of your trunk, yes, that trunk will heal over, and the tree will continue to grow, but it doesn't mean that you don’t have a weakened stem.”
But, the desire for increased rest was also in response to the major shifts that occurred three years ago when she was experiencing major changes in her family and realized her metaphorical tree was “bending all the way over.”
“One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity,” she added. “That is some language that I think is just now starting to really get unpacked.” In recent years, there’s been an increased awareness of achieving balance in life, with Tricia Hersey’s “The Nap Ministry” gaining attention based on the idea that rest, especially for Black women, is a form of resistance. Even online phrases such as “soft life” and “quiet quitting” have hinted at a cultural shift in prioritizing leisure over professional ambition.
"One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity."
If companies are lining up to consult with Walters about their brands and products, then women have been looking to her for guidance on starting over since she invited them to livestream her resignation 12 years ago. As viewers continue to demand more from content creators in the form of intimate, personal details, Walters has navigated her personal brand with a sense of transparency without oversharing the vulnerable details about her life, especially when it comes to her family.
The entrepreneur said she’d been approached to write a book for several years and was initially convinced she was finally ready to write one about business. “I started to do that, and then I went through my divorce. When that happened, I said, why would I write a book telling people to get the life that I have when I’m not sure about the life that I have,” she said.
Instead, she decided to write Nothing Is Missing and provide a closer look at her life, starting with being born to immigrant Ghanaian parents (“You need to know my childhood to know why I’m passionate about entrepreneurship.”) through the adoption of her three daughters and eventual divorce. Despite her desire to share, however, she said she felt protective of the privacy of her family, including her ex-husband.
When discussing this with me, Walters said she was reminded of a lesson she learned from actress Kerry Washington, who released her own memoir, Thicker Than Water, just a week before Walters’ book release. Washington’s memoir grapples with family secrets, too, specifically the fact that she was conceived using a sperm donor and didn’t learn about it until she was already a successful TV star. While Washington reflects on how the decision and subsequent deception impacted her, she’s also careful to hold space for her parents’ experiences, too. “A lot of things she said was that she had to recognize where she was the supporting character and where she was the main character,” Walter said.
This is something Walter worked to do in Nothing Is Missing when discussing her daughter’s struggles with addiction. “I was very intentional about making sure that I did not reveal more than what was required,” she said. “If I say something about someone’s addiction, I don’t need to go into the list of the substances they used, how they used them, what I found. [I don’t need to] walk into a room and paint a picture of what it looked like for people to understand.”
Walters said some of the most vulnerable moments in the book barely made a ripple once it was released. She was extremely nervous to write about getting an abortion, she said. But no one has asked her about this in the months since the book was released. Instead, people have been more interested in quirkier revelations, such as the fact that she once appeared on Wheel of Fortune.
“I have bared my soul about this thing I went through in my youth that has changed me for people, and people are like, ‘So how heavy was the wheel when you spun it?’” she said, chuckling. “It just goes to show that people never worry about the thing that you worry about.”
With the success of Nothing Is Missing, Walters said she still isn’t planning to release a business book at the moment. But, as she navigates parenting a teenager and two adult children while also navigating a relationship with her new fiancé, Walters said she believes she has at least one or two more books to write about her personal journey. “There is sort of an arc of where my life has gone that I know I’ve got something more to say about this that I think is important, relevant and necessary,” she said.
In just three years, Walters’ life has undergone a major transformation. There’s no telling what the next three years will have in store for her, but it seems likely she’ll retain an inspired audience wherever life takes her.
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Ever since I started (regularly) writing for the platform, at the beginning of each new year, I try my best to come up with a few things that people can do in their bedroom to make their future sexual experiences even better than the ones they’ve had before. Because even though the overall concept of sex has never changed, there are always little “tweaks” that can be made along the way that can make things more exciting, more lust-filled, and more thoroughly satisfying.
Although sometimes I go the sex trends route, this year only contains one of those (and even it is something that isn’t “new”; it’s just become more popular). Instead, I decided to share 10 small things that can make a big impact, from start to finish, during sex, if you’re willing to give them a shot.
And please, give each one some serious consideration. They could be the game-changer that you’ve been looking for all this time.
1. Use Purple Light Bulbs
Give your bedroom a sexy upgrade with purple lightbulbs.
Recently, while reading an article on how to give bedroom decor a sexy upgrade, it mentioned that if you don’t like red (which symbolizes things like love, passion, and romance), black and dark purple can work as well.
Purple, eh? While a lot of you probably know that it’s a hue that represents royalty, it also symbolizes femininity, creativity, and spirituality. Plus, the crown chakra, which is your head, is also known as the purple one — and since your brain is the biggest sex organ that you have…why not see purple as a super sexy color? It’s also pretty dope that purple is considered to be a “highly spiritual hue” that intensifies feelings of self-awareness and unity. Not to mention that it’s a color that can make you feel very sensual too (think the late and great artist Prince; he wore purple often).
So, if you want to intensify your sexual experiences, my first recommendation would be to switch over from candlelight every once in a while and rely on a purple light bulb instead. It looks hella good on Black skin tones; plus, it helps to evoke all kinds of erotic thoughts — in the easiest way possible.
2. Eat More L-Arginine Foods
L-arginine foods have been touted for their ability to give stronger erections.
Whether your partner struggles a bit with erectile dysfunction or you simply want him to have stronger erections, make this the year when you’re intentional about him getting more L-arginine foods into his system.
Long story short, L-arginine is an amino acid that helps to build protein and increase proper blood circulation throughout the body, including the genital region; the benefit of that is that the more blood that’s flowing down below, the more amazing your orgasms will feel. While you can take it as a supplement, foods like red meat, poultry, whole grains, beans, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and dairy can get you right in this department as well.
3. Play a Round of “Dirty Questions”
Asking your partner stimulating questions is a great way to add a little foreplay to your day.
What position do you like to feel me in the most?
What word do you like to hear when you first penetrate me?
How can you tell when you’ve hit my spot?
Do you like it most when I whisper, moan, or yell?
What’s the thing that you wish I would do more often? Describe it in detail.
How can I please you more?
What fantasy do you want me to fulfill?
If you’re squirming around in your own seat by just reading the questions, think about how he’ll feel being asked them. So, whether you decide to send a few “dirty questions” in the form of a text, you randomly call him while he’s at work and tell him not to say anything while you ask these things in your sexiest voice, or you decide to start off foreplay this way — you know what they say: wisdom comes in the questions far more than the answers. Ask him a few stimulating questions and ask him to return the favor. It’s one of the best ways to get a night of passion ignited before one of you touches the other at all.
4. Do More Initiating
Everyone wants to feel desired. Initiating intimacy is a game-changer in bringing that fantasy to life.
I’ve been working with couples for close to two decades at this point, and when it comes to what easily 80 percent of the men have told me that they wished happened more in the bedroom is that their partner would initiate sex more often. I get why, too, because even if sex is bomb once it gets going, everyone wants to feel desired — and initiating intimacy plays a significant role in making that wish a reality. Besides, the word “initiate” doesn’t just mean to begin something; you can also initiate by introducing a certain topic or level of knowledge to another individual too.
You know what? I can’t think of one man who wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy being a student of his sex partner when it comes to learning about new positions, creative places to have sex, and whatever else your imagination (and maybe a bit of Googling on the topic of sex) can conjure up. So yeah, definitely make it a priority to initiate sex more often than you currently do…the more energy you give, the more you will receive. Just you watch.
5. Incorporate Shallowing into Your Foreplay
Your most intense vaginal nerve endings are two inches in your vaginal opening. Shallowing gives new meaning to that sensation.
If you put “sexual trends 2024” into the search field of your favorite search engine, I’d be shocked if “shallowing” didn’t come up in half of the articles that you read.
If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s when your partner uses his tongue, fingers, penis, or a sex toy of your choice to gently caress only the outer part of your vagina. Kinda like how back in the day, we used to joke about guys who asked if they could only “put the tip in”? This is that. The sensation is like edging on steroids because, contrary to popular belief, no woman needs a big package in order to be sexually satisfied or even (pun intended) ful-filled.
Your most intense vaginal nerve endings are 2” in from your vaginal opening, and so if your partner can master that area (along with your clitoris), you should be good to go…on a few different levels.
6. Get Your Shibari On
If you're curious about BDSM, Shibari might be a great initiation.
If you’ve been finding yourself becoming more and more curious about BDSM, but you want to inch your way into it rather than dive all in at once, how about learning more about Shibari? It’s a form of Japanese rope bondage that simply consists of using (comfortable) ropes to tie your partner up. Now, for the record, this isn’t just about using a pair of handcuffs and calling it a day. Shibari experiments with tying different parts of the body up in different positions to see what kind of sexual pleasure comes from it.
And what if you’ve never considered bondage sex play before, and you don’t get why anyone would? There are plenty of studies to support that the feeling of empowerment that comes from the one who is doing the typing up mixed with the feeling of complete vulnerability from the one who is in the bondage cultivates an exchange of excitement that can elevate the entire sexual experience overall.
By the way, I don’t recommend you go to your local hardware store to get the rope. There is something that is designed specifically for Shibari. One example is located here.
7. Do Some “Sandpapering” with the Help of Minty Gum
Want to get better at giving head? Sandpapering could be that method.
You know what’s a trip? Whenever I talk to men and women about a sexual gripe that they have with their partner, it’s a constant that they want to receive better head. Listen, I get it because it’s certainly not a given that just because somebody’s mouth is on someone else’s genitalia that earth-shattering orgasms are on their way. As far as men go, my recommendation would be to do some sandpapering.
Yeah, as “ouch” as that might sound, all it means (as far as oral sex goes) is that you focus on flattening your tongue on the tip (and right under the tip) of his penis as you move your tongue back and forth as if you were literally trying to sandpaper something. The texture of your tastebuds will provide an amazing sensation — especially if you chew some minty gum first.
What role does the gum play? Not only will gum help to build more saliva in your mouth (which men damn near lose their minds over!), the minty sensation will make it easier for him to climax too. Chile…CHILE.
8. Experiment with a Metal Spoon
Who knew a key to unlocking new levels of pleasure in the bedroom was a metal spoon?
There are certain things that you have right in your house that you can use as an expensive sex toy alternative. Believe it or not, one of them is a metal spoon. If you apply some lube or a carrier oil like carrot seed, sweet almond, or vitamin E to it after warming it up with the palm of your hands a bit and then rub it across your clitoris and labia, the sensation of the spoon will provide a unique pressure as the wetness of the lubricant or oil will end up making you that much…wetter.
9. Treat Him Like a Rocking Chair
"Woman on top" isn't a crowd pleaser for nothing.
If you were to get a group of women together and you asked them what their favorite sex position was, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if at least half of them said it was the cowgirl — you know, when the woman is on top. A big part of the reason why it’s such a fan favorite is it gives the woman the ability to control the amount of penetration she receives and how slow or fast she actually wants things to go. Take things up a notch this year by doing the position in a chair…better yet, a rocking chair.
The fact that the both of you will be sitting up makes it easier for him to grasp all of your erogenous zones, it can help your clitoris to grind better on his shaft, and the movement of the rocking chair will give you some unexpected feelings of thrusting and stimulation. Yeah, a rocking chair is a must-have in 2024, for sure.
10. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Sex is about shutting the world out and enjoying each other.
“Mindfulness” is a word that you’re going to see everywhere this year. It’s about slowing down. It’s about being fully present. It’s about focusing on the moment — not what happened 30 minutes ago or what will happen 30 minutes from now. When you bring this type of mindset into the bedroom, it can only work in your favor because, real talk, a big part of the reason why women don’t get to “see the mountaintop” as far as sexual pleasure goes is that they are overthinking. Sex with your partner is not supposed to make you feel like you’re getting graded on a test in school. It’s about the two of you shutting the world out for a few moments (or a couple of hours) and just…enjoying each other.
So, take the devices out of your room. Do not worry about the time. Slow down and just be…there with him. Shoot, if you apply the other things that I mentioned to this final point, you should be in for one hell of a night if you do. #wink
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