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Smarter Than Wall Street: My Family's Revolution

"What we need is awareness, we can't get careless."

~ "Fight the Power," Public Enemy

There's so much that yours truly could write about -- the sit-ins on Wall Street (About time! When is Public Enemy going to show up and bust out with "Fight the Power"?), the racist bake sale held by the U.C. Berkeley College Republicans that no one in the Republican party has seen fit to disown, the execution of Troy Davis, the passing of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, and the brother from Stanford Law School who is suggesting that single black professional women just give up the ghost and go get a white guy, or any guy for that matter, other than a black man.

The Wall Street sit-ins call to me because they dovetail with something my family is embarking on: Our own revolution. Starting next Saturday.

As I wrote in my previous post, the ill effects of this recession have touched my family like they have most families in America: unemployment, underemployment, wage cuts, foreclosures, underwater mortgages, you name it. What my husband, Black Man Not Blogging, and I realized is that if we as a family don't get smarter and share what we know, we're always going to be at the mercy of Wall Street -- unscrupulous corporations, greedy banks, and the politicians who enable them. Who knew that the person with the biggest cojones to take on Wall Street would be someone who doesn't even have cojones -- Elizabeth Warren?

But try as Elizabeth Warren might, Wall Street ain't gonna change for the better, so we have to. We as a family have to be smarter about money, investing, finances, and preparing our children for educations and careers so that we aren't ignorant to what Wall Street would have for us. If we as a family and as a nation had been smarter than Wall Street, we would not be in this mess.

So my husband, Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB), and I decided that we would hold a series of family meetings in which we as a family share what we know and increase awareness so that the next generation will indeed be smarter than Wall Street. The goals or hopes I have for myself and my family -- and by "my family" I mean the generations behind me -- are 1) Financial literacy; 2) Having a career, not just a job; 3) Preparing the children for either college or a vocation by age 18; 4) Home ownership; and 5) Multiple streams of income. I believe that if your finances and your career are in order, you have the peace to enjoy your family and other pursuits. When your money's funny, your landlord is in default on the home you're renting, and your job is, well, a job, those problems produce stress that affects your ability to enjoy the other parts of your life, IMHO.

So we decided to call our little series of meetings "Something to Think About," and they will be centered around those five goals/hopes. We'll be talking about credit, budgeting, investing, entrepreneurship, education stewardship, finding the career you want, and a whole host of things. The idea is not for BMNB and I to talk at our family, but for our family to come together and share what we know, especially our mistakes, and raise questions about what we don't and find the answers together. Much of what we will talk about are the basics that seemed to have gone out the window or were never discussed from generation to generation, like not buying more house than you can afford (and don't let the lender or the realtor tell you what you can afford), or that retirement is a three-legged stool that rests on pensions/401(k)'s, Social Security, and investments, and not on any one source of income. We're also going to talk about starting a sou-sou, since that topic remains the most highly viewed blog post on this blog. Who knew?

Most importantly, we're simply going to talk and become aware. I would expect, as with most revolutions, that not everyone in the family will be down with what we're doing. I expect that on some Saturdays it will be just me and BMNB. That's okay, though. BMNB and I will be able to go to our graves knowing that we tried to plant the seed in their minds, that we discharged our duty. I for one do not want to go to my grave having created generations of renters who increase the wealth of those who already have.

Like Public Enemy said, what we need is awareness; we can't get careless. Again.

Fight the power, y'all. And while you're at it, support Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate. She's the only one looking out for the rest of us.


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