Tag Archives: lgbtq

6 Financial Things HBCU Men Must Do Before Getting In A Serious Relationship


Teach self-denial and make its practice pleasure, and you can create for the world a destiny more sublime that ever issued from the brain of the wildest dreamer. – Sir Walter Scott

So you are a man now you say? You have graduated from your HBCU with degree in hand and maybe you have your dream job, maybe you are still looking, and maybe you are contemplating going to graduate school. Regardless of where you are in life, there is a strong chance that you have a desire to be in love. Before you give someone the world, make sure you have taken care of a few things before you embrace the responsibility that comes with a serious relationship.

Societal norms put the financial burden of courtship on men in heterosexual relationships. Historically, this makes sense because it has only been in very recent decades that women have earned the right to their own financial independence within many societies and in more than a few still have limited financial rights. However, this presents a bit complicated in the United States for African America where the women have surpassed men by leaps and bounds in almost every major category. It also does not help that African American men have the highest unemployment rate among all groups in the country, which creates a courtship complexity of sorts within the community. African American men who are 20-24 years old as of December 2018 had a 11.8 percent unemployment rate, while their European American men peers were at 5.9 percent and African American women peers were 7.5 percent. That being said, for African American men who are part of the LGBTQ community, the instability can be even more pronounced since both parties are part of the most vulnerable economic population and will be facing additional discrimination.

A relationship can be an expensive endeavor, according to a USA Today study the average date cost $102.32 and if you assume one date a week in a relationship that comes out to a total of $5,320.64 per year. This of course is not including special dates or holidays where the purchase of gifts, etc. can drive that cost even higher. The problem of course is that African American median income, last among all ethnic groups, is at $40,258 according to the 2017 Census. In other words, over 13 percent of African American income can be used up in dating, while no other groups even spend 10 percent.

To say the calculus is complicated would be an understatement. Do African Americans simply not date? This of course would be problematic since one of the fundamental ways of building wealth is through the scalability of marriage. Instead, get a strong financial foundation under you by adhering to these six principles and objectives:

BE HONEST. BE HONEST. BE HONEST.

This honestly could be the whole article, but it is certainly worth leaning into. Being honest about your finances up front with the person you are dating can take a lot of pressure off them and yourselves. This does not mean you have to tell them everything right away, but if you can not afford to do something tell them and do not feel ashamed of it. If you want to share with them that you have certain financial goals you want to meet, then do so and let them be part of what you are trying to accomplish not an adversary to it.

HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND – NO, SERIOUSLY.

African American men are the most vulnerable population as it relates to employment as the numbers bear out. As such, if you are a recent graduate and happen to have employment you can not save fast enough. Most personal finance experts will say as a general rule 3-6 months of expenses is a healthy emergency fund, but for African American men 9-12 months is much more imperative. An emergency fund can take the edge off of dating because you know that you and your date are not spending your potential car note or rent payment. Do NOT touch it except for an emergency. Also, do not base your emergency fund off expenses, but instead use gross income. You want to have 9-12months of gross incomes saved. Saving based on  your income instead of expenses will allow you to maintain some semblance of a normal life should an emergency arise.

SET EXPECTATIONS AND A BUDGET.

Once you decide to send someone flowers every Monday, fine dining every Friday, and a trip every other month you have set an expectation. Now, this is not to say you can not do those things, but they need to be within the confines of your budget. You should have an amount that you are going to spend every month on dating activities. If you want to save for something a bit more costly, spend a bit less each month and set it aside until you can afford that moment. Should your finances change and you need to alter the budget and expectations, remember – be honest.

BE CREATIVE.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend a lot on someone to let them know you care about them. The internet is full of helpful resources that can help you create low to no cost dates. Feel free to also use your social media networks for ideas.

DO NOT CONFUSE INCOME WITH WEALTH.

Income is not wealth. Again, income is NOT wealth. Assets build wealth and you have to use your income to acquire assets. Beyond your emergency fund, you should be thinking about saving to invest in stocks, bonds, real estate, etc. Find a financial/investment adviser as soon as you have a job. You do not have to wait until you have “money” to start investing. The earlier you start, the greater chance you will have of creating wealth over the long-term. Passive income, money earned from not having to work, should be a central focus of what you use your income for. Do no squander away the opportunity to set up yourself and future family while you have the opportunity.

LEAVE THE MATERIALISM FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

We have all seen that friend or friends who gets a job after college and decides to go on a spending spree for the nice car, clothes, and showing off for Instagram. This is not the man you want to be. Becoming a slave to material possessions and forsaking your financial future while being part of a labor population that is the most vulnerable is not only not smart, but dangerous. Material things lose value and defer from your ability to invest among other things.

Ultimately, if you are a man and are not financially safe or stable, then you are not ready for a serious relationship with anyone. Do not confuse stable for rich. Most of the time financially stability can be achieved in a relatively short period with the proper sacrifices (like having a roommate or two or three) after graduating. Becoming financially literate is vital to helping remove the stresses of finances in African American relationships. A stress that is often noted as being the greatest area of conflict within relationships. After all, love does not cost a thing, but bad financial habits do.

 

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The HBCUpreneur Corner™ – Spelman College’s Morgan France-Johnson & Aesthetically Spoken; Lux Creative


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Name: Morgan France-Johnson

Alma Mater: Spelman College C’07

Business Name & Description: Aesthetically Spoken, LLC is a greeting card line that caters to the LGBTQ community; Lux Creative, LLC is a graphic design company that specializes in branding development and marketing materials.

What year did you found your company? Aesthetically Spoken, LLC – January 2012; Lux Creative, LLC – November 2012

What has been the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? It’s hard for me to list just one moment, as the entrepreneurial journey is one of the most exhilarating roller coasters I have ever been on! However, if I were forced to pick just one exciting moment for Lux Creative, it would be when I secured a business deal with an international brand while living in Dubai, UAE. This accomplishment affirmed that I am as good as I know and believe I am.

Exciting moments for Aesthetically Spoken are centered around the positive feedback I receive from other members of the LGBTQ community whenever they are able to share the perfect heartfelt greeting. As my overarching purpose is to positively impact lives, knowing that people truly appreciate what I do is very exciting for me.

Fear, like excitement, pokes its head up every once in a while. The most fearful moments always occur before my team and I made our most pivotal changes. The common reminder that fear projects lies in the basic concept of Newton’s Law of Relativity: For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. At times, we have found that increased vision is met with low visibility, growth with set backs, and opportunity with void. However, the converse is also true— opposition is met with formidability, loss precedes gain and most importantly fear is met with faith!

What made you want to start your own company? Since I could remember I wanted to “start something.” I distinctly remember at the age of 6, watching a news story with my mother about homelessness in Baltimore and afterwards saying, “Mommy, I’m going to ask God to bless me with money so I can build a place for all of the homeless people to live.”

At 6, I knew my purpose. I didn’t know what that was called back then, but I knew I was going to change the world with my ideas. Spelman cultivated my seed and honed the skills that I would need to make my mark on the world.

Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? Honestly, all of my Spelman Sisters. As a native of Baltimore, I had very few experiences with African-Americans with such diverse perspectives and experiences; they gave me glasses to see a world I never knew existed. I’m forever grateful to Spelman and the women I call “Sister.”

How do you handle complex problems? I spend 20% of my effort on the problem. What’s the real issue here? What other areas does this problem affect? And so on. Then I spend 80% of my effort on the solution. I call mentors, read books, search the web, call my attorney. I do what’s necessary to ensure I’ve neutralized the problem and do my best to prevent any recurrences.

What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? This journey isn’t for the faint hearted, expect opposition. Stay vigilant and build your personal networks wisely as you’ll need a support system outside of business to ease the disappointments that will occur along the way.

You are the first HBCUpreneur we have had that is operating not one, but two companies at the same time. As an HBCUpreneur operating multiple companies at the same time and those considering it; what can you tell us about the experience, challenges, and advantages of being a multi-CEO? Balancing the complexities of “normal” life while owning and operating one business is difficult. Two businesses requires an intense level of focus, having great teams in place, and having a good support system. I’m reminded of the Shonda Rhimes Stanford graduation speech in which she stated: when you are in charge of multiple entities, home/multiple businesses, you will have to sacrifice. Everything can’t have your attention 100% of the time. You will mess up. You will make mistakes. But it’s all worth it.

What do you believe HBCUs can do to spur more innovation and entrepreneurship while their students are in school either as undergraduate or graduate students? As a freshman at Spelman, I attended a seminar that prompted me to change my major from Child Development to Economics. That one seminar ultimately changed my entire life. I believe that HBCUs can spur innovation and entrepreneurship by hosting meaningful events that spark creativity while simultaneously educating and supporting individuals who are considering entrepreneurship.

Given the LGBTQ community has an estimated $830 billion in buying power; what are some of the blooming opportunities you believe are on the horizon to HBCUpreneurs looking to provide goods or services to the LGBTQ community in particular? I believe that it is the responsibility of those in the LGBTQ community to assess the market for needs and meet them. Aesthetically Spoken, a card line created specifically for the LGBTQ community was born simply out of need. I found myself in need of a Valentine’s Day greeting card fitting for my same sex significant other. Heteronormative pronouns and insinuations were not fitting; and, as a graphic designer, the inspiration to create an LGBTQ greeting card company derived from this disheartening deficit.

How do you deal with rejection? (chuckle) I keep moving. The year I graduated from Spelman, I joined a network marketing company. (Pre-Paid Legal. Now, Legal Shield) Network marketing is FULL of rejection. We were taught to not take it personally. Once you realize you can take a no and keep moving. You can do anything.

When you have down time how do you like to spend it? Down time?!?! What’s that? I really enjoy spending time with my girlfriend, friends, and family. I enjoy the outdoors, traveling, being active, yet I also enjoy staying in and reading a good book. You’re liable to catch me enjoying life in a variety of ways.

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What was your most memorable HBCU memory? Again, there are so many. Most memorable would have to go to standing on the grass on the Spelman Oval, holding the hands of my other Spelman Sisters and speaking my name to the Universe like so many other Spelman Women before me. It was a spiritual experience. That’s when I knew I had made the right choice.

In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? Don’t quit.