Frugality and Black Folks

While I write this blog so that anyone regardless of race or ethnicity can read it, I will admit my audience by and large is Black folks and this is one of those times I am writing for that audience.

In these tough economic times it seems everyone is attempting to scale back on some level yet I fear that for many of my fellow Black Americans that should this financial storm get too tough we will come out on the losing side. If we do though I think while there are larger systems that work against us, I fear part of our financial demise will be our own doing because too many of us are caught up in image.

I may live in Maine where there are not too many Black folks but I am not from Maine, so I still have a fair amount of friends and associates that live in large urban hubs like Chicago and New York. Now that I have been out of Chicago for a while and living in Maine, I am stunned at the amount of frivolous spending I used to do and how much many of my friends do all the time having no financial net to catch them in the event of a severe financial calamity.

Yeah, we may have jobs with a 401K  plan that we invest in on the regular though we know how that is going these days, we may also have a few other financial tools we use to invest in as well but have we really looked at how much seemingly small amounts of money we spend daily on so called needs.

I know when I lived in Chicago, I had to have several daily lattes and mocha’s, I had to get my hair done on the regular, shit hair maintenance was in the budget like a utility bill. I ate out several times a week, after work I thought nothing of stopping at so called discounters like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s to buy something on sale, after all I couldn’t be un-stylish. Looking back on my life prior to moving to Maine and even in my earlier years in Maine, I probably spent well over a thousand dollars a month on so called small needs.

When I look back at how much money I blew on so-called needs, it makes me sick yet the one good thing is that years of wasting money on so -called needs and coming into true financial hardship has allowed me to adjust my attitudes on money and as I like to think if I ever have the money I used to, I will be in better shape financially.

That said, too many of us spend yet statistically speaking we make less money and we save less than white folks, shit Black folks are the ultimate consumers but I am sorry to say that needs to end.

I have some folks close to me who spend a lot of money and while I am not trying to say how they should live, the fact is when you eat out a lot rather than cook, sorry but that is wasteful.

Looking at the large Black community as I see so many of our white brothers and sisters learning to be frugal by doing things such as sewing (shit, local shop near me even offers classes to go with the machine if you buy one), gardening and not just for gorgeous flowers, and basically heading towards gaining the skills to be self sufficient. I cannot help but wonder if we meaning Black folks are about to be left in the dust.

Its sort of like the digital divide, more Black folks are online these days but we still lag behind whites online and today as traditional media such as newspapers go the way of the telegraph, you may need a computer and internet just to know what the fuck is going on in the world. Yet once again, you can find us at the club or restaurant looking sharp as hell, but we are falling behind.

I know there are other Black bloggers such as KIT and Original Wombman and others who write about self sufficiency from a Black perspective but too many of us even in the blogosphere are ignoring the reality of what may be to come. I think ya’ll know I don’t think the the world is ending so I am not saying you need to stockpile food but on the other hand how many of us would be ok if suddenly food supplies at the local grocer suddenly dwindled? What if there were limits on what you could buy? How would you do live with that?

Folks, while its fun to look good, have a nice ride and be out there, we must prepare for self sufficiency. I say if you have access to someone who can teach you some basics of self sufficiency, then you need to be all over that like white on rice.  I wish my Granny were alive, she used to sew, crochet and garden. Sadly the only skill my Mom got was sewing and nobody passed these on to me, so I have to teach myself. Next week I am actually joining the local gardening club so I can get some hands on experience with dirt.

Happy Friday! Just a note, I may (or maynot) be silent for a few days in the coming week, its coming up on the 5th anniversary of my Mama’s passing so its an emotional time of year. So just a heads up if I don’t post for a few days.

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  1. February 27, 2009
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