Yikes! We are only worth $5.

A friend linked to this piece on Facebook and after reading it I knew I had to write about it, since some on my Twitterfeed were talking about this as well. Turns out that single Black women have a median net worth of $5 compared to single white women in the prime of their work life who have a median net worth of $42,600.00.  Among the married and co-habitating ladies Black women have a median net worth of $31,500.00 compared to married and co-habitating white women who have a median net worth of $167,500.00.

Yikes! No wonder more of my white friends can afford to be stay at home Mamas and the sistas are working, hell…it comes down to dollars and cents. Seriously, while that figure of $5 may be shocking, I have to be honest and say I am not surprised. Among my Black girlfriends most of us are first and maybe second generation college graduates, many of us are carrying heavy debt loads, and its not always because we have no common sense as far as money. In many cases the only options out of the working class we saw our folks live with was by heading to college, yet many of our families had no cash to contribute to the process. So guess what? You end you end like me with 6 figure college debt with a job that will never allow you to pay it off.

Which brings me to another point, I think professional Black women are disproportionately in low paying fields such as teaching, social work, low-end healthcare…jobs where the top salary may only hit 50-60G’s with a graduate degree maybe a tad more if you are in a high cost of living area. I have always been drawn to social work and at many of the agencies I worked at in Chicago, the low and mid level staff was Black but the folks in charge were white. I’m not making a statement just making an observation.

Sadly and I was guilty of this, too many of us do not gravitate to fields with high paying salaries and while white women are just as guilty of this, a lower paying career is less of a detriment if you have either a mate or some family money to prop you up. I recall many of my white coworkers were partnered to partners who were high wage earners so earning less was not an issue if one partner can carry the weight.

On the other hand and I am ducking while I say this and I admit it’s a generalization but one was born of my personal experiences, too many of my sistas spend what coins they have rocking the latest and greatest styles. Or having a fly car…last year a dear friend of mine fresh out of divorce court with no settlement went and bought a huge ass SUV fully loaded and oh…she had no job. I love her but come on, that’s just not a good decision. We can’t drive a hoopty as I used to call em, we got to have a nice car, fly hair, fly furniture and then wonder why we don’t have two nickels to rub together.

By the same token I know some sistas who have it going on financially but lets face it too many of us don’t and I am a card-carrying member of that club so I can talk shit about it. I have told my story before, basically my parents taught me jack about money and I have learned the hard way after I jacked up my credit, now I am rebuilding my financial life. I think in lower class families its pretty common for folks not to talk about financial management, instead telling a bright kid go to college and you will do alright financially. Well I technically am better off than my Pops thanks to my education but when you factor in my debt, I am not..at best we are even.

In order for sistas to build some wealth, we need to truly explore careers that pay well. If I could go back, I probably would not have gone into human services. Following one’s bliss is cool but at a certain point financial stability is even better. I also think we need some serious financial management taught through schools and community groups and frankly I think this needs to be across the board to everyone not just Black women. I also think sistas we need to stop putting so much into material objects. Getting your hair done at the shop every week for $50-60 is insane, again…I have been there, I know how it is

I am not Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey but I suggest we pick up some of their books and get to studying because sistas a net worth of $5 is just not cool.

ETA: I wrote this piece last night in a rush but there are some other reasons why I think Black women tend to have less wealth. Too many times we take on the responsibility of caring and providing for family members at a level that I have rarely seen among my non Black friends. I will be honest and say that some of my debt is because I made the decision to help my parents out when my Mom was dying, 6 years later that money I owed the IRS has grown. Granted most of us are not faced with ailing parents but we will come up off the cheddar to help this one or that one…in many cases being told we can afford because we have that education or that job. All the while knowing deep down we don’t have the cash to spare but we want to save face so we do it. Now you may not do this but I suspect if you are a Black women reading this, you know at least one sista who does this.