Hill Harper is a humanitarian, an award-winning actor, best-selling author, and entrepreneur. He currently stars in ABC’s television drama, “The Good Doctor.” In addition to his performing arts career, Harper has authored four New York Times bestsellers including his award-winning book, “The Wealth Cure,” which addresses ways to solve the racial wealth gap. He is also the Founder and Chairman of The Black Wall Street Technologies; he is on the Board of Directors of the National Black Bank Fund; and, he is an Honorary National Co-Chair of the Redevelopment of Black Wall Street, Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.
We can build cross generational wealth one step at a time. In 2011, I published The New York Times best-selling financial literacy book, The Wealth Cure. Today, ten years later, it seems that questions around financial literacy are on everyone’s mind. As we emerge from the global pandemic, there are so many questions about financial foundation building and how financial behaviors should change as we move forward. Here are my recommendations of what to begin focusing on for building a solid financial foundation:
The global pandemic demonstrated how vital it is to build savings that will not be touched unless it is absolutely necessary. I call this your emergency fund. This fund should have enough money to cover at least 6 months of living expenses which is calculated by adding all of your expenses for one month and then multiplying that amount by 6. Should you need to draw from this savings for an unforeseen emergency, remember to replenish your fund. Another tip: Use a portion of income to pay down debt with the highest interest rate first so that the debt will eventually be paid off in a more timely and efficient manner.
SMART MONEY vs. DUMB MONEY
All money is not equal. Most everyone has been taught (wrongly) that, “a dollar is a dollar.” But that is not true. There are “smart dollars” and “dumb dollars” and knowing how to differentiate between the two is a valuable tool in building a sound financial foundation for your life. “Smart money” has equal or greater value the next morning than when you went to sleep. For instance, using your pool of money to buy $150 worth of shares of Nike stock rather than using that same amount to buy actual Nike sneakers is an example of "smart money"; Nike stock pays a dividend while you sleep (smart $$) versus Nike footwear that depreciates instantly as soon as you wear them (dumb $$). The goal is to save and invest as many smart dollars as possible and to spend as few dumb ones as you can. You have a relationship to money; and just like a personal relationship, the smart and disciplined choices you make will determine how healthy that relationship is.
DOLLAR COST AVERAGE
Whether you are talking about regular savings or investing, my favorite recommendation is Dollar Cost Averaging (DCA). When you DCA, you are setting aside a regular amount of funds to invest in a mutual fund, ETF, stock, or even a simple savings account. I always say that saving and investing a regular amount either every day, every week or every month is a great way to approach building a solid financial foundation over time. By dividing the total amount to be invested across regular investment/savings installments, you reduce the impact of volatility on the overall investment. In other words, you'll end up buying more on the dip and less when it rises, and your overall portfolio will win. For instance, if the value of what you’re investing in goes down, when you DCA, you end up with more of it and if the value goes up then your overall portfolio value rises.
Implementing the recommendations above are just the beginning. There are many topics we must explore such as: needs vs wants; eliminating costly debt; improving credit ratings and credit score. In The Wealth Cure I write, “You cannot be free if the cost of being you is too high.”
You must reduce the cost of being by changing your relationship to money; thus, create cross-generational wealth transfer and financial sovereignty. You deserve a wonderful life—so make choices with money that honor how smart and magnificent you already are!