From major banks to rappers like Big Sean, it seems like everyone is promoting financial literacy these days. And with good reason: Bridging the racial wealth gap requires everyone to gain access to the wisdom that previously was only accessible to a select few. We teamed up with OZY to bring you money management and banking tips from experts and successful entrepreneurs. Just as OZY breaks the media mold in bringing readers diverse and surprising perspectives, Ally was built to serve customers digitally as a relentless financial ally. Consider this an accessible guide to the financial path ahead.
Put your money to work.
One of the best ways to bet on yourself is to invest early and let the magic of compound interest do the work. “If you’re not, as I call it, born with a silver spoon in your mouth, forfeiting investing is something you cannot afford to do, no matter how much money you don’t have,” says Lule Demmissie, president of Ally Invest. “And I say that all the time to people: No matter how much money you don’t have.” One way to do it, says Reggie Willis, chief diversity officer at Ally, is to think about the simple changes you can make in your life: If you skip a couple of Starbucks trips each week and put that $10 into an investment fund, you’ll be surprised at how quickly it can grow. “Those things are just small building blocks to being able to understand the value of saving for something,” he says.
Beware the pitfalls.
“There’s no such thing as free money,” Willis says, and he speaks from experience: When Willis first went off to college, he got a credit card and started racking up charges without knowing the implications of not paying it back in a timely manner. “I graduate from college and this thing called FICO shows up,” he says, referring to his poor credit score. Starting out with a low credit rating proved to be a painful lesson. To build and maintain a good credit score — which is critical to securing a home or car loan at a low interest rate — make sure to pay your bills religiously and don’t use a large portion of your available credit each month.
We’re often taught how networking is critical to finding your next job, but Dr. Yolanda Ragland, a foot surgeon and owner of Fix Your Feet, points out how it can pay off in other ways for Black women — including investment opportunities and more. “There are so many opportunities we simply are not aware of,” Ragland says. “Get into the right rooms filled with prosperity, mingle with them, ask questions, obtain contacts and become familiar.” One avenue into those “right rooms”? Buy tickets to charity functions. “These events are chock full of influencers, and although pricey, it’s a tax write-off,” Ragland says.
Invest in your skill set.
The boom in online courses makes it easy and cost-effective to improve your skills — and helps you earn and save more money in the long run. Kunbi Tinuoye, founder and CEO of the digital news platform UrbanGeekz, taught herself front-end web development through YouTube and online courses when she first launched the site. “It’s helped us save a ton of money and has allowed us to operate from a position of power when we outsource development,” she says.
Invest in advice.
Time is our most precious resource, so sometimes it makes sense to hire an expert. Whether it’s a corporate lawyer or financial adviser, look for “a powerful source to get ahead of the game and save time and money in the long run regarding banking, financing and upward mobility,” Ragland says.