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PPD1The first in a special three-part series of financial planning discussions with black financial experts hosted by Prudential Financial Inc.

During a recent morning seminar at Minneapolis’ Hilton hotel, I was hit with the sudden realization of how the minor purchases I make during the week –morning lattes, breakfast sandwich, lunch out,  really do impact my financial future in a major way. The panel of leading financial experts seated in the front of the room at the 2015 National Association of Black Journalists Conference drove that point home and made me a believer, sharing real-life examples of wealth building and exciting news regarding the economic outlook for African American finances.

So what’s wrong with that pricey latte a day? Plenty.

The “Cultivating Personal Wealth” panel discussion, hosted by Prudential Financial Inc. and moderated by CNBC economic correspondent Sharon Epperson included: Black Enterprise’s Alfred Edmond Jr.; White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans’ Khahlila Harris; CNBC and “Delancey Wealth’s” Ivory Johnson, and Urban Mass Media Group, BMA CableNetworks’ Peter Rhodes.

The four financial powerhouses implored NABJ members and African American consumers around the nation to take the reins on their financial futures by maximizing their participation in economic decision-making.

Maximizing participation …

Peter Rhodes: “Maximizing your participation only means you might not buy that latte this week, or you may not go to that club and see Mint Condition because you are going to save those dollars. … At the end of the day it’s going to be you who determines what you will have to end the day with. It’s only a sacrifice for a day, in order to have a great end to the day. It’s just that easy.”

Alfred Edmond Jr. “It’s about changing both our experiences and the way we think we related to money. We have to stop telling ourselves that we don’t have enough money and that we don’t have enough time, because as human beings we all have the same amount of time. And having enough money is more a matter of being clear on what your priorities are. … Once you decide what you want to do, it becomes easier to say, ‘I don’t need a latte every day, I don’t need another pair of shoes, or I’m going to watch less episodes of “Empire,” so I can work a part time job on the side. I don’t call these things sacrifices, because sacrifices makes it sound like you’re giving something up for nothing. You’re giving something up to get something even better.”

Kids and money …

Khalilah Harris: “Often times we are faking it to make it with our own children, and they don’t see what is required of us to keep a roof over our heads, and to drive a decent car and for them to have those things they think are important. … I was on a panel discussion with U.S. Secretary [of the Treasury] Lew who told a story about taking two of his paychecks for the month and cashing it out at the bank. So he had the physical dollar bills from his monthly pay and he brought it home to the dinner table and sat down with his children and showed them his stack of cash. … And then he pulled out a folder with all of his bills, and he had them physically pay the bills … the coins were gone by the time they finished. The experience shifted the mindset of his household.”

Ivory Johnson: “We handicap our children when we don’t start teaching them early about the value of money. My 12-year-old son wanted me to but a luxury truck. I asked him ‘Do you want to go to college, and if you do you want me to pay for it?’ He said ‘yes.’ So I explained to him that a year’s payments on that truck was equivalent to a year’s tuition. … What you do is when there in high school get them a credit card with a $200 limit so they get used to using credit and they’re also building credit in their own name. When they get to college they’re phone is in their own name and even if you pay the bill, they have to pay you back when they’re home for the summer. When they’re sophomore’s you make them do the same thing with their car insurance. By the time they graduate you have eliminated any emotional connection to your wallet.”

Alfred Edmond Jr.: “Your only obligation to your children is enough food to nourish them healthily, enough clothing that they are not walking around busted and disgusted, shelter, character and educational development. What parents have done is confuse wanting our children to do better than us, with us saying we have to give them better. We ruin generations because we say I want to give you better when we should be preparing them better. … I always tell people the best way to not end up with a 35-year-old sleeping on your couch is to not let a 20-year-old sleep on your couch.”

Stay tuned for more of the discussion.

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