This Juneteenth, Let’s Focus On Learning About Achieving Financial Freedom

Last year, Joe Biden officially declared June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. In his remarks, he stated that this day marks not only the darkness of race brutality but also the promise of a brighter morning to come.

Juneteenth must continue to usher in that brighter morning. We honor MLK every January with a “day off,” but Juneteenth serves a different purpose: it’s about closing the wealth gap. When it comes to seizing financial freedom, communities of color have much to learn and do. We have to change the status quo.

Currently, the typical Black household holds $24,100 in wealth while the median white household holds $188,200 in wealth; Black households have less than 13% of what white households have.

The share of the stock market owned by Black Americans is 2%, which has remained largely stagnant over the last 20 years. As found in a survey conducted by Stash from May 18 to June 2, 2022 — amongst a representative sample of 2,028 Americans, including 353 Americans who identified as Black — over half (57%) of Black Americans admit investing is something they’re curious about, however half (52%) also agree they don’t know where and how to start building long-term wealth.

I know first-hand what it is like to be in a personal financial struggle, unsure about how I would cover my bills. That was until I took the time to educate myself about financial strategies and tools. Now I invest in the stock market and real estate, with an eye toward long-term growth. I learned by doing and practicing the art of delayed gratification. My wealth has grown over the years — slowly at first, then more rapidly. It is from that experience that I was inspired to start The Brooklyn Bank, a nonprofit community organization dedicated to fostering financial literacy for communities of color.

I am not alone in wanting to empower Black communities to find financial freedom. On Juneteenth, I am coming together with thought leaders and organizations to spread knowledge through the community. Together, we are co-hosting Black Money Forum at Kings Theatre, which will be the largest financial empowerment event ever to take place in New York City. Thousands of tickets are available for free.

We will be bringing together leaders in the finance, real estate and investing space to help educate the ordinary people. For those of you not located in the New York City area, I encourage you to find another way to focus this day on your financial health, whether it be sitting down to revisit your budget, discovering investing opportunities or finding reputable YouTube tutorials on valuable topics . There are many ways you can use this day to focus on improving your life, and the lives of others around you.

Here is a selection of services, reading material and organizations making a difference:

  • Stash is an investing, banking and education platform that helps get you on the path to financial freedom with as little as $5. Stashers have an average account balance of over $1000; many choose to save small amounts of money into their own savings using a feature they call Auto-Stash; those people on average save 7x more than those who don’t. Everyone with a ticket to Black Money Forum gets $50 to invest on Stash.

  • The One Week Budget is a great book by Tiffany Aliche, aka The Bugetnista, an award-winning teacher of financial education and one of our speakers at Black Money Forum. This book teaches people how to successfully manage finances, increase credit scores and lower debt.

  • OneTen is a coalition of leading chief executives and companies coming together to upskill, hire and advance one million Black individuals who do not yet have a four-year degree into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. It’s a great place to look for a new role, to develop new skills or a source for building a diverse team of top-tier Black talent.

This year, Juneteenth falls on Sunday, with the federal holiday on Monday. Many who work in hourly roles will still have to clock in — or if they’re off, they likely will not be paid. The most important work we can do as engaged and empowered citizens is to make progress for our community that lasts more than just a weekend or an annual holiday. We may not be able to immediately change our income or our circumstances, but we can change what we understand about personal finance and take charge of our future.

I’m advocating that everyone take their financial lives into their own hands and seize Juneteenth as a day of learning, propelling us forward into that brighter morning.

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