Weathering The Storm: A Black Family’s Financial Survival Guide

The year 2020 wasn’t just a blip on the radar; it was a Category 5 hurricane that ripped through our lives, leaving wreckage in its wake. Jobs vanished, hours fluctuated like a heart rate on a treadmill, and the mental and physical toll was like carrying a sandbag in your purse or backpack. For Black families, the storm was even fiercer, a hurricane upgraded to a super typhoon by systemic inequalities. When the US catches a cold, we get the Rona; when they experience a recession, we’re drowning in a depression.

Numbers painted a grim picture for us: unemployment rates were twice as high as the average, COVID deaths disproportionately claiming Black lives. But statistics can’t capture the fear, the uncertainty, the sleepless nights wondering how to keep the lights on and food on the table. Even as the pandemic is considered over for many, we still haven’t fully climbed out of the mud of its impacts. Here are 7 tips to help us recover:

1. Prioritize Survival Over Debt:

“Save for a rainy day” sounds quaint now, doesn’t it? It’s raining cats and dogs, and the roof is leaking. Debt might seem like a monster, but right now, it’s a lesser evil than empty cupboards and eviction notices. Pay the minimums, negotiate, and prioritize survival. Remember, you can’t outrun a hurricane, but you can build a sturdy shelter.

2. Embrace the Hustle, Not the Handout:

Stimulus checks and tax returns are lifelines, but they’re temporary. We need to cultivate our own resilience. Dust off your entrepreneurial spirit, monetize your skills, and turn lemons into lemonade (or, better yet, collard green smoothies). Remember, the money you earn is twice as sweet as the money you receive.

3. Cook, Connect, and Conquer:

Forget the Uber Eats and takeout splurges. Your kitchen is your financial fortress. Cooking at home is healthier, cheaper, and a bonding experience for the whole family. Plus, it’s a delicious way to support Black farmers and grocers, keeping the dollars flowing within our community.

4. Cut the Fat, Not the Muscle:

Take a scalpel to your expenses. Gym memberships on hold? Cancel. Dust-collecting gadgets? Sell them. That extra streaming service you signed up for that one show? Unsubscribe! Every penny saved is a brick in the foundation of your financial security.

5. Resist the Siren Song of Online Shopping:

Amazon might be whispering sweet nothings about the latest gadgets and gizmos, but remember, it’s a bottomless pit. Treat online shopping like a casino – enter with caution, leave with your wallet intact. Focus on needs, not wants, and resist the urge to drown your sorrows in retail therapy.

6. Prepare for the Inevitable:

Death and taxes might be the only certainties in life, but they don’t have to be unwelcome guests. Get life insurance – it’s a safety net for your loved ones, a way to ensure their financial well-being if you’re gone too soon. And while we’re talking about the inevitable, consider estate planning. Write a will, designate beneficiaries, and make sure your wishes are known. It’s not morbid; it’s responsible.

7. Optimize Your Time:

Since social distancing has become a thing in recent years, we have all fallen into the trap of binging on TV shows, mindless scrolling, or even staring at the walls and driving yourself crazy.  Convert those time wasters into more productive activities by dedicating yourself to strengthening your mind, body and spirit.  Setting daily goals for activities like reading books, taking online courses to help build a new skill, exercising, sharpening your prayer life, meditation are all different ways to fortify yourself during this journey.

Remember, we’re in this together. The storm might be raging, but we’re not alone. We have our families, our communities, and the collective strength of generations past who weathered even fiercer storms. Let’s be smart, resourceful, and supportive of each other. Let’s cook together, hustle together, and build financial resilience together. Because when the sun finally breaks through, we’ll be ready, not just to survive, but to thrive. And as Maya Angelou said, “Still I Rise.” Let’s rise above the challenges, build our financial ark, and sail towards a brighter future, one wave at a time.