It's About the Money: How You Can Get Out of Debt, Build Wealth, and Achieve Your Financial Dreams

It's About the Money: How You Can Get Out of Debt, Build Wealth, and Achieve Your Financial Dreams

3.6 3
by Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Jesse L. Jackson

Financial freedom is a universal dream. With candor and keen insight, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and his congressman son, Jesse Jackson Jr., team up to describe step-by-step measures to achieve personal financial independence in their new book, It's About the Money!

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Financial freedom is a universal dream. With candor and keen insight, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and his congressman son, Jesse Jackson Jr., team up to describe step-by-step measures to achieve personal financial independence in their new book, It's About the Money!

Editorial Reviews

Ebony Magazine
Laced with anecdotes of everyday people who have learned the secrets of money management, the authors share important lessons for getting your financial house in order, including eliminating debt, buying a home, preparing for retirement and teaching children about saving. Just as emancipation, integration and enfranchisement helped to liberate African-Americans, wealth-building and money management, the Jacksons say will be the fourth movement in the symphony for freedom.
Library Journal
Rev. Jackson (founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's Wall Street Project) and his Illinois congressman son join forces to present the basics of personal finance, along with an inspiring message of empowerment. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
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6.46(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.02(d)

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An Excerpt from It's About the Money!


When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, my grandmother Matilda Burns left a powerful imprint on me. She worked as a maid, cleaning people's homes, and didn't earn much. She didn't have a checking account, and she couldn't write. But she subsidized our family with her presence and her prudence. She took a little and did a lot with it, in the proud tradition that characterizes African American women in this country.

Grandma never believed in living on credit. She didn't owe anybody anything. She baked her own bread and biscuits. But always, always she taught us to save money as a cushion between yourself and disaster. She taught us to sacrifice for what is really important. A few times, as a child, I painfully watched her borrow $11 to pay back $22 between Christmas and Easter. I would see her go to work with runs in her stockings so that I could have matching socks and not be laughed at in school and discouraged. She sacrificed for an investment in my education.

"We're not poor," she used to tell us. "We just don't have enough money."

She made well enough do. "If you don't have enough meat, use what you have and make gravy," Grandma would say. "Stretch it out." If a mother has five children and two pork chops, she will not conclude that she has three excess children. She'll cut the pork chops up into five pieces and make gravy. These lessons endure.

My grandmother had a very strong commitment to the Lord. When we built a new church, my pastor, D. S. Sample, had a drive to raise money for the building fund. She stood and made her commitment to the building fund. Every Saturday, in her backyard, Grandma would fry fish and make ice cream; then my brother and I would deliver chitlins, rice, slaw, and greens to people's houses, until she raised her quota to build the new church. She was not able to write a check to the church: instead she lived her commitment, through her actions, and well enough, too. She stretched it out.

When my daughter, Santita, was born, rather than give her the usual gifts of baby clothes or toys, as our college friends did, my grandmother gave her a 25-cent-a-week insurance policy to help pay for her college education. She understood the value of investing in education and developing human capital.

Because of Grandma's strong influence on my life, when my wife, Jackie, and I were first married, we practiced sound principles of financial prudence. When we got our first apartment, we bought nothing on credit. We bought nice used furniture, waxed the floors, and used throw rugs. We went to the lumber company and got two doors and placed them on bricks close to the floor; then we put pillows on them and used it as a sofa. We had a music box for entertainment. It was cozy. It was ours. We were in no debt. And except when we finally bought our house and leased a car, we were very conscious of living just beneath our means.

When our five children came along, we invested in their education. We made that a priority, because we knew that if they had an education, nobody could take that away from them. They could go on to do great things. Jackie and I lived a high-risk life, involved in demonstrations and civil disobedience jailings, while we were in college, to break the shackles of legal segregation. But we knew that if either of us died, the best insurance for our children was to develop their intellect. I believe strong minds break strong chains.

On a personal level, that is where the impetus of this book came from: the values that I learned in my own family as it pertained to financial prudence, discipline, saving, and investing. Just as a squirrel stores nuts for the winter, so must we all carefully save and invest for the future.

This book must also be viewed in the historical context of the civil rights movement, to which I have devoted my life. I view the economic emancipation of African Americans as the fourth phase of an historic continuum. If I were to compose a four-movement Freedom Symphony, the first movement would be the emancipation of the slaves: a two-hundred-year battle, rooted deeply in our Constitution -- a season of walls that limited movement and roofs and artificial ceilings that limited growth. The second movement would be another one-hundred-year struggle to end legal segregation -- more walls and roofs. The third movement would be the enfranchisement of all Americans, eighteen and older, through the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

The fourth movement -- the final stage of the struggle -- would be access to capital, to resources, to financial leverage -- the democratization of capital. Hence this book. You could succeed at all the three previous movements, but if you didn't succeed at the fourth, you might starve. That's how crucial economic emancipation is. People of color and the working poor have won everything they've fought for: the right to organize, the right to form unions, and the end of racial and gender barriers as a matter of law. But we've not fought the battle for access to and democratization of capital. It's the ultimate battle. It's the unfinished business of our struggle to make this a more perfect union for all Americans, in which no one will be left behind.

Each phase of the civil rights movement had a how-to component. African Americans had to learn how to make the transition from slavery to freedom. We had to learn how to interact with whites on an equal footing in business, politics, education, and other realms of life, once segregation was ended. We had to learn how to participate as citizens in a democracy, voting in elections, when that had been denied us in the past.

The fourth phase -- economic emancipation of our people -- is no different. We must learn how to manage money and grow money in a capitalist society. We must learn how to be owners and entrepreneurs, shareholders rather than sharecroppers. We must learn how capitalism works and promote financial literacy among ourselves and our children. Failing to understand the role of money in a capitalist system is like being a fish that doesn't know how to navigate water.

This fourth phase is a continuation of Dr. Martin Luther King's vision. Dr. King's first assignment to me in 1966 was to serve as the national director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Operation Breadbasket, which was the economic wing of the organization. Reverend Leon Sullivan, pastor emeritus of Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and founder of Opportunities Industrial Centers International, brought the idea of ministers fighting for jobs and rights, leveraging consumer strength, to Dr. King. I have been blessed to take it to some advanced stages. The church's role in expanding economic options is a powerful one.

We challenged the exclusion of African Americans and Hispanics from business and worked to open up franchises, loans, and investment for African American and Hispanic entrepreneurs. Eventually Operation PUSH and LULAC, a Hispanic organization, began to do joint negotiations. The cooperation between blacks and Hispanics must be expanded. Dr. King understood that equal opportunity required entry into the marketplace and access to jobs, education, and private investment.

Today we come to Wall Street to move corporate America through enlightened self-interest. It is in America's compelling national interest to tear down the walls that have limited growth and denied economic opportunity for all its citizens. Inclusion is the key to economic growth. Blacks, Latinos, women, and rural people in places like Appalachia need to be viewed not just as consumers in our society, but as people of diverse talents and training, with investment potential and underutilized skills.

Investors who speculate in emerging markets overseas too often forget that a far larger emerging market exists right here at home. African Americans as a group have $500 billion in purchasing power; Latinos have $350 billion. Let's harness the money, market, and talent that we have right here in America. Let's greenline redlined neighborhoods and rebuild scorched-earth communities. Let's create incentives to invest and hedge against risks at home, as we do abroad, to expand our economy. The new chains of slavery for the working poor are credit card abuse, using credit cards as a substitute for money and taking on excessive amounts of debt, on the one hand, then using lottery tickets or gambling boats as the plan for instant recovery.

This book is about building wealth. Our focus is on wealth, not just income, and this is a crucial distinction. It's not how much money you make that's important -- it's how much you keep. Income is how you make; wealth is how much you keep.

Excerpted from It's About the Money by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., with Mary Gotschall. Copyright © 1999 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. Excerpted by permission of Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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