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From Barnes & NobleA Review of It's About the Money! by the Honorable David Dinkins
The high-tech 21st century promises much, but one truism will continue: financial empowerment defines quality of life. Stimulating economic security is the core of It's About the Money!, the new personal finance blueprint from the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. and his son, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Focusing on the critical details of household and family budgets, they stress the importance of building wealth. Their examples are solid, their programs are straightforward, and their advice is free from complex economic terms and theories that glaze over eyes with boredom and confusion.
For the Jacksons, financial empowerment represents a powerful advancement for all people, a direct link to the causes of abolition, civil rights, and universal suffrage. For them, fiscal autonomy is the fourth movement of the Freedom Symphony, the term they employ for building personal wealth and financial independence. The historic fights against slavery, Jim Crow, and ballot-box inequity now have a contemporary counterpart. Providing immediacy and encouragement, real-life individuals and community organizations are offered as examples, illuminating the avenues to economic freedom.
Do you feel that you are making less and spending more? Do you worry about debt and unreliable employment? These individual concerns are genuine, and together they can weaken the economic clout of an entire race. Does society recognize that African-American consumers contribute $500 billion to the economy? Half a trillion dollars annually? And that Hispanics account for $350 billion? The self-help program in It's About the Money! demonstrates how to make your money work for you, how to get a higher return on your capital, how to make smart investments in money market accounts and mutual funds or bonds, how to purchase real estate, and how avoid the burden of credit card debt.
Probably the greatest message of this capable, commonsense money guide is its core theme of saving, budgeting, and overall prudent monitoring of purchases. As the authors say repeatedly: "Don't spend for pleasure; use your money instead to build wealth." Their financial advice is very sound and practical throughout. Don't let your monthly expenses exceed your income. Use the financial markets and the Internet to help you create real wealth. Shop around for the best bank to avoid excessive fees and penalties, and use a credit union whenever possible to lower your costs. Start a business to gain even greater control of your financial future. Prepare wisely for your retirement with careful planning.
And, most importantly, foster a rich family legacy in money matters by instructing your children in the necessary lessons of financial empowerment and by investing in their education, assuring the development of their human capital. In the words of the authors: "Accumulating wealth -- as distinct from just making a big income -- is the key to your financial independence. It gives you control over your assets, power to help shape the corporate and political landscape, and the ability to ensure a prosperous future for your children and their heirs.... Income without wealth or a steady savings and investment is just flash without cash."
For many years both Jesse Jackson Sr. -- through his work with the Wall Street Project of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition -- and his son, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., have sought to achieve economic parity for blacks by challenging the employment and contract awarding practices of big companies. Their latest project, this book, can be seen as a worthy extension of that work with its dual themes of financial prudence and empowerment. Yes, it's about the money if we as a community are to realistically compete in this nation and assert ourselves forcefully on its economic and political destiny. Control of our financial wealth can produce only positive, lasting benefits in a time when downsizing threatens many jobs, and poverty is seen as a minor inconvenience by many in political power.
In It's About the Money! the Jacksons have produced a most instructive and useful financial primer for African Americans, one that can guarantee that we not only live within our means but thrive as consumers and citizens in this complex, money-driven society.
David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City (1989-1993), has led a distinguished career as public servant and lawyer. He now teaches at Columbia University.