Pay Yourself First: The African American Guide to Financial Success and Security

Pay Yourself First: The African American Guide to Financial Success and Security

by Jesse B. Brown

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"How do we help make black America better? Jesse Brown reminds us that we gain financial success and security when we pay ourselves first."-Tavis Smiley, author of How to Make Black America Better: Leading Black Americans Speak Out

"Jesse Brown's commonsense approach is a surefire way to watch your money grow."-Myra J., The Tom Joyner Morning Show

Achieve your financial freedom with step-by-step instructions from award-winning investment manager Jesse B. Brown. Discover the easy-to-follow, down-to-earth secret to living your dreams, whether it's buying a new home, buying a new car, sending your children to college, retiring rich, or going on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

Pay Yourself First is a must-have reference guide for all African Americans who want to experience their own financial security. If you make less than $30,000 a year-or if you are simply a first-time investor-here is your financial "411" on:
* How to get out of debt and stay out of debt permanently
* How to avoid the most common mistakes people make with their money
* How to put time and money to work for you instead of against you
* Everything you need to know about today's best investment options, including IRAs, insurance, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds

Jesse Brown has already shown thousands and thousands of African Americans how to successfully manage their money-and make even more while they're doing it. Now you can begin your own journey to wealth. From free money for family emergencies to the fundamentals of saving and investing, Jesse Brown will give you the help you need to secure the things you want and be a winner.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470303931
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 04/21/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 653 KB

About the Author

JESSE B. BROWN is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. President of Krystal Investment Management, Brown is a specialist in the African American market for several major financial institutions. Mr. Brown lives in Chicago.

Read an Excerpt


"The future is purchased by thepresent"

--Daisey Lee Bates

Money. There are songs about it, everyone wants it, people spend their lives trying to make more of it or trying to make it faster. People say love makes the world go round, but to a great degree it is money that does that, because without it we can't have the necessities of lifeÑ food, clothing, shelter. And if we don't have the necessities, we certainly can't consider acquiring the luxuries!

Despite this, most people don't know the rules of the financial road. The fact is that money is both a cause and an effect. It's a solution to most problems, if you have it. If you don't have it, a problem is created.


Most African Americans may wish they were millionaires but can't imagine ever being one. You probably can't think past your next paycheck and what needs that money must satisfy. Believe it or not, just by reading this book you could be well on your way to becoming that millionaire.

The truth is most of us do earn a fortune in our lifetimeÑ for instance, the average person may work from age twenty to age sixty-five. That's 45 years' worth of opportunity. Let's assume you will average about $30,000 over your working lifetime. That's $1.35 million. Now, consider if you earn more than this amount. I hope you see where I'm going with this example. Regardless of how modest your income, chances are great that a fortune will pass through your hands within your lifetime, and if you combine whatever your spouse makes, you come evencloser to being that millionaire than you may have thought.

You might be asking yourself, "Why, then, are so many African Americans retiring in poverty?" The answer lies in one basic fact-- a lot of us have never learned how to make our money work for us.


We know having income is important, but what you keep is what counts the most. This might be a good time to go back and figure what your average income will be over your working life. Multiply that by the number of years you've worked so far. Now ask yourself," How much of that figure have I saved?" Shocking, isn't it?

What happens to those people just like you who live from pay-check to paycheck? The demands on their money are intense because they are pulled in hundreds of different directions, all at the same time. Most people sit down each month and write the same categories of what needs to be paid: mortgage or rent payments, car payments and maintenance, school expenses, food, utilities, personal hygiene. The list seems endless. When you are finished satisfying this list of necessities, however, there's not a lot left.

Who can save for the future when it's hard enough just living day by day? You can, as long as you don't make the five major mistakes than can keep you in financial distress. They are:

1. Lack of understanding about how money works
2. Lack of financial goals
3. Lack of a financial plan
4. Overpaying for the most basic items
5. Waiting and doing nothing

If you can claim one or more of these mistakes as your own, don't worry. You have company, because most African Americans can make the same claim. You've heard misery loves company. If you learn how to overcome these common mistakes, you will leave them and the misery behind, and move toward a much brighter future.


Believing it's possible for you to change your financial situation is the most important challenge you face. There are many reasons why the average African American fails to plan for the future. Let's look at three common fallacies.

1. There isn't enough money to manage. Since we don't have any money left after taking care of our household, why do we need to learn how to manage our money? There are always ways to free up money, no matter how tight it is!
2. I don't have the time. Everyone is so busy. I am no exception. So it stands to reason, I don't have the time. Right? Wrong! You can't afford not to learn.
3. I don't have the knowledge. If you go to any bookstore or library, you will find shelves and shelves of books by people who have plenty of advice to give on managing money. Those who are rich know only one thing you don't-- knowledge is available equally to everyone. It just requires a little effort, and if you borrow from your library, it won't cost anything but time.


The right foundation of a home ensures it will be strong, with-standing the most powerful attacks from the elements. Your financial foundation is no different. A clear goal and a definite plan are the cement and mortar of your finances. Just set a goal that everyone in your family agrees on, and work toward it together by following your plan. Nothing forces you to think abut what is really important than setting a goal. It can cause you to reflect and make choices differently from what you have done in the past.

Some years ago, a man named Napoleon Hill developed a simple formula for becoming financially independent. His formula is still as solid today as it was when he wrote his book in 1937! His six steps to reaching your goals are:

1. You must have a specific goal.
2. You must have a specific time to achieve your goal.
3. You must write down your goal.
4. You must develop a plan to achieve your goal.
5. You must decide what price you are willing to pay.
6. You must think about your goal every day.

You have to know where you're going in order to get there. What do you want your life to be like? What do you want to happen? How can you reach your goal? If you set a goal, four things will happen: (1) You will have an incentive to make the necessary sacrifices; (2) You will be able to see your progress because you will record it every step of the way; (3) You won't lose track of your successes; and (4) you will be able to celebrate milestones.

Of course, you will want both short-and long-term goals. Short-term goals are specific and can be realized in a short span of time. They also require a short period of discipline and enable you to see the results of your efforts. Vacations, a new bike, or replacing a summer wardrobe are examples of short-term goals.

Long-term goals are for major purchases or large cash accumulations. They require more planning, discipline, and patience over a longer period of time. Building a home, sending your children to college, planning for retirement, or accumulating $50,000 in your savings account are some common examples of long-term goals.

After you know your destination, you need a map to guide the way. Financially speaking, your map is your plan. Sometimes, because of unforeseen circumstances, your plan must be modified. These circumstances can be changes in your personal life or changes in the economy. With a little effort and planning, however, you can develop a plan that will make a difference in your family's future.


Many people believe that budgeting requires sacrifice and effort. But it doesn't have to be that way. As long as you keep it simple, you can master this concept. Begin with the same categories that you use to determine where your paycheck goes (Remember, your mortgage or rent payments, car payments and maintenance, school expenses, food, utilities, and personal hygiene).

Your checkbook can be a good place to start. You'll be able to determine where money is going because bills and automatic cash station (ATM) withdrawals are registered there. For a month or so, monitor your expenses while you make an effort not to overspend or waste money. You'll be able to quickly determine what you are spending, what's out of line, and where you can save.

When the average person uses this approach, they're shocked to see how much money disappears in a week's time. Sometimes you withdraw money and, if you keep no record, you find yourself wondering how and where it was spent.

Controlling what you spen by constantly deciding what to spend and how to adjust your budget. It will soon become second nature, and you'll be helping yourself in spite of those spending urges that flare up from time to time.


However, as a people, we seem to encounter an endless array of distractions. More often than not, we are forced to spend our money on emergencies or necessities; and when we finally do have something to go shopping with, we may buy what we want rather than what we need. Keeping your priorities straight helps you resist the urge to buy on impulse. Whether you shop for groceries, computer equipment, or clothing, you'll notice impulse items conveniently shelved near the cash register. One of the strategies of marketing is understanding how impulse buying can make the most frugal person buy an item not on their list.

The key to successful money management is to distinguish a need from a want. You can have anything your money can buy, but do you need everything you purchase? Questioning yourself by distinguishing between a "need" and a "want" is a good tool that will keep you from leaving your cash in the store and help you to leave it in your wallet.

Most of us know someone who always seems to have cash readily available, only to be in a bind when times suddenly get hard. These people focus on their "wants" while ignoring their needs for savings and a healthy financial outlook.


Starting your financial plan is a dream, whereas procrastinating is a nightmare. Don't try to do everything at once. Be patient with yourself. Just start moving in the right direction, pacing yourself to the distance, and don't get discouraged. Eventually, you'll see progress.

Did You Get the Message?

Since you've gotten this far, you've already learned several important things about financial security. Take this quiz and test your knowledge. Answer True or False to each statement.

1. Building a home is an example of a long-term goal.
2. Sending your children to college is an example of a short-term goal.
3. Lack of understanding about how money works is a major financial-planning mistake.
4. Overpaying for the most basic items is a major financial-planning mistake.
5. Waiting and doing nothing is a major financial-planning mistake.
6. Most people earn a fortune in their lifetime.
7. Having a specific time frame in which to achieve your goal helps in building a financial foundation.
8. There are always ways to free up money no matter how tight it is.
9. If you set goals, you will have an incentive to make the necessary sacrifices.
10. Controlling what you spend gives you an opportunity to find ways to save.

Table of Contents

About the Author.

Foreword: By Hugh Price, President, National Urban League.

Introduction: Establish Your Foundation By Jesse B. Brown.

Rules of the Financial Road.

Your Four Basic Building Blocks.

Beat Today's Financial Cancer: Debt.

You Can Take Control--Be Strong!

The American Dream: Alive and Well for Everyone?

Money and the African American Woman.

Invest in Your Dreams.

To Succeed Financially, It's Okay to Be Selfish.

Fifty Money-Saving Tips to Help You Get Started.

Money-Making Strategies That Work for Everyone.

Mutual Funds and Your Future.

Insurance: Why You Need It and How to Choose It.

Protect Yourself: Guard Your Financial Future.

New Income Tax Rates Help You Save Money.

Start Planning Now: Your Money-Management Checklist.

Set Goals and Be a Winner: Five Surefire Steps.

Success Is Yours: Taking It to the Top.



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" provides practical and easy-to-absorb lessons for financial planning "(Essence, November 2002)

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