It’s easy to get bogged down in bad news when it comes to African-American financial woes. Rampant unemployment and other factors continue to beget poverty in Black communities around the U.S., so much so that Black pundits Cornel West and Tavis Smiley continue to hold their “poverty tours” to draw attention to the problem. Income inequality in Manhattan now rivals that of sub-Saharan Africa, according to new reports.
But while the financial outlook appears gloomy in many parts, and while there probably won’t be a lot to cheer about in the coming months — it’s possible the economy will struggle for years regardless of which presidential candidate wins in November — not everything is so bad. And a new study out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, gives us at least a small reason to smile.
According to new research from the company Northwestern Mutual, young Black college graduates say they’re much more serious about planning for and attaining financial goals than their Black forebears.
A large majority (70 percent) of 18- to 34-year-old African-American college graduates described themselves as either “disciplined” or “highly disciplined” financial planners, compared to only 47 percent of those aged 35 and older. However, mature African-American college graduates (55 and older) were far more likely than those aged 18 to 34 to report having plans in place to prepare them financially to live to age 95 (40 percent vs. 9 percent, respectively). Overall, four in 10 African-American college graduates (41 percent) felt financially prepared to live to age 75 while about one in four (27 percent) were prepared to live to age 95.
On average, Black male college graduates were more likely to say they had a financial plan in place than Black female college graduates, but, regardless of that, these poll numbers are exciting.
Research shows that some older African-Americans are not ready for retirement. For many, that’s because the burden of debt coupled with a poor economy has seen them dipping into nest eggs they’d created over years. Other studies show that African-Americans have long missed out on important investing opportunities on the stock market, while their white counterparts have been effectively using the stock market to accumulate wealth since its inception.
It doesn’t have to be this way, of course, and Blacks can learn how to be smart with their money as well as anyone else — it just takes a little time, effort and planning. That the next generation of Blacks is doing that better than ever is inspiring and important to creating an America in which Blacks are on equal footing with everyone else. Now let’s hope this younger generation keeps that financial commitment to themselves in the trying years ahead.
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