How First Generation Haitian Americans are Achieving Black Wealth
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Black Wealth Framed through the Immigrant Experience
If you haven’t noticed by the title or the picture with the Haitian flag, we are Haitian-Americans.
Haitian Americans are Americans of full or partial Haitian descent. Generally, our parents migrated to the US in search of better opportunities, settled, found labor and grew roots.
To quote Toussaint L’Ouverture, we are “ numerous and deep. “
The largest population of Haitians and Haitian Americans in the US can be found in metropolitan South Florida. Additionally, you can find enclaves in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, the DMV, Chicago and even California. We’ve made a mark in history with our accomplishments still being written today.
If you want to know more about us, check out Lunionsuite.com.
Apart from bringing our culture, our parents pushed us to attain college degrees, careers and then miraculously get married and have babies. While they worked hard and long hours, we had to figure out this new land on our own. In order to build wealth; we had to discipline our spending habits, pay down debts where it is owed, increase our income, and invest in small businesses, the market and in real estate.
We are doing it all with a bit of Epis.
1st Time Wealth Builders
On top of growing up, we are tasked to build wealth for the first time and carry the next generation. Often, we were the first in our families to go to high school and college. Part of the struggle is beating the odds that the Black community faces in the US:
So how do we level up?
Lekol, Legliz and Lakay to Crush Debt and Build Wealth
To solve this, the modest trajectory is still Lekol, Legliz and Lakay ( translation — School, Church and Home). our parents were right. Just like the Trinity, there are 3 ways to tackle wealth; you can spend less, earn more, and invest the difference. Or better yet, do all three.
Reordered, it’s always been in our face:
- EDUCATION (Mind) — Not just any major or job will do. High school students should spend at least 3–6 months figuring out their post High school trajectory. STEMS are in demand and pay extremely well. Additionally, we will need to develop soft skills after school or on the weekends.
- HOME (Body) — Setting up a structured home, values and ethos pay off in dividends. Without it, most people end up aimless. In the end, you have to create SMART goals. Following renowned Tennis Player Naomi Osaka’s lead, “It’s OK not to be OK.” Health is truly wealth, no matter what stage in life you are in.
- FAITH (Spirit) — Since the journey is long and difficult, you will need faith. No way around that. The challenges are part of life and unfortunately many are swept under the current of depression and anxiety. However be comforted that dedication and hard work yields success.
Chronicling Black Wealth through Podcast, Stories, Articles and Social Media
Beyond the stats, social media has helped to spread the message that Black wealth is still POSSIBLE. To that end, I would like to thank publications like the Business Insider and CNBC Making It; podcasts like His and Her Money and Paychecks and Balances for spreading the word that we aren’t going down quietly.
Luther Estyl, host of korem podcast and co-founder of Haitian Millennial money
Black Wealth Articles and Top Tips to Use
Nii and Renee Darko made their $600,000 student loan debt disappear in just three years.
Both dreamed of being physicians, so naturally came medical school and residency. In 2020, the debt of graduating medical students averaged around $207,000.
Shortly after landing their first positions as working medical doctors, the Darkos made the startling discovery that despite their income, they were living paycheck to paycheck. The biggest takeaways from their wealth journey:
- Pay down debts by establishing a plan,
- Acknowledge past mistakes (if any) and communicate, and
- Put down roots for the future by building a community that supports you.
During a premarital counseling session at their Atlanta church, Faith and Leo Jean-Louis realized just how much debt they had.
The couple was excited to meet with their pastor, and began drafting their family’s theme. “We want to be a family that gives, monetarily and otherwise,” Leo says.
- Face the Giant — Come up with a Plan;
- Taking on Side Gigs;
- Break the debt cycle;and
- Adjusting together.
While there’s a growing Black economic empowerment, Black millennials are facing the increasing strain of paying down high debts while chasing the inflating cost of home ownership.
However, financial conversations including budgeting and money management are taking place on social media, galvanizing a generation of new investors.
Alainta Alcin, a 31-year-old financial blogger, said seeing her peers throughout the county get laid off forced her to evaluate her long-term financial decisions because she was “ hesitant about purchasing a home” and “hesitant about saving or paying off debt.”
“I wish I would have known sooner,” she said. “About savings, credit cards, how to balance a checkbook.” She regrets not starting a Roth individual retirement account when she had her first job after high school. Her biggest takeaways now:
- “Focus on you, because the NOW matters”; and
- Money not only give you option but it helps you optimize the trajectory of your life.
After paying off close to $60,000 in loans, credit cards, and student loans, this millennial couple switched to a high-paying strategy known as the Velocity Banking to pay off their house early.
Cathy and James St. Louis shared why they chose this risky method of paying off their debt and how they avoided the pitfalls that could have trapped them in even more debt.
In the video below, James (the spender of the couple) transformed his spending habits once he began.
The average couple has at least one money fight per week. To me, that’s 52 fights too many.
A couple needs to be on the same page when it comes to major decision making like paying off debt, which is what this millennial couple did to finally pay off theirs.
Marek and Kothney-Issa Bush were initially living life to the fullest, enjoying their marriage without caring about the debt.
This was until Marek came across Dave Ramsey on the internet and brought the matter up with his wife.
- Increase Passive income streams;
- Rethink housing and go Tiny; and
- Share your story.
Melissa Jean-Baptiste paid off all of her student loan debt, purchased a home, and started running a YouTube channel called Millennial in Debt to help other people achieve their financial goals. However, she had a very different relationship with money. Like many millennials, debt started stacking up.
The pressure to obtain the American Dream, meant going to a four-year university, getting a degree that led to a respectable career, and eventually owning a home.
She eventually dug into a $60,000 dollars in student loan debt which grew into $102,000 dollars by the time she paid it off. So how exactly did the self proclaimed, Beyonce of Finance do it?
- Work backward to tackle big goals; and
- Use your skill set to create new streams of income
7. A millennial couple increased their net worth from zero to $500,000 in 4 years by making 5 strategic money decisions
In 2017, Doreen and Lawrence Delva-Gonzalez had a net worth of zero dollars. Four years later, the couple ballooned to +$500,000. They’ve also designed the Net Max Financial plan to reach millionaire status. The goal is to live a better life while making the most opportunities today.
While others perceived it to be a sacrifice, the couple love to dine out in DC and even travel. In 2019, they flew and visited 12 countries in 14 days.
- Change your mindset about money to start setting S.M.A.R.T goals;
- Use FREE apps to track their cash flow i.e. Personal Capital ($20 for $20 referral link) or Mint.com and use Investment apps such as (Limited time $50 for $50 referral link, normally $10 for $10);
- Invest as much as possible, in yourself, your relationships, your work, rental property; and
- Live your authentic life beyond earning, spending and social media.
Bonus Feature: Honorary Haitian American
A few years ago, a pregnant Jamila Souffrant was in the middle of a four-hour commute from Brooklyn to New Jersey when she asked herself an important question: was this really what she wanted to do for the rest of her life?
Now, Souffrant is far along on the path to finding another way. Over the past two years, she and her husband have saved $169,000.
In 2016, they put away $85,000, and nearly that much -$84,100 — the next year. Saving so much might sound mind-boggling — and indeed, it’s not realistic for many, Souffrant acknowledged.
Here are five steps that helped their family:
- Putting a lot more into their retirement accounts,
- Investing in index funds,
- Extra income through side hustles,
- Prioritized emergency savings, and
- Sticking to a budget.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Neighborhood Finance Guy. We highlight financial literacy information, resources, and more on your way to money management goals and personal wealth. Our goal is to help you make S.M.A.R.T decisions with our money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. Your personal finance is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we don’t earn a dime as of 5.2021. We operate independently.
Originally published at https://theneighborhoodfinanceguy.com on July 20, 2021.