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African Americans Believe In The American Dream Despite Relative Struggles
MassMutual teams up with Financial Expert Tarra Jackson after new MassMutual study shows the disconnect between African Americans' financial situations and hopefulness towards the future for financial strategies.
By: Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
While the American Dream is still attainable, the survey calls attention to high debt, low savings and a lower likelihood of wide financial product ownership amongst African Americans. Financial disparities and the wealth gap can possibly explain why 31 percent believe it is disappearing. Among the dynamics:
• Outside of retirement accounts, only 37 percent of African Americans own wealth-building products such as stocks and mutual funds
• 35 percent believe they are doing a good job at preparing for retirement
• 33 percent have less than one month of funds saved for a crisis and less than 25 percent have amassed more than six months of emergency savings
The survey also reveals the importance of family influences on financial decisions:
• 58 percent are actively involved in educating their children on finances (as compared to 48 percent of Caucasians)
• 40 percent rely on family members for information
• 50 percent include extended family and friends in their definition of family
"The study shows African Americans want to improve their financial situations and are hopeful about the future," said Evan Taylor, African American market director, MassMutual. "At the same time, it sheds light on the financial struggles and inequities that the African American community continues to battle. Those contradictions indicate a need for greater financial education and discipline for the whole family to achieve economic success. In fact, the biggest financial regret expressed by respondents was that they wished they had started saving and investing sooner."
To help bridge the gap, MassMutual has teamed up with Tarra Jackson, who runs the Madam Money blog, to help African Americans improve their finances. Jackson is a personal finance expert, TV/radio personality, author and speaker with over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is an experienced financial contributor for numerous newspapers, magazines, blogs, podcasts and radio shows.
"Most African Americans are not taught about or involved with household finances," said Jackson. "They also are not educated about personal financial strategies in school. This lack of financial education increases the use of credit, which results in higher debt burden, and minimum or nonexistent savings and investing behaviors. This perfect storm of high debt, low or no savings or investing, as well as lack of life insurance, stifles the attainment of the American Dream of financial security."
"The American Dream is possible with simple financial steps," Jackson added. "It is never too late to start taking ownership of and investing in your financial future."
Her top five recommendations:
1. Begin with the end in mind. Thinking about a desired lifestyle will help to determine potential financial needs and wants. Whether it's traveling the world, being debt free or having enough money to meet basic living standards and health needs, understanding preferred outcomes helps determine the right financial plan.
2. Create a spending & savings plan. Overspending and debt are destructive to financial stability. Creating a budget helps to determine expenses, income gaps or ways to save more money and pay down debt. A budget gives you the power to make informed decisions necessary to meet your short, mid and long-term financial goals.
3. Start saving something sooner. Most people don't start saving for their later years in life because they seem so far away. They think they have enough time or they may believe that they don't have enough money. Saving a percentage of your paycheck now will help build savings by taking advantage of the power of compound interest.
4. Set it and forget it. Set a specific amount or percentage of your paycheck to automatically deposit into your retirement savings or investment accounts monthly or every pay period. This will help create consistency in savings. Automatic deposits will also limit access to the money and avoid the temptation to spend it.
5. Consult with a financial professional. Seeking advice from family members may be tempting, but when it comes to financial advice, it is often best to consult with a financial professional. They can guide you through options right for your financial situation and income while making the process less intimidating and overwhelming.
Additionally, consumers are encouraged to visit massmutual.com/
MassMutual is a leading mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policyowners. MassMutual offers a wide range of financial products and services, including life insurance, disability income insurance, long term care insurance, annuities, retirement plans and other employee benefits. For more information, visit www.massmutual.com.