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The New York Times cover story on Thursday highlighted the growing spending power of the super rich. While average American families struggle to make ends meet, the wealthy are flooding high-end stores to the point where Nordstrom has a waiting list for a Chanel sequined tweed coat for $9,010. But instead of emulating the frivolous spending habits of the select few, perhaps we need to instead spend wisely and save.

In the time it took Washington to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, I wonder how many more of us fell into our own financial crisis? If we’ve learned anything out of the debt debacle, it’s that some in Congress are willing to hang the American people out to dry in order to advance personal agendas, and we must therefore handle our business. Time to get our own fiscal houses in order.

As perhaps the largest consumers of goods in the country, African Americans continuously purchase products – some we don’t even need – in great numbers. Despite our median income remaining at only 60 percent of the median income for white households (Black Enterprise Magazine), we routinely flood the economy with our hard-earned dollars often as quickly as we receive them. Our buying power is undoubtedly tremendous, but we have to start using it wisely.

We cannot spend our entire paycheck on that new pair of shoes or that name brand purse when our bills are due. And we cannot charge our lives away. The problem of spending before we have it isn’t confined to African Americans only; our own federal and state governments are still struggling to balance their books. But if we don’t want to keep racking up debt and run around trying to find ways to raise our own credit limits, we’ve got to start budgeting, cutting our spending and investing.

Money clearly is power. And believe me, I include myself when I say that as women, we sometimes forget that economic strength empowers us across the board. I can admit, that I have at times bought a pair of shoes that I didn’t need or grabbed a bag that really wasn’t necessary. But all of us have to begin steps to change our buying habits and avert our own debt crisis in the future.  For the men out there, I haven’t forgotten you. There are many who think they just can’t live without that brand new car, or customize their ride with ridiculous upgrades, and yet they’re still living at home with mama! Some men indulge in high-end watches or clothes as well, but no matter what our ‘thing’ may be, we’ve got to start making sure economic power is our focus.

Washington just reached a national debt agreement. It’s time for us to work on personal debt resolution in order to prevent serious consequences in our lives — and instead progress ahead — so that the great income and wealth disparities in this country cease to exist.


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