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The Importance of Financial Literacy in our Community and 5 Mental Barriers to our Success

With poor economic outlooks many people are panicking around the who, what, when, where, and how of money- particularly their money. Within the black community especially, many people are wondering what’s next? Not only are there questions about how to acquire money for necessary living expenses, but how to use the money to acquire assets or even start a business.

Before we start exploring investing strategies and ways to get startup capital however, I think it’s important to address the mental barriers to our success. Why then, with access to everything we need do we stop short or capitalizing on our opportunity to learn, to apply, and to execute? Here are 5 mental barriers to our success as a people. 

1. Generational Curses

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It’s a term we toss around quite a lot lately but what does it mean? I believe generational curses refer to settling for behaviors and mentalities unconsciously passed down from generation to generation. These behaviors and beliefs may apply to anything from relationships to education but act as a barrier most notably in the realm of personal finance.

Why do you save your money under a mattress instead of a bank account? Why don’t you invest in the stock market? Why don’t you build credit via responsible use of a credit card? Why do we hear accounts of instances where a child realizes a bill was put in their name before they could speak and now the delinquency of that bill is preventing them from applying for a mortgage? All of these things need to stop with you.

Breaking generational curses involve the exposure to something new and swapping that new knowledge with old beliefs about how to get things done. Understanding the reasoning behind some of those old behaviors and beliefs are less important than understanding the negative impact they have on the future.

2. The Fear of Success

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Many people would like to believe they would know what to do with a million dollars. We play lotto in hopes of hitting it big because we believe that money can change our lives- and it will. However, the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of people truly don’t know what they would do with an unearned million dollars simply because they’ve never had to manage that much money at one time.

Furthermore, many don’t anticipate the expectation or demand many will have of them as new spreads around your newly acquired wealth. Lottery winnings aside, the truth is we are fearful of success simply because we don’t know what comes next. It’s easier to retract into what we know than to venture into the responsibilities of the unknown.

We won’t put ourselves into situations where we can win simply because we’re afraid of losing. Learning to persist in spite of fear is crucial to our success as there will be many times we are told no, knocked down or experience failure on our journey to attaining it.

3. Self-fulfilling Prophecies

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There are two kinds of self-fulfilling prophecies. One where you do what others expect of you and one where you do what you expect of yourself. With media depictions of the black community being less than positive, the bar is set pretty low around what is expected of your success. Meeting that bar and stopping there maintains the illusion that you have accomplished something while discouraging you from pursuing much more simply because in your eyes and in the eyes of others you “made it”.

On the other end, with low levels of self-belief, or self-esteem in our communities about what we can accomplish due to depressed resources, lack of representation, and again- media depictions, many of our young people simply believe it an accomplishment to survive to the ages of 21-35, let alone their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and beyond.

Why then if you don’t expect to live that long will you pay attention to things like planning for retirement or long term investing strategies if you’re not going to be here to reap the benefit of those practices? What you believe about yourself and what you are capable of, whether projected by other sources or bubbled up from within, is going to have a direct impact on your ability to realize success in any area but specifically your finances. 

4. The Poverty Mindset

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This is a phrase tossed around a lot in the financial communities and speaks to this idea of scarcity or that there will never be enough. Leveraging the fear that resources (like money) can or will run out is a brilliant sales and marketing tactic that encourages people to go out and buy more of the things they don’t need for fear of missing out or going without.

Furthermore, it signals that if I have it you cannot, discouraging us from working collaboratively and encouraging unhealthy competition and envy between us. Scarcity is often coupled with a survival modality in that you are more concerned with making it until your next pay date rather than taking the time to invest long term and reap the fruits of your labors in the future. Understanding that currency flows (like a current) and needs to continue flowing is a helpful analogy in understanding how money works.

I provide a service or a good and you pay for that service or good so that you then can create and provide a service or a good that someone else can pay for keeping the economy afloat. This practice is demonstrated in most ethnic groups except our own in a practice called group economics. Breaking free of this poverty mindset is also crucial to breaking barriers around our success individually and as a people.

4. A Limiting Mindset

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There’s a term I coined in the process of writing my book, “Financially Irresponsible” that speaks to the belief in the “impossibility of impossibility” where I attribute much of my success to the fact that I do not have a limiting mindset.

I believe wholeheartedly that ALL things are possible and that anything I want I can attain. Imagine instilling that confidence and belief into all of the children of our community around making and controlling our money. Imagine those children disregarding what is portrayed in the media, working through fear, breaking generational curses, and rejecting the poverty mindset simply because they believe they can achieve anything and everything.

Moving away from a poverty mindset and into financial power. The limiting mindset is likely our biggest barrier to succeed financially and otherwise because everything starts in the mind. 

With April being financial literacy month, I implore you to do some self-examining and then examining your spouse, your children, and other relatives around the 5 listed barriers to succeed financially in addition to education around the basics of financial literacy. Be blessed and be safe out there. 

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Written by Rahkim Sabree

Rahkim is a Connecticut based hybrid-entrepreneur with nearly 10 years experience in Banking, a 2x author, and non-profit cofounder.

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