Financial Freedom for Millennials: A Bucket List

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millennials discussing finances

By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List” told the story of two terminally ill men seeking to finish out all the things they’ve always wanted to do but never completed. The duo set out on their adventure with the intention to fulfill all their dreams before they “kicked the bucket.”

While most people associate bucket lists with experiences, you can apply the same concept to personal finance matters, as well. Essentially, you list all the things you need to accomplish in your financial life and then start making moves to get them done. According to financial experts, people should start to tick off money-matter items on their lists while they are still in their 20s and 30s. With this strategy, they’ll achieve financial freedom sooner than later because they’ve set themselves up for a less stressful future as they reach retirement age.

At this point, retirement probably seems a million years away, but now is the time to start thinking wisely when it comes to money. Check out our financial bucket list for millennials.

1. Live with roommates

Most millennials want to move out of their parents’ home but can’t always afford to do it. Why forego and miss out on the pleasures of autonomy you can enjoy living on your own? Get some roommates instead to help share housing costs.

When seeking roommates, always be smart and keep safety in mind during the selection process. Everyone, especially women, should stay away from listings on Craigslist and other platforms that don’t fully vet the people out who post these listings.

Once you’ve got your roommates in the house, aside from the financial savings you’ll enjoy by splitting the rent, you can make some great memories — or at least accumulate a few great stories to someday tell your family and friends.

2. Move to an affordable city

Sure, New York is the city that never sleeps, and Los Angeles sees a lot of action, too —but these cities are incredibly expensive to live in. Instead of struggling (even with the help of roommates) in an expensive city, consider relocating to a more affordable city with a lower cost of living. Kansas City, for example, is not only affordable, but it also offers plenty of great job opportunities and even boasts some of the shortest commuting times in the country.

3. Downsize and sell some stuff

We live at a time minimizing is en vogue, especially for millennials. Aside from being a trendy thing to do, selling off possessions you no longer need or want can net you some serious cash. Try selling clothes, unused gift cards, old electronics and gadgets, pretty much anything.

If you have old toys, video games, or other nostalgic items you don’t necessarily want to hang onto anymore, try selling these too. You’d be surprised at how well nostalgia sells! Set up an account on eBay (or another preferred platform) and get selling. Then take that money and save it or invest it so it grows.

4. Learn thrifty shopping habits

Even if you’re aiming to downsize, there will still be stuff you need. Instead of paying full price for new items, learn the art of thrifting by shopping at places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity resale stores. You can find great deals on everything for the home from kitchen necessities to furniture, along with personal items, too, such as clothing and accessories.

Other ways to save on shopping are to watch for sales, try extreme couponing, and follow discount sites such as Groupon for deals on things you want to buy. Also check out Craigslist and Freecycle to find freebies in your neighborhood.

5. Make a few investments

While making habitual changes can go a long way toward achieving financial freedom, you’ll want to find other ways to increase your bank account. Why not try purchasing some stocks and seeing what happens? Some online brokerage sites let users start buying with as little as $100 and make trades for $5. You can buy small amounts and see if you can aggressively make them grow. “Playing the market” is a unique experience that not everybody gets in their lifetime — and watching your stock’s values go up is a thrill.

6. Launch a business

Even if you’re holding down a full-time job, you can launch a business on the side to generate some extra cash and help build your financial future. It could be something as straightforward as buying a property to use as a vacation rental. Or you can build a brand in your spare time, you can market your business by creating a presence on social media and cultivating helpful business relationships. Sign yourself up to attend some trade shows to help establish a name for yourself.

Depending on your line of work, you may need to obtain a license, insurance, or meet other local legal requirements. Be sure to have your ducks in a row and do everything legally. Also, remember that you’ll need to file taxes as a business. An online calculator can help you make the necessary tax calculations.

Achieving financial freedom is a wonderful feeling! The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be that much closer to your ultimate money goals … and then you’ll be able to afford the things on your “other” bucket list.

7 Myths About Saving for Retirement

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African American man and woman in retirement couple looking at each other on a deserted tropical beach

by Andrew J. Tudor, Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. It’s always a great time to reevaluate your financial goals and dreams for the future. Whether you are decades from retirement or only a few years away, many people have misconceptions about how achievable retirement is, how much they’ll need, and what resources are available to them as they prepare to retire. There is also the universal tension between living for now and saving for later. These factors create a lot of anxiety around preparing for a secure future.

To empower people to make the most of their financial futures, I have compiled several retirement myths below, as well as insight to dispel those myths:

Myth #1: It’s too late. I’m too old to save for retirement.
While you may not have started saving earlier in life, there are still opportunities to accumulate savings now. Take advantage of the catch-up contributions permitted by the IRS, and make sure you’re collecting all your company’s 401(k) plan matching contributions. Additionally, you can open an IRA or Roth IRA account to supplement your retirement savings.

Myth #2: Retirement means not working.
People are increasingly engaging in phased retirement, second careers or part-time work after their first career ends. One reason for this is that people are living longer, healthier lives. The longer you live after work, the larger your nest egg needs to be. Some are phasing their retirement for financial reasons, while others realize a second career or part-time work can make their golden years more fulfilling.

Myth #3: I won’t be able to rely on Social Security.
While the Social Security Administration projects that the trust fund for retirement benefits will be depleted by 2034, it believes it will be able to pay roughly 75 percent of benefits through at least 2092, and that’s if nothing happens to change the system. While Social Security is likely to continue to provide a base of income for many years, it’s a good idea to have supplementary income available in retirement. IRAs and 401(k)s are a good, tax-advantaged way to supplement social security income.

Myth #4: If I save enough to live to age 85, that should be enough.
It is true that expected lifespan is 75-85 years, but with advancements in medicine and health care, living to 100 is becoming more and more common. It’s essential your retirement plan provides income to support you until you die. It’s better to have more money at the end of your life than to have more life at the end of your money.

Myth #5: I’m too young to have to worry about saving for retirement.
You’re never too young to start saving for retirement. Starting early makes it possible to take advantage of compound interest which grows exponentially. For example, let’s say you have $5,000 saved by the time you’re 25. If you let that money compound at a 7 percent annual rate of return, it will be worth more than $81,000 by the time you retire at 65. That’s compound interest.

Myth #6: What’s in my retirement account is all mine.
While traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are critical tools in saving for retirement, it’s important to understand the tax implications of those accounts. A dollar in those accounts has never been taxed, but it will once it’s withdrawn in retirement. For example, at an effective tax rate of 15 percent, a withdrawal of $10,000 will only get you $8,500 after taxes. With Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s, taxes are paid as the money goes in, so you don’t owe any more when drawing on those funds.

Myth #7: In order to work with a financial advisor, I need to have extra money to invest.
A financial advisor can be a helpful partner for anyone, regardless of their financial situation, and his or her expertise goes beyond simply saving for retirement. An advisor can help you live the life you want now while still saving for later. Whether your financial goals include paying down debt, setting up a budget, opening a retirement investment account or recommending 401(k) investment options, an advisor can guide you through the process and help you make informed financial decisions.

LA Pride Festival Cancels In-Person Celebration, Will Go Digital

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LA-pride-2019

On its 50th anniversary, the iconic Los Angeles Pride Festival and Parade, which normally draw hundreds of thousands of people to West Hollywood in June, will be going digital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers recently announced that the festival will instead be held virtually on several digital platforms over a period of months and spanning into 2021.

Back in mid-March, Christopher Street West – the nonprofit group in charge of putting on the festival, announced that it would be postponed. However, it was confirmed that the festival has been canceled the in-person celebrations, and will instead return in 2021.

“Due to the evolving effects surrounding COVID-19, CSW has made the responsible decision to forgo in-person LA Pride celebrations for the remainder of the year,” the group said in a statement. “The organization will instead re-imagine how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary through new and exciting initiatives hosted on its digital platforms, with the hope of returning to a physical celebration in 2021. More details will be announced soon on how Los Angeles will celebrate its 50th Anniversary through exciting digital initiatives.”

The three-day festival is one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the nation.

CSW said it would roll out its digital initiatives in the coming months.

Continue on to CBS Los Angeles to read the complete article.

Unique Ways to Thank your Essential Workers

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Thank You to Essential Workers in Fight Against Covid-19

From doctors and nurses to grocery store clerks and pharmacists, our essential workers are showing up every day to keep us safe and healthy during this time.

We are so thankful for each and every one of these workers, but how can we better show our gratitude and encourage them along the way? Here are four unique ways you can thank our essential workers.

1) Make a Sign

This is a relatively easy one that can be done by the whole family. Create a sign to hang from your window, car, or front yard that can be easily seen by essential workers driving or walking by your home. This little sign of encouragement shows they are being appreciated, even when we cannot personally thank every single one of them.

2) Support Their Families

During this time, essential workers are often working longer hours, and many are unable to be fully present for their families during this time. Check up on the families of essential workers in your life, and see what you can do to help. Delivering groceries, making a meal, or simply being a good listener can help ease the stress of the families who are struggling with the new lifestyle of their essential loved one.

3) Feed the Frontlines

Especially for medical professionals working long hours, getting a proper meal may be the last thing on their mind while trying to help others. Ordering food to be delivered to local hospitals, firehouses, grocery stores, and other essential businesses will not only show them your appreciation but could also ease their especially stressful work day. Ordering food will also help restaurants stay in business!

4) Stay at Home

The best way to show respect for those who are working so hard to keep us safe is to adhere to their wishes and stay inside. Washing our hands, keeping ourselves healthy, and social distancing are just a few of the ways that we can all slow the spread of the virus and speed up the process of bringing our essential workers home sooner.

BECOMING – OFFICIAL TRAILER

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MIchelle Obama book jacket cover

BECOMING is an intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but also for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House.

The film offers a rare and up-close look at her life, taking viewers behind the scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour that highlights the power of community to bridge our divides and the spirit of connection that comes when we openly and honestly share our stories.

Film Release Date: May 6, 2020
Format: Original Documentary Feature

Directed by: Nadia Hallgren
Produced by: Katy Chevigny,
Marilyn Ness, & Lauren Cioffi
Co-Producer: Maureen A. Ryan
Executive Producers:
Priya Swaminathan & Tonia Davis

A NOTE FROM MICHELLE
I’m excited to let you know that on May 6, Netflix will release BECOMING, a documentary film directed by Nadia Hallgren that looks at my life and the experiences I had while touring following the release of my memoir. Those months I spent traveling—meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe—drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with.

In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams.

*BECOMING is the third release from Higher Ground Productions and Netflix*

To view the documentary now available on Netflix visit, netflix.com/Becoming.

#IAmBecoming

JPMorgan Chase Announces Brian Lamb as Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion

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JPMorgan Chase recently announced that Brian Lamb has been named the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, a newly created position at the firm. Lamb, who will report to the firm’s Co-Presidents, will be responsible for executing a strategy that builds on the firm’s existing work and further incorporates a diversity lens into how the firm develops products and services, serves clients, helps communities and supports employees.

“Brian’s deep experience is precisely what we need to help our firm build on our diverse and inclusive culture, and drive it into every corner of our company,” said Gordon Smith, Co-President for JPMorgan Chase and CEO for Consumer & Community Banking. “Building a culture where all employees and customers are treated equally and feel welcome is a business imperative, and we’re fortunate to have Brian’s leadership in this critical area.”

This new role will strengthen and improve coordination of the firm’s existing strategy to support underserved communities as well as elevate the firm’s existing Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, including Advancing Black Pathways, Advancing Black Leaders, Military & Veterans Affairs, Women on the Move, the Office of Disability Inclusion, Global Supplier Diversity, and regional and line of business diversity functions. These focused efforts to-date have strengthened the firmwide culture in important and measurable ways.

The firm recently identified a number of areas across the company that, with enhanced, scaled or new programming or processes, would serve to ensure the firm’s culture is not one where racism can live or thrive. Those include enhancing the employee feedback process, making it easier for customers to access products and services in all branches, bolstering hiring to build a stronger pipeline of diverse talent, implementing additional required diversity and inclusion training firmwide, and increasing the diversity of businesses the firm partners with across the world.

“I’m excited to join JPMorgan Chase and help to further foster a culture where diversity and inclusion are a central and driving force,” said Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, JPMorgan Chase. “A company that is diverse and inclusive can better serve our customers, employees and communities – and that is good for business.”

“Applying a diversity lens to everything we do is critical to running a successful business,” said Daniel Pinto, Co-President for JPMorgan Chase and CEO, Corporate & Investment Bank. “We are more effective when we take a diverse and inclusive approach to our work, and with Brian on board, I believe we’ll be more successful all around.”

Lamb joins JPMorgan Chase from Fifth Third Bank where he served as Executive Vice President and Head of Retail Banking. His 13 year career there included time as Head of Wealth & Asset Management and Chief Corporate Responsibility & Reputation Officer, where he was responsible for building the comprehensive strategic framework for the Bank’s civic commitments, inclusion & diversity and reputation management.

Throughout his career he has remained passionate about diversity and inclusion. Notably, he partnered with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition to launch a $30 billion community commitment that focused on access to capital for small businesses, first-time home ownership and educational opportunities for underserved communities and people of color.

He currently serves on the United Way Campaign Cabinet, Greater Cincinnati Urban League and is Vice Chair of the Florida Board of Governors. He previously served as Chair of the University of South Florida (USF) Board of Trustees where he also helped to lead a campaign to close the graduation rate achievement gap between women and people of color as compared to white students. While at USF, he mentored hundreds of women and minority students and established a scholarship fund for first-generation minority and female college students.

Brian also served as Chair of the Tampa Bay Partnership and held board positions with the Florida Bankers Association and Florida Council of 100.

Lamb holds a graduate degree from the Stonier Graduate Banking School at the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of South Florida.

To learn more about JPMorgan Chase’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts, please visit jpmorganchase.com/corporate/About-JPMC/diversity.htm.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.7 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at jpmorganchase.com.

5 Tips to Keep Your Hair Zoom Meeting Ready

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Black professional woman with hands up and excited looking at computer monitor while in Zoom meeting

Linda Husser is no stranger to caring for her natural hair during challenging times. While stationed in England as Senior Airman in the Airforce, she had to learn to care for her natural hair without access to the biweekly trip to the hair salon that she was accustomed to before enlisting. 

“I would basically just put my hair into four or five cornrows because our hair had to always comply with service regulations and be above the neck,” she explains. From there, Husser began to use different products to style her hair from the limited options available for black hair at the PBX in England. As she got creative with hairstyles, others began asking her to do their hair and her new career as hairstylist was born. Thirty years later, she owns one of the most successful hair salons specializing in Black Hair in Orange County, California – Linda’s Hair Affair.  

Before the salon closures, the majority of Husser’s clients would schedule every two weeks for their hair to be washed, blow-dried, straightened and styled in a ponytail or loose curls. “A lot of them didn’t think that staying at home still meant they had to look Zoom Meeting Ready’, and have been reaching out to me for advice,” she shares.   

Here are her top tips to keep your hair healthy and Zoom ready during quarantine –  

  1. Do your hair as if you were going to the salon.  Wash and deep condition every two weeks. 
  1. Don’t worry about straightening your hair.  The new growth that’s coming in will be a different texture and your hair is more prone to breakage as a result.  Blowing it out with a blow dryer or putting it in two cornrows is best.  
  1. Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize.  Use this time to love your hair with oils and butters and conditioners.  Use a silk or cloth scarf to seal it in on your braided hair. 
  1. Use YouTube as a resource to learn how to flat twist, corn row, or experiment with other natural hair styles.   
  1. Wigs are a stylish, easy, and quick protective hairstyle option that actually gives your hair a break if it is thinning from weaves or braids. 

Ultimately, life will go back to face to face meetings and twice a month salon visits. Until then, use these time-tested tips from a former Airman turned Hair Stylist to get by in style. 

Tracy Yassini
Black EOE Journal contributing writer

Truth, Lessons, & Love of all things #BLACKGIRLSROCK

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everly Bond stands in front of large Black Girls Rock red promo background Black Girls Rock

By Tracy Yasinni

Beverly Bond is a woman who takes on massive responsibility in proving that Black Girls Rock! She is a social entrepreneur, model, mentor, DJ and now an author. Gifted with the ability to know what people want, Bond has worked to reshape the narrative of the Black woman and continues to celebrate the importance of #BlackGirlMagic.

This passion comes to life in her book Black Girls Rock, Owning Our Magic & Rocking Our Truth.

Bond views the book as a continuation of the movement and the mission of Black Girls Rock!

She elaborates, “I wanted something that people could have as a takeaway they could refer to at all times. With the awards show, we could only honor so many women at a time, whereas with the book we can share the magic, survival and achievements of Black women in this one space.”

Black Girls Rock, Owning Our Magic & Rocking Our Truth is dedicated to a close friend of the author who passed away from cancer. “I wanted to show that I had her presence in the books and her mantra, her affirmation, was something that I adopted in the book. It was contagious, it was to live true and dance free.

It resonated so much with me because she stood in her truth. She stood for her art. And I think that that’s something that I do as well. I believe in a truth and a justice in us as a people.

So I think that to live true and dance free, which I’m borrowing from Marjorie, who the book is dedicated to, I would say that that would be one of my mantras,” Bond shares.

About Black Girls Rock, Owning Our Magic & Rocking Our TruthBlack Girls Rock promotional book cover
From the founder of the mentoring organization and awards show Black Girls Rock! comes an inspiring and beautifully-designed tribute to the achievements and contributions of black women around the world, featuring moving entries from icons like Kerry Washington, Angela Davis, Misty Copeland, Serena Williams, Shonda Rhimes, Erykah Badu, Tracee Ellis Ross, and more! Discover the beautiful complexity, rich cultural traditions, and bountiful contributions of some of today’s most powerful black women with this one-of-a-kind celebration of their diversity, power, fortitude, spirituality, and tenacity!

Packed with anecdotes, affirmations, and inspirational essays from women of diverse backgrounds, Black Girls Rock! will empower and inspire you to be your best self.

5 Ways to Keep Your Finances in Check When Between Jobs

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Business man analyzing investment graph and discussing plan in m

Ashaunda Davis, Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual

It’s likely at some point in time you will find yourself between jobs. Whether you were laid off or you willingly left your previous job, this is not an easy time for anyone. But know you are not alone – about four percent of the U.S. population is unemployed at any time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics.

While you are gainfully employed, prepare for the unexpected. My mother always said, “There is nothing new under the sun, so be prepared when life throws you a curve ball.” Control what you can during employment including your mindset, spending and savings while keeping your resume updated.

When you find yourself between jobs, this period may be overwhelming. You can minimize and prevent future stress by following these recommendations I offer my clients.

1. Create a spending plan and stick to it
Spend some time figuring out how long you can go without an income by taking a look at where your finances currently stand. Budget monthly bills that you cannot forego like rent or a mortgage, utilities and car payments. Then, set a weekly allowance for necessities like groceries and gas, and stick to it.

2. Identify expenses you can cut
Separating wants from needs can help make sticking to a budget possible. Try cutting out luxury expenses like daily coffee runs, eating out and monthly subscriptions. Buying generic products, using coupons and rethinking how you spend time with friends and family can also help eliminate expenses. Although it’s important to maintain a social life and continue to do the things you enjoy, staying frugal now can help avoid putting yourself in debt.

3. Apply for unemployment
While filing for unemployment can be time consuming and tricky, unemployment checks can help make the time between jobs less stressful. If you were fired from your previous job under circumstances that were beyond your control, like a layoff, and you meet the state’s requirements for time worked, then you may be eligible to file for unemployment. Requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to check your state’s Department of Workforce website for all information.

4. Manage your own health insurance
Private health care plans can be expensive, but it’s important to be covered at all times because unexpected hospital visits are even more pricey than paying a monthly premium. Before leaving your job, talk to the HR department about how long you will be covered under your current health insurance plan. Some companies offer a grace period to allow time to find a new plan. If you have a spouse, look into joining his or her plan. Or, consider enrolling in the Affordable Care Act platform. Some states offer a special enrollment period for situations like this, so you don’t have to worry about waiting until the health insurance marketplace opens at the end of the year.

5. Consider a part-time job
Two words: side hustle. Do you have a talent or interest you have wanted to practice, but didn’t have time before? Now is a perfect time to freelance, work a part-time job in retail or sell your artwork or vintage cloths online. Not only can a part-time job provide a sense of purpose during the transition, but the extra cash will help prevent draining your bank account.

BET Networks Announces Multi-Phased Social Impact Campaign, #ReclaimYourVote

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BET Networks Announcement Promo of the Multi-Phased Social Impact Campaign, #ReclaimYourVote

BET Networks recently announced #ReclaimYourVote, a social change campaign in partnership with the National Urban League and key national organizations committed to harnessing Black collective power and increasing Black participation in the 2020 Census and the 2020 Election.

The nationwide #ReclaimYourVote campaign will layout the most significant issues, break down otherwise confusing processes, and highlight specific ways where we can reclaim our collective power by harnessing the power of media, entertainment, and technology to drive civic engagement.

#ReclaimYourVote will leverage this opportunity through community activations, television spots, compelling print, social and digital media platforms and urge the Black community to be counted in the census and to take a stand and vote.

“The 2020 Census and presidential election are pivotal moments for our communities—and will produce lasting effects for generations to come, so we’re tackling the critical issues of voting rights and voting suppression head on with #ReclaimYourVote,” said Scott Mills, President, BET Networks. “At BET, we take this mission very seriously because we’re uniquely positioned to mobilize our partners across media, entertainment and technology to drive civic engagement outcomes for the black community like no other brand can.”

“Our nation’s pursuit of liberty, justice and economic empowerment for all hinges largely on the right to determine who will govern us and how. But the right of African Americans to vote—our right to participate in the civic processes of this nation— quite simply, is under attack,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said, referring to findings analyzed in the 2019 State of Black America® report. “Campaigns such as #ReclaimYourVote are essential to harness our collective power and protect our fundamental right to vote.”

The year-long non-partisan campaign was revealed during the network’s day-long social impact conference ‘META: 2020’ in Los Angeles. META is designed to explore how the most influential people and platforms across these sectors can work together to impact outcomes for the Black community, with a 2020 focus on driving civic engagement ahead of 2020 elections. The convening featured special guest speakers including Senator Kamala D. Harris, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Angela Rye, Andrew Gillum, Elaine Welteroth, actress Skai Jackson, and many leaders within the social activism space including NAACP President Derrick Johnson, NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill, Rashad Robinson, President of Color of Change and many more.

The next phases of #ReclaimYourVote will focus on rallying the community around the critical matters that directly affect them with issues-based content and comprehensive analysis.

“Right now, our participation doesn’t match our power. Our goal with #ReclaimYourVote is to build on the long history of work from our national and local organizations to mobilize our community—especially our young voters and African men because their power combined with the proven strength of black women is our true superpower,” said Jeanine Liburd, Chief Social Impact and Communications Officer, BET Networks. “We couldn’t be more excited to launch this campaign with Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, a perfect partner who shares our commitment to amplifying our collective voices.”

Kicking off the campaign are a series of spots that will launch starting Saturday, February 22, during the 51st NAACP Image Awards airing LIVE at 8 PM ET/PT on BET. Watch and share the first spot in the series at bet.com/reclaimyourvote.

Join the conversation on social media by logging on to BET’s multiple social media platforms and using the hashtags: #ReclaimYourVote and #BETVote and following us @BET, @BETVote, and @BETNews.

For more information go to BET.com.

About META convened by BET Networks.
META: Media, Entertainment & Technology Alliance, is BET’s invitation-only social impact conference created to explore how the most influential people and platforms across these sectors can work together to impact outcomes for the African American community. Given the importance of this year’s presidential election, the February 2020 convening is focused exclusively on the importance of galvanizing the Black vote on Election Day and beyond.

About BET Networks
BET Networks, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African American audience. The primary BET channel is in nearly 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks—BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET Networks around the globe.

About The National Urban League
The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization established in 1910 dedicated to the economic and political empowerment of Black people residing in urban localities and cities. The Urban League has stayed true to its original mission over the years, providing pathways to home ownership, economic literacy, jobs, educational and professional development to about 2 million constituents each year. The National Urban League conducts most of this work through its 90 Affiliate entities, across 36 states and the District of Columbia.

Bay Area chefs honor Black History Month 2020

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At PLaYT restaurant in Hayward, owner Michael LeBlanc, left, and executive chef Jerome "Spike" Williams will celebrate African-American culinary heritage during February, which is Black History Month. (Photo courtesy of PLaYT)

Chefs in Hayward and San Francisco have created menus for Black History Month that pay tribute to treasured African-American recipes and black-owned wineries.

For executive chef Jerome “Spike” Williams, of PLaYT in Hayward, it’s a chance to trace African-American culinary lineage from Africa and the Caribbean throughout this country.

“To celebrate, my team and I have channeled dishes that span from northern Africa to Oklahoma and all parts of the southern United States,” Williams said. The downtown Hayward restaurant is owned by Michael LeBlanc; both men were formerly with Picán in Oakland.

Chef Banks White, working on specials for One Market restaurant in San Francisco, sees Black History Month as an opportunity to inspire the next generation. “When I was the executive chef at the Hotel Shattuck (in Berkeley) I didn’t realize how much representation mattered until getting calls from other young cooks asking if they could join the team,” he said in a statement. “Most of them never saw themselves in leadership positions and wanted to learn how I became executive chef. I’m humbled to be in this position to inspire other chefs to achieve excellence in their field.”

In Hayward, PLaYT will showcase a different Williams special every week of the month.

From Feb. 3-8 they will be serving Curried Jerked Chicken braised with roasted peanuts, coconut and Cajun spices and served with smoked collard greens.

The Feb. 10-15 menu will feature a dish that Williams says his grandmother, from Lumberton, Northern Carolina, loved: Low and Slow Braised Oxtails with tomato-okra-butterbean succotash over fried red rice.

From Feb. 17-22 the focus becomes an Oklahoma recipe, Smoked Ham Hocks with smoky kidney beans and a side of cast-iron cornbread.

And from Feb 24-29 it will be a PLaYT favorite, Pork Belly and Niman Ranch Beef Meatloaf, with homemade molasses barbecue sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and smoked collard greens.

In San Francisco, chef White (Rambler, the Brixton) has collaborated with One Market’s chef-partner Mark Dommen to present a four-course menu available for both lunch and dinner Feb. 1-29 at the One Market Street site.

Diners may order the prixe menu ($55) or try the dishes a la carte. Ten percent of the proceeds from the prix fixe menu will be donated to the Museum of the African Diaspora.

The first course, Dommen’s Pickled Shrimp Salad, will be followed by White’s adobo chile-glazed South X Southeast Fried Ribs with okra. For the main course, White is preparing Grilled Trout with pineapple black forbidden fried rice, green papaya salad and Malaysian red curry. Capping off the meal will be pastry chef Lyndsay Pullem’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake with brown sugar ice cream.

Featured wines from African-American vintners will include the McBride Sisters, Theopolis, Okapi, Maison Noir, Vision, Bodkin, DarJean Jones, Longevity and Tymphany.

Continue on to The Mercury News to read the complete article.

The Retirement Gap: Eight Ways African Americans Can Save for 65

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African American man and woman in retirement couple looking at each other on a deserted tropical beach

According to the National Black Chamber of Commerce, African American entrepreneurship and college graduation rates are both on the rise; however, even as these rates increase, people of color still have less saved for retirement than the rest of the population.

This stems from a number of factors, including the fact that many people of color work for small businesses, which often do not have the same competitive 401(k) plans offered by larger companies. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that 5.6 million small businesses in the United States lack retirement savings plan options. These factors compound with issues such as the wealth gap and disparity in homeownership. In fact, between the ages of 47-64, white Americans had an average of $67,000 in home equity while people of color in this age range had zero.

Despite these obstacles, the best way to predict the future is to create it. The sooner people begin planning, the better. Saving enough by age 65 can seem daunting, but even with a late start, African Americans can still plan for and create the retirement they deserve.

  1. Evaluate risk tolerance and employer-sponsored retirement plans.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average African American’s 401(k) balance is $23,000. This partly stems from the fact that African Americans are less likely to invest in the stock market. While contributing to a 401(k) plan is an investment with risk attached, the benefits of participating can be very helpful, especially when the employer offers a contribution match. There can be uncertainty surrounding employer-sponsored plans, and seeking assistance from an objective financial professional is critical. Choosing suitable strategies that align with a family’s specific goals and needs is an imperative step toward bridging the retirement gap.

A financial advisor can help discern how contributions should be allocated, how much a participant should contribute and how various investment options may complement one another. After learning if their employer offers a matching benefit, participants should find out if there is a Roth 401(k) option and establish a personal budget so they can decide if contributing the maximum ($19,000 in 2019) is appropriate. It is also important to remember that people age 50 and older can take advantage of a catch-up provision (total contribution is up to $25,000 in 2019).

  1. Understand time horizon as it relates to different investment accounts.  

As investors prepare for retirement they should have a firm understanding of what their fixed and variable expenses will be. African American families have cultural norms that impact how wealth will be protected, distributed, where it has accumulated and therefore how it will be taxed. Without proper planning well before a participant retires, retirement security can be very difficult to achieve. Most plan participants want to live a similar lifestyle to the one they had before retirement, and understanding their time horizon is crucial in planning for life after 65.

  1. Allot for longevity with a distribution plan.

Another factor African Americans need to take into account is their longevity. According to the Social Security Administration, the average 65-year-old can expect to live another 19 to 21 years in retirement. African Americans are now living longer than ever before as well, with the CDC reporting, “black Americans who live to 65 may now expect to live longer than whites of the same age.”

As life expectancy rapidly increases, retirees now need to save for almost a quarter of their lifetime. This may lead African Americans to rethink the way they withdraw funds during their retirement. As such, creating a distribution plan is in the best interest of every African American saving for 65.

Retirees should typically begin by withdrawing from non-qualified taxable and tax-deferred accounts, while tax rates are lower. Then African Americans can move on to tax-free accounts to maximize the value of each of their retirement savings. Developing a diversified retirement account is only half of the work; a sound distribution plan will create the security retirees spend decades preparing for. Working with a trusted financial advisor can help navigate these decisions and create a plan tailored to each individual’s needs.

  1. Make saving for retirement a priority, even while paying back student loans.

Many African Americans in the workforce have student loan debt hanging over their heads and saving for retirement may seem out of reach. This issue can hinder younger people of color especially and make it difficult to save at all. The Federal Reserve found that African Americans have $19,000 on average in liquid assets by their 30s, compared to the $130,000 of the general population.

To best allocate their disposable income, African Americans should begin by writing out what they pay on student loans monthly and the amount they can realistically contribute to their retirement account per paycheck. Even a small percentage will make a huge difference down the road. Plan participants should write down each loan and the interest it is accruing, then prioritize paying off the loans with the highest interest rates first, finishing by paying off lower-interest accounts.

Retirement plans consist of automated contributions, meaning plan participants can budget as soon as they get their paycheck. African Americans who are sole proprietors or self-employed should set up an automatic withdrawal into a retirement account each month. The goal is to save 15-20 percent of one’s salary; if that seems unattainable, a financial advisor can help work up to that amount.

  1. Understand Social Security income.

According to an Associated Press poll, 38 percent of white Americans said they had sufficient money for retirement, compared to 20 percent of African Americans surveyed. Making matters worse, people of color are less likely to receive Social Security, with 62 percent of African Americans collecting Social Security benefits compared to 82 percent of white Americans.

Employers are required to pay half of their employees’ Social Security contribution and the other half is taken out in taxes. Self-employed African Americans should make sure they are contributing on their own behalf in order to have another stream of income during retirement. Within 10 years of retirement age, people can calculate what their Social Security checks will look like and budget ahead of time. The Social Security Administration offers this online calculator to estimate the amount people will receive upon retirement.

  1. Plan for long-term care.

Another important aspect of effective retirement planning for African Americans is preparing for and understanding how long-term care expenses will be paid. In the African American community, family members may be expected to leave careers to stay home with an elderly family member who requires assistance. These expenses can quickly deplete a retirement nest egg and investors should plan for this scenario.

A Northwestern Mutual survey found that 34 percent of current caregivers spend between 21 and 100 percent of their monthly budget on caregiving expenses. As health care costs continue to rise, African Americans should consider the expense of professional care services when saving.

  1. Allot for family costs.

More and more Americans are using retirement dollars to help pay for their children. A 2018 report found that 72 percent of Americans are willing to put their children’s interest ahead of their own; specifically, African American parents were even more likely to sacrifice savings for their kids. Balancing supporting children along with aging parents while nearing their own retirement can be a hurdle many African Americans face.

African Americans should decide the capacity they can help their children while still saving for retirement. Setting clear boundaries early on can help combat the issue later in life.

  1. Consider annuities and pensions.

Living longer than ever before, many African Americans will need more than the traditional 401(k) and social security income streams. While planning for 65, retirees should consider pensions and annuities that will provide steady paychecks throughout retirement. Purchasing either an income annuity or deferred annuity helps mitigate the risk of running out of money during retirement, while adding a dependable revenue stream. Because they generally come with guarantees market investments do not offer, annuities create a tax-deferred nest egg for retirees and their families.

Insulated from market volatility, annuities and pensions can provide peace of mind during longer retirements. African Americans can meet with a financial advisor to find the best annuity for their goals and should heavily research the company they would like to take the annuity from.

Author: Allan K. Bell, Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company

In Celebration of the 15th Anniversary of Art, Beats and Lyrics Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Makes $15,000 Contribution to National Museum of African American Music

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Jack Daniels logo including the words Art-Beats Lyrics

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey announced its support of the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), the only museum dedicated to preserving the legacy and celebrating the accomplishments of the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans.

The alignment is an extension of the brand’s partnership with Cult Creative to support the wider community of hip-hop and urban artistry through its signature program Art, Beats and Lyrics (AB+L).

Established in 2004, AB+L has celebrated artwork from nationally and internationally known visual artists who span a variety of styles and genres. Throughout the years, the “museum meets concert” experience has showcased innovators and creatives from both the art and music worlds.

“For 15 years AB+L has been a platform dedicated to celebrating culture through music and visual art,” says Keenan Harris, Senior Multicultural Marketing Manager, Brown-Forman. “Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is excited to expand the celebration of AB+L to support the anticipated grand opening of the National Museum of African American Music.”

NMAAM will be a first-of-its-kind museum dedicated to celebrating and preserving the musical influence of African Americans to the American soundtrack, and is set to open in the summer of 2020, in the heart of Downtown Nashville, backyard to the Jack Daniel distillery in Lynchburg.

In addition to the monetary donation of $15,000, Jack Honey will raise additional funds to support NMAAM by auctioning off original artwork from the traveling AB+L exhibit. The virtual auction will open in January and run through AB+L’s last tour stop in Chicago on February 14th.

Auction Art Piece
Auction Art Piece

For more information on the AB+L virtual auction and the museum’s upcoming grand opening activities, please visit NMAAM.org.

About Jack Daniel’s:
Officially registered by the U.S. Government in 1866 and based in Lynchburg, Tenn., the Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, proprietor, is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Jack Daniel’s is the maker of the world-famous Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select, and Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails. Fly Straight. Drink Responsibly.

JACK DANIEL’S TENNESSEE HONEY is a trademark of JACK DANIEL PROPERTIES INC. ©2019. Jack Daniel’s. Whiskey Specialty, 35% ALC./VOL.(70 proof). Produced and Bottled by JACK DANIEL DISTILLERY, Lynchburg, TENNESSEE, U.S.A.

About the National Museum of African American Music:

The National Museum of African American Music, set to open in the summer of 2020, will be the only museum dedicated solely to preserving African American music traditions and celebrating the influence African Americans have had on music. Based in Nashville, Tenn., as part of the Fifth + Broadway development, the museum will share the story of the American soundtrack by integrating history and interactive technology to bring musical heroes of the past into the present. For more information, please visit nmaam.org.

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