altThere are many reasons African Americans are poorer than other ethnicities. Poverty rates for blacks greatly exceed the national average, and can be directly connected to racism that has plagued blacks for generations. In 2008, 24.7 percent of blacks were categorized as poor, compared to 8.6 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 11.8 percent of Asians. There is nothing that can be done to change the inequitable outcome of historical injustice, but there are some behaviors and practices that we can alter individually.

1. Understand what money is for.  In the United States we practice capitalism. By definition this is an economic system based on private ownership of capital. The key word is “ownership.”  If poverty is not your intention, then African Americans need to know that money should be used to make money, not buy goods.

2. Poor money management. Managing one’s expenses is not that difficult. When money is scarce, you have a greater appreciation for each dollar. Therefore, you should approach money as if you are down to your last red cent. This will make you more likely to save rather than heading out to the mall to spend what you don’t have.

3. Save more, spend less. Before spending anything from your paycheck, you need to pay yourself 10 percent. You would be surprised how quickly this will add up over the years. In addition it will provide you with emergency money if you need it, or money for investing.  

4. Live beneath your means. Common sense should tell us that if we make $28,000 a year, that we probably shouldn’t purchase that 2010 Mercedes convertible or maintain a closet full of Air Force Ones or $200 designer jeans that will be out of style next year. Not spending the money we have, is one of the best and simplest ways to grow wealth.  

5. Develop stronger family relationships. When compared to other ethnic groups, African Americans are less likely to keep the money in the family and community.  One reason many African American children are poor, is that more than 80 percent of African American women who have babies are unmarried compared to 26 percent of white mothers. Families headed by unmarried women, particularly those with young children, are far more likely to be poor. Marriage and family stability is positively correlated with wealth accumulation.
torrance stephens, ph.d.
For more with Dr. Stephens, visit and

More on