On April 24, 2015, CNN announced Jake Tapper, a white man, would take over State Of The Union from Candy Crowley. As a result of Tapper’s appointment, five white men will now host all five of the Sunday morning talk shows. This post from Media Matters includes charts and graphs of the representation of “white men” and “everybody else” in guest appearances on This Week, Face the Nation, FOX News Sunday, Meet the Press, and State of the Union.
Even if you’re not on the verge of becoming a billionaire like hip-hop impresario Lucious Lyon, chances are you can still benefit from improving your personal finances. We sat down with Empire Entertainment CFO Andre Lyon and asked for his top ten financial tips for the average person. You’ll want to write these down and keep them close by!
1. MAKE A BUDGET
This is your first step. Take it seriously. Budget realistically so you can see where all your money’s going month-to-month. You can’t map out a financial strategy unless you know where you’re starting. This will also help wean you off the bad habit of spending money before you get it.
2. PLAY THE LONG GAME
Like the saying goes, “All the glitters is not gold.” I can’t tell you how many new artists I’ve seen get signed to Empire, only to blow through their signing bonus buying fancy cars and clothes, trying to create the impression that they’re living on the same level as my father, who’s sold millions of records. They end up spending themselves into a mountain of debt. So even if you’re not a singer or rapper who’s signed your first contract, take my advice: slow your roll. Don’t let money burn a hole in your pocket. Keep your eye on your long-term goals.
3. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE!
This simply can’t be stressed enough. A lot of people are resistant to the idea of saving, but I always think of it as “paying yourself first.” Even if you’re already in the habit of paying all your bills and other debts as fast as you can, it’s time to change your mindset. In most cases, paying everyone else first will most likely leave you with very little money left to set aside, and you’ll continue living month-to-month with no way out.
4. CUT THE CARDS
Years ago, when my father first started making some good money from his record sales, he started getting bombarded with pre-approved credit cards. And I don’t think it’s telling tales out of school for me to say that he took full advantage of them…until I sat him down and showed him that he was just throwing money out the window in terms of interest payments. So I’ll tell you like I told him: figure out which two – yes, only two – credits cards you truly need to live on. Cut the rest in half. Ironically, the more income you make, the more those pre-approved cards will keep showing up, but you don’t have to accept them. Steer clear of the trap.
5. LIVE UNDER YOUR MEANS
You often hear people say, “live within your means.” I disagree. For the average person, living within your means gives you very little wiggle room in case of emergencies. So you should be living as far below your means as reasonably possible. Saving a good portion of your income is critical to long-term financial health.
6. GET ORGANIZED
Balance your checkbook. Put all your monthly bills in one place and pick a specific day out of the month to sit down and pay them. Create a filing system for your bank statements tax returns, and other financial paperwork. These small steps might seem like a waste of time, but once you get into the habit of doing them, you’ll find that they actually save you money. No more overdraft fees or interest charges on late credit card payments.
7. START INVESTING
Making people think they have to be millionaires in order to get into the investment game is one of the most effective tricks Wall Street has ever pulled. But that’s jut what it is: a trick. Anyone can invest, and it doesn’t require a huge amount of disposable income. You’ll have to take some time to do your research on this one, but trust me, this is where you want to start directing your energy. A simple savings account is nice, and easy for everyone to wrap their minds around, but they yield pretty much no return at all. If you want to start building a legacy – or even just a comfortable retirement nest egg – investing is the way to go.
8. KEEP A MONEY JOURNAL
If you’ve ever gone on a diet and had to keep a food journal, where you write down everything you eat or drink each day, then you’re already familiar with this practice. A “money journal” is just like it sounds: a written list of everything you spend on a daily basis, be it cash, check, or charge. If you do this for just four weeks, I guarantee that certain spending patterns will emerge, and you’ll be able to step back and take note of just how much money you’re devoting to things like lattes, movies, and snacks throughout the day. It all adds up pretty fast.
9. DREAM BIG
It’s okay to have big dreams. We all do. That’s exactly how Empire started out: my mother and father’s dream. A lot of people think my only job at the company is running around and stopping different departments from spending too much money. And yes, that’s part of it, but the reality is, sometimes you have to take big steps if you’re going to grow. So if you’re fantasizing about owning a big house or traveling around the world someday, let that motivate you. Just stay focused on your goal every single day.
10. NEITHER A BORROWER OR A LENDER BE
William Shakespeare said it best: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses itself and friend.” Now, this doesn’t mean you should never help anyone in need (nor should you be too proud to ask for help if you really need it), but it’s a situation you should strive to avoid. It’s usually a no-win situation for everybody involved.