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Color of Money: Make sure you don't miss the memo for financial freedom

Michelle Singletary on

-- Gang members. "They are the illegal, unethical entrepreneurs. ... Dumb (in terms of their business plans and chosen toxic professions), but far from stupid."

-- Struggling, middle-income Americans. People with "too much month at the end of their money."

If you're in the invisible class, here's the memo you may not have gotten.

-- Rule No. 1: Embrace the fact that money rules. From the time you get up in the morning until you go to sleep at night, money rules. In fact, it's ruling while you sleep. Take the time to learn the rules of this game. Learn how credit scoring works and what it takes to get a better score, which is the gateway to getting lower-cost money.

If you're in the invisible class, home ownership is one way to become seen. "Over the long arc of our history, it has been one of the best ways for the average family to both protect themselves against income erosion and to begin to build wealth," Bryant says.

-- Rule No. 2: The way you think about money can help you lose or gain wealth. "I believe that fully half of modern poverty -- beyond basic issues of sustenance of course -- is tied to a poor mind-set, to low self-esteem and a lack of confidence," Bryant writes. "Mind-set matters. A positive mind-set naturally leads to having aspirations for our lives. Aspiration is a code word for hope. ... Hope is the beginning of true wealth."

-- Rule No. 3: Spend time building a circle of influence. Your relationships are an investment as much as putting money in a retirement fund.

"Success in life is not just about how smart you are, or whether you are deserving. The world operates in a flow, and you must get yourself into the right flow. You do that by building relationship capital."

This part of the memo advocates surrounding yourself with people who are going toward or are already at where you want to be. By the way, this isn't about networking, Bryant points out. "Networking is about 'What do I get?' Relationship building is about 'What do I have to give?'"

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-- Rule No. 4: Even if you have a job, have an entrepreneur mindset. Entrepreneurship is a skill we all need, Bryant argues. "It is a crucial survival skill in the 21st century when the only thing that is certain is change."

-- Rule No. 5: Don't equate having stuff with being wealthy. Strive for spiritual wealth. "A poverty state of mind, an increasing hopelessness and faithlessness, dooms you to a future of increasing economic despair."

Bryant's memo is the pep talk you need to help move beyond living paycheck to paycheck and achieve economic liberation. Perhaps with this roadmap, you'll find a path to prosperity.

I'm hosting an online discussion about "The Memo" at noon Eastern time on Feb. 1 at washingtonpost.com/discussions. Bryant will join me to answer your questions.

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Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary). Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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