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Financial Lessons from 4:44

In honor of his birthday and to mark the 6 months of his recent album release, I decided to share the top four money lessons I learned from Jay’s 4:44.

Jay-Z’s album, 4:44, dives deep into his life, giving listeners a glimpse and then some. He raps about his struggle with his marriage, the mistakes he made in his early life and career, and other very personal situations.

However, 4:44 is also important because he touches on the importance of financial health and building wealth for his family and the [African-American] community.  Jay-Z merely scratches the surface in a few of his songs when trying to explain the importance of having good credit, supporting black-owned businesses, making sound investments, and building and sustaining generational wealth. Jay’s lines solidified my beliefs on what attaining wealth means to me so here are a few lessons I learned from 4:44.

Having Good Credit

“You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit” – Jay-Z The Story of OJ

I always saw commercials about checking my credit and never really understood why until after a few years of living on my own and studying. Having good credit is important because it can be the difference between you owning property (house, car, etc) or not, between paying 3.5% interest or 18%, or being able to borrow money. Credit is basically your relationship with debt. If you are you able to make your payments on time and disciplined with your spending habits, then you will more than likely have a good credit score. If you don’t make payments on time or stay within your credit limits, then you may have a difficult time attaining a good or excellent credit. Now having good credit, of course, is not solely how you acquire wealth, but it can help you to build a secure future as it shows that you are able to manage your debt.

Supporting Black Owned Business

“Hundred percent Black-owned champagne

And we merrily merrily eatin’ off these streams

Y’all still drinkin’ Perrier-Jouët, hah

But we ain’t get through to you yet, uh”

“I’ll be d**** if I drink some Belvedere while Puff got CÎROC” – Family Feud

In Family Feud Mr. Carter talks about the importance of supporting business owners – especially black-owned businesses. In my opinion, making sure the dollar circulates within your community is one way of being sure that wealth stays close to you, your family, and your community. According to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, African American buying power is forecast to reach $1.2 trillion this year and $1.4 trillion by 2020. Leveraging this buying power could possibly assist in establishing a stronger identity, help with the adjustment of political and economic changes, and foster an atmosphere for education. With a newfound appreciation and strength for the community, this could help to lift each other up financially.

Making Sound Investments

“I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo

For like 2 million

That same building today is worth 25 million

Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo” – The Story of OJ

Here, Jay-Z suggests that people should make better investments by buying things that will appreciate over time versus something that loses value right after you buy (Property/Real estate vs. V-12 engines/cars). This lesson is one that I’ve had a hard time with since it’s sometimes difficult to not “flex” from time to time. It’s tough to just stay away from buying something you feel you need at that moment in time. A few questions that I ask myself when making large purchases are:

  1. Do I already have something like it? Or that does the same job?

  2. Could I possibly borrow it from someone?

  3. Would I be able to barter for or ask my network for it?

  4. Would it add value to my life or collect dust?

  5. Could I DIY it?

If the answer is yes to any of these, I typically shy away from purchasing at that time. The trick is trying to stay in a futuristic mindset and think about what that money could possibly do for you in the future. In this case, Jay-Z missed out but what’s $25 million to a billionaire?

Building Wealth for the Future and Beyond

“Generational wealth, that’s the key

My parents ain’t have sh**, so that shift started with me” – Legacy

Creating wealth that is able to pass down through families is an integral part of financial freedom. Generational wealth could possibly secure your family’s future for years to come by ensuring that your legacy is carried forward, that your children (and their children) are secure, and to possibly allow future generations to be more forward-thinking and creative.

Financial literacy is going to be the only way for any community to grow. The resources and tools are there to thrive in this lifetime and the next.

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