On a recent conversation a statement came to light or rather a peculiar question. The question touched on the topic of generational wealth. To paraphrase the question
It takes four generations to begin to build wealth. so why are we all still so poor? What were our great grandparents doing? why didn’t they help us? for that matter what about our grand parents and our parents?
This was an easy one for me to answer. Perhaps because I once wondered the same question about wealth building in the Bahamas but in a different light.
You see, my great grand parents were not slackers they were survivors. Survivors of enslavement in the Caribbean and their Parents were taken from their homeland… our homeland in Africa.
They were Forced on a ship where they were packed like sardines and somehow survived the middle passage against all odds to arrive on an island taken and claimed by the British they called the Bahamas.
My great Grand Parents were born here and did their best to survive post enslavement. Generational wealth much less regular wealth was not on their minds at the time. They needed to use what they learned from their parents to make it day to day in this new world. Money was scarce, but through the community concept of being my brothers keeper and a few persons with money they were able to move from their original settlements of Gambier and Adelaide to ones closer to town. Here they pretty much worked for the descendants of their parents en-slavers in the tourism industry. They began to develop little tuck shops in the neighborhood just to survive. Wealth was not at the forefront of their mind because there was the issue of inequality between the majority black population to white. They had other issues to contend with.
My grand parents had it a little better than my great grand as they atleast had a third grade education… One can say the Crown ‘helped’ them in that regard. However they lived during World War 2. So yeah there was that. They again they fell into survival mode much like their parents. Working on the contract in America picking oranges, sewing and doing what they needed to do to survive and some how take care of their family. The one thing that was different at this time was that African Bahamians now had the ability to put their money into local small banks. These banks would help the new Bahamians as best as they could.
My grandparents all had skills that took them through life. On my mother and father side of the family. It was just the era in which they lived, they built their own homes and provided for their family and ensured that they got a better education than they did.
At this time money was a bit easier to acquire but the words Financial and Literacy did not go together nor did generational wealth. They did their best to raise their children in a war torn world and Education was key. Hence they made sure their children… My parents attended school and learned to read, write and do mathematical equations hence the phrase ‘reading righting rithmatic’ intentionally spelt with r’s
So if my grand parents never heard of the term financial literacy but knew how to work hard to get what they wanted and needed, why would you think my parents would have heard of it?
At this time some information was taught in school on how to put your money in a bank and save for a rainy day or for down payment for a property but there was little to no information on how banks really worked. The thought was to make a better life for their children which included my generation.
My parents had it better than their parents, grand parents and great grand parents but they still were not playing the same game as those who we look towards a shaving generational wealth. What I mean by this is that when you look at America, a land taken by violence and transformed in to a free enterprise of capitalism. It was build by a society that had already been built in Europe. The system they used to develop america was just a spin off of European society but with a few tweaks to make it easier to do business. Without getting into the whole give me liberty or give me death speech, we have to look at what was taken from our ancestors which includes our great great grand parents.
Taken from their homeland and stripped of their language, culture and sense of community. Their children were limited in retaining this information and by the third generation my great great grand parents they only knew what the colonizers/enslavers taught them. So its technically like starting from scratch in a game that has been played for centuries.
We can not look at what our enslavers did and think that is success for us. They had 400 years plus of a head start on our great grand parents. They began to build their wealth and economic system long before we were allowed to enter and play the game.
You see yes it takes 4 generations but when you start with a negative you must first make a positive number. Beyond the political game our parents are actually ground zero, we are generation 1. So when you say it takes 4 generations to build wealth you are correct but you and I have to start it. We should be the ones learning about financial literacy, about how banking works, how money works how to build wealth and eventually generational wealth.
What is wealth?
Here is something also to consider… What is wealth and by that means what would be generational wealth? Again we see some of the most wealthy persons in America and try to set our standard to theirs for wealth. This makes absolutely no sense. Again they have had a 400 plus head start in a system built for them to succeed. This means we must now reconsider what is wealth for us. We as negros in the Bahamas do not have that American economic system. Infact the system we grew up in came from the British and is meant for them to succeed not us. We are at a disadvantage but we are still here and need to find out what can be done.
How can we at generation 1 begin to build wealth? Again I mush reiterate that beyond the political, in other words those who grew up in a political family, or a family that is connected to politics and have gotten certain contracts for governmental money are not the majority. The majority are the persons considered to be poor in Bain and Grant town. Those with government issued homes earning the Bahamian average of $21 – 24,000 per year. Yeah thats right the average gross take home salary in the Bahamas is between $21 -24,000, thats an average of $1900 per month. How then can a person build American Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg wealth? You cant!!!
How to build Wealth?
- The first part of building wealth as an average Bahamian is to first define what wealth is for your country.
- Identify what rules you are playing by. Life today is as if you are playing checkers in a game of chess, it just wont work, you must learn the rules of financial engagement while learning how money works in your economy first and then in other country economies.
- Learn how banks operate, what do they do when you deposit your money in a savings account, what are the different types of bank accounts and then learn if its still viable to use the bank accounts the way our parents or grandparents used the banks.
- Learn what professions are the best paying professions. This is not always the best route because traditionally we have been told to become a doctor or lawyer because they were the most noble of professions and paid the highest. Is this still the case? you must find out first.
- Learn how to effectively start and run a profitable business and start one. Use your new found knowledge on how to manage your money and begin to invest in your wealth.
Wealth creation is not about having billions of dollars but its about freedom. Again challenge your perception of what is wealth. Is it having a million dollar home on 100 acres? Having fast cars, traveling the world in a private jet or maybe having personal butlers and maids that tend to your every need. This is just one concept of wealth.
How to build Generational Wealth?
- Invest – Saving may not be the best way to build generational wealth. It helps to leave something for your children but unless you are in the top 1% of your country saving is not going to last the life time of just 1 generation. You have to learn to Invest your money in available markets.
- Education – School has always been the best way to ensure you learn something different that will take you further in life. Lets look at schooling as the basics of learning. Education would extend beyond this to the point of travel, having side jobs during summer and having your child participate in sports and other ‘grown up’ events. This level of education gives them a practical understanding of how the system works at an early age.
- Insurance – Insurance policies are a sure way to leave a large sum of cash to your next generation to give them a bit of a head start in life. You will most likely do you best to ensure your child has a good education but knowledge without application is useless hence giving them a boost in cash will help tremendously especially if you are not there to assist. This type of wealth usually benefits the second generation depending on your age and the age of your children.
- Real Estate – Property as the old people would say, ‘don’t rot’ so having land ownership is a good way to give your first or second generation a head start. Real estate is one of the best ways to pass on generational wealth or even get it started. Vacant land, House or Rental units are all good starts.
Wealth can also be being in good health with enough money to take a trip somewhere in the world once a year with your family. All your bills are paid, owing your own home and have properties or cash reserves for your children to give them a leg up. Wealth can also be building a business that you can pass on to your children that will take care of your and their living expenses and personal wants. Wealth can be what you want it to be. There is no one definition for wealth because if there was who would be the gold standard?
Challenge your perception of wealth.
You have to challenge the subliminal thinking in your mind and perception of what wealth really is to you not the world. Once you have that idea of what you call wealthy then you work towards it. Now there is one caveat. The basis of having wealth is having something that you can pass on to your children. Having enough abundance that you could not use or spend it all in your life time hence you have left overs that can carry on to your offspring or if no children can carry on after you have left this plane of existence.
If you are a modest person with little wants, your wealth number would be different from a person who has to have flamboyant toys or possessions. A models persons version of wealth may be to own their own home and have two vacant properties to pass on to their child while having all their expenses paid each month from their small business of which they can shut down for 1 month to travel as a family to various destinations of the world. Their number based on their lifestyle may be on average $150,000 per year. That is their wealth and enough to pass on to their one or two children that can take the business to the next level and utilize the properties left for them to grow their version of wealth individually.
Another person who likes extravagant things version of wealth may be; to have a three story house in a gated community on 1 acre of land. Have multiple apartments on rent throughout the Bahamas earning a good cash flow per month of passive income. Also to have a business that they nor their child has to actively work in but hire manager to manage the business all while they jet set around the world staying in 5 star hotels. Their number maybe grounded in earning 1.2 million per year. That is their perception of wealth.
No decide on you measure of wealth you must first challenge your thoughts and perception of what wealth is and then if it does not fit into your character or lifestyle than change it.
Until I myself do this or you reading this take that step, we as generation 1 cannot begin to build wealth and not generational wealth. Generational wealth is simply leaving something for your child to build on. Not just physical things but the lessons of financial literacy and how to manage money people and resources. You can begin the process by finding your number… the amount that you will need to accomplish the things you want to do realistically. It may just become quite surprising that you dont need a million dollars a year to live the life you want to live.
Building generation wealth can also be simplified. Do what you must do to build wealth for you and your family. Teach your children the the rules of engagement in their economy and leave something for them to get started in this economy.
Proverbs 13:22: A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children..The Bible
To leave an inheritance for your grand children takes some sacrifice. Leaving an inheritance for your child alone can be difficult so imagine your great grand children.
Here is my thoughts on this. I’m sure some of you can remember growing up and each year going to some seasonal fruit such as mango, guinep, sugar apple or sour sop tree and picking that fruit. I personally can remember we had many trees in my grandparents yard we could pick from. Here is the concept of this. Your grand parents took the time to plant a seed… yes you know where I’m going with this. they planted a seed and took the time to tend for that tree waaaaaaaaaay before you were even born. In some cases before your parents were born. That sacrifice to tend to that tree until it could bare fruit was decided before you so that your grand parents could get just a taste of it before they left this existence but your parents enjoyed most of it and now you are here and you as their grand children have fond memories of those fruits every year. This is the simplistic form of passing on an inheritance to your children’s children.
You have to make the decision. You have the education, the knowledge is readily available via the internet all that is required is your will power and a change of thinking to sacrifice your selfish ways to begin to build something you can pass on to your children. Instead of going to the movies, drinking every weekend taking those wild trips three times a year, just cut down on them and use that money in a better way to acquire true assets such as real estate. To finally start your own side hustle that could turn into a family business. To place yourself or your child in a financial management course or class about investing, real estate and business. Just make the sacrifice NOW.
Generation 1 can begin the process. Our great grand parents did what they could do to get you here now its up to you to begin to build wealth for you and your family on your own terms. Here are some ways for you to start studying on how to build wealth and generational wealth. Take a look at this article written in the Nassau Guardian about Wealth.
Start there and begin your search for information and then.. TAKE ACTION. Comment below… What is preconceived notions do you have of money and wealth? What are you doing to build wealth as generation 1 or 2? Do you feel as if it is impossible to build wealth in the Bahamas without playing the political game or through ill gotten gains? What are your thoughts on money?