Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Does Mel Gibson’s Wife Deserve Half a Billion?

In this episode of Financial Lovemaking, Dr. Boyce and S. Tia Brown discuss Mel Gibson’s Half billion dollar divorce.  Click the image to watch!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Black Money: Ryan Mack, CEO

Dear Mr. Simmons:
My name is Ryan Mack and I have followed your career for most of my life. I have been a long-time admirer of your work, a tremendous fan, and believe that millions are inspired by the paths that you have created in the field of Hip-Hop. More importantly, as an advocate for financial literacy myself, I believe that the work that you have been doing through the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network as it relates to financial literacy has been second to none. However, I must admit to being somewhat disappointed with your recent pre-paid debit card venture - the "Rushcard."

The pre-paid debit card industry has always been an industry that is built upon a lack of knowledge within the community. It is an industry based upon the legal phrase which demonstrates that "false imprisonment is an intentional tort." In other words, if I put someone in a room and do not lock the door but tell them that the door is locked, they will remain in the room because they believe the door is locked. As a result of my action, I have committed a punishable crime. I view pre-paid debit cards in the same light. Those who know the strategies to empower the community have a moral obligation to those, who may not be as knowledgeable, to fully inform them. There are other more efficient means to empower those in our communities than pre-paid debit cards and other financially destructive establishments such as check cashing facilities. The typical bank offers free debit cards that if used properly do not have any fees affiliated with them and can be used for the same purpose as the pre-paid debit cards.

If we compare the fees affiliated with the Rushcard compared to the typical bank offered debit card, we can clearly see the advantage of the cards offered by the banking institutions.

Rushcard vs. Typical Bank Card
Activation Fee: Rushcard = $19.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
Convenience Fee: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
ATM Cash Withdrawal: Rushcard = $1.95 Typical Bank Card = Free (At Branch)
ATM Balance Inquiry: Rushcard = $.50 Typical Bank Card = Free
Bill Payment: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
Inactivity: Rushcard = $2.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
Refund of Rushcard/Bank Card via Check: Rushcard = $5.00 Typical Bank Card = Free

Click to read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is He Missing the Point? Fed Chairman Bernanke Says Blacks Lack Financial Literacy

American minorities need to "strengthen their financial literacy," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told students and faculty at Atlanta's historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta today.

On a day when President Obama delivered an Economic Crisis 101 lecture to students and faculty at Georgetown University, Bernanke was doing the same thing in Atlanta.

During an expansive Q-and-A session with Morehouse students after his speech, Bernanke was asked about the household wealth gap between whites and blacks in America.

"It’s absolutely right the difference between minority and white wealth is very significant, and part of that is related to income levels where whites have a higher average income," Bernanke said. "But even if you control for income level, you find minorities have gathered less wealth."


Click to read.

Is the Rushcard a Helpful Service or Predatory Lending?

Dr. Boyce Watkins, one of the world’s leading Financial experts and Black Social commentators, spoke with BBC World news about the RushCard, which has been heavily adopted in Black communities.

Watkins wrote this commentary about the Rushcard and you can click the image below to listen in on the interview.  Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and Financial Writer for America Online.   He asks whether or not Russell Simmons is a pimp or if he is helping the Black community.

Tia Brown Breaks Down Respect in the Workplace


This week I look at issues of respect from both co-workers and your nearest and dearest.
I am 28-years-old and work in an office full of 45-56 year-old women. My issue is how to talk to them when they say things I do not like without being disrespectful. - Young & Angry In The Office

Dear Young & Angry In The Office,
I’m a firm believer of showing deference to elders, however the office isn’t the place to act out societal roles— you’re there to do your job. I firmly believe that the only way to get respect is to demand it. Some people have that certain thing about them that ensures people, whether they’re older or younger, never test them. Other people have to go get it. So how do you command respect? First, you always make sure that you’re on top of your game, for the work environment that means being efficient, punctual and dependable. Second, you have to speak up for yourself and address every infraction in a stern, tactful, professional way. That may mean giving a soliloquy about respect (such as, “we’re all on equal footing here, I give respect and I expect it,”) or taking people aside an individual when they say something that you deem is inappropriate. Only you can determine which approach will work best. Overall you want to make sure that you leave personal roles at home, these ladies are not your aunties, and they’re your co-workers –who likely take issue with working with someone 20 years their junior – so treat them as such.

My fiancé and I are planning a big, lavish, wedding and we have restricted our families to only inviting a certain number of people, so as not to exceed my parent’s budget. My fiancé’s family is insisting on inviting many more people than they are allotted and it has caused the price of the reception to soar. Do you think that I should demand that his family pay for some of the reception, or at least the head count of the additional people that they are inviting, or does that break some etiquette rules?Breaking the Bank for the Big Day

Dear Breaking the Bank for the Big Day,

Etiquette was out of the door once your future in-laws stepped on your toes and didn’t respect your parents’ budget. Since they —like many others—love to plan with other people’s money I would like to tell you to just make them pay for their extra guests, but that could potentially cause long-term strife with your hubby-to-be. Consequently, you need to speak with him first and make sure you’re on the same page about the finances and the numbers. If both families were given an equal amount of guests then it is up to him to make sure that he stands firm by your side when you speak with his family. During the conversation make sure to reiterate that the day is you and your fiancé’s, but you understand why it is to the family, but your parents – who are paying – have given you a budget and it is disrespectful to expect them to pay any excess. Let them know the precise number of people that they are allowed to invite and that any extra guests must be pre-paid for by specific date if they are to be seated. You can also opt to include your parents in on the meeting. I doubt that your future in-laws will speak recklessly or be callous about spending your parents’ money in their faces. With that said…standing firm is only possible if you are financially independent of your in laws. You don’t want to play hardball with someone who’s helping to pay your rent/mortgage or watching your kids for free. So make sure that you’re in a position where you can’t be penalized for standing up for yourself – and your parents – or you may end up paying a bigger price later.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Your Black Money: Why Financial Predators Usually Have Black Prey


Why Financial Predators Usually Have Black Prey

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

I talked to my good friend Ryan Mack, CEO of Optimum Capital Management, the other day. Ryan wrote an interesting piece about The Rushcard, a new prepaid debit card offered in a partnership between Russell Simmons and Unifund, a company that typically makes its money from bad debt collection. I read the piece curiously, as I have been learning how the Rushcard works, why it exists and who might benefit from the service. On the flip side, there is the larger concern that someone might be taking advantage of those who have the least access to capital, largely African Americans in poor communities.

The Rushcard is a prepaid banking card with no credit check that allows consumers to deposit their paychecks onto the card, as well as make purchases and withdrawals as if the card were a regular Visa. Russell (a self-proclaimed “philanthropist”, a title likely used to pre-empt any accusations of fraud or exploitation) also argues that the card helps marginalized Americans to seek out the American dream.

I didn’t know that the American dream was to hold a piece of plastic. Credit cards have created an infinite number of American nightmares as they tend to breed excessive consumption. But one can certainly argue that this card deals with one serious problem in the Black community: a lack of access to capital and banking services. Many people in urban America can’t get bank accounts. Many more have bad credit, can’t get rental cars or find themselves leaning toward check cashing services to liquidate their paychecks. Russell, “the philanthropist” has apparently taken it upon himself to solve this problem.

I can say, as a Finance Professor, that the Rushcard would likely not make money if it were not filling a critical need. The problem, however, is that those who “help” individuals in need may end up abusing their power. One can argue that a pimp is “helping” a young homeless girl by giving her a place to live. A loan shark can say that he is “helping” a family get the money they need by lending the funds at exorbitant interest rates. A man who sells water for $10 a sip is “helping” a man in the desert get what he needs to survive. So, there is a thin line between “helping” someone vs. exploiting a given need or weakness.

I became quite concerned when I saw the long list of complaints from those using the Rushcard. Those who wrote the comments I saw on a blog about the Rushcard seemed to have serious problems with the customer care behind the card. In his article, Ryan does an interesting comparison between the fees of the Rushcard vs. those of a typical Bank card:

Rushcard vs. Typical Bank Card
Activation Fee: Rushcard = $19.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
Convenience Fee: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
ATM Cash Withdrawal: Rushcard = $1.95 Typical Bank Card = Free (At Branch)
ATM Balance Inquiry: Rushcard = $.50 Typical Bank Card = Free
Bill Payment: Rushcard = $1.00 Typical Bank Card = Free
Inactivity: Rushcard = $2.95 Typical Bank Card = Free
Refund of Rushcard/Bank Card via Check: Rushcard = $5.00 Typical Bank Card = Free

So, if these numbers are any indication, it appears that the Rushcard is not a very good investment. Most reviews that I’ve seen recommend against using the card, since it appears that users are paying a premium for the Baby Phat design on the front. What’s more disturbing about the Rushcard is that Russell does not seem to be nearly as determined to fulfill his role as a “philanthropist” when it comes to helping African Americans overcome the underlying cause of the very problems he claims to be fixing. As Ryan explained it, “It’s like telling someone with a cavity that they should chew with the other side of their mouth.” The Rushcard offers few options to help people repair their credit, and I have personally found most of Russell’s financial literacy initiatives to be quite limited in impact.

While we cannot blame Russell Simmons and others for profiting from the lack of financial literacy and access to capital in the Black community, there are things we can do to encourage Russell to do the right thing. First, the Obama administration can and should implement programs to help those with poor credit obtain bank accounts. Every American should have access to a bank account, and services such as direct deposit should not be a luxury. Secondly, the Banking industry should stop passing over profitable investment opportunities in the Black community. Perhaps if Russell had more competition, his fees might go down. Third, there is no greater cure for money problems than good old fashioned financial literacy. Most victims of financial exploitation are not even aware that the exploitation is taking place. Financial literacy should be taught in every public high school in America, since it might actually be the one class that students actually use.

Russell Simmons is not necessarily a philanthropist, but he is not the devil. He is merely a symbol of a larger problem. The problem requires long-term solutions, and a high cost piece of plastic is certainly not one of them.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He makes regular appearances in national media, including CNN, BET, ESPN, and CBS. For more information, please visit

Monday, April 13, 2009

Black Scholar Speaks on Predatory Lending

by Charles Lewis Nier III

Responding to a controversy regarding incendiary remarks that surfaced in the media from his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., United States Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama came to the City of Philadelphia to deliver a major address on the issue of race in the United States. In a remarkable and widely-praised speech delivered on March 18, 2008, Senator Obama grounded his examination of the "complexities of race" on an analysis of the historical legacy of discrimination faced by African Americans. After invoking the words of William Faulkner for the proposition that "'The past isn't' dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past,"' he proceeded to explain that "... many of the disparities that exist in the African American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow." He proceeded to elaborate on some of the specific historical reasons behind racial inequalities, explaining:

Click to read more.

Black Celeb News: Beyonce and Jay-Z made $80Mill Apiece last year

It’s no secret that most celebs can’t complain when it comes to their salaries — but how much do they actually make? According to Parade, quite a range in 2008 — from $1 to billions.

Jennifer Aniston reportedly earned $27 million on the strength of films such as “Marley & Me,” and funnyman Will Ferrell made $31 million. Actor/director Tyler Perry, the force behind the “Madea” movies, brought home $125 million, while “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey made a McDreamy $3.5 million.

In the music world, Beyonce scored $80 million thanks to her latest album, “I Am… Sasha Fierce” and a budding film career, and husband Jay-Z did even better with $82 million. Country cutie Taylor Swift — the top-selling musician of 2008 — made $5.5 million. Resurgent pop princess Britney Spears wasn’t far behind, making $2.25 million.


Click to read.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Black Mothers and Money: How Much Does It cost to Have a Baby Anyway?

By: Sarah Horner
April 8, 2009
An article from entitled, "Budgeting for Baby: What does it really cost?" outlines exactly how much having and raising a child will cost you.
"If you've never been a budgeter, now's the time for a financial reckoning. Experts recommend that parents-to-be and new parents dedicate themselves to whittling down their credit-card debt (ideally — and here's some tough love — to zero), while at the same time, building an emergencies-only savings account of six to nine months' worth of expenses. Do whatever it takes to meet this goal: Spend on a cash-only basis and write down every expense — or use a free online spending tracker like or — so you have a visceral idea of where your money goes. And be prepared to sacrifice. "If you want to prioritize the expense of a child, well, you may not need as many minutes on your cell phone and you may not need as many meals in a restaurant," says Chatzky. "And by the way, you're not going to be going to restaurants much once you have a child, anyway!""
To read the entire article, Click here

Celebrities Sinbad and Dionne Warwick Find Trouble with the Tax Man

California's budget deficit would shrink by nearly $5 million if singer Dionne Warwick and comedian Sinbad Adkins would pay their taxes.

They are among the state's biggest tax scofflaws, according to a report issued Thursday by the Franchise Tax Board.

Sinbad owes $2.5 million in personal income tax while Warwick owes $2.2 million, putting them in the top 10 of the state's 250 worst tax debtors.


Click to read.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Genma Holmes Speaks on the Urgency of NOW

by Genma Holmes,

Last month, $2.7 million in federal stimulus money was awarded to the Nashville Career Advancement Center. Partnering with Meharry Medical College and the Oasis Center, 600 jobs created for teens needed to be filled through the grant. A sign up sheet was passed around at the Oasis Center board meeting asking for volunteers. This sounded like such a unique event that I could not help but put my name down.

I imagined all the possibilities and the huge difference this venture would make in the lives of so many teens. An idle mind is the playground for the devil; I can hear my grandfather muttering. Daddy kept folks busy by wearing us out down with work. This was his quick fix for the long hot days of summer and it kept us out of trouble.

With Daddy's words in my head, I volunteered not knowing what to expect. Information about the job fair was sent to schools and the media, but we had no way of knowing how many teens would attend. We are going to be ready for the unexpected I was told by our fierce leader, Hal Cato. I sensed from his tone, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. The forecast was uncertain for the weekend and a first time job fair for teens had no room for the unknown.
Upon my arrival at Youth Opportunity Center @ 8:15am, I found the command center tent packed with teens. They came early and I sent up a prayer for the volunteers to get here soon. The job fair was scheduled from 10:00-3:00. By 9:00am, young people were everywhere. They were hungry for jobs. I looked outside and my heart skipped a beat and swelled with joy. As far as the eyes could see, folks were in line to snap up the ultimate teen prize, a summer job. It looked like an American Idol audition with kids from ages 14-19 wrapped around the building. How many jobs do we have, I questioned myself and everyone around me? After taking a second and third look outside, I wondered if we were "Jack" and the fast growing lines were going to become gigantic beanstalks.
Some of the vendors that participated at the unprecedented event were: Publix's, the Frist Center, BCN, Goodwill, Youth United, Metro Health Department, Hands on Nashville. Applications from Foot Locker, the Gap, Hobby Lobby, Aeropostle, Subway, Hibbet Sports, Sports Authority, Arby's, Shoe Carnival and a host of others were available for the teens to fill out and turn in. We even had a room filled with computers for writing resumes and several volunteers to assist. No details to finding a summer job were overlooked.


Click to read.

Your Black Politics: Most of Obama’s Team Consists of Millionaires

Millionaires in the White House

When President Barack Obama moved into the White House earlier this year, he took several of his fellow Chicago millionaires with him.
Newly released disclosure reports show virtually all of the top Chicagoans serving in the West Wing had assets valued at a million dollars or more at the end of 2008.
In several cases, the reports provide the first detailed look at the finances of some of the president's top aides and friends from Chicago who have risen with him. They also show the salary haircut many have taken to be in the White House, at least until they return to the private sector.
Some of the wealth can be attributed to the fact that the top staff members surrounding Obama — such as Chicagoans Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett — are from a big city where salaries tend to be higher. Many of the comparable senior staffers with the previous two presidents came from Austin, Texas, and Little Rock, Ark., where salaries for top professionals tend to be the lower than in Chicago.


Click to read.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Black Money News: More Help for the Unemployed On Its Way

For millions of jobless people dependent on unemployment benefits, the wait for help may be getting shorter.

After computer system crashes and overwhelmed phone lines at state unemployment offices inundated with record claims, federal funds are starting to ease the jam, says Richard Hobbie of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. The $500 million from the economic stimulus package President Obama signed Feb. 17 began flowing into state coffers in mid-March.

The aid is separate from the package's $7 billion for enhanced employment benefits, which some Republican governors, including those of South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Alaska and Mississippi, have rejected because they say it would lead to higher business taxes when the federal funds end. The administrative funds are meant to improve claims processing and help the jobless find work.

"Now it's a matter of getting the money and spending it on the right things," Hobbie says. He predicts those filing for unemployment benefits "will see more reliable and faster service and more help at finding a new job."


Click to read.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Genma Holmes: Michelle Obama Gets Attacked by Jealous Designers

The fashion world is in a quite tizzy over Michelle Obama's decision to not wear well known designers duds. Bearing claws and fangs, designers are ripping her selections worn last week to shreds with their commentary. "How dare the First Lady of the United States wear American designers’ clothes and American brands made right here in the United States," they are crying loudly. Who does she think she is buying brands that regular folks can pronounce and giving younger designers credibility that would have taken decades to achieve? These questions were being asked online, on talk shows and cable news by designers. Mrs. O has lost her mind , according to the fashion industry experts, because she wears sensible, stylish, chic and affordable clothes that everyday American women have fallen in love with in spite of the media’s criticism.
Designer show rooms are bare and showing signs of an economy in despair. The recession has not only hit Wall Street and Main Street, but 57th Street as well. The fashion district is hurting and designers are taking their frustrations out on Mrs. O and the political pundits are reporting their pain.
But much to the pundits surprise and dismay, Mrs. O has become an enduring figure in last the few months. She has admiring fans crashing J Crew's website daily and giving the world a taste of Nashville by wearing rhinestones before noon. And her shameless display of her fit arms have many pundits joining the NRA in protest. I keep asking why has her fashion style created so much discord among designers and political pundits. When political pundits take up the case for fashion designers and turn their critical lens on Mrs. O's apparel nightly, you know it is a slow news day.

Click to read.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

LadyBaby Celebrity Scoop: Latifah’s Stylist is a Bit Peeved

Seems that Queen Latifah's make-up artist and stylist are not to happy with her right now because they sure are suing her ass. Cosmetologist Roxanna Floyd and stylist Susan Moses are claiming that Latifah owes them $1 million for their work on her CoverGirl ad campaign and her “Curvations” line of intimate apparel. I wonder if she used the money she owed them for her birthday party that she had yesterday???

Posted By LadyBaby to Your Black Gossip at 3/31/2009 03:58:00 PM