Mind Your Business

Mind Your Business Week of June 18, 2014

Fathers and Fiancés

I hope everyone had a great Father’s Day this past weekend. Father’s are not all bad. Many of them are raising their children or being a part of their life. I honor my father who to me helps pave the way in the financial area for many years and then moving into helping many Blacks in starting their business back in the day. Recently, I saw Jimmy Mitchell who had a famous shoe store in the Lee Harvard Shopping Center called Boot n Shoe. First thing he did was asked me about my father and told me to tell him hello. My mother used to tell me, so often, that parents are not perfect and they make mistakes. You hear that a lot when it comes to fathers who chose not to be in their kid’s life only to return and want to be part of their adult life. When I was growing up, it seemed like every man worked and most women stayed home. Now, I understand it takes two incomes to support a house unless he is making big money. In the financial world, you think of people like Bert Gardner, Jerry McClain and James W. Wade II back when not many Black had the status of any title in a bank. Dads are all different, but it’s not uncommon to describe dad as your hero. I used to watch my father dress and drive nice cars and it made me want to be a banker. I was able to be a banker in my lifetime and had a strong father figure as well my boss in Donald Graham. But how does Father’s Day relate to our financial lives? Perhaps the most profound influence our fathers exert in our lives is in the realm of money, and often this is set very early in our lives. Reflect for a moment on your youth and what you can recall of your family’s financial status while you were growing up. I remember when I started working at a very early age, my father said, “You need to save some of your money.” He took me to the bank to open a savings account. Now bank in the day for some of you advanced technology young people we had passbook accounts. I could take my passbook to him and he would match what I saved. They now offer so many Financial Literacy classes to help one manage your income and credit cards. For many people, managing a credit card is harder than getting one. Anytime you use a credit card, you are borrowing money you must repay. If you don’t pay your balance in full each month, your creditor will add interest to the total amount you owe. Even make sure, when you decide you want to close one of your cards down, do it correctly. Close a credit card account correctly. Part of your credit score is based on the length of your credit. If you choose to close your credit card, notify the issuer via registered letter and keep a copy of the letter for yourself. (If you cancel a credit card over the phone, it could reduce your credit score 20-30 points.) By documenting your request, you have proof that you chose to close the account, not the issuer (for example, due to bad credit). A good friend of mine Solomon Harge has been helping people for many years with their finances at The Consumer Protection Agency on Euclid Ave. They have many programs to help with a lot of your financial and bill paying needs. For over thirty-five (35) years, has been on the forefront of CPA, a private non-profit, comprehensive, consumer organization serving greater Cleveland. You have to remember even with not much money being paid on your money a bank is still a better place to house your money. I know we have all heard of Big Mamma and grandparents stashing money under the mattress and in various places but refuse to be part of a bank or Credit Union. Banks and credit unions are safe places to keep your money. Banks also offer services like loans and check cashing. If you have an account, these services might be less expensive than at other places. Spend only the money that you have. Some accounts will let you use your debit card even after your checking account is empty. Spending more money than you have is called “overdrawing” your account. It always means you will pay big fees. So as I close know that we all have made bad choices in our life, when you point the finger about someone else and what they didn’t do in life remember no one is perfect and all we have sometime in life is our family. Your father is no better than my father, be it good or bad. So don’t be mad over your finances for whatever reason, just try to make better and wiser decisions. And remember to play it safe and mind your business.

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Write Wade at the Call & Post, 11800 Shaker Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44120, or e-mail him at jwade@call-post.com. Comments and questions are welcome but, because of the volume of mail, personal responses are not always possible. Please note that comments or questions may be used in a future column.