by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
You are not who you say you are! You are not who you want us to believe you are! Your beliefs, your customs, your moral compass, your knowledge and understanding helps to define whom you can become. It is your actions and lack thereof that really reveals your inner soul—your core being. It’s your actions that ultimately define your worth. Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.
I recall as a young boy my first basketball coach, Mr. Arnold, having us recite Jesse Jackson’s “I’m somebody” speech. “I may be poor, but I’m somebody. I may be on welfare, but I’m somebody. I may be in jail, but I’m somebody. I may be uneducated, but I’m somebody. I’m Black, beautiful, and proud. I must be respected. I must be protected. I’m somebody!”
I didn’t understand the magnitude of those words as a child. Now that I’m an adult, I can say with great confidence, you are somebody! I’m somebody! The value you and I represent to our loved ones is immeasurable. The impact that we impart to our loved ones carry forward for generations far beyond our lifetime. Our value, in that respect, cannot be calibrated. As adults, many of us would sacrifice all of our worldly possessions just to spend five more minutes with a deceased loved one.
Your self-worth isn’t defined by your social, educational, economical, political, marital or racial status. Your self-worth isn’t your net worth. Your self-worth is defined by how you see yourself. More importantly, it is the actions that you’re willing to take to become a reality of your vision for yourself. I’m making the assumption that you see value in yourself and you know that you can do and become whatever your heart desires. If you suffer from low self-esteem, low confidence or insecurity, I want you to understand that I know that you’re more valuable than you currently think you are. Doubt, hardship, and long-suffering are clouding your vision. Doubt, hardship, and long-suffering are things needed to strengthen our wisdom and our resolve.
In this article, I want to expound on “Net Worth.” “Net Worth” is something that can be measured mathematically. It’s an exact science. There is no gray area. It’s a matter of fact. There’s no overly secret mathematical algorithm or complex mathematical equation used to calculate your “Net Worth” like there is to calculate your “Credit Score.” It’s suffice it to say that your net worth is far more important and far more valuable than your credit score. Yet, people happily proclaim their credit score and have no earthly idea of what their net worth is. Net worth is defined as “Assets minus Debts equals Net Worth.” In other words, what you own minus what you owe is how your “Net Worth” is determined.
Talking in terms of net worth is a language I use in my everyday life. It’s what I was trained to do. It’s the business that I’m in. I often mistakenly think that the everyday language I use in my business is the lexicon of the general population. It’s not.
I have a few people who help me curate and create memes for my various social media platforms that I’m in the process of growing. One meme that was sent to me was titled, “America’s Racial Wealth Gap.” It was a study done by Brookings in 2016 and published in 2020. It showed the average net worth of a Black family was $17,150 in comparison to the $171,000 for a White family. Not only did I post the meme—in an effort to fact-check the meme, I located the article that was published depicting those numbers. Surprisingly, I received backlash from a few people. All of whom mistook net worth for income. One poster was very upset, stating “I’m surprised at you Damon Carr, you need to do your research because I know a lot of Blacks who was ‘making’ more than $17,150.” I responded trying to explain, the meme isn’t talking about income or a person’s earnings, it’s talking about “Net Worth.” We went back and forth. We eventually smoothed things out, although she was reluctant to admit it. She, like most, didn’t know what “Net Worth” meant. Net worth isn’t ascribed only to the rich and famous. Realized or unrealized, we all have a net worth.
Net worth is your most important financial number. It defines your wealth position. Net worth in its most simple definition is the number of months or years that you can maintain your lifestyle and pay your bills and expenses without a paycheck. If your accumulated savings, investments or income generated from assets you owned is sufficient to maintain your lifestyle and pay your bills and expenses for three months, you’re essentially three months wealthy.
A more robust depiction of net worth is when you accumulate and own enough assets that you’re transitioned from “earned income” to passive, portfolio, and royalty income. Earned income is money generated from the sweat of your efforts. Passive, portfolio, and royalty income is income generated from savings, investments, real estate and intellectual property, products, and businesses.
Saving, investing, and the acquisition of assets of value—not just stuff, is how you flex your money muscles. Saving and investing money is how you build financial stability, which leads to financial freedom, which leads to financial independence. This represents the asset column of net worth. The only enemy of net worth is debt. It’s hard to save money when your income is obligated to monthly debt payments. It’s hard to have a positive net worth when everything of value you own has a loan or credit card balance associated with it.
Know your worth! It’s your actions, not your words, that define who you are. Know your worth! You mean the world to somebody. Know your worth! Your self-worth is your own appraisal of yourself. Know your worth! Your assets minus your debts equal your net worth. Once you know your worth, work on growing your worth!
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached at 412-216-1013 or www.damonmoneycoach.com)