Is This Still the Land of Opportunity?
Begging is becoming the status quo of many US families and organizations today. This is sad but oh so true. One can hardly turn on any public broadcast, online browser or social media option and not have someone’s virtual hand out, hoping you will send money to some cause.
The master storytellers have the advantage in this new begging forum. These beggars are not hanging on street corners with cardboard signs. They are pixel tagging you and showing up to beg you again everywhere you go.
While there are many ‘begging’ sites, the most popular of them all is, Go Fund Me. Entrepreneurs are not immune. Rather than saving, or seeking venture Capital from private investors, this entitled generation and their poorly funded children are all in line for a handout.
Who doesn’t like free money? The problem is, the former avenues of applying for grants, qualifying for government handouts, and being the benefactor of rich predecessors are disappearing rapidly.
The rise in non-profit organizations versus for-profit ventures are on the rise. Many I interview as to why they chose the non-profit business model claim to do it for the cause, but really – they want the opportunity to beg and dish out tax-free coupons to the donor; churches included. More non-profits payout million dollar paychecks to their upper management today than ever before.
As a legal immigrant import, nationalized citizen, I look at this land I came to and it seemed very familiar. In fact, it seems more and more like my country of birth and all the reasons many left there.
The United States of America was the land of opportunity. In many ways it still is – but the landscape is changing BIG LEAGUE!
I remember when Americans came to Jamaica on Mission Trips. Today, many supposed Third World nations are sending leaders to the USA on Mission Trips. Times have really changed.
The number of hungry, homeless Americans are staggering. To an immigrant looking on, that fact is crazy! What is even crazier is that immigrants seem to have a better future possibility than born Americans in many cities. The entitlement mentality versus the mentality of gratitude and an understanding that nothing comes free seems to be the main difference between the homeless, hungry American and the homeless, hungry Immigrant.
This Go Fund Me nation owes Trillions in debt to countries that the world assumes is less powerful than the USA. How is that even possible?
When the government heads up the line of beggars, it is no wonder the people are of the same financial mindset.
The Anti-American tensions are rising globally, nationally, and statewide. The clay footing is crumbling and the mighty USA is falling from its power tower.
President Trump thinks he can change that. Time will tell. For now, the statistics do not paint a pretty picture. It is no wonder the vultures are visible and heckling us. The global disdain for the USA is showing as they see us as a has been; a used to be. Asia is making its move attempting to push us out of the way, and they hold the IOUs to leverage that move.
I am just an ordinary Jamaican, non-white female, nationalized American with a big dream. I came to the USA to accomplish what my country could not offer me. Today, the landscape of the USA feels eerily familiar. I pray I am wrong.
The Disappearing Middle
18 years ago, I married and moved to what was clearly a middle-class community in Tampa, Florida. Today, my neighborhood feels very run down. There are more renters now than in former years, and many of those renters are ‘Section 8’ tenants. That means, the government subsidizes their rental allowing people who could not afford the community to move in. The thing is, if these tenants did not move in, the community would be in worse shape.
Foreclosures took a toll during the recession of 2006-2010. The abandoned homes were bought up cheaply by investors who rented them out to the increasing number of people who now qualified for poverty based help from the government.
The middle class is disappearing. This fact is very easy to see, and now it is becoming a national concern.
Students are becoming the new corporate slaves. Graduates cling desperately to the few low-paying jobs available just to keep up with college debt, which they were duped into pursuing – all in the goal of living the American Dream.
Those brave enough to try their hand at entrepreneurship have a tough road ahead as Small Business Trends reports more than 50% of startups fold in the first five years.
So the flow of money seems to be drying up with each generation and a huge shift is happening from creating financial legacies to simply going from paycheck to paycheck.
For the Love of Money
Money may not buy happiness, health or love – but money is a very important tool we all need.
According to Ecclesiastes 10:19, the Bible says
Naturally, money and more of it is the fastest solution to the American Family’s financial problem.
I gravitated to all things money. I became an entrepreneur. I got licensed in Real Estate and Insurance. These were two sectors that attracted and paid out higher lifestyle incomes. I also studied law and was most fond of the focus on wills, trusts, and probate. Income and financial legacies became my interest.
The more I learned the ambivalence of fear of the future, and hope for the future became a cloudy haze.
Some Money Myths
Myth #1 Owning a home is a real estate asset.
Really? To whom?NOT to the American Family for sure – yet they have been convinced to ramp up their debt exposure to acquire this iconic component of the American dream and spend the rest of their lives, and their children’s college fund to keep it.
NOT to the American Family for sure – yet they have been convinced to ramp up their debt exposure to acquire this iconic component of the American dream and spend the rest of their lives, and their children’s college fund to keep it.
Basic accounting will show that the only place a real estate debt appears as an asset is on the bank’s balance sheet.
Everyone needs somewhere to live and it could be argued that if you are going to pay out monthly for a roof over your head, you may as well hold the title. I agree, but I also understand that that roof over my head is a debt to me, not an asset. As the equity increases, that negative net worth is reduced, but even when the house is fully paid off, the cost to live there will still be an expense in any accounting record to every American family.
That depends. For the most part, I agree, but I also understand that that roof over my head is a debt to me, not an asset. As the equity increases, that negative net worth is reduced, but even when the house is fully paid off, the cost to live there will still be an expense in any accounting record to every American family.
Myth #2 Insurance is a taboo subject. Talking about it brings the ‘Heebie Jeebies’, and insuring children is silly. Who wants to benefit from the death of a child? Plus it is too expensive, I get it from my job, and there is no need to insure my stay-at-home wife.
Ok, this should be several separate myths, but rather than deal with the specific whining, it all comes down to a single mindset. Broke people think in terms of scarcity and lack, and rich people see the abundance and opportunity in most things.
To the lower middle, to poor American, insurance is a bill they would rather not pay.
Wealthy people understand the value of insurance in ways the middle to lower income earners do not. Insurance is one of the best, tax-free, instant transfers of generational wealth, and it often pays out much more than was put in. The wealthy care less about the ‘what ifs’ of insurance and more on the what else it can offer.
Myth #3 Saving for a rainy day is the safest financial cushion.
Buwahahahaahha! Forgive the laughing. Saving is a great habit but it is a far way from being a safe financial cushion. A penny saved is NOT a penny earned. A penny EARNED is a penny earned. A penny saved is a removal of the earned penny from your spending plan.
First of all, to save you must extract money from your cash flow. So it removes money and sets it aside, usually in a low to non-income bearing option, like a 0.01% saving account at the bank. Heck, the monthly banking fees put you in the negative for most savers.
The best financial cushion in my estimation is having more money than you need to spend. The ‘more’ is enough that if all income stopped you could continue to live. This cushion is not funded by extracting money from your cash flow, but by the overpouring of profit from your investments. So make more money than you need, and you will have a financial cushion.
The best value of the habit of saving, is it forces you to live on a set amount because you are not spending all you make. By not spending all you make, you build the financial cushion you need.
Myth #4 Selling is a slimy way to earn an income. Get a ‘real’ job instead.
2 Kings 4:7 ” [ ] “Go, sell the oil, and pay your debt; then you and your sons can live on what’s left.”
This was Elisha’s solution to the widow whose sons were about to be enslaved because her husband died and left the family in massive debt.
Selling is the most life-flexible income option on the planet. As a mother of young children, not only was selling an immediate solution to getting her hands on cash, but selling rarely has a glass ceiling other than the emotional capacity of the seller.
By the way, that ‘real job’ can say ‘Adios’ without notice, then you go from income to zero in a flash. Selling, on the other hand, can take you from zero to cash in a flash.
Selling is a skillset that is worthy of learning. When you are personally sold on what you sell, and you are a product of the product; the slime factor is non-existent in the process.
The litmus test is:
Does the seller own/use the product themselves? Personal use creates integrity which is a massive sales slime remover.
Myth #5 Self-employment is the same as owning a business.
It might be, but very often, many who believe they have a ‘small business’ really are just self-employed. They are still exchanging their time for money, they just have a bit more say-so over the scheduling of that time.
If income is generated when you take a vacation, you have a business.
There are more money myths out there of course, but these five have a huge impact on the disappearing middle class. This mythical thinking is stealing future wealth from so many and I decided not to be a victim of what seemed so obvious to me, the outsider looking in.
HIV, 10% Guaranteed Returns & and Wall Street.
So, I sat with a client that never tried to get life insurance because he was sure he was uninsurable. This man had lived with HIV for 10 years and honestly, had he not told me I would never have guessed he was gay or terminally ill. He could be the poster-boy for the new face of HIV so I must say incorrect assumptions were present on both sides of this kitchen table.
Not only was I able to write a whole-life policy on him, but he seemed blown away that if he died in the first two years of the policy issue, his family would get 110% of his premiums.
“That is better than my stockbroker would guarantee me”, he said.
While insurance is not an ‘investing’ tool, per se – it was clear to him that his money was earning more for him in this vehicle than his other investment vehicles. Whole life policies build cash value as well, so accessing funds paid in is also an option. The cherry on the top was, the payout at his death was tax-free, while his Wall Street investments were not.
The rich understand the value of insurance as way beyond a death payout. Many find creative ways to stash their money away in unique policy types to accomplish their financial goals.
The poor who view insurance as just another bill to pay that they have to die for anyone to benefit is just that – a view. A mindset. A perspective.
As I learn more about this industry and the various products and updates from the many companies I represent, I am constantly reminded of the money to be made in the world of insurance.
Here is one big hint – many banks are owned by insurance companies.
Insurance is mostly purchased as a hedge against loss of income from the family breadwinner. With the reducing Middle Class and their lower paychecks, fewer families are buying life insurance today as compared with prior generations. This is very sad because Millennials still have children, and more of these children are Special Needs compared to past generations. What will be the financial status of the upcoming generations when their parents are poorer and leave nothing behind as a start-up for them as they take on the challenges of life?
We are already seeing the impact of people opting out of purchasing insurance. Go Fund Me has become the health and funeral plans of many. As someone who sells insurance, I am amazed at the growing number of people who are actually planning to use Go Fund Me or other similar programs as their strategy for life’s emergencies, rather than purchase life insurance.
To be honest, no prospect has flat out said they plan to use Go Fund Me, what they say is, that not having insurance is a risk they have to take, and they hope that if something happens, that family and friends will chip in. In other words, they are banking on a Go Fund Me strategy for emergencies.
I may be wrong, but I see that plan as being very similar to an able-bodied person choosing to panhandle because it pays better than their minimum wage job.
Go Fund Me is not just for Emergency funding either. Go Fund Me has become the #1 Funding source for business startups.
I am not bashing Go Fund Me. I am simply pointing out that the USA has become the Go Fund Me nation. Go Fund Me is not just a funding brand option, it is a national mindset. This is the modern day Robin Hood formula to pull from the haves to the have-nots. The thing is, many of those begging feel entitled, and many of those giving feel guilty for having.
Personally, I prefer to support those platforms where private loans are paid out from the cumulative funds of private individuals to those who promise to pay it back with interest. I would rather be the bank. Such platforms exist, for example; Prosper Marketplace and Kabbage.
The Republicans may have won the 2016 election, but the USA is not the Capital of Capitalism it once was.
All in the name of ‘leveling the playing field’, many women with $150 Remi hair, displayed via $400 weaves and wigs, collect welfare, while they live in Section 8 housing, while their kids are in subsidized daycare; all financed by the strained, and much smaller income pool of the Middle Class. I see them often in my neighborhood.
So many of the foreclosed homes have been bought up by investors and section 8 tenants have moved into homes paying much less than homeowners pay in mortgages next door. New laws incentivize builders to make a portion of their new construction available to low-income tenants who pay a percentage of the rent their employed neighbor pays for the same unit.
That is why the Democrats work so hard to find a way to legally break into the secure financial coffers of the elite rich. They are anxious to expand the pool of those who fund them.
I doubt all the elite rich really got their wealth from unfair opportunities. The truth of that would be a closely held secret of their network. What I do know is, some have.
I know my family fell prey to the shady deals of those offering investment opportunities in the financial market. Playing on our desire to join the rich, they promised all sorts of wonderful returns on their schemes. Many hard-working Middle-Class families like mine, entrusted their savings and retirements to these Money Mangers only to find they got the big bailouts, rewarding them for their crazy management of other people’s money.
The contraction of the Middle-Class had huge momentum in the recession of 2006-2010. The bounce-back has been slow for those hardest hit, but many new millionaires have also surfaced in the aftermath. I hope to be among them and I have the work ethic of the grateful who does not expect any handouts. Sometimes though, I feel like giving up, joining the line of those with their hands out for a payout they did not work for. I am sure I would qualify with little effort. However, my perspective of work and worth would not permit that.
I believe the social system is a good thing for those who are in true need. I have little time for those who get help because working was harder than being a food stamp recipient.
When a beggar approaches me on the street, I have the option to help them directly if I wish. I would prefer to help those I choose than having someone take my hard earned income through fees and taxes levied to refill the money cards of the ‘voluntary poor’.
I have had women tell me they refused overtime when their recorded income was approaching some magical number that would disqualify them for social support. I have never understood that line of thinking and I pray to God, I never will.
Follow the Money Trail
One thing I learned during my Paralegal studies and court experience is, follow the money trail.
The money trail is an exciting road if you are not exploring it for crime evidence.
Real Estate is great, but it is a cash heavy, credit sucking, time-consuming option. This is my opinion of course.
A whole industry was built around moving money from those who have money but no time, to those with time but no money. Those with the cash would rather pay to have someone else run around looking for the deals because good ones are unearthed with due diligence. For the average person, getting into real estate investment means they align themselves with these Hard Money cash investors who exchange their money for big profits on real estate deals they had others hand to them. Very few Middle-Class investors have the cash to do real estate investing right. However, those who venture into this ring and hang in there with the sharks may emerge with enough equity to leave the shark tank with enough to do their own financed deal, eventually.
There are taxes due on capital gains. Uncle Sam says “Gotcha!” and takes his piece of your earned equity.
As I continued my research I came across a group of creative people using insurance as a banking tool. Huh? What the what?
Yeppers! These people were not purchasing policies as death benefits but as strategies for financial growth. Harnessing the solid guarantees of profitable interest above what banks offer, with far less risk than Wall Street took, they were deliberately moving their money into structured policies that would grow their money at predictable rates, and allow them to access those funds and repay themselves with interest. In essence, create their own managed banks.
Traditionally, insurance is a hedge against risk. Like home insurance paying out in the event of a fire. Or car insurance paying out in the event of an accident; and life insurance paying out when the breadwinner dies.
The Go Fund Me nation is not even considering preparing for risks anymore. FEMA shows up in disasters. Youtube and televised fundraisers raise money for the most heart-wrenching stories of need. Go Fund Me and other structures like it, create a continuous support base for the financing through begging strategy. There is less need for planning and insurance in a Go Fund Me nation.
Before you think I am against supporting those in need, please rest assured it would be my absolute joy to be among those who can afford to give and give generously. You see, my goal is to be among the haves, not the have-nots. I want to be on the giving side of the equation, not the receiving side. My problem is with those who are quite fine living with their hands out permanently, rather than saving that extension of their hands for true emergencies.
The Haves v. the Have-Nots
There is a wealth mindset that costs nothing to have, but those with nothing rarely have it.
Poverty encourages a scarcity mindset. It is hard for those who have little, lose often, and have limited opportunity to see life as anything but unfair. Lack is the order of the day. Doing without, cutting back, makes it challenging to believe that tomorrow will be better.
People like Oprah and Jim Carrey started out in poverty and believed their way to wealth. It costs absolutely nothing to believe in your own brilliant future, but it is a rare thing for those from poverty to have that belief.
The Christian is also invited to have faith and believe in a better future. Many will find it simply because the lifestyle change of salvation is enough to stop the financial bleed. Many give up partying, whoring, drinking, gambling, and develop stable lives. Some jump on the prosperity gospel train, the Christian equivalent to the Law of Attraction strategy of believing their way to wealth.
Go F̶u̶n̶d̶ Find ME!
As I write this I am building my fantastic future and I invite you to join me. One good thing that I observed with the Go Fund Me strategy is, there is power in a united effort toward a singular goal.
I still believe in the American Dream and I am working hard to make it my reality. I believe in the value exchange of a product/service for the equivalent financial compensation.
With very little personal cash investment, the average person is able to get licensed to sell insurance. Interested? Life Insurance is a great income option for some. I can help you get started and learn to win.
I explored being a ‘captive agent’ and the phrase alone should have warned me that a free spirit such as mine would not thrive well in a captive environment. Trying to convince a round hole prospect to buy a square peg product simply to make the sale was just not for me. I am not saying there are bad insurance companies out there, but I much prefer representing the 15+ and shopping for the best fit for my clients.
To those who understand that sales lift the income glass ceiling, plus the fact that the average commission per sale is $500 – I say, connect for a phone interview to join my team.
To those who realize that insurance is more than just ‘beyond the grave’ financing of those you love. To those who want to explore the vast tax-free money growth options available for you now, and for your family later – connect with my team for a customized review of how we can help you.
Already have policies in place? Great! If time and life have happened since you got them, or you got that policy from your job, you may still want to have my team review what you have to see if it is what you think it is, and that it still meets your current need.
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I expect there will be those who totally disagree with me, and some may be even willing to spend their time and energy to point out why they do. I would be honored that they find my work worthy of their time and energy – even if it is to be hateful. Haters gotta hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. That means they will detour from doing something meaningful with their lives to fight me while I am living mine. I look forward to the entertainment. (insert sarcastic smile here)
For the rest of you,
CAN I HELP YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT?
If you are a Christian income earner, I especially want to talk to you. I teach Biblical Stewardship strategies that will not be understood nor accepted by those outside the faith. I encourage everyone reading this book, make plans for your tomorrow to have eternal life insurance (your ticket to heaven) and financial life insurance – your love beyond the grave financing for your family.
About the Author
Trudy Beerman holds a Real Estate Broker’s license (voluntary inactive), her insurance license, and is a trained Paralegal who did a stint at the Department of Justice.
Trudy was born in Kingston, Jamaica to Missionary parents.
She is an active recruiter for life-insurance agents and believes in the American Dream.
Connect with Trudy at her personal website at www.TrudyBeerman.com