The Corporate Takeover

 Words matter. Emphasis on the “Who”

Words matter. Emphasis on the “Who”

A Primer on Corporations

*This post will be updated repeatedly because it is a living document*

Introduction

Corporation: A company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person/citizen) and recognized as such by law.

Today we have millions of corporations, big ones, small ones, active and inactive ones. The reason we have been able to create so many different corporations today is because people are allowed to register them with their local government/jurisdiction. Back in the day (up until the early 1800s) people had to create a charter among their group and get the charter granted by their government (Kings, Lords, Dukes etc). Corporations that thrived in the past that went through this process are The Dutch East India Company (which sold land and helped develop the early United States) among many others. 

To fully understand a corporation and its perception by policymakers you must begin with the root meaning and history of the word and its role in societies. The root latin word in corporation is “corpus” meaning a body or a body of people. Corporations throughout history have been used as an organized entity that acts upon the interests of the group of people that make up the corporation. The earliest form of a corporation can be found in Ancient Roman society around the 6th century B.C. This first form of a corporation was called societas publicanorum (The society of government leaseholders) which was an entity supported by Roman law and politics. This support is eerily similar to the way many large corporations work today. The “Publicans” (shareholders of the societas publicanorum) were simply private entrepreneurs which performed functions necessary for the public. These private entrepreneurs had “leases” which in essence were contracts to perform public governmental functions such as the Roman “geese feeding program” among many others and were paid using public sources of income such as taxes. Today many corporations have similar relationships with local, state, and federal governments in which public taxes are paid for the private corporations to perform functions such as providing goods and services to the military, build roads, and many others. 

 Romans out here with the too big to fail predecessor game

Romans out here with the too big to fail predecessor game

Of course this early form of corporation was reliant on the government for its creation as well as its function. As our societies grew and our economic landscape changed so did the view of our corporations. Over time corporations became too large and reliant on governments and smaller private entities which serviced smaller communities had the ability to perform similar functions using less resources while seeing higher returns. This massive change in the ability of the public to become self-sustaining forced governments to change their approval process for corporations from “charters approved by the government” to “just file and register so we know you exist” and allowed the economy to expand in ways it has never before. 

To get a better understanding of the roles corporations play in our society it is best to look into one of my favorite books “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith (The father of Modern Capitalism). In it he forecasts the ability for smaller entities to outperform the larger corporations over time, but more importantly he drafts out the roles institutions (corporations) play in our society. In my interpretation of the book, every nation on the globe is made up by the institutions that are within them. The church, businesses, universities, public facilities etc are all institutions that collectively make up a nation. The relationship between these institutions and their abilities to work effectively on a singular level as well as together contribute to the success of the nation as a whole. So in short different bodies of people (corporations) working together for the benefit of each other and the society create better and more wealthy nations. (Broadly speaking) 

 It’s a long read (and to some boring) but it gave me the necessary building blocks to understanding why institutions act the way they act in capitalistic economies

It’s a long read (and to some boring) but it gave me the necessary building blocks to understanding why institutions act the way they act in capitalistic economies

Understanding the above and applying it as context is essential to understanding the thought process for what will come below. 

Corporate law & Economic Policy (A Primer)

This subject is one of constant debate. Historically many Americans have been against pro-corporate policies because it has had a perceived negative effect on their quality of life. As stated in the introduction, since the 18th century the global economic landscape has changed dramatically. This is in huge part a result of the spread of democracy and capitalism. The goal of capitalism in short is the ability to create a living breathing self-sustaining economy that relies on lower government intervention because individuals are providing goods and services to each other with the goals of acquiring increased wealth. The premise is that everyone is working in their best interest and this interest will lead to everyone working in “harmony” to provide the greatest possible solutions for each other. 

Prior to the capitalist system we had feudalism which kept wealth among a smaller group of individuals who operated small kingdoms and used nearby serfs (people) to perform functions in return for the necessary goods and services to survive. When thinking of feudalism, broadly think of the company towns that existed from the mid 1800s to early 1900s. Instead of the company town being run by a corporation it is instead run by a lord who performs all governmental functions and after his death it is passed down to his children and so on and so forth. Although this system worked for a significant period of time it had (in simple and complicated ways) reached its maximum point of output because the ordinary citizen (serf) knew that there was no need to increase their output because their economic/living situation would not change much. In short, I should only do so much because not much is going to change anyway right? Basically…. The world had a motivation problem. People were not motivated to improve their quality of lives or economic conditions in any way because they knew they couldn’t (unless they went to war). Feudalism, coupled with countries operating as absolute monarchies placed limits of nobility, freedom and status on economies which limited their growth. During the 17th and 18th centuries we experience a radical change in economic, religious, and human philosophy called the enlightenment which completely overhauled the status quo as we knew it at that time. 

The positive (this could be argued by perspective of course) of this overhaul was democracy and capitalism which led to numerous revolutions around the globe, but interestingly it contributed to the fastest population and quality of life increase in the history of man. 

So why does this matter? Well it is the base of both corporate law and economic policy. It could be argued that it is the base of most of law and policy period, but there’s no need to go into that at this moment. Nonetheless, with such large increase in population, and quality of life (people living longer) governments need more corporations or else they’ll have to foot the bill on providing goods and services to those underserved. So that’s what we have. Check out these graphs. 

This represents pro-corporate tax policy: (Graph for tax rates for corporations)

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1980s was the Ronald Reagan tax reform which created a corporate tax cut from 50% to 35% 

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Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that pro-corporate policies or capitalism has caused these positives. I am simply saying that these are all correlated. I am using these graphs to simply show the possible intent of policymakers when creating corporate & economic policy.

Why should you create a corporation?

There are many benefits to creating a corporation.

1. Limited Liability

If you are a business obtaining funds for providing goods and/or services for the public at large then it is essential that you register as a corporation. When dealing with the public anything can happen during the process of selling goods or providing services and if your business is at fault directly or indirectly you may be held liable for injuries caused by them. Lawsuits can bankrupt individuals and families and it is best to keep your personal assets safe. Creating a corporation allows you to limit your losses to the corporation alone and not anything you own personally. As stated above, a corporation is legally defined as a person, so essentially you’re just acting as another person so if someone is injured by the corporation then the corporation is at fault not you. This limited liability also extends to bankruptcy protection in which the owners of the corporation are not personally liable for the debts the corporation accumulates. 

2. Organization

It is good to keep things separate. The kitchen works better when there are less chefs, tribes work better when there are less chiefs, and finances are easier to understand when they are organized in their own respective spaces. 

3. Integration

It is the way our society has worked for generations. As I’ve stated in the introduction, the better the institutions (corporations) function in our society on a singular level and collectively, the better our entire society can be. In the past our institutions interacted with each other as corporations so in order to do business with other institutions effectively, you must also interact with them in a similar fashion.

4. Taxes (Depending on your registration type)

Corporations perform functions so that the government doesn’t have to. Providing this relief to the government is rewarded by paying less taxes than singular individuals. Governments also realize there are costs to operating corporations and in essence provide relief (tax breaks/credits) to companies for their operating costs.

5. Legitimacy

People tend to respect doing business with corporations more than with singular individuals. It’s just like seeing a guy in a suit versus seeing a guy in regular street clothes. For some reason representing an institution (corporation) has an air of “being official” that appears sexy to others. The process is also very tedious, so when it is clear that you have created one, it shows that you have a level of attention to detail and dedication to solving complex problems.

Types of Corporations (Profit vs. Non-Profit)

In the United States we have for profit corporations (which work to earn money from the public) and non-profit corporations (which work to provide (usually free) public services). I’ll begin with the different designations of for-profit corporations and then move onto non-profit corporations. For purposes of time I will only cover the most commonly heard corporations. For-Profit and Non-Profit.

For-Profit - Pays taxes

These structures are all basically the same but some have some minor difference which you should consider based on your goals. I will highlight some things you should consider when filing for which. You have the ability to re-incorporate whenever you want. Your choice of how to incorporate will depend on your corporate goals as well as the advantages your state gives to each designation.

LLC: 

You do not expect to do a large amount of business outside of the United States

You do not expect to grow seek funding from public markets (stock market)

The Owners pay taxes on the profits. Taxes are paid as pass-through income (explained below) 

C - Corporation

You expect to have outside investors (You can have as many as you want)

You expect to do business overseas

You expect to have a large employment structure in which you will have management changes (It is more difficult to do this as a C-Corp than as an LLC)

Complicated tax reporting system (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE PUBLICLY TRADED) Business has to pay corporate tax and owners have to pay income tax.

S - Corporation (Companies can elect to become an S Corp)

You can have up to 100 investors/shareholders (nothing more)

You expect to do a high amount of business overseas

Tax reporting similar to LLC owners only pay income tax ON THE PROFITS (aka Pass-Through income). You do not have to pay the corporate tax rate. (Taxed only once) Unless you decide to pay yourself a salary. (There’s a hack to this I will speak on below)

Management changes are not as rigid as C-Corp

Non-Profit - Does not pay taxes (I’ll add to this portion over time. Remember y’all this is a living document)

501c3 

L3C

Single-Member vs. Multi-Members (Will add to this at a later time y’all… Living document status)

Single Member LLC or S-Corporations require only one federal tax return. This is because they are taxed solely on their net income and is based on the ordinary income tax. 

Multi-Member LLC’s and S-Corporations require both a federal tax return and a K-1 return for the members (owners) of the corporation. 

Pass-through businesses (LLC’s and S-Corp’s)

In essence a pass-through company allows owners to treat the profits of a business as income therefore paying only ordinary income tax on those profits instead of paying the corporate tax rate and the ordinary income tax. Sadly, the ordinary income tax rate (25% if you make more than 40k a year) is significantly higher than the corporate tax rate (21%). The new tax structure under Donald Trump’s administration allows you to deduct 20% of a pass-through businesses income. Basically, you’re only paying taxes on 80% of your business income. So a great strategy to maximize the amount of money you’ll get back is to pay yourself the lowest “reasonable compensation” (a calculation used by the IRS so they know you ain’t cheating) and to then pay yourself in taxes again with the rest of the profits using the 20% pass-through deduction. Your goal is to lower the amount of marginal tax rates your paid salary goes to while also limiting the amount of profit you earn as a shareholder in the pass-through business. 

A great thing:

The great thing about creating (or investing in) an LLC or S-Corp is the fact that you get to realize the income (or losses) directly on your taxes as ordinary income. Ordinary income is basically income from your job. It’s a positive on either end for you. As explained earlier, the government encourages people to invest in/create new businesses because they add a positive benefit to society. The government rewards people for doing this by giving you tax credits or in other ways. So here’s two usual scenarios:

Scenario 1:  

Let’s say you start a business today and incorporate it as an LLC. A clothing brand for example. You make a website, order clothes, order stamps, run ads on facebook, twitter, and instagram. You pay for wifi and other expenses to operate that business. Let’s say at the end of the first year the business does well but still doesn’t do well enough to make a profit and you end the year at a $2000 loss. Let’s say you do this clothing brand as a side hustle and you still work your regular job (at an advertising firm). If your clothing brand is registered as an LLC you can actually realize the loss on your ordinary income from your advertising job. So if you make $60,000 a year from your advertising salary you’ll be able to apply the $2000 loss onto your taxable income of $60,000 and in essence you’ll only have to pay taxes on $58,000. According to the IRS the maximum amount of losses you can deduct on your income is $250000 a year. That’s a hefty amount of money you can account for on your ordinary income taxes. 

Scenario 2:

Let’s say the same clothing brand above does well and you end the year with a gain. The sad part is you don’t get to realize a loss on your ordinary income. The good part though? You get to increase your income which you can then apply to your personal credit which in essence makes you more creditworthy. 

See? Registering as a business is always a win/win scenario. Y’all need to be out here playing this game.

Corporate credit

Because corporations are people (citizens) they have the same access to credit as we do. When you finalize the registration of your business make sure you get an EIN number. This number is basically a social security number for businesses. As soon as you get this number, register your corporation with all of these credit bureaus. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH THESE JOINTS BRO BECAUSE THIS IS A SECOND CHANCE AT ELITE CREDIT. 

Experian - for business

Equifax - for business

Trans-union - for business

Dunn and Bradstreet: (exclusively for businesses) Register for your DUNS number (very very important)

Trade lines of credit

If you google “Tradelines” or “Trade line of credit” you’ll probably find a plethora of conflicting information. In this particular instance, trade lines of credit means establishing business credit lines for your company. Because obtaining credit (in the form of cash) is difficult for newly created companies with low cashflow the most efficient way to establish credit is through trade lines of credit. 

Usually these lines don’t give you cash at all, but allow you to purchase supplies for your company and give you a period of time to pay the balance owed. It’s like having a Macy’s discount credit card but for your business. 

Some terms to know:

Net 30:

Most companies that establish trade lines of credit with businesses start you off with a balance that must be paid back in 30 days or less. This is what we call “Net 30”. You can basically run up the purchases you need but IT MUST BE PAID BACK IN 30 DAYS OR LESS. As you continue to build your credit line and it reports positively to the agencies I’ve listed above you’ll be able to apply with other companies for longer “Nets” (Net 60, Net 90). 

Businesses that establish “Net” lines of credit:

Uline - You simply apply online at www.uline.com add an item to your cart, checkout, open an account and select to be invoiced. This is done instantly. Boom you got your first trade line of credit. ULine tends to start people with a Net 30 account and the website allows you to buy a significant amount of items for your business. 

Quill - Whatever you can’t find at ULine you’ll probably find on Quill. Both companies operate the same way, they both allow you to establish a Net 30 line no matter how new your business is.

Over time you’ll be able to graduate to these other companies:

Target - You can apply online

Walmart - You can apply online

Amazon - You can apply online

A hack: If you want stellar business credit you can build it over time or you can buy a shelf corporation which is basically corporation that has been sitting on the shelf for years and has stellar credit. You can buy that and start getting large credit lines immediately. You may even qualify for large business loans from banks. (This is type expensive though so be cautious in using this option)

Let me know if this helps. May your corporate journey be a great one.

Best,

CJB

The Crop Report: Commodities & The Grocery Store

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I love food. My favorite part is eating it of course but there’s just something special about knowing where your food came from and the process between it growing on the farm and reaching your table. I’m also very much into forecasting my grocery prices (aka estimating how much something may cost in the future) because groceries are an essential part of budgeting. Something about the whole process makes me feel like some sort of wizard, or at the very least Raven Symone.

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One of my favorite movies of all time is Trading Places with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. Watching it as a kid was always interesting to me and it taught me alot. It taught me that money can really change people. It taught me that unlikely allies can form against a common enemy. More importantly it taught me the relationship between the financial markets and our groceries.

Look how money changes people lmao

Trying to figure out what's going down with bacon

Trying to figure out what I should do about wheat, on some investment tip and on some in my fridge tip lolol

How are the financial markets connected to our groceries you ask? Well, it’s the financial markets that decides what our groceries prices are through trading. If you get texts from the homie Benjamin you probably caught the definition of commodities last week.

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Knowing the price of commodities is important. It determines the price of everything around us. The price of our bread, phone, clothes, gas, and many more. Knowing the price of commodities and executing properly can actually save you alotta dough at the grocery store and can help you forecast what prices will be that next week. Forecasting can help you decide whether you should stock up on an item right now, or if you should refrain from buying an item until later. I for one am notorious for filling canisters with gas when I get news that crude oil (WTI Crude) will increase in the next few months.

So currently commodities are traded on numerous exchanges. Here are a few in the US:

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME Group) is a finance company & exchange that creates financial products out of large outputs of commodities. This exchange also trades meats (porkbellies for example), and different currencies (euros for example).

The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) in Chicago trades Grains, Ethanol (corn oil), treasuries (United States bonds), and different financial instruments based on those products. Many of the options that are traded on the open market actually derive from this exchange. This is one of the OG’s of commodities exchanges.

The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) is an exchange owned by the CME Group that trades oil, natural gas, electricity, propane, gold, silver, copper, aluminum, and many more types of gases and metals.

The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE for short) is a company based in Atlanta, GA that owns exchanges focused on both financial and commodities markets. They mainly focus on different types of oil and gas, they also trade electricity.

A Commodity ETF for your portfolio:

GLD: The SPDR Gold Trust ETF is The first US traded gold ETF and the first US-listed ETF backed by a physical asset. Currently has over $33 billion under management and is on the market for $120 a share. Fees are very low and it's cheaper to invest in this than actually investing in gold which is on the market for 10x the price ($1271 an ounce as of today 6/25/18). The fund is managed by State Street which has some of the best portfolio managers out there.

I hear you Carl, so what does this have to do with the grocery store?

So you’re probably saying to yourself “This info is cool and all but how do I make this work for me?” Don’t worry, I got you. To save money on groceries I watch news on the markets and identify whether there will be issues with very important commodities. For example: I listen out for OPEC’s meetings to hear whether they will increase or decrease their supply of crude oil. This will help me determine whether the price per gallon for gas will increase or decrease. For groceries I was the exchange activity but more importantly I use some fire ass tools every week to see what’s about to go down in the grocery store next week.

Here are some of my tools:

The Produce Price Index:

This tool shows me how much grocers are moving products in the store for. I tend to look at historical prices to determine what the price of an item should be or to estimate what it will be before I make my next grocery store run. The data provided from this website is from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) so if they get it wrong its because the federal government got it wrong. The retail prices are broken down by region so the prices will vary depending on where you live in the US. Either way I think it’s a great resource. It also helps me determine whether I should buy double the amount of avocados this week if it will cost farmers more to produce them or grocers more to bring them to the store in the near future.

Favado App:

Favado is a food grocery store app that performs price comparisons in store all via one space. Imagine all of your weekly circulars in one app but you get to sit down and compare them all to each other. I use this all the time to determine which store I should shop at this week.

Ibotta App:

Ibotta app is a rebate app that gives you cash back when you shop at certain stores and purchase certain items. The items and stores are OD broad though so you’re very likely to catch hella rebates. It also tells you ahead of time which places have sales for which items IN YOUR AREA. All you have to do is take a photo of your receipt and upload it to the app. It views your purchases and hits you with the cash back on a gift card via the app. You can also get actual cash if you use Venmo. Ibotta App is the TRUE finesse y’all.

 Me Leaving Whole Foods after finessing the price comparisons and getting hella cash back.

Me Leaving Whole Foods after finessing the price comparisons and getting hella cash back.

See….. it’s all connected. Understanding the relationship between financial markets and the grocery store is ESSENTIAL to saving that bread which in the long term can help you make better investments. In every part of your life you need to be prudent. If you have ANY questions at ANY time don’t hesitate to hit the boy Benjamin you know he always got you.

Keep Stacking That Paper,

CJB

Disclaimer: Please use your own due diligence before making any investment decisions. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

The Black Report: The Healthcare Hustle

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I know you’re tired. You’re tired of hearing “This is how you build wealth” make these better financial decisions, blah blah blah shit, fix your spending habits (even though it’s just you not getting enough money) and all that other jazz. You’re also tired of looking for jobs with the same damn titles that have the same pay. I’m definitely sure you’re tired of not knowing what you want to do, or wanting to do something for fun as a hobby but still wanting a job that pays well and gives you enough free time. I’m tired too. I’m tired of you being spoon fed bullshit through IG posts and half-baked financial articles that tell you what to do with money, but don’t tell you how to get it.

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The truth is you gotta have money first before learning how to manage it. This post isn’t about what to do with your money. That comes second. This article is about how to get money first. To be honest. MOST OF US ARE GONNA HAVE TO WORK FOR A LIVING AND ITS GONNA BE SOMETHING WE DON’T "LOVE". I want to open this up by saying this is OKAY. Matter of fact its more than OKAY. IT'S. HELLA. HONORABLE. Yes I said it. Showing up to a place that you don’t enjoy for the check is honorable yo. People say discipline is “waking up early” or other types of shit. But to be real, after a certain point 80% of the things people call discipline are simply good habits. Discipline is doing something you don’t really want to do everyday, and very well, because YOU HAVE TO for the betterment of yourself. That whole “find what you love to do and do it forever” works for some, but not for all. The rest of us gotta find a job dawg. But the key to this job thing is a combination of not hating something so much that it makes you sick, but pays you well enough to live a decent life, and gives you a decent amount of time to spend with your loved ones. Great investing and wealth management amplifies the earnings from that job and sets you up for a GREAT life. In short, an average job (in regards to how you feel about it) can lead to an amazing life. Don’t let them IG posts fool you into thinking that if you’re not SUPER ecstatic about your job you CAN’T be happy.

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s get to the facts. Today is about where the good paying jobs are we’re doing industry.. I’m thinking about making this a series, y’all let me know if I should.

Today’s focus:

                                                               HEALTHCARE

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Your Caribbean parents didn’t lie. Go home and tell them they were right. Healthcare is ON FIRE right now and is poised to increase over the next decade. Yes, I said…. Decade.

Let’s start with where it’s going so you can get an idea over what I’m talking about real quick:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the US Government) As of Last May (May 2017) there are over 8 million filled positions in healthcare and in technical positions in that space. The average hourly wage for the industry is $38.83 and the average salary is $80,760 a year. The median (in short the middle) hourly wage is $31.14. When I say median, that means half of the industry make more than $31.14 and half of the people make less than $31.14. Now some people may look at that as peanuts and that’s fine ballers but the median hourly wage in the United States is $22.59 an hour and people are pushing for a $15 minimum wage so I think $31.14 an hour is a good life dawg (depending on where you live of course).

So that’s an idea of where things are currently for those working in the industry.

Now let’s look at how many openings are in the industry in general.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (The US GOVERNMENT) as of April 2018, there are over 1 MILLION job OPENINGS in the HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY. YES. MORE THAN 1 MILLION. I think this goes without saying… THAT’S HELLA JOB OPENINGS DAWG. The industry is in dire need of workers so y’all need to shoot y’all shots bruh.

The unemployment rate for the industry is 5.5 percent which means for every 100 people only 5.5 people are searching for a job for some reason or another. Basically things are looking good.

In the month of April, the healthcare industry hired 91,000 people and are growing. Things are serious.

By 2026 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the US government) projects that from the Healthcare industry:

“--Healthcare support occupations (23.6 percent) and healthcare practitioners and technical
   occupations (15.3 percent) are projected to be among the fastest growing occupational
   groups during the 2016–26 projections decade. These two occupational groups--which account
   for 13 of the 30 fastest growing occupations from 2016 to 2026--are projected to contribute
   about one-fifth of all new jobs by 2026. Factors such as the aging baby-boom population,
   longer life expectancies, and growing rates of chronic conditions will drive continued
   demand for healthcare services.”

AKA THIS WHERE YOU NEED TO BE IF YOU AREN’T SURE WHERE TO WORK AND WANT TO GET PAID RIGHT NOW.

When they say aging baby boomer population, and longer life expectancies this is what they mean y’all:

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Now some people are thinking “Wow Carl so now you’re telling me to go to medical school and become a doctor?” NOPE. I am not telling you that. There are so many jobs in that field it’s insane. Many of those jobs not requiring a degree in medicine at all.

Here are some of the departments in healthcare that don’t require a medical degree:

Law (Lawyer or paralegal)

Compliance

Grant writing

Human resources

Project management

Design

Finance

Marketing

Social Media management

Now that’s not to say having a medical degree doesn’t help. We’re going to exclude the med school degrees from this real quick (cause that takes a lifetime to accomplish. Shoutout to the medical degree holders). In 4 years someone can get a degree medical ethics, healthcare administration, or physical therapy (for my folks who love working out and posting it on IG). Yeah 4 years like a bachelors degree 4 years. If you have a bachelors already you can do a 2 year masters program and get those degrees and sit for your certification exams (and pass of course) and become a physician assistant.

A physician assistant is basically part of a medical team, a team led by a doctor. When the doctor says “scalpel” during surgery and reaches out her/his hand out it’s either to a nurse or physician assistant. What’s the starting salary for a physician assistant you ask?

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the US government) the lowest salary average (lowest 10% percentile) for physician assistants is $66,590 a year. Assuming that the people with the lowest salaries are those just beginning their careers in the industry… I think that’s a pretty good starting salary right out of college. It’s definitely better than getting $15 an hour dealing with people who want to yell at your face in the morning because they didn’t get their coffees yet.

The median (the middle) salary in the industry is $104,860 a year. Six damn figures y’all. It takes people entire lifetimes in other industries to make six figures, but in this position you can earn that in less than 7 years. If you graduate college at 23 years old, by 30 you can be making six figures annually. I think that’s a pretty nice chunk of change to get consistently. If you manage your money and invest properly with a decent lifestyle and compound interest you can have a nice pot by 40 years old.

Here’s a link to more data for physician assistants around the country https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291071.htm

Please don’t misunderstand me. This post is not about getting you to become a physician assistant. This post is about showing the opportunities that lie in working in or with the healthcare industry. Use your skills, education, and knowledge to place yourself in the space so you can increase your cash flow (amount of cash coming into your account). With more cash on hand you can then use it to make better financial and investment decisions (using Benjamin I hope) and lead yourself to a more fruitful and happy career/life.

So now the next question: HOW DO I GET IN THE GAME?

Today I got some bars from someone who works in recruiting in the healthcare industry working with one of the largest healthcare systems in the country.

Meet Marv.

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Marv is the Lead Media & Strategy Project Manager for the Talent Acquisition Department within HR at the Mount Sinai Health System. Marv has 5 years of Human Resources experience and began his professional career as a recruiter. His role and responsibilities revolve around Employer Branding and one of his major objectives is to attract talent through means beyond the use of generic and traditional job descriptions. Some of those means include leveraging the latest technologies and applying it to sourcing talent, curating networking events and establishing brand presence at conferences, and managing the department’s social media accounts to increase brand awareness.

Here’s his advice on getting into the industry and positioning yourself for the check:

The first thing to do is to reengineer some of your thinking as it pertains to a job hunt. I know plenty of people with preconceived notions and myths that they think applies to healthcare when looking for jobs. Let’s go ahead and demystify some of those myths:

“ I don’t have a medical degree and/or medical experience”: This is an easy myth to debunk because I don’t have a medical degree nor did I have medical experience; I majored in Digital Art & Multimedia Design. Many people forget all about the functions that go into supporting any health system. There’s Finance, Accounting, Real Estate, Supply Chain, Human Resources (That’s me), IT, and the list goes on.

Let’s take an Operating Room Technician for example. Sounds Pretty sophisticated right? The educational requirement for this position is a high school diploma or GED. Certification in Operating Room Technology or courses in such is preferred – not a deal breaker. Check it out for yourself: https://careers.mountsinai.org/jobs/2275948?lang=en-us

The going salary for this kind of position is $56k, but guess what? Effective December 31st, Minimum Wage and Salaries will increase to $58k for large employers (11 or more employees). And being that is now illegal for employers to ask for previous salary history, your negotiating prowess goes up!

“I don’t have the skills necessary to do the job”: In many cases this may be true, but does not mean it is still impossible to transition into healthcare. Oddly enough, there are many transferable skills that you may already have that could be qualified for healthcare positions, both clinical and non-clinical. And for those who wish to strengthen some of those skills, Mount

Sinai Partners up with STRIVE New York – a program targeted to serve disconnected populations and underrepresented communities. The beautiful thing about this is that once the program is complete, they don’t just send you out into the world with well wishes. They work hand in hand with you in identifying opportunities to help get you placed. You can learn more here: https://www.striveinternational.org/strive-new-york/

“I have a record, no way would any healthcare institution take me”: No worries because that’s not the case. The DOE Fund program along with 1119SEIU works closely with Mount Sinai to provide opportunities to those with criminal records and are looking for a second chance to do right in society. I personally had the opportunity to interview an employee who went from a life of crime to starting his career in healthcare through housekeeping to now becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Like Biggie and 112 said – “Sky is the limit and you know that you can have
what you want, be what you want” to learn more about these programs visit: https://www.1199seiu.org/

https://www.doe.org/programs/ready-willing-able

Now that you’re excited and ready to see what healthcare is all about, here are a few things to consider especially when applying to any job:

Do your research: It seems like common knowledge, but I can’t stress this enough. There’s nothing worse than going in for an interview and having no idea what the company or it’s goals is all about. Be ready so that you don’t have to get ready!

Make sure that your values align with the company’s mission and values: Take some time to think long and hard what it is you want; not only what you want out of your career but what you want out of life. Any new job is almost up there with some of the biggest decisions you make in your life (purchase of a first home, starting your first business, getting married, having your first child, etc.) This is where a lot of your time is tied up and trust me, no job is the “perfect dream job” There’s always going to be something you don’t like about it – and that’s okay; we can apply that mentality to almost everything.

Cover letters? Get rid of them: No one is reading cover letters. Ever. They’re a complete waste and overcompensation for something that you maybe lacking (necessary experience, skills, etc.) It’s better to dedicate time to your resume and highlighting your strengths (I recommend reading the book Strength Finders by Tom Rath)

Professional Headshot and Linked In Profile– In the age of Transparency, I believe in putting your best foot forward. Although every employer should and need to be equal opportunity employers and hire based off skills and ability to perform the job’s functions, a professional headshot can only help put icing on the cake. It shows that you invested and dedicated time in how you want to broadcast yourself to the world.

If you would like to pick my brain a little more – you can reach me at Marvel@mvmdsolutions.com or Follow me on IG: 7gawd (Clearly I respect Drake’s Music)

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As I’ve mentioned throughout this post, the goal is not to get you to switch jobs or anything. The goal is to help you identify new money making opportunities. Whether you’re in a job that doesn’t satisfy you and are looking for the next move, or starting a business and looking for a clientele, unsure what to major in during college, or looking for a career that pays and can provide fulfillment, this post is simply to provide guidance. Remember you can’t save, invest properly without earning first and this is just one of many guides for you earn more money.

I hope this article helped you in some kind of way and more importantly……

Keep stacking y’all,

CJB

How to Invest in a Time of Chaos: Part 2: Investing Overseas

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Disclaimer: Please use your own due diligence before making any investment decisions. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

So it’s been a while since you’ve gotten a delivery, but let me tell you… your boy's got access. I had to get it on my own though because Man Don't Beg.....

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Some perks that come with the price tag of law school tuition are access to government agency (FDA, FTC, FAA etc) files, court dockets, and most importantly REPORTS. During the little bit of free time that I’ve had over the semester, your boy has been sneaking and saving big agency file reports and reading through them. I most certainly did not forget that we are still building our safe and life-long portfolios and with that said we’re going to dig into part 2 of our series. Today… We’re going to get started on stacking this international paper (lol no pun).

 BUT WHAT ABOUT BITCOIN?

BUT WHAT ABOUT BITCOIN?

Okay… I know y’all are looking at me like I’m crazy…. “Yo CJB, bitcoin lit, cryptos off the chain right now and you talkin’ to me about investing in China, India, and Europe?” Yes… I am. First of all, the OG’s over at Wu Tang Financial taught us the age old secret….

Why should you have all of your money in US stocks, or crypto markets? If the US economy doesn't perform well, you should still be out here with a portfolio in the green, if the crypto markets get their teeth punched in, you should still be able to rest easy because you’re gettin’ green someplace else. This is what we do here at #RaisingBenjamin, TOP DOWN IN THE WINTER THAT’S WHAT WINNERS DO. So let’s get to the down and dirty….

Picture you pullin' up to a spot across the world... Not for pleasure, but for business... Just to see how your investments holding up... YEP THIS IS YOU.... (stop playing this video after 1:10)

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the global gdp (gross domestic product) is estimated to grow 3.6% in 2017 and another 3.7% in 2018. Although this may look like nothing, this is huge because the world gdp hasn’t grown over 3% since 2011. For the folks who don’t know what the hell a gross domestic product is…. it’s simply the market value of all the products bought and sold and services rendered of a country in one period of time. So every time you sell your car, buy a bag, file someones taxes, or buy cereal, you are contributing to your country’s total gross domestic product (gdp). For the world outlook to be so high in 2018 is amazing, but what’s even better is if you can make some $$$$ while the world is growing as well so let’s dig into some things I’ve peeped through the report.

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People within emerging market countries are using more credit, China in particular. Companies in China are finally figuring out efficient ways to assign credit scores to their citizens and with that comes access to more credit. Here’s a quick article at some possible ways they want to attack the issue.

What do people usually do with credit? Buy stuff. With this knowledge what are we going to do? Invest in things that people in China want to buy.

 

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The most efficient way to make $$$$ on consumerism is to buy stocks in companies that have the highest amount of customers, it is also wise to get an idea on what consumer tastes are within the country so you can be extremely effective while investing your money and placing yourself in the position to get HIGH returns.

There are HELLA layers to this, but I’m going to throw a top layer investment opportunity your way so you can get started. For pro-level sh*t, you know my email… Holla at your boy.

A few good stocks I’ve seen screaming at me from this report that you can easily buy on Robinhood: 

Alibaba - $BABA - Currently trading at $176.29 per share (Christmas day 2017)

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Y’all…. Alibaba is the Amazon of China. That’s all I have to say. It’s the damn largest online retailer out there and the competition is NOWHERE CLOSE. With the increase in access to credit, it is possible that the largest online retailer sees a boost in sales, especially if they expand their e-credit line business in accordance with China’s new credit policy.

YUM China Brands - YUMC - Currently Trading at $40.87 per share (Christmas day 2017)

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People in China love fast food as much as we do. Maybe even more to be honest, and a population comparison between the US and China is about 1 billion. Yeah I said it. The US has around 300 million people and China has around 1.3 billion people which means YUM Brands aka KFC China is a company I like.

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If you’re looking for more information on other opportunities in China be sure to reach out.

Europe:

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Since the financial crisis European Central banks have lowered interest rates to damn near 0%. It’s crazy, big banks, and large corporations in Europe have been borrowing money practically for free and because of this they’ve been able to lend money to people in Europe at lower rates as well. This has helped bring Europe back from the brink of economic hell. Greece isn’t back from the bail out yet, and too many countries have hella public debt, but in the larger European countries unemployment is falling, salaries are growing, and banks are starting to take notice. Especially the central banks. Because of this, it’s expected that they will keep rates where they are as people start getting their money up again which means higher earnings for bank stocks in Europe.

 People and Europe Starting to Get PAID

People and Europe Starting to Get PAID

 So Now They Feelin Themselves

So Now They Feelin Themselves

Companies to watch out for:

 

HSBC - $HSBC - Currently $51.66 per share (Christmas day 2017)

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One of the largest banks in the UK as well as Europe. This whole Brexit joint was crazy, but HSBC has held strong since then. As the economy picks up it is one of the companies to see growth in that environment.

Unilever - $UL - Currently $55.28 per share (Christmas day 2017)

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Unilever is one of the largest consumer good companies on the planet. It is almost guaranteed that you have at least five products in your home that have a relationship with Unilever, and as people in Europe start working again, seeing higher wages, it will come with spending more money on food, beverages, and household items. Unilever also plans on cutting costs across many of their subsidiaries which looks promising for their profits.

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Anheuser-Busch InBev - BUD - $111.56 (Christmas day 2017)

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When times are good, we drink. When times are bad? We drink more. Things are no different in Europe and Anheuser-Busch being one of the largest beer companies in the world stands to make some real money off of global growth. This company owns Budweiser, Modelo, Corona, Oriental Brewery (the largest brewer in Korea), Stella Artois, Becks, Hoegaarden, Rolling Rock, Shock Top, and many more favorites.

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There are also a ton of American companies who stand to make some real European money, but to respect time, and your holiday, we're going to keep this short.

India

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India had this crazy black market economy for a long time and their new Prime Minister Narenda Modi won the election in 2014 and CHANGED THE GAME FOREVER. Son straight came in and said “Aight bet so since y’all wanna operate in the black market in here I’m about to sign everyone up for banks and delete one denomination of your currency.” Okay… He didn’t say that, but he definitely could have. This policy he took on is called DEMONETIZATION, basically he removed one bill from the currency and made it valueless.

Imagine Trump waking up tomorrow and saying “Okay guys, $100 bills are worthless and no one will accept it as money anymore.” Yeah. That happened. At first everyone went nuts and lost their sh*t. He gave everyone like a month to turn in the money for smaller bills and if you didn’t turn it in, it was a wrap for you. He also rolled out taxes on goods and services for the first time in India’s history which will help the government there earn more money and transfer the economy from largely black market, to mostly official.

India is a difficult country to invest in but I did find a few ways y’all can get some $$$ if you decide you want to play in that arena:

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$SCIF - VanEck Vectors India Small Cap ETF - Currently $66.82 as of Christmas Day 2017

This particular ETF allows you to invest in growth companies in India. It focuses heavily on industrial companies (25% of the portfolio is in industrials) which is a large part of what India is currently going through. As the economy becomes more centralized and the government collects more money in taxes the first job at hand is to invest in the country’s infrastructure. Currently this ETF is up almost 70% for the year.

For y’all who don’t know what ETFs are take a look at part 1 of this series 

INCO - Columbia Consumer ETF - $49.66 per share (Christmas Day 2017)

This particular ETF focuses on consumer goods in India. If you want exposure to the foods people buy everyday, items necessary for day to day activity in India, this ETF is for you. This ETF also invests heavily into large companies in India so with this one you’re exposed to lower risk. It is currently up over 55% for the year.

Now for my entrepreneurs:

 Shoutout to my old boss. Cause of you my social media finesse gotta be top 5 dead or alive. 

Shoutout to my old boss. Cause of you my social media finesse gotta be top 5 dead or alive. 

Y’all thought I was going to forget about my hustlas????? NO WAYYYYYYY! So for Christmas, I have…. A word:

We tend to have a limited view of our world. When we start our businesses we try to focus on the world in front of us and on our timelines. We forget how large the world is and how easily accessible all of these markets are to us. So here is a quick lesson y’all….

BUY FACEBOOK ADS

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Facebook ad network might be the greatest ad network in the history of man. Screw an ad agency (no disrespect, but the homies wallets ain’t long yet) just make a great ad, post that bad boy on Facebook and pick a location that is outside of your network. Find a new city where you believe your product can pop off and target your ads to your particular demo. Open your eyes y’all there is a big world out there. The United States is the cultural capital of the world, many countries try to emulate our style and want access to our clothing so why not market your products directly to them and give the markets what you want. Facebook and Instagram have over a billion users, 1 in 7 people in the world uses a Facebook product. The world is your playground. Pick a city, a country, and make it your playground.

I hope this is helpful, you know where to find me as always…. @CJoeBlack everywhere on the web.

Merry Christmas Family!

And once again as always,

Keep Stackin' That Paper Y'all,

CJB

Disclaimer: Please use your own due diligence before making any investment decisions. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

How to Invest in a Time of Chaos: Part 1

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I bought my first share of stock in McDonald’s at 14 years old. It was during a visit over my Father’s house in New Jersey. He saw that I really loved math, and we had spent years reading The Wall Street Journal together on days that I would go and work on the trucks with him. My dad ran his own business, he had a small fleet of trucks that made local and multi-state deliveries. So during the summers when I would visit my dad, he would wake me up at 4am and help him run his business. He’d have me look at the price of oil everyday and translate that to how much the price of gas would change at the pump. He’d have me contact all of the drivers and make sure they were prepped for their deliveries. He would even take me on deliveries and have me unload the truck with him. For all of these days I worked with him, he would pay me based on my enthusiasm for work, and how well I performed that day. He would also do annoying shit like take taxes from me (who takes taxes from a kid? smfh). But one of the greatest lessons he imparted upon me was understanding the stock market.

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So as I saved money and began to invest, I stuck to what I knew at the time. Buy low, sell high. I didn’t know anything else. I only knew how to identify value in businesses and buy early. As I grew through my high school years I became better at identifying business opportunities, and using resources to earn dollars. I used my step-dad’s blank DVD’s and movie software to sell DVD’s wholesale to classmates who would in-turn sell them to other classmates in school. I shoveled snow for money during the winter with my best friend. I worked with my dad to earn extra money. I bought and sold sneakers. Throughout this time I would always take a piece of that money and invest it in businesses I saw that were cheap in the stock market. Boeing (because I loved airplanes), more Mcdonald’s because I loved Mcdonald’s, Microsoft because damn near every computer I saw growing up was a windows computer. Over the years I had made a ton of money by investing in value and in one day at the age of 19 I opened my trading account and over half of it was gone.

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Yep, Lehman Brothers collapsed and in like 4 days I damn near lost almost all my money. What’s crazy is that I knew the market was going bad too. Nothing made sense for a long time, but the issue I had was that I didn’t know what else to do with my money but to “buy low, and sell high.” The writing was on the wall. In high school I knew a shit ton of people who bought houses, flipped em, did all kinds of shit, I even had an aunt who I personally knew made less than $30,000 a year who bought 2 different homes in less than 4 years, one for $700,000. She even bought a BMW. I looked to myself and asked if someone who makes significantly less than my parents can buy all of these things, the economic environment is truly messed up.

Back to the main lesson at hand though.

I lost over half my money. I cried for days. I sat in my room and didn’t tell anyone. I was embarrassed, how could the kid that knows everything about the markets, lose damn near everything? I can tell you how….. I didn’t know how to create a portfolio for a market downturn. I only knew how to “buy low, and sell high.” I didn’t know how to protect my investments, how to hedge my portfolio, or what investments did well in a market downturn and today, that’s what this 3-part series will be covering.

Losing all of that money taught me that I needed to get out of my shell and learn more. So instead of majoring in philosophy, or economics in college, I decided to major in Finance. I upped my game, and learned not only how to create a portfolio for a market downturn, but how to make more money in the stock market while taking less risk. Here are some of the financial instruments I learned about while in school, and eventually executed in my portfolio.

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Options:

On the stock market people like to make bets. These bets can be made in many different ways. Some make a bet by buying and holding their investment in the company, and some make bets by making deals with others to buy or sell shares of stock at a later time. This is primarily what options are.

At its most basic structure, an option is an open market contract to buy or sell (1000 shares at minimum) a stock. Now it’s name clearly means its name. An Option which means you have the option buy/sell or you can just allow it to expire when the time period is over.

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An option is insurance. You don’t plan to crash your car, but you want to be able to pay for damage and replace your car if you do crash it. You may want to purchase/sell a stock within the next few months, but aren’t really sure how well the market or stock will do. So you purchase an option for a few months so that you can purchase/sell it at the same price a set price.

Options are very inexpensive in comparison to purchasing stock, and also help you bear less risk. You get to have the right to own the stock, buy/sell it if you want, but if you’re still unsure, you can just let it expire, and you only lose the amount you paid for the option (the premium).

Some may look at this like a waste, but this is actually a risk averse way to invest. Here are some types of options.

Call option:

Let’s say you see the price of a stock today at $3 a share and you believe the stock will do better in the next 6 months, but you aren’t completely sure and don’t necessarily have the stomach to deal with the up and down market trends. You can purchase a call option that day for a certain price.

If this sounds kind of complicated, check out this video below.

Put option:

The put option is the same exact structure as the call option, but it is made for someone who thinks a stock costs too much.

Here is another video that explains a put option in a short simple way.

PS: I’ve been purchasing put options on Snapchat for the last few months. If you follow me on twitter this is why I keep yelling “Snap at $10”

Investing in commodities: In particular, Precious Metals.

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Gold:

Because if all else fails we can trade gold right? When markets go bad millions of investors flock to the safest currency on the planet. Gold. It’s always necessary to have Gold in your portfolio and if you feel like the market might go to shit, it never hurts to buy more.

Gold is $1277 per ounce

Silver: If Gold is too expensive, silver is always the cheaper option. Investors love to flock to silver as well.

Silver is $16 per ounce, and $543 per kilo

Copper: From a safety standpoint investors also flock to copper. But another good thing about copper is it’s usage. Copper is one of the most useful metals in the world, so owning copper is a double win for your portfolio.

Copper is $3 per ounce, $6 per kilo

ETF’s:

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If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably seen me talk about this a number of times. ETF’s are short for Exchange Traded Funds. These relatively new financial assets are index funds on steroids, but are cheaper and more liquid than mutual funds. Exchange traded funds allow you to own a larger amount of assets and have a cheaper entry point. Here a few ETF’s below:
 

GLD: This is the largest Gold ETF by asset size. It currently holds over $35 billion in Gold assets. This includes mining companies, mines, and shares in Gold operations. Remember how I told you that Gold is $1277 per ounce? The GLD price is $121 per share. Yeah, it’s that lit. You get to own assets in Gold that are way more liquid than holding the ounces, for cheaper the price.

SLV: This is currently the largest Silver ETF by asset size. It currently holds over $5 billion in Silver assets. It is currently on the market for $15.85 per share.

JJC: This is currently the largest Copper ETF by asset size. It currently holds $68 Million in Copper assets and currently trades for $34.43 a share.

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All markets aren’t risky, this is just the beginning in building a safe asset portfolio. Stay tuned for part 2, on its way next week.

Keep Stackin' That Paper Y'all,

CJB

Bitcoin, Ethereum & CryptoMoney

Bitcoin, litecoin, dogecoin, Ethereum, potcoin, whatever coin, the new craze seems to be cryptocurrencies and everyone's gotta have it. We're all here trying to flip our coins and boom next thing you know the newest hottest investment becomes coins. The words been around the street for a while but if you don't understand it, today you receive the 411 on everything cryptocurrency.

What is a cryptocurrency?

It's simply digital money that uses encryption to control the amount of money available as well as to verify the transfer of money. Each currency is designated for a certain community. Anyone can join, and the easiest way to invest in them is by purchasing each coin for the lowest price available.

What is encryption?

Taking information that is shared and creating a code that won't allow anyone to know what is being shared. Only the end user will know the enclosed information.

Why is cryptocurrency important?

few simple reasons.

It poses a solution for our current currency problems.

Currently currencies (dollars, euros, pesos, yen etc..) change value for many different reasons. One country is at war, there's political instability, another country is printing out too much money so their money is losing value, a country couldn't pay its debts so the value of their money had decreased, and many more. Because of this many computer programmers have come up with the concept of cryptocurrencies to do 3 things:

1. Create one universal monetary system that the whole world will adhere to.

2. Stop the inconsistent increases and decreases among everyone's currencies.

3. Allow people to privately and safely move their money.

Why does this matter to me?

When we travel to other countries we have to convert our dollars to their currency. To convert it we have to pay a fee, and then we have to buy things in that country for a price, sometimes it's more than what we would pay at home. Cryptocurrencies want to end that. No matter where you go in the entire world, all values are the same.

No more dealing with things at the "tourist" price when you visit somewhere.

There's a huge opportunity in cryptocurrency investment because it's so young. 

 

Why are the coins so valuable if there aren't many people using them?

Technology.

Currently cryptocurrencies are creating the technology that is used to move your money on the internet. Each network uses their own specific type of technology to create safe and anonymous transactions. The more successful these transactions, the larger the community grows, the more banks want to buy and use their technology to create safer transactions for their customers. This technology is called blockchain.

Wtf is blockchain?

Blockchain is a digital ledger (accounting book basically) that safely records transactions online. In short. If you move money online, blockchain provides the proof that you sent/received money. Currently we move money from peer to peer (P2P) networks. Think of it like Limewire when you downloaded a song from another person and left your network open for someone else to download it. That's is how money is transferred on venmo, PayPal, chase quickpay, square cash and most of your current finance apps. Although currently effective, your money transfers and information can be hacked by hackers.

So how do I get in the game?

Coinbase (BTW CLICKING THIS LINK WILL GIVE YOU FREE BITCOIN. THANK ME LATER)

The easiest way to purchase coins and invest is by signing up for Coinbase. Coinbase is a digital asset exchange with over 7 million people trading Bitcoin, litecoin, Ethereum, Potcoin and over 30 other digital currency types. You log-in attach your bank account and purchase any type of coin you want.

Some coin types:

Bitcoin

Ethereum

Potcoin

Investing in Initial Coin Offerings (ICO's)

Initial coin offerings are a way cryptocurrencies use to raise money for new types of coins. It works similar to Initial Public Offerings like Snapchat that go on the public market and allow you and I to purchase stock in their company. What cryptocurrencies do in this process is they put out a white paper (essentially a business plan) that explains the project, amount of coins that will be distributed, and the goals of the cryptocurrency. Many people have earned millions because they are purchasing cryptocurrencies for pennies on the dollar. The website I use to find Initial Coin Offerings (ICO's) is Token Market. It's a great resource to not only read news on ICO's but also to get news on cryptocurrencies that already exist and to grow your knowledge on the industry.

The best investment portfolio to have is a diverse one. The more diverse your portfolio the more options you have to make money. And if you're anything like me, you really love to make money. I hope this article helps you understand how cryptocurrencies work and the next time you see Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other coin on your timeline your reaction isn't....

If you have any questions shoot me an email, or hit me on social media (@cjoeblack everywhere).

Keep stacking that paper y'all,

CJB

PS: Just in you may have accidentally glossed over it earlier. In this article I gave folks a link to getting free bitcoin. If you want to get in the game, click -------> here

Investing in Utilities

My main investment strategy has always been the same. No matter what you invest in always make sure that people will need to use it on a regular basis. This is the reason why utility stocks are my favorite companies to invest in. What makes them even more attractive to me is that they pay very good dividends.

What are utility stocks?

Utilities are companies that provide services like your electricity, water, transportation services, local energy, gas, and many others. Basically this company is getting paid as long as you're turning on the lights, running your water, using your internet, or heating up your home.

Companies such as these only lose money where there is massive migration from the areas they service, increased operating costs, cuts in their dividend, or large operating failures.

Why should you invest in them?

Safety:

These companies receive revenues in every type of market cycle. Whether there is a big market boom or a big time recession these companies will make steady income.

Dividends:

For those who don't know what a dividend is....

A dividend is a quarterly payment companies pay to their shareholders.

For example: if you own 10 shares of an con ed (ED) at $82 a share and they pay a $3 dollar dividend you will get paid that $3 per share for your 10 shares. Which is $30 dollars per quarter. There are 4 quarters a year which means you're getting $120 in payments on top of the gains you're receiving from the stock.

Utility stocks tend to have the highest dividends among all companies, and tend to increase them so that they can compete with other stocks.

Population Growth:

The millennial generation is the largest generation since the baby boomers and are poised to be the most populous generation in American history. They are also beginning to move out of their parents homes, and having their own children. This means there will be increased energy usage because of the growing number of households. Many of the nations large cities will benefit the most.

Technology:

The more we rely on technology, the increased amount of electricity usage we will have. Electric cars? That's a win for electric utility stocks.

Some Utility stocks:

NGG (National Grid)

ED (Con Edison)

PPL (PPL Corporation)

Duke Energy (DUK)

Take a look into those stocks and for those who are new to the stock game I have a blog post for you to learn how to invest in the easiest way possible. Click------> here

I hope this helps you build our your current stock portfolio. If you ever need any help or want a custom portfolio built just for you, shoot me an email we can discuss my services.

Keep stackin’ that paper y’all,

CJB

The Wealth Marathon

 Forrest Gump really has figured life out lowkey if you watch the movie properly.

Forrest Gump really has figured life out lowkey if you watch the movie properly.

Before we begin I want to thank everyone who played a role in the process of me completing my first physical marathon. God, Mom and Dad for constantly telling me I can do it, @MrBeTheBetter for giving me the ill running regimen. @BoltArchitect for always providing words of wisdom. And for Bae who took this journey with me, forced me to run on all of the days I didn't feel like it, made sure I ate well, slept well, and did my necessary stretches (cause lord knows I hate stretching).

The idea of a marathon (just like building wealth) can be daunting. As soon as I signed up for the Airbnb Brooklyn Half marathon I thought to myself, why would I sign up to run 13.1 miles? And how do I get my money back? Cause this is a dub. See I haven't run much since my old track and field days in high school and even back then I didn't do no damn 13 miles. But as I labored through the process of becoming a "marathon runner" I saw so many similarities to what I love doing most... building wealth. So today we're going to get our marathon on.

Your approach: Have fun

Very much like running a marathon, building wealth can seem like a laborious process. All we want is the result. We want to reach the finish line, we want to buy the dope house and the Mercedes Benz G-Wagon, and most importantly? We want to stunt on the haters. So the process can seem so boring to us, we find ourselves in the state of "can this be over already?" And this is what causes us to miss what really matters most. The details.

Make your approach a fun one, pay attention to the details and learn how each part plays versus the whole.

In running:

Learn how to master your breathing, your posture, your pacing, your frame of mind, your diet, your running shoes, and even your music selection. Because all of these play a role in your success.

In wealth:

Learn how each investment works, how it is affected by the local, national, and world economy. Learn how changes in one investment can affect your total wealth.

The goal will seem far, but stick it out and you'll get there:

This is exactly what 13.1 miles sounded like to me.

13.1 miles seemed like an eternity to me. At the time I could barely get through 2 miles. But I set small incremental goals and tried my best to meet them and by race day I was able to complete what I once thought was impossible.

When Warren Buffett was in his teenage years he told his sisters he would be worth 1 million dollars by the age of 30. Everyone thought he was nuts, I bet he had some doubts too, but at the end of the day he kept working at his craft and by 30 he was able to reach that 1 million dollars. Keep in mind that 1 million dollars back then wasn't what 1 million dollars is today.

Find a professional for proper preparation and guidance:

This is essential. Because I thought all human beings can run, I never thought of actually speaking with anyone about running. I didn't hit up a soul I just ran and ran and ran. Through all of that running (and the internet) I learned a great deal about myself but I started to plateau. That's when I was referred to a professional who trains marathoners. @MrBeTheBetter blessed me with the tools and nutrition I needed to improve my running skill and time.

When building your wealth you should have he same approach, and you should hold your advisors to the same standard. If you're looking to increase your credit score, go see a credit score specialist. If you're looking to increase your investment portfolio, go see someone who has mastered investments (or shoot me an email cause that's my playground). Need tax advice? See a tax professional. Yes, everyone should have a go-to wealth manager who can give them a solid foundation on where to go, but everyone has strengths and weaknesses. See how you want to custom build your wealth, meet with your main advisor, and have them refer you to an expert in the field. It's just like when your primary doctor refers you to a foot specialist.

Consistency & Commitment:

 Denzel is really the GOAT at motivating me

Denzel is really the GOAT at motivating me

We hear this all the time and the same rings true for running. At first I thought I could just run 3 miles once a week and I'd be lit.

SIKE

March came around and I could barely run those same 3 miles. The thought of me having to run more than once a week and sticking to that schedule was annoying to me, but I had to commit to that if I was going to run 13.1 miles. My regimen changed to 3 runs a week and I had to stick to that.

Building your wealth applies the same principles. You need to be consistent about investing, you need to be committed about investing. Read newspapers and magazines that involve your investments. If you're interested in investing in marijuana, you should be buying High Times, and checking in with some of the most influential individuals in the industry. Check in with your wealth manager once a quarter (every 3 months). Your relationship with your wealth manager should be more than just a "here's my money now flip it, I'll see you later." Your wealth manager needs to be one of the people you check in with like your doctor, dentist, therapist, or accountant. Your manager needs to be the homie you know that knows money. Simple and plain.

Pacing (Don't compare yourself to others):

One issue I ran into (no pun intended lol) was people running farther distances, than I was during my training. I felt inadequate, like I wasn't going to reach my goal. It was march and everyone was doing 8-9 miles and I was only doing 5. Then I tried to run 8 miles and I screwed up my knee. The lesson I learned from that is that you have to go at your own pace. What's for you at that time is for you and you need to respect that. Different people are at different places for different reasons.

It happens to us all of the time, Instagram makes us feel inadequate. We see people having things at an age that we feel like we should have it, or should have had it already. We tend to forget that wealth goals are different for each person. Someone's goal may be to buy a home and yours may be to own a franchise. Some people may have inherited money, while you have to build yours from scratch. Everyone's salaries, and liabilities are different. Don't look at yourself as lesser than because you are not where you want to be. Believe in yourself and work toward your goal. The goal is to be wealthier than yesterday and nothing else.

There will be set backs:

Yep, I messed up my knee while training for the marathon. I couldn't run for a few weeks and I felt like it was all over. As I'm writing this I can hear my girlfriend telling me "So you just gonna sit down and give up on this race? The man I met doesn't give up on anything, or are you soft now?" I worked my knee back out, figured out new ways to run, and to not overextend myself so that I don't make the same mistake.

Being sidelined reminded me of the time where I lost a third of my money during the financial crisis. It was early my sophomore year in college and I didn't know how to "short" the market. At the time I had never lost money on the market, so foolishly I felt invincible. I sat it out, told myself "everyone will pay their mortgages, they ain't gonna let themselves live on the streets." Boy was I wrong. Lehman brothers collapsed and I opened my trading account and a third of it was gone. George Bush came on tv talking about it's a "crisis" and I knew it would get worse. I sold what I could, went underneath my sheets and cried like I was 5 dawg. I was depressed for weeks. I did some serious googling, and bought a gang of books to learn how to take advantage of this type of market.

 This was me when I opened my account

This was me when I opened my account

I started up again in late December of 2008 and started getting my feet wet again. March 2009 came and I started making money again. This experience pushed me to major in finance in college so I can effectively learn how to maneuver a falling market. The set back made me ill for the get back. Treat your portfolio the same way.

Embrace your mission:

In January I became a runner. No one could tell me any different. I was a runner dawg. I only wore running gear, Nike dri-fit everything, I only shopped at the Nike Running shop. I only wore track pants. My Instagram timeline started filling up with Nike app posts (I lowkey annoyed some folks so I had to chill). I even built some strong relationships with people over running. If I was going to do this, I had to BE this.

You need to treat building your wealth in the same fashion. People need to know that you're looking for business and investing opportunities. When you talk to people bring up the investing side of the conversation. Ask questions like "I wonder what it costs to run a business like this?" Or "What do you think their bottom line is?" You need to exude wealth. People need to understand that you're really about your money. It's a big reason why I made the Black Wealth hats. I want people to see you and to know that you're about your business, and to take you and your investing seriously. Speak wealth, know wealth, be wealth.

It's never over:

On Saturday I crossed the finish line but I already knew it wasn't over. When I crossed the line I knew I wanted to do something like this again. The adrenaline is amazing, completing such a mission is exhilarating. The new relationships I've built through this process has placed me in a new beginning in my life, and the bonds I've built with the people in the process are cemented forever. I'm already thinking of joining running clubs, running has helped me build new habits and I feel like a better person overall. I have increased my mental toughness and I have a new threshold for pain.

 My Wife Beyonce... I brag different.

My Wife Beyonce... I brag different.

Building your wealth does the same to you. You kill it in once investment and your mindset changes. Your vocabulary changes. You start speaking in acronyms such as "EPS" (earnings per share) and "P/E ratio" (Price to earnings ratio). You start looking at your environment differently and you start asking yourself and those around you... "Why aren't we investing more?" And you start building better bonds with the folks you invest with. You start to become a more informed version of yourself and you start to raise more Benjamin's.

 By the end of your wealth marathon. This will be you.

By the end of your wealth marathon. This will be you.

Building your wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't have immediate expectations of large sums of money, consider this a journey like any other. Just this one is to financial freedom. I know that you will take these words to the bank (literally and figuratively) and cash out. Good luck and always hit me up while you're in your journey, my inbox is always open to y'all.

Keep stacking that paper,

CJB

Why your Pending Transactions Act Like That

 The Pain yo....

The Pain yo....

We all have been there. You swipe for a group of things, check your account balances, see things are okay, and move on with life. The next day you're in the store and boom, card declined, or you get a notification that your account is in the negative and you have been hit with an overdraft fee. It's so upsetting, it's so embarrassing, and you say to yourself that you definitely wouldn't have swiped your card if you knew money wasn't in there. And you're wondering why...

Well this isn't always by accident, and it isn't always your fault, it's actually a little thing in banking they call "debit resequencing" a "random" rearrangement of your transactions. It has been shown through a number of surveys, and studies that banks actually don't arrange your transactions by when they were done, but actually reformatting them by largest transactions first. In short your transactions probably look like this:

Real life -                                 Bank account -   

Monday: Coffee $3.50            Rent: $1500                   

Tuesday: TV/Wifi $150          TV/Wifi: $150                  

Wednesday: Classpass $12     Classpass: $12                     

Thursday: Rent $1500            Chipotle: $9.00                      

Friday: Chiptole $9.00           Coffee: $3.50

                      

So in short what one can really say is.... you can never really trust what the bank says you have in your account. But if you can't trust the bank then what the hell are you supposed to do?

Well today we're going to go through my personal strategies of avoiding the attack of the overdraft.

 It's over yo...

It's over yo...

So here's how I do this and why.....

I leave my debit card at home and only carry Cash:

My friends make fun of me all the time because I carry cash around like I'm some drug dealer. But there is a method to my madness:

1. I make a budget for what and where I'm going to spend my money for the week.

This helps me plan out exactly what I'm spending my money on and why. If you know what's coming there are less surprises.

2. It mentally reminds me that there is a limit.

his personal allowance lets me know that if I spend all of this cash, it's over I can't spend any more money. I know you've fallen in the trap of "buy one more round" or "that outfit is type fire you should buy it" before. When you look in your wallet and only see $20 dollars left.... you're entire perspective changes. You become very thoughtful on what you're spending because you know you have to go all the way back home to get your card in order to get more money.

3. It's so easy to tell someone "no disrespect (shows cash) but this all I got on me"

Once you show someone that there's no way they can even convince you to spend more. It'll also push them to ask you the million dollar question "why don't you carry cards on you?"

4. But what about emergencies?

That is something you have to determine for yourself. Think of your last monetary emergency? How much did you need for it? How much of a role did money play in said emergency? Were you able to go home at any time during the emergency? By being able to answer these questions you can determine how much emergency money you should carry.

5. What if I lose my wallet or it gets stolen?

Carry small amounts. Unless planned otherwise, I try my best to leave my house with $35 dollars a day. With a goal to only spend $20. When I get home I reassess what I've spent and add to my money so that I have $35 dollars to start then next day.

6. Save receipts.

This helps come tax time, but the other reason is to really analyze what you're spending your money on and if you can change your spending habits. If you're spending $15 dollars a day on lunch all by yourself or with coworkers, maybe you should change that. If you're going through $60-$70 dollars 2-3 days a week on drinks, maybe that should change too. What we fail to realize is that building wealth doesn't only come from large financial transactions, but from having small, good habits.

7. Delete Car apps and only redownload them for truly needed usage & unlink your card from your phone.

In all honesty, I love high quality convenience. I'm also notorious for using my Apple Watch to pay for shit. I've slowed down my usage, and you should too. Also for absolutely no real reason I will use Uber, Lyft, Juno, Car2go. Like I will deadass have a 6-8 block walk to the train in the early afternoon, and take an Uber home instead. If the average Uber ride is $8 dollars and you do this 10 times a month that's $80 dollars that you could've saved. So I've picked up the practice of saying "if I really need this Cab I'm going to download the app and log back in" this small annoyance usually reminds me that I should do the right thing and walk my ass to public transportation or walk home in general. Because nothing is worse than having an overdraft payment of $36 dollars because of a $4.59 Uber you took 3 days ago.

8. Seamless, Grubhub etc:

This shit gotta stop. Y'all got mealpreppers all over your damn timeline and you still ordering seamless? If we building wealth, we can't be spending it all on delivery. Budget some time and cook. Lately I've been stocking up on soup for those moments where I'm not sure what I want to eat and I'm scrolling through my past orders. Don't spend the money, make something. It'll ease your mind for the worlds stresses, and it also will serve you well in the future when you want to cook for someone.

9. Move your bills to your credit card.

One thing I'm not is a credit guru. I have 1 credit card that I froze and left at my momma house a few years back, but I've been able to maintain a decent credit score because all of my bills are on my credit card. Then I just pay my credit card off at the end of the month with my bank account. This prevents overdraft fees because unlike a regular bank account you can't overdraft on your credit card, if you hit the limit? DECLINED. NO OVERDRAFT.

10. If you insist on using your card.

Do not opt-in to any debit card service that allows overdraft. No overdraft, no fee. So read your debit card account contracts and make sure that you're not in it, or ask to get out of it.

Too many banks use this strategy as a structure to collect fees so I can't recommend one bank over another. But like I've said before, the age old saying is... Cash is King. I hope this adds some money to your pockets, and you turn it into some investments that will grow your wealth.

Keep stackin' that paper y'all,

CJB

Weed Money

It ain't fair. It ain't fair how so many people in my neighborhood growing up got busted for selling weed and got hit with mandatory minimums, did 5, 10, 15 or more years in prison and now that it's legal those same folks can't make a legal dime off of it. It's unfair that they can't even resell the weed legally in the same neighborhoods they were born and raised at. It's even more unfair that they can't even get a job in the industry let alone many other industries because they are convicted felons. It's also unfair that we as a community who are most affected by this don't know how to or can't find easy ways to invest in this. Today we take the power back.

First of all shoutout to "The Cannabis Papers" which created the framework and foundation used to thoroughly understand marijuana on a scientific, medicinal, and recreational standpoint. Without reading this work I wouldn't have been able to understand the many uses of marijuana and how it can be monetized.

Lastly (but definitely not least) I'd like to give a shoutout to Nelson Guerrero and the Cannabis Cultural Association (IG @CannaCultural) for sharing their insights on how the industry is growing and holding conferences so that black people can come through and get that money. But without further adieu here's what you came for...

How to invest in the booming marijuana industry.

 States moving toward full legal weed up to 2013

States moving toward full legal weed up to 2013

 

In order to win the game you have to understand how it's played.....

  Had to drop 2 of these for emphasis

Had to drop 2 of these for emphasis

 

Step 1. Understanding the crop.

At the end of the day that is what marijuana is. A crop. Like tobacco it has to be grown in certain conditions that require certain seeds, watering requirements, lighting, shelf life and so on. By understanding that it is a crop and it's many types of uses, only then we can properly see how this product can be used and or sold.

Uses:

Recreational:

The most popular and recognizable use of marijuana.

People smoke it, turn it into wax, and even reuse it into lotions and pain relief creams. There are hundreds of ways to use marijuana recreationally.

Medicinal:

This can be smoked, taken in pill form, and other ways for health reasons that help cure:

Cancer

HIV/AIDS

Nausea

Muscle Spasms

Multiple sclerosis

PTSD

And each state has different approved medicinal uses.

Industrial and other uses:

Hemp is the industrial use of marijuana and can be used to make ropes, paints, but can also be used to make oils, food, paper, fuel, and many other consumer products.

Each of these products and uses are a way for you to make money. Whether you're creating it, or investing in it, these are ways you can make money.

The "easy" way

If you have extra money and want to invest in the industry but don't necessarily have time to build a business the easiest way to get into the game is through stocks.

One of the issues with the marijuana industry is that the stocks connected to them can be kind of shady. Some companies have issued stock simply to pay their debts, some have issued stock just to pay debts before they go out of business leaving you with a loss in investment. So one of the safest ways to buy stock and cash in on marijuana is by investing in companies who have many types of products that span many industries. This is why I carefully chose these companies for you to invest in. Each of these companies will be greatly impacted by the growth of the marijuana industry but will also grow because of their other product lines.

Scotts Miracle-Gro company (SMG)

You can't grow plants without seeds right? Nope but the company that makes your lawn look nice is also the same company that will be creating the seeds for marijuana growers. As more marijuana companies are created and legalization grows everyone and they momma gonna need seeds to grow weed. Scotts will be one of the largest players in that space and deservingly so.

Real estate:

In order to grow marijuana some states have large plots of land to grow them. In many other states with limited acres, companies have been using Warehouses to grow them. States like Massachusetts have recently legalized marijuana and this has led to a massive growth in real estate leases for warehouses.

Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR) is a real estate investment trust that specializes in real estate particularly for marijuana growers. This company owns a large amount of real estate in Massachusetts and continues to grow their real estate portfolio in states like Colorado, as well as Maryland which is moving toward legalization. They are also retrofitting their warehouses to grow other types of holistic products.

GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH)

This company is a medicinal marijuana company that uses cannabis to create medicines. They're best known for their product called Sativex which is a spray that helps improve the conditions of individuals who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). They're currently working on a medicine that if approved would help children who suffer from epilepsy. They're one of the front runners in the Cannabis healthcare industry.

Zynerba Pharmaceuticals (ZYNE)

Zynerba is also a medical marijuana company who creates medicines made from cannabis. Some of the illnesses their medicines help adults with are epilepsy, osteoarthritis, fragile x syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other types of nerve pain. They're also working on medicines that will help with PTSD, autoimmune disorders, Chronic Cancer Pain, Pain in general, and GI disorders.

These are some of the top stocks for the industry in my opinion.

The more difficult, but very rewarding way:

Build your own business

As medical and recreational marijuana use becomes more legal there will be a demand for more growers, as well as more demands for the complimentary products involved with marijuana.

Accessories:

Rolling papers, bongs, bowls, trays and other products used to enjoy weed can be a business you can develop. Having a store front in your neighborhood is a great way to participate but if the up front costs are too high for you, start an online store. Currently you can start one and sell these products by using Facebook ads to target areas that have legal recreational use of marijuana is a great way to start until your state approves it. If you'd love an example of something like this take a look at LiveStoner.com

Blogging:

If you love to smoke and really love it (and it's legal where you are) start a site featuring different strands, teach people what is best for them, also you can showcase the newest products on your blog.

Distribution:

If you know a smokers in your area and are looking to make money, why not be the delivery person? Companies like Stemless are quickly becoming the Uber of weed by delivering it from dispensaries directly to the consumer.

Consumer products:

As mentioned before Hemp (weed) can be converted into consumer products. Lotions, hair grease, candles, can be created from these products and you can use your effective marketing skills to move your units.

Dumping:

As more dispensaries and medical marijuana facilities open there will be a need for proper dumping of the waste caused by the products. This is a strong play for you to build a client base and be that person. Whether you take this business and become a major player, or simply grow it enough to sell it to a company like Waste Management, money is here to be made y'all. Don't think you're too good to do this type of work 1-800 Got Junk? is a BILLION dollar company y'all.

So here are some of the keys. Read it, research it, plan it, share it with the homies, and GET THIS WEED MONEY.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Keep stackin that paper y'all,

CJB

Buying Back The Block

We currently live in interesting times. Many of the neighborhoods we grew up in are being gentrified. Remember when Bed Stuy was really do or die? Watching your childhood neighborhood turn into a gossip girl set can be frightening, especially when you're still living in it and feel like you're getting priced out. It's easy to feel hopeless, but to be real with y'all, not all hope is lost. There are ways for you to buy back the block. You can do it socially, by way of property, by way of business, and by way of government.

Socially:

Yeah, they aren't from here, but they're still people. Welcome the new people who have moved to your area. There's nothing scarier than moving somewhere new, and there's nothing more comfortable than your neighbors getting to know you. Get to know the new people that move there, help them get acquainted with the neighborhood, even offer them to go to the best local bar you know. By doing this you gain neighborhood influence, which allows you to retain some sort of control over what happens in your environment.

Some tools you can use to get to know new people in the area:

Reddit

Meetup

Block associations:

Every single block has a block association. These group of people usually help put together the block parties, work with local government on when garbage will be picked up, alternate side parking, you name it. Whether you own a home or are just renting, make sure you know who's on your block association, and when your meetings are. They are important. By knowing who's there you can help retain influence on what happens on your block, you also get to know other people on other block associations and build connections throughout the neighborhood.

Example:

In my previous apartment on St. Marks Ave in Park Slope in 2013 we had a huge rat problem. They were running the streets. No, literally running everywhere. Rats were literally sittin on people's stoops like stoop kid in Hey Arnold. Dead serious. I swear one time me and some friends were walking home and I think I caught the rats shootin' music video in the middle of the street.

 Got the footage of these damn rats shakin' & Bakin'

Got the footage of these damn rats shakin' & Bakin'

The entire block was over it. I found the chair of the block association and requested to hold a meeting. She did it. We held the meeting at a local library and every person on the block association board showed up. We sat together and came up with a plan, we decided to hire a surveyor to identify where the rat issues began, and to help us keep the rats at bay. As a block we contributed to pay for the surveyor. After researching he found that the construction of Barclays Center (around the corner smh) caused the rats to migrate to our block.

The solution?

He advised everyone on the block to change their garbage cans, bags, to place rat traps with poison, and to create better fencing for our homes. He also advised us to slow down on the gardening. So together as a block we followed his instruction. For the first few weeks you saw dead rats everywhere, and then over time the amount of rats decreased immensely.

This is just one way you can control the function of your block by being involved. It's not being in everyone's business, it's literally letting people know you live here, are from here and care about it just as much as they do.

Property:

 East New York

East New York

If you see abandoned/empty homes in your area, don't just look at it. Do something about it. Check your county department of buildings, or public records to see the current issue with the property. If it's in foreclosure, how much is the bank willing to let it go for? If the owner didn't pay taxes and got the home seized? Find out how much they owe and work together with people in the neighborhood to buy the property. Thousands of Delinquent Tax Auctions are happening everyday, it's time you get on that and start buying back your block.

If you want more information about buying property really take a look at a previous post on everything you can do to get a cheap home, you can literally buy a house for less than $5000 if you look carefully. Click ----------> here

Controlling who owns property in your area is an effective way of controlling who can and can't live in your area. The more property you own as a neighborhood, the more power you have. If you hear a good neighbor having payment trouble try to help them pay or if worse comes to worse, buy the property (as a group) and rent it to them. Like a good neighbor you should be there (Sings in State Farm Jingle).

Business:

Next time you enter your neighborhood ask yourself some questions:

Who owns the supermarket?

Who owns the local coffee shops?

Who owns the local bars?

Who owns the local restaurants?

Who owns or works at the local service industries in my neighborhood? Do they live here? Do I know them?

If you can't answer these questions, you need to start finding those answers.

These are the people who control your cost of living.

One of these people needs to be you, or people you know that live in the neighborhood.

In some states people are building relationships through services such as marijuana dispensary deliveries.

Marijuana Dispensaries, and services in that industry are one large way minorities are buying back their blocks. Because of the contacts they have in their local areas they have control over the distribution and consumer base in an area. Of course some of us do not live in states where marijuana is legal, but if you want to make an investment in marijuana you can take a look at some good old marijuana stocks. If you want to see a few good marijuana stocks click ----------> here

Next week I will go deep into detail about the ins and outs of the marijuana industry, what matters and what doesn't and what to watch out for.

The Local Detroit man trying to buy back his block:

ow if buying back your block seems like a heavy lift for you, but you'd love to contribute to someone else buying back their block meet Raphael Wright.

 @faira_rafa on all social media sites. rafawright.com

@faira_rafa on all social media sites. rafawright.com

Raphael is a guy who grew up in Detroit, but watched his city fall apart and go bankrupt and is currently watching his city being carved up for real estate developers to come in and build everywhere (sound familiar?). But instead of allowing them to build there and not have any say, he is raising money to buy a property to build an organic grocery store in his neighborhood of Detroit. Son is really out here Raising Benjamin's.

His story as been featured in Huffington Post, here is a link to his GoFundMe if you'd like to donate to his mission of buying back the block click -------> here

This is also a model you can work off of when buying back your block. If you can donate anything that would be dope, but if you can't at the very least share this link ------> bit.ly/raphaelwrightstore

And last but not least The Government:

Yeah, we hear it all the time "Government doesn't work." But in all actuality, it does. We just don't put pressure on our local elected officials. I've seen people get free housing, win the housing lottery, get free NYC Transit for a year, get jobs, even I personally got my passport expedited for the low (got it in 3hrs for under $100), by contacting a local elected official. Voting for these individuals and building relationships with them will help you gain a strong understanding of what's going on in your neighborhood and how you can take advantage of it. These elected officials are here to serve you. You. Are. Their. Boss.

The only way you can put pressure on your local elected officials is if you know who they are. So today I want to help you do that. I am personally going to locate your local elected officials and send you all of the information to get in contact with them.

If you're interested in finding out who your local elected officials are click -----> here

It's very possible to control your environment and buy back your block. You just have to be diligent, consistent, and solution oriented. We should not stand idle while we lose representation in our neighborhoods. We need to own where we live. I hope these words have inspired you and see you next week so we can get this weed money.

Keep Stacking That Paper Y'all,

CJB

PS: Don't forget we have the BLACK WEALTH hats available on the website. If you want one click--------> here (or the photo below, you choose)

The Art Collector Come Up

We all love art, we all want to collect art, but the way these budgets be smh. First of all let’s get this straight. If you’re a part of the Cash Conglomerate, you can afford anything dawg. Where there is a will, there is a way. Never take “No” for an answer when it comes to an investment opportunity. Today we become Art collectors, but we’re not just buying art because it’s pretty, we’re doing this sh*t to have dope art and to get rich. Yes, we’re broke, but watch this finesse.

Why Is Art important? How does it's value affect me?

Art is important because it is a visual storyteller of history. Without the cave paintings we wouldn't know how the earliest humans communicated and lived. Without lit ass hieroglyphics, it would be more difficult for us to understand how brilliant the Ancient Egyptians were. Art provides a different perspective than our history books, sometimes it's even more accurate. 

The current Art market as a whole is valued at over $75 Billion dollars and is poised to increase within the next few decades. Art is a big player in this world and can create wealth for any collector. Having art in a home can increase the value of the home when appraised for it. There's huge buyers, sellers, and agents, so the world is literally your oyster. Just play the game right.

It’s rules to this game. Like every investment buying art is a risk, you win some and you lose some. The cool thing about art is that if you’re not able to sell a piece at least you have a beautiful piece of work in your home. So let’s go through the steps:

Pick a focus

Remember, what makes art important is that it tells the story of a time. The best way to be an effective art collector is to figure out the type of story you want to tell. Find a time, and type of art you love and do the education. Be as specific as you can. For example “Black sculptures from (LA, New York, Chicago) during the great migration". Learn about the culture from that time, visit the places mentioned, visit their museums, learn about the sculptors, and try to locate their families and whatever artifacts you can find. By learning about a specific time in history and collecting the artifacts of that time, you become an expert in that particular time, and can do a better job in increasing the value of your own collection (the gems for this will come later). Think of your collection of art like a product that you’re going to sell. It literally is that, and it’s up to you to sell it properly and to control the value of your collection. The key to getting rich in the art game is to find a particular space and buy as much art as you can in it, by doing this you can control the value of all of the pieces available.

Pick your poison:

 

There are a few ways to build a collection:

Buy unrecognized art.

 Basquiat's street name before he became famous.

Basquiat's street name before he became famous.

Buy art from artists who people don’t know well but is great art at a very affordable price. Usually you can score these pieces for under $200. If your collection is sold properly, and the artist becomes recognized, the come up can be crazy. In short this move is "diamond in the rough". In today’s world building value with unrecognized art is much easier because of social media. If you see an artist has drive, invest in them and make your flip. Make sure every piece you buy is numbered. The more limited the better.

Buy recognized art.

The Basquiat's This is for the ballers, or the folks who are well connected in the art world, and are able to get in the auction game. This ain’t for us, but if your parents go it, go for it. The returns on this side are very very high, also its much easier to build a name for yourself then reinvest in unrecognized art and become a promoter of it. This requires the same diligence. Find a period of time you want to become an expert in and become the primary buyer in this space. Make sure every piece you have is numbered.

The keys to increasing the value of your collection:

Lend out your collection to galleries and museums:

If people don’t know your art, and don’t see your art, how will they know that it’s lit and is worth anything? With scores of new galleries opening, and social media it’s much easier to get your art out there and show people how important your collection is. Beware: Pieces get damaged. Get your art insured. One out of every 10 pieces gets damaged moving from one place to another. But this is an effective way to getting your art collection recognized.

If you don’t have the connects to galleries and museums:

Use your home:

Curate your collection, and call the homies over. Host an open house, serve wine, crackers, cheese, blast a bunch of Lil Wayne, and get lit. This is the cheapest way you can possibly get your collection recognized. Also invite journalists so they can publish pictures of your collection in their publications and bring notoriety over. Create an Instagram page and showcase your collection.

@TheCultureLP:

The Culture LP is a network of artists that host curated art events around the country. They also help people find dope & affordable art for their collections. The folks over at that organization are really easy to get in contact with and are extremely helpful. They also host this monthly event at Kinfolk called NVRSLEEP: (Click the photo to RSVP its Free, drinks be like $3 dollars each. Its lit)

Come party with them, mix and mingle with cool art folks, get some advice on building your collection, and stunt a little bit with that tax money.

The Art Print Game:

 Naturel's Picasso Stevie

Naturel's Picasso Stevie

There’s art on canvas and art on prints. Usually because of the effort involved with printing art, it costs significantly less to buy prints. The value on prints usually appreciate about 15% to 20% per year. Although you won’t get the bang for your buck up front, but if you build a substantial print collection you can make quite a penny in the long term. Now with prints, you don’t need to necessarily have a focus, but it’s good to find an artist or group of artists that have a very limited print collection. Buy as much as you can afford, showcase those pieces and move them bad boys.

Many big name artists release their prints for under $500.

A few websites to work with in when it comes to buying art: 

1xrun:

Since 2010 1XRun has been a great source of buying art in general, but their prints department is the dopest i’ve ever seen. I’ve purchased quite a number of piece from there and have enjoyed every single one.

Instagram:

If you see an artist you like… Slide in their DM’s and talk prices. Artists are people, they love you, but don’t forget to respect their craft. Don’t jump in the DM’s low balling folks.

Vango Art: 

Vango is an app that allows you to buy art specifically from emerging artists. This is a great tool when researching your art focus and seeing the value of art pieces in that space.

Some notable artists:

Ronald Draper 

Don’t forget, when buying art you need to buy with intent. Know why you’re buying it, know how it adds value to your collection, and know how you’re going to sell it. Become knowledgeable in your focus area and get your money. Also most importantly, enjoy this process. Art is primarily for enjoyment, it’s just even more fun when you’re making hella money.

Hope ya’ll enjoyed this and start collecting. Until next time.

Keep Stackin’ that paper ya’ll,

CJB

The Game of Life:

Damn right it's another board game reference, cause these board games teach us the values necessary to making it through life. Also because my nerdy ass loves board games and people don't play enough with me :(. Another one of my favorite board games is the game of LIFE. Although it doesn't focus on one subject like monopoly, it teaches us that life is more than just managing real estate, and investments, but that every decision we make is important to our lives and our loved ones. This game also shows us that this life is a mixture of preparation and luck, and that the more prepared (the better decisions you make) you are the luckier you get. So this week we will get prepared for the inevitable by getting a crash course on life insurance.

I know this shit is grim, but until Google completes the Calico project, we have to plan for death to continue rearing its ugly head. To be honest, as much as I love y'all I don't want to be out here donating to your Gofundme accounts because you weren't responsible enough to get some sort of life insurance.

Although associated with death if done properly your life insurance policy can actually be very beneficial to you while you're alive. It can get you approved for loans, it can be a source of funding for your business, it can even be used as an asset. Today we will learn how some of these types of life insurance products work and how each can be advantageous to us. We will learn what strategies we can use to maximize our wealth, pay the least amount in payments, and leave a great estate when we're gone.

Disclaimer: Because of how detailed each type of policy can be, we will only cover these in a broad sense cause I can't have y'all here on RB all day I know y'all got shit to do. But if you need more details see an agent, but use this post as ammo so you can ask better questions and make very informed decisions.

Whole life insurance:

Some call this straight life insurance others call it whole life insurance. In short this type of insurance has only one term, from the moment you get it to the day you die. This is the type of insurance that costs slightly more but is very beneficial when you sign up at a younger age. With a whole life insurance you can borrow against your policy to invest in your business, or pay for tuition for example. It's always smart to borrow from this type of policy because the interest rates are lower than your standard interest rate on the market.

There are a few types of whole life insurance:

Ordinary:

The standard type of life insurance. You pay one premium for a fixed policy your whole life until you die. It comes with a savings element that allows you to earn dividend payments from the insurance company over time.

Universal/adjustable:

This type allows you to increase the size of your pay out when you die if you pass a medical exam. It also comes with a savings element that earns interest. You can use the earned interest as payment if you can't pay one month so your policy doesn't lapse.

Variable life:

Allows you to use your life insurance to invest in the stock market. It's riskier, but you can earn money on top of the policy.

Variable-universal:

The mix between the 2 previous options. You get the investment option and you also get to adjust your payments based upon your economic situation so you don't lose your policy.

The next type of insurance is.... Term Life insurance:

This type of life insurance allows you to have life insurance for a shorter period of time. The standard is usually 10 years. After the term is up you have to reapply for another term. This means you have to take another physical every 10 years which means your premiums are likely to increase every 10 years. The older you get the higher the risk that you will die.

The two main types of term life insurance are:

Level term:

The policy pay out stays the same the entire 10 years. If you get a policy for 100k it is 100k for all 10 years.

Decreasing term:

The policy pay out decreases each year throughout the term. So year one it's 100k, year 2 it's 90k, and so on.

For the crib....

Mortgage Cancelling Life insurance:

This insurance is a promise that will pay off the remainder of your mortgage if you die. So typically the term on this type of insurance is as long as you have a mortgage to pay.

Tip: Find out if your mortgage cancelling insurance payments decrease over time. This is important because as you pay down your mortgage the value of the policy loses value. This loss in value should reflect in monthly payments. You can also refinance your mortgage life insurance as your pay down your mortgage.

The Term life v. Whole life battle:

Some say term is better than whole life, some say whole life is better than term life. I say it depends on your age, health, and your forward outlook.

The younger the better for whole life insurance. Getting a whole life insurance in your 20s is more useful because you get to take advantage of the perks that come with it. Although the payouts are smaller the benefits work out when it comes to borrowing against it or using it as an asset.

A term life insurance works better when you're older because the payments are cheaper and the payments are larger for the price. The downside is that you have to take a physical every 10 years for a new policy, and if you get sick or don't pass your physical you can get denied life insurance. So it's riskier.

For the kids:

It's grim to think about life this way, but being prepared is key. Get a Gerber life insurance for your child when they are born. The cost is only $5 a month for a $15k policy. It's whole life insurance for your child. You can also pass this life insurance onto your child when they're old enough to make the payments themselves. They also can use that same policy and increase the payout for themselves at a much lower rate than signing up for a new policy. Being a responsible parent and winning the game of life costs less than a Netflix subscription every month.

Strategies:

Ain't nothing wrong with mixing and matching. You don't have to choose one policy and stick to it. Here's how I approach life insurance:

I currently have a whole life policy that covers my funeral costs and my student loans.

When I get married I'm going purchase a term life insurance that I will give my wife a payout if I pass away, that I will update every 5 years based on how our marriage is doing.

When we buy a home together we will each have mortgage cancellation insurance to pay off the mortgage should anything happen to any of us. This policy will be updated every 5 years because of the amount of money we will be paying down on the mortgage over time.

When we have children we will get Gerber life insurance for each child and pay that for them until they are old enough to inherit the policy and move forward.

Although it sounds expensive but the total of these policies can equal to less than 80 dollars a month.

According to Reliaquote.com

I can currently get a Term life policy for 100k (the minimum) for $8.03 a month. My current whole life policy costs me about $30 a month for a 75k payout

Right now we're at $38.03 For a policy total of 175k.

That's less than your cell phone bill.

The part we always forget:

Insurance approvals and monthly payments are based on your physical. If you do not pass your physical it will be difficult to obtain a policy.

Here are some hacks to increase your chances at passing your physical.

Eat better: You should be doing this anyway, but eating your fruits and veggies helps you pass your physical.

Stop smoking: You should be doing this anyway. If you don't smoke, this ain't a problem for you.

Take your physicals in the morning before breakfast. Our bodies are fresh and fasted.

A week before the physical:

Chill on the salt. High sodium gives vibes of high blood pressure, that leads to higher payments.

No liquor. Alcohol reflects poorly on physical exams.

Get a copy of the health questions that will be on the exam and answer them before you go. This will help you answer them better on the day of your physical.

If you're sick on the day of the physical, stay that ass at home. Don't be a hero and mess your money up.

If you fail your physical:

The world isn't over. Find an insurance agent. This process will cost you more but they can find a company that will strike a deal with you.

Other options:

Life insurance with your job:

This is usually standard with companies but the term ends when your tenure with the company ends.

Group life insurance:

Volunteering with the fire or police departments can earn you life insurance for free or for cheap. Some unions also provide life insurance for people who decide to join.

Getting insurance is necessary yall. You get insurance for your car, for your phone, why wouldn't you insure your life? Although we've barely scratched the surface on this subject, I hope this puts you on the right track to asking the right questions. I wrote this because I care about you, your wealth, and the wealth of those who love you.

Speaking of Wealth....

The hats you've all been waiting for are here!

When I first created this newsletter, the objective was to change our relationship with money. This collection embodies that, it shows us that our history is not only one of struggle, but also one of Wealth. Black Wealth.

Click the photo below to preorder the Wealth Collection by RaisingBenjamin.com

Buy, enjoy your hats, and most importantly,

Keep Stacking that paper y'all,

CJB

Real Money in Real Estate.....

If you ever want to get to know me, or just get on my good side, play me in a game of Monopoly. It is my favorite game in the world. My Monopoly set is also one of my most important possessions. As a child I would play with my Dad, and he made the experience more than just a game, it was a learning experience. Monopoly helped form my world view, and today I am going to share it with you. So lets start with some stats.

Over 60% of Americans wealth is built on the equity of their home. Most Americans Net Worth is baked into the equity they have in their home. A high number of those Americans only own 1 home. Also most of these homes are 2 family or less. So in short, most of y'all are playing games instead of building real wealth.

 

Owning a home is one of America's greatest past times. It has always been a symbol of class, mobility and status. To the point that many of the people in the generation before us decided to buy one they couldn't afford and lost it in 2008. This caused many people to be homeless or underwater in their mortgages and probably turned us all off to the real estate game. The issue is that you've been taught to play the game all wrong. So today, we learn how to play the game right.

Real Estate: What is it?

According to Wikipedia Real Estate is "property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more generally) buildings or housing in general. Also: the business of real estate; the profession of buying, selling, or renting land, buildings or housing."

In short it's making a business out of property. You can own the property, rent the property, not even be in or near the property to make money off of it. There's an opportunity in it no matter what. For example... Airbnb is one of the largest profiteers off of real estate and it doesn't own any property.

So how do I get started?

Everything in business depends on 3 things:

1. Time commitment

2. How much money you have

3. Your goals

These 3 are a balancing act that give you a result. Success. Real estate is no different. If you don't have time, you better have money. If you have lots of time, you don't necessarily need to have much money. If you don't have time, or money, you better be humble with them goals.

Be flexible with these 3 and success will come your way.

Now you can get started in a number of ways. You can become a licensed real estate broker, you can invest in properties on your own, you can invest in real estate through the stock market and many more.

Let's start with the easiest:

Investing through the stock market.

Real Estate Investment Trusts:

A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a company that invests in income producing real estate. Their real estate portfolio may vary. It can be a portfolio of shopping centers, mortgages, rental properties, office spaces, and many others. This portfolio is then calculated to a single dollar amount that you can buy into in the stock market.

Here is a list of REITs you can invest in today..... REIT List

Now if you're unsure of which REIT to pick don't worry, you can also invest in this exchange traded fund (ETF) that invests in a number of Real Estate investment Trusts you can check out the actual fund and everything it invests in here-----> VNQ:US

If you need info or just a better understanding shoot me an email, or hit me on twitter about these.

Buying physical real estate.

This is the part that people tend to run away from. You do not need to be rich to invest in physical real estate. There are many places you can buy real estate for cheap.

Real Estate Owned:

So here's the scoop. When a bank forecloses on a home the property is still on their books. The bank has to service the property. Basically the bank is taking a loss on the house so the best thing for them to do is to sell the house as soon as possible. So today I'm giving you the databases where they have all of the properties for sale. Pick a place, and see everything for sale. They're usually significantly cheaper than the average home price in that vicinity.

Chase

https://servicing.chase.com/REO/Property/AdvancedSearch

Bank of America

http://foreclosures.bankofamerica.com/real_estate_owned

Wells Fargo

https://reo.wellsfargo.com/Home-Search.aspx

Citibank

https://citimortgage.res.net/

Citizens Bank

https://ctbconnect.com/residential-bank-owned-assets/

Delinquent tax auctions:

These auctions are for homes who haven't paid their taxes. All you have to do is participate in the auction and pay the tax debt on the home. Then it's basically yours.

All real estate information is public for everyone everywhere. Unless you buy the home as an LLC.

Why buy as an LLC?

Sadly in America a corporation has more rights than people. So instead of being upset about it, take advantage of it. Buying a home as an LLC shelters your personal assets, allows you to keep the information private, and allows you to get loans easier. For example if you purchase a home as an LLC and lose it, the home doesn't affect your personal credit or personal assets. Your company can declare bankruptcy, you personally can have a damn 800 credit score.

How To Know Where To Go

Follow the fast food chains.

 

McDonald's, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, they don't open up in places where there isn't people. If you visit the franchise side of all of these areas you can find out where they are opening up aggressively.

Dunkin' Donuts for example ----> http://www.dunkinfranchising.com/franchisee/en/whatsavailable.html

Follow the developers.

Many development companies release their books publicly and this information tells you where their new projects are.

What to buy?

Millions of Americans make this mistake. Owning this...

Without owning anything else.

The money in real estate comes from income. You can't have income in a home that only you in your family live in. Get started by buying a multiple family home.

Buy a townhouse

With multiple units.

If you think I'm nuts.... meet Mark

Mark Scott is a Licenced Real Estate Person. He knows the ins and outs of real estate and how to buy a home from scratch.

His website is ----> http://thecoffergroup.com/mark-scott.html

Personal number (347) 739-2521

Hit him up for home sales, apartments, whatever you need that involves living in something.

Mark is a 2nd generation real estate guy. His parents owned 7 brownstones in the Bed Stuy, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights areas. So growing up in real estate and learning from his parents he's a wealth of knowledge when it comes to executing real estate transactions.

Advice from Mark

"You don't need to be Rockefeller to own a house. My parents came from humble beginnings, with blue collar jobs. They hustled & made their money work for them. The house I was born in was a multi-family. We lived in the duplex & rented the top two floors. Ideally, you want the rental revenue to pay for the mortgage. NYC is high right now so reach out to these underdeveloped cities like Philly, Baltimore & Detroit (no offense) & do the research on the rental market to see if it makes fiscal sense to purchase & rent out. Most, if not all, real estate transactions is public information so it's not hard to get your foot in the door (no pun). " - Mark Scott

Anything is possible y'all. Being wealthy isn't impossible, living comfortably is not something rare and far away. The keys are here and me & Mark are here to help. There is so much more to this game, we just hit the tip of the iceberg. There is more to come.

Take these notes and put it to work. Until next time.

Keep Stacking your paper y'all,

CJB

Come Get These Rates....

So something that doesn't happen often happened last week. The Federal Reserve Bank (aka America's Central Bank) decided to raise their federal funds interest rate to the range of 0.75% to 1.00% from the range of .25% to .50%. To put this rare occasion in perspective, the federal reserve raised its rate only 2 times since this dropped

Yep. This is only the 3rd time since 2006 that the federal reserve has raised its funds interest rate. So....

What the f*ck is the federal reserve?

Everyone makes the Federal Reserve to be this black box that controls money. The federal reserve is actually not one single building. It's a system. A system that has 2 jobs:

1. Prevent Inflation. (Make sure money doesn't lose value)

2. Keep unemployment low.

The federal reserve system is broken up into 12 districts:

The entire Federal Reserve System has a Chairman and her name is Janet Yellen AKA That cute lady in the picture at the beginning of this post. Each district is run by governors. These governors sit together along with the Chairman as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and vote on what the federal funds interest rate will be.

What's so important about this fed funds rate and why do I give a sh*t?

The federal funds rate is the interest rate banks lend money to other banks. It's also the base rate banks use decide the interest rate they will charge you for your student loans, your mortgage, your credit cards, small business loans, home equity lines of credit, and any other type of loans.

So how does the newest fed funds rate increase affect you?

With this new interest rate hike banks plan on increasing the interest rates of all adjustable, and variable rate loans. This also means fees on loans will increase. To give you a real life perspective it kind of looks like this:

If you currently have a $25,000 loan at 5% for 10 years your current payment is:

$25,000

5%

10 years (120 months)

$265 a month

Total cost of loan = $31,820

Now with the fed funds interest rate increase:

$25,000

5.25 -.50

10 years (120 months)

$271

Total Cost of Loan= $32,558

Mind you that's just your student loan. If you also have a credit card, or mortgage imagine a rate increase on all of these loans together? Life could get hella crazy.

How do I avoid the increase?

Refinance your loans.

Take advantage of good behavior. If you've been making your payments, refinance for a lower rate with your current bank. Banks love people who pay their bills and they reward them by dishing out lower rates when requested.

Refinance with a competitor.

Nothing hurts a bank more than when you leave them behind for another competitor. Use this to your advantage. Whether you stay with your current bank by negotiating for a lower rate or moving to a new bank for a lower rate all that matters is that YOU WIN.

Some banks to look at that are friendly with refinancing.

SoFi

SoFi (short for Social Finance inc) is an online bank founded in 2011 that focuses on Millennial banking. Their approach to banking is to help make student loans affordable. Within the last year they have moved to personal loans as well.

CommonBond

CommonBond pairs student loans with investors. It also works with schools to lend money to MBA students.

Citizen's Bank

Although it isn't a new startup bank, Citizen's bank has been aggressively looking to refinance student loans and credit cards.

This link also shows you other banks that are offering refinancing for student loans and their current rates ------> GEM 

Remember y'all, our goal is to constantly find the best deals, and to stay on top of our money. Being active investors and deal searches saves you so much money in the long run.

Keep Stacking that paper y'all,

CJB

PS: To be honest, I'm not sure if the Federal Reserve is the illuminati or not, That's some top secret government clearance information and I don't have access to that.................. yet. 

401k Bars

So last week I was featured on a podcast. (If you haven't heard it, listen to it -----> here) While conversing about some of the reasons why many minorities have issues with money a sentence by me shot that led to my text messages being on fire and my apartment frequented by a few folks this past weekend. "Some folks don't even know that their 401k's invest in prison stock." I didn't know it at the time but that statement was a wake up call for a number of people, especially those with 401k's. So over the weekend I received a number of calls and visits from people who wanted to understand how their 401k's work and how they can take control of their money. So let's start with the basics....

What is a 401k?

In simplest terms a 401k is a retirement plan that is sponsored by your employer. It allows you to take a percentage of your salary (usually taken every pay period) and defer it to that plan for your retirement. Most employers match your deferment up to 5%. 401k's are invested into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other financial instruments that are allowed by your summary plan description.

WTF is a Summary Plan Description?

A summary plan description or "governing plan document" is a document that tells you what can and can't be invested in with your money. In short it's all the rules. This document will tell you what type of 401k you have, what's allowed, what's not allowed, how money will be invested. All of the details are in this plan.

So how does this sh!t work?

Basically you put a part of your check in this account every pay period until you retire. Your money is invested over the time period and by the time you retire you should have a good nest egg to retire with. You're not allowed to take the money out until 59 1/2. If you do take the money out before 59 1/2 you will suffer a penalty as well as pay a high amount of taxes on the money.

Why is this good for me?

Your money gets taken out of your check every pay period, you barely feel it, most employers match the money for free (up to 5%) in short if you put $1000 your employer will put $1000 in for you... for free, and the portfolio is managed by someone who is certified to do so. It doesn't guarantee that you'll be rich in 30-40 years but it's better than putting your money in a mattress. And you get to invest your money tax-free

Things to look out for....

How is my money being invested?

You need to know which stocks, bonds, and mutual funds your money is being invested in. Early in the process you can choose the types of investments you'd like to be invested in. Request your Summary Plan Description, and if there are specific investments you don't want to make, let your Human Resources department know so.

Can they change my investments over time without my permission? And if so, will they do so?

Some sponsors automatically choose/change your investment choices for you and are allowed to do so. If you elect to have more control over your account you can have that discussion with them as well. Some mutual funds that are invested in with your money actually hold stocks in prisons and you can choose to not invest your money in those if you don't want to. 

Many people actually invest in prisons accidentally through this mechanism. In doing so they contribute to the prison industrial complex that has imprisoned so many minorities in the last 35 years.

Can I take my money out?

There are ways to get out of your 401k, but you'll have to take a serious tax hit. Some plans will allow you to withdraw your money if you can provide proof of hardship (you going through some serious sh!t), or was recently placed on disability. If you do want to take money out without suffering a penalty, you can borrow money from yourself and pay yourself back by increasing your payments. You can borrow your money from your 401k tax free.

There are other types of retirement plans other employers use but they operate in a similar fashion. The devil does live in the details so be very aware. If you ever need any help, reach out to your boy.

Keep stacking that paper,

CJB

 

Flippin' That Tax....

The other side of tax season is Tax returns. And we alllllll know what we do with that check....

We buy all of the things we wanted to get but could not afford to buy all at once. We suddenly eat at the restaurant we've been dying to visit because all of the ballers on Instagram have been eating there. We even poke eyes at that Louie luggage we saw retweeted on twitter a few times. Well today I'm here to tell you, ITS GOTTA STOP. NOT THIS YEAR.

This year we're going to treat our tax return a little differently. We're going to have to feel a little pain, but the benefits are going to be plentiful, and you'll be looking back at this year like "2017 was the year I actually started gettin' my money right"....

How could one pass up the opportunity to put this in here

So as you sit down patiently waiting for your return to come and thinking about what you want to buy consider these options:

(Warning everything in here is about investing in yourself)

START A BUSINESS

jobs and woz.jpg

Remember that idea you had? The one that you said would make a great business if you decided to put some money into it? This tax return might actually be the sign from the universe that you should get things started. Use your tax return to create a sample or a minimum viable product (link to definition) for the business idea you had. Imagine seeing your business take off and remembering that it all started because you decided to invest the tax return that you were about to use on Gucci Flip Flops.

RE-UP FROM THE CONNECT

For my folks who have already started a business. It's time to level up, your expansion opportunity lies in this tax return. There are so many opportunities with this money. It's time to do some research & development. It's time to contract some money to a digital marketer, or learn how to be one by investing in a class. It's time to start using Facebook and Instagram effectively by dabbling with Facebook ads (hyperlink fb ads). If you have a large twitter following, twitter ads is also a viable option to help promote your business. These ad platforms are exclusive to big businesses YOU CAN USE THEM TOO.

Another option is to level up your tool box. Purchase more tools for you to grow your business. This is how big corporations do, it's time for you to treat yourself like one so you can compete with them. The other win is that you can do all of these activities and then WRITE THESE SAME EXPENSES OFF NEXT YEAR FOR YOUR TAXES. In my book that's a win-win.

CREATE A SIDE HUSTLE.

There is not one wealthy individual on the planet, I repeat, on the planet, that doesn't have multiple streams of income. It all starts with using your talents and available time and creating a side hustle. There's no faster way, and no better opportunity to grow your abilities than by investing in your side hustle with your tax return money. It's basically a head start. You can look into your own talents, whether it's DJing, braiding hair, or doing design work on the side. Buy the tools you need to get started. If you don't necessarily have any special talents you can do a few things.

Drive Lyft:

Free at night or on the weekends? Why not earn some extra money instead of scrolling up and down Instagram all day? I have a neighbor who earns at the minimum $1500 a week driving Lyft and he initially invested less than $1000 dollars to start. If you would like more info on him I can definitely create a segment where I'll interview him or other drivers so you can hear their stories. Email me/reach out.

SKILLSHARE:

Skillshare is a website where you can take classes to learn many different skills. These classes are taught by regular folks like you & me and by experts as well. The price ranges vary, some are free, I have seen some reach $100. It's necessary to improve your skills in this climate because you never know how these skills can lead you to a new and promising career.

INVEST IN A BUSINESS:

I mean actually invest in a business that you physically know. Within your crew could be the next Steve Jobs, Diddy, or Warren Buffett. The earlier you invest in someone's business the more shares you can own, so the moment they hit the big time you're getting paid a big check as well. Also, nothing screams friendship or trust larger than "Hey I believe in your vision, let me invest in your idea." A school invested $15,000 in Snapchat and got a $48 million dollar payout when they went public. Your friend could be working on the next Snapchat, and you could be that next school. This also creates the structure for the next step.

CREATE PASSIVE INCOME:

I don't mean to be DJ Khaled but this right here is a major key. They always say that the best way to make money is in your sleep. One effective way to do this is to create passive income. You can do this is many ways and don't necessarily need to have a large amount of money to begin this process. If you check back in the email I attached an amazing link that shows you some dope opportunities for creating passive income and not breaking the bank.

Last but not least.... BUILD A STOCK PORTFOLIO.

If you're betting that the future in America will be better than today, then get paid for that by investing in the stock market. For many people investing in the market can make them nervous but it has been statistically proven that you make more money being in the stock market than keeping your money under your mattress. People who take risks get rewarded for taking them, and you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. If you're interested in getting started in the market check out my previous email: Stock Market 101 (insert link)

This year is the year to extend your empire, you and I both know you want to ball out later in life. If that is the case you have to put that work in the gym. Make your sacrifice this year and invest that tax return. You have the blueprint, so now it's time to win.

Keep stacking that paper y'all,

CJB

The 5 Tax Commandments (Whaaaaa)

tax seinfeld.gif

Before we begin, I want to give a quick shoutout to @Taxstone. Although his journey hasn’t been the most perfect, his impact on our culture in recent years has been enormous. When his name comes to mind, the extremely funny things he has said and done are instantly remembered, but within those words and actions are actual statements that many young men in our neighborhoods need to hear. He may not have been the model citizen his entire life, but he has taken the lessons learned from his sins and tried to create a positive outlet to shape, and reshape the minds of young men so that they may stray away from making the same mistakes he made. This one’s for you, I’m sure if this was your realm, you’d have an episode about this one too. To Brooklyn's own, Tax, Innocent until proven Guilty. #FreeTax

It’s Tax Season. The time of year when we get refunded the money the government borrowed from us for free back without interest. Ironically, many of us leave money on the table every single year. So today we’re going to play the tax game differently, we’re going to play it like the rich. Here are some commandments to follow to get the most out of your taxes this year.

 

1. DO NOT USE FREE ONLINE APPS TO FILE YOUR TAXES!

Turbotax, H&R block apps, all that crap. DO NOT USE IT. This is hands down the worst thing you can do. Get yourself a tax professional, if possible find an accountant, or a tax lawyer. If you can, try to find both in one person (those are the true savages). Using online services is the number 1 reason why millions of people are missing out on tax credits that the governments you to take advantage of. Millions of Americans missed out on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) simply because they used one of these apps and didn’t know they were eligible for the credit. Law No. 40 in the 48 laws of power says “despise the free lunch”. And these apps, are the very free lunch you should despise. If you think I’m lying, the IRS said it themselves dawg.

2. Be Organized.

Be sure to have all of your documents ready to go. All of your w-2’s, 1099s, Student loan tax sheets, investments, property, kids, other people’s kids (I’m kidding, stop claiming other people’s kids please), just make sure you have your manila folders, or binders ready. The more organized you are the much better you will be in finding places you can take advantage.

3. Know your advantages before you reach your tax professional.

If you have an LLC, be sure to go in with the mindset of taking full advantage of that, do your homework before you even reach your professional. The more ideas you bring to your professional the more creative they can be. If you have student loans, or went to school this year, make sure you go with the mindset that you’re going to take receipts of all books you purchased for your education (Notice how I said all books for your education).

4. Ask 9 Million Questions: Annoy your tax professional. Trust me, they like it. Taxes are usually a boring subject and tax professionals aren’t usually regarded as rockstars, so they really appreciate sharing their knowledge when they can. Unsure of which questions to ask? You can start with this set.

  • What Business Expenses can I deduct?

  • Did any Tax regulation change this year? How is my business affected?

  • Can I deduct the cost of my health insurance? 401k? Retirement?

  • If I didn’t sell my stock this year, do I still have to pay capital gains?

  • What legal structure is the most advantageous for me and/or my business?

  • What receipts and other paperwork should I keep throughout the year?

  • How do I save even more on taxes next year?

  • I plan on doing x, y, or z this year, how will this affect my taxes? Is there a way for me to avoid some costs ahead of time?

  • What income tax credits do most people miss? Am I eligible for them?

  • I gave money away to charity, gofundme, kickstarter, etc. can I claim that on taxes? If so, how do I go about that?

5. Create a list of big things that happened this year and check to see if you have proof of costs for those.

 

Did you move this year? Can you prove that you did, do you have any receipts for your moving expenses? GET THAT.

Did you get a new job this year? Did you pay to search for that job? Bought new clothes for the job? Bought a Metrocard to get there? Do you have the receipts? GET THAT

Did you have a child? Do you have child care expenses? GET THAT!

Did you get sick this year? Did you have to purchase medicine? Did you go to the hospital? Did you come out of pocket for any medical expenses? GET THAT!!!!!

Did you buy LED light bulbs or any energy saving devices for your home? Do you have the receipt? GET THAT!

Bring the entire bag when it comes to your tax professional. The tax code is enormous and there are write-off possibilities everywhere. You’re looking at the kid who wrote off all of his books, then sold the same books in college to the book store essentially getting all of the costs of books back in total by the end of year.

The game is here for y’all to take advantage of. If you don’t take advantage of it, it will take advantage of you. If you have any questions, you know where to find me…. @cjoeblack anywhere and everywhere or simply reply to this email.

Next week we will cover what you can do with your Tax return money!

Keep stacking your paper y’all,

CJB

Presidentin' on a Budget

Even though our current President ain’t all that, it’s necessary to celebrate all the old heads that helped this country be what it is today. It may not be in the best shape it could be, but it’s what we’ve got for now. In the spirit of the holiday I’ve decided to release an early little nugget so you can enjoy your day off.

We all want to ball. Roll around in the back of a suburban, shades on, telling the driver “Pick up the homies. I’m gonna call and tell them I’m outside”. But the downside to it all is that living this lifestyle is extremely expensive. Well y’all, it doesn’t have to be. These small hacks can help you live like a president and save dough at the same time.

 

LET'S TALK ABOUT CARS:

You want a ballin’ ass whip, sick sound system, and still have money in the bank? BUY YOUR CAR USED. DO NOT buy a brand new car AT ALL. As soon as your drive the car off of the lot the car is immediately worth less than the price you paid for it. This is called depreciation. I’m sure some of us know this already, but for those who don’t. On average cars lose one third of their value within the FIRST YEAR of ownership. So if you bought a car for $30,000 last year, it’s only worth $20,000 right now. The Absolute worst thing you can do is borrow money to buy the car. A car note is the enemy, point blank, period. Wise words from my the car OG @DuckSauceandKetchup, buy yourself something nice from craigslist for under $10k cash and make the necessary adjustments over time.

Make friends with a mechanic:

Over time it would cost you less to buy a used car and fix it, than it would actually cost you to purchase a new one.

The average life-span of a vehicle is 10 years. So why pay full price for a car, when by buying on year 3/4 you can buy it for almost half price and still have it for more than half the time? If you don’t believe me, let the car industry tell it

If you run into issues, your car mechanic friend can hook you up for the low or hit @DuckSauceandKetchup

LET'S TALK ABOUT BAE: 

 

Ah...The necessary part of love. Some people are lucky enough to find one that doesn’t like to do much, and that’s completely fine. But for the rest of us who haven’t, we have to improvise. Treating your Michelle doesn’t have to be expensive if you’re creative.

This is the 2016 New York Cheap Eats List <--------

 Not in the list, but one of my favorite places to eat. Never paid over $80 here. Jack's Wife Freda.

Not in the list, but one of my favorite places to eat. Never paid over $80 here. Jack's Wife Freda.

Don’t do anything else until you finish the restaurants under this list. Dinner for 2 at these places run under 80 dollars. If you passed 80 dollars on here dawg I don’t know what you were doing.

Ice Cream.

No matter what time of year it is…. PEOPLE LOVE ICE CREAM

Although this list shows ice cream for $20 don’t believe the hype, I’ve gone to each of these places and have gotten ice cream for under 7 dollars per person. There’s also vegan ice cream options for people who are lactose intolerant. Get your shine on.

Art.

ID NYC gives you FREE access to ALL, yes I said, ALL of the Museums in New York City. For you and 1 other person.

Also take a visit to @TheCultureLP for new art events either free, or on the cheap. They also have FREE parties they do monthly. Never Sleep on them LOL.... (If you click the link you'll get the joke)

Games.

Many Presidents are known for their love of board games, if you’re a game lover like me this bar is lowkey going to be your favorite place in the city. It has every board and card game you can ask for. The drinks are cheap, and the food is MAD good. 

And Also....

Stay home and cook with bae. (The Best Option in my opinion; the bonding in this one is unparalleled)

 

LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR CLOSET:

Everything is about MINDSET

 

Within the past year and a half I’ve found myself getting fed up with deciding what to wear. It took too much time and brain space. At first I thought it was because I was a wack ni**a but eventually I realized that I suffered from decision fatigue. I wanted to make the least decisions possible so I can save my brain power for important decisions.

After doing my googles I’ve found that many successful individuals have suffered from the same issue and decided to do something about it. They decided to wear the same clothes like 80% of the time. Not like the same sweater everyday but like buy 5 pairs of the same sweater or sweater type and just wear it.

I’ve found that it not only made life easier for me, but it also saved me money. I’ve been able to simply run in and out when it comes to not only getting dressed in the morning, but also when it comes to shopping. Shoutout to Barack Obama for practicing this right here.

For those who have decided that dressing like our favorite cartoons aren't for them here are a few apps where you can buy fly clothes for low prices:

The Tracktor:

The Tracktor is a website that tracks the rise and fall of item prices on amazon.com. It’s a mini stock market indicator that tells you about how much the item you want has increased or fell in price. You can even submit an item, track it, and it will send you an email when the item you’re looking for falls within the price range that you want.

The Apps where you can buy designer  for the cheap:

Rue La La: 

 

Gilt 


At the end of the day we have to remember that building wealth is a way of life. These discoveries are made by changing the way we look and treat our environment. People make money every day and blow it all away simply because the mindset and lifestyle hasn’t set in. I personally know someone who sold their business for a large amount of money, but will still hunt for the $19 dollar megabus when having to travel. Constantly look for value & quality and you will forever have funds in your pockets.

Keep Stacking Your Paper,

CJB

Wall Street Stock Investing 101

Name 5 things that come to mind when you hear the words "Stock Market". I'm pretty sure within the 5 things money was one of them. Lots of money. Millions. Throughout history fortunes have been built in the infamous stock market, but it's always been this mystical black box to many of us. To be completely honest with you, it's not rocket science. Many of the worlds greatest investors have said the same... over and over again.

 

"All the math you need in the stock market you get in the fourth grade" - Peter Lynch

 

To be completely honest it's mostly true. Investing is 40% information, 40% perspective, 10% patience, 10% discipline. With that being said here are the basics of the game:

Investing is business. Point blank period. The market is the place where people buy and sell products or services, and the price is set on the basis of what people are willing to buy or sell that product or service. Every stock is a business, treat it as such. If the business has a bad owner, or bad management, the stock isn't likely to do as well. If sales of a business are down, the stock isn't likely to do well. If the price of doing business for a company drops? The stock is likely to do well. The entire market can be boiled down to real decisions we make on a daily basis.

Why the stock market matters:

This 30 minute video gives you a break down of how the economy works and within this is the importance of the stock market.

Some words to pay attention to and what they mean:

Share(s): Ownership within a company. The more shares you own, the more ownership you have.

Stock Price: How much everyone on the market thinks a company is worth.

Price/Earnings Ratio (PE Ratio): A company's share price to its per share earnings.

Earnings per share: The amount of profit a company makes divided by the amount of outstanding shares.

Yield: The percentage amount of income (through interest or dividends) you earn by owning a particular stock or bond.

Now to the how:

Best apps for investing:

Robinhood app: It is by far the simplest investment app I've ever come across. If this is your first time investing I'd recommend using this. Design is simple and easy to use. It's cheap. And there isn't all of this super investment mumbo jumbo.

 

Betterment: Betterment is the product/service you probably hear about as an ad before your favorite podcast. This is within reason. It is the perfect app for the passive investor. It uses technology to automate your investment decisions for you based upon your needs, and goals. If you don't know how to invest, and don't have the time to do so, you either you this app or you invest in an Index Fund.

Philosophy

Many people have different investment philosophies. Mine in particular is rooted in value investing. I look for good companies, who are valued at great prices. I personally look at investing in the same light as I look at products. I look for quality, a great brand, a fair price, and something that will bring me value in the long term. To me it's like buying sneakers, if I find a great pair of Nike's on sale, I'm coppin. I'm not in the game to make 1 million in a day, I'm in the game to increase my portfolio 10-12% a year.

Other folks buy stocks for different reasons. Some buy them for dividends, some buy them for short term growth, some buy them because of volatility. All in all, you have to make the decision for the stock you purchase. Just make sure it makes sense to you.

This weeks email comprises of unlimited bars to get your investing started. If you still need some help suiting up don't be shy, reach out to your boy. @CJoeBlack on all social platforms.

Keep stacking your paper,

Carl