The Retirement Crisis Facing African Americans
March 9, 2017
There's a saying: When white America catches a cold, black America catches pneumonia. So, if there is an impending retirement crisis
in America, what does that mean for African Americans? The answer to that question is discouraging.
African Americans Tend Not to Invest in Stocks
Some analysts also say that African Americans often shy away from investing in the stock market. "Whatever discretionary income we have, we tend not to invest in equities," says Rockeymoore. "We don't have a diversification."
This may be due to a lack of comfort with the stock market. "African Americans are risk-averse," says Deborah Owens, a former Fidelity Investments vice president who calls herself America's Wealth Coach. "So, one of the major reasons they have less in retirement savings is they are ultra-conservative, particularly African Americans who work in the public sector and nonprofit organizations."
Owens says black investors typically focus on guaranteed or fixed investments that are low-risk or no-risk. As a result, their retirement funds aren't compounding at a high rate of return.
According to the Federal Reserve, the average balance of African Americans in 401(k)s is only $23,000. And Social Security and the Racial Gap in Retirement Wealth
found the average balance for African Americans in pensions and IRAs was $10,300, vs. $105,600 for white Americans.
Owens believes many African American workers don't take full advantage of all the choices in their employer-sponsored plans because they don't understand them. "The tendency to be risk averse is directly correlated to their lack of knowledge," she says.
What Employers and Policymakers Could Do to Help
James Brewer, president of Envision Wealth Planning in Chicago and president of the Association of African American Financial Advisors says African Americans need financial advice on issues such as having higher student loan debt than white counterparts and, often, a greater need to financially assist less affluent family members. Maya Rockeymoore, President of Center for Global Policy Solutions in Washington, D.C. says African Americans, even in retirement, tend to support other family members, including children and adult children. Also, they are disproportionately taking care of grandchildren, making them unable to save more for retirement.
All in all, says Rockeymoore: "There needs to be a national campaign to encourage young African Americans to save and invest. Home ownership is the pathway to wealth. They [blacks] need to be educated in the homebuying process and also to diversify their investments to include stocks and bonds."
Borrow $5,000, repay $42,000 - How super high-interest loans have boomed in California
By ANDREW KHOURI and JAMES RUFUS KOREN
JAN 19, 2018
JoAnn Hesson, sick with diabetes for years, was desperate.
After medical bills for a leg amputation and kidney transplant wiped out most of her retirement nest egg, she found that her Social Security and small pension weren't enough to make ends meet.
As the Marine Corps veteran waited for approval for a special pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs, she racked up debt with a series of increasingly pricey online loans.
In May 2015, the Rancho Santa Margarita resident borrowed $5,125 from Anaheim lender LoanMe at the eye-popping annual interest rate of 116%. The following month, she borrowed $2,501 from Ohio firm Cash Central at an even higher APR: 183%.
"I don't consider myself a dumb person," said Hesson, 68. "I knew the rates were high, but I did it out of desperation." Not long ago, personal loans of this size with sky-high interest rates were nearly unheard of in California. But over the last decade, they've exploded in popularity as struggling households - typically with poor credit scores - have found a new source of quick cash from an emerging class of online lenders.
Unlike payday loans, which can carry even higher annual percentage rates but are capped in California at $300 and are designed to be paid off in a matter of weeks, installment loans are typically for several thousand dollars and structured to be repaid over a year or more. The end result is a loan that can cost many times the amount borrowed. Hesson's $5,125 loan was scheduled to be repaid over more than seven years, with $495 due monthly, for a total of $42,099.85 - that's nearly $37,000 in interest.