Bougie Asks: Is Peer Pressure Keeping You Poor?

Woman window-shopping.
"I wanna be ballerific like it's all terrific, got a couple past due bills, I won't get specific..."

In my last post, I posited the question: Why don’t we do better about our finances when we know we should?

Asking around yielded one theory: peer pressure. I tend to associate the phrase with teenagers and trying to fit in, something we do before we’ve stepped into our identities as mature adults. But in his book I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Ramit Sethi states that social influence (what peer pressure becomes after 17) is a huge reason why people don’t do better with their finances.

He calls it the “Sex and the City Effect,” pointing out that any random group of friends is likely to be dressed the same—even though their incomes probably greatly differ. Sethi goes on to cite a New England Journal of Medicine study that found when a person becomes obese, it increased their friend’s likelihood of being obese by 57 percent.

To be honest, I’ll admit that when my friends are flush, we do more going out and socializing and spending money. When most of us are low on funds, we’re more creative, socializing at home and potlucking as opposed to spending money in the streets. Who wants to be the lone “I can’t afford it” voice while everyone else is kicking up their heels?

With that said, we need a game plan to avoid getting sidetracked from our financial wellbeing by unenlightened friends.

1. Clarity of purpose: You’ve got to be crystal clear on why you’re trying to adhere to a spending plan and laser-focused on your financial goals. If saving for my upcoming Vegas trip is in the forefront of my mind, a $25 round of drinks this Saturday looks less appealing than a nice hour at the slots in a few months.

2. Alternatives: Just because you’re not running the streets doesn’t mean you have to be a home-bound hermit. Try going out one night a week with a budget and then entertaining one night a week at a different friend’s home.

Make sure when you go out, you check the menu and drink prices in advance. I budget $20 for a night out—and I like to get the most bang for the buck, so I’m going where the mixed drinks are $5 & under, not $8 & above! When hosting at home, make a big dish like lasagna or a pot of chilli and let your friends bring wine and dessert. It’s cheaper and less headache than traditional potlucks.

3. Good Excuses: Have your lines at the ready, and don’t deviate. Having a standard response to the lunch/drinks/movies invite allows you to repeat yourself often enough until your friends are trained. “Can’t, I spent my $20 fun budget for the week. Let me know the next time, though!”

Deliver your responses in an upbeat manner—no one wants Eeyore for a friend. But conscious spending is not about deprivation, so sound enthused about the money you’re saving, the bills you’re paying and the payoff at the end of your goals.

Once your finances are thriving, your friends will wonder how you did it and ask YOU for tips!

Bougie Financial Columnist Toni V. Martin’s work has appeared in national magazines and media outlets. Pre-order her newest book, Tight $queeze: Escape from Life’s 25 Worst Financial Fiascoes, at tonivmartin dot com.

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The Other Side of the Game: Suck it, Nerds!

A serious discussion has broken out online: Do black women love thugs and dismiss “corny” dudes who would treat us right? Xtranormal bruhs have created several series of animated videos exploring the topic.

In the end, I disagree with the argument that women consider thugs more masculine. Many so-called straight-laced guys get bitter, because they’re not looking for straight-laced women–they want video-looking chicks who aren’t checking for them, then complain when they get dissed.
Stop watching Judd Apatow movies, nerds. You’re not landing a smoking hot girl with a heart of gold. Stay in your lane and pick someone on your financial, attractiveness and personality level. Your love life will thank you for it.

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Quick Hits: 3 Times For Ya Mind

Working hard so you don’t have to, we found these two interesting nuggets on the “interwebs”:

It’s a karaoke nightmare come to life. Check out this collection of Glee’s way-worse-than-bad hip hop performances (all 10 of ’em).  Are they serious?  They can’t believe they are doing a good job. Can they?  Can they?

For the ladies, for the ladies, for the ladies in the house. Awwwwww yeahhh, the ladies.  Just for you, 10 women-friendly hip hop songs that ladies should like. Even though most of them, well, kinda suck. – Resident Alien

And now a celebration of that which never was.  They caused a stir, started some buzz, got people excited with dreams of hip hip euphoria.  Then nothing, until now.  1o super groups that never happened

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Somebody Need To Tell…Juan Williams

We know them, we love (some of) them. But when pundits, politicians and celebrities get out of their lane, somebody needs to tell ‘em.

Somebody need to Tell….Juan Williams

Juan WilliamsDave Chappelle
We noticed subtle changes after Juan Williams went to Fox.

 

Enjoy the attention while you can. NPR fired Mr. Williams after he made racist anti-Muslim comments on-air, and home skillet has been basking in the warm glow of conservative outrage and support for the last week. Kudos to NPR for–however shakily–standing behind a wise editorial decision. Juan’s increasingly wing nut stances all but obliterated his career as a solid journalist and gifted interviewer, as he was called again and again to legitimize (and colorize) Fox News’ batshit viewpoints.

Watch your back with these folks, Juan: you know what happens when a black man stays at those parties too long. Those crackling flames? Not candles.

Mrs. Clarence Thomas

Clarence and Virginia Thomas, Anita Hill
Oh, and Virginia, a few other things not happening: Kwanzaa at your house, your butt looking good in jeans, and anyone paying you any attention at all.

B**** Please.  If you’re a grownhead you remember Clarence “Sell-Out Supreme” Thomas’ confirmation hearings for the High Court back in ’91.  His former assistant Anita Hill testified that he sexually harassed her while they worked together at the EEOC—memorably joking about pubic hair in his Coke (what is this guy, 7?). 
The ish hit the fan and ole Clarence almost didn’t make the cut, until he pulled the race card and called it a “high-tech lynching.” Very clever, Uncle Thomas.  Y’all see how that’s been working out.  ANYway, 19 years later Clarence’s wife, Virginia, puts the strudel down to call Ms. Hill and say she wants an apology for all those dirty, dirty things she testified about in ’91. 
Anita responded with a classy “Has she bumped her head?”
We might have respected you more if you had did this 19 years ago, and you might have gotten a smidgen of dap for being a real one. But now? Especially after Clarence’s ex Lillian McEwan has come out supporting Ms. Hill’s testimony (20 years late)? Ya got holes in ya game, Miss T. Go back to the tea party and shut yer mouth.

Kareem Burke
Or should we say Kareeem “Biggs” Burke? The name may sound vaguely familiar. He was the quiet, behind-the-scenes guy that helped found Roc-a Fella Records with Jay-Z and Damon Dash.  Apparently, his side hustle caught up with him.  Burke and 42 others got nabbed in an 18 month-drug sting.  Reports say he had anywhere from 177 to 360 pounds of weed on him when he was hit.  Daaaammmmnnnn! According to a law enforcement spokesman, this wasn’t just some dudes with the “hook up.” Their group has had wholesale weed distribution on lock for the last 20 years in NYC.  He needs to review the “American Gangster,” particularly the advice given to Frank Lucas: “Getting out ain’t the same as getting out ahead.”

Brandy Norwood
And you all know what that means!

West Coast Brothers
You might wanna holler at Brandy. According to interviews it’s been a minute, actually a few years, since Ms. Norwood’s had her cookies crumbled. Don’t be intimidated—it’s also been a few years since she was famous, despite a turn on Dancing wit the Former Stars. She’s just a normal everyday woman taking care of her kids and looking for love.  So spit game, tell her the judges were haters and pack a lunch—you know how it is when it’s been a while.

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11 Things That Only Look Good On Album Covers

Remember when Run DMC dropped, and you couldn’t sleep until you got a dookie gold chain? Gold on a roll, electroplate, you didn’t care you were gonna be just like Run! Then you looked in a mirror. Wonk-wahhh.

Some things simply don’t translate well to real life, no matter how sweet they look on album covers, in videos, and generally on the body of someone rich and famous. You ain’t David Lee Roth, so leave the ass-out chaps to the professionals, buddy. Think about it:

Ryan Lochte
Ryan Lochte just broke a world record. And he still looks stupid.

10. Gold Fangs. The Wu Tang Clan  pioneered this urban vampire thing years ago, looking both menacing and sexy. You? You just looked like you crossed the wrong orthodontist.

9. Extreme Sagging. Did we say this looks cool on albums? Our bad.

8. Clocks. Only one man in America can sport this without looking like a crack-addled lunatic. Oh, wait…

7. Massive Tats. Please keep your issues  bottled up on the inside like everybody else. It’s just not polite to share that much, unless you’ve got an album out that goes into detail.

6. Totally Crossed Out. Daddy Mack and Mack Daddy praised the totally crossed out look, labeling the inside-out trend “wiggedy-wiggedy-wiggedy wack.” But they shouldn’t throw stones from their little backwards glass houses.

Kid N Play
It couldn't last forever. But you gotta admit, it was hot in its day.

5. Extreme Hair. Kid cut the fade, and Coolio can’t pull off plaits anymore. So why are you playing around? Take your grown ass to the barbershop.

4. Baby Bottles. I know you’ll black out sipping sizzurp too fast, but a bunch of grown ass men would’ve looked smarter than that sucking on Hungry Jack bottles.

3. Massive Tats. Please keep your issues hidden and bottled up inside like everybody else. It’s just not polite.

2. Prince Blouse. 1985 logic: Girls love Prince, Prince loves ruffles, so if I get ruffles, girls will love me like Prince, right? Wrong; it didn’t work for you or Seinfeld.

Beat It jacket
"And whosoever shall be found, without the soul for getting down..." Dude, you're doomed.

1. Beat It Jacket. I actually never got one, which caused me untold distress until I saw how they looked on everyone except Michael. Then I didn’t feel so bad. In fact, I realized everyone looks a fool in

***Hon. Mention: All Prince and Michael Jackson gear, including but not limited to 5-inch high heel boots, high-water marching band pants with white socks, Edwardian velvet jackets and Captain Crunch epaulettes. Know your role!

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Fishing with Too $hort

“Mad technician / that loves to go fishing” – City Morgue, YZ’s Acid Rain, 1993 

I like to fish. I think I’m pretty decent for a person who has no boat.

In every body of water I cast on, I try to read what the fish are doing, to understand the type of fish I am targeting. Where are they most likely located? What are they feeding on? Do I have a lure that mimics their prey? Can I cast where I need to?

All of this is not something you can just pick up on. It takes years of trial and error to become seasoned. It’s fitting, then, that my seasoning came from Louisiana.

I spent alotta time honing my skills in areas surrounding Jefferson Parish. I remember me and a bunch of kids from the neighborhood using thread, a broomstick, safety pins and bacon to catch gar out of the canals.

As we got older and our allowances started to increase, we started to save up and buy actual rods, reels and hooks. I was in middle school when I got my first Zebco 202 combo. I felt invincible. But as my skill and finesse increased, so did my need for better gear.

The better my gear, the better success I had on any body of water. By the time I hit High School, I was basically a pro (with no boat, sponsorship or notoriety). I had my gear, my lures and my bike.

I lived in Kenner my freshman year at East Jefferson. A canal was the border of the district between East Jefferson and Bonnabel High. My sophomore year, we moved across the canal but I continued attending EJ. Even though I had outgrown the canal, I would still sneak a peek looking for gar every time I crossed it.

The weekdays belonged to school and chores. The weekends were mine.

Depending on the weather and my ambition, I would spend time fishing in one of 3 places: Lafreneire Park, The Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain. Lafreneire Park was cool but it was small. It was a nice place to test yourself though.

The river has a serious current and all you are really promised out of there are catfish. I knew every carcinogen known to man was in there but I heard rumors of catfish the size of Volkswagen.

Pontchartrain was my best bet. The brackish water has the most potential. You could catch bass, but there are also redfish and specks. And everyone wants a big redfish at the end of their line. Although I mostly caught the dreaded hard head cat while there, the potential was the real draw to the location.

As I made that ride on my bike, I would start reciting rap songs to make my trip go by faster. I noticed that one song’s duration always seemed to be perfectly in sync with my riding time. And people wonder how I could like Todd Shaw.

Some songs are the themes of a slice of time in your life. Too $hort’s “Cuss Words” still takes me places.

I saw Too $hort open up for Public Enemy in the U.N.O. Lakefront Arena. It was him, a mic and his dancer. When he performed “Cuss Words”, he let the crowd participate in reciting the lyrics. I remember seeing a security guard falling out on the floor laughing when Mr. Shaw pointed the mic to the audience prompting them to finish the “corn on the cob” line.

I lived off of 25th and Illinois.

According to Google Maps, I was 2.8 miles away from the lake. That song is 7 minutes and 47 seconds long. That is about 2.78 miles per minute or 21.6 miles an hour. That’s a pretty decent pace on a bike.

Of course the land was flat. The only real obstacles were Veterans Blvd and W. Esplanade. Google says it will take 15 minutes by bike. I am not too sure about that. I know people that can run close to that pace. I am on my bike and I am on a mission and I am a non-smoking high school student with decent cardio.

By the time I was saying “Cuss words, just let em roll…,” I was near my destination.

But ain’t a “cussword” just a word?

“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a darn,” would have left theater goers in a state of blah when they went to see Gone with the Wind. Instead, the good Christian people left the theater offended in many cases, because the word was so taboo.

That won’t happen today. The word has lost it’s bite. Some say Richard Pryor did the same thing with the ‘N’ word. Of course, Todd Shaw popularized the ‘B’ word (even stringing out the vowel sound to emphasize his point).

Bad words just don’t have that edge anymore because they are so commonplace. So are they still bad?

Language evolves just like my fishing equipment. In recent history, I bet many people would rather be called a female dog, Too $hort-style, than be called “Anti-American.”

In some parts of the country, being called an “atheist” or a “socialist” is almost like being called the N word during the ’60s. In a few years, things will change.

Hopefully, I will see a time when people being called “Christian” or “Republican” will urge them to be embarrassed or offended enough to want to trade blows.

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Hip Hop Affirmations: Are You Sure You’re Ready

“BEEN READY SINCE ’81 AND I WAS BORN IN ’82.” ~DJ DRAMA AND LIL WAYNE (Listen)

Going to the Million Man March back in 1995 came out of the blue, but I was ready to go. I was ready mentally and it only took me a few minutes to physically put together my traveling bag. 

The other day I got a call that went something like this:

 “Hey Mike, President Obama is going to be at the rally in Boston on Saturday and we would like you to cover it for EthnicOnline.net.” 

I was ready to go.

Hip Hop Affirmations has a lot of room to grow and I’m still working towards my aspiration of creating with Jay-Z.  When, not if, that opportunity comes, I’ll be ready.  How? 

By clarifying my vision and coming up with different scenarios to increase the chances of success.  Also, by cleaning up and strengthening the Ambassador Bruny brand.  Who’s coming with me?  I could use some partners.

What’s your story and take on being prepared?  I’d love to hear about it.

Affirmation of the Day: I am prepared for future opportunities.

Question of the Day: When has being prepared led to success in your life?

Action of the Day: List the necessary skills needed for success in your life.  Slowly, or not so slowly, start to gain those skills. (Yes, they can be thought.)

Run the Point, from where you are, with what you have!

Your Ambassador,

Mike Bruny

Mike Bruny is a certified professional life coach, helping professionals across the country rediscover their values, gain clarity and live more fulfilling lives. Reach him at: bruny@hiphopaffirmations.com. Check here for your daily Hip Hop Affirmation.

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GrownHeadz Check: 97-104, Halloween Edition

Halloween kid
He's come back from the grave...for candy.

You know you’re a grownhead if:

97. You actually went house-to-house, not to a mall, to trick-or-treat

98. You trick-or-treated in your own neighborhood, at night, with a bunch of other 8-year-olds and no chaperone

99. The Exorcist made you scared of the Devil

100. You spent at least one Halloween in a church basement at an “Autumn festival”

101. You bobbed for apples without anyone once pointing out that it was an unsanitary coldsore-mono-strep throat express

102. You know the catchphrases to Child’s Play and The Stepfather

103. You argued whether Michael, Freddie or Jason were the worst

104. You remember when grownups didn’t dress freaky for Halloween

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Top 5 Greatest Hits Albums That Don’t Exist

A while back, we talked about one-hit wonders who drank their own Kool-Aid and released greatest hits albums, i.e. Tag Team, whose CD sadly features both House and Spanish remixes of Whoomp! There It Is.
Well, on the other end of the spectrum, there are a few artists who really could help out DJ’s and fans by putting all their chart-topping street anthems in one place.
Even though we’ve gone hard on a couple of them in Grownheadz Convos (Crying? There’s no crying in GrownHeadz Convos!), they’ve all consistently packed dancefloors and we give props where they’re due. In honor of Halloween, here are 13 tracks from each artist that can get the party poppin.

Ludacris

Ludacris
Tell me who's your barber, how's he cut so good?! (topsocialite.com)

Since he first dropped in 2000 (yeah, you’re old), Chris Luva Luva has had at least 1 hit per album. Hell, even his cameos blow up spots. We think a greatest hits might go a little something like this:

Your Fantasy
Ho
Roll Out
Pimpin All over the World
Number One Spot
Stand Up
Move Bitch
Get Back
Area Code
Splash Waterfalls
Runaway
How Low Can You Go
My Chick Bad

TI

T.I.
Did he wear the same suit to court as to the premiere of Takers? Tacky, man. (blogs.bet.com, askmen.com)

Since he’s fresh outta jail and might be gettin ready to go back, TI should consider dropping a greatest hits just to give him some time to catch his breath. Speaking on catching your breath, hey Tip, you ‘spose to be a grown man and all, isn’t it time to take it up a notch?

Do like all the rest of us grown-up, got-a-job-but-still-smoke folks out there and do that ish in ya house, homie. Wasting time, literally. Anyways:

24’s
ASAP
Be Easy
Big Things Poppin’ (Do It)
Bring Em Out
Motivation
Rubber Band Man
Top Back
U Don’t Know Me
What You Know
Whatever You Like
Live Your Life
Swagga Like us

Jay Z (*Update: Greatest Hits Coming Nov. 23)

Jay Z
Jigga goes for the Twofer look when he's not onstage (accesshollywood.com)

We know, ol’ Hov doesn’t get much love in the house of Grownheadz (Hip Hop Purist is just mean). Nonetheless, Pop Carter certainly gets his numbers. There’s even a greatest hits import, but no U.S. release. When and if it ever happens, these are a few songs that COULD be included:

Dead Presidents
Dirt Off Your Shoulder
Hardknock Life
I Just Wanna Love You
Izzo
Aint No Nigga
Big Pimpin
Brooklyns Finest
Can I Get
22 Twos
99 Problems
PSA
Empire State of Mind
On to the Next One
In all actuality, Jay could make a filler-free double disc and nobody’d be mad about it.

Missy Elliot

Missy Elliot
Worst Secret Santa ever. (polaroidsofandroids.com)

Where the hell is Missy at? Maybe she just doesn’t need the money. Between hits for herself and others the Misdemeanor should be clocking MAJOR royalty checks each month. Missy is another who released a greatest hits overseas, but like most Americans, until it happens over here it doesn’t count to us.

The Rain
Hit Em With The Hee
Sock It To Me
Hot Boyz
All In My Grill
She’s A Bitch
One Minute Man
Get Ur Freak On
Gossip Folks
Work It
Pxxxy Cat
Pass The Dutch
Lose Control

Lil Wayne
Hard time is hard for anybody. But it must be HELLA hard when you’re used to a life of haze, head and 24-7 hijinks. I mean, sure Baby ‘nem got him the hooked up commissary, conjugals, and protection (plus, he’s ugly enough that nobody wants the booty), but it’s gotta be damn depressing.

Lil Wayne
It's a lil sad to realize this is the normalest he can look. (bvnewswire.com)

If Weezy ever decided to make a greatest hits, it would be like those Time Life 10-disc sets. Hip hop’s Golden Child probably has more songs, cameos and mixtapes than anyone else in the game. Plus he can fart on beat and go plat. Which is not necessarily good for the culture, but awful entertaining regardless.

Drop It Like It’s Hot
Fireman
Go DJ
Got Money
Hustler Musik
Lollipop
Milli
Neck of the Woods
Shooter
Shine
Stuntin’ Like My Daddy
Tha Block Is Hot
Mrs. Officer

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Bougie Asks the Million Dollar Question

empty pockets
So I dig deeper, but still coming up with lint... (photo courtesy artolympics.info)
As I gear up to launch my forthcoming personal finance book, Tight $queeze: Escape Life’s 25 Worst Financial Fiascos, I am plagued by an unanswerable question:

Why don’t we do better with our money?

My market research groups me, my friends, family and friends of friends and family into a boat filled with financial fuck-ups. Late fees. Shutoffs. Evictions. We spend our money on weed. Strippers. Patron. The lottery or back-alley craps games.

We don’t own homes, or if we do our houses are in foreclosure. If we have a 401k, we don’t know WHAT the hell all of those choices are or which funds we elected or why, we just know if our balance goes up or down. We can’t go back to school because our student loans are in default. We get garnished, levied, repoed. We think bankruptcy is okay, and it will give us a fresh start, just as soon as we get the money together to file.

If everything I’ve just described sounds horrific and doesn’t apply to you or anyone you know—congrats! We need to talk for my next book. If one or two things apply, but you don’t know ANYONE who experiences any of the others—congrats!

However, I can’t hide my head in the sand anymore and see the brilliant, giving, spiritual, beautiful people I know continue to live lives filled with financial turmoil like this AND BE OKAY WITH IT. Because after so long, we come to view the pre-shutoff notice as our actual bill. Or plan to put money to the side to pay off the speeding tickets we get damn near every month. Or be okay with having a fully stocked bar, in a rented house.

This life may be normal, but it’s not ok. For my next few posts, I’m going to try to answer the unanswerable. Try to figure out why first and foremost myself, then my compadres are so alright with doing so bad. If this ain’t you, I’ll see you in a few posts. But if it is, let’s get it in!

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