Let The Universe Conspire

It’s always my intent to appreciate my family and friends in the ways that I can along with the resources and skills afforded to me. I’m a big proponent of providing people their flowers while they can still smell them. I’m an even bigger advocate of my family and friends identifying their true purpose and manifesting it. Over the years, it’s been my pleasure seeing one of my best friends, Terrence Lewis, live in his purpose and walk the path he was destined to fulfill. T has helped countless people and me over the years with sound financial advice and simple life lessons to help us become our best selves. He’s someone I admire immensely and seek counsel from when making big decisions. He and I got an opportunity not too long ago to chop it up virtually and it compelled me to share with the world just the invaluable person he is.

“I remember bein’ blind to it. ‘Til the day I put my mind to it.” - Rick Ross

What’s your initial advice for people just starting out and don’t even know the first steps to take concerning their finances?

There are different aspects of finance. Depending on what the financial topic you are referring to, there are different strategies that people can use to achieve their goals. The number one question I will encourage people to do is ask themselves, "why”? Why am I investing? Why am I paying off debt? Why am I budgeting? This "why" will allow you to be consistent in your journey as you are trying to achieve your financial goals.

If we are discussing budgeting, I encourage people to consider everything and itemize everything. Purchases, expenses, investments, etc. You must become your own accountant. Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity. You must treat yourself like a business. Revenue (Paycheck) - Expenses (Purchases or Monthly Bills) = Net Income (What you can save/spend/invest). Take a step back and don't be nervous, but you have to be honest and completely transparent with yourself and/or your partner/spouse. It can be very overwhelming, but remember to take it one item and one day at a time.  

If we are discussing investing, I encourage people to invest into their own personal interests, companies who produce products and services that will always be a necessity in the future, and real tangible assets such as land, equipment, and natural resources. Also, investing is a long-term game, and not short-term, so you have to be patient and realize that it's not a sprint, but a marathon. Start investing in small increments such as $20, $50, or $100 a week or month, so you won't be overwhelmed. Also, never borrow, lend, or invest what you can't afford to lose, especially when starting out.  

Disclaimer: I'm not an investment professional, but I am a banking professional with 18 years of experience using my knowledge, expertise, and observations to make well informed decisions that have been beneficial to me. 

With so many different methods concerning personal finance, what are some personal finance strategies you subscribe to?

It depends on what aspect of finances we are discussing. If we're discussing personal finance and debt elimination/reduction, I'm a firm believer in the debt snowball method created by Dave Ramsey, the interest rate method and cash flow method. The debt snowball method is a debt-reduction strategy whereby one who owes on more than one account pays off the accounts starting with the smallest balances first while paying the minimum payments on larger debts. By paying off the smallest debt first, this will create a positive impact psychologically which will allow you to stay consistent on your journey to paying off debt. 

Then there’s the highest interest rate method. This method is simply organizing your debts from largest to smallest according to interest rate and paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first (outside of your mortgage and student loans). This will save you more money over a longer period of time. 

The other method (something in the testing stages) I will subscribe to is the cash flow method. This method is simply organizing your debts from largest to smallest (outside of your mortgage and student loans) and paying off the one account which is costing you the most money each month. Once this debt is paid, now you have more cash to allocate towards other debts and/or savings. 

Also note, not one size fits all, so evaluate your personal finance situation to see which method is more suitable for you. Also mortgage and student loans tend to take the longest to pay off so you can include these items in your debt reduction plan or not. The choice is yours. 

We both have a very deep affection for Hip Hop, what are some finance lessons you’ve learned from your favorite rappers and producers?

Some of my favorite artists are Jay-Z, Nipsey Hussle (RIP), Rick Ross, Slim Thug, Dame Dash, Curren$y, Stalley, LE$, Big K.R.I.T., Philthy Rich, and Larry June. These artists are at the forefront of entrepreneurship and investment. The reason why I enjoy their music is because they are able to educate and entertain their audiences simultaneously, especially in the world of business and finance. One of the biggest lessons that I've learned from these entrepreneurs is to always be in the business to create equity, hence Nipsey Hussle’s mixtape, Mailbox Money.  Equity is simply the benefit(s) that you will or have received from investing into an asset. In the words of Dame Dash, "always keep money in the street. Make the money work for you." For example, your money will not work for you by sitting in a checking account, savings account, or money market account because the banks are not in the business of making money for their clients, hence, the reason why the interest rates are very low on these products. Whereas, making investments into real estate, the stock market, and other ventures can be very profitable and lucrative for the client/consumer. It is very important for artists/musicians/producers, to own their masters which is intellectual property. This allows artists to continue to make money off their creativity or artistry because it has been patented or trademarked. Jay-Z, Nipsey Hussle, and these other artists embodied the meaning of entrepreneurship. Their wealth wasn't inherited. Their wealth came from simply investing into themselves and reallocating the benefits into other business ventures and investments which allows them to be in a position of power, and influence while making profitable gains.

Hypothetical Question: I have a solid emergency fund and I’ve paid off all of my debt, what should I do with my money?

You can never have too much in your emergency fund, as you know the old saying, "when it rains, it pours." But once you feel comfortable with the amount that you have in your emergency fund, begin investing and enjoy the benefits of investing and the freedom. One of my biggest motivational factors is freedom. The feeling of being free, not owing anyone, and not being a slave to the lender drives me daily. Also, you can really focus on your divine purpose without distraction. Time is the most valuable asset we all have, so use your time to create legacy for your family. One of those vehicles you can create a legacy with is through investing.

How do you personally treat yourself when you accomplish a financial goal?

As you know, you and I love our sneakers. So I treat myself by purchasing a pair of sneakers. I will use my debit card or cash to pay for the sneakers as it is a depreciating asset to me. It can be an appreciating asset if they are not worn and you are able to "flip" them and make a profit. My apologies for going off on a tangent...lol.  Shoutout to my bro Chris (ccw404).

Why do you think some people are apprehensive about getting their finances in order?

Many people are apprehensive about their finances because it forces them to face reality. It forces them to think about their past financial behavior and decision making. We all have made not so good financial decisions and had to self-reflect and re-evaluate. As mentioned before, it can be overwhelming, but it can be liberating as well. 

Taking this a step further, you notoriously stay off of social media. Do you think platforms like Instagram or Twitter paint unrealistic goals?

LOL! It is all relative and subjective. What may be unrealistic to you, someone may believe it is realistic to them. I think the platforms can be influential and beneficial, but it can be to our detriment as well. This is contingent upon the usage of the platforms. I think you have to use your ability to discern and think about your own personal goals and aspirations and not be driven by someone else's goals or aspirations. People are motivated by different things. People only show or reveal what they want you or the audience to know, so keep that in mind when you are scrolling through the various profiles or IG stories. A picture is worth a thousand words, and that is clearly evident when you look at the comments. 

If anyone has any additional questions or need some financial consultation, how can they reach you?

People can reach out to me via email (terrence.lewis1@gmail.com) or by phone (770-330-2735).

Through years of practical application, manifestation, and prayer, my brother, Terrence, has found his calling. He’s driven to fulfill his purpose and help others along the way. I’m often amazed at how much T has accomplished since I’ve known him, but I’m not entirely surprised. If anyone has read Paulo Coelho’s novel, The Alchemist, then you’ve probably figured out the most important lesson the author presents. It’s simple, yet profound: “and, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Terrence, along with countless others in my life, has encouraged me to allow the universe to conspire for me.