Typical financial advice begins with the adage, “Pay yourself first.” It refers to the wisdom of saving a minimum of 10% of your income before taking care of any other obligations.
You may have also heard that you should build and keep an emergency fund of at least six months’ of cash reserves in case of sudden unemployment.
And you should also make contributions to a retirement account to receive the maximum matching funds from your employer.
This common financial wisdom isn’t information my parents shared with me. Their top three recommendations were different for one glaring difference — I am an African American woman. Here’s what they taught me instead.
Reginald F. Lewis
Reginald F. Lewis (December 7, 1942 – January 19, 1993), was an American businessman. He was one of the richest African-American men in the 1980s, and the first African American to build a billion-dollar company, TLC Beatrice International Holdings Inc.
In 1993, Forbes listed Lewis among the 400 richest Americans, with a net worth estimated at $400 million.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Lewis grew up in a middle-class neighborhood. He won a football scholarship to Virginia State University (VSU) and joined the Alpha Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi while an undergraduate student. After graduating from VSU with a degree in political science in 1965, he immediately attended Harvard Law School and completed his Juris Doctorate degree in 1968.
He was married to Loida Nicolas-Lewis. They had two daughters, Leslie and Christina.
Lewis died at age 50, from brain cancer. Nicolas-Lewis took over the company a year after his death.