By Cindy Similien-Johnson

There’s a meme/photo that’s viral on social media, and every person of Haitian descent may have already posted it on their Facebook Page. It’s a picture of a hand stuffing a thick wad of dollar bills into his pocket, and the caption reads: “Haitian parents be like ‘Mwen Pa Gen Kob.’” When translated into English, it means “Haitian parents be like ‘I don’t have any money.’”

Although it’s a humorous photo, it speaks volumes of our parents and grandparents’ views towards money. Some of them left Haiti with nothing but the clothes on their backs and only two pennies to rub together.

Once they arrived to the land that didn’t speak their language or quite understand their culture, some had to take menial jobs to support their families and send their children to school while also sending money back home to assist the relatives they left behind. Their hardship in a new country were lessons on the value of money and the importance of saving money for a rainy day.

I hear stories of men and women, who make twice the amount their parents or grandparents earned in their lifetimes, but are broke, living paycheck to paycheck, and still borrow money from their parents. How’s that even possible? What’s the difference between the two generations? How can today’s generation develop financial stewardship? Below are three important rules which will send you on your way to living a more financially stable life.

1. Have Some Patience

As the colloquial proverb says, “All good things comes to those who wait.”

For those who have decent jobs, you must understand that it takes time to build wealth. It’s not an overnight phenomenon. Don’t count on winning the lottery or receiving an heritance. Of course, we live in very different times than the times our grandparents and parents grew up in. However, certain principles are timeless and when applied always yield great results.

Have patience. The path towards financial stability will take time.

2. Start Saving

It is also said, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” Start with what you have. Set aside a certain amount of money every month, and don’t touch it. At the end of the year, you will see that every dollar does add up. Keep doing this for several years, and you will be able to have a good-sized nest egg. For starters, aim to have at least $1000 in your savings account and build from there. The first thousand can be difficult and tempting to touch, but after you cross this threshold, saving will become less difficult.

3. Live below what you make.

Over 80% of people living in the USA are in debt. Credit card companies are good at marketing to people who don’t understand the ills of borrowing against their future. If you’re not careful, your Mastercard can be your master, and you will always try to “discover” where your money went.

When learning how to build wealth, it takes humilty.There are millionaires in our midst, and, sometimes, we don’t know it because they don’t flaunt their wealth. We should learn from them. Wealth first starts in the heart and it is translated into every area of our lives.

Building wealth requires certain lifestyle changes such as living below one’s means. It doesn’t mean that one should have the mindset of poverty and pinch pennies. It means being responsible with your future and not using credit for frivolous and meaningless activities and items. It means not impressing others by using money you don’t have. It also means setting the right priorities.

Cindy Similien-Johnson is the founder of CSJ Media Publishing, and author of the bestselling e-cookbook series and popular cooking classes, "Cook Like A Haitian." She's also the founder of the women empowerment grassroots initiative, Goal Chic.

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