Cheers! My Birthday Celebration with the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours

After losing my grandmother a few weeks before my birthday, I really needed to celebrate life. I know she would want me to do that. This year, I decided to ring in a new year of life in wine country. My soror traveled up from So Cal to visit. This would be her first time in Napa. I didn’t want to drive so instead, we bought bus tickets for the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours.

Let me tell you something, going on this bus tour was one of the BEST decisions I made. The Napa Valley Wine Country Tours bus isn’t just any bus. It’s a limo bus that looks like a VIP club lounge on wheels. We paid $119 for an 8-hour trip, visit to 4 wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, continental breakfast and lunch. It was worth every penny. The tastings aren't covered in the bus fare, but they ran about $10-$25. Wineries won't charge you for tastings if you buy a bottle. I recommend this for tourists and any Bay Area locals who have folks visiting from out of town and want a short excursion to Nap…

KNOW MONEY, KNOW MONEY, KNOW MONEY


Today I thought I'd drop a little Cocoanomics. We're all hurting from the weak economy. The foreclosure crisis has even hit home for our girl Fantasia. The American Idol star nearly lost one of her houses. But she reportedly worked out a payment plan and will be able to keep it. Now I know Fanatasia has had a tough life. She shot to fame quick and probably didn't know how to manage her money. Fantasia's not the only celeb whose had money problems. TLC, Toni Braxton, Evander Hollyfield, Damon Dash.....

Black people, we need to do better with our money. Financial illiteracy is a problem in this country. But with 25% of black folks living below the poverty line, we really need to get our money right. A few months ago I did a story for the public radio show Marketplace Money about how black churches are helping African Americans save their homes from foreclosure. The directors of the programs both said financial illiteracy was a major problem for their clients. When buying a house their clients signed mortgage papers but didn't understand what they were really signing. That's one reason why so many of us took out subprime loans. And some people were duped into bad loans They also told me they've seen cases where people were refinancing their homes to buy cars, electronics, clothes, etc. Once their mortgage rates adjusted to sky-high payments, they were stuck. Trust me, I know the feeling of thirsting for something I have no business buying. I have a 30% off Coach coupon that's about to expire. Would love a new Coach, but I'm on the job hunt myself. It's either a Coach bag or rent. I can't live in the purse no matter how cute the inside lining. So I choose rent.

Now that we know better, we can do better. Last year I learned a lot about finance reading and watching Suze Orman. The woman is a finance goddess. She takes complicated money terms and breaks it down to elementary language. Suze is giving away a
free copy of her latest book "2009 Action Plan" on Oprah. com The deadline is today, Thursday. If this whole market meltdown has your head spinning like me, read her book. I glanced over it. She explains Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Wall St. etc. And she gives tips on how to manage during the recession. Also, check out another book she wrote "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke." I read this book last year and learned so much. She explains basic personal finance and home buying to young readers under 40. "Young, Fabulous and Broke" has been out for some time but it's still relevant. Suze covers it all-- IRA, 401 k, fixed-mortgage loans vs. ARMs, mutual funds, etc.

Speaking of funds, I'm scaling back to save my own funds. I do my nails instead of going to the salon. But I couldn't give up getting my hair done. Sorry, can't do it. I get my hair pressed every three weeks instead of two. So I'm saving money and still looking good.

In '09 instead of no money, let's KNOW money. For all those out there like me hustling to make it in this market mess, here's a little inspiration...




Comments

  1. I completely agree with you we need to start managing our money right. one of my co-workers was telling me a about another co-worker who is a young brother about 20-22 years old and went on to say how he was saving up to buy a BMW-now there is nothing wrong with having a nice car if you can afford it however I think we as young black Americans need to start thinking about other things such as owning property, getting a good education and get away from our materialistic mind set. This same brother I was told also comes to work with McDonalds everyday and my co-worker suggested maybe buying some stock with the company and she said he looked at her like she was crazy. so yes I agree know your money.

    Chenita

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  2. Thanks for the comment Chenita. He probably looked at your co-worker like she was nuts b/c he may not understand how stock works.

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  3. Jenee, this is exceptionally wonderful work that you're doing. We as Black people need to be more in tune with our finances. Budgeting, investing, and saving isn't as difficult as we think. Suze Orman is phenomenal! Reading her work as helpd me greatly with my finances. Keep up the good work Jenee.

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  4. Ditto to what's been said already. While much of it is easier said than done, we have to KNOW our money or we'll have NO money. 2009 is calling us to bear with change and perhaps it won't be bad to embrace deferred gratification in the process. In fact, the benefits of deferred gratification are highlighted in this February's issue of Essence (the one with Tyler Perry on the front). They have an excellent piece where they talk about "Your Master Plan for Prosperity: A step-by-step manual to getting debt-free, securing a rainy day fund, building a nest egg, and ensuring your family's welfare."

    I've come to know that there's never enough info you can get when it comes to money. So, thanks for providing the invaluable resources Jenee.

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