Sunday, May 1, 2011

It happened to me Saturday in Chicago. I was at the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church - a beautiful new multi-million dollar edifice - and I was there to participate in something called "The Moneywise Empowerment Tour." This event was free to the public and it was organized by Kelvin Boston, best selling author, creator and host of the PBS television show "Moneywise." I had met Mr. Boston a few years ago and hosted one of his events at my own church, First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. At that event, Boston was extremely motivational and provided hundreds of my members with valuable information about financial freedom. He was a tremendous help to my efforts to help my members fare better financially. I was very pleased with his visit.

So when he recently asked me to join his newest multi-city Empowerment Tour, I was both honored and pleased to accept his invitation. Not only would I have an opportunity to assist him with his mission, but I would also have a chance to promote my own book "dfree: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery." My first stop on the tour was last Saturday in Chicago.

I was the afternoon speaker. As I usually do, I told my personal story about having been a financial slave for 15 years from age 18 to age 33. And I described the process that I used and that I teach others to use to gain control of their lives and their finances. In about 40 minutes I summarized the principles and practices contained in my book.

After my talk, I sold and signed books for members of the audience. I have become accustomed to people buying books not only for themselves but for others that they know. Once a woman bought 7 books and told me that she had planned to give a copy to every person that asked her to lend them some money! This has become a trend.

But what occurred during my book signing in Chicago gave me a new perspective on my work. An 84 year old woman bought a book and when I asked her the name of the person to whom I should sign it, she became teary eyed. As she wiped her eyes from her tears, she described the pain that she was experiencing due to her desire to assist her granddaughter. She told me that her granddaughter was 28 years old, a single mother of two and a nurse with a job. The elderly woman with whom I was speaking did not have problems with finances other than her continuous "lending" of money to her granddaughter who she described as a shopaholic and compulsive spender. So here was an elderly woman whose greatest financial problem was a member of her own family. And she was buying my book hoping that my message would connect with her granddaughter and deliver both of them from her granddaughter's recklessness.

This was a very important moment for me. Although I have written a book about debt free living and was featured on CNN documentary called "Almighty Debt," I have continued to address many different issues in addition to debt. My background and my training lend themselves to my both analyzing and responding to a wide variety of concerns that affect people. But that 84 year old woman's tears helped me understand the deep and penetrating pain that is permeating our country far beyond what is being covered by the of media or revealed in statistics. No one knows how many other elderly people are being drained of their meager resources due to their inability to say no to their children and grandchildren who are drowning in overspending and personal debt.

This was a "burning bush" experience for me. This seems to be just the tip of a major economic iceberg as it relates the impact that personal debt is having on individuals and families. So I have decided to dedicate the remainder of my public career - my speaking, writing and public policy focus - to addressing the issues that cause 84 year old women to suffer in silence and pray that God will use a $15 dollar book to set them free.

Thus, I have renamed this blog "The Power of Debt Free Living" and inserted the logo "dfree" which is the name of my campaign for debt free living. And future blogs will focus on some aspect of this crusade.

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