Avoiding Holiday Debt

Holiday Shopping Tips To Keep You Free Of Debt Stress

As retailers move into the holiday shopping season earlier and earlier, it is more important than ever for consumers to avoid getting caught up in the hysteria and instead heed some money and credit management advice to keep the holiday season happy and free of debt stress. With this in mind, we are offering the following information and advice on how to avoid overspending and maintain good financial health during the upcoming holiday season:

  • Develop a spending budget. Write down household and personal expenses for November and December. For each month, subtract the total amount of expenses from your monthly take-home pay. The amount left over each month becomes a starting point to gauge how much you can afford to spend. Make a list of purchases from gifts to decorations.
  • Make a list. Follow Santa’s example. Make a list of all the people you need or want to buy gifts for, including small gifts for babysitters, teachers, newspaper deliverers, etc. These small gifts can add up and are often the cause of going over your gift budget. Include money you’ll spend on Christmas cards, postage, holiday parties, decorations, holiday entertainment, etc.
  • Consider creative gift-giving. When it comes to gifts, some people still believe, it’s the thought that counts. Consider gifts that have a personal touch, such as hand-made and homemade gifts like tapestries, quilts, pastries or other prepared foods. Don’t forget about fruit baskets, which are both economical and healthy.
  • Look for shopping deals. Check out retail sales, special discounts and coupons in circulars or newspapers and deals online. Consider purchasing holiday decorations in-bulk and splitting the costs with friends and family members. These deals can add up to substantial savings.
  • Avoid last-minute shopping. Shopping under stress can lead to more spending. Plan your shopping trips in advance and shop as early as possible before the December holidays.
  • Pay with cash when possible and spend wisely. Stick to your spending limit. Pay with cash when possible and leave your checkbook and credit cards at home to avoid temptations for unplanned and unnecessary purchases. If using credit is a must, limit purchases to one card. Use the credit card with the lowest interest rate and don’t use more credit than you can afford to pay off in 90 days or less. Remember, credit card debt amounts to a short-term loan. The longer the length of the loan, the more you will pay.
  • Avoid the post-holiday debt hangover and don’t overspend. Tally the receipts from all holiday expenses, including gifts, postage, meals, entertainment and decorations. Once you’ve completed your shopping list, stop shopping! More mall time can amount to more spending.

How does a start-up Real Estate Development firm obtain capital?

By Contessa Petrini, MBA, PhD

I was asked this question this morning by a client and have been asked several times in the past. It depends on the type of capital and the type of development. The initial funding to conduct a thorough due diligence investigation and feasibility study is the smallest amount, but ironically the hardest to come by. Your source of funding for those items, as well as entitlements, will likely be the same.

Traditional lending sources, such as banks, pensions, and insurance companies, are more likely to finance during the acquisition closing and construction phases. You should build into your budget the reimbursement of the early soft-cost items with the equity and debt you secure for the acquisition and construction phases.

Other areas of financing include: Seller financing, conduit lenders, tax credits, tax exemptions, local government / semi-goverment agencies, federal government programs, tenant/occupant financing (build to suit projects), mezz and bridge lenders, JV’s with other development companies and vendors, TIC’s, high net worth individuals/families, wealth managers, public and private REIT’s.

Lastly, you should consider your own equity position and control in the development as a source of equity. Can you defer your development fee for back-end returns? Can you tie up the property with options or a long contingency or closing period?

If you need a consultation please contact B.I.M. Investments today.


New Crowdfunding Rules Help Black Businesses Access Up To $1 Million In Seed Money

Title III regulation crowdfunding portion of Jobs Act is in effect

B.I.M Investments is going to roll out its own crowdfunding platform early 2017. We will offer real estate deals, business deals and angel investing deals on the platform. Please read below to learn more of how crowdfunding can help you make a small investment stretch into a large short or long term investment.


May 16th, it became easier for startups to bring a wider pool of new investors into the fold under new federal rules.

Access to capital for black business owners  significantly changed, since small firms and startups can now solicit anyone, regardless of their location or wealth status. So, a store owner could potentially offer ownership stakes to his or her most supportive customers or loyal clients.

Essentially, non-accredited investors or individuals with a net worth or annual income of less than $100,000 can put up cash in startups under the new rules, which make up Title III of the JOBS Act. They can invest $2,000 or 5% of their annual income or net worth, whichever is less. Companies can now raise up to $1 million across state lines without prior approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

[Related: Black Businesses To Have More Access To Capital]

“Historically, small and emerging companies did not have access to traditional capital-raising methods such as bank debt, angel financing, or venture capital funding. We believe that every startup should have the opportunity to grow,” notes StartEngine Capital L.L.C. Executive Chairman and Co-founder Howard Marks. “StartEngine provides an alternative way to finance. With Regulation Crowdfunding going into effect, access to capital through equity crowdfunding will be groundbreaking and will allow for faster innovation and growth for privately-owned businesses of all sizes, especially smaller and early stage companies, he adds.

An equity funding portal, StartEngine has been registered with the SEC and approved for membership by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. StartEngine connects early-stage and growing companies seeking capital with investors seeking new investment opportunities. With this approval, StartEngine can operate as a funding portal for offerings under Regulation Crowdfunding and begin posting security offerings.

Regulation Crowdfunding was created pursuant to Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (known as the JOBS Act) of 2012,which established an exemption from the securities registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933 for companies to raise up to $1 million within a 12-month period. These offerings must be conducted by a funding portal, like StartEngine, or broker-dealer that is registered with the SEC and a member of FINRA.

Related Story: 10 Things Black People Need To Know About Crowdfunding

“The SEC was mandated to regulate crowdfunding, and it did so in a way that allows us to serve up-and-coming business owners and help them meet their capital needs,” said StartEngine CEO and Co-founder Ron Miller. “There are thousands if not millions of investors interested in investing in companies getting off the ground. Regulation Crowdfunding enables our funding portal to help these companies connect with investors to grow their businesses.”

StartEngine was selected as one of the finalists to participate in the Washington, DC Crowdfunding Demo Day on Capitol Hill demonstrating Miller’s leadership and innovation in the industry. StartEngine reportedly has more than 50,000 registered users with one company raising more than $16.9 million on the site.



Despite the gains made in civil rights over the past few decades, the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that Black America is currently experiencing double the unemployment rate of the nation’s overall jobless rate – a rate that hasn’t changed since Martin Luther King JR was still giving speeches.

And much to our discredit today, Black wealth here in America has melted from 25% of what white wealth was in the 1960s to only 6% of what white wealth is today. It is for these reasons that solutions like investment clubs should be leveraged and promoted as a means of Black economic empowerment.


An investment group or investment club is a group of family members, friends, co-workers, or like-minded individuals who pool a regularly invested dollar amount into a common banking account for the purpose of purchasing stocks, bonds, mutual funds, businesses, property, or other assets. There is no limit to the number of members your group can have, but as the African saying goes; “many hands make light work”. The more capital that is pooled, the bigger the ventures that your group is able to involve itself in.

According to The New Black Magazine; “Investment clubs and groups promoting good money habits among young African-Americans are spreading across the country, global financial crisis notwithstanding. From grade schools to Facebook groups to seminars by hip-hop stars, the message is clear: it’s time for young blacks to get smart about the green, especially in such an uncertain financial climate.”

The National Association of Investors Corp. (NAIC), established in 1951, has set forth guidelines for running successful investment clubs. It urges members to:

  • Invest money regularly, regardless of market conditions
  • Reinvest all dividends and capital gains
  • Buy stock in companies that are growing faster than most of their peers
  • Diversify investments, not putting all invested funds into one basket
An investment group is different from a sou-sou since every member of a sou-sou pays a fixed amount of money regularly, and one of the subscribing members takes the entire amount for his or her own personal use at a pre-determined interval until every member has taken a pot. (For more, read SouSou and the Path to Economic Empowerment). Investment clubs, however, invest money at regular intervals in the form of dues, and that money is then used to make more money. Investors are paid from the profits or capital gains of the investments made, and the principle remains invested.


The benefits of belonging to a good investment group can mean extra income and financial literacy for the individual, and lower unemployment, and higher investment in Black entrepreneurs and businesses for our community as a whole. Members of investment groups learn and practice a host of business and investor- related subjects, including:

  • Personal Finances Skills/Techniques
  • How to Invest and Understand the Stock Market
  • The Importance of Maintaining a Diversified Investment Portfolio
  • Prepare and Understand Basic Financial Statements
  • Prepare and Understand Basic Tax Returns
  • Leadership Skills
  • Public Speaking Skills/Selling Techniques
  • Learn how to operate a corporation by running their own business

Investment clubs work. The longest-running investment club in the country, according to the National Association of Investment Clubs (NAIC), is the Hamilton Trust of Boston, which is now 120 years old. According to Better Investing’s 2005 membership survey, the average investment club has a portfolio worth $97,441, and members join for reasons ranging from increasing their financial literacy to complete financial sovereignty.

If you think an investment club is too complicated, consider Mr. Williams. Damon Williams joined a stock investment club to eventually put his children through college. Unlike many members of investment clubs, Damon is just 11 years old.

After six years of investing, the ambitious Chicago seventh-grader has a portfolio of more than 30 companies worth more than $18,000 — $4,000 of that profit. He is one of the estimated thousands of children in investment clubs nationwide who sacrifice an occasional Saturday to sharpen their financial strategies.

“I want to pay my own way through college, buy real estate and see my children graduate from college also,” Damon said.

At the rate he’s going, he just might do it. (From African American Empowerment)

CNN also reports that “At the Oregon State Penitentiary, groups of inmates have studied investing in a financial-responsibility class. Some convicts, according to a spokesman, are already members of the NAIC. The interest in investing makes sense, he says, because “most of the people are here due to financial issues of some form.” Hmmm, maybe he has a point. Just this past January, five convicts in the East Jersey State Prison finished third in a statewide stockpicking contest.”

If an eleven year old and an inmate can become successful members of an investment club, so can you.


Lets say that you, a few family members, and some other men and women from the community decide to form an investment club. You start out with a very small monthly investment and you use that money to buy a few stocks and a T-Shirt business. After 6 months, the group is producing enough income to purchase a tax lien on a small multi-family building with a large backyard. Your group turns the backyard into a small community garden, and renovates the building to rent out to members of your group. These group members pay a reduced rent, and that rent money goes back into the group until the building and land can be purchased outright.

With no mortgage, your group owns the property free and clear, and the rent money from that project (along with capital gains from stock purchases and profits from the T-Shirt line) can now be used to acquire more buildings and land. You remember reading about vertical and horizontal integration, and so your group launches a building renovation company, and urban gardening company, and informational products and income producing websites to teach others how to do the same.

You continue to acquire larger and larger properties using the same strategies that your group had learned from its first apartment building, until you are producing more than enough income, food, and shelter for all of the group members and their families.

Members of the group are now free to leave their jobs, declare their economic sovereignty, and meet the needs of the community at large. Non-profits can be built to help our people in time of need, group members have the time freedom to volunteer their efforts to nation building, nutrient – dense food is being produced that can feed the community, and the group is no longer forced to beg white-owned banks for loans, nor are they forced to beg white business owners for jobs. The group is also able to become Angel Investors for other Black entrepreneurs who may not have the capital or credit to receive loans from big banks.

That is how we go from complete dependency to doing for ourselves collectively.

If this seems unrealistic, consider the group we mentioned above; the Grass Roots Investment Group. The group was profiled by Black Enterprise in July 2002. At the time, the group consisted of only a handful of energetic, innovative investors who were relying on their individual expertise to improve their profits. Phillipe Tatem, founder of GRIG told the magazine that “we have people who are in law school, who are engineers, some who work for Internet companies, who own their own businesses, as well as some in banking and sales, and we lean on those individuals”. Since 2000, the group has turned a collective investment of $118,000 into a portfolio worth more than $1.3 million that includes equities, real estate, and business operations such as a car wash and detailing franchise.