The Break: 40 Acres and a Mule – THROWBACK!

*Listen in to a round table discussion as KC and the family discuss what the Black community would/should/could do if ever given reparations. Podcast guests include Chris Lehman, DJ A-ski, Toria Williams, Mike Eagle, Malcolm Darrell, Tash Moseley, Brother T, Jamila Farwell, and Darius Gray.

*Parental Discretion is advised with this podcast.

The Break Special Edition: Chris & KC’s Backyard Renovation! (PODCAST)

Listen in as Chris and KC share their experience getting a backyard renovation from HGTV/DIY landscaper Sara Bendrick on the new DIY show “I Hate My Yard”! The episode, entitled “Spanish Spin-off” will air on the DIY Network August 10th at 9:30 am PST!

We are incredibly grateful to Sara, the staff of Magnetic Productions and the crew from Dave C’s Construction for their transformation of our backyard. Check out Sara’s company, Sarita Landscape Design, for your own landscaping projects! We love it!

For comments or questions about this episode, call the hotline at (323) 455-4219!

Affordable Luxuries For Your Home

Most people want a home that feels luxurious, even if it’s a modest priced home in a modest neighborhood. Luckily, the wonderful people over at have a few tips on how to add a few of these luxuries to  your home at a fraction of the cost. Read on and then get to work!

Modest. Affordable. Starter. There is no shortage of words we use to describe a home that cost less than the average in an area. But no matter how “low-priced” your home is or was compared with others’, chances are good that you are spending a good chunk of your hard-earned dollars on it. Think about it: almost no one looks at their monthly mortgage statement and says “Wow – it’s just so cheap!!”

Every owner deserves to come home to a place that is beautiful, comfortable and suitable for the activities that are a part of their life – without going into debt to do it. And even if you haven’t yet become a dyed-in-the-wool homeowner, understanding the champagne-style creature comforts that can be inexpensively added onto a home after closing can provide powerful inspiration for sticking to your beer budget.

Here are a few of those little, affordable luxuries (with links to pics and inspiration throughout!):

1.  Automation.  For your home to automatically anticipate your preferences and living habits, and conduct itself accordingly, is a serious luxury that no longer requires a serious investment. Easily programmable thermostats and smart home systems are now available at very low prices. Check out the Nest  “Learning” Thermostat for one of the most simple-to-use, inexpensive alternatives around. Created by the man who designed the iPod, it “learns” the temperatures you prefer without any complicated programming process, it can detect when no ones home and change the temperature accordingly and it is even remote controllable via wi-fi and mobile app.

In some areas, home cable companies are now bundling temperature automation and smart home features like remote-controlled lighting, temperatures and security systems and even smoke and carbon monoxide monitors right into the same online dashboard you use to pay your bill or order a movie on-demand.  Word of mouth raves from users of these sorts of systems often include delight at money saved on overall more efficient use of electricity, time saved coming home to check that doors are locked and other little daily assists beyond the expected convenience.

These next-gen automations are able to be had in the $200 or less range, up front, though the size of your home and number of devices you require can send costs upward. Look for whether your automation system has a mobile app that allows you to control your home from your smartphone – many do, and it’s a major plus. Shop around, read reviews and make sure you understand any monthly subscription fees, before you buy.

2.  Nature’s Niceties.  
Visiting my grandmother recently, I was reminded that there is nothing quite so luxurious as craving a piece of fruit or a particular meal and being able to walk right into your backyard and grab the fixings for it – cost-free, and chemical free. This doesn’t even factor in the beauty of a kitchen garden right outside your window, or the healthfulness of gardening as a habit.

The range of cost for landscaping and creating what many now call outdoor rooms is vast. But there are also dozens of inexpensive projects that can level-up your own home’s nature factor:

  • installing raised vegetable beds in your backyard
  • hanging a vertical garden on your kitchen wall
  • putting in window boxes or outdoor seating
  • installing a bird bath or planting a new tree.

Lush, green anything is a luxury that can cost very little to enjoy for years on end.

3.  Delicious Details.  Customizing, sprucing and even adding little details to your home can make a tract home feel custom, a condo feel personalized and can even take a home with character and imbue it with your character.  These little projects can also be bizarrely high in the aesthetic impact and feeling of polish they add to a home vis-a-vis the relatively low investment of time and money they require.

Walk through your place and see where you can add, improve or tweak the details – consider projects like:

  • Adding crown moldings or baseboards
  • Adding interior or exterior shutters
  • Painting moldings, baseboards, mantles and door trims a contrasting color to the surrounding areas
  • Replacing doors and lighting fixtures (I just replaced the pendant lighting fixture over my own kitchen table and have to say, it looks like a new room!)
  • Replacing dated faucets, sinks, toilets and hardware – even recessed lighting soffits and door handles
  • Painting exterior eaves, doors, trims and fences.

4.  Solar.  A recent survey by Sunrunrevealed that over 40% of Americans believe a solar system cost more than $20,000.  And get this: eight out of 10 homeowners said they would install a solar system at home if cost wasn’t a factor.  Solar is not for everyone, and not even for every home, but in states with sunny, hot summers and energy bills to boot, installing a solar system can create the double luxury of allowing you to run your home on renewable energy and reduce your energy costs in one fell swoop.

Truth is, in some states, cost isn’t a factor. There’s a new generation of companies – solar power service providers – who will pay for a solar system, install it on your home for little or nothing, and pay for its maintenance. In turn, you pay them for the power you use, at a rate that is generally lower than what you were paying the utility.

These arrangements are not available everywhere, but if you’ve always thought you’d go solar if you could afford it, it’s certainly worth investigating whether you can find a solar service provider in your neck of the woods.

5.  Built-ins (or faux ones).  Built-ins like desks, book shelves, closet systems and even kitchen recycling centers feel particularly luxurious because they offer a polished approach to efficient use of the space you have, and often eliminate the need for bulky pieces of furniture.  When you initiate the installation of built-ins, though, they have the added luxury of being customized to the way you want to use your home, the activities you prefer to do in a given room and even the gear you have to use to do it!

If you’re handy, DIY-interested or even have a good local handyperson or carpenter contact, you might be surprised to realize how affordable it can be to build a desk or closet organizer into your existing space.

If you haven’t a handy bone in your body, or you’d prefer to keep the space flexible, you should get up to speed on all the off-the-shelf built-in alternatives that are on the market, like a kitchen nook dining set in lieu of a built-in banquette. Think creatively: placing a day bed under a window with a bookcase on each end is a fantastic alternative to building a window seat between built-in shelves. You might even be able to score the built-in alternatives on Craigslist or Freecycle, then have it painted or reupholstered, to get a luxe, custom look at a very low price.

6.  Dedicated spaces.  Like custom built-ins, dedicating a space to a particular favorite activity is a special luxury, even if your home is not otherwise especially luxurious. Why not let every member of the family custom-tailor a corner of your home to whatever they love to do, or spend a lot of time doing?  The idea here is to simply dedicate a space to an activity, painting it, installing the appropriate furniture and carving out a place for all the supplies that are involved in that activity.  At my house, I just painted the office in bright colors that researchers have found to boost creativity, installing new project tables and bookshelves to facilitate the organization and stand-up work style I prefer. My friend AG has turned one bedroom into a room for her menagerie of pets – dogs and birds alike!

At your house, this could include:

  • carving out a mudroom with storage racks for your family’s sports equipment
  • doubling-down on kitchen area entertaining by putting up a pot rack and adding extra seating and serving spaces
  • turning a corner of your great room into a screened meditation spot or homework area for the kids
  • creating a 2-, 3- or 4-person office space out of your dining room, so every member of the family has a place for all their study, work and bill-paying tasks.


Free At Last! I’m Done With Home Repairs!

Buying, owning, and maintaining a home is not for the faint of heart, and with the real estate market in recovery many buyers are taking that leap.

I recall the bliss-filled days of being an aspiring home owner: visiting multiple open houses, imagining our things in the space, making offers, waiting with bated breath for responses, and then finally the fateful day when a seller said yes, followed by another bliss and stress-filled escrow period. The most magical moment of it all was when our agent handed us the keys. You might expect me to say that it all went downhill from there – but it’s been more of a rollercoaster.

What you must know about home ownership is that the work of maintaining a home NEVER dies. As soon as one project is completed, it’s time to tackle the next one. For us in the last year it’s been wasps’ nests, stove and dishwasher repairs, a leak in the ceiling from an upstairs bathroom, and most recently a termite swarm. On the plus side, we’ve got unstoppable central heat and air, a new washer/dryer, a new refrigerator, and a underwent a backyard renovation. Nonetheless, the to-do list keeps growing: the exterior of the house needs painting, the driveway and garage are in need of repair, the front yard needs landscaping, we could use new kitchen cabinets, and our bedroom furniture has seen its best days.

So why buy a home if it’s a constant project? I believe for us it’s the opportunity to make the place we live a representation of who we are. From the paint colors to the choice of art on the walls, it’s a showcase of who we are as a family. And, of course, it’s an investment in ourselves. For almost every improvement we make, we see a return on that investment. Also, being a homeowner forces the “do-it-yourself” home repair person lurking within us all to come out the closet. You can save thousands of dollars doing small projects such as painting, staining, or even building some of the improvements in your house. Of course any major work should be left to a professional unless you don’t mind paying for it twice!

Last week we visited an open house on our street that was for a home that hadn’t been on the market in over 60 years. It was a house with “wow” factor: beautiful wood floors, a step-down living room, grand doorways, crown moulding, a beautifully landscaped backyard and a hefty price tag. Everyone oohed and aahed as they walked through the house and after we left, Chris and I discussed how inspired we were to keep ticking away at our “to-do” list. We sat in front of the house with a neighbor for almost 10 minutes discussing how gorgeous that house was. It was proof in both its condition and asking price of what is earned when taking on the task of maintaining your home.

The Break: Mics Off! The Final Episode of 2012!

Listen in as KC and the family have an unedited, unfiltered conversation for your listening pleasure! Since we are keeping it raw, this is a Members’ Only podcast so enjoy. This one goes out to all the LA Babies!

Stay tuned for 2013 where we will be bringing you SO MUCH MORE! Thank you for your continued support!

Recommended Reading For African American Financial Starters

The way to wealth is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do; with them, everything. – Benjamin Franklin


Capitalism & Slavery by Eric Williams

Comments – This book is tied for one of the most important books I have ever read period with Miseducation of the Negro. It is by far the most important financial book I have ever read. To understand the history of system you are engaging is vital. One of the most important lessons I came away with in this book is that capital within the capitalist system will always seek to find the cheapest labor.

Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the making of a Black American millionaire by Carol Jenkins & Elizabeth Hines


Comments – The biography of arguably one of the greatest business men to ever grace America’s soil. His story of entrepreneurship and building of an empire is worth the read. He owned a bank, insurance company, along with  many other businesses, and before his death was proposing an African American owned stock exchange. His rise from humble beginnings that would make many of us blush today gives one a role model of perseverance.



Comments – Robert Kiyosaki explains the three types of income. He is also the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. A book that is worth reading but there is much of it that must be taken with a grain of salt.

Robert Kiyosaki: Three Types of Income

Mr. Kiyosaki, while I respect his opinion in a lot of areas of his book, primarily that your house is not an investment, some of his book is a sales job to get you to buy more of his products so reader beware.







The median net worth for African Americans is $2,170.

The median net worth for European Americans is $97,860

And more can be found here:

Men Lie, Women Lie – Numbers Don’t: The Financial State of African America

STOP: African Americans should NOT be maxing out their 401(k)



Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham & David Dodd

Comments – This one will put your mettle to the test. Its long. Its boring. Its fundamental. Its imperative. Benjamin Graham was Warren Buffett’s teacher and that alone makes it a must read. Beyond that this book will provide the discipline needed to make you understand the need for long-term value investing and not subject to the whims of the ups and downs of the daily market.



Common Stocks & Uncommon Profits by Philip A. Fisher

Comments – If Warren Buffett is known as the greatest value investor of all-time then Philip Fisher is arguably the greatest growth investor of all-time. Again, focused on long-term investing but this time in growth companies. Mr. Fisher did not believe in diversification investing but finding a few (7 to 10) really good stocks and being dedicated to them over the long-term.


These are websites that I check with some frequency on a weekly if not daily basis. Now while I wouldn’t expect anyone to check them at the rate I do these are websites that should at least find your eyeballs at least once a month. Also check newspapers from around the world. This is important because you want to start to see trends. The reality is that geopolitical and geoeconomical events can echo strongly into financial markets at times. No, reading CNN is not enough. You want to read events from others point of view about the world. CNN gives you the world view from European America’s perch. Understanding the difference can and will give you an edge when examining your company if it has a multinational operation.

This is just the start of a long road of wealth building but a foundation to begin you on your way. All of these avenues will potentially lead you to other avenues of information. Don’t invest in isolation either. Conversations about companies and their long-term potential with other investors can help you see things you might miss.

MOST importantly – SHARE this information with your family, friends, and community.

Make more money than you spend and don’t spend that much.

Mr. Foster is the Interim Executive Director of HBCU Endowment Foundation, sits on the board of directors at the Center for HBCU Media Advocacy, & President of AK, Inc. A former banker & financial analyst who earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics & Finance from Virginia State University as well his master’s degree in Community Development & Urban Planning from Prairie View A&M University. Publishing research on the agriculture economics of food waste, full-time contributor at HBCU Money, and guest contributor for a number of African American media outlets.



Jamal Mashburn: Baller Turned Businessman

Jamal Mashburn had a productive 11 years in the NBA, recording over 11,000 career points and 3,000 career rebounds. Now, at 39, he’s itching for a comeback — but not as a player.

Mashburn wants to put together an ownership group to purchase the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA.

Plagued by a serious knee injury, the all-star forward quit the game in 2006 with an impressive averages of 19.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Instead of squandering his earnings from the game, like we see many Black athletes are prone to do, Mashburn invested his earnings of about $75.6 million in business ventures.

The 39-year-old now has a business portfolio that includes 37 Papa John’s pizza shops, 30 Outback Steakhouse restaurants, two car dealerships and a real estate company.

“For me, being in business is always something I wanted to do. When I was a kid riding on trains in New York, I saw older people carrying a briefcase. I was always curious what was in them. That’s probably my original inspiration,” Mashburn told reporters last month at a Sino-US friendly basketball tournament.

“I can be an asset to a team as an owner, not only for my ability to scout talent, but also understand the business side of things,” Mashburn said. “The first All-Star of the Hornets comes back to buy the team — it’s going to be a great story.”

Since retiring as a Hornet in 2004, Mashburn has transitioned beautifully from the court to the business sector. He now boasts a portfolio that includes 37 Papa John’s locations, 30 Outback Steakhouses, two car dealerships and a real estate company.

“For me, being in business is always something I wanted to do,” he said. “When I was a kid riding on trains in New York, I saw older people carrying a briefcase. I was always curious what was in them. That’s probably my original inspiration.”

The league bought the Hornets’ franchise from owner George Shinn last December. Commissioner David Stern has said that the league will sell only the team to a buyer willing to keep the team in New Orleans.







5 Best Businesses to Get In for 2012

The Black Is family is always concered about business and commerce. In 2012, our community should stay informed about which businesses might prove lucrative for us. This is an economy where starting your own business might prove profitable since layoffs and down sizing is up. If you are looking to start your own business or even a side hustle, read on.

What are the hottest industry segments going into 2012?

The overall economy may have a stubborn gray(ish) cloud above it, but there are a more than a few industries with significant expectations for growth in the new year.

“The recent economic conditions have been a game changer, redefining the term ‘job security,'” says Brian Miller, president and COO of The Entrepreneur’s Source, a franchise consulting firm.

Many unemployed workers are turning to entrepreneurism, specifically owning a franchise, as a way to become self-sufficient, Miller says. A typical question from clients: What industries are expected to grow the most over the next decade?

“One of the things I often tell people is ‘Think about what’s happening in society and you will see emerging business models that follow suit,'” Miller says.

He also recommends pursuing businesses that are recession-proof, such as disaster and restoration services, or businesses that are low in initial investment, such as home-based businesses.

According to the International Franchise Industry’s 2012 Business Outlook report, the top franchise business lines for 2012 include personal care services, such as laundry and dry cleaning, entertainment and recreation, personal transportation and credit intermediation — for which output is expected to rise 6.2% next year. That’s followed closely by retail products and services (driven by a steady, albeit slow, rise in consumer spending) and real estate, though this is off a low base, the December report says.

“There’s opportunity [for] anybody who is entrepreneurial enough to go out and start a business,” says Terry Mackin, managing director at Generational Equity, a mergers and advisory firm that focuses on privately held and family-owned businesses as clients.

Whether part of a franchise or truly on your own, here are five other industries with significant growth potential in 2012:

1. Elder Care

With the aid of groundbreaking medical treatments and technology, Americans are living longer, and many seniors are living independently well into their golden years but with a little less mobility. The need for varying amounts of help with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, taking medication and basic personal care is leading to exponential growth in the elder care industry. Businesses and franchises are popping up.

The need for senior care services and products will become even more pressing in years to come. Not only are baby boomers’ parents living longer; as they age into their own sunset years, they too will need these services. And this group has money to spend.

Home care is in growing demand as more families seek “higher-quality, more-affordable care in the home when they need it as an alternative to moving to facilities that can be much more expensive,” says BrightStar Care CEO and founder Shelly Sun.

BrightStar provides companionship, personal care and nursing home care services to people of all ages. The 10-year-old company, which has more than 250 franchises, also provides supplemental staff to health care facilities and doctor’s offices.

2. Health and Wellness

The trend toward a healthy lifestyle is producing ample opportunity for businesses from frozen yogurt franchises to create-your-own-salad eateries to fitness centers to benefits consultants.

Consumers are looking more closely at where their food is sourced on their own, for instance, but with the escalating costs of insurance companies are simultaneously encouraging employees to become more healthy.

So-called wellness plans are growing in the workplace as more companies expand what they offer to employees, from a gym discount to a more in-depth health incentive package, including stress management and work/life balance education, according to CBIZ Benefits & Insurance, an employee benefits consultant that helps small businesses implement wellness programs.

“Wellness is a hot area of small-business growth opportunity and will be into the next decade,” says Gina Payne, National Director of Wellness at CBIZ, citing economists’ forecasts from a decade ago that wellness would be the next trillion-dollar business in U.S. GDP. “It is scheduled to hit this mark in 2012,” Payne says.

President Barack Obama’s health care reforms have also “put wellness on the top of the conversation list,” she adds.

Additionally, baby boomers are fueling the business by being “keenly interested” in preserving or reclaiming their health, while the alarmingly unhealthy younger generation is cause for concern — and change, she says.

“There is room for any and all numbers of organizations who provide disease management, health coaching, physical training, nutrition programming, technology and social media platforms and a myriad of ancillary services (massage therapy, stress management, weight loss programs, etc.) to flourish in this wellness space,” Payne says, “because the needs and opportunities are broad and diverse.”

Peter Taunton, CEO and founder of Snap Fitness, notes that the basic principles of the health and wellness space are the same today as they were 20 years ago — eat right and move your feet.

“At Snap Fitness, for example, we still offer a great workout experience, quality equipment and clean, comfortable clubs,” he says. “But now we also offer members online meal-planning services, custom vitamins and supplements and an activity monitor program that tracks your movement in and out of the gym. That means we’re able to continue working with our members to fit their needs, instead of worrying about how to get them to continue supporting our product.”

3. Warehousing

Companies are looking to save money wherever possible, and cutting the costs of owning or leasing space to hold merchandise and products can add significantly to a company’s bottom line.

Providing warehousing services and space, particularly for small businesses, shows plenty of opportunity for industry expansion.

Balsam Hill, for instance, might ship thousands of artificial trees, the bulk of its business, during the peak season — and one a day in the offseason. The company contracts with a third party for its warehousing so “I’m not paying overhead to have warehouse space that I don’t need in February,” founder and CEO Thomas Harman says.

4. Shipping/Logistics

Logistics is the management of moving packages or shipments. It includes all aspects, including insurance claims, packaging, the best way to ship and pricing, according to Steve Leavitt, COO of Unishippers.

Unishippers franchisees specifically target small to midsize businesses that do not have the resources to hire a logistics professional.

The industry is growing as consumers continue to move to e-commerce for their shopping needs. Shipping companies will also benefit from planned cuts to the U.S. Postal Service that will leave a lot of smaller merchants looking for economical ways to send their products to customers.

“Whether the economy is growing or not, products still are moved. This is especially true as the economy is starting to pick back up. Inventories start to grow, demand picks up, so the supply chain needs to take place,” Leavitt says.

5. Outsourcing/Staffing

Businesses learned during the recession — some quicker than others — how to cut without hurting business output by “recognizing the true value of technology in their day-to-day [operations],” Generation Equity’s Mackin says. “They don’t need the bookkeeper anymore, there’s QuickBooks to do the inventory. Not only do they get leaner and meaner, but they don’t have to rehire.”

This opens up a lot of opportunity for outsourcing, particularly when it comes to staffing — “the idea that businesses have found they now can take advantage of concentrating on their core competency while bringing in other [part-time or temporary] professionals who have expertise in other areas,” Mackin says.

By using temporary staffing even at the executive level, companies can save money on high-level salaries and benefits but still have access to the working capital they need.

Companies specializing in alternative staffing will see lots of growth, says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of, as employers look to hiring contractors, consultants, freelancers and other employees on a project basis as opposed to full time.

Workers can use sites such as FlexJobs to embrace this kind of employment, she says. “Prior to the recession [many workers] wouldn’t have even considered” alternative jobs, she says, but now “these kinds of contingency jobs are viable options.”

“The long-held full-time job was proven not so secure a few years ago,” Sutton Fell says. There is “a lot of skepticism now in putting all your eggs in one basket where employers don’t owe you anything. The perception of a full-time job and what kind of security that actually lends has changed.”

The new reality can be good for some workers. “It sounds so fringe but [there is] study after study that says workers would rather have more flexibility than get paid more or more vacation days or [other], more traditional benefits that a full-time job would have,” she says.


Source:  Yahoo