April 21, 2022

Let's Talk About Black Tax


“My mother calls it 'the black tax.' Because the generations who came before you have been pillaged, rather than being free to use your skills and education to move forward, you lose everything just trying to bring everyone behind you back up from zero.” Trevor Noah, Born A Crime.

What is black tax you may ask?

Allow us to paint a picture for you with excerpts from anonymous people who shared their stories on JustIvy’s Instagram story.

I have a friend who STRUGGLES” with savings because, by the time they are done sorting family matters, they barely have anything left! It’s painful to watch and even more painful to see a hardworking individual move to retirement unprepared~ Anonymous 1

I spent over Kshs 1,000,000 paying for my younger brother’s parallel fees in Uni ~ Anonymous 2

Some parents make you feel guilty when you buy yourself something expensive. They even get mad when they ask for money like Kshs 2,000 and you explain that you don’t have it ~ Anonymous 3

So, in layman’s terms, black tax is the financial support young black career men/women are expected to extend to their families or beyond. This form of support has been normalized amongst most African cultures.

But this isn’t always the case. There are situations where the most successful person in the family takes up the responsibility of providing financial help where needed, which is great because as they say, sharing is caring.

One thing to have in mind though is that you can support your family and loved ones financially but at some point, it may affect your financial growth. Especially when you’re living in an economy as tough as Kenya right now. You have to be very careful and strategic with your financial decisions.

With that, here are a few ways you can conquer black tax even in this economy because you’re a champ!

1. Learn how to set boundaries

According to personal space theory, we have boundaries and can regulate and control who we let in. Maintaining boundaries is basically about being the gatekeeper of your life in order to keep yourself safe and well.

In this case, let your family members understand that you have a boundary with how much or how far you can go with financial support. For example, if you’re supporting a cousin on campus, you can give them a limit of how many years you plan on offering your financial aid.

Also, communicate with your loved ones about what you’re okay with and what crosses a line.

2. Have open money discussions

If you have grown up in an African family, you know that topics of money are taboo and forbidden. But when you think about it, a lot of financial issues are brought due to lack of financial transparency.

Create an open and safe environment where you and your family can have honest discussions about your financial situations. Be vocal about your current situation as well as your aspirations.

This will help avoid a lot of entitlement around your finances as the supporter.

3. Equip your family with financial resources

Once you’ve had these financial discussions with your loved ones, you will have a better understanding of their knowledge on finances and how literate they are in that regard. Unfortunately, our current education system does not focus on this aspect at all, so you will have to turn to external resources.

And in today’s world, you can access them from the comfort your home. You can equip them with digital financial literacy content to help them get their finances in check. Our blog is a great place to start ;)

Hearing from financial experts is another great way to empower them. In fact, we have a webinar coming up next week on how to survive these tough economic times we have in Kenya. Attend it with them and encourage them to ask questions and actively work with them towards improving their financial literacy.

4. Pay yourself first, champ!

This basically means putting your income into your savings and investments first before spending it on expenses or leisure. The goal is to ensure you’re disciplined with your saving habits.

Put yourself first! Get your finances in check and then you can in be in a better position to help where you can. At the end of the day, you can’t serve from an empty plate.

With all these in mind, you’re in a favorable place to come through for yourself and your loved ones.

Remember to know your financial limits. When you’re creating your budget define how much you can give out, and if the asks exceeds your budget, say no!

As long as no one is dying, let people take responsibility for their financial lives.

Don’t forget to share this article with your friends who may need this information.