His book guides everyday people to financial literacy
By Dwight Hobbes
“Some are born great,” according to William Shakespeare, “some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” Well, some it seems also seize it by the throat. That’s the sort of sense of purpose and determination you get a feel for when talking to New Beginning Financial Group (www.nbfinancialgroup.com) chair, president and CEO Mark A. Wingo.
In a telephone interview with the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, he spoke in firm tones with inherent authority as someone who has come up from virtually nothing and become the kind of world-beater who has been profiled in such publications as Black Enterprise and Ebony.
Where flocks of fly-by-nighters hop up and down on a soap box, peddling get-rich-quick schemes, claiming to know how to advise you with buzzword concepts like “wealth creation,” Wingo speaks from experience as a practical example of how to financially inform and empower oneself.
While the benefit to be derived is universal, he makes a point of addressing African Americans interested in getting better at making and managing money. “[It’s good for] people to know that there are Black-owned service companies out here that really want to help them achieve financial success and reach their goals.
“[With regard to] taxes, debt, financial struggles, success comes when we share the information with each other.” His company specializes in, among other services, helping clients to cut a tax burden in as much as half; resolve debt — mortgages included — in under 10 years; and devise a budget that can realize, on the average, an extra $300 to $800 a month. That and more information is available in his book, Wingonomics.
“We’re powerless when we’re not willing to work with one another and share the information. When you look at the numbers, we have a buying power of trillions of dollars. Black buying power is at an all-time high. But, our investments are [comparatively] minimal. We’re not investing. We’re not saving.”
Along with financial well-being, he believes, “There is a new ‘wealth is knowledge’ because we live in this global economy and have such technology [for communication, including] social media. We can share the message to [those younger] that we can succeed.”
Lest house or apartment renters get the wrong idea, ownership — the area of mortgage management — is not the only field where Wingo has shared his considerable experience. Indeed, an MSN Money article, “New Renters: Married With Children,” relates that he and his wife Rickele, when owning went sour, dug in their heels and got back on their financial feet while trading a mortgage for a lease. This is important information in a day and age with horror stories about banks increasingly bringing homes down around house-owners heads.
To be sure, the Wingos’ home-owning dreams ran aground due to circumstances that could’ve happened to anyone — and does more frequently than real estate outfits are prone to disclose — through no fault of their own. From a poorly constructed roof to slipshod plumbing, costs grew greater than their ability to cope.
The straw broke the camel’s back when he lost his job with, of all things, a mortgage lender and she was on maternity leave. So, when the bank took the house, they pulled together, started over from scratch, and made themselves a new home as renters.
His is hardly the pedigree you’d expect to find in a success story. It goes against the grain of just about every imaginable scenario. For one, he endured an experience common to all too many Black families, that of growing up without a father — or any man at all — in the household. You can draw a direct line from that root problem to jail, drugs and, all too often, an early grave. And having gone fatherless wasn’t even the whole picture.
He recalls, “I dropped out of college, went through foreclosure, a whole bunch of personal debt, overdrawn bank accounts, outstanding loans. I wasn’t going to just shut down and run from my problems, because that’s basically what I’d seen around me.”
There are many men who never so much as bounce back from such disadvantage to not merely subsist but, in fact, prevail, he notes, “as an entrepreneur and family provider.” How did he overcome that serious lack of a constructive role model?
He learned, so to speak by example, what not to become. “I guess it has to do with seeing my father and not wanting to do what he did. When I [relate to] my son, sometimes it’s a struggle, but I explain why I’m not that way.”
Wingo adds, “I don’t know if I can say I’ve overcome. I can say I’m overcoming. It’s still a work in progress. The best is yet to come.”
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
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