Here’s a personal finance story that had me pulling my hair out.
A Texas pastor supposedly told female staffers and parishioners to stop getting hair weaves because they were spending too much on that personal expense, reported AmericaPreachers.com.
In addition to saying he was concerned that wearing a weave meant the women had low self esteem, he criticized them for the amount of money he believed they were spending for their weaves.
“I lead a church where our members are struggling financially,” AmericanPreachers quotes the Texas pastor. “I mean really struggling. Yet, a 26-year-old mother in my church has a $300 weave on her head. NO. I will not be quiet about this.”
The edict generated a lot of buzz online.
TheRoot.com contributing editor Demetria L. Lucas wrote: “It’s curious why he chose to berate women for their hair, instead of actually focusing on the problem of financial miseducation or poor priorities among his congregation.”
She added: “Educating his congregation -- men included, because most of the men lining up overnight to buy Air Jordans and spending money on rims have poor financial priorities, too -- would be more helpful than attacking women’s hair.”
I’m not sure she can go as far as to say most men buying expensive sneakers are poor money managers, but I do agree with Lucas on the point of singling out the women. Why pick on weaves? What about the money so many spend on smartphones? Or cable? Or cars? Or eating out?
You don’t help people become better financial stewards by attacking their choices. They often get defensive and tune you out. Instead, you guide them to better money management by giving them the tools to make better financial decisions.
Color of Money Question of the Week
Do you think the pastor was right to pick on weave wearers? Send your responses to email@example.com. Put “To Weave or Not to Weave” in the subject line and include your full name, city and state.
Preying on Parishioners
ABC’s “The Lookout” recently updated a story it’s been following about a man the SEC accused of bilking church members out of millions in a Ponzi scheme. The show profiled victims of the scheme, including a couple that lost $1.3 million.
Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commissions charged Ephren W. Taylor II with running a scam that targeted church members. The SEC said Taylor told members he was going to invest their money in charitable causes and economically disadvantaged businesses. Instead, Taylor used the money for his own personal expenses, including publishing and promoting his books, hiring consultants to boost his image and to fund his wife’s singing career, according to the agency.
The SEC says Taylor, a minister’s son, used his church connections to raise more than $11 million from hundreds of investors nationwide from 2008 to 2010 for his Ponzi scheme. Taylor promoted his scam by hosting a multi-city “Building Wealth Tour,” speaking to large churches such as Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Texas and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church led by Bishop Eddie Long. During meetings with parishioners, Taylor would trash traditional investment vehicles such as CDs, mutual funds and the stock market, calling them “foolish” and “money losers,” the SEC said.
In 2011, Long posted a YouTube video asking Taylor to return the parishioner’s money.
“He preyed upon investors’ faith and their desire to help others, convincing them that they could earn healthy returns while also helping their communities,” David Woodcock, director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office, said when Taylor was charged.
“The Lookout” said it had received a tip about Taylor’s whereabouts. An attorney representing Taylor, who has stopped his public appearances, said he had no comment about the pending SEC charges.
You have to watch ABC’s two-part program on Taylor. You will shake your head in disbelief. It’s also a cautionary tale about affinity fraud, which is when people use a personal connection such as religious faith or ethnic status to gain people’s trust — and their money.
Nearly one in four Ponzi schemes involves affinity-group targets, according to a study by consulting firm Marquet International. The three most common affinity groups targeted by scams, accounting for 85 percent of such cases, are the elderly or retired, religious groups and ethnic groups.
Affinity fraud is hard to prevent because the pitch often comes from someone the victim trusts or someone introduced the victim by a friend or relative the victim respects. In such cased, people let down their guard and suspend common sense, which opens them up to becoming a victim.
Just keep in mind that having trust and faith in someone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also have an abundance of skepticism.
This week’s Color of Money Live chat is canceled.
Join me next Thursday, Sept. 5, at noon ET. My guest will be Robert L. Deitz, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. His book, “Congratulations - You Just Got Hired: Don’t Screw It Up,” is the Color of Money Book Club pick for this month.
A survey by two researchers at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business found that savers are preferred over spenders as romantic partners.
“The desire to attract a romantic partner often stimulates conspicuous consumption, but we find that people who chronically save are more romantically attractive than people who chronically spend,” wrote Jenny G. Olson and Scott Rick in their paper “A Penny Saved is a Partner Earned: The Romantic Appeal of Savers.”
For last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “Do you find savers sexy?”
“Savers are very sexy,” wrote Sandy M. Banks of Chattanooga, Tenn.
And from Twitter followers:
Dreadlock Diplomacy @esfaceblack wrote, “Im [sic] a say it once, and [probably] say it again several times later... saving $$ is SEXY.”
Constance Avery @Sarrobsgirl said, “Yes, I do, as long as they are open to an occasional extravagance.”
Tia Lewis contributed to this report.
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