I recently read an article that said Goldsboro was the fifth poorest city in the United States. The original article was written by 247wallst.com and I read the summary provided by the Triangle Business Journal. You can read the article here. I was interested in the article because I live in Pikeville, Goldsboro’s neighbor to the north.
Of course, I’m sure it was written to be “click-bait” so everyone would feel sorry for our community and call our politicians, but I am always an optimist and found positives in the article. Actually, it inspired me as a financial planner just starting my business in this area.
First, I never like any survey that uses “median.” The median is the number that sits in the middle of a set of numbers. For example, if you had 3 salaries let’s say 0, 50, and 100,000, the median would be 50. The mean or average salary would be $33,350 while the median salary would only be $50. Granted, our sample was only 3 and it shows a major difference while the article’s sample was probably huge, but my point is that using median doesn’t tell a very good complete story when you’re talking numbers.
Furthermore, the story doesn’t take into account that we are a rural community and have a lower cost of living than other larger cities with higher “median” incomes. Not to mention that many jobs here are Government jobs, which don’t pay well. Granted we do have poverty problems, but I can argue that much of the poverty is because the people who need assistance (like people with disabilities) become trapped under the super-low income restrictions. Those of us that are trying to dig out of the hole can’t because of the laws designed to help us. I am a self-employed, college graduate, but I would be one of the 25% listed in the poverty number in the article because if I generate too much income, I’ll lose medical help which would cost me more than I’ll ever make. So, you see the law keeps me under the poverty line ($11,770 for individuals in 2015 according to healthcare.gov). Yes, my life goal is to get off assistance permanently, but it has to be done carefully where I can cover my own healthcare costs.
The “political” solution to the poverty and unemployment problem is to throw money at it creating yet another program that may help a little. However, there was a mural in Goldsboro that says, “We want change, not dollars.” I believe the artist is saying that we want ways for us to help ourselves, not incentives (such as the low income restrictions) for us to stay in poverty.
The key to building wealth is learning how to maximize the value of what you have and not spend more than you make. The citizens of Goldsboro made me proud because, according to the article, the mortgage payments on the median house will be less than 20% of the median monthly income, which is GREAT! This means that we’re not buying houses that we cannot afford. In my opinion, this fact alone reverses the article. Goldsboro is not the 5th poorest city, but we are a city that is building the right way, within our budget. I am so glad that as a financial planner, I have the opportunity to help residents of Wayne County build wealth while we help the community grow in the right way. I would love the opportunity to help you!