Culturally Relevant Tips for ‘Investing in the Future’

Don’t miss First Nations Development Institute’s (FNDI) free “Investing for the Future” webinar today, September 12, 1-2 p.m. EST. Register here. For those interested in diving deeper into financial education about stocks, bonds and asset allocation, an Investing for the Future Train-the-Trainer Workshop takes place October 16-17 at Northern Quest Resort & Casino in Airway Heights, Washington.

FNDI calls Shawn Spruce (Laguna Pueblo) “Dr. Per Cap” because he’s the mind behind the recently updated and more culturally rich curriculum “Investing for the Future” and the financial advice columns for Native Americans.

For more than 10 years, Spruce has taught financial skills and investor education to Native communities. As a former Laguna Pueblo tribal investment committee member, he managed institutional funds. He continues to host workshops with tribal councils and investment committees, in addition to consulting individuals and communities through FNDI.

“The approach [to saving and investing] is the same, whether you’re an individual with a few thousand bucks and a 401K plan, or you’re a tribal council and responsible for tens of millions of dollars or even hundreds of millions of dollars,” Spruce said. “The underlying principles of understanding and assessing risk and diversifying your investments and balancing your portfolio, they’re the same. It’s just the products and strategies might be a little different.”

Before offering tips, Spruce likes to address common resistance to financial education and investing among Native people. He emphasized that managing money and investing is culturally relevant and rooted in indigenous practices.

“One of the greatest areas of push back we hear is: ‘This isn’t the Native American way. We weren’t raised to think about money in terms of investing it, thinking about our credit, using bank accounts and retirement plans. That’s not the Indian way.’ What we really try to hit on is this idea that money is a resource. Maybe centuries ago, the resource might have been crops, or the resource might have been land or having enough meat. We invested those things. When you plant a crop you’re growing those seeds. That’s an investment for the future, or saving for when times might get tough. Managing, saving and investing resources is nothing new to Indian Country. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years, and we’ve been doing it successfully. We want people to understand that money is just a new type of resource, and these same principles of saving, of managing, of budgeting, of investing still apply. That’s a big part of our cultural approach.”

The new “Investing for the Future” curriculum features Indian humor and culturally relevant anecdotes that Spruce thinks readers will find amusing, useful and helpful to put things into perspective.

Shawn Spruce, a.k.a. “Dr. Per Cap” offered the following tips for Native Business readers:  

 Dr. Per Cap says: Don’t forget to diversify!

What’s the best way to reduce risk? In one word, it’s “diversification.” Diversification simply means, “Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket.” For example, you may put some money into stocks, some into bonds, and some into a savings account. If one of these investments does poorly, hopefully the other investments will do well and will help make up for it.

“Stocks are Ownership Stakes; Bonds are Debt. Stocks and bonds represent two different ways for an entity to raise money to fund or expand their operations. … When an entity issues a bond, it is issuing debt with the agreement to pay interest for the use of the money. Stocks are simply shares of individual companies.”

Dr. Per Cap says: A little goes a long way! That is the power of “periodic investing.”

It does not take a lot of money to invest. You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to start. One of the most common ways to invest is through periodic investing. This is when you consistently invest smaller amounts of money over time. For example, you may be able to invest $100 from each paycheck. That may not seem like much, but it is amazing what that consistent effort can do over time. Time is your greatest ally when it comes to investing. For example, $100 invested each month over 10 years, compounded quarterly at 6%, adds to up $16,280.37! And how about in 30 years? You will have $99,386.46. That’s a lot of clam shells! Investing a little bit of money each month goes a long way.