“A tree is best measured when it is down,” the poet Carl Sandburg once observed, “and so it is with people.” The recent death of Harry Belafonte at the age of 96 has prompted many assessments of what this pioneering singer-actor-activist accomplished in a long and fruitful life.
Belafonte’s career as a ground-breaking entertainer brought him substantial wealth and fame; according to Playbill magazine, “By 1959, he was the highest paid Black entertainer in the industry, appearing in raucously successful engagements in Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles.” He scored on Broadway, winning a 1954 Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical – John Murray Anderson's Almanac. Belafonte was the first Black person to win the prestigious award. A 1960 television special, “Tonight with Belafonte,” brought him an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series, making him the first Black person to win that award. He found equal success in the recording studio, bringing Calypso music to the masses via such hits as “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.”
Harry Belafonte - Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) (Live)www.youtube.com
Belafonte’s blockbuster stardom is all the more remarkable for happening in a world plagued by virulent systemic racism. Though he never stopped performing, by the early 1960s he’d shifted his energies to the nascent Civil Right movement. He was a friend and adviser to the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as the New York Times stated, Belafonte “put up much of the seed money to help start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was one of the principal fund-raisers for that organization and Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that “he helped launch one of Mississippi’s first voter registration drives and provided funding for the Freedom Riders. His activism extended beyond the U.S. as he fought against apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela and Miriam Makeba, campaigned for Mandela’s release from prison, and advocated for famine relief in Africa.” And in 1987, he received an appointment to UNICEF as a goodwill ambassador.
Over a career spanning more than seventy years, Belafonte brought joy to millions of people. He also did something that is, perhaps, even greater: he fostered the hope that a better world for all could be created. And, by his example, demonstrated how we might go about bringing that world into existence.
A Few Financial Tips For All Your Major Life Events
Major milestones can be some of the most memorable, yet stressful moments of your life. First, there’s marriage, then there’s your first home, and then, the kids. Nothing can prepare you for that day when you’re headed out with baby in tow, covered in spit-up, on 4 hours of sleep, and you’re not going to make it to work on time. Through the excitement, your finances can get lost in the shuffle. While most people agree that money is important, they don’t take the time to get help to plan for their future. Enter LearnVest: one of the top-line financial planning services that can better prepare you for these major life events. Here are some of the tips they suggest to offer some help.
1. Moving in together. Whether you’re moving in with your significant other or finally tying the knot, a discussion on how you and your partner plan to share bills and bank accounts is a must, even if it’s awkward. Your combined financial situations will determine the best direction. For example, you can share a joint checking account for expenses and keep separate accounts for your discretionary funds or savings. Couples who are financially equal may both put 50% of their earnings in the shared account, but those who don’t earn the same may want to contribute different amounts. Regardless, all couples should discuss their options and agree on a plan before they co-habitate.
2. Time to settle down. Is buying a home on your wish list? You’ve made it to your next big step -- buying a home. Aside from the down payment, taxes, lawyers, closing costs, insurance, real estate brokers, emergency funds, and electricity are just some of the costs you’ll need to confront as a new homeowner. Some people will do a trial mortgage, when they pretend to make a monthly mortgage payment for a few months to see if they can handle the expense. However, the best way to prepare yourself is to make sure you have an emergency fund. Once you own your home, you are responsible for repairs and maintenance. An emergency fund will help save you from credit card debt.
3. Daycare is the new college. If you’re planning to have kids you may need childcare while continuing to work. Recently, the increasing costs of childcare compare to a college tuition or mortgage payment. The good news is there are some tax savings that can help you save. Ask your accountant if you qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which may include anywhere from 20% - 35% of your childcare costs (with a cap of $3,000 per child and $6,000 for more than one child). Also, sign up for a Daycare Flexible-Spending Account to set aside pretax dollars to pay for daycare expenses (maximum annual contribution is $5,000).*
4. Building the nest egg. With so many investing options, how do you know what’s best for you? Let’s look at both the IRA and Roth IRA. Whichever one you choose will depend on your taxable income and age to determine if you need a tax break now or later. If you are young and don’t need the tax break now, you’ll likely choose a Roth IRA; the contributions can potentially grow over time and you receive the benefits when you retire.
How LearnVest can help.
Unlike traditional financial planners, LearnVest is a company that wants to make financial planning accessible and affordable to everyone. They do this with a suite of online tools and financial planners for the modern too-busy-for-life person. LearnVest prioritizes your financial planning based on three foundations: getting out of debt, establishing an emergency fund, and preparing for retirement. From there, you can set additional goals and work with LearnVest to achieve them on a realistic timeline. Whether you want help with retirement or want a debt-free vacation, LearnVest will create a customized plan and the instructions to get there. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in your life. Now is the best time to start thinking about your future.
Update:Follow this link to learn more about LearnVest and sign up for a financial plan today.
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. LearnVest, Inc. is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation.
*Figures applicable for tax year 2016