Written by Pauleanna Reid
‘Canada’s Queen of R&B’ Jully Black is a voice and personality that has been behind chart-topping music for over 20 years. Whether you know Black’s work from her notable discography, songwriting features or many television hosting or acting roles, Black is a down-to-earth household name and face who walks in her purpose. And she is able to do so because she embraced the knowledge of financial stability from a young age by looking ahead and setting herself up for the bigger picture. At 14, Black understood and learned that saving for a rainy day will always give you a strong leg to stand on. We speak with her about how she bounced back from financial hardship and the steps she is taking to reach her retirement or, as she calls it, her ‘relaxation’ goal.
Talk to me about your money mindset as it relates to savings goals.
I set aside 10% of everything I earn. I learned to do that at a very young age. I kind of look at myself as my manager so if I can pay someone 20% – 30% then I should also pay myself that. So that helped going to the studio in the early stages of my career. I received my first record deal when I was 14 years old from Sony New York.
Tell us about a financial hardship you’ve experienced and what did you do to get through it?
Everything changed in 2009. Those were dark days. I was releasing my third album. We [the label] chose my first single. It was fun and it was charting. And then they totally shelved the record. They decided that they weren’t going to do another single. I bought a house in 2005 so I had equity that I was able to pull from it. The problem was, now I was my own label and no longer had access to funding. I was using the equity from my house, not only fund my records, but my tour support and videos. I was doing everything a record company would do. Photo shoots too! I was pulling out the equity and when that ran out I took out a second mortgage. I refinanced my house twice before I ended up eventually selling it. That was so tough. I don’t believe my hardship should be my staff’s hardships. I kept paying everybody through my house. That was really tough on me. I wanted to make sure that it didn’t impact them at all.
What type of sacrifices did you have to make during this time?
There were some tour opportunities that I couldn’t participate in. For example, a tour on the west coast is $600 per flight. So my tour support was impacted. But I’m very resourceful. When your intentions are clear and you discover the reasons why you do what you do, the hardships become an adventure. In 2016, I had $0.16 in my bank account. I remember saying to myself “what are you going to do about it?” I was doing a keynote speech the same day and I made a decision to be honest and in sharing that; being courageous and vulnerable; it allowed others to open up to me. It allowed someone to give me the opportunity to take a life coaching course for free. Sometimes you think the help is only going to come financially but then I thought, this person is teaching me how to fish and from that I’m able to offer even more under the Jully Black Brand. That got me on my feet pretty quickly.
Of course, my friends were asking ‘why didn’t you say anything?’ But all I needed was 30 days. If my tribe can help me in that one month I don’t need more than that. I’m good. Oftentimes many of us won’t ask for the help.
Do you have an accountant or a money coach that helps with your finances now?
I’ve always had a business manager, financial advisor and accountant. I have always had that dream team. But ultimately I had to bet on myself, my dream and my purpose. Because the money that I have was earned from my gift, talent and work ethic. As long as I have all of that intact, I can earn it again and that’s why I have to maintain a positive head space.
What is your savings and investment plan moving forward? Are you thinking about retirement?
I have changed the idea of retirement to relaxation. I don’t believe in retirement at all. Especially when you are in a purpose because there is no retirement in purpose. My goal is to earn enough money to relax for five years if I choose to. I’ve taken the time to look at what income I need to live and enjoy life. My financial advisor is dealing with the stocks, bonds and this year I gave him $20,000 to invest. I heard Oprah say this one quote in the beginning that she asked God to provide more than enough to pay her bills. And that’s what I’ve been saying. Now that I have more than enough to pay my bills, I can pay myself and others.
Do you have any final advice for achieving financial independence?
I’m going to quote Denzel Washington: “You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.” Enjoy the things that you have but don’t let it validate who you are. Really look at what financial success means to you.