“I’ll never betray or deceive you my friend but…If you show me the cash, Then I will take it” – Lyrics from “Money” by Michael Jackson

When I agreed to write about Michael Jackson and money, I wasn’t worried about a lack of material to back up a story on his debts and spending habits.  It’s no secret that Jackson had money troubles.  While many of us can use some improvement in our financial skills, Jackson lived beyond his means to an extent that most of us can’t even comprehend.  Some reports claim that he was spending $20 to $30 million more than what he was bringing in each year.  Even as the managers of his estate have paid off many of his debts from the income generated after his death, Jackson’s estate still owes a whopping $300 million to Barclays PLC.  

Many people express shock at Jackson’s and other celebrities’ inability to manage their money.  We think to ourselves, “If I had that much money, I wouldn’t get into that type of trouble.  If I just had $20,000 more dollars a year or were making six figures, everything would work out fine.”  But one lesson we can learn from Jackson is that we should not oversimplify money management and what it takes to live a financially healthy life.  Many of us are not so different from Jackson when it comes to how we handle our money.  It’s often our relationship with money that impacts our wealth, not the amount of money that’s landing in our bank accounts each month.

Money problems often stem from much deeper psychological and emotional issues and Jackson had more than his fair share of stress and trials.  With the first molestation trial accusation coming in 1993 and the second in 2003, Jackson’s experience was referred to as a “walk down a tragic path, financially, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, legally” by his former publicist. 

Just as Jackson’s physical appearance was a reflection of some of the emotional turmoil he experienced throughout his life, I believe that many of his financial woes were also a result of some of his internal struggles.  Although his life was tragically cut short, reflecting on Jackson’s difficulties can help all of us identify and pinpoint internal issues that make it difficult to achieve the financial freedom that many of us seek.  Do you feel like you are losing your financial grip?  Consider the following signs:

1)    You are lying about your spending to your spouse or partner or to yourself.

2)    You ignore your bills or your credit card statements.

3)    You don’t adjust your spending when your income decreases.

4)    You run out of money before your next paycheck.

5)    You’re living off of credit cards and borrowed money.

Several of these signs were present in Jackson’s life.  So what do you do if you find yourself in similar circumstances?

1) Be mindful of your money habits.  Think about how you feel when you spend money.  Are you spending because you’re stressed?  Are you spending because you’re bored?  Do you buy things because having something new makes you feel better?  If you find yourself shopping for emotional reasons, take a step back and consider other ways to improve your mood that don’t involve your credit card.

2) Form or join a support group. It’s not easy to change behavior that stems from internal reasons on your own.  Having the support of people who are trying to achieve similar goals can help keep you on the road toward success.  When you deal with problems on your own, you may feel shame and let your debt spiral out of control.  Oprah Winfrey referred to Michael Jackson as “profoundly lonely” after a 1993 interview. I can’t help but think that this may have contributed to some of Jackson’s unhealthy behavior.  You may find that participating in a small group helps you to address your financial demons and get on the right track.  You will learn that you are not alone. 

3) Determine if you need to seek professional assistance for your internal financial demons.  Sometimes it is not enough to join a support group.  Sometimes you need a professional who will help you delve into past issues and hurtful situations that are now having an impact on your financial health. Consider speaking with a therapist or a financial coach who can help you work through your relationship with money.

I’m saddened that part of Jackson’s legacy is the debt that he left behind.  But we can remember the man for his amazing talent and learn from his actions and his life. 

 R.I.P Michael Jackson.

Do you think there is a strong connection between how Michael Jackson viewed himself and how he handled his money or do you think his financial literacy or lack thereof determined how he handled his money?

Kimberly Allman, Esq. is a financial planner and the President of Allman Financial Planning, LLC where she assists individuals who are seeking to improve their financial health.  She is also the Manager of Homeownership Preservation for the New York Mortgage Coalition where she provides assistance to homeowners in distress through seminars, informational workshops and one-on-one counseling.  She started her career as a corporate lawyer where she advised clients on a variety of investment products including hedge funds, mutual funds, structured products and real estate investment trusts.

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  1. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

    This was an excellent article. I really loved the tips to get a financial grip, too! Thanks, Kim! I think MJ’s money handling did reflect his internal struggles to an extent.

  2. Felicia Imdoinme Konan via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 10:55 am

    The Notorious B.I.G said “more money more problems”…….I guess just because you are rich doesn’t mean your life is perfect!!……but I sure would love some of that MJ $$$…..:)

  3. Deborah Stokes via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

    You are correct, that was an awesome article. And to be honest, I believe our spending reflects what’s within. Black people should know we have money as a people, but the spending we do is RIDICULOUS! We literally give our money to other ethnic groups. We support them and in tell they give us there behinds to kiss, because they think we are stupid! It’s sad that in tell we don’t know no better, and refuse to support our own people! Ladies this 6 billion dollar business that we support alone, as women, the HAIR, the Nails, etc. Well look at it this way, we have made those slanted-eyed people extremely rich! Think about!

  4. Rho Be via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I def agree. I see the correlation.

  5. www.shalenadiva.com via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 11:05 am

    @deborah–wasn’t it good? They are all good because they examine him and see what we can learn from him. We don’t bash him or idolize him. These are great articles. Thanks for sharing. Wasn’t Kim on point though? She gives great advice!

  6. Deborah Stokes via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Coodoes to kim, I am taking her advice, cause I’m one of us too, and do some dumb things with my finances at times to! Oh I’ve learned a few things!

  7. Denisha Oliver via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I agrre. Too many influencial people who were not always lookin at his welll being. It was all about the fame. We have to very careful who we choose to have in our lives and handle our business. This is something that everyone honestly sit back and think about. “who is for me.Who is agaist me” If you cant come up with some healthy outcomes then ur outcome miiiight be like his.

  8. Karen Wilson via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

    In response to the money that we spend on getting our hair and nails done I have learn to cut perm and color my hair although I have to buy product it is not nearly as much as going to the salon sitting half the day and paying for it. I sirmised that I have been going to a salon for over 30 yrs I should have learned something it didn’t take me that long to get two degrees and that it what we use to do,it saves me a lot of money,as well as my nails. I think it works both ways we think that money solves much deeper issues.

  9. Jerry J Edwards Jr via Facebook on June 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

    You know I have to chime in here….but a little later.

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