Grokking Money\’s Immigrant Finances Interview Series

Image from Grokking Money

We are so excited to highlight Grokking Money\’s terrific interview series of immigrant personal finance stories. This series does a great job drawing out some common themes that immigrants face when it comes to money, such as overcoming and avoiding the materialistic American consumer culture, learning about credit cards for the first time and debt, paying for the care of elderly parents, and figuring out how to invest.

A few of our favorite takeaways from the series:

\”Immigrants specifically do have to build financial knowledge from the start and begin wealth accumulation as soon as possible. Many immigrants do start from 0 which means creating generational wealth takes more time and effort. Understanding this and knowing that we may need to take different actions regarding our money is important.\” — Catherine Agopcan, Immigrant Finances interview #2

\”Earn, save and invest as soon as you can, as often as you can. Don’t fall for the trap of consumerism, live below your means.\” — Frugal Latino, Immigrant Finances interview #4

\”I would say don’t forget where you came from and the obstacles you have overcome. Use that drive to push yourself and snatch the many opportunities still available in this country. Don’t get blinded with consumerism. Define your priorities and find out what’s important to you.\” — Small Budget Retirement, Immigrant Finances interview #1

\”Understand the rules of the American system. Decide if you are going back home because it changes how you do things. Understand social security and how it will support you in retirement. The “experts” are not experts they are salespeople. Most people live for vanity and they really are not wealthy. Don’t get caught in that trap. Also, your money stories and values are different than American values.\” — Rocky Lalvani, Richer Soul,  Immigrant Finances interview #2

Some excellent summaries of the unique immigrant money experience:

\”I left my country of birth in my late 20’s. In those years, I witnessed and experienced a booming economy that succumbed year after year to the point where food and shelter became the main priorities to survive. I have been through two coups ‘e tat, stood in line to buy food and feared for my life a few times. All these experiences make me think of how important it is to have always a plan B, C and D. Situations change, economies fluctuate and if you are not prepared it can be catastrophic for your family. I never take anything for granted. Even when my job as a school teacher, and having a Union, is relatively secure I don’t take it for granted. I feel like I always need to know what I would do when misfortune strikes. Migrating to the United States has changed my mindset. I went from thinking about someday having my own place to live and providing for my family to now, thinking about the opportunity of becoming financially independent and freeing up myself so that I can spend more time doing what I want. In a sense, I feel like I am pairing up the frugality I was used to back home with the unlimited opportunities I have access to in the U.S.\” — Small Budget Retirement, Immigrant Finances interview #1

\”I do still remember coming to America with only a few boxes of possessions and living in a one bedroom so I know I don’t need a lot of stuff to be happy. I’m getting back to those roots after spending many years as a consumer.\” — Catherine Agopcan, Immigrant Finances interview #2

\”I think there’s a misconception sometimes when you do live in the US that you are automatically well off. While those that live in the US may earn more, the standard of living can also be so much more which eats up your earnings. \”– Catherine Agopcan, Immigrant Finances interview #2

\”I think any influence on investment decisions by virtue of being an immigrant is one of constantly feeling like a fish out of water. There is a constant worry about the risks involved in investing. There aren’t any people in our networks who have gone through what we have, or something similar, who can tell us — this is what you need to do to minimize risks in investing. We’re pretty much on our own so there is a constant sense, albeit minor, of paranoia about investments, tanking. As a consequence, we find that we’re extremely conservative about investments; we are quite risk averse.\” — Joe Chuck, Immigrant Finances interview #10


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