The Financial Diary of a Hispanic Millennial: What I’ve Learned
February 27, 2014 : Jose Fulgencio – Guest Contributor
Ed note: One of the intriguing parts of personal finance is that it is indeed personal. We all grow up with different ideas about money and learn different things from our friends, family and teachers. Jose Fulgencio reflects on his experience and shares advice for other Latino Millennials.
I am a young professional, a Latino and a member of the Millennial generation. But growing up in a household where neither of my parents graduated from high school nor had adequate financial literacy, I did not know what it meant to invest, save or appreciate the power of a dollar.
As the Hispanic American population continues to grow, so of course does the number of young Hispanic Millennial professionals. Yet that up-and-coming group faces similar challenges when it comes to investing, saving and knowing how to properly spend money because, like in my experience, most of our parents grew up as individuals living from paycheck to paycheck.
With this background in mind, here are two main challenges young Hispanic Millennials face when it comes to our financial mindset.
- The Hispanic Millennial grows up not knowing what a true investment is. Instead of stocks, bonds or 401(k)s, things like cars with rims or platinum chains are framed as good investments that will help increase wealth. Many parents of Hispanic Millennials spend their money on unnecessary luxuries, such as jewelry, lavish parties and expensive cars that they cannot afford, causing them to live from paycheck to paycheck. The lack of investment knowledge and poor spending habits are passed down to their children. Overcoming this perception is an obstacle.
- Some parents of Hispanic Millennials believe that education is a waste of time and brings no real value because it does not immediately add to household income. This mentality is rooted in their experience growing up in their home country where kids were viewed primarily as workers. Many current parents brought that philosophy with them to the U.S., meaning that countless Hispanic Millennials enter the workforce believing that money today is more important than money tomorrow.
From my experience so far, here are two tips for my fellow Hispanic Millennials to overcome these challenges and to avoid a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle:
- Do whatever you can to invest in your education today because it can lead to a more prosperous financial future. If you haven’t gone to college and are working, money may be coming in today, but your growth prospects are limited. Most likely, your current income lends itself to a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. Payday loans and credit cards seem like easy ways to ease the burden, but they only add to the hole.
- Know that investing is a long-term project and not a fast-track way to get rich. Focus on investing your income properly and consult with professionals to understand the risks involved. Purchasing a car you can’t afford and adding rims or a sound system may seem cool now, but it is not a wise investment for the long run.
Investing money may seem like part of a distant future you can’t currently see and payday loans may seem like an easy solution to get by for another day. But if you believe this and you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, think about why that may be. Is it because of your parents’ example? Or is it a lifestyle you chose and feed into? As I continue to grapple with these questions, I encourage my fellow Hispanic Millennials to also seek honest answers and join me on the path to financial success.