Kara PÃ©rez is the founder of Go bravely, a financial platform focused on feminist economics and inclusive personal finance.
Each family has stories and lessons that they pass on to the next generation. Sometimes it’s a beloved recipe or the fact that Vick’s VapoRub heals all wounds, but it’s rarely, if ever, about financial planning. For most Latinx families in the United States, these latter lessons are hard to come by. The typical white family has eight times the wealth of the typical black family and five times the wealth of the typical Latinx family, according to the US Federal Reserve. This statistic has remained virtually unchanged since 2016.
It is not because we are “bad with money” as we might think. It’s not written in our DNA, there are real structural barriers we face in creating wealth. From the lack of access to specific investment accounts to the generational lessons we learn and do not learn at home, the pandemic aggravates these problems. Being an immigrant or the first generation means that we are building wealth from scratch and learning to navigate a financial system with no experience or knowledge.
When we talk about trying to change generational narratives, structural work is important, but the personal side is essential. Generational change can come from what we teach in our own homes that shapes the future of our families.
I spoke with two Latinas (who requested that their full names not be released) who were actively working to unlearn their own personal finance stories in a bold attempt to create change for themselves and the next generation. Eresma N., who works in IT and lives in Austin, Texas, grew up in a home with no financial orientation. âGrowing up with money was something my dad handled and asking for money for a school function or whatever was a BIG DEAL. I’ve always been told, “Do you think we have a money tree growing in the garden?”
“No one ever said to me in my 20s, ‘Hey, you should be maxing out your 401K or at least trying to do it. “No one ever explained what an IRA is and that you should put X in savings, you should have an emergency fund, etc. It was just right – get a job, pay your bills, congratulations, you are successful in life, âEresma said.
âNow I follow a lot of financiers on social media and try to learn as much as I can about index funds. I worked in real estate for years, so I learned how to build wealth through real estate just by being in the industry.
Blanca V, who works in education in Round Rock, Texas, had to “unlearn horrible money habits and try to learn how to survive in a white world.”
âI grew up with a different notion of being humble than the traditional definition, and that you don’t ask for help when it comes to money because it’s personal. My family, especially my father, considered being ‘humble’ to be quiet and quiet. The belief that if you just do a good job, someone is bound to notice. I have found this to be often true But that implicitly taught me that networking, talking about my work, showing what I do is wrong, that it is arrogant.
This idea of ââkeeping a low profile and getting the job done is a common belief among Latinxes and clearly a barrier to networking and ascension. Now Blanca is working to change those narratives for the next chapter in her life and financial journey.
âI’m unlearning the shame of selling myself and networking for my business and my job, and I’m also learning to talk about money and money issues. Silence is in fact what creates models of injustice. For example, not talking about our salary, when sharing our salary would show gender, racial and ethnic disparities. “
Latinas in the United States are on average paid 45 percent less than white males and 30 percent less than white women. We earn 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns and this year Latina Equal Salary takes place on October 21 because it takes the average Latina woman, working full-time, year-round, an additional 10 months to earn what the average non-Hispanic white man makes in a year. Part of the change is taking it upon ourselves to have these conversations about money and compensation to help all of us move forward and get paid fairly.
âLearning to sell myself has required me to learn how humility, networking, and talking about you and your job doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Now my definition of humility revolves around the idea that I should know who I really am – both the amazing things I can do and my limits.
For Eresma and Blanca, their experiences made them want more of the next generation of Latinas. Both want young Latinas to know that they can stand in their own financial power, without a man in charge of household money or having to rely on someone else to manage. finances elsewhere.
“It’s imperative [for young women] to understand finances, savings and how to budget your own money BEFORE you get married, âsays Eresma. Men are also not part of Blanca’s financial plan.
âI grew up learning that the man of the house should handle the finances and that your role as wife is not part of any financial decision. Today I now have a business where I help organizations organize their thinking around who they are and where they want to go so that they can also more easily sell themselves and say no to things. This is what I want future Latinos to know; our value and share it, âshe shares.
Charting a new course for yourself and for future generations requires looking inward from the start; What about your own life that you want to change? What do you need to accomplish this? And then, how do you create this change for your loved ones and those to come? As we celebrate our legacy this month, we can also celebrate the innovation we can bring to our culture. We can develop new money stories and work to develop them. We can change where we are going, while honoring who we are.