The Immigrant Experience & Money

*The following is an article that I wrote in partnership with Digital Federal Credit Union, DCU*

I was born on the beautiful island of Jamaica and immigrated to the United States, Brooklyn NY, at a little under 2 years old. My mom had me at 20 years old and was a single mom without much support or resources.

As a mom now, I’m amazed at how she was able to do so much, with so little.

Growing up and watching my mom work hard to provide for me, shaped me into who I am today and how I view money. While my mother didn’t know much about investing in the stock market and complex money strategies, she knew that she had to be good at saving and managing money to provide me with better opportunities.

Looking back at it now, the biggest investment she made was in me. Many immigrants see their children as their biggest investment, so they invest in their children’s education and putting them in positions to succeed. While my mom never sat down and taught me specific finance lessons, watching her manage the little she had gave me a better appreciation for money.

My mom and me when I was about 4 years old

While everyone’s life experiences are unique, I believe that a common theme found in the immigrant experience is learning how to manage limited resources, specifically finances. As an immigrant or low-to-mid earner, being creative and managing money is not a choice but a necessity.  The margin for error is low because there isn’t much, if any, discretionary funds left over at the end of the month after paying for housing, food & other essential items.  Quality financial services and education is essential in helping people go from financially just getting by to financially thriving

DCU – Digital Federal Credit Union offers its members access to interactive learning modules on the topics of overall financial health, credit and borrowing, planning and saving, and much more.

Having access to resources like the above and learning how to navigate the financial system is crucial to an immigrant’s success. Among immigrant and black communities, there is a mistrust surrounding the ability to bank using the traditional financial systems.  Credit unions may be a perfect alternative to the traditional big banking system. By design, credit unions are institutions owned and operated by the members.

Credit unions are highly focused on the communities in which they serve. The deposits that members make are turned around and lent back out to other members, for opportunities like, buying a home, starting a business, and building wealth for their families. Like my family when we first came here, most immigrants rely on the generosity of other family members who often themselves don’t have much but can offer an extra bed or somewhere to stay until they get on their feet.


This ecosystem of money and community is important in the immigrant community and is part of the credit union’s philosophy of people helping people. It aligns with our innate desire to help one another and want more for our children and future generations.

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Hey! I'm Jamila!

I want to teach you what I’ve learned through a little trial and error and a lot of discipline over the years. My goal is to help you eliminate debt, save more money and increase your net worth.

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