Maria Melchor, financial educator and creator of FirstGenLiving, joins the Journey To Launch Podcast to talk about her experience being the first in her family to build lasting wealth in America and how she built FirstGenLiving into the successful business it is today.
We also talk about taking on student loan debt to avoid burdening parents with school expenses, “survivor’s guilt,” the fallacy of the “working harder will make you wealthier” narrative, and more.
FirstGenLiving began in 2020 and reaches an audience of 130,000+ across social media platforms. FirstGenLiving provides personal finance education tailored to the experience of first-generation immigrants, students, and professionals in the United States. Maria has been featured in outlets including CNBC, Univision, and Money Magazine.In this episode you’ll learn about:
- How Maria’s immigrant background shaped her journey and influences her finances
- The challenge of raising second generation kids with grit through intentional parenting
- Guilt and anxiety surrounding making more money than anyone in your family
- Navigating helping family financially, starting an online content creation business, pitching yourself to loved ones, and more
Check out the video to this episode on YouTube below or by clicking here.Episode 358: Navigating First Generation Wealth + Helping Family With Finances With Maria Melchor Click To Tweet
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Maria Melchor 0:00
I know that in the US, you don't need an immigration status to invest in the stock market or to open a bank account. There's no like National rule federal rules saying that you can't set up your finances. As an immigrant, you may just encounter a few more roadblocks to setting up your finances in the US. But you're not not allowed to do it.
T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the Journey To Launch podcast with your host, Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave Journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest, and build real wealth. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journey to launch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the shownotes. You'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are an OG journeyer, or brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes, so listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources and so much more. You can go to journey to launch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.
Jamila Souffrant 1:45
Hey, hey, hey journeyers Welcome to the journey to launch podcast today I have on Maria Melkor, who is a financial educator and creator of first gen. Living before a shin living Maria Taylor's personal finance education to first gen professionals eager to become the first in their family to build lasting wealth in America. Maria loves creating content for her over 200,000 followers across Instagram and Tiktok. And she's a proud Mexican immigrant living in New York City. Welcome to the podcast. Maria.
Maria Melchor 2:16
Hi, Jamila, thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
Jamila Souffrant 2:20
Yeah, so I definitely want to hear more about your background. Right. So tell me how you navigated coming here from Mexico, and the earlier parts of your story.
Maria Melchor 2:33
Yeah, so I was born and raised in Mexico, I lived there until I was about nine. And when I came to the US, I came to Connecticut. I live in New York now. But yeah, my background as an immigrant has shaped my journey to where I am with my finances. And with first gen living. When I first started noticing that I cared a lot about money that I thought a lot about money, I realized that it came from having grown up with immigrant parents who always kind of implied that, you know, there's only so much money for this, there's only so much money for that. And he really emphasized an education and a career as a way for us to make our sacrifices worthwhile. And back in 2020, when I started first gen living and hasn't been too long. I was coming into this personal finance space from this, I guess, outsider perspective of, you know, I have this background as an immigrant. And as a child of immigrants, you know, my parents have their values. And I want to speak to other people like me who have had to balance what it means to have like your parents at home, with their value, their ideals, and then what I'm witnessing, like as I'm becoming the first to attend college in the US the first to start building my career in America. And yeah, I read notice that there are a lot of other first gen people out there. So whether they're the first to be immigrating here, or the first generation to be building wealth in America, or whether they're the first to be what I call like, first gen professionals, people who are navigating like 401 K's corporate America for the first time I'm like, oh, okay, we exist and I'm curious, like, what are how are our issues different and I? That's how first gen living has really grown is trying to be in community with fellow first gen people.
Jamila Souffrant 4:51
And based on your background specifically for you, what was it like coming here? So you said you went to Connecticut first. If you want to share, like how many like siblings you had, but what was it like being in Connecticut? And then what were your aspirations? Or what did your parents want for you to do when you started to go to school and look for higher education?
Maria Melchor 5:13
Yeah, when we came to Connecticut, we didn't really know a lot of where we were coming. I always tell my dad that, why didn't you just go one feet over to New York, where there's a lot more immigrants a lot more Mexicans. So it was just me, my parents, and at the time, my sister, later on, I have no, I have a little brother as well. And my parents, back in Mexico, my mom, she was a teacher. And she's from like, a line of teachers. But my dad, he didn't have the chance to finish high school because his dad passed away, and he had to become the sole breadwinner of his family at a young age. And it's part of the reason why he would be the one to begin immigrating to America from our family. So, you know, from my mom's side, I had this emphasis on education on school. And for my dad's side, also that but more from the sense of, you know, I didn't get to finish, I maybe could have gotten more opportunities in Mexico, if I had been able to get even a high school degree, you know, not to mention a college degree. So that was kind of the thing that they did know, in America was, you know, school can get you to a place of stability. And, you know, as a kid, that's what I I started believing was, you know, okay, if I do well, in school, they get a degree, then I think it'll be all said,
Jamila Souffrant 6:53
Yeah, I love that. I mean, I think that's very common. As an immigrant myself, my mom coming here, she focused on education, because she, like your parents came really with no financial footing, and realize that in order for her to pave a pathway for herself, and for me, education was going to be key. So she educated herself or went to school. And then, for me, it was just expected, like, education is going to be the way out, and you need to leverage that. So here's the other thing. You know, luckily, my mom wasn't as I guess, pushy with what she thought I should do. You know, most immigrant parents want their kids to be like lawyer or doctor or something high earning and that has high degrees, but also comes with a lot of loans. I wasn't pushed into that. But for you, was that what was expected of you? Or what did you want to do as you were going into school?
Maria Melchor 7:44
Yeah, it's hard to say that there was like, specific requests from my parents, for me to go after, like a high paying career. I don't remember them ever saying, you know, go into law or go into finance. But I think just being a kid and seeing them, like always budgeting for food, it being a special occasion, when I could get something that I really wanted from a store. And they did tell me, you know, like, have you heard about any scholarships from your guidance counselor, because that would be really helpful if you could get a scholarship. So just these like little whispers of that we weren't financially well off. Made me just think about finances when I was, you know, thinking about what I wanted to be so no, they were never like on my neck about like me to do this. But I was always very in tune with what was going on in my family. And from high school, I knew that I wanted to align my passion, quote, unquote, with something that was well paying so that I could come back to my family and hopefully take care of some of those financial concerns that I'd grown up hearing whispers about.
Jamila Souffrant 9:16
So what was your passion? What did you end up going to school for?
Maria Melchor 9:20
I grew up in a predominantly white town in Connecticut. And at the time, there was like, rampant racial profiling specifically against like recent immigrants like myself. So from that young age, I started getting involved with like my local church and local community to organize around this racial profiling and kind of build some some power amongst my community. So from high school, I knew I wanted to do social justice advocacy. And I thought, How do I align that with a well paying job? Oh up getting admitted to Yale, which I didn't know about until I found out about how very respected colleges in the US are like the top universities in the US could offer better financial aid in many cases than state schools, and definitely other private schools. Again, I was thinking about my parents and how they asked me to think about scholarships. And I found out that if I got into one of these top universities, I could get full financial aid. So I applied kind of last minute, and I got into you, I went to you ready to be a pre law?
Jamila Souffrant 10:49
Wow, I love how you just said, I just, you know, I went to Yale applied the last minute got it. As you were talking, I don't know, maybe this is for later in the conversation. So you and I are what we would consider first gen right immigrants, like, we are like the first grew up in our family here like fully, or in our adult years, young adult lives, right. But then, you know, we, for us that do have children. So like, there will be second gen immigrants. And I just find because I meet so many people like us, where we were so determined and self reliant, a lot of that twos, maybe our parents were working a lot, but not just working a lot, but still instilled that education was important. So we saw by looking at them how much hard work or how much you needed to work to pay for things, but then also made us all speak for myself more self guided, because I needed to figure things out. And then I'm thinking about, like, someone like me, who has kids now, who are now second gen. And trying to steal like what made me who I am today is because of how I grew up and not having it all and not having such a cushy life. But having parents who pushed me that I think about like the next generation like so now that we are in a better position, and more privileged and have a bit more still trying to incorporate and give our kids grit and self determination. And I wonder if there's a study or there's been any research you've seen about just from your own observations for your friends, who maybe that have children, what that looks like, for the second generation of kids who don't have to struggle as much, because isn't like having them not struggle as much to the point, you know, give them some financial aid, but then does that hamper their ability to reach their full potential because there's more help?
Maria Melchor 12:30
You know, I can't speak to how I'm going to raise my kids. But I don't have kids yet. But I do, you know, think back to going to a place like you that is full of second generation college students. And, you know, I am still very much certain that with like the right support and parenting that our kids can still have that grit. And I also do have friends who are what you call second generation, whose parents were immigrants or their grandparents were immigrants. And I do think it's more about like the social environment, they were Easton. And also, you know, financial success or financial stability isn't always like correlated with first or second gen status. There's first gen immigrants, I have first gen friends whose parents were well off during their childhood. And they are where they are now, the kids. And I also have second gen friends whose parents were a lot like mine, who were still kind of hustling just to make ends meet. And they ended up a little bit more like me. So I do think it depends a lot actually on what's going on in the household. But I'm sure there's other ways to write to kind of build that. That great into them.
Jamila Souffrant 14:07
Yeah, I love that. I love that because it really just boils down to just quotations because parenting is not easy, but intention being intentional about it. And I think the fact that that's a parent being aware of the differences maybe in how you were raised and how that helped you versus how you have now kids or people just have to be your own kid. It could just be nieces and nephews in your family. Right that you are wanting to lend support to as I still do think it's it can be instilled through that intentionality and like you said, the the environment they're raised in where they get to see and they understand that yes, you may be raised like this, but this is how grandma or mom was raised, you know, like we didn't have all these things. This is a privilege and not to make you feel bad about it, but to make you be proud and and want to take advantage of these opportunities that you're given. So back to more of your story, Maria, so you went to Yale And so what happened after that you sounds like you got a full ride.
Maria Melchor 15:04
I did, I got a full ride. But that didn't stop me from taking out student debt without telling my parents. So I went to Yale, I was culture shocked. I had been already in this like predominantly white town, but it was more like middle class, maybe upper middle class going to you. I mean, I'm surrounded by like the top 1%. And their kids. There were, of course, like a few first gen kids who ended up becoming like my community. But I got this financial aid package. And I saw, you know, okay, you get these grants, but you're also eligible for a federal student loan. And I saw the number, right, it was a couple $1,000, it wasn't that much, because most of my stuff was covered. And all I saw when I saw that was, I can get myself a laptop, I can go shopping in the bookstore. And I don't have to ask my parents for money. I don't have to burden them with my school expensive. So I, during my first semester there, I took it alone, I did exactly that got myself. My first MacBook I had never owned Apple products before. And I told my parents later on, I said, you know, I took Sloan for these couple $1,000. And they told me, why didn't you speak to us, like we could have given you that money, we could have made it work. And I felt terrible. I didn't take out any more debt. But I did kind of have this impression that debt is bad, I shouldn't have taken this on. Looking back, though, I do think that this is what happens to a lot of first gen kids is when they're presented with something like a student loan student debt, what we see is an opportunity to just be like at the same level as our peers, to have access to the semester or to have access to a laptop that maybe we didn't have at home. So I don't blame my parents for wanting to watch out for me. But there was a while when I resented them for making me feel ashamed for doing something that looking back I think was just me trying to have what other people already had.
Jamila Souffrant 17:41
Right? So you graduated, and what is your what was your career in? And then how does that relate to where we are now? You starting first? Gen? How many years pass between that?
Maria Melchor 17:52
Yeah, so I did end up trying all of the pre law doing all of the pre law things at you. And after I graduated, I went to work for a law firm. I wanted to take some time between college and law school to just see if I really wanted to go to law school and also establish my finances. Honestly, I thought, you know, it'd be nice to have an income. So during that time, I started thinking about money, I started thinking about the paycheck I was getting, that was more than what I knew my parents were making. I'd file my FAFSA by myself. For the past four years, I knew how much they made. And I just had this kind of guilt and anxiety around making the most of the money I was bringing in. Honestly, it was almost a little bit of like, I don't know, if I really deserve this much money. It wasn't even that much. It was like $46,000 Because I know that my parents work harder and they may not be getting paid as much. So all of this like guilt really was what brought me to delve into personal finance. And I picked up some books from the library. I started listening to podcasts. So this is when I started listening to you Jamila and I'm so thankful I did. It was so inspiring to hear all of your guests talk about Yeah, where how they started and where they were at the time. So I got into personal finance, and I wanted to talk about money with other people. But I didn't want to be like the friend in the in the group that just always wanted to talk about money. So I was like, I'm gonna start an Instagram page. And that way people can opt in to my all these things I want to talk about. So I started first gen living and I kind of wanted to specifically talk not to my yellow peers who already had money in me wanted to talk about what am I going to do with my trust fund, but instead For people who were wondering, you know, how do I turn my degree? Right, this degree that my parents have always told me was the way the key out of poverty, how do I turn that on, in this new paycheck into the financial stability, that is really what I was after. So, yeah, that's so first general being started.
Jamila Souffrant 20:24
I just want to pull out to something you just said said, which I think is very relatable is realizing and seeing how hard your parents worked. And that, you know, you felt guilty because you were making more, and maybe not feeling like you work as hard. And I think that definitely is something that when you are thinking about when you see like the narrative of okay, hard work can be everything, right? And then, or this idea that it's just like your determination that's going to separate you and have you and do well in this life. And it's like, you know, yes, hard work has a lot to do with it. But there's so many other factors that your parents or my mom did not choose, and then they had to just try to navigate that. And I think that definitely gives us a unique perspective, unique, not meaning that because I know a lot of other people feel the way we feel because they've seen it. But I just think it's it's good to pull out and highlight. Because there's sometimes that narrative, oh, you know, the bros like the fire. Some of the finance pros are just like motivation bros online, on Twitter. It's just like, work hard, get up early do all these things. It's like, I had parents or I know people who do this, and they're not able to do better. And again, there's a lot of other factors that make that you know, part of their story. But I just think it's interesting. And it's something that a lot of people feel.
Maria Melchor 21:43
Yeah, I see this a lot. With my audience, I got a lot of times about this. I have done coaching in the past. I'm not doing it at the moment. But I've also seen it with my clients. There's almost like a survivor's guilt about having made it and feeling like you're leaving your family behind, because maybe they haven't, quote unquote, made it but I think that I've kind of learned to see it more as this is why they came to this country, right, they came to give me a better life. And to make it easier for me to live my life, and I am still a part of that family. So my better position, my better financial position, my bigger privileges are eventually going to help them as well. And if they ever do want my help i that is the whole point of me becoming really confident with my finances is so that I can turn around and kind of in my own terms, be able to like help them out. And so yeah, it's something that a lot of us first gen kids experience.
Jamila Souffrant 22:58
How do you navigate helping family so you know, whether that's family that you have here, like living with you in the state or even family back home? How do you figure out how much you should help without draining yourself or over committing and still having your own finances be stable, because I do know that a lot of people struggle with that this, this connection and responsibility to help their family, but then to also want to get ahead and not, you know, hamper them or stop them from also being able to reach their full potential.
Maria Melchor 23:31
This is something I struggled with a lot because I grew up seeing my parents be the most generous people in their family and community. So they're known for being the people that if you go to them and ask for money, they'll say yes. And growing up seeing that I thought, you know, I know that you just told me last week that you can't get me this new jacket. Like why are you saying yes to giving you know, this family member money when clearly we don't have enough to for you to even get me this new jacket. You know, I was a kid a teenager. So seeing them be so generous, despite me feeling that we were financially precarious, made me extra cognizant of, you know, what am I going to do when it's my chance right when I have my money, and I really go by tools now, when it comes to navigating like helping loved ones financially. These are really more like financial boundaries that I've developed and that I encourage other people to try. The first one is to only offer help if my family member or loved one is asking for it. So you know, I love talking about money, and I could eat really just, every time anybody brings up anything related to money, lecture them about my point of view and like what I think is the right thing to do. But sometimes people talk to you about money just to vent or just to, you know, whatever reasons. And I've found that it is only helpful for you and for the other person if they are asking for your help or for your opinion on their finances. Because at the end of the day, right, they're an adult, you're an adult, and you're each going to just do what you think is best for you. So that's rule number one. Rule number two is to everybody has the right to say no, if a loved one is like, Hey, can I have like 500 bucks, you know, I am low on cash this month, everybody has the right to just say no. But if you're a first gen kid like me, and you do feel a little bit guilty, or you do feel a little bit, you do feel like you're equipped to give some money to a loved one, then you can say yes, but on your own terms. So what this means is, you know, if somebody comes to me and says, can I have 500 bucks? I will say, you know, let me think about that. And then review My own finances my own budget, and see how much can I afford to get right, I'm not expecting it back. Because that opens up a whole other can of worms is trying to get money back from people and just say, okay, you know, I have 100 that I could spare. And that's what I'm going to do. So hey, loved one, I know you asked for 500, I can give you 100, no strings attached. There you go. So it's really uncomfortable to do this. But I've felt that it's better to be uncomfortable in the moment than to build the resentment over the course of years. And to always be like judging people, you know, it's just not healthy for me. And it's definitely not healthy for our relationships. So really, the bottom line is like, kind of focusing on what's helped me is focusing on what's in my control and not trying to really control my loved one's finances.
Jamila Souffrant 27:18
Right. And I love the not lecturing or only providing advice, or money when they specifically ask for it. A friend recently told me that I like to think for other people. Like I should stop doing that. Like, I think I assume what they're thinking, and then sometimes based on my reaction based on like, oh, wait, I think they might be thinking this. So let me do this. And she's like, did they say that? Like, no, I just think they might think she's like, stop. So I do like that.
Maria Melchor 27:46
My therapist calls those imagined requests. She's always asking me, you know, oh, by the way, that they actually asked you to problem solve this? And I'm like, oh, no, but I feel like I should help them. And she's like, that's an imagined request.
Jamila Souffrant 28:04
Sounds like I need to talk to your therapist. But okay, so you started first gen officially sounds like 2020. Yeah. Was that? Okay? So I do want to talk a little bit about like, creating content online and growing your business and following because I know I have a lot of people who listen, who are like you. So I remember when I did my first my fin con, Big Idea speech. And I talked about this transition from being an observer in content. So you're listening, you're learning, you're applying it to your own finances. And then something else happens as you keep going. You become a casual participant, maybe you start replying to people, and you create maybe a page or blog or, and then you start to see Wait a second, I can actually add value potentially make money. So were you working full time when you started? First? Gen. Are you still working full time? And then how did you make that transition to making to doing what you're doing now? More? I'm assuming full time Are you full time or?
Maria Melchor 29:02
I am full time now. So when I started in 2020, I was still working full time and I had another job. And I stayed doing first gen living us like a hobby a passion project. Until last summer, so until 20, summer 2022. You know, yeah, I started off doing this part time. At the time, I actually had been thinking about whether I wanted to go to law school or not, and I had some savings. And because I was becoming more confident with my finances, I thought you know what I'm going to do with the savings is I'm just going to take some time off like I'm going to leave my law firm job and figure out if I am applying to law school if I am finding a job in a new industry. And what I walked away with after taking that time off was, the thing I want to do the most is pursue first gen living and try to build it into something bigger, I was interviewing for these positions at other jobs, and I kept, you know, having to pitch myself, this is how I'm going to build your company, this is how I'm going to work so hard for you. And I just felt like I was lying to them. Like, you know, I don't really want to do that, like, if I'm gonna work this hard. Like, I think the only company would want to do it for its first gen living. So it did take a while to really commit to this. And it did help to have savings to be able to take time off to think about it. But yeah, I took the leap summer of last year, and now now we're full time.
Jamila Souffrant 30:50
How was that conversation like with your family about, like leaving what was potentially a promising career and like choosing entrepreneurship, was I know sometimes that like, not only is it like the health care, and the instability of being entrepreneur that stops people, but it's also the, the thoughts and expectations of other people, especially coming from a family where it's like, you went to school, and like you did all this, like, how are you using your degree? And feeling like maybe you wasted it? So how was that conversation? Were they supportive? Did you just do it on your own without really considering it?
Maria Melchor 31:25
My parents or I would say, not supportive, but also not against it at the start. So they had seen that I've been doing first gen living. And they when I told them, You know, I don't really want to go to law school anymore. That was when they were like, oh, okay, really, I think they were a little bit thrown back. Because I had been wanting to do this for a long time. But I almost pitch myself to my parents, like I did feel like I had to defend my decision. And when I did that, when I like, could articulate to my parents, you know, this is why I want to do this. I have the finances. You know, here's my plan for how I'm going to turn this into a full time job. It kind of boosted my confidence in myself and my dad, he's actually a small business owner, he has his home renovation business. And I told him, like, you know, I've seen you do it, and I had like I had helped him with, I still help him with his invoices. I know what it's like to run a small business. And I said, Hey, like you're doing it like you're making it work. Like, no, I think I can make your work too. So my dad was on board. I wouldn't say again, he was like, Yeah, you go Maria, like, yes, my mom was a little more hesitant because she said, you know, how are you equipped to do this? She was the one who was like, Don't you have to go to like business school to start a business? And I'm like, I don't think so. I'm like, I've seen other people do it. And I don't feel like I need anything else. I'm already at the time I already had clients, I'd already been getting some sponsorships from companies. So it's like, no, like, it's already happening. And if I do need to go back to school, I'll do it when that time comes. So I would say it took a little bit convincing of convincing them. But it helped me to use convincing them convince me.
Jamila Souffrant 33:28
I love that I just wrote that down that the pitch. You know, you had to say something to them and convince them but you had to craft something that you believe to say, and I think that's great advice for anyone thinking about doing something different, even with just maybe changing your finances and coming to your family, maybe your partner or parents about just stop doing something different is that, you know, sit down and think through the benefits. And this is what I did when I wanted to get my husband on board. It's someone actually called in and I probably will do another episode on this. And she said she liked the voice message. How does she get her husband on board to starting the journey to financial independence? And she was asking me how I did it. And it's similar to where it was, you know, a little pitch like I had to what was in it for us as a family? How would this benefit us? And how would this benefit me? Right? How would this make me a better or happier person because I was not pursuing what I wanted and to think it through and sharing that with someone else and speaking it. And you know, thinking about how to say it in a way that would make sense was definitely helpful because it even solidified more of why I was doing what I was doing. So I think that's great advice for anyone who has to write a pitch like you're pitching pitching to investors or but you know, it's more about you and figuring out what you want to say and then in the midst of that you'll you'll help yourself.
Maria Melchor 34:51
Jamila Souffrant 34:53
Not for resources for just immigrants. First Gen immigrants coming here, with everything happening, right, it's just like, what are some specific tips or advice or even resources that you can share that have been helpful for, for immigrants.
Maria Melchor 35:13
So, coming into the personal finance space as an immigrant, you may think that it's not really for you. Immigrants, like we have a lot of different immigration statuses. So when I was in high school, early college, I was still an undocumented immigrant High School. I mean, since then I've been a green card holder, I will hopefully be a citizen next year. And we look at, you know, financial accounts, wealth, building opportunities, like real estate and the stock market. And because of our status, we may think our citizens are the only ones that are eligible, do I need to be a certain immigration status to to pursue these tools? So I would say, No, that in the US, you don't need an immigration status to invest in the stock market, or to open a bank account. There's no like, national rule, federal rules saying that you can't set up your finances. There are however, like private rules within banking. So let's say Chase Bank or Bank of America bank, they may have different rules internally, that they even post themselves about, like, Okay, you need to provide an ID or you need to provide a social security number, but they vary by bank. So, for example, I started my financial journey, I guess, in high school, when I opened my first checking account Bank of America account, they didn't ask for me to be a green card holder, I wasn't a green card holder, then I have same transition, I now use a different bank, because I'm trying to avoid fees. But that's just one. One example. When it comes to investing, I know that banks like Fidelity and Schwab, which I use, don't ask for you to be a citizen or a green card holder here. So you may as an immigrant, you may just encounter a few more roadblocks to setting up your finances in the US. But you're not not allowed to do it. So I would say you're still have access to these tools you're learning about. So I'd say that is like official Banking, please go and like make calls, because chances are that you are eligible just like everyone else. And then to this is more like, I guess, mindset advice, which is that, if you're an immigrant, you are probably balancing your family, either here in the US or that you left back in your home country, with your own goals. And it may feel like a lot of burden to carry. But I do believe that you should, you know, put your oxygen mask on first and start by setting up your own finances. And once you can you gain comfort with your own finances is when you can start looking at how you can support others, again, by using maybe those financial boundary rules of if they ask right no imagine requests here. And then if you do offer help doing it after you've consulted your own budget. So I would say, you know, it's it's definitely a unique experience. A lot of Americans don't understand that we are so we feel so intertwined with our families. And I would say that, that it's okay. My last piece of advice I like emphasizing this is sometimes I felt trapped by focusing only on my bank account balance or my net worth when tracking my financial progress. Because I do feel like I'm comparing myself with others. And at the end of the day, like, I do think that bank account balances net worths are unfair because we have all started from different financial lines, right? Like, I went to school with really wealthy people who maybe started with a 1 million net worth, and I'm over here, having started with a negative net worth because of my student debt. And to me, it just feels unfair to be comparing us using this metric that holds us to the same standard and expects us to keep pace with people who just had a different financial starting line. So it is important to look at your net worth for your own progress. But I wouldn't get too hung up on like your numbers. I would look at what are your goals, you know, I really like traveling at least once a year internationally, I really like living in New York City, these are some of the things I really value I'm gonna spend money on I'm gonna work toward, maybe you're somebody who really wants to buy a house, or somebody who does really want to, you know, get your high, your net worth up, retire early. But it's okay to be different. And to have net worth just be part of your, the way you track financial progress.
Jamila Souffrant 40:33
That's sound advice. Because with access to seeing everyone or people who are sharing online, it's so easy to merge or forget your own values and kind of see what other people are doing and why we sometimes want it all and what to do all the things prioritizing what's important to us, like you said, and realizing that if you are living, especially like in the city like New York, or high cost of living another area, and like that is a priority, that's a value for you, for whatever reason, and but you're able to do it, and maybe you are not able to save and invest a lot of money in the moment. But you're able to be okay in the city that you love, and you're building your way up in the career, whatever that looks like that that is success. And then it doesn't always seem like that. Because you might be measuring it based on something else, or you're not giving yourself a realistic timeline of how long things take. I think one of the things that happens for people is, you know, you'll see someone and they seem to have it all checked off all those boxes, but you didn't know their starting point. You don't know how old they are right? Like in terms of how much work they put in before you saw them at that moment. And so maybe they had a few more years to to work or do something. So just keep that in mind. And the other thing I want to mention in terms of banking is to look at your credit unions. So your local credit unions also will and can be helpful in terms of more flexible than traditional banking if you you know, have our immigrant and and don't have status.
Maria Melchor 41:56
Yeah, absolutely. Credit unions. Yeah,
Jamila Souffrant 41:59
Maria, please tell everyone more about where they can find you and keep up with all the great content you create.
Maria Melchor 42:06
I would love to see you over at first gen living on Instagram. That's where I'm most active. And I tried to respond to as many DMS as they can. Yeah, first gen living on Instagram.
Jamila Souffrant 42:18
I love it. Thank you so much, Maria.
Maria Melchor 42:20
Thank you so much for Mila.
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