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Building Generational Wealth While Supporting Family

Building Generational Wealth While Supporting Family

This is an interview with a Snowball Wealth Community member, Jesenia Angeles

I am a first-generation Latina college student that recently graduated from my master’s program with a lot of debt. I come from a family where money was tight, and there were shopping addiction problems that rubbed off on me. I quickly flipped the script the first time I could not pay my credit card and have not been on that boat since. I am great at budgeting (although I am working on staying within category budgets), saving, and beginner investments.

In terms of finances, it was always pretty difficult, especially living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S (NYC). I grew up in a one-income household for most of my life up until high school when the economy crashed in 2008. When that happened, my mother got a job, and while my dad had his business as a dental technician, he didn’t have any savings, so the economic crash hit us hard. To compensate, he also got a job in maintenance, pursued an associate’s degree, and is now a fire marshall. It’s great that as an older immigrant man, he continued his schooling and got good jobs despite ageism (which is a huge thing!).

Financial Mindset

The majority of my siblings and I pursued university/college because we knew it would allow us to have financial independence, which my parents didn’t have. I would say my interest in finance really grew from the rough upbringing of not having enough and not having more of the things I wanted or perhaps needed because of the limited income.

As I got older, I learned about the mismanagement of money in my household. Specifically, my dad was not being able to recognize the difference between needs and wants. One of the biggest struggles I have had is trying to convince him that his spending habits are not great and that there is a balance between needs and wants, and knowing that sometimes you will have to sacrifice your wants. Most recently, he enrolled into a debt management program and I am so proud to hear that he’s working on his budgeting habits! My current financial goal is to own property to have financial independence, but I know that will come with sacrifices.

Money Habits

I used to be a shopaholic. When I went shopping, I didn’t take a second to think about what I was buying and that goes back to my upbringing. That’s what I knew, and that’s what I saw. I adopted the mentality of “if you want something, you can get it, and you’ll figure out how to pay for it later.” The first time I couldn’t pay for my credit card was when reality hit. Paying the late fee really hit me; why would I give money away for free?! At that point, I had to look at myself and say, I may have been raised this way, and I learned bad habits, but it’s up to me to learn how to stop them.

I quickly nipped that in the bud and started learning about budgeting. I started opening high yield saving accounts, and I honed in on how to budget. I could truly say my budgeting is 95 % solid; the other 5% is just learning how to stay in the budget categories that I have set for the month. Now that I got a hold of that, I also started learning about 401ks, investment accounts, the stock market, and it has been amazing!

Aside from finance, I do want to encourage people to network and reach out to people. “Shoot your shot” has been my slogan for the year and it has presented amazing opportunities in my life. One day, I hope to be a hostel owner because I hope to integrate my passion for travel and homeownership.

Why is it important for you to take care of your family?

One of the struggles I deal with is wanting to buy a home for myself when I feel like my parents deserve to have one first. However, I believe that you have to take care of yourself first before taking care of anyone else. Just like the saying on an airplane, “put on your mask first before you put it on anyone else.” If I’m not solid, how can I make sure that they will be? Women tend to have this issue where they question why they are putting themselves first. As women, we constantly think about helping others instead of thinking about helping ourselves first.

I also don’t believe in tit for tat. I want to take care of my parents because they didn’t have the same resources or knowledge as I did; however, I don’t believe parents should expect their children to take care of them for simply bringing them into this world.

Has culture played a role in you wanting to take care of your parents?

I think culture does play a role in me wanting to be the backbone of the family, at least for me; being Dominican means you’re expected to take care of your parents once they’re older. I think it’s a big burden to carry, and they recognize it since they did it for their parents. I think it’s much more difficult to do that when you’re not entirely financially stable or even mentally or physically; all those things matter, but there is a responsibility that they have to take care of themselves too.

Even if you didn’t go to university/college, having that drive and wanting to break that generational struggle will make all the difference. Know that other people have gone through something that has had the same experience as you. Be inspired that if it was possible for them, then it is possible for you.

Like me, I didn’t have easily accessible resources or networks, which was harder for me than others, but that’s okay. Life isn’t meant to be a walk in the park; the point is to enjoy the journey.

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