It is no secret that culture is at the center of my life and that I’m instilling my Latino culture and traditions to my children as a way to pass on our values and the connection to our heritage. However, there are certain beliefs and taboos within our community that I know is better for me to leave behind. Latino money culture is one of those things I’ve had to make an effort to break away from.
Although Latino money culture is embedded in our community in different shapes and forms, and many American Latinos come from families with different circumstances, there are many beliefs that overlap and are common to many of us: not trusting financial institutions, lack of planning for the future, issues with talking about money, among others.
As an immigrant to this country, it has taken me almost 15 years to realize that I had zero knowledge of how to manage money, and only in recent years, I started taking steps to learn more and put my finances in order. That’s when I entered what I call the second stage of Latino money culture, the time in which those of us who have been here a long time and fallen down the credit card debt rabbit hole start to pay off debt and avoid credit.
What I’ve come to learn now is that all of the above is part of a Latino money culture that is centered around a poverty mindset, a belief that we cannot aspire or dream about wealth and financial wellness. Our lives revolve around debt, acquiring and paying it, but fail to advance to a next level in which we see it is possible and achievable for us to build wealth. That’s what I’ve learned during this year working as an ambassador for Prudential: I can build wealth, I’m worth it, and I can work to achieve it.
Latino Money Culture: What Does Financial Wellness Means To You?
Working as a Prudential Brand Ambassador has given me the opportunity to attend Hispanicize twice this year. Most recently, two months ago, I was in Los Angeles for Hispanicize LA, alongside a group of other ambassadors amplifying the brand’s message. Partnering with Prudential to help teach our community about financial fitness, early retirement and building wealth has been not only an honor but also beneficial for me at a personal level. It has challenged my own beliefs and behaviors towards money, and it has pushed me to seek the help of a financial advisor, as well as that of an investment expert coach.
During the conference, we learned and share about financial wellness and what it really means in order for us to build wealth. This is a very important topic for American Latinos since despite having an incredible work ethic, strong family values, and a powerful purchasing power, we continue to be disproportionately affected by poverty, not having any assets and living paycheck to paycheck.
Part of what we learned at the Prudential lounge is that there are 6 key behaviors that translate into financial wellness: Having a plan no matter how you work (for a company or as an independent); investing in yourself, through education, buying what you need for your business, etc.; putting time on your side, which is basically being committed to saving for the near future and for your retirement.
It also means preparing for anything, which includes making sure you are prepared in case you need to be out of work due to an accident, or even having to cut down hours to care for a family member. Saving for life’s rainy days, having that emergency fund that we often hear financial advisors talk about but that many of us don’t really give priority to, and the last of the six, which is making a plan for tomorrow. I love planning, birthday parties, vacations, even meals, but with the routine, we tend to neglect planning for our future, having a clear vision of what we want for the next decades and next stages of our lives.
As Latinos, we know that our cultural differences do have an impact on how we view the world, and that includes our finances. I challenge you to learn more, to break away from beliefs around money that don’t serve us. Let’s change the Latino money culture into one that empowers us and leaves a legacy of wealth for future generations of American Latinos.
My Top 5 Favorite Moments of Hispanicize LA
As usual, attending Hispanicize was a rewarding experience at different levels. It was pretty special to have a Hispanic Heritage Month conference happening in Los Angeles, where influencers from East and West coasts shared as a community by learning, sharing their respective talents and strengthening friendships that we’ve built for years. As with each event, I have a few favorite moments that made the experience of attending extra special.
Here they are:
Afro-Latinas Representing. Meeting fellow Afro-Dominican influencer Monica Veloz from Monica Style Muse was definitely one of my favorite moments. It felt like reuniting with a long-time friend although we had never met and we share just a short few minutes. Hearing this dominicana speak about diversity in fashion, being authentic and down-to-earth was very refreshing.
Special Positive Impact Awards. Another highlight of Hispanicize LA was the special Positive Impact Awards given to Dr. Ana María Polo from the well-known Spanish TV show Caso Cerrado, and Maria Lemus from the California nonprofit Visión y Compromiso. Both these women have done amazing work in their respective fields and have been great activist voices for the Latino community. As it has become a tradition, Prudential was once again the sponsor for the awards in their effort to provide continuous support to the Latino community. As you can imagine, the conversation with these two women was golden, but the one quote that stood with me was Dr. Polo’s “Speak up and defend your rights… we are America, we ARE.”
Up close with A.C. Slater. Another cool moment was meeting Mario Lopez, or as the teenager in me wants to remember it, ‘I met A.C. Slater from “Saved By The Bell”! Well, seriously, I loved meeting the family man, one that is proud of his roots and aware of his impact as a role model for younger Latinos. Plus, getting a selfie with him was pretty cool, too!
Achieving a life of FIRE. This panel was one of the most impactful ones at the conference. We know that conversations around money tend to be difficult for Latinos and having discussions on topics so crucial as retirement and financial independence is key for us to change the Latino money culture. The conversation was empowering as we heard valuable advice from experts and entrepreneurs about ways to address our unique financial challenges and better manage our day to day finances and planning for long-term goals.
Dancing with Toni Costa. Meeting and getting to dance merengue with a professional dancer like Toni was a great ending of Hispanicize LA. He is friendly, approachable and it was really fun meeting him and spending time at the Prudential lounge. We ended up having an improvised party at the lounge where Toni, fellow Brand Ambassadors and other influencers organically gathered attracted by the music, the laughter, and the fun. As if that wasn’t great enough, the had delicious, freshly made, healthy smoothies all day long there, too.