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Let's Talk About Money

Growing up in a Mexican household, finance was considered taboo. I never knew how much money my parents made, I never questioned whether or not we were broke, and I never bothered to ask about anything related to money because I knew I would get shut down. Because of this, I had no real understanding of finance beyond the scope of what I would see in movies and TV. Scarface taught me that money was about power and respect, Iron Man taught me that money was meant to be lavishly spent, and King of the Hill taught me to be scared if I ever missed an insurance payment. My notion of finance was all over the place!

I was both the worrisome and the curious child, which meant that I worried immensely over the things I did not understand. Most kids grew up dreaming of what their first paycheck would buy. New sneakers, concert tickets, or maybe they’d ball out and actually pay for candy at the movie theaters instead of sneaking it in between their waistband. Whatever the case may be, most people love the freedom that their check provides them; I, on the other hand, was terrified when I received mine.

I was 18 when I started my first legal job. Gone were the days of $20 lawn jobs and carwashes, I was now in my social security contributions and legal government name era. I worked at a retail store stocking shelves for $9.25 an hour and I received my first paycheck with no clue how to cash it. I was scared because I had all this money in my hands and no idea how to access it. I asked my HR representative for cash, and she laughed and told me to take it to the bank. Up to that point, my opinion on banks was that they were cold and terrifying. When I was a kid, my dad set up a savings account at a local bank where he deposited $40. The banker had a hard time understanding my dad’s broken english. He displayed his frustrations outwardly which made me feel uneasy. I never liked banks, and I was even more flustered with the idea that I would have to visit them every time I needed to deposit money, (Luckily, I later found out about direct deposit).

This feeling that I had towards banks, bankers, and banking epitomized my relationship with finance for the majority of my life. Despite the countless youtube videos I watched, classes I passed, webinars I attended, money always seemed like the world’s most complicated subject to me. I treated money as though it were anything more than a currency, or a number on a screen. Having dedicated years of research and education toward it, I now understand that most of my insecurities with finance stemmed from a lack of financial literacy.

I believe that it is up to me and people like me who have studied financial habits and behaviors, to educate those who seek financial peace. Whether that be the single father in his 30's thinking about saving for his children’s future, the newly immigrated couple from Guatemala, or the nervous college student who is receiving her first check, everyone deserves access to financial independence. Let’s refuse to be scared; Let’s talk about money.


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