“De dinero no se habla.” (Money isn’t discussed.) It’s a notion so ingrained in Hispanic culture that to this day my parents don’t know how much I make, and I don’t know how much they need for monthly expenses.
I’m Josh Rivera, an editor at USA TODAY focusing on money and consumer tech trending news. And like most of my millennial cohorts, I’ve been left to figure out everything from credit scores, to lease agreements and investing on my own.
The problem: By not having money conversations with family, hard-earned lessons from our parents do not get passed down. Thus, the cycle of money mismanagement continues and younger generations are left to figure out everything on their own.
For many families, like my own growing up, the main goal was getting to the next paycheck. It’s a trend that has unfortunately continued with as much as 78% of Americans reporting they earn just enough money to pay their bills each month.
Given how many people have lost their jobs during the pandemic and could lose unemployment aid after the holidays if Congress doesn’t approve assistance, the importance of savings and investing is more apparent than ever.
But first, race and justice news we’re watching
Important news from the past week, from USA TODAY and other news sources.
No time like the present
According to a recent survey by FinanceBuzz, the top reasons Americans aren’t investing are: they don’t have enough money to do so (54%), they don’t know enough about investing (40%), and they are afraid of losing money (36%). This confirms our own surveys of our readers at USA TODAY.
In general a little over half (52%) of American households invest in the stock market. And as you might expect, white families (61%) are more likely to be investing than Black (31%) or Hispanic (28%) families.
The importance of being in the market is to ensure you have some financial security in the future. Sure, some people invest as a secondary source of income – or even a primary source – but that does take larger sums of investments at one time that many, like myself, don’t have.
It’s not scary or difficult to get started
I’m playing the long game, and by doing so I remove the stress of daily swings in the market. Personally, I started investing only $100 in Robinhood, and in a week I had already made gains. Neither parents nor friends taught me this; I took an interest when I saw my white counterparts make their investment moves. (I write more about my journey as a beginner here.)
I want you all to be savvy about your money and not have to depend on a paycheck from your employer to survive. There are far smarter people writing on how to start investing, the importance of money conversations and how to set yourself up for financial success. (Click on the links for each of those.) But it all starts with understanding that it’s not scary or difficult.
Nowadays you have apps like Robinhood, Acorns or Stash that make it easy to invest. They all provide educational materials for beginners and you can start investing as little as you want, but you have to be interested in it first.
Fight the patriarchy by investing
A concerning finding in the FinanceBuzz survey was that 18% of women said they learned about investing from their partner – compared to only 7% of men who said the same.
So, please don’t depend on a Chad or a Mark (or a Josh) to teach you how to handle your own money. There are plenty of resources at your fingertips, and you’re not alone!
If you don’t want to get into the stock market out of concern for your future finances or that of your family, do it for the simple fact that we can’t have the market (the total sum of investors) be run by white men. We’re making diversity gains in different aspects of our society and that also needs to be reflected in the stock market.
Some great women to follow in the personal finance space:
Could we end this cycle?
Hispanic (and Caribbean) culture is rooted in tradition, family … and food. And while every plate on our table is for sharing, we are failing to share with our families how we got the money to put a meal in each of those plates.
Listen, I’m the first college-graduate in my family, but at my age my parents already had two kids, a mortgage and two cars while I’m still leasing a one-bedroom with my boyfriend. Sure, the economy was different in the ’90s, but I would love to know how my parents managed to go from very humble backgrounds to economic security. Maybe one day I’ll break with tradition and ask them directly.
Next week: Lindsay Deutsch talks about the Jewish-American Hanukkah experience.
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