Being an immigrant has its own challenges and I was curious to know from other immigrants how they were dealing with their finances. I wanted to find out the unique challenges they were facing and how they dealt with them. This interview series is an attempt to share the stories of immigrants and how they manage their finances.
I am excited to present the 17th guest of the interview series, Bald Money Guy. In his own words, “Not a lawyer, doctor, engineer or making anywhere near the six-figure mark (yet!).
Just a bald guy from The Bronx detailing the journey to FI.“
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.
1. Can you tell us about yourself? Please include any details you feel comfortable sharing about how long you’ve been in the US, what you do for a living and your income range.
Hi, I’m BaldMoneyGuy, a first-generation American and have lived all of my life in NY. I graduated from college with an Economics degree and started working for an advertising company (starting salary of $25,500). After a couple of years, I moved closer to home, working for a security company, current income is right around the US average.
2. What was your relationship with money during the early days of your life? How did it influence your finances?
When I was younger my idea of money was that it was rare and when you came across it, you should save as much as possible and second guess all purchases.
3. Do you discuss money with your friends, family or colleagues? How do they react when you bring up the topic of money? Is this a taboo subject?
Most of my friends and family are not to keen on discussing money. I think the main reasons are that money is a taboo subject and many find the subject intimidating. Before I was proactive in discussing the topic, currently I am passive and wait until I am asked questions.
4. What are some of the money mistakes you have committed? What lessons did you learn from it?
I have made many mistakes! Some are student loan debt, monthly subscriptions to things I didn’t need, borrowing money to buy a car, expensive dental work.
These lessons have reinforced the following: If you can’t use cash, you can’t afford it. Most of the things you classify as a need are a want, don’t be afraid to go without.
5. What is your view on debt? Do you carry any form of debt? Has it ever been a source of stress in your life?
When I graduated college I had ~$25,000 in student loans, which was major stress in my life. I am not a fan of debt so I worked aggressively to pay off the debt.
6. How is your money invested? Does being an immigrant have any influence on your investment decisions?
Currently I have my employer sponsored 401K and a Roth IRA, all invested into index funds.
7. Do you have any specific money situation as an immigrant (e.g. supporting an aging parent or family overseas) that influences your finances?
At the moment I do not but I think as I get older I may have to support my parents (rent and day to day living costs).
8. Are you aware of the FI or FIRE movement? If yes, where did you hear about it? Are you pursuing (or have you reached) financial independence?
I am relatively new to the FI movement. I learned about it via JL Collins and I am pursuing FI. The idea of having my time (a nonrenewable resource) is very appealing.
9. What are some of the apps or tools you use to manage your finances?
I’m a little “old-school” in my approach but I use pen and paper to monitor my monthly finances and I use Microsoft Money 2007. The important thing is to monitor each dollar which comes in and out and being intentional.
10. Are there any specific books, blogs or podcasts on personal finance that you’d recommend to others?
Books: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins
Podcasts: MadFientist, The Dave Ramsey Show, Fire Drill, Afford Anything, ChooseFI
11. What money advice do you have for new immigrants who arrive in the US?
It’s highly unlikely you can reach financial independence through just savings. You have to save AND invest (have your money work for you).
12. How can people connect with you on social media?
Are you a first-generation immigrant in the US? If yes, would you like to be part of this interview series? This series will focus on personal finance for first-generation immigrants and the unique challenges they face.
You can check out my page Immigrant Finances – Interview Series for more details on how to participate in this series.