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.
I am excited to present the 7th guest of the interview series, Javi from Dreamer Money. His mission to to help #DREAMers and the #dacamented get rid of #studentloans & #consumerdebt. Build wealth to make money and serve others!
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.
My name is Javi. I am the creator and owner of DreamerMoney.com–a personal finance blog for DACA Dreamers and immigrants. I am originally from Mexico and have been in the U.S. since I was 12 years old.
I am a content marketer, blogger, and personal finance junkie. We have a net worth of over $50,000 and are part of the 22% tax bracket.
2. What was your relationship with money during the early days of your life? How did it influence your finances?
I grew up poor, so there was always a feeling of needing money for everything. That’s why I am still a very frugal person. We save or invest most of our money. When I got married I wanted to start our marriage with healthy money habits. I simply didn’t want money to be a problem in my marriage like I had seen in other marriages.
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?
We do, but only with a really close family. Money topics is a touchy subject for many people for different reasons. Therefore we try to be conscious of who we talk to about money. Many people can also get really insulted when you mention you don’t have a car payment or decided to not buy a home and instead invest–therefore we try not to get into those kinds of conversations unless they ask.
4. What are some of the money mistakes you have committed? What lessons did you learn from it?
When I was in college I was afraid to have a bank account because of my legal status. So I cashed a lot of checks at the convenience store. That cost me a lot of money in fees. However, it also helped me evaluate the cost of banking and how it affects many immigrants who are unbanked.
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?
We are debt free. We do not carry debt. Before we paid off student loans and car loans it wasn’t stressful as much as it was a challenge. But during our debt free journey, our marriage and relationship got stronger and our net worth skyrocketed.
6. How is your money invested? Does being an immigrant have any influence on your investment decisions?
We have Roth IRAs, mutual funds, and ETFs. Being an immigrant hasn’t really influenced how I invest–I have simply talked to successful millionaires and what they do. I like to be a very lazy investor–meaning that I don’t invest in individual stocks. I like to pick the best performing mutual funds, invest and forget about it.
I don’t use any advisors. Most of our net worth is in Roth IRAs cash savings and non-retirement brokerage accounts. I have both index funds and mutual funds. I get allow of investing advice from successful family members and DIY investors…and of course all the literature they read and subscribe to 🙂
7. Do you have any specific money situation as an immigrant (e.g. supporting an aging parent or family overseas) that influences your finances?
We give a lot to my family in Mexico. I have younger siblings living in Mexico and so I help support them. We always make sure to put that in our budget every month.
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 have met many of the FIRE bloggers at FinCon and love what they’re doing. I’m not purposely seeking FIRE, but if I ever start, I think I would want to pursue Fat FIRE.
9. What are some of the apps or tools you use to manage your finances?
Personal Capital, book and pencil. That’s about the only tools I use to budget.
10. Are there any specific books, blogs or podcasts on personal finance that you’d recommend to others?
Yes there’s a ton! I recommend people go to FinCon (it’s in Washington D.C. this year). Better than reading a book or listening to podcasts, I recommend people go and meet their favorite bloggers, authors, and podcasters while supporting the PF community.
11. What money advice do you have for new immigrants who arrive in the US?
Become financially literate. Learn the American economic system, the difference between assets and liabilities and always have a backup plan.
12. How can people connect with you on social media?
Javi, Mexican born, future American, and first-generation college graduate.
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.