How Can I Build Wealth as a First-Generation American?

On this episode of the Money Confidential podcast, host Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez talks with personal finance author Berna Anat about the unique financial considerations for immigrants and first- and second-generation Americans.

usa flag that is half money
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Every Monday on the Money Confidential podcast, host Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez, a nationally recognized money expert, delves into your (confidential) money problems and delivers smart, practical, and completely doable solutions that will help you work toward your ultimate financial goals. This is the place to come for real talk about money—and real solutions that actually work.

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On This Episode

In this episode, Stefanie talks to a listener who is the first in her family to live, work, and build her wealth in the United States, and learns about the impact that has on her relationship with both her money and her family. Personal finance author Berna Anat weighs in with how to manage the unique financial considerations for immigrants and first- and second-generation Americans.

Meet Our Caller

"Vanessa" is a 23-year-old listener based in the Midwest, who came to the United States by way of Brazil. She came to the United States for the first time as a high school exchange student in Indiana, and went on to study hospitality in higher education, graduating during the pandemic in 2020. At the end of 2020, Vanessa got married, and she and her wife are now working on building a house and their savings, while also dealing with their parents' perceptions about their finances at the same time.

Anonymous Caller "Vanessa"

"Every single thing that we tell [our families], every single time we mention figures, they think that we're just throwing our money away."

—Anonymous Caller "Vanessa"

Meet Host Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez

Money confidential podcast - host, Stefanie O'Connell Rodriguez
Caroline White Photography

Stefanie is a nationally recognized personal finance expert ready to talk work, worth, and money with unapologetically ambitious women. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Oprah Magazine, and Stefanie has appeared on ABC World News, CBSN, Fox & Friends, Fox Business, Bloomberg, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and more to share her smart, practical solutions to any money problem.

Meet Our Expert, Berna Anat

Berna Anat
Joy Ofodu

Berna Anat, a first-gen child of Filipino immigrants, is a producer, speaker and financial influencer. She's dedicated to making financial literacy funnier and more accessible. She's also writing an educational book about money that's set to come out in May 2023. Her work has been featured on platforms such as Forbes, The New York Times, and Buzzfeed.

Advice From the Episode

Berna Anat

"We don't hear a lot in the financial space about making space in your budget to take care of your family or to send money home or, if you're lucky enough to go back to your home country, the financial situations that happen there."

—Berna Anat
  • Instead of feeling like you should give away everything you have to family back home, start moving toward a more sustainable approach of determining how much you can afford to give each month. —Berna
  • Find communities of people who are doing what you're doing—or want to do—financially and observe them and ask questions. —Berna
  • Don't burn yourself out. "There's been this collective awakening to the trap of hustle culture and how pervasive that is and how that could be extremely insidious as first-gen because we're hustling to bring our family up." —Berna
  • "You know what the real wealth is? Freedom, time, rest, the ability to be with each other, the ability to be healthy, the ability to feel like if something wild happened to you tomorrow, you lived a good life today." —Berna

Links and Resources

Download the transcript for this episode.

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