Teacher in class assisting a male Hispanic adult student. Concept:Immigration help: education in finances
Adina Appelbaum
By: adinaa
Read in 12 minutes

Immigration Help: How to Get Educated in Personal Finance

When we hear “immigration help”, many of us think of non-profit organizations or clinics offering free or low-cost legal aid or social services to the immigrant community. But there’s another type of immigration help you can receive. When it comes to getting help on how you can reach financial stability, build wealth, and grow your business, where can you go or what can you do if you belong to the increasing community of immigrants? The best thing you can do to get help is contributing to your own empowerment – and learn how you can help yourself.

In a time in U.S. history when immigrants are being attacked and the government seems to come out with a new policy almost every week that threatens immigrants’ rights, it has never been more important for immigrants to learn how to empower themselves when it comes to finances. Even non-profit organizations that advocate for immigrants and provide immigration help are overwhelmed and can’t help everyone. As the past few years have made clear, immigrants cannot rely on the government to assist them with their finances.


Think of Yourself as the Most Powerful Kind of Immigration Help

Most immigrants know all too well the concept of looking out for themselves and not rely on the government to get immigration help or other types of assistance. Immigrants are some of the strongest and most brave, resilient people in the world.

Many people come from countries where the government has never helped them and they have had no choice but to learn to be self-reliant. As my husband, who is an immigrant from a developing country, told me after President Trump was elected to office, “welcome to how the rest of us in the world have always been living. Most of us have always had to live with the reality that we have to be the ones to look out for ourselves and our families.”

Yet while immigrants are often inherently masters of self-reliance, not everyone understands how to apply this concept when it comes to building wealth in their personal finances and growing their business.

You may excel at knowing how to wake up every day and hustle at three jobs to provide a life you never had for your children. You may have built a successful small business from scratch on your own, without borrowing a dollar from any family or friends or going to business school.

But that doesn’t mean you have taken the time to learn how to most productively manage your personal and business finances.

From identifying your financial goals to designing a plan to meet those financial goals, budgeting, saving for retirement, investing, saving for your children’s college, building the capital to start your first business, scaling your business, etc., there are many important financial matters that you cannot rely on anyone else to handle or expect anyone to come and teach you. These are also not topics that you can expect to learn in school.

That’s why the best type of immigration help is the kind you can learn yourself and apply to your life and business right away.


What you Need to Know Now: Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

When it comes to empowering yourself with information about personal finance and business planning, first and foremost one of the most important concepts you will learn is that not all debt is bad.

Indeed, there is a difference between good debt and bad debt.

Good debt involves an investment that leverages your money and will increase your net worth or provide value to you in the future. For example, depending on the circumstances, a mortgage on a home, a small business loan that can allow you to grow your business and take it to the next level, or a student loan can all be good debt that puts you in a better situation in the future.

On the other hand, loans on items that decrease in value over time, such as credit card debt that accumulates due to shopping for clothes or other material items that you don’t really need, payday loans, and automobile loans, are often examples of bad debt.

Learn here the Do’s and Don’ts when Using a Credit Card

Smart finance folks and good business owners know the difference between bad debt and good debt. They also know the powerful impact that good debt can have long-term in helping them to build wealth. Making an investment that is difficult on your wallet today may be well worth it in the future if it can double, triple, or quadruple the cost of what you initially invested for the rest of your life.

This is why people are willing to invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a university education and college degree: while they have to go into debt to do so, they do so because it means they will likely have far more job opportunities in the future. Better job opportunities will mean greater prospects to make a higher salary, greatly maximizing the income they can receive over time and outweighing the cost of the initial student loans.

Good debt is an investment. And investments in you can provide some of the most powerful results.


Why You Should Invest in Yourself

If we know we cannot expect or rely on the government to offer immigration help in areas like managing finances or learning how to grow a business, what do you need to focus if you are an immigrant?


One of the common characteristics of the most successful people in the world is that they continually invest in themselves. They spend thousands of dollars on educational opportunities that can help them excel in their personal and business development. They constantly seek to learn information and strategies that will help them improve, grow, and challenge themselves to be better.

It can sound scary or even selfish to spend money on yourself. And your first thought may be “I can’t afford it.” But the most successful people understand that paying a little bit more than what they are comfortable with to access information can help them make a change, perform at the next level and become even more successful. That’s the kind of an investment that will yield returns for many years to come.   


Why Educating Yourself About Personal Finance

Learning how to take care of the finances for your family and your business is nothing short of empowering. It is the only way to make sure that ultimately you are the one who gets to be responsible for the success of your life and business.

When you learn how certain financial matters work, you can worry less about people cheating you or taking advantage of you because you will have the knowledge to know how the system works. This can save you thousands of dollars and give you something that is invaluable – peace of mind.

Most importantly, empowering yourself with personal finance education means you will have the ability to decide the financial future of your life and your business.

And once you have access to information about how to improve your finances, no one can take that away from you. It’s an investment that continues to pay you back over time.

The lessons you learn about personal finance will improve your life, but they will not stop there. Many of the money concepts you can master if you educate yourself about personal finance, such as setting up automated systems that work toward meeting your financial goals, can be directly applied toward strengthening your business. It’s just the first step. Empowering yourself with information on how to gain financial stability will also help you take more calculated, smart risks to grow your business. The building blocks of personal finance are the keys to building wealth and a successful business.

Before you can learn to handle the finances of your business, you have to learn how to master manage your own money. For immigrants especially, it could not be more important to invest in learning about personal finance and set up an immigration empowerment fund to make sure you have the resources to handle any immigration problems or needs that may come up.

How to Educate Yourself About Personal Finance

There are many free resources available to learn about personal finance.  One of our favorite ways is to check out books on personal finance at the local library, which is free. Some of our favorite personal finance books for small business owners are The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System For People With Not-So-Regular Jobs, and Profit First: Transform Your Business From a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine.

Online, there are tons of personal finance blogs and podcasts that provide very useful content about various personal finance topics. You can also check out blogs and podcasts that provide personal financial information specific to the needs and circumstances of the immigrant community, such as the Immigrant Finance blog or the Camino Financial blog (also available in Spanish). Make sure to join the email lists of any blogs that speak to you so you can continue to get tips and useful information from them.

But while free information and the mentioned type of immigration help is an extremely helpful way to get started, it can only get you so far. Like all good investments, in the short term, you will need to invest upfront in order to reap long-term rewards.

Personal finance coaching is one of the most powerful ways to empower yourself with information and support so that you can learn how to manage your personal finances on your own effectively. You can work one-on-one with an expert who can teach you strategies that are specific to your needs and circumstances to better manage your money. A good personal finance coach will help you identify your financial goals and come up with a plan that is directly focused on meeting those goals. Online courses about personal finance can also be a helpful way to learn.

When you have learned the skills to manage your own money, then you can apply some of those tools and concepts to your business. Just like working with a personal finance coach can be a great investment to build wealth for you and your family, investing in a small business loan may also help you empower yourself to grow your business to the next level.

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