I learned from my parents exactly not what to do in regards to personal finance. Parents were first generation canadians who both had professional jobs yet failed to save for the future. Have never gone without and had periods of my life where I was a very free spender yet continued to pay myself first. At thhe age of thirty three am in exellent financial shape with strong equity in three properties and several hundred k in cash savings. I only now work maybe six months a year and plan to relocate to Bali, Indonesia where my savings and real estate investments will allow myself to life the life of a multi millionaire as the power of currency conversion comes into play.
My parents are by no means destitute have beautiful homes, decent indexed pensions , full health coverage yet what they could have accumulated over there working careers would have allowed them a more luxurious lifestyle. My best friends are first generation Serbian-Americans.
Depsite their parents business doing terribly for the past year, they somehow found a way to send their son my friend to the University of Southern California. We live out of state, and the tuition is outrageously out of our price range. Somehow they are making it possible for him to get the absolute best education possible.
Immigration to the United States
They certainly place a huge emphasis on education. My husband is an immigrant; he refuses to do anything on credit, even though I keep trying to convince him otherwise. His mother has no credit card, no car payment, nothing. Their house — a little semi-detached in a nice area of England — is paid in full, as is their car. And they only have that card for the discounts on the seats.
Once again, the idea they have is that money should be spent on experiences — vacations, sporting events, etc. I totally agree with this. However, it doesnt mean that I dont go out to eat because I wish to save money. It doesnt mean I dont hang out at coffee shops, I just do it in limited amounts because I can and do make my own coffee. Also, saying that people are used to much lower standards of living in their home country just isnt true.
Most immigrants to US atleast from India are atleast middle class with a good education. Back home, I never had to wash a single dish , or vaccum. I had a servant who did it, does it mean I hire a housekeeper in the US? But then unlike my american friends I also dont live in an apartment by myself where I cannot afford rent and have my student loans pay for it. Back home however, I saw my parents save money to buy land and build their own house instead of spending what they didnt have. That to me is the main difference in culture. That hwoever has changed in recent times.
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Now people are beginning to show similar patterns of spending in India due to the changing credit policies of banks and due to a younger generation that makes a significant amount of money and has relatively few responsibilities. It has always been so much easier to get loans here than in India. If so, I am glad more people are doing the same….
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Yes, the feeling was bizarre. Your language reminded me of his. He too lives in the US of A! So interesting.
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As you mentioned, at first he was not at all concerned about saving for retirement, but as he has assimilated, he has increasing interest. In the area of education, my husband was taught well by his family, but did not complete a post-secondary degree in his own country.
I would say, just as you learned habits from things like your mom packing lunch for your family, most people learn these habits from their home environments. As a volunteer alumni fundraiser for UC Berkeley, Indians and other Asians are the stingiest to charitable giving. All the money in the world does not change the image of a parasite. Rahul I also see that in the case of my husband see just above your own comment.
He does not have much interest in making charitable giving a budget category. Neither does he protest much. So, his opinion is not based as much on his status as an immigrant as his background. Also, if one is sending money home to support his family, this could be seen as accomplishing the same goals. There is a big difference in spending habits, even between me and my own father.
I remember times when my father would send money back to his family in Mexico. My father became a US citizen but was very loyal to his mom back in Mantamoros.
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He would send her money up until the day she passed away. My parents do not spend as much money as I do. They eat meals at home alot and take leftovers to lunch almost daily. As you know beans and rice is traditional in a first generation Hispanic family. These side items are affordable and sure beats eating at a restaurant. My parents have done well and have a paid for home. They are business owners so they pay for health insurance but other than that, they save it.
They will not receive social security money nor do they contribute to a retirement account, because as you mentioned, when that time comes, we their sons will step in and help out wherever we can. Putting parents in a retirement home is often a big no-no in Hispanic families, so my parents are not even thinking about that. One big reason for the difference in savings is many people from other nations, especially emerging market economies, have no safety net like we do here. The family structure is much stronger in these areas. The families depend on each other for more than just emotional support.
They rely on each other for financial help as well. It is probably why divorce rates are lower in these areas as well.
Americans use to be like that when we were a mostly agrarian society. The man was needed to raise the crops, and the woman took care of the living environment.
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If one of them disappeared due to death or divorce, life got real hard. This is why these couples had lots of kids who were required to help. The kids usually took over the family farm and took care of the parents as they aged. You start to see younger generations of immigrants become more Americanized as they are exposed to the lifestyle through school and friends.
So this idea of thrift wares off as families move from the immigrant status. I did learn about it in a Race Relations class at the University of Chicago back when I was in college. I remember that it is a theory described by a sociologist named Bonacich, I think. Many immigrants may not see the U. So they come, make a lot of money, and move back. Great comments, they pretty much described everything I could think of saying.. I think the more secure one feels when growing up, the more one is likely to be a spendthrift as an adult. Moving to a different country, or seeing your parents work hard to run a family business, or growing up with less money than others, are all sources of insecurity that might lead people to save more and acquire better financial habits as adults.
I was just reading about how you can get a chauffer, butler, gardener, etc. For my small NY apartment it sounds like I could be living in a castle or something. I know people that lived through the great depression are some of the thriftiest bastards I know. My grandma, who lived through the great depression, to this day counts all the proportions before each meal and never cooks more than needed.
You end up more hungry after dinner than when you sat down. Americans need a wake up call. Personally, during my childhood my dad was a Ph. Only when i was 15 did he become a professor and started making a salary above poverty levels.