Yes. My parents are Mexican immigrants/naturalized American citizens who came to this country for a better life. They never finished school beyond eighth grade and I was expected to reach my full potential. I went to a private university to study accounting and finance, and I am the first person in my family to graduate and get an MBA. I didn’t qualify for many scholarships because I was an average student and my parents earned “too much” to qualify for scholarships, so I accumulated a huge loan to allow me to complete my studies. At the end of it all, I hated the job I did after graduation and joined the Army National Guard at 29. The military ended up being my launch pad for my career in cybersecurity, and I love what I do now. The National Guard pays part of my student loans through a repayment program. Some of my loans were also canceled when, unfortunately, my father passed away from cancer. If I could do it all over again, I probably would have joined the military sooner, gone to trade school or community college, and that’s a lesson I will pass on to all my future children.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parents/guardians teach you about finances?
My parents never taught me anything about money, except not to spend beyond my means. I can’t blame them, though, because they didn’t learn much themselves (the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008 destroyed them). I learned everything I needed to know about saving, retirement, and investing when I majored in accounting and finance in college.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a Subway my senior year of high school. I used this money to buy clothes, food and to save for college.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Every day. Growing up, the only place my parents could afford was a duplex in seedy Boyle Heights. This was when gangs were prevalent. We had enough for the essentials, but we often had to watch over each other to make sure we were safe and sound. Luxury was almost non-existent. My parents went bankrupt and it took them a long time to get out of it. This was a great motivation to get out of this horrible life situation and get on the path to financial stability.
Do you worry about money now?
No. I’m the happiest I can be right now, and I’m bringing my husband to the top with me (he also aspires to grow in the company I currently work at). I earn more than him, and my husband couldn’t be prouder. I am also able to fully support my mother, who is chronically ill and has been out of the workforce for quite some time. The mortgage above is a house she lives in with my siblings, and I will do everything I can to ensure my mother is happy, taken care of, and lives in a house she can call her own.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
In my early 20s. I still lived with my parents, but I paid them rent and was responsible for my own expenses. Right now, it’s safe to say that I’m my own safety net/my mother’s safety net. If something should happen, I can fall back on my savings until I find another source of income. In more serious circumstances, my husband supports me.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Aside from my National Guard student loan payments, no. I am not expecting any inheritance or other income.