How Latinos Can Achieve Financial Success and Live a Life of Your Dreams
>>>In this article you will learn 10 mindsets that could be sabotaging you from achieving your financial success.
Latinos in general have made great strides financially, educationally, and politically. However, we continue to lag behind whites economically.
According to recent studies, Latino families are significantly more likely to have a zero or negative net worth. 34% of Latino families are worth less than $10,000 compared to 16% of whites.
Hispanic families are less likely to own assets like houses, businesses, or retirement accounts.
The typical median family wealth for whites is $184,000 and it’s $38,000 for Hispanics comparing equal education levels.
Finally, only 3% of Latino families are worth more than $1,000,000 compared to 16% of whites.
At the root, the wealth gap is likely due to discriminatory government practices and systemic barriers.
However, as described in the book by Louis Barrajas titled, The Latino Journey to Financial Greatness, 2003, there are cultural barriers that may be impeding Latino financial wealth creation.
It may be that we are sabotaging ourselves with a culture-oriented defeating mindset about money.
Here are some “barriers” that keep many Latinos from achieving long-term financial security and success.
Barrier #1- Depending On Others To Take Care of You
Latinos have a tendency to have a dependent mindset. Historically, we have worked for someone else, el “patron.”
We relied on the “patron” for everything. We depended on that person to help us in times of trouble. Often that was the accepted lot in life.
The thinking was, “It’s better for me to work for the patron and have a little than to go out on my own and possibly have more. I’m afraid to go out on my own and maybe lose everything.”
“It’s too much of a risk.” “Stay where it’s safe.”
As a result of not wanting to take a risk, it stifles desires and dreams to own their own businesses.
When we become aged, we expect our children to take care of us. We don’t use rest homes or extended care facilities.
Our culture dictates that the family- la familia- takes care of us until we die.
It is wise to take financial responsibility for ourselves and our future. We have to be willing to take some risks in order to improve our financial success.
Barrier #2- Storing Rather Than Investing Money
Latinos often don’t trust banks or institutions. We’ll store coins in water bottles, mayonnaise jars, coffee cans rather than trust a bank to keep it for us.
The only thing we know about investing is to put the money in a low-paying savings account. Latinos tend to lack information and education about finances.
We fear putting our money into stocks and bonds because “it’s only paper.” We’d rather put money where we can see it than somewhere that we can’t. Investing in land and real estate is something that we can see and associate with wealth.
Barrier #3- Consulting With Non-Experts
Often, Latinos will go to their “compadres” for financial advice. We may go to family members, friends, “patrons”, or others we see as successful even though they may have no expertise in the area of advice we need.
Many Latinos don’t know who or how to hire competent experts such as financial planners, insurance agents, tax preparers, real estate agents, or attorneys.
It has been my experience that many Latinos get scammed or taken advantage of because they go with the first person they know or are referred to. They don’t do their due diligence to determine if this “expert” is honest, fair, credentialed, and actually has a good reputation.
Barrier #4- Informality- Business On A Handshake
Latinos tend to prefer to do business on a handshake. We don’t like to go through the process of writing and signing contracts and agreements.
We’re loyal. We prefer to do business with people we know and feel that we can do it informally.
Latinos are often intimidated by the legal language of contracts and written agreements. They can be difficult to understand!
The Latino community in general tends to lack financial education.
Many Latinos also have poor English skills. They are embarrassed to ask questions because they don’t want to look stupid. They would rather get ripped off than be embarrassed.
Barrier #5- Machismo
The Urban Dictionary defines “machismo” as having an unusually high or exaggerated sense of masculinity. Including an attitude that aggression, strength, sexual prowess, power and control is the measure of someone’s manliness. Also, a machismo man feels having these traits entitles him to respect and obedience from men and women around him.
Machismo dictates strict gender roles. The man works and supports the family, while the woman stays home and takes care of the home and children.
It is culturally accepted that the man is in charge of the money the family earns. The man may also feel that he does not have to consult with the woman about how the money is spent.
Machismo may also have some detrimental effects on the family’s finances. Due to the man’s ego and self-pride, he may make a financial decision that may not take into account the needs of his family.
I remember my father came home with a brand new ’57’ Chevy that he wanted and bought it without consulting my mother. Just as my mother was getting attached to it, he sold it and came home with a Pontiac, again without consulting my mother. The Chevy was a very nice car! I sure wish I had it now!
Machismo hurts the family because of pride, ignorance, and stubbornness. The man will not admit his mistakes, and will not ask for help, nor ask questions for fear of embarrassment-”verguenza”
Barrier #6- Scarcity Mentality
This short story from Louis Barajas’ book best illustrates what Latinos do to each other when one achieves some level of success.
“Once there was a man who had been fishing all day, and he caught three buckets of crabs- German crabs, French crabs, and Mexican crabs. On the docks he met a friend he hadn’t seen for a while, so they chatted. The friend looked over the fisherman’s shoulder and noticed that while two of the three buckets of crabs were covered, the third was not.
“Hey, amigo!” he said to the fisherman. “The crabs are trying to climb out of your basket. You’d better cover it up like the other two.” The fisherman said, “Nah- those are Mexican crabs. As soon as one climbs up the side of the basket, the others pull it back down.”
It seems as soon as a Latino achieves some success other Latinos try to shame that person such as “You think you’re all that now?” The shaming may even come from their own family!
In other words, “If I’m not successful, then you can’t be successful either!”
This type of thinking comes from scarcity mentality. There is only so much pie to go around. If you get a bigger piece of pie, there won’t be any for me.
This is flawed thinking because there is always enough pie for everyone if they are willing to go out and get it. It may take new learning and hard work, but anyone can achieve success!
Barrier #7- Fatalism “God Willing”
When asked to do something, often you will hear Latinos say “Si Dios quiere.” God willing. This is due to our religious heritage.
However, these words also reflect a fatalistic thinking. We believe that God in all circumstances will protect us. We don’t have to do our part. It will just happen with faith.
This fatalism dictates that if we are poor it is because God intended it to be that way and there is not much we can do to change things. If a person is rich, it is because God blessed them and that’s just the way it is. They were lucky!
According to Louis Barrajas, “This kind of fatalistic attitude- that things will only happen if God wants them to, and we’re not responsible- stops many of us from taking the actions that will help us achieve sound financial futures.”
The lesson here is that God may provide the opportunities, but we must do our part. God may want us to be wealthy, but we must put in the work along the way to help ourselves.
Barrier #8- Lotto Mentality
“Lotto Mentality” is the attitude of trying to get something for nothing. It can be a very destructive force in the Latino community.
This mentality leads to looking for shortcuts to success. God wants us to be rich but we have to buy a lottery ticket so he can bless us. What many Latinos don’t realize is that you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to win the lottery!
Taking shortcuts always ends up biting us in the ass! We end up losing our hard-earned money, or time by betting on the lottery to make us wealthy.
Or, by hiring the brother-in-law who “knows” how to wire a house cheaply. In the end, we lose our house because it burns down from sloppy wiring. Ouch! Don’t take short-cuts!
Success comes from hard work, passion, and perseverance, not from luck, or betting on the lottery.
Barrier #9- I’ll Do It Tomorrow a.k.a. The Mañana Syndrome
This attitude is “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow.” Why save for retirement now? I have to fix my car first!
“Someday I will start my own business, but not today.”
“Why bother” to save for my child’s education? No one in my family has ever gone to college.
Many Latinos don’t save for retirement because they think that Social Security and their kids will provide for their needs when they get older.
The best strategy to adopt is to start thinking long-term before it’s too late and you end up with nothing at the end.
“One of the easiest ways to get past the mañana thinking is to set up systems for saving that you don’t even have to think about,” according to Barajas.
Barrier #10- Conflicting Beliefs and Attitudes About Money
Latinos often have negative attitudes about money that tend to sabotage their financial greatness. One common example is, “El dinero es la raiz de toda clase de males.” It translates to, “Money is the root of all evil.”
Money is associated with negative experiences. Latinos may say, “More money causes more problems.” “To make lots of money, you have to neglect your family.” “You can’t make lots of money honestly.”
Even when people become successful financially, they may experience some negative feelings. They may believe that others will think they are stuck up or arrogant. Others may put them down by making them feel guilty for leaving their neighborhoods. They may say things to them such as “So, you think you’re better than us now?”
These beliefs tend to hold us back or limit our true financial and success potential. We must eliminate these limiting beliefs in order to have a good relationship with money.
Replace negative beliefs about money with positive, empowering beliefs.
According to Barajas, “To develop positive beliefs around money, we simply need to remember all the good things that money can bring- greater freedom, increased security, more choices, the ability to contribute to our families, or communities, and ourselves at a higher level, the chance to take advantage of the opportunities that life offers us along the way.”
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To your success,
David C Figueroa
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