As a recent immigrant to the U.S., my husband, and together we, have had our fair share of immigrant money struggles with managing money, personal finance, and immigration. Almost all our challenges all came down to an Immigrant Finance problem: not having access to personal finance information that was specific to the immigrant experience.
Immigrant money struggles in a New Country
My wonderful (and can I say, dashingly handsome) husband first immigrated to Washington, D.C. in 2013.
We had fallen in love in his country. Months later, I was back in D.C. starting law school. He had already been planning to come to D.C. for an internship and that gave us a chance to try to be together in the same place again.
My then-boyfriend, now-husband, finally moved to the U.S. for his internship. I was studying become a public interest immigration lawyer. That meant I was also doing lots of unpaid internships. We were both rapidly burning through our last remaining savings, and totally broke. Trying with all our might to launch our careers and relationship, we struggled with money and the challenges of navigating a relationship in a new country.
There was Nowhere to Go to Figure Out Personal Finance QUESTIONS ABOUT IMMIGRANT MONEY STRUGGLES
We had no idea where to start or how to figure out how to adjust to life in a new country and an expensive major city. Where should he open a bank account? Could he open a bank account in the U.S.? Where was he allowed to work, legally? What kinds of employers could sponsor visas? Was he allowed to have a credit card? Where could he find a decent place to live that he could afford? Could he sign a lease to rent an apartment as an immigrant?
Even as an American, even as a native English-speaker, even as a U.S. college-educated graduate, even as a then law student, I didn´t know the answers to any of these questions or where to look. And neither did my husband.
There were no readily available resources to walk us through the process or even point us in what direction to go. Few people we knew could relate or even understand what we were going through.
At the time, I don’t think we even realized that what we needed was information and education about personal finance. I thought personal finance was just about retirement planning for baby boomers, or things like life insurance that certainly were not at the top of my list of concerns. We didn´t understand even what our need was, we just felt like everything was a struggle.
Without being able to identify the problem clearly we could not even begin to identify or test any potential solutions. And as a consequence, we lived in a constant state of stress, worry, and anxiety.
Over time, we were able to figure out the answers to each of those questions. But it was a struggle. Everything in our relationship and daily lives was affected.
We Needed Information and Support About Personal Finance for Immigrants
Looking back, our struggle all came down to an Immigrant Finance problem: not having access to personal finance information that was specific to the immigrant experience. We needed information, encouragement, and tools to understand the process and how to navigate through it.
And perhaps most of all, we needed support and encouragement from others going through similar struggles. People who understood. People who shared our experience.
We needed to know someday it would be ok. That it would get a little bit easier each year. And that we were not alone.
We Needed an Immigrant Finance Community
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