MANAGING MONEY: Lessons from a Third Grade Educated Cuban Immigrant — Faith and Finances Ministry

By Gregory A. Garcia, Attorney/C.P.A.

I am the proud son of Cuban immigrants. My mother had a third-grade education and made close to minimum wage, yet she managed to raise two children and amass significant wealth over her lifetime. Here are valuable money management lessons that I’ve learned from my mother.

1.      Don’t take this wonderful country for granted. Take advantage of the many opportunities available to you.

2.      Don’t be a victim. Don’t let your past define your future.

3.      Be clear about you want your life to look like. Have clear financial goals.

a.      To have no debt of any kind (consumer, auto, home, investment)

b.      To reduce your outgo and increase your income

c.       To be able to live on passive income because your outgo is less than your income from passive sources (rent, interest, pensions, etc.)

4.      Being an American doesn’t make you entitled.

a.      Nobody owes you an education.

b.      Nobody owes you a good job.

c.       Nobody owes you a particular lifestyle.

5.      Pay your bills as soon as you get them. Don’t wait to pay what you owe. Does the grocery store let you take groceries with the promise to pay? They make you put them back until you can pay for them!

a.      Don’t make anybody wait to get paid. If you can’t afford to pay them then don’t let them do anything for you.

b.      Have the discipline and strength to lower your outgo so you have excess cash flow each month to pay for whatever comes up.

c.       Replacing an appliance or needing new tires on your car are not emergencies for which you have to borrow money.

d.      Pay your credit cards immediately (and I mean immediately). Don’t carry a balance. The interest rates they charge are almost loan shark rates. $100 owed on a 21% credit card will become $200 in 3 years!

6.      Borrowing for anything is presuming upon the future. The future is not guaranteed. The current crisis should wake us all up to how vulnerable many of us are and how dependent we are on our income sources.

a.      When the stock market drops 30% does your debt also drop 30%? No! Debts don’t pay themselves off. YOU have to pay them off.

b.      The reason many Americans can’t live on their income is because they commit to payments on things, they don’t have the discipline to save up for.

Contents of this material have been republished with permission from Faith and Finances Ministry.

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