The state of immigrant finances in America
The Hispanic population of the United States reached 63.7 million as of 2022, making it the largest ethnic and racial minority in the nation, with one out of every three Hispanic people being first-generation immigrants.
Navigating the American financial system is a challenge that many experience, but first-generation immigrants face unique hurdles as they try to establish their financial lives in a new country.
Nearly half of first-generation Americans are not only supporting themselves but also family in their home country. Immigrants are also much more likely to lean on native-born children and family to help them navigate the American finance system, especially if it differs from their native country’s.
Learning to accept debt
One of the biggest ways American finances differ from other systems is how we think of and use debt.
Most Americans carry some form of debt, whether they have a mortgage, a car loan, or a credit card. Our credit score system is not necessarily built on being debt-free but showing you can effectively balance your debt.
This is contradictory to many other financial systems around the world, where cash payments are favored over credit, and having even the smallest amount of debt is not ideal.
Most immigrants enter the United States as “credit invisible,” regardless of their financial status in their home country, and find it difficult to build a U.S. credit score at all.
To achieve wealth in the U.S., you need to establish a credit history. To establish a credit history, you must be able to borrow and repay debt effectively. To borrow at a low cost, you typically need some sort of credit history to prove you can repay your debts.
How are first-generation immigrants navigating these challenges?
- Financial education resources like Freddie Mac Credit Smart or the Center for First-Generation Student Success offer free education on the U.S. credit system.
- Secured credit cards help first-time credit builders access a credit card by paying down the debt owed when the card is issued.
- Rent reporting services like Esusu can help immigrants establish and build credit without taking on debt.
Forging a new financial future
Despite the challenges faced by first-generation Americans, their financial futures overall look bright and can help the overall financial identity of the United States.
For example, almost 70% of first-gen Americans surveyed by The Motley Fool in February 2023 reported having enough savings to cover three months of expenses. Compare this to just 22% of the general population having a similar amount saved.
In the same Motley Fool survey, about 70% of the children of immigrants report their parents as being at least somewhat knowledgeable about finances. While immigrants may have more barriers to overcome than other Americans, access to education can make all the difference.
Need more resources?
At Esusu, we believe that everyone deserves the chance to be financially secure, regardless of race or immigration status. That’s why we’re happy to offer a variety of resources and financial education at our Renters Marketplace.
Do you want to see how Esusu has helped you on your credit journey? Sign up for our Resident Portal today to get credit insights, keep tabs on your credit score, and gain access to exclusive offers available to Esusu renters!
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