When Laura began her career working for a big four accounting firm she believed she had a position that would grant her financial security. However, she didn’t realize the amount of her income that she had to pay towards her student loans. Through her personal experiences with student debt, Laura now offers financial advice and tips to Latinas through on her online platforms.
Q: What is your current position/role and when did you first develop an interest in finance?
A: I am a Certified Public Accountant in Massachusetts working in the tax-exempt space. I work for one of the large universities in Massachusetts as a tax associate and I also educate Latinas about the importance of personal finance. My goal is to help women, specifically Latinas like me, to use personal finance to live their best life.
I first developed an interest in finance when I got my first real job after grad school working for one of the big four accounting firms. I was a first-generation college graduate so when I received my first paycheck, I thought to myself, “wow I made it.” But then my student loans kicked in and I realized that so much of my income was going towards paying those off. I became determined to learn about student loans and ended up going down the rabbit hole to learn all about personal finance.
Q: What challenges have you faced with personal finance?
A: As an immigrant the first challenge I faced was understanding how the US financial system works. I got to a point where I had to recognize for myself that I was able to achieve the American Dream in my own way.
Also, once I started to learn and manage my own finances, I had to learn how to create boundaries with my family. In my culture family is very important, so I found it challenging to keep pushing back on my family members and saying I couldn’t just give them money for this and that. I had a lot of personal growth in the process.
Q: If you could give advice to your 18 year old self about managing your money, what would you tell yourself and why?
A: First, don’t accept credit card offers if you don’t know how to use a credit card.
Second, in college, you need to understand student debt and student loans.
You should know what your life is going to look like when you graduate so that you can plan. Instead of waiting until you graduate to create an exit plan, be proactive and do it as soon as you can by having honest conversations with your counseling office.
They are there to help you and they may be able to offer you similar scenarios to your current situation. By having that information, you will be able to look for other sources of financial aid and recognize a way in which you can generate money to help yourself pay for school. I believe student loans are one of the biggest financial challenges individuals face as adults, so if you can minimize those you will set yourself up for a much better financial situation later in life.
Third, learn and make an effort to create an emergency fund.
Q: What is your top tip for budgeting?
A: Please do not overcomplicate your budget. My top tip for budgeting is to have multiple bank accounts and to automate deposits through your employer. For example, have two bank accounts, one for savings and one for checking, and automatically have your paycheck deposit a certain percentage into each.
To learn more about budgeting, take a look at our workshops!
Q: What do you think is the most critical step to ensuring financial independence?
A: Investing. By investing your money grows quicker and more consistently, so I believe investing is the secret to financial freedom.
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