By Bright Musuamba – Program Coordinator, ProsperityME

Growing up, I always felt like I had to guess my parents’ moods when it came to talking about money. In retrospect, I think they were as transparent as they thought they could be, but I knew when we were struggling and I knew when we were doing well. Sometimes I had to guess when it was “ok” to ask for pocket money.

In my opinion, financial security is so important for families to talk about. Money is part of the conversation but it’s not the whole conversation! Sharing financial plans and goals together can foster respect and trust. It can inspire everyone to work together to make dreams a reality.

I think that there are three things families and young adults should practice talking about together to begin building financial security:

1. We need to work to remove the stigma behind financial conversations between parents and children. Parents, talking to your children about money does not mean you are burdening them with adult concerns! It just means that you consider them and want to include them in topics that include and affect the entire family.

2. Children, be observant, eager to learn, and ask questions! Sometimes we young people tend to be ignorant and don’t care too much to involve ourselves in issues we consider to be “only for adults.” No! Talking about issues we consider to be “difficult” can help us in the long run. My parents taught me very useful skills that I continue to use today. They taught me how to budget, how to save, and the value of hard-earned money. These skills give us a jumpstart, especially in today’s capitalist society.

3. Parents, make an effort to learn and teach your children financial skills! As immigrants, we come to the U.S. and we have to start all over and learn most things from scratch. We have to learn the credit system, build a credit history, and find a good financial footing so we don’t fall into terrible debt and make unwise financial decisions. I received the popular warning that “money doesn’t grow on trees” regularly, so I knew from a very young age that money was important. Financial freedom is my ultimate life goal but for now, I will settle for financial security and safety.

Recently, I took a quiz to find out my money personality: I got the “Stockpiler” which I thought was very accurate. Thanks to my parent’s influence, I am someone who is very serious about saving my money, planning for the future, and being secure in my finances. Because of these characteristics, my family has learned to rely on me even though I am the last-born. They know they can trust me to hold on to some money, to invest their money, or if they just want to talk about money. I am proud and glad that I’m able to support my family in that way, especially as a young adult and an immigrant. Any financial knowledge I gain, I share with my family so we can grow and evolve together.

We have so much potential within and we can reach and achieve so many great things if we push to learn and share the information we gain. Finances should not scare or intimidate us. But instead, finances should motivate and push us to move forward and encourage us to dream big. Anything is possible if we don’t limit ourselves!

About the author: Bright is Congolese. She moved to Lewiston five years ago with her family, speaks three languages, and is passionate about empowering, educating, and uplifting individuals through the work that she does at ProsperityME. Bright feels that she is best described by this quote from Maya Angelou, which reads, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style!”

To learn more about our financial empowerment programs, please reach out to Bright at [email protected]