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First-Generation American Shares Three Financial Struggles She Faced
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 6:30 AM

Finding cash for college, navigating the contradictions of the American Dream, and learning by trial and error, are the three financial struggles Jennifer Calonia, editorial manager for gobankingrates.com, tells Daily Finance readers she faced as a first-generation American.

“In school, I was taught about the rights and freedoms that were proclaimed on that first Independence Day, but I had to learn the importance of other freedoms -- like financial freedom -- on my own. And the financial advice I got from my native Filipino relatives didn't really fill in the gaps for me,” she tells readers.

While Calonia tells the Daily Finance that her parents and family insisted on her getting a good education, they did not have the resources to support her during college. There was no 529 savings plan to fund her tuition, and she didn’t know the ins-and-outs of where to find financial aid.

Calonia goes on to say that in her house, discussions about money were very polarized – “either I should behave one way, or shouldn't -- but there was no conversation about how to improve upon my parents' experiences.”

She never learned about the pros and cons of credit card use, or how to be responsible with debt, or even what it meant to have a line of credit. All of those lessons, she tells readers, had to be picked up along the way, without her family's help.

“Calonia is not alone. Millions of Americans lack basic financial literacy. That is why the work of credit unions in local schools and communities is so important,” notes Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Courtney Moran. “Having strong money management schools is critical to achieving economic stability.”

Helpful Resources:

The Foundation’s FOCUS “train the trainer” workshops. This one-day workshop is designed to arm credit unions, educators, non-profit organizations and community leaders with the skills they need to motivate young people into adopting positive savings and spending habits.

Credit Union Student Choice, the leading provider of turn-key private student lending services to America’s credit unions.  CU Student Choice, a business partner of Credit Union Resources, helps credit unions make direct loans to students and families at a local level, making them an even more valuable resource to their community while providing a genuine opportunity to develop long-term relationships with these borrowers.