#013 – Reflecting on how our family managed money and seeing the patterns in our lives, is the beginning of breaking the cycle. 

Did you see your family participate in pawning things when in a pinch?  Perhaps, you saw their disorganization and constant struggle?  We can learn from them and create a new pattern for us and our future generations!


[0:00] Understanding how our family managed money and correcting the areas that we now understand as risky or unwise, is how we can improve our money management and break the cycle.


[0:13] Welcome to Debt Free Latina, the podcast where you can finally realize your dream of being debt free and feeling peace about your financial future. And now your host, Mayra Alejandra Garcia.


[0:32] Hola, hola. Thank you so much for being here. On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about how we can break the cycle and how we can create a legacy for our family. And I grew up in a home where money was a taboo topic. I learned about how money was managed just by seeing how it was. It was never really talked about. I just knew that when it was tax season, I knew I had to ask for all the things I needed because there was going to be hardly any money any other time of the year. And so I knew when my mom did her taxes that she would get a big tax return and therefore, I had to take advantage of that. And not in a negative way, I just knew that I could ask for things I needed. It was not like I could go and splurge either, it was just like, I better get a year’s worth of clothes, I better get 2, 3 pairs of shoes. And I also saw, and picked up on some disorganization impulsiveness from my mom who managed the money in the home. And the things that I saw with disorganization was that sometimes the power would get turned off, and it would quickly get turned back on because my mom just simply forgot to pay the bill. It wasn’t that my mom didn’t have money for it, it was just that she was disorganized and would forget to pay it. And so there was also some impulsiveness, with going to different fun theme parks. There were times where my mom would pawn her jewelry to take us to Disneyland, for example, and that happened a couple of times, where she would just say you want to Disneyland tomorrow? Of course, we would say yes. And so she would go pawn her jewelry and she would have some cash to take the very next day to Disneyland and that’s how she made things work.


[2:31] It was also really interesting to me that these patterns just seemed to happen here and there, and I picked up on it and it became a problem when the power got turned off when I was a teenager. I remember the specific time when the power got turned off and I had a final, and I had to study that night. And because I had the final the very next day, I was going to have an all nighter and I was going to study hard, and I was no longer going to be able to because there was no power and I was going to be at the mercy of a candle. So I put a chair out in the street, like in the sidewalk, so that I could get the street light for as long as I could. And I just remember my mom was so sad to see me so upset, but I just remember thinking, I’ve got to do something to help her. Even at that young age of 14 years old, I remember thinking, this can never happen to us again, like how can I help my mom not forget to pay the bill? And it was then that I remember thinking, this will never happen to me. And thank God it has not. And it was what pushed me to learn how to write a check. I remember asking my mother. Mom, I need you to teach me how to write a check. And she was like, why, por que? I told her, I said, because I want to help you pay the bills, I want to know how to write a check, I want to be able to get the mail. I was a latchkey kid, I would pick up the mail and I would come into the house and I would see the bills come in. So I just thought if I see a power bill, gas bill, phone bill, I would open it up and pay it. And so she taught me how to write a check. She signed a few blank ones for me and I was now in charge of paying the bills. I had her buy me a cup of stamps, and I paid the bills when they came in and I would just give her a heads up that I wrote, XYZ check for this amount, so just to make sure she had that money in the bank. And that’s how I got started in getting organized. I was already really good at organization, I picked up on that while I was in high school. I was organized with my paperwork, but not my bedroom. So that’s something that I knew I could help my mom with.


[5:12] Now, fast forward a few years. I was impulsive. I was in a lot of debt. I picked up some of the things that I didn’t think I would. I was always somewhat organized, I was always on time with my bills, but I would see something that I liked and I would buy it and I would put it on a credit card and I ranked up debt. And that was something that really I got from my mom. I was impulsive. Understanding these things, and just thinking about how your family managed money, and seeing how those things were risky or hurtful, or hurt them in the future, is one way that we can prevent that from happening to us. And just understanding, having that awareness of, that probably wasn’t wise. For example, one thing that my mom would do occasionally, not very often, was that she would participate in Spanish word (6:15) or Spanish word. They’re synonyms. Some parts of the Mexico call them Spanish word and others call them Spanish word, and those are sort of like a savings account. So a group of people unite, and let’s say there’s 11 numbers. So 10 people put into the pot, one number takes the pot. And then just rotates every week for 11 weeks. And that’s how you get, whether it’s $100 or $1,000, that’s kind of how it rotates. I remember when I was first trying to wrap my brain around, I was like, so why don’t you just save money? But a lot of people don’t have the muscle, and that’s what I think I had to understand, that my mother and my family didn’t have the muscle of savings because savings is a muscle. Saving money takes discipline. It’s hard work. It’s not easy. And there’s always going to be something we want and we have to learn to say no, not right now, or that’s not our priority, or we have other goals. And so unless you have a goal that you’re trying to meet, there’s always going to be this shiny object in front of you that you’re gonna want. And so when I learned that I’m going to have to say no. And when I really had to like understand that, it took my savings ability to another level, because I never said no, I always found a way to make it work. I could put it on a credit card or I could borrow it or I could wait till my next check or I always figured it out. But when I started saying no, I can’t have that right now because I have another goal, that just changed the whole dynamic, and that’s something that my mom never was able to understand and nobody was ever able to guide her. And I just wish I could have. My mom passed away in 2018, and she saw me when I was getting out of debt and she saw that whole process because I was getting out of debt between 2010 and 2012. And then of course I continued my budgeting. And so, till this day. And I remember my mom saying, Spanish phrase (8:50). And it was like, you and your tight budget, and I was like, it’s not that it’s a tight budget, it’s just, I have goals, and I do say no to a lot of things that most people just say yes to because I’ve worked on my impulsiveness, which has been hard for me to. Same, to master, to keep in check, because I still have moments where I’m like, I want that and I’m gonna make it happen. But I have other goals and I have a family that depends on me and I have mutual goals with my husband, so we have an accountability there.


[9:32] So just understanding that, I think, is really the way you break the cycle. What did you see growing up? what can you do to change some of that? You might not be able to help your parents because they might not want to hear it from you, but you can, you can change, you can make some different money choices, you can make some better decisions, and manage your money wisely. And not only that, but you can take it up a notch and teach your children, or your future children, and be in a better position going forward. If this was at all helpful to you, would you please let me know? I’d love to hear from you.


[10:19] Thanks for listening to Debt Free Latina. Make sure you hit that subscribe button so you can take Mayra with you on your journey to become debt free as you build financial wealth. Looking for more? Follow Mayra on Instagram @debtfree.latina, on Facebook @debtfreelatina, and online at debtfreelatina.com.