As a first-generation Vietnamese American, putting my own financial needs before my family’s isn’t easy or expected — here’s why I’m doing it anyway

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Summary List Placement 
While there might be cultural expectations to care for one’s parents in their old age, I’ve decided to focus on putting on my financial oxygen mask first.
It was my father who encouraged me to prioritize my own future when he said nobody else can save for your own retirement but you.
Ever since I started working, I’ve made it a priority to contribute to employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Now that I’m self-employed, I contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA), IRA, and Solo 401(k) to help me meet my goals.
This article is part of “Money That Lasts,” an ongoing series about generational wealth from Personal Finance Insider.

Like most people, I can’t say that I was given much financial education in my early years. Money management basics and financial literacy weren’t taught in school, and my family never talked directly about money. It was definitely a topic that was avoided. Everything I learned was by way of observation and by reading books and articles online.  

I was raised by a single mom who made a lot of sacrifices, worked two full-time jobs, and pretty much did everything she could to make sure her two kids were well taken care of. And while I knew there were times when things were lean, she wasn’t someone who wanted to deny her kids any opportunities or wants. 

And as my parents are nearing retirement age, I worry whether I should step in and help them financially. That’s because as a first-generation Vietnamese American, it became ingrained in me that we should put our needs last while taking care of everyone else. Anything we had, we should share with others. While there might not be direct pressure, it’s part of our culture, and how I was raised.

To build first-generation wealth, I’ve learned to put my financial oxygen mask on first. It hasn’t always felt like the right or easy thing to do, but it’s what’s right for me.

Balancing my needs with helping family

At times, it can feel like a struggle. While my family has never put pressure on me to help them financially or had expectations that I would care for them as they age, I wrestle with what can feel implied and demonstrated from my extended family. There can be expectations that the children care for the parents, and that kids are to financially support their parents.

While this arrangement works for some families — some families pool their funds to help each other pay for weddings, put down payments on their homes, and buy cars — I’m concerned that I won’t have enough for retirement. As a single, childless woman in her 30s who works for herself, I can’t say I have much of a financial fallback. For the most part, as an adult, everything that’s in my bank account is money I made on my own. 

I certainly help out my family when I can, but in no way do I find myself in a situation where I need …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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