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The Latino Journey to Financial Greatness gives Latinos a clear guide to basic financial principles as well as identifies the cultural barriers that have prevented them from making the most of their resources. In helping Latinos discover their own powerful and personal reasons for creating the secure and abundant future of their dreams, Louis Barajas — named one of the 100 best financial planners in America by Mutual Funds magazine — offers the basic information Latinos need in ...
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The Latino Journey to Financial Greatness gives Latinos a clear guide to basic financial principles as well as identifies the cultural barriers that have prevented them from making the most of their resources. In helping Latinos discover their own powerful and personal reasons for creating the secure and abundant future of their dreams, Louis Barajas — named one of the 100 best financial planners in America by Mutual Funds magazine — offers the basic information Latinos need in order to have money work for them.
When I left the prominent accounting and consulting firm I was working with in Newport Beach to open my own financial planning firm in the barrio of East Los Angeles, my colleagues thought I was crazy. "Your clients here are multimillionaires!" they said. "How many people in the barrio have money to invest in anything other than a roof over their heads and food on the table? Why do you think there's a need for financial planners in East L.A.?"
I knew because I grew up here. Like so many other Latinos, my father worked for years to save enough money to open his own business. Then, in addition to feeding and sheltering his family, he worked even harder to make sure that business was successful. Today I help people just like my father reach their financial dreams faster and more easily. I show them how to use banks, loans, insurance, investments, retirement accounts, and so on, and to create short- and long-range financial plans. I help Latinos achieve the financial greatness they dream of for themselves and their families.
What is financial greatness? Financial greatness goes beyond wealth. Financial greatness is having the courage to live the life of your dreams. Financial greatness is living a significant and purposeful life. Financial greatness is absolutely knowing that your life matters. Financial greatness is an abundance of love, confidence, and money. Financial greatness is living free of worry and struggle. In truth, financial greatness is at its core a mindset, one that can only be obtained with a clear vision of who you want to become, not just what things you want to have. In the September 2001 issue of O magazine, Oprah Winfrey said, "Everyone has the power for greatness -- not for fame but for greatness, because greatness is determined by service."
Getting my clients to recognize their capacity for financial greatness, however, hasn't been easy. Even though Latinos as a group are hard-working and dedicated to supporting themselves and their families, even though they want to make the most of the opportunities offered to them, many people have never even considered how to make the best use of all the money they are earning. "I only bring home $750 a week," they tell me. "I'm supporting a family. I also send money to my relatives in Mexico (or Puerto Rico, or Central America, or elsewhere). Why would I need a financial plan?"
When I hear that, I know these people have bought into the belief of the "poor Latino." Sure, there are many poor Latinos living in the barrios of East L.A., Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Miami, New York, and other U.S. cities. But in the same way that most people have no clue how much money they will earn and spend over the course of a lifetime (hint: it's something like $1.5 million), Latinos as a group have no clue how enormous our financial clout is and how much money we actually control.
Let me give you some facts that might help you realize how rich and powerful Latinos are.
We are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States, on track to become the biggest minority group in this country in less than 10 years.
If the Latinos in the United States formed their own country, it would be the fifth largest Latin American country in the world.
We are a young population.
The U.S. Census Bureau says the median age of Latinos is 26. This means more of our earning, spending, and childbearing years are ahead of us.
We have a lot of economic clout.
Hispanic buying power reached $477 billion in the year 2000 and will only continue to grow.
We are an increasing presence in business.
From 1987 to 1995, the number of Latino-owned businesses grew from 250,000 to 720,000 -- an increase of 288 percent.
We are an increasing presence in politics.
Hispanics are recognized as one of the fastest-growing and most important voting blocs and are being courted aggressively by both Democrats and Republicans.
We are moving rapidly into the middle and upper classes.
The fastest-growing segment of the Latino market is households with annual incomes of $50,000 or more. As a group, Latinos are far from poor. However, I believe our greatest wealth isn't just in our pocketbooks, or in the paychecks we bring in each week or month. It's in our attitudes, in the way we look at work and family and community. In the next several chapters of this book I'm going to talk a lot about the beliefs and attitudes that get in the way of achieving financial greatness. But first I want to explode completely the myth of the "poor" Latino by reminding you of all the reasons we should be grateful for all that we have.
We are rich in family.
Our family relationships are one of the strongest elements in our lives. In a society where it's very common for families to separate and lose touch, Latinos place enormous importance on taking care of people who are related to them. You will rarely see Latinos parked in a nursing home somewhere because their children are "too busy" to take care of them anymore. We care for our parents, our children, our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If a Latino or Latina immigrates to the United States, often they will spend their first few months or even years with a relative who gives them food and shelter and shows them how to get around.
We are rich in community.
Our language, heritage, and culture bind us together and add dimension to our lives. Institutions like the church, sports, even Spanish-language television help keep us together and support us in taking pride in our identity as Hispanic Americans.