The Snowball Wealth Financial Roadmap
This is an interview with a Snowball Wealth Community member, Isabeth Mendoza.
My name is Isabeth Mendoza, I use she/her pronouns, and I am 28 years old. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but I currently live in the Bay Area. My mom is in Los Angeles, and my dad is in Tecate (next to Tijuana, MX). They’re still married, but my dad was deported when I was in high school. I graduated with my master’s about two years ago, and I am now in the first job that allows me to really save and pay off debt, but I’ve also become the main provider for my family. I’m trying to prioritize myself and my goals while also being a daughter of immigrants to parents who couldn’t save for their retirement.
I went to a private school located in Downey, CA during the first two years of high school, but it wasn’t what you see on TV- I was mostly surrounded by the Latinx community. When I transferred to a public school, I became aware of where I stood in the hierarchy within my community. I was aware that we were checking off things for a low-income family. I was getting lunch tickets, and when I met everybody, I saw the Latinx wealth gap visibly. They had brand name things, girls had their nails done, and had their hair done with highlights. I was just thinking about school and making sure I was able to afford my jerseys for sports.
We never lacked food, and I never felt like we didn’t have enough since my mom made sure we had the same things as the other kids, but in the cheapest way possible. The main thing I learned growing up was to be resourceful no matter what.
I don’t know any other way. I didn’t grow up around friends or other family members who aren’t
taking care of their families as best as they can. There’s always this effort to do as much as you can with what you have. I think that’s what family does. It gets complicated when your parents live in two different countries, and the healthcare systems are different, so how we utilize our money for both of them has kind of shifted since then.
It doesn’t feel like a burden because it doesn’t feel like it’s something I have to do. It’s just something that I want to do because I love them.
It is overwhelming if I want to travel or do other things, but I put their expenses as an essential expense. That’s part of my primary budget because taking care of them gives me peace of mind.
I’m figuring out how to help them retire while figuring out my financial literacy because I also don’t know how to prepare myself for this. I tell my parents they aren’t taking anything away from me; they’re making me start early for myself.
I do look at my salary, and I think to myself, “I can’t go any lower than this because I am supporting more than just myself.” Two years ago, I started being honest in job interviews about my situation when negotiating for salaries. When I’m looking at my salary, I need to negotiate for more. I don’t shy away from it and I don’t feel embarrassed by it. I just basically decided to say it, and make it a part of my conversations, because it’s also going to be a part of my livelihood.
I think, like all of us when we get on Instagram, and we see people doing these wonderful things, we think, “wow, I haven’t been there” or “I don’t have that.” If that’s travel or material things. I’m also not someone who needs to be up with trends. I’ve also accepted that for me, that’s not going to be a reality, and I’m okay with that.
I think it’s harder now and especially for the younger generation who grew up straight into Instagram, seeing everything they must want and what they put their worth and value into. Because if I struggle with it, and I knew life before Instagram, I can only imagine what it’s like for them.
I’m focused on preparing their will and funeral plans. I told them this is the biggest gift to give me peace of mind. So knowing what my role is in the family, I don’t want to feel overwhelmed in such a vulnerable time.
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