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How my Immigrant Upbringing Paved my Journey to a $100,000 Net Worth

net worth
3 min read

It was a Tuesday afternoon, the mortgage broker sat with his briefcase and bank papers on our black leather couch. As 16-year-old Parween, I sat there waiting to translate what he was about to say to my parents regarding the mortgage on our home, and our ability to keep it. 

“They don’t have enough (money),” he says. 

At the time, I didn’t realize what the weight of those words would have on my own relationship with money. 

Luckily, we found a way to keep our home but young Parween was traumatized by those words. 

I internalized the statement of not having money meant a lack of power, control and happiness. 

I vowed to become financially independent and never feel the fear of not having enough money. 

Ten years later, at the age of 26: I have a $100,000 net worth. 

[Read Related: ‘Unpacking Brown Boy Misogyny’]

Money narratives as a child of immigrant parents, however, heavily shaped my journey to my first $100K. 

Money narratives such as:

  1. Never talk about NOT having money around others, pretend that you have it to avoid the shame. The behaviour that we learn is that overspending is okay to impress others (even if it sabotages your own financial situation).
  1. Our parents worked hard to build a life for us in another country, but when we would ask for toys or wants, we were shamed and told no. This manifests into feeling guilty for spending money on things you enjoy in adulthood.
  1. Witnessing the male of the household control the finances. Women are groomed to become financially dependent on others, and therefore risk becoming stuck in situations that are unhealthy because of the financial dependence.
  1. How some of our parents worked so hard, only to have little to show for it in terms of savings and assets.

The trauma response we might have with our own money is that since we believe making and saving money is hard, we don’t think about saving or investing for our future selves.

I suffered from major anxiety around parting with my money so I would hoard it, felt guilty for purchases I made that were “wants” and felt like no matter what my bank account held, it was never enough. 

I also felt like I had no one to turn to, to ask my financial questions as my parents were not privileged to receive financial education themselves. 

But we’re not put on this earth to merely pay bills, pay our debt and try to eat organic.

We should be able to use our money to thrive and enjoy our lives – not just survive. 

I found a way to heal my trauma with money and still build a six-figure net worth by understanding that balance is the key, not deprivation. 

I worked hard to understand my past money memories and the lessons I learned from my upbringing to help me feel more in control of how I showed up with money today.

[Read Related: ‘Unpacking Brown Boy Misogyny’]

So often, we hear about financial literacy and the narrative of shame when it comes to our perceived inabilities to get “good” with money. 

We “should” spend less than we make, if you overspend, you’re bad with money. 

We “should” pay off our debt and never carry a balance, if you do, you’re bad with money. 

We “should” invest in our futures, if you don’t, you’re bad with money. 

But in my experience as a Trauma of Money Facilitator and Millennial Money Coach, it’s understanding your unique money story as a child of immigrant parents that’s key to helping you heal your relationship with money so that you can implement the financial advice you know is right but can’t find yourself committing to. 

No matter what, your financial situation is not permanent. 

Take it from the girl who almost lost everything and built generational wealth for herself. 


The opinions expressed by the writer of this piece, and those providing comments thereon (collectively, the “Writers”), are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any of its employees, directors, officers, affiliates, or assigns (collectively, “BGM”). BGM is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Writers. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you have a complaint about this content, please email us at Staff@browngirlmagazine.com. This post is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
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